Louisville Ready to Blow It?

After a judge’s ruling last Friday threw out Louisville’s smoking ban, local government officials seemed to make all the right moves. Mayor Jerry Abramson (who can’t decide if he supports a ban or not) immediately called for passing a new ban, minus a Churchill Downs exemption that created the legal loophole Judge Stephen Ryan cited for overturning the ordinance. Members of the Metro Council all seemed to be in agreement.

Most businesses, though there are exceptions, didn’t react to Friday’s news by putting out ash trays.

Then all hell broke loose.

Changes requested by the Health Department and the county attorney’s office may complicate the ban’s smooth path to passage. The Health Department wants to raise fines for those caught defying the ban, and the county attorney’s office wants to put more responsibility on the backs of building owners.

Those changes brought plenty of confusion into what should be a simple task — passing the original ban without the Churchill Downs exemption.

The law goes to the Health and Human Services Committee. Let’s hope that group does the right thing and drops the changes and brings forth the original wording. That’s the smoothest path to passage.

Louisville Lights Up… For Now

The city of Louisville took a step backward today when Judge Stephen Ryan threw out the city’s smoking ban. It’s a victory for the Metro Louisville Hospitality Coalition, which wasted no time in advising its members to begin encouraging guests to light up. Here’s an early story from the C-J.

Here’s a copy of the order, released this morning.

Without doubt, this story will dominate local headlines throughout the Christmas season. It should. And this is a case in which the city should take immediate action. It appears to be doing so.

Local government officials, operating on Holiday mode after a lengthy Metro Council meeting last night, have not been able to assemble for an emergency meeting. In order to pass the ban again, without the Churchill Downs exemption that provided a loophole for ban opponents, it must have 18 members present and 18 votes. Some Council members have left town, some are leaving today.

More after the jump…

Read moreLouisville Lights Up… For Now

Herald-Leader Treats Employees Badly

The Lexington Newspaper Guild is making its voice heard over the Herald-Leader’s decision to fight for the right to slash and eliminate health care for part-time workers and cut sick leave for all employees. Mind numbing, isn’t it? The very paper that has editorialized support for universal health care and economic justice for decades is kicking its employees in favor of corporate profits.

The H-L is owned by McClatchy, an organization based in Sacramento, CA, which purchased the paper in mid 2006. McClatchy promptly paid former Knight Ridder execs more than $60 million (the paper’s profits were $23 million in 2005) but can’t find the means to provide their workers with the basics.

The Lexington Newspaper Guild has been in talks with the company over its contract which expired on January 1 of this year (which remains in effect via an evergreen clause) and there are two major obstacles the company is sticking with. What are they? Health care and sick leave. Arguably the state’s most important news organization in the history of the Commonwealth is on the verge of disaster over health care and sick leave. Shameful.

The Guild recently held a demonstration outside the Herald-Leader and has released a video of the event:

UPDATE: Editor & Publisher has a great story on the Guild’s fight for fairness. Publisher Tim Kelly seems to think the truth is damaging. So maybe it’d be a good idea to, you know, provide employees with the basics and stop beating around the bush.

Rumors on the Internets

Beshear: The state budget is effed! Hide yer money in the freezer! Worst financials since the last Republican administration. [H-L]

ARH nurses strike is the end of the world. Patients not crossing the picket line, forcing layoffs and unit closures. [H-L]

More on Stumbo favoring the Kentucky House, more non-denial denials from Vicki Glass about a job for Brandon Spencer. [C-J]

David Williams sought change for road at close of business for Fletcher, Ernie’s biggest contributors stand to make mega bucks. [C-J]

Did you know comprehensive sex education is better than Bush abstinence-only quackery? [DMKY]

Fletcher Screwed Nursing Homes

What, you thought Ernie Fletcher was history? Sorry. He and his cronies screwed things up so badly that we’ll be hearing about Ernie for decades to come. The man’s legacy is one of disgrace.

John Cheves is reporting that the Health and Family Services Cabinet is so broke nursing home inspectors can’t have their travel costs reimbursed.

In its final days, Gov. Ernie Fletcher’s administration warned the state’s nursing home inspectors that a “budget crisis” prevented them from being reimbursed for travel costs incurred on the job.

Inspectors also were warned that “there is NO MONEY in the budget at the present time,” so they should bring in pens and pencils from home and not use state paper to copy nursing home records unless “absolutely necessary.”

So much for that magical rainy day fund Ernest Lee used as a re-election tool. Thought our Commonwealth was in wonderful economic shape, Ernest?

David Adams reminds us of the Medicaid shortfall and looming pension fund disaster.

Guess Who

Guess which delusional U.S. Senator thinks Republicans will maintain their stranglehold on the Congress in 2008? And that’s with 23 Republican seats up for grabs and Democrats leading in most of the open seats.

Just how will they maintain their hold?

But on Wednesday he argued that the Republicans seeking reelection would be in strong positions because they have shaped a number of high-profile bills that have been sent to the president’s desk, such as the newly enacted energy law, and have blocked “terrible” bills, such as a mandate to bring troops home from Iraq.

Oh, by blocking “terrible bills” that provide health care for millions of children and refusing to allow the troops to come home.

Oh Snap Update Dept

Did you know you can now get all redneck and torn up in Lexington on Sundays? [H-L]

Would saintly Mitch McConnell blindly back a partisan and anti-voting rights hack to be our next elections watch dog? [NYT]

Harry Yonts is totally sorry for murdering that girl, driving under the influence and tampering with evidence at the scene of said murder. He’s totally sorry and should be forgiven! It was just a little frat party drinking, you know. [H-L]

Hal Rogers still loves dishing out the pork and barbecuing taxpayers as he kills the world. [C-J]

Henderson is afraid to talk about the affair. [Gleaner]

Jim Bunning is still holding presidential records hostage as he tries to write history. [SF Gate]

Tom Dorsey is perpetually years behind the rest of us. Did you know they make fancy things like high-def teevees? [C-J]

Kentucky’s Medicaid system is effed up and no one can save it. [KY Auditor]