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.”

Read more

Halloween Briefing Dept

Revisionist History. Larry Dale Keeling takes offense at Ernie Fletcher’s claim that his illegal merit firing hit list was a “promotions list.” Ernest Lee would never let little things like facts get in the way of telling a remarkable, lie-filled story or two. [KyKurmudgeon]

More Anti-Mitch Fever. Chris Cillizza of The Fix gets it right and wrong on Mitch McConnell. Wrong: most Kentuckians are not ideologically in tune with McConnell. Right: he’s a fundraising giant who plays dirty. And there a lot of people waiting in the wings to take him on. [The Fix]

We’re still talking about casinos? What? Casinos aren’t the scary devil Ernie Fletcher says they are? Someone must be on crack to suggest such a thing. Crime rates that fell after casinos came to town? What? [C-J]

Ernie lied again. He takes credit for staffing and care improvements in nursing homes. But John Cheves calls him out, Nobody, including Fletcher, knows whether staffing and care have improved in the state’s roughly 300 nursing homes, or whether they have gotten worse or stayed the same.” Ruh ro. [H-L]

Paying Attention. Ashley Cecil paints a picture of fair trade most of us ignore throughout our daily lives. And she examines realities which keep people poor and unable to participate in the “free” market. More importantly, this painting activist donates a good deal of profit from her artwork to charitable causes. [Painting Activist]

When it rains. Steve Henry’s hack ignorantly rails against libraries in Louisville. Reading her rant not only made our eyes bug out but left us feeling like we were listening to Henry himself blabber on. While reading and re-reading her letter to the editor we were only able to wonder if this woman– the person who has served as treasurer of Henry’s illegally-used senate campaign account– couldn’t make a better use of her time. The C-J must have printed this letter for the sheer humor. P.S. Evy: no-call lists don’t apply to politics. [C-J]

Jim Waters: What the devil does the doctor mean?

You’ll notice Jim Waters’ column is now published a week later on Page One. This is as a courtesy to an unnamed print publication we believe is remarkable and want to succeed in every way possible. If we were being asked to bow for a Gannett or Clear Channel-owned publication we’d be foaming at the mouth with a different story. Thank goodness Kentucky is home to some great journalism we’re proud to support. Readers should feel encouraged to scout out their local alternative weekly newspapers.



What the devil does the doctor mean?

By Jim Waters

The devil’s missing from Gov. Ernie Fletcher’s latest proposal to bring medical-liability reform to Kentucky.

His plan creates an “independent board of medical professionals” to determine the merit of lawsuits against doctors. But the details – where the devil lies – remain ghost-like. Perhaps the devil got all caught up in Halloween, or maybe he’s “gone down to Georgia” to fiddle around.

The governor began his administration promoting capping noneconomic damages in medical-malpractice lawsuits. Apparently, he’s given up on being able to get that idea through a legislature filled with lawyer-legislators.

Read more

Kentucky isn’t burning anymore

30 days behind. Hendrickson and Grayson in a dead heat? They were a month ago according to the Lane Report. 37% – 37% with 22% undecided. Guess this is the race to watch after all. [Lane Report, PolWatchers]

His old self. Louisville Arena Committee Chairman Jim Host proves what a partisan hack he is, appearing in a radio ad for Ernie Fletcher’s reelection bid. To think this man parades around Louisville preaching that he’s not political. Please! [PolWatchers]

OMG. People wake up and begin questioning skyrocketing cost of higher education costs. Turns out people really do want to know what Beshear and Fletcher have to offer on that front and wish they’d hear more about it on the campaign trail. [C-J]

Standing up against the dark side. 200 health care workers protested outisde Carlyle Group Headquarters in D.C. Monday. Their cause? To highlight how the creepy group’s purchase of managed care facilities is screwing the world up. [FDL]

Status quo. Hebert and Survey USA have some interesting poll results – questions about the gays, gambling and education. And Beshear is still leading by 20 points. [Hebert, SUSA]

Combination of church and state. Working Families for Kentucky tries to use religion to try to turn voters away from Ernie Fletcher in the upcoming election. Their latest radio ad calls upon Christians to ask for the unvarnished truth. That’s fine and dandy but why do we have to bastardize religion by muddying it with politics? [PolWatchers]

Just for laughs: Be Larry Craig for Halloween.