More on Mitch McConnell’s Money

We forgot to mention this in our original story about McConnell’s personal financial disclosure, but Senator Mitch McConnell’s assets grew by at least 40% while almost everyone else on earth got poor and starved to death. Oh, and Harry Reid is also in the same richie rich boat.

From The Hill:

Reid’s assets may have increased as much as $1.2 million. He has invested his wealth in an array of public and non-public assets, such as a Dow Jones Energy Index Fund and a healthcare sector index fund. His other assets include several mining claims and properties.

McConnell’s publicly traded investments grew by at least $600,000, or 40 percent. He reported public assets worth $1.5 million-$3.5 million in 2006. Those swelled to between $2.1 million and $7.8 million in 2007. He also reported a Washington property worth between $1 million and $5 million that stayed at the same value.

Despite their rising financial fortunes, Senate leaders say they still appreciate the economic struggles of the middle class. “American families are earning less today than five years ago and paying more for everyday necessities like a gallon of gas, heat for the home, and, of course, groceries,” Reid said on the Senate floor Monday. “And they’re paying more than ever for long-term needs like the goals of healthcare, college and retirement.

Saturday Update for Fancy Elitist Weekend Readers

Louisville ranks 48th when it comes to ability to weather an oil crisis. The ranking– which is calculated based on public transportation use, telecommuniting, bike and walk rates– puts the largest city in Kentucky behind Virginia Beach, Nashville, Indianapolis and Memphis. If it’s bad in the city, imagine how it will be out in the state. Yeah, excitement. We can’t contain ourselves. Wonder when the mainstream media will start talking about the real effects of a fuel crisis instead of just the price it costs to fill up the tank? [CNN]

Basically, Morgan Wilkins wants to piss everyone on earth off. She’s encouraging Kentuckians to fly the confederate flag. Basically, just, yeah. [Morgan Wilkins]

Life is awesome. Logging begins in Robinson Forest. Everyone is outraged. [H-L]

The Fayette County Jail. Federal whistleblower. Ruh ro. Cover-ups, lies, firings, indictments, white washings. This is going to be the biggest story to rock Lexington in a decade. Mainstream media: wake up because it’s about to get crazy. [KY Progress]

NBC’s Tim Russert died while taping voice-overs for his program yesterday. Read everyone’s statement about Russert, if that’s something you care to do. And read his story on MSNBC about how vigilance is needed on campaign claims so we can deal with big issues and not smears. [The Arena, MSBNC]

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.