UK’s College Democrats Speak Out

In response to University of Kentucky student body president Nick Phelps’ controversial racist email about Barack Obama, UK’s College Dems have written a letter to him.

We’ve obtained a copy of that letter:

Dear President Phelps,

It has come to our attention that you recently forwarded a defamatory e-mail that was anti-Muslim, anti-Atheist, racist, and overtly partisan, the subject of which was Sen. Barack Obama. We write to you to express our extreme disappointment and also to ask you to resign. We understand that the e-mail was not supposed to reach as far as it did; however, the fact of the matter remains that you put yourself in the position for this email to reach into campus.

The office of Student Body President is a publicly funded position which carries with it considerable responsibility. The main responsibility in our opinion is to represent all UK students at all times. This includes all students, regardless of race, religion, creed, ethnicity, sexual preference, or political affiliation. We feel that you have failed in this responsibility.

Read the rest after the jump…

Read moreUK’s College Democrats Speak Out

CYA 2008: Education & Student Aid Damage Control

Mere days after Governor Steve Beshear delivered the gloom and doom news of his budget cuts for state universities, days after University of Kentucky President Lee Todd sent out a damning email and only one day after six state university presidents testified in Frankfort, the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority sent out a blast of its “Financial Aid Tip of the Month” preaching wonders of student financial aid, the CAP program and KEES scholarships.

Perhaps the best known program is the merit-based Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES). Students at certified Kentucky high schools earn college scholarships based on their yearly grade point average and their best ACT score. Home school graduates and GED recipients earn awards based on their ACT score.

Students do not have to apply for a KEES award. If they attend a participating Kentucky college, KHEAA will automatically send the scholarship money after the school reports that they are attending classes. KEES awards may also be used at some out-of-state colleges, but only if the school is in a state that participates in the Academic Common Market and the student is pursuing an approved major not available in Kentucky.

Classic CYA, no? Bad news hits on Tuesday with Beshear’s budget address. KEES funding cuts catapult the entire state into a living nightmare. Lee Todd sends this message (PDF link). Everyone hauls ass to Frankfort to bitch & moan. Then we’re all blessed with a blast straight out of the CYA playbook.

On a somewhat related note: We’ve heard through the grapevine (okay, via Facebook) that University of Louisville students and faculty are planning protests and sit-ins in opposition to upcoming budget cuts. References here and here on Facebook.

Wouldn’t it be a complete nightmare for the current administration and higher education in general if every university in the state cancelled classes in favor of standing up for the most important insurance policy we have for the future– education?

Not the Bold Leadership We Ordered

Gov. Steve Beshear‘s budget address may have been a wake-up call for those who didn’t think things were as bad as they seemed. For others, it may have been a realization that the bold leadership Beshear campaigned on was nothing but campaign rhetoric.

There will be a $165 million cut in spending next year, and it will hit most areas of the state, save K-12 education and Medicaid. Higher education may have been the hardest hit.

U of L chief James Ramsey told the C-J: “. . . it’s going to be impossible for us to continue to move forward, and the question becomes will we be able to keep from backsliding.” UK’s Lee Todd said it will create a $50 million shortfall. Of note, this comes the day after Todd hired a VP of diversity for $210,000 a year.

But Beshear’s speech was full of those sorts of contradictions. Drastically cut spending here, but make up for it with a questionable expenditure there.

Beshear presented nothing bold last night. He preserved the funding for public schools, but said there would be no raises for teachers. And he authorized 2 percent raises (not much, but more than teachers are getting) for state employees, and said nothing about cuts to the state work force. He preserved $6 million for the Louisville Zoo and many other capital projects, and put money into the Bucks for Brains programs, but told University presidents to get by with less.

Read moreNot the Bold Leadership We Ordered

Stuff Over the Weekend: Short Update Dept

KCTCS tuition rates creeping out of reach for the everyday student in Kentucky? David Hawpe thinks so and states his case with a story of– get this– pickled walnuts and Henry Bains Sauce. Only David Hawpe could write about Henry Bains Sauce when discussing tuition hikes. [C-J]

Pat Crowley says Kathy Groob needs to toughen up if she hopes to get anywhere in her race. To quote him, “But she’ll have to toughen up; last time, her skin was as thin as the Morningview phone book.” Also says Jack Westwood will have to prove his accomplishments. [Enquirer]

John Yarmuth was elected president of the 43 Democratic freshman in the U.S. House of Representatives this week. Proving his ability to lead and be supported by people from both sides of the aisle. Anne Northup thinks she can beat him? This isn’t a Hill-Sodrel race a few years ago. It’s John Yarmuth in liberal Louisville in 2008. [C-J]

OMG! Jody Richards Almost Takes a Position!

The dirty liberal media is reporting that Jody Richards has changed his position on cigarette tax increases and will now push for a hike on cancer sticks in order to avoid budgetary cuts for education.

Is this a sign Kentucky could finally join the rest of the country in– if not the 21st Century– then the 20th?

Maybe?

Richards said there is growing support in his Democratic-controlled chamber for boosting the cigarette tax, which now stands at 30 cents a pack, one of the lowest rates in the nation.

Nationally, cigarette taxes average $1.11 a pack. The states bordering Kentucky have an average tax of 70 cents.

Raising the tax on cigarettes 75 cents would give Kentucky $307.6 million in additional revenue a year, according to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.

Raising this tax is good policy. Smoking is voluntary. Hiking rates would generate revenue. It’d deter people from killing themselves, as Ernie Fletcher admitted. What’s not to love? It’s not like the taxation system in Kentucky will ever be fair, so, let’s at least try to get with the program.

Rumors on the Internets: The budget & stuff

Kentucky’s Al Mohler wants to be president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Mohler, head of the Souther Baptist Seminary in Louisville is behind the Christian “exit” from public schools and has speculated for a while– publicly– about “fixing” the gays. [H-L]

Boptrot is back. Bob Foster, an FBI investigator from the O.B. days has been hired by Jack Conway to head the Attorney General’s investigations unit in Frankfort. He’s a former head of the FBI’s Eastern District Office and was most recently head of the Transportation Security Administration in Louisville. [Hebert]

The state senate is trying yet again to improve math and science. Along with providing incentive pay for teachers to work in those fields. Ken Winters is pushing for it. Even though the KEA says pay increases are whack. Looks like more counting on their fingers ahead. [H-L]

Andy Alcock had an exclusive story last night about a middle school boy who wanted to join East Hardin Middle School’s cheerleading squad. The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, responding to a lawsuit, ordered the school to pay the parents $3,000. The settlement includes an order for the school to undergo training sessions and produce reports on its progress. The coach who cut the kid from the team is no longer there. Maybe she should have found a spot for him. [WLKY]

Bucks for Brains is screwed until the budget ordeal is over. King David Williams says so. Maybe Steve Henry could donate his salary to the program for a while like… oh, right, turns out that never happened. [C-J]

Steve Beshear still afraid to raise the cigarette tax to be in line with other states. Even though Ernie Fletcher said the current tax rate has worked well for reducing teen smoking. And even after the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids announced an increase would provide Kentucky with over $300 million per year in additional revenue. [PolWatchers]