State Vehicle Abuse? You Be the Judge

This photo was taken on Thursday, June 5, 2008 in the parking lot of Beef O’Brady’s in Frankfort at 11:56 A.M.

The car in the photo is from the Frankfort Motor Pool. Motor Pool cars are for day trips. I.E., you go to a meeting and then come back. They’re available to state employees just like Avis or Hertz and they’re not assigned to an office or agency.

So why was it driven to a restaurant in Frankfort? Who needed a Frankfort Motor Pool vehicle to go to lunch in Frankfort? We’re not trying to harm anyone’s career but we can’t not point this out as an example.

Acccording to KRS 44.045, paragraph 2, state vehicles are for “official use only.” Read it for yourself.

Stopping at Target or Kroger on your way home isn’t an official use of a state vehicle, so no one is going to complain much about that if you aren’t abusing your privileges. But that sort of vehicle use still costs us taxpayers money. There are roughly 10,000 passenger vehicles that drive in excess of 90 million miles per year in the state fleet. If each of these vehicles are driven an extra five miles per week for short stops at the grocery, that’s 2.6 million additional miles per year. At $0.44 cents per mile that adds up to $1.144 million per year. That’s also an additional 144,000 or so gallons of fuel per year that doesn’t need to be purchased by the state.

We’ve got to change the way we do business in Kentucky. It doesn’t have to cost employees that much, so don’t freak out. But there’s no reason we should be using these vehicles for personal trips without paying for that use.

Trouble in KET Land Has People Nervous

Over at the state’s public broadcasting outlet, which produces some of our favorite political programming (Comment on Kentucky, Kentucky Tonight), the budget crunch combined with the potential for a slate of retirements has folks worried.

Half of KET’s funding comes from the state budget, and it was asked to make do with $1.8 million less in the fiscal year that starts next month. It will get $13.24 million from the state in fiscal ’09. As such, the network cut 10 jobs and announced it would not replace four others. It has about 220 staff members, split between its Lexington HQ and Louisville production office (where it produces Louisville Life.)

Federal sources provide 15 percent of KET’s budget, about the same amount it gets from fund-raising and grants. The total budget is about $25 million.

Communications director Tim Bischoff said KET has not made decisions yet on operational cuts, which could affect the network’s programming. It’s possible, in theory, that the cutbacks will mean shows could be dropped.

Bischoff said that as KET prepares to celebrate its 40th anniversary, up to 30 of its staff members are becoming eligible for retirement in the next six months, which could create a void of expertise at KET.

“People who came in and have been here 25 to 30 years are eligible to retire,” Bischoff said. “They’re difficult to replace as they’re the senior leadership of the organization.”

Especially if the budget doesn’t allow for replacing them. Sounds like some tough choices ahead for KET.

New Reason to Switch From Sprint to AT&T


We’re totally gonna switch now. Bye-bye, Treo 700P & Sprint’s horrrrrrible awful crappy awful terrible coverage areas. Hello, overpriced AT&T service without unlimited voice, data and text without a physical keyboard.

Will we hate it? Should we switch? Or would we be happier moving to a BlackBerry?

Gah. We’ll see. Oh, and who wants to buy us a fancy present in July?

More Transparency Drama in the Big City Today

We told you earlier that the Jefferson County GOP was jumping on Mayor Abramson for his lack of transparency in spending.

Low and behold, the Mayor’s office got all nervous and sniped back at GOP Chair Brad Cummings claiming partisanship (duh, he’s the GOP Chair) and all that jazz.

Carlton said his office is always seeking ways to improve its transparency, and has “hundreds of thousands” of financial records available online.

But Cummings says the city’s website is difficult to navigate and makes it impossible to learn, for example, how much money is going to particular vendors. He thinks Abramson should jump on board Grayson’s efforts.

“I’ll give you $100 if you can make sense of it,” he said. “No effort has been made to make it easy to use. It’s not a partisan issue. Steve Beshear gets it, I don’t know why Jerry Abramson doesn’t.”

But that’s not what takes the cake. The Mayor’s spokesman, in a rush to defend the Cheerleader for Life, got his facts mixed up. Chad Carlton sent Rick an email that claimed Governor Beshear had initiated the drive for transparency in state government. Readers of Page One know that’s not accurate since we broke Grayson’s news last week. But, well, take a look for yourself:

Carlton sent me information in an e-mail in which he disputes the genesis of the whole transparency mess, citing Gov. Beshear’s Friday news release on the topic. But as Jake pointed out over at Page One here and here, it was the Guv who followed Trey’s steps. Either way, while Cummings release is charged with partisan language meant to ignite criticism of the Mayor. It’s an attempt to get his attention.

Abramson needs to jump on the transparency bandwagon. Posting a few documents on the internets every once in a while just doesn’t cut it.

Oh Snap Monday! Dems & Pubs Are Heated

Ryan Alessi has the skinny on the State Central Executive Committee. The article states that these are all Beshear supporters and that’s not true. 3/4ths of them have trashed the governor for months. It’s the same in every congressional district. We’re gonna have a lot to talk about for a long time. We hear the fan is just turning on and the poo-makers have just started to eat. [PolWatchers]

This is why Senate President David Williams is a powerful guy. Because he knows how to work a crowd and he knows what it takes to stand up. We just think that if David would let some bygones be bygones, he’d be able to take his leadership to the next level. Also, he needs to work within his supporters to position Trey Grayson as the next big thing. (Let’s have lunch, David.) [Bowling Green Daily News]

How do you feel about the Governor’s economic development trip to Japan during a time of all out terror on Kentucky’s economic front? We have mixed feelings about it but doubt the cost of the trip is even big enough to make anyone blink. What do you think? Note that the State Journal is still quoting Frank Simon friend Jim Waters. [State Journal]

Some Republicans can’t let go of the past and still can’t believe some of Ernie Fletcher’s retarded handlers got him all caught up in a hiring scandal. Now they’re claiming the special grand jury was tainted based on information they’re making up in their head. For real. They’re basing it on assumptions and without proof. Imagine that. Nothing wrong with digging for info to prove it was a witch hunt, but come on. Ernie’s a good guy who listened to the wrong people. [KPAC-2]

Read the rest of these eye-roll worthy bits & pieces after the jump…

Read more

Trey Grayson: Laying Groundwork for Future Race?

You bet your butt he is.

The Secretary of State’s office just announced yet another progressive step being taken.

FRANKFORT — Secretary of State Trey Grayson’s office is going to a four-day-a-week schedule for some of its employees.

To help some of the office employees with skyrocketing gas prices, Grayson is planning to implement a four-day-a-week work schedule, beginning June 16.

About 12 of the office’s 36 employees have signed up for the pilot program, said spokesman Les Fugate.

Go read the rest.

What’s going on, Democrats? Step up to the plate before Republican Trey Grayson out-progresses you. He’s doing the right thing at every opportunity and it’s like we, as Democrats in Kentucky, just ignore anything and everything we could use to make the state a better place. And everything that would increase voter participation.

If Grayson’s program is successful, will the rest of our constitutional officers follow along?

Oh Snap Monday! Cicadas Are Maneaters Edition

Campaign signs are really upsetting some folks in Bowling Green. Primarily those of Greg Fischer. We’re not harping, just sharing this link. But it’s interesting that Warren County is considering an ordinance to tightly restrict campaign signs after the recent primary because of illegally placed signs from a few candidates: Brett Guthrie and Greg Fischer. Most of Boswell’s signs quickly disappeared after the primary, but Fischer’s are still up, Gaines said. “He’s all over the county,” he said. [Bowling Green Daily News]

Theeeeeeey’re back! The cicadas! We’ve all gotta move far, far away for several months or our nerves will be entirely shot. The 17-year buggers are popping up everywhere and we just know we’re all going to go crazy. The streets and sidewalks are sure to be crunchy in no time. Please do not eat these creatures of the devil like the article suggests or you will be cast into hell where you will rot forever. [C-J]

According to Brett Hall, the economy is getting greener and it only helps Republicans like John McCain. Unemployment rates are fine (even though everyone has six jobs at McDonald’s and Wal-Mart), inflation has only flared up a bit (even though everything has doubled in price) and we’re not in a recession because we aren’t experiencing fuel shortages. Also, be sure to check out the story he’s just now jumping on about Michelle Obama screaming “whitey” or something. Makes perfect sense that a candidate for governor in AL would want to hire him up, doesn’t it? [Brett Hall]

Guess it’s just coincidental propaganda that the Herald-Leader a top story headlined “Food and gasoline: Soaring prices hit the poor hardest.” on the same day, right? The consumer price index for food that rose five percent last year has nothing to do with it, of course. Nothing to do gas prices. Nothing to do with wages not keeping up with inflation. [H-L]

Did you know? Republicans are calling universal health care an “insurance scheme.” Because, you know, the free market always and totally takes care of the problems we encounter. Especially when it comes to health care. Maybe outsourcing health care to India and China will solve all of our problems. [KY Progress]

We’re puzzled by Jim Carroll’s latest piece about Barack Obama’s friendship and working relationship with Dick Lugar. Nothing negative, just puzzled. Something about politics by association? Also, air traffic controllers are still being overworked and will kill us all. John McCain will lose in November because Dubya’s approval rating is non-existent, economic growth is negative or whatever and because Newt Gingrich took over the world like 15 years ago. Also, what’s with republishing material from a blog as part of a newspaper column? [C-J]