Louisville Arena Drama – Overspending, Corruption?

A Louisville contracting company president claims the Louisville Arena Authority is spending at least $1 million more than necessary to demolish two buildings on the arena site. Furthermore, it claims the Authority ignored the only bid from a qualified local contractor in favor of a Cincinnati company.

In January, the Authority announced it would pay O’Rourke Wrecking Company, of Cincinnati, $2.8 million to demolish the LG&E power substation and the Riverview Square building. Jon Davies, president of CRS Demolition of Louisville, says his company put in a bid to demolish the buildings for $1.6 million, but wasn’t even interviewed by Authority managers.

Davies said the bids were supposed to be considered on a point system — with 50 points for the amount in the bid, 10 for minority participation, 30 for qualifications and 10 for time frame. Davies said that based on that criteria, CRS would have had 100 points.

Another company, Dore and Associates of Michigan, submitted a bid that was less than O’Rourke’s, at$2.6 million.

Davies said he has been pitching the story to local media outlets, including the Courier-Journal, which he said has shown little interest in the story.

It’s Friday!!! Updates and Stuff.

Mitch endorsed Walnuts. “There’s widespread pride amongst our (Republican) Conference that one of our own is going to be our nominee,” McConnell was quoted as saying. What happened to all the Coulterites who said they’d support Hillary over him? [The Arena]

Beshear & crew are really botching the firing scandal they have created. Firing a a guardsman is about as low as you can possibly get. But then they rescind the without cause firing and announce he’s fired with cause for allegedly not taking advantage of job offers and not making an effort to regain his employment. WHAT?! Could we please get somebody to Frankfort (STAT!) who won’t admit to breaking federal hiring laws? [Hebert]

“Hi, my name is Reid Haire, Democrat for Kentucky’s 2nd District Congressional race and I gave $200 to Mitch McConnell in 2005 for his 2008 re-election bid. Meaning David Boswell totally wins.” What a tool! Come on, Democrats, are you getting dumber by the day? It’s not okay to contribute to McConnell’s campaign just because Bruce Lunsford did the same thing. [BGR]

The right has a great take on who the real loser was/is in the 30th senate district. Governor Steve Beshear made a major misstep in that election, caused controversy and made it clear to thousands of Democrats across that state that his decision(s) to hand pick candidates is one of the worst things we can allow him to do. The 30th district race also proves that the 2007 gubernatorial election wasn’t about love for Beshear but disdain for Ernie Fletcher. [Heffalumps]

Joan Gregory, AKA kentuckywoman on the blogs (mostly Bluegrass Report), has been appointed to the Kentucky Commission on Women. Congratulations to Gregory. Hopefully she’ll remember to be less nasty and spiteful when representing women than she is on the blogs castigating anyone with an opinion that differs from her own. [Hebert]

Fighting the Non-Competes

Two years ago, more than 80 people working in the broadcast industry signed a letter to the General Assembly asking for support of legislation to end the practice of using non-compete clauses for broadcast personnel. The letter included a who’s who of on-air talent, including anchors, reporters, and meteorologists from every major local TV station.

The letter was signed by radio legend Milton Metz and 83 others. It included on-air talent from across the state, and I counted 37 on the list who are still working in Louisville.

The bill died in a committee, and with it, so did the effort to outlaw the practice, though several other states have had laws passed to get rid of them. I wrote about the issue in this week’s LEO.

It’s a national issue. TV Spy, an industry media source, surveyed its readership, asking if non-competes should be abolished by legislation. 73 percent of 500 respondents said yes. Another industry group, the RTNDA (Radio-TV News Directors Association), surveyed its membership last year and found that 90 percent of newsroom personnel, including non on-air staff, have non-competes in their contracts.

In doing the reporting, I learned the issue brings out plenty of emotion, and fear. For instance, I was motivated to do the story when reporter Bill Alexander moved from WLKY to WDRB over the course of a weekend, obviously showing that non-competes aren’t universally enforced. Yet when I got Alexander on the phone Saturday in the Fox 41 newsroom, he said he had to run, but would call back in 10 minutes. I’m still waiting. No one in the WLKY newsroom would call me back on the topic either.

Sean Bartel, Kerri Richardson, Tony Hyatt and more after the jump…

Read moreFighting the Non-Competes

Friday Update Dept. SNOMG!!11!1!!! Kroger is Empty Edition

She’s doing it again. Former Rep. Anne Northup isn’t ruling out a future run for political office. No idea what on earth she’d run for next. Senate? Governor? Agriculture Commissioner? State house? She could follow David Williams’ lead and try to run for everything with every party. [Mark Hebert]

Resolution on the way. Maybe. Governor-elect Steve Beshear steps in with WV governor to resolve ARH nursing strike in eastern Kentucky. Something about demands and compromise. Blah blah. Make it stop already. [PolWatchers]

Bluegrass Depot snafu? What? Why be upset? It’s just a little leak OF A FRICKING NERVE AGENT. P.S. When will these newspaper sites stop sucking with all of their terrible advertising pop-behinds and weird text ads? [H-L]

Northern Kentucky seems a mess these days. Restricting political activity in Covington is the name of the game. Seems a little, um, restrictive to us. [Crowley’s Blog]

Is he serious? UK sophomore Daniel Burton, a Democrat, plans to run for Lexington’s Urban County Council open seat in District 3. Admirable, yes, but is he serious? [H-L]

Too little too late. Campaign finance fraud goes to the grand jury in Frankfort. Testimony from several individuals who gave “unlikely” campaign contributions to people like Steve Henry and Ernie Fletcher was given. Laundering campaign money, if you didn’t know, is woah illegal. [C-J]

Shameful thievery. A bronze statue of a little girl was stolen from park in Berea. And we’re left with the imagery of some meth head thinking they can pawn the statue or sell the bronze for oxy or whatever. Or maybe even put it in their front yard in the middle of Berea. [H-L]

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: The News

She’s just a working girl. Heh. Julie McPeak, a Democrat and Fletcher panderer, is looking for a job. And is apparently afraid of Steve Beshear. [H-L]

Nothing slips by David Hawpe– unless it bores him. Fortunately, Mitch McConnell’s tripe about the MoveOn ad isn’t something that got by. He reminds us that Mitch’s poop actually stinks. Should also point out that McConnell’s disapproval rating is at an all-time high among Democrats in Kentucky. [C-J, DMKY]

The Hispanic business community catches on to Bunning’s ignorance, recognizes the importance of not giving any president unlimited power in preventing the truth to come out. [HB]

Evil liberals are evil for wanting evil health care for those who need it most. Apparently, providing care 99% of the free world provides is the downfall of society and the reason our country is going bankrupt. It has nothing to do, of course, with the trillions of dollars of debt the Bush administration has racked up. [KY Progress]

Polar ice caps aren’t melting– it’s made-up! At least that’s what a strong majority (62%) of those who approve of McConnell believe. Can’t let science get in the way of ignorance and hating the gays. When we grow up we want to base our political ideology on a knee-jerk reaction to a single issue, too! [SUSA]

Getting Something Right

Fletcher, Kentucky and the Appalachian Regional Commission finally get something right. We’re finally offering grants to develop adventure tourism in Eastern Kentucky!

The state is making $623,000 available for grants of about $20,000 each for counties to generate so-called adventure tourism, Gov. Ernie Fletcher announced Tuesday. The money can be used to plan facilities.

The tactic was adopted after a study by Pros Consulting of Dallas showed increased spending on such tourism in Eastern Kentucky could generate 132,000 new visitors annually and $54 million to $99 million in economic impact. The ventures could create as many as 1,500 jobs.

We are absolutely shocked (SHOCKED!) that the Commonwealth is recognizing what a gem we have in the Appalachian region.

Having been involved (Jake) in a long-term community development project with the Brushy Fork Institute in the 90s, we can say first-hand that adventure tourism in the Appalachians works. A group from Fayette County West Virginia developed a similar plan in their region that was met with great success.

Click Here to read the report.