Rand Paul’s Jalopy Putters Along

More Republican dollars are flowing into Kentucky to help GOP candidates in the four special House elections on March 8. [H-L]

President Barack Obama has said that a college degree “has never been more valuable.” But if you borrow to finance your degree, the immediate returns are the lowest they’ve been in at least a generation, new data show. [HuffPo]

Local governments in Kentucky can increase the minimum wage, but a federal judge ruled Wednesday that they can’t ban labor unions from requiring employees to join them. [C-J/AKN]

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ campaign has reportedly raised $3 million since Monday night’s Iowa caucuses. [The Hill]

Marlow Cook may forever be remembered by Louisvillians as the Jefferson County Executive who purchased the Belle of Louisville, but I remember him not only as my first boss, but also as someone who directly and significantly shaped my life and the lives of so many in public life [John Yarmuth]

Global equity markets rose on Thursday as diminished expectations of U.S. interest rate hikes this year pushed the dollar lower, which in turned boosted the prices of commodities. [Reuters]

The more we learn about Jamie Comer’s hemp-related shenanigans, the more disappointed we all become. Here’s hoping his nonsense doesn’t impact the overall industry. [Page One]

In internal memos, groups opposing tighter state campaign finance rules coach their local supporters on how to battle disclosure of political donors. [ProPublica]

A new study shows that Kentucky and Arkansas had the sharpest decline in the percentage of adult residents without health insurance from 2013 to 2015. [Business First]

Rand Paul was hustling to a TV hit on Fox News when security officials on hand stopped him. You’ll love the delusional reaction from Doug Stafford. [Politico]

Efforts by the Harlan County School District to replace Wallins elementary with a new facility received a boost when the board of education submitted plans that put that project at the top of its list of needs. [Harlan Daily Enterprise]

There’s still a long way to go until November’s US presidential election. But it’s not too early to look at the possible presidential administrations of some of the leading candidates. [BBC]

Cheers, Kentucky: Bourbon and American whiskey sales in the United States were up 7.8 percent to $2.9 billion in 2015, according to figures released Tuesday morning by the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. Looking at exports, sales of American whiskey were up 4 percent by volume, although the value fell 2.7 percent to about $1 billion, putting total sales of American whiskey at just less than $4 billion for 2015. [H-L]

Not all polluters are created equal. Just five percent of industrial polluters account for 90 percent of toxic emissions in the United States, according to a new study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters last week. [HuffPo]

Do You Still Have A Sad For Lil Rand?

You can thank Kentucky Democrats for allowing this informed consent nonsense to happen. Way to go, Democrats! Who you gonna attack and defame now that you’ve alienated everybody? [H-L]

Rand Paul (R-Cookie Tree) is suspending his presidential campaign, Politico and CNN reported Wednesday. “It’s been an incredible honor to run a principled campaign for the White House. Today, I will end where I began, ready and willing to fight for the cause of Liberty,” the senator said in a statement on Wednesday, following his fifth place finish in the Iowa caucuses. [HuffPo]

Louisville had the sharpest increase of any U.S. city in terms of residents age 65 or older who are scrapping by to pay their rent, according to findings released Monday by a national affordable housing group. [C-J/AKN]

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Gina McCarthy said Michigan state officials misled her agency in the run-up to Flint’s lead contamination crisis. [The Hill]

Allie Secor, manager of the Community Recycling Center, said she plans to retire in June. In a recent meeting of the recycling center board, one idea that was mentioned was for her replacement to be an employee of the city, which would mean adding a benefits package in order to attract qualified candidates. [The Morehead News]

The lawyers who enable an abusive business model for collecting consumer debts are now on the hook for their clients’ screwups. [ThinkProgress]

The 2014 tax audit for Metcalfe County Sheriff Rondal Shirley was released Monday by state auditor Mike Harmon. [Glasgow Daily Times]

Republican Senator Rand Paul (R-Cookie Tree) has dropped out of the race for US president after a disappointing fifth place finish in the Iowa caucuses. [BBC]

Peoples Bancorp Foundation, a non-profit corporation formed to make donations in Peoples Bank market areas, recently awarded $3,000 to Russell Independent Schools Endowment Foundation, Inc. [Ashland Independent]

The U.S. House of Representatives has subpoenaed the former Midwest chief of the Environmental Protection Agency over the Flint, Michigan, drinking water crisis, Representative Jason Chaffetz said on Wednesday. [Reuters]

Main Street and High Street in downtown Hazard were closed to traffic on the morning of Jan. 28, as a Kentucky State Police dog sniffed through the area in search of possible explosives. [Hazard Herald]

The United States is still lagging the world in the rollout of broadband. Look at the map and you’ll hate people like Brett Guthrie, Jim Waters and anyone associated with them even more than you already do. You’ll rage against just about any telecom-tied lobbyist you can think of after seeing it. Disgusting. [The Register]

When Benjamin Harrison moved from Indianapolis to Washington in 1889 to become the nation’s 23rd president, the White House kitchen steward hired a French chef to prepare meals for the new president and his guests. [Tom Eblen]

Jared Fox, 28, knows first-hand about the perils of intolerance. Just two years ago, when Fox was visiting his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, from New York, he was brutally attacked by a group of teenagers. They beat him, stole his belongings and called him anti-gay slurs. He suffered bruises all over his body. [HuffPo]

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More Hemp Troubles For Jamie Comer

Did you konw? State law authorizes the Kentucky Hemp Commission to institute and run the hemp permitting program, not the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

Click here (Warning: External PDF Link)

260.857 Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission — Membership.

(1) The Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission is created and is attached to the University of Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station for administrative purposes.

Aaaaaaand…

Click here (Warning: External PDF Link):

260.854 Conditions and procedures for issuing industrial hemp research program grower license and industrial hemp grower licenses — Content and processing of applications for licenses — Criminal background checks — Commissioner’s discretion in approving licenses — License fees set by administrative regulations — Monitoring requirements.

(1) The commission shall establish a program of licensure to allow persons to grow industrial hemp in the Commonwealth, as provided in this section.

-SNIP-

(2) Any person seeking to grow industrial hemp, whether as part of the industrial hemp research program or otherwise, shall apply to the commission for the appropriate license on a form provided by the commission.

(4) All license applications shall be processed as follows:

(a) Upon receipt of a license application, the commission shall forward a copy of the application to the Department of Kentucky State Police which shall initiate its review thereof

All this means the KDA – Jamie Comer’s people (now Ryan Quarles’ people) – should never have been in charge of handing out permits to his friends, supporters and donors.

Something tells us the feds are going to be more than a little interested in digging in.

Because we keep hearing reports of people like Dr. Katherine Andrews being denied permits while Paul Hornback’s young daughter sailed right through.

Fascinating good old boy stuff, isn’t it?

Meanwhile, we hear Hornback is considering legislation to help cover Comer’s tracks.

P.S. Yes, they could claim the federal farm bill gave the KDA power to issue licenses. But state law hasn’t been changed to reflect that. And it doesn’t change the reality that this is one giant, good old boy back scratch fest.

The Powell-Holliday Ties Get Stranger And Stranger As The Days Go By

Or, more to the point: here’s yet another reason to be suspicious of just about everything going on at EPSB.

If you’re reading this, you likely already know who Terry Holliday is. There’s almost no need to link to the countless stories we’ve published filled with gobs of government documents proving his ties to fired former Montgomery County Schools superintendent Joshua Powell. Holliday enabled Powell and spent years excusing and dismissing scandal after scandal after scandal.

Holliday, of course, was run out of the Commonwealth last year by the Beshear Administration.

But whattya know, his daughter, Ellie Holliday, is now the Assistant Director of International School Partnerships at the University of Kentucky College of Education in the Office of the Dean.

The dean? Mary John O’Hair, a friend/confidant of Terry Holliday. And a voting member of the Education Professional Standards Board, which will soon decide whether or not it’s necessary to hold Joshua Powell accountable. The same EPSB of which Holliday was a member.

Terry Holliday’s pal employs his daughter and just happens to sit on the board of the entity set to determine his friend’s future. Surprise!

And you wonder why Kentucky can’t have nice things. Or why there are so many doubts about educational accountability and the EPSB.

The Bevin Administration can’t step in quickly enough.

Note: No, there’s no immediately available evidence of wrongdoing on the part of O’Hair. But Holliday’s verified history, along with well-documented shenanigans that have been pulled at EPSB, makes this not only fair game but worthy of discussion. The appearance of impropriety matters when it comes to something as serious as educational accountability.

Coal. Just. Keeps. On. Dying. Its. Death.

People can’t stop snickering over the Alison Daddy’s Name Grimes and Jerry Lundergan subpoenas. [H-L]

Tensions soared across the Hawkeye State during Monday’s Iowa Caucuses. Polls were thwarted, two candidates ended their run for the presidency and another decided to leave the state all together to get some fresh clothes. [HuffPo]

Some 300 or more Kentuckians could retroactively earn their GEDs as the state opts to lower the score required to pass the high school equivalency exam. [C-J/AKN]

Barclays and Credit Suisse have been fined a total of $154m (£108m) by US regulators for their US “dark pool” trading operations. [BBC]

Coal production in Kentucky has slumped to its lowest level since the 1950s after declining nearly 21 percent in 2015. [Harlan Daily Independent]

Hillary Clinton narrowly defeated Bernie Sanders in the Iowa caucuses, according to results announced by the state Democratic Party early Tuesday morning, a dramatic finish to a race so close that The Associated Press declined to call it even after every precinct except one had reported results. [Politico]

At a time when private support is more critical than ever, alumni and friends of Eastern Kentucky University are generously giving of their time, talents and treasure. [Richmond Register]

Damn self-haters. The Log Cabin Republicans are interested in holding Democrats to high standards for LGBT equality, but not their own party. [ThinkProgress]

Nine candidates have filed to run for six seats on the Morehead City Council in the November general election. [The Morehead News]

A journalist immerses herself in New York’s Family Court system and finds a mix of misery and modest hope. [ProPublica]

Documents released to the Glasgow Daily Times in response to open records requests shed slightly more information on the situation that led to a Glasgow Police Department sergeant’s firing. [Glasgow Daily Times]

The Pentagon’s planned 2017 budget will shifts its focus on future wars against near-peer competitors Russia and China, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Tuesday. [The Hill]

A non-profit working to revitalize downtown Middlesboro has been awarded $20,000 under a program aimed at making local foods a greater part of local economies. [H-L]

A great man named Donald Trump once said, “I am a whiner, and I keep whining and whining until I win.” Sadly, this Churchillian testicular fortitude came to nought on Monday, as the country’s foremost wall-promiser and fear-player-onner went down to defeat in the GOP’s Iowa caucuses. [HuffPo]

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UK Agency Again Ignoring Sunshine Laws

Remember when the Attorney General told the Kentucky Medical Services Foundation that it was subject to Kentucky’s open records laws?

Yeah?

From November 9, 2015:

A foundation affiliated with the University of Kentucky that was questioned during the controversial ouster of a UK surgeon must turn over its records for public inspection, Attorney General Jack Conway has ruled.

-SNIP-

“Kentucky Medical Services Foundation operated as a secretive entity within UK for more than 30 years,” Hatemi said. “I have significant concerns about the university’s money being mismanaged under the disguise of KMSF without any oversight from UK Board of Trustees.”

-SNIP-

The Herald-Leader has made several requests for documents to the foundation in recent months. Officials have provided the requested documents but have maintained they were not required to do so by law.

-SNIP-

UK’s argument that the foundation is private relied on a 1982 decision by the attorney general which found that the foundation was not subject to the Open Records Act. But subsequent decisions by the attorney general found the University Medical Center, which administers the University of Louisville’s practice plan, was a public agency because U of L appointed a majority of its board.

The same is true for KMSF, the attorney general ruled.

“Documents submitted to this office … confirm that the University of Kentucky and the College of Medicine exercise extensive and continuing control of the foundation,” the opinion states.

The ruling cites numerous examples of UK’s control of the foundation, including bylaws that prohibit the foundation from accepting gifts or merging with another entity without the university’s consent and require the foundation to submit to audits by UK’s internal audit office.

Well…

Turns out the KMSF decided to break the law again!

Lachin Hatemi filed another request with the organization on February 1, asking specifically for:

Any agreements between KMSF, University of Kentucky and Coldstream Laboratories Inc. between January 2010 and January 2015

And KMSF said:



CLICK EACH IMAGE TO ENLARGE

Can you believe that? They had the nerve to claim agreements – government agreements – are confidential. Hahaha.

Okay. Sure. Keep up with that front. Because the matter is being appealed, yet again, to the Office of the Attorney General.

This is why Kentucky can’t have nice things.

Ashland Leads The Way On EKY Health

Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt says that if Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposed budget is approved by the General Assembly, the Department of Education will face $72 million in reductions over the next two years. [H-L]

More than a few curiosities, oddities and abnormalities arose when presidential campaigns and super PACs filed their 2015 end-of-year campaign finance disclosures Sunday night. [HuffPo]

As Planned Parenthood turns 100, officials with the regional branch met with reporters Monday to reaffirm their commitment to serving Kentucky and Indiana amid a controversy over its proposed abortion services. [C-J/AKN]

The chairman of Iowa’s Democratic party is declaring Hillary Clinton the caucus winner, despite the razor-slim margin separating her from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). [The Hill]

Ruh ro, there’s a whole buncha drama in Morehead these days! Tensions were high for a portion of Friday’s special called work session of Morehead City Council. [The Morehead News]

Attorneys for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump are trying to stop Elizabeth Mae Davidson, the woman accusing the Trump campaign of gender discrimination, from speaking publicly about her allegations. [ThinkProgress]

Legislation that would prohibit the General Assembly from diverting state lottery funds away from Kentucky’s need- and merit-based scholarship programs has cleared a House committee. [Press Release]

Bernie Sanders’ campaign plane departed from Des Moines amid uncertainty over who exactly won the Iowa caucuses, but it didn’t matter to the candidate or his staff. [Politico]

Cave Country Trails Initiative board of directors discussed at their meeting Thursday night upcoming workshops that will take place in surrounding communities. [Glasgow Daily Times]

Astronomers have discovered the largest known solar system, consisting of a large planet that takes nearly a million years to orbit its star. [BBC]

Ashland is once again leading on the health care front in Eastern Kentucky. The Ashland-Boyd County Health Department is planning a needle-exchange program to prevent the further spread of Hepatitis C in the area, epidemiologist Kristy Bolen said. [Ashland Independent]

Companies and scientists are racing to create a Zika vaccine as concern grows over the mosquito-borne virus that has been linked to severe birth defects and is spreading quickly through the Americas. [Reuters]

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin wants state colleges and universities to produce more electrical engineers and less French literature scholars. [H-L]

The FBI is joining a U.S. investigation into Flint, Michigan’s water contamination crisis, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit said on Tuesday. [HuffPo]