Flashback: Keith Hall Shirked Duties in Frankfort

State Representative Keith Hall of Pike County shirked his duties in Frankfort, as we told you last week, to attend the SEC in Tampa.

Russ Cassady of the Appalachian News-Express has picked up on it:

A majority of state legislators were present for voting on Thursday and Friday of last week, as agreements were reached on CATS testing and transportation bills.

But, 93rd District state Rep. W. Keith Hall, who represents a large section of Pike County, was not in Frankfort. Hall said he was in Tampa, Fla., with his family, watching SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament games. Hall’s absence in Frankfort and presence in Tampa has received some statewide attention, with a mention on the Louisville-based pageonekentucky.com Web site, which said Hall “shirked” his duties.

-SNIP-

Hall said he left Frankfort last week under the impression nothing important was going to occur Thursday and Friday, because of a “tug-of-war” between the House and Senate, and believes he was correct.

“I was told before I went, ‘Keith, not a lot’s going to happen because we’re waiting on House bills to be passed in the Senate, they’re waiting on Senate bills to be passed in the House. The chess game and tug-of-war’s taking place and not a whole lot’s going to take place,’” Hall said.

-SNIP-

The session has been a rocky one for Hall, who ignited controversy by filing HB 119, which would have decreased the number of mine emergency medical technicians (METs) required at smaller mines. Mine safety advocates said the bill would weaken mine safety measures passed just two years ago.

Hall was also criticized for the bill because coal reserves he owns are mined by a company which would benefit from the bill. Hall said he receives a percentage royalty from the mining company on each ton mined.

He eventually backed away from the bill, which did not pass and is unlikely to be revived this session.

Yeah, we must be really crazy for having the nerve to suggest our elected officials remain on duty while the legislature is in session. Wasted tax dollars should mean nothing to us, obviously, because they apparently mean nothing to Keith Hall.

Thanks to the News-Express for staying on top of those who are elected to represent eastern Kentucky.

Tuesday Dept of the Annual Head Ebola

Woah – all right for temperature changes and related head ebola! Barely functional this morning. For the first time ever, I had to turn down a media appearance. WHAT ON EARTH IS THIS WORLD COMING TO? My ego is so confused right now.

Big time ruh ro for Bristol Bar and Grille in Louisville. First discrimination against a differently abled young man. Now this. [Mark Hebert]

The Mine Safety and Health Administration warned five Kentucky coal mines that they could be subject to tougher enforcement because they show potential patterns of repeated serious safety violations. Meanwhile, Frankfort continues to legislate against mine safety. Go figure. [C-J]

Mitch McConnell and Elaine Chao now fly Southwest. Guess Elaine has gotten more comfortable with flying into BWI, rather than National, now that the government isn’t paying for her direct flights from Louisville. [Politico]

Did guards at the Fayette County jail beat an inmate who died? A lawsuit says the man had six broken ribs. And the Lexington Jail Fiasco goes on. This is maybe the only thing David Adams has been right about lately and it deserves all the attention in the world. [H-L]

An increase in state and federal taxes is scaring cigarette smokers and prices are jumping. Is this good for public health or just bad for people who smoke cancer sticks? [C-J]

And even more from the Courier:  a special investigation. Officer Absent: Case Dismissed. [C-J]

Daniel Mongiardo– three months later– finally has a website. He’s recorded a video about why he’s running for the U.S. Senate. The video, which is 95% about health care (we get that he’s a doctor, but why would it make him a good senator?), has a mention of coal toward the end. So, I suppose we’re left to assume he supports health care and coal. Anyone else care to take a moment to analyze the video?




Thursday Afternoon Dept of Loving Kentucky

We are going to throw up if Daniel Mongiardo sends another press release out today letting us know that he’s taking a leak or breathing or whatever. GOOD GOD FOR ALL THAT IS HOLY/UNHOLY! What a waste of state resources.

In other news, I’m struggling to remain afloat with my schedule today and have to put off a couple stories for tomorrow. You wouldn’t believe how many legislators want to meet to complain about Frankfort.

Heads-up: We’ll be hosting another screening of Mountaintop Removal in Louisville in the coming months and would like your feedback on interest in attending. It’ll be free and all that.

Beginning to review resumes this weekend. Daunting task. Interested in being a full-time Assistant Editor/Investigator Reporter? We’ll be accepting applicants for the next week or two. [Click here for details]

Like we told you a couple weeks ago, Ellis Park will close by the summer. [Bluegrass Politics]

President Barack Obama today announced $123,446,750 million in weatherization funding and energy efficiency grants for Kentucky. $70million will go toward weatherization, which will allow an average investment of up to $6,500 per home in energy efficiency upgrades and will be available for families making up to 200% of the federal poverty level, roughly $44,000 per year for a family of four. $52million will go toward the State Energy Program to fund rebates for consumers for home energy audits or other energy saving improvements, development of renewable energy projects, promotion of Energy Star products, efficiency upgrades for state & local government buildings and other state efforts to help allegedly save families money on their energy bills. But don’t worry, you won’t ever see the help. [Press Release]

What the heck is up with Knott County’s finances? That county spends more money in more questionable ways than an airport employee. Goodness. When will it end? [H-L]

You mean Politico and Fox News are advancing Mitch McConnell’s fuzzy math on the cost of the omnibus/stimulus bills? Surely not. $1 billion an hour? Hardly. That money will be doled out over the course of 18 months. So fancy. [Media Matters]

Drilling in Kentucky’s State Parks and nature preserves? Not happening anytime soon. But don’t hold your breath– people like Greg Stumbo will fight to ruin Kentucky’s natural beauty so they can personally benefit. It’s only a matter of time. [Forbes/AP]

Pee Alert: Greg Stumbo put up four of the most ineffective speakers, ever, against David Williams on the conference committee on Senate Bill 1, the legislation to kill CATS. Kelly Flood, Linda Belcher, Kent Stevens and John Carney. We’re blown away. [Stephenie Steitzer]

Joe Sonka scored 338 on the dirty liberal quiz. We scored 360. We’re more conservative than he is so he must’ve screwed his answers up. What’s your score? [American Progress]

Are you old, retired, bored, an east end lady of leisure or just cold want something to do? Volunteer as a docent with the Kentucky Historical Society! The Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History in Frankfort needs you. It’s part of the Historical Society’s campus which includes the Old State Capitol and the Kentucky Military History Museum. For more information on the docent program or to schedule an interview, please contact Linda Grabon at 502-564-1792, ext. 4422 or linda.grabon@ky.gov. [Press Release]

Speaking of KHS, its immigration website won a fancy award. Our New Kentucky Home: Immigrant Experience recently received a gold ADDY at the 2009 Lexington ADDY Awards ceremony. It’s an online exhibition that shares stories of immigrants who came to Kentucky to build a better life. Check it out. [Immigration]

Greater Louisville Inc (GLI) is spreading disinformation about card check legislation. HR1409 and S560. GLI alleges that card check allows coercion by eliminating the private ballot. Unfortunately, they neglect to mention that private are but an OPTION with the legislation, not a requirement. We we waste our time being involved with this “chamber of commerce,” I’ll never know. There’s no way I’ll join again– even if it’s free. [Email Blast]

Tuesday Afternoon Dept of Going Nuke-you-ler

Some ideas for Charlie Moore, new chairman of the Kentucky Democratic Party. They’re all must-dos and we’re hopeful that the new chair will see the light. Hopefully we don’t have to relive the past 22 months of abysmal leadership of a dying Party. [Blue in the Bluegrass]

What is wrong with the Democrats who don’t want kids to stay in school until the age of 18? [Bluegrass Politics]

Cybersafety legislation aka House Bill 315 passed the House 97-0 today. The bill, sponsored by Attorney General Jack Conway and Rep. Johnny Bell, does a lot of good for Kentucky’s youth– despite the criticism we’ve poffered to Jack Conway over the past year (see “Myspace Perverts”). It prohibits sex offenders from using social networking sites that are used by children under the age of 18, requires they update their email addresses and online identifiers with the registry, adds cyberstalking to the statute, makes it a crime to transmit sexually explicit images of themselves to minors, allows police to seize personal property used by a predator while committing a crime and grants administrative subpoena power to the OAG when investigating cyber pervs. [Press Release]

This absolutely sucks. A stair collapse in Louisville injured the new director of the Downtown Development Corp and it’s deputy director. Thank goodness they’re alive. Dang. How scary. [C-J]

Are national Democrats finally growing a pair? Senate Democrats are angry over the AIG bailouts. Who knew this Party had any guts? We’re wowed. [The Hill]

The Energy and Environment Cabinet filed a verified complain yesterday in Franklin Circuit Court against Childers Oil Inc. and Mountain Rail Properties over last month’s release of diesel fuel from tanks that contaminated the drinking water supply in Letcher County. The suit seeks temporary injunction against the companies to prevent further discharges and to prevent the disposal of additional underground storage tanks at the site where the spill occurred. The suit requires the two companies to disclose locations of all other properties where storage tanks are located and disposal activities have taken place. [Press Release]

Could Jefferson County finally see early voting? Will gubernatorial candidates get to wait until three months before the general election to name a running mate? [Bluegrass Politics]

How do you feel about House Bill 376? It would strike down the state law banning construction of nuclear power plants in Kentucky until the federal government has a plan for disposal of high-level nuclear waste. The part that concerns us? Oh, I dunno, maybe the bit about removing the requirement for utilities to have in place a disposal strategy for radioactive waste, allowing generation and indefinite on-site accumulation and storage of new radioactive waste. [HB 376]

This may be the most hilarious thing we’ve read today: “I think Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said it best, though, when he asked: “Who wants to hang out with guys like Paul Krugman and Robert Reich, when you can be with Rush?” Truly. Robert Reich may drive a Mini Cooper and tell great stories about going to see Antonioni films with a butter-obsessed Hillary Clinton, but Rush could very well have drugs on him. Super cool!” [The Hill’s Pundits]

Beginning Thursday at 9:00 A.M. you’ll be able to watch a live video feed from the Supreme Court hearing in California re: Prop 8. [Clicky Clicky]

Jim Gooch, several months late. What was he doing, denying global warming? What took him so long? He just put out a release indicating that his fake House Natural Resources and Environmental Committee will hold hearings over the damage from Hurricane Ike and January’s ice storm. “My goal is to see what worked, what didn’t, and what the legislature can do to help before storms like these hit again,” said Gooch. “We benefited from some of the lessons learned during Hurricane Katrina, for example. My hope is that by holding these meetings, we can help others in the future who may find themselves in a similar condition. The more we learn, the better off we all are.” We’re not sure what he’s smoking. [Press Release]

This? This is terrifying. On so many levels. It’s Jim Gooch interacting with children. [YouTube]

Tuesday Dept of WTF Country Is This?

David Williams isn’t likely to do anything until after the session is over (duh). Same for Jack Conway.

We hear Dan Kelly may surrender his floor leader position at the end of the session. Turns out the battle to amass enough votes on the budget bill has left him exhausted and dispirited.

We’re hiring a full-time Assistant Editor/investigative journalist. Spread the word. [Page One]

University of Louisville President Jim Ramsey will visit Congressman John Yarmuth in Washington, D.C. today. Will Yarmuth ask him questions about why he’s done a piss-poor job in the post-Rober Felner era? Maybe some other folks in D.C. will ask him what the heck is going on in Louisville? Don’t hold your breath. [Press Release]

Tomorrow John Yarmuth will attend the Annual Kentucky Farm Bureau Congressional Tour Breakfast, where he will be presented with a Friend of Farm Bureau Award for his work in the 110th Congress. Will John Yarmuth ask Farm Bureau about their abhorrent treatment of Todd Eklof and their admission of violating the Fairness Ordinance? [Press Release]

Daniel Mongiardo’s already losing the race on the internets, according to this story. We can’t disagree. [LEO’s Fat Lip]

This is the kind of thing you watch, during boring meetings, to make sure your brain doesn’t rot out your ear. [YouTube]

Kentucky’s legislators aren’t happy with a bill proposed by Greg Stumbo and David Williams that would create what is essentially a creepy, uncontrollable law enforcement agency within the legislature. It’s drawing majorly mixed reviews which are mostly negative. [Bluegrass Politics]

Last evening the White House announced that more than $205.3 million in Medicaid Relief from the ARRA is available for Kentucky. The Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentage funding will be available to us on Wednesday in special Treasury accounts. Specifically, we qualify for $205,301,202 under the bill. Check the chart detailing funding. [State Funds Chart]

Kentuckians For The Commonwealth is standing up against HB 119, which would weaken mining laws (we told you about it last night). House Bill 119 would reduce the number of Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs, also known as mine emergency technicians or METs) required at smaller mines. Currently the law requires that two EMTs be available at all times when miners are working. But HB 119 would reduce that to just one miner if the shift is less than 18 miners. From KFTC: The required number of EMTs at each mine was just increased by the General Assembly through the passage of Kentucky’s landmark mine safety law in 2007. That legislation was in direct response to and designed to prevent situations like the accident that claimed the life of David “Bud” Morris at H & D Mining in Cumberland (Harlan County), where the only EMT on the shift failed to treat Morris’ life-threatening injuries. Had there been another EMT on site, Morris likely would not have bled to death. [Press Release]

More on the Katie King snafu. What the heck is going on, King Family? It’s time to come clean and let us know once and for all wtf is up and why things smell so fishy. [WHAS11]

Oh Snap Monday! Welcome to Winter of Poverty!

Don’t forget to watch video of Vernie McGaha, Ed Worley, Gary Tapp and Ernesto Scorsone from the 2004 State Senate floor debate on Daniel Mongiardo’s SB245/anti-gay marriage amendment. You’ll really appreciate the the footage of Mongiardo standing behind Scorsone as he spoke, laughing and giggling uncontrollably with his pals. [Page One]

Crazy ass Jim Bunning said Justice Ginsberg would be dead in nine months from pancreatic cancer. [C-J]

Johnathan Gay could learn a thing or two about honesty. He’s spinning, suggesting the Herald-Leader blames “Mountain Dew Mouth” on the coal industry. Unfortunately for Gay, it’s a reality that those in areas of coal mining cannot drink the ground water because it’s a disaster thanks to coal. I, for one, grew up in an area were having a well wasn’t an option if you didn’t want 15 different kinds of cancer.  He should think twice before attempting dishonest spin. And, no, there’s not a better place to start attacking than oral health, Johnathan. [Cyberhillbilly]

Yup. It’s true that Jim Gooch refuses to allow stream saver legislation out of the Natural Resources and Environment Committee. It’s also true that Mr. Gooch has taken it upon himself to rail against “that fag in Louisville” over the past few weeks. Guess he knows what’s coming down the line. [Angela Mitchell’s LTE]

How many gallons of water does it take to make your latte? Guess. 53! [Discovery]

No, Mr. Hawpe, taxes aren’t the plague. But keeping four cents on the gas tax to maintain $120 million just because some folks in Frankfort can’t bring themselves to SOLVE this fiscal nightmare we’re in? Give me a break. Side note: It’s hilarious that the “Lunsford Gas Tax” is now the hottest topic of conversation in the Commonwealth. [C-J]

That damn Priceline dude is on the Governor’s equestrian games advisory council. [Bluegrass Politics]

52,000 Americans hid their money from the IRS in Swiss bank accounts. [Financial Times]

Kentucky is weighing the expansion of a children’s health care program that would pay most of kids’ health care costs. It’d be stupid of us not to do this. Taking care of our young and old is the right thing to do. [C-J]

Is creating an investigative agency with no oversight the smartest thing to do? We already know that David Williams will receive one-third of the road fund (concession from Beshear/Stumbo) in exchange for the budget vote. Is this another concession– killing transparency and the right of the people to know what’s going on? Protecting state records from Open Records/Sunshine laws and preventing them from being released by court order is the wrong thing for the Commonwealth. Creating an uncontrollable and secretive arm of the legislature is a mistake and Kentucky should be ashamed. Al Cross actually knows what he’s talking about on this front. [Mark Hebert & C-J, oh, and Al Cross]

The Herald-Leader editorial board points out that talking about reality does not a negative stereotype make. There are real epidemics in eastern Kentucky and it’s our duty as Kentuckians and Americans to help. [H-L]

Why won’t Mitch McConnell grow a pair? He needs to demand that Roland Burris resign from the Senate. Not doing so is a disservice to this country. [CNN Political Ticker

Finally, for those fighting against SB68, don’t forget what a mess you could be in if you steal money and trash other Fairness organizations. [Page One]

Haha – David Williams for U.S. Senate. That’s been the gossip for months. And who believes THAT will happen (a victory, that is)?  He may enter the race, but he’s the only Republican in the state with more baggage than Ernie Fletcher.  Williams is screwed in his Republican circles because he cut road fund deals with Beshear and Stumbo. [Hahaha]

Will the powers that be finally decide that it’s time we all step up and work together to improve lives in Appalachia? Fat chance. [Ronnie Ellis]