Imaginary Conversations with Jody & David

Jody Richards, the soon-to-be-former Speaker of the House, plays golf with Senate President David Williams at Greg Stumbo’s course in Prestonsburg.

Hilarity ensues. And we’re left with the reality that Richards has no backbone and has never seriously stood his ground on anything.

Scene: Williams, the Republican Senate Majority Leader, and Richards, the Democratic House Majority Leader, are playing a round at StoneCrest Golf Course, which sits atop a reclaimed mountaintop removal mine site in Prestonsburg, Ky.

Williams: Thank God for this course, you know?
Richards: Amen, Dave. We ought to have more of ’em out here.
W: Well, that pork porker Stumbo is coming back to the House. He’s in good with those companies, got some property on one of these, right?
R: Sure does. I’ll give him a call. He’s an ardent supporter of golf on the mountains.
W: At least he’s good for something.
R: You might be dealing with him instead of me soon enough.
W: Doesn’t matter.
R: What’s that supposed to mean?

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Is the southeastern Kentucky fix in?

Could the fix be in for the 30th State Senate district’s special election? That’s what Democrats in southeastern Kentucky are alleging.

Turns out just four Democrats will select the Party’s nominee for Senate and no one is happy about it.

And now the party’s nominee selection process is under fire, as some — including one of the potential candidates — are complaining that it allows just four people to make the decision.

But Noe and Harlan County Democratic Party Chairman Nancy Brock claim the selection process puts Noe at a disadvantage. And Brock said Beshear and Mongiardo are exerting influence to affect the process in Alexander’s favor.

“It’s coming from Frankfort,” Brock said last night. “Dr. Mongiardo has called people in our area asking them to vote for Scott Alexander…

Glass declined to directly address any accusations that Beshear has intervened in the process, saying only: “I’m sure that all potential candidates and supporters are contacting people on the committee. That’s how the process works.”

With Vicki Glass’ non-denial denials how can anyone be certain? Definitely does the Beshear Administration no favors when the press can so easily write stories like this.

While Beshear and Mongiardo are absolutely within their rights to exert influence on the election, might we suggest a little politicking that doesn’t rub people the wrong way? Ticking people off isn’t exactly the best way to get things started for the next four years.

Beshear Announces Special Election Date


Governor Steve Beshear has issued the writ of election for the 30th district senate seat vacated by Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo and the 95th district house seat vacated by Brandon Spencer. The elections will take place on February 5, 2008. Nominations for candidates must be named by each party’s exec committee by January 8.

Spencer, you’ll recall, resigned from the State House in order for outgoing Attorney General Greg Stumbo to return to his old stomping ground. Rumors abound that Stumbo will becomeFloor Leader or Speaker of the house. We’re quietly hoping current Speaker Jody Richards steps aside in order for the latter to become a reality.

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.

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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.