Are cabinet secretaries overpaid?

You bet your momma they are.

While Steve Beshear may be struggling to lure Joyce Hagen into the Health Services Cabinet, we’ve gotta take issue with something Mark Hebert reported today.

Why are we paying cabinet secretaries upward of $300,000 per year? WHAT ON EARTH?!

This is state government. It’s not Fortune 500 America. We’re not trying to be competitive here.

It should be considered an honor to serve your government in such a capacity as secretary of a prominent cabinet. Being reluctant because you wouldn’t be paid enough is absolutely laughable and shameful. Anyone turning down a cabinet job because there’s not enough money in it for them should be cast aside and laughed out of the state. Anyone complaining about money in an upper-level state government job isn’t cut out to be in an upper-level government position. And they’re certainly not worthy of our beautiful Commonwealth.

Political Future? What? How bout the political past

Joe Biesk had a great story yesterday about Ernie Fletcher’s political future. The real meat of the story, though, is Ernie’s legacy. Rather, the events forever burned into memory that either cracked us up or horrified the world.

The “merit fiasco,” Hunter Bates inability to run for office because he wasn’t a Kentuckian, the U.S. Capitol airplane scare during Saint Ronnie’s funeral, the state health insurance disaster that nearly led to a massive strike, and his desire to bust up every union in the state with anti-union legislation. My, what an interesting legacy Ernest Lee leaves. He’ll never be forgotten.

Check it all out here.

Loosen Your Belt in Preparation for Tomorrow Update Dept

Happy early Thanksgiving, readers. We appreciate you. That’s why we’ll always make it clear when we have biases and will never sell out. Now’s a good time to remind everyone that our editorial team is not influenced by advertisers. The two are separate like church and state and we feel it’s absolutely essential for maintaining integrity. So if you ever see an ad for 9udy 11iuliani? Don’t get any hare-brained ideas.

We’re here to be critical of Republicans and Democrats alike. That seems to be paying off. So far we have received more than 200 tips via confidential e-mail and we’re thankful for that. Keep sending the dirt!

To our blogger friend recycling our story ideas every few days without attribution: Happy Thanksgiving to you, too. Imitation is flattering.

Shortsighted corruption and updates after the jump!

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The Day After Monday: Medicaid Lies Update Dept

Beshear picks the right person. Selecting Jennifer Moore to lead the Democratic Party is the right thing to do. We don’t know anyone who works harder or who is more determined to get the job done. Jennifer is a force to be reckoned with and will lead the KDP in a manner that will finally bring women to the table. Kudos to Jennifer. [PolWatchers]

Primary mega bucks after the primary. Steve Beshear’s camp raised $579,010 in primary campaign dollars after the primary and put them to use for the general election thanks to a 2004 federal court ruling. Ernie Fletcher, by comparison, raised only $33,150 in primary dollars after the May election. Complete lack of strategy. [C-J]

McConnell the Grim Reaper. For real. He told the Federalist Society on Friday that not only is the Senate where legislation goes to die (finally– he admits it) but he called himself the Grim Reaper. We’re not making this up. All right for hilarious campaign and commercial material. [CNS]

Republican spin? Apparently that’s the case in Hardin County. Little white lies were told by Republican Judge-Executive Harry Barry about Ernest Lee allegedly bringing a billion dollars to Hardin county. The only trouble with that story is that it was the legislature who delivered the definitely not a billion bucks to the county– not Fletcher. [News-Enterprise]

More drama in Lexington. The city’s jail troubles just keep on keepin’ on. This time it’s jail employee Ronald Gaunce who was arrested for impersonating a police officer. Gaunce used lights and a siren to stop a driver on I-64. Is this the best the jail can do? Is every employee an absolute embarrassment? Come on! [H-L]

Medicaid shortfall is huge. Ernie Fletcher lied. After all the tales the braggart had to tell it turns out Ernest Lee didn’t get the Medicaid budget under control. Health & Family Services submitted a budget request on November 15 requesting $389 million to cover a shortfall for this fiscal year. $389 million. [Mark Hebert]

Finger Pointing on Medco

Let’s point some fingers:

Louisville and the rest of Kentucky lost out on a major new employer because the Kentucky Pharmacy Board flat out failed to move on a regulation that would have made it possible for Medco Health Solutions Inc. to bring 1,300 jobs to the city. Instead, those jobs are going to Indiana, despite the fact that Kentucky’s incentive package was better ($30 million vs. $18.5 million). Pharmacy Board Executive Director Mike Burleson, according to the C-J, “didn’t realize how fast Medco needed the board to act.”

Burleson, appointed to his position in 2004 by Gov. Ernie Fletcher, told the C-J he wanted to protect the safety of patients. That was an extremely weak excuse, in the face of evidence to the contrary, for Kentucky’s slow pace in changing regulations that would have permitted Medco to operate here. Indiana’s board made the changes quickly without controversy.

Fletcher deserves some blame here, too. While Indiana’s Mitch Daniels was personally involved in negotiating with the company, Fletcher never talked with company officials. Expect more evidence of Fletcher gubernatorial incompetence to be made public, given that Fletcher spent the last year of his term fighting for his political life.

The Medco efforts by Kentucky economic development officials, it seems, were exemplary. It was an opportunity that doesn’t come along often, and Kentucky blew it, after a year’s effort, because of the incompetent actions of the Pharmacy Board.

Steve Beshear’s economic development message, during the campaign, was that too many incentives were being given to out-of-state companies, that the state needs to develop more in-state companies. That’s not the right solution, either. Beshear needs to make sure that this kind of mistake doesn’t happen during his watch. It’s a leadership issue. Daniels is a better leader than Fletcher. Indiana won. Kentucky lost. The contest was more important than any college rivalry.

Let’s hope Beshear replaces Burleson as E.D. of the Pharmacy Board, and insists that state government agencies get with the economic development program. When mistakes of this magnitude occur, heads must roll.

Rumors on the Internets Briefing Dept

Job hunt. Ernie Fletcher says he’s leaning toward work in the private sector after leaving helm as governor. Specifically, he says he’s likely to practice medicine again but doesn’t rule out work in the federal sector. Maybe Ernie could be Attorney General? Maybe he could replace Condi? [H-L]

Completely disgraceful. What’s it say about our country when veterans can’t get help from the VA and are unable to obtain health insurance on their own? It says we’re living in the dark ages with nothing but making a profit in the “free market” on the mind. Yay, America! Let’s send everyone to Iraq and refuse them care upon their return. [C-J]

Ugh. Embarrassing. Here in Kentucky we can’t get our crap together. We’re so focused on posturing and chest pounding that we fudge facts for historical displays in our Capitol. Like… getting major dates wrong for our motto and the Star Spangled Banner. [H-L]

What happened to Ernest? An editorial in The Enquirer begs the question of what happened to Ernie Fletcher? “In the end, Fletcher played to people’s prejudices and made himself into a caricature. Where was the classy, eloquent man I saw in his concession speech Tuesday night?” We’re still wondering who came up with his stupid campaign ideas, as well. [Enquirer]

Worthy failure. Pulling out the gay card late in the political game no longer works in Kentucky. Reference: The past few weeks. John Cheves has a bit to say about the matter. Something about fewer than 10% of voters (about four people) giving a flip about hating anyone. [H-L]

Kentuckians are fat and unhealthy. Nothing new, right? Right? Right. According to the latest study by the United Health Foundation, Kentucky ranks 43rd on the healthy charts. That’s just seven steps up from worst. Some day leaders in the Bluegrass that there’s more to public health than stagnation and rhetoric about caring for the children. Some day they’ll take action to improve our beautiful Bluegrass. [Business First]

9/11! 9/11! Rudy Giuliani is holding a fundraiser in Lexington on December 5 to benefit his campaign and the Republican Party of Kentucky. Isn’t that exciting? 9udy 11iuliani himself will be parading around Bluegrass. Wonder if Bernie Kerik will be at his side? [PolWatchers]

Al Cross in the Luallen camp? He says to look for recently re-elected Auditor Crit Luallen to be Mitch McConnell’s Democratic opponent. Why? Because she doesn’t scare easily. Call us crazy, but wouldn’t she have to beat several well-funded, tough folks in a primary to be his opponent? [C-J]

Lowered expectations. Fletcher’s campaign finally admits everything they did was illogical. Oh, and that things were laid back because “the expectations were lower”– for real! My, how losing allows people to open up with the truth. [H-L]

Jim Waters: Leaner government? Treasure the thought

Jim Waters misses the mark this week.

If you oppose unnecessary spending on children’s health-care programs, Hollenbach and his political siblings probably consider you “anti-children” or “anti-family.” If you support offering parents a choice – any kind of choice – on where their children attend school, then they call you “anti-public education.”

Way to use Republican spin, Jim! Unnecessary spending on children’s health care? What? Yeah, the zillion children in this country don’t deserve care. That’s the ticket.

Providing taxpayer-funded vouchers for children to go to private religious institutions is hardly being anti-choice. It’s about avoiding the real problem and not making public education work. It’s about the separation of church and state. It’s not a black & white issue and painting it as such is closed-minded and uneducated.

And using Todd Hollenbach as a poster child for Democratic ideology was just hilarious.



Leaner government? Treasure the thought

By Jim Waters

A chasm exists between anti-government zealots and those who believe in limited government.

One believes in anarchy. The other holds to the principle offered in a statement attributed most often to Thomas Jefferson: “government governs best which governs least.”

Again, that’s “governs least,” not “governs not at all.”

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