Dirty Liberal Rumors: Malls are Packed Edition

The Posts’s Dan Hastert on crack? Calls Michael Cassaro a serious candidate. Not sure what universe that’d be in, though. [Post]

Transportation Cabinet the latest to admit Fletcher screwing. Millions given to counties that didn’t ask for anything in his hopeless re-election bid. Emergency road fund dead. [H-L]

In news of war, tragedy, and uncertainty, 2007 was a year of frustration. No, really. [C-J]

Somerset mayor sued, allegedly rewarded officers who supported his election bid, punished others. Corruption in Kentucky politics? What? [H-L]

Ouster of crazy Ralph Woods. Finally. Dumping him from the bench wasn’t enough. No more crazy courtroom behavior. [Ashland Daily Independent]

The people of Harlan are tired of Hal Rogers’ enabling of George Bush’s cowboy fantasies, still brainwashed to believe media is “liberal.” [Harlan Daily Enterprise]

The twelve lies of Mitch McConnell put to music. [DK]

Breaking: Brandon Spencer Resigns

Mark Hebert has the scoop.

House Speaker Jody Richards has confirmed that 95th district Rep. Brandon Spencer (D) Prestonsburg, has resigned from his House seat which just happens to be Stumbo’s old house district. Richards says Spencer sent a resignation letter to Governor Beshear this afternoon and a copy was forwarded to the Speaker’s office. Beshear will now set a date for a special election with democrats and republicans in Floyd County deciding who their respective nominees will be.

Will Stumbo head back to the State House? Why else would Brandon “I’m Running Again” Spencer resign? We hear he’s been given a nice state job as a consolation prize.

Stumbo’s “campaign” is making an announcement tomorrow morning, according to the OAG.

Stephen George on Moving Mountains

Very little can get the people of Appalachia fired up like a discussion about coal mining. Likewise, very few “big city” journalists are well-equipped to approach the subject with innate personal passion. Stephen George, Kentucky’s somewhat hidden gem of a journalist, does just that in the winter edition of New Southerner.

George tells the story of Penny Loeb’s Moving Mountains (available from the University Press of Kentucky– BUY IT!) and how it came to be. Loeb’s battle against King Coal for such basics as clean water and a healthy environment is just the tip of the iceberg for most eastern Kentuckians. It’s a story that hits close to home and is hanging in our hearts. You politicos who care about the future of our beautiful Commonwealth should give Stephen’s article (and then the book) a read.

Patricia “Trish” Bragg is a housewife who lives in Pie, West Virginia, a coal-rich hamlet close to the Kentucky border that has been mined, mountaintop-removal style, into a much different place than it was a few decades ago. Water flows differently nowadays. So does money, and so do bloodlines. It’s all because of the coal — cheap, bituminous black. Beating back the rush for it is like trying to stop an avalanche with a ski pole: the mechanics make a little sense, if you bend your mind, but the size of the task alone is so absurd, you may as well shrug it off.

Bragg was the lead plaintiff — by virtue of the alphabetical superiority of her last name — in the most far-reaching lawsuit in the history of mountaintop removal. She held the proverbial ski pole. And for it, she is a hero to some and a villain to others.

Bragg and the lawsuit, Bragg v. Robertson, are the subjects of the new book Moving Mountains by Penny Loeb, an investigative journalist and former senior editor at U.S. News & World Report who spent nine years following the monumental case that would permanently change Appalachia, King Coal and the future of this most destructive, degrading form of mining. Loeb’s account is a superb balance of storytelling with complex, difficult facts — the minutia of federal and state mining regulations is dense if anything — and the seasoned reporter deals it all in stride. She has crafted a coherent story of victory and defeat, of settlements and injunctions, capturing among it all the grand, brazen hope that a bunch of ill-read underdogs can — and did — change a world much bigger than their own.

But first, they needed some drinking water.

Click here to read the rest…

The Long List of Pardons

Former Governor Ernie Fletcher’s (Former. Wow.) list of pardons and commutations was quite long at 101 people. Ernest Lee’s pardon pen was warmed up in 2005, you’ll recall, when he pardoned his entire corrupt administration before most of them were indicted.

One of the recipients of Ernie’s latest pardons is a guy who hasn’t been convicted of anything– someone we’ve been highly critical of– Morgan County Republican and Judge-Executive Tim Conley. Conley was indicted on three counts of abuse of public trust about eight months ago but later saw the indictments dropped on a technicality.

Morgan County Judge-Executive Timothy Conley asked for and received a pardon from Fletcher even though indictments against him have already been dismissed.

Conley, a two-term incumbent who is the first Republican to be elected judge-executive in Morgan County in decades, was indicted in May on three counts of abuse of public trust.

The indictments were later dismissed on a technicality, but special prosecutor Brent Turner has pledged to renew the charges.

Conley used the excuse that he feared “they” would attempt to load a grand jury for a future indictment. But one really has to wonder why someone who professes innocence and has done nothing wrong would have anything to worry about. Eastern Kentuckians, in my experience, are as fair and honest as all other Kentuckians. Now that Conley doesn’t have “they” and loaded grand juries to worry about, he’s sure to get back to spending Morgan County’s money. Hopefully on more roads his family will benefit from. (And I’m serious about that– my family benefits from what his family receives– they live in the same area– and I’m not being the least bit sarcastic.)

We’ve included a scan of the first editorial and accompanying biased article to appear in Conley’s hometown paper, The Licking Valley Courier, shortly after charges were brought to light. The paper’s editor had extreme difficulty allowing the legal process to play itself out. Regardless of innocence or guilt it was a sight to behold.

All nitpicking aside, congratulations to Tim Conley. We hope he’s able to put this snafu behind him and successfully serve his county by doing the job he was elected to do. So long as he’s mindful that shady activity will bring warranted criticism. We have a feeling this isn’t the last we’ll hear of Conley.

Stumbo for the 95th House District?

The media is blowing this way out of proportion.

Now, Stumbo is saying he’d consider trying to get his old job back. He didn’t seek re-election as attorney general this year because he ran as the lieutenant governor candidate on Louisville businessman Bruce Lunsford’s gubernatorial ticket, which finished second in the May Democratic primary to Steve Beshear’s slate.

But Stumbo told the Herald-Leader last week that returning to the state House is “an option.”

It’s in the press every day but no one has bothered to ask Greg Stumbo if he intends to run for the 95th Houst District. At least not in more than a week. No one has forced him into giving an explicit answer. No one has pressed his key advisors into talking.

While not as far-fetched (or made up) as a Mongiardo for Senate candidacy, sources close to Stumbo tell us it’s not happening. Guess we’ll see if it’s posturing in the weeks to come.

Friday Update Dept. SNOMG!!11!1!!! Kroger is Empty Edition

She’s doing it again. Former Rep. Anne Northup isn’t ruling out a future run for political office. No idea what on earth she’d run for next. Senate? Governor? Agriculture Commissioner? State house? She could follow David Williams’ lead and try to run for everything with every party. [Mark Hebert]

Resolution on the way. Maybe. Governor-elect Steve Beshear steps in with WV governor to resolve ARH nursing strike in eastern Kentucky. Something about demands and compromise. Blah blah. Make it stop already. [PolWatchers]

Bluegrass Depot snafu? What? Why be upset? It’s just a little leak OF A FRICKING NERVE AGENT. P.S. When will these newspaper sites stop sucking with all of their terrible advertising pop-behinds and weird text ads? [H-L]

Northern Kentucky seems a mess these days. Restricting political activity in Covington is the name of the game. Seems a little, um, restrictive to us. [Crowley’s Blog]

Is he serious? UK sophomore Daniel Burton, a Democrat, plans to run for Lexington’s Urban County Council open seat in District 3. Admirable, yes, but is he serious? [H-L]

Too little too late. Campaign finance fraud goes to the grand jury in Frankfort. Testimony from several individuals who gave “unlikely” campaign contributions to people like Steve Henry and Ernie Fletcher was given. Laundering campaign money, if you didn’t know, is woah illegal. [C-J]

Shameful thievery. A bronze statue of a little girl was stolen from park in Berea. And we’re left with the imagery of some meth head thinking they can pawn the statue or sell the bronze for oxy or whatever. Or maybe even put it in their front yard in the middle of Berea. [H-L]

Propaganda & Such. Corporate Newsmedia Hacks Dept.

Times. They’re changing. Internet ad sales are set to overtake print publications in just a couple years, according to The Guardian. That makes the internets– and websites like Page One with 299,055 unique visitors and 703,483 page views in November alone– the third largest advertising medium on the planet, just behind television and newspapers. [The Guardian]

Forget the next four years. Balancing the budget for the current fiscal year is a disastrous task. State agencies have requested $166 million in additional state fund for this year. The rainy day fund allegedly has $231.5 million but people like Harry Moberly suggest cuts so we don’t have to spend it. What? [C-J]

Mountaintop removal gets some attention. Rep. Harry Moberly (yet, same guy) and more than a dozen other lawmakers saw first-hand the damage bestowed upon a community during mountaintop removal of coal. From land overburden to health problems like cancer, it’s time to stop. And time for people in eastern Kentucky to stop freaking out any time the negatives of coal mining are discussed. [Richmond Register, H-L]

63rd house district candidates. The candidates for Kenton County’s seat in the house of representatives– Jon Draud’s old seat– are: Will Terwort, Kenton Co Republican Committee; Kelly White, former McConnell aide; Alecia Webb-Eddington, director of Kentucky’s Office of Homeland Security, producer of the hideous television ads. [Pat Crowley]

Weird, ignorant biases. The Courier-Journal (and David Hawpe? Someone.) is showing their ignorant bias against Louisville’s 8664 initiative to save the Waterfront and avoid major expansion of I-64. Regardless of one’s views (a couple of us here aren’t sold on the 8664 bit) of the proposal or understanding of the issues at hand, how is it a good thing for the state’s largest newspaper to say things like, “The merry band of 8664 supporters has taken the group’s nutty proposal to rip up one of the nation’s busiest thoroughfares further than anyone would have guessed. But enough is enough.”? What on earth? Folks at the C-J– who do everything to further Gannett’s corporate bottom line– need to retire with their ugly ties. [C-J]

What’s the Treasurer’s office do with its spare time? Why, sell unclaimed property on eBay, of course. Is this a task Todd Hollenbach will be able to handle? Will a family member have to be hired to get the job done? Hopefully all of those gold watches and silver liquer goblets sell quickly. [eBay]

Don’t forget to contribute. It’s your chance to be a part of the effort to ditch Mitch McConnell by contributing to his eventual opponent. Nearly everyone reading this, the thousands of you, can afford to part with a couple dollars, and if you’re not a democrat you’re at least anti-Mitch-minded. So pony up! [Page One]