Nickolas Calls it Quits

Mark Nickolas of the Bluegrass Report is calling it quits. After taking in donations from more than 100 people to work for three months, he’s ditching his site in favor of an unnamed project. In a recent post on his site he says he’ll be featuring guest writers to take his place. (Something that’s already happening and to a great extent happens on Page One with numerous contributors). Note that you won’t find us linking to Bluegrass Report, as Mark has made it blatantly obvious– despite our growing relevance– that he’s not fond of mentioning Page One even when we break major stories or are the first to report information.

I’ve cordially corresponded with Nickolas over the past year. Before this site was created and before our new company was official. At one point we were in talks to buy his site but discussion with our financier fell through. I also provided him with several stories throughout the gubernatorial primary. So there’s no ill will. We appreciate his paid-for work throughout the gubernatorial election and thank him for his efforts to create online activity in Kentucky politics.

It is, however, a bit surprising to us that Mark has ignored the growing and very relevant blogosphere in Kentucky. And even more surprising that he’s taken it upon himself to seemingly swipe story ideas from our site, from BlueGrassRoots and others with no mention or attribution. Not to mention his total lack of transparency regarding (potential) influences. Not terrible things, no, but not a great way to operate or keep the peace.

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Fletcher Shooting Self in the Foot, Exit Interviews Lacking

Like we reported a couple days ago Ernie Fletcher handpicked a few journalists to meet with privately. We have since learned these journalists were called to Frankfort because they were granted exit interviews with the governor. No Mark Hebert, no Ronnie Ellis, no Bill Goodman.

Greg Stotelmyer from WTVQ in Lexington was one of the invitees. And what’d he discuss with Ernest Lee? Steve Beshear visiting the mansion to witness Glenna’s “renovation.” Seriously. That’s what he used his interview to discuss.

Beshear, the Democrat Governor-elect, beat Fletcher, Kentucky’s first Republican Governor in three decades, by nearly 184 thousand votes. Tomorrow night they will talk for the first time since the election. Fletcher says he and his wife, Glenna, have invited Steve and Jane Beshear to the Governor’s mansion for dinner. “It’s part of a tradition and we wanted to invite them over,” Fletcher said today. “The fist lady’s actually done a complete restoration of the first floor and we wanted to welcome them over and show them their new home.”

Note the inability of some in the Kentucky press corp to use “Democrat” and “Democratic” correctly.

Aren’t there a few more important issues to be discussed in an exit interview? Just wondering.

Mark Hebert confirmed the information we earlier reported regarding the chosen few. Hebert, arguably the state’s most prominent political reporter on television, has requested an interview with Fletcher that has fallen on deaf ears..

Uh, snubbing your nose at Mark Hebert, Ernie? Not a good idea. Securing your legacy at this point is imperative. Avoiding the individuals who will define that legacy boggles the mind.

Oh Snap Monday: Educational Failure Dept

Rep. Harry Moberly keeps promise, researching damage by mountaintop removal, only Democrat standing up. Puts Jim Gooch to shame. Moberly, according to Stephenie Steitzer, will study the impact of coal mining on December 3 by traveling to Hazard. How long will it take the rest of the legislature to do something like this? Ten years? 15? [The Arena]

Ready to ride? Kentucky Equine Education Project/KEEP needs volunteer riders for Steve Beshear’s inaugural parade. Frankfort – 10:00 A.M. – December 11. If you’re interested in walking or riding, get in touch with KEEP’s field director Cara Stewart. KEEP is headed by Patrick Neely, a guy Republicans and Democrats alike appreciate and one of the brightest political minds in the state. Good opportunity to get involved. [KEEP]

Freedom calls? Is this what the GOP has to look forward to? If so, we’re sorry, GOP. Really sorry. This is quite possibly the most ignorant and racist tripe ever published as an op-ed in any Kentucky newspaper. W. Bryan Hubbard writes not to his fellow Republicans to but his fellow wingnuts. [H-L]

Beshear for the win. Seems governor-elect Steve Beshear is stepping up to finish what Ernie Fletcher stopped. Beshear promises to help finish construction of Kentucky’s Center for African American Heritage. Fletcher and his cronies at the Transportation Cabinet have ignorantly withheld funding to complete the project the past two years. You’d never see this sort of roadblock for something like the Creation Museum. [C-J]

New commissioner. As Mark Hebert reported, Jon Draud is the new Education Commissioner. He’s a Republican selected by a board of Republicans appointed by Ernie Fletcher. Both sides of the aisle have been distraught for weeks over the Board of Education’s apparent lack of common sense. Can we expect success with this continued corruption? Fat chance. [Mark Hebert]

Public corruption in Clay County. You think it’s interesting living in the golden triangle? Think again. The mayor of Manchester along with other public officials dealt drugs, profited from the illegal gun trade, bought votes and when a citizen didn’t want to sell their house to the city? They hired a hit man to torch the place. And people wonder why Eastern Kentucky is falling apart. It might just be because the Roger Benton legacy continues. Those involved were finally sentenced. [H-L here & here]

The Enquirer will never provide real journalism. In Pat Crowley’s latest piece he tells Democrats to be afraid because they’re essentially screwed up in Northern Kentucky. Primarily because Northern Kentucky Democrats have made fools of themselves the past several weeks. He turned what could have been a great 730-word column about the November 6 election into a weird warning for Democrats. Are his editors writing for him? We know Pat is a real journalist and is capable of much better. [The Enquirer]

Thanksgiving Update: Our Belts Aren’t Tight Yet Edition

Fair hiring practices on the way. Steve Beshear made public his plans to ensure fair hiring practices when unveiling a website created to accept applications for non-merit positions. The governor-elect said during a press conference that he’s prepping his staff to be well-acquainted with hiring laws and made it clear there won’t be any Fletcheresque scandals. He’s probably telling the truth unless he hires Heather French Henry. [H-L]

MACED! The Mountain Association of Community Economic Developers has responded to insane-o Rep. Jim Gooch. Gooch, you’ll recall, toted out some British kook with tired arguments denying global warming and then had the nerve to embarrass Kentucky on Good Morning America last weekend. Preach on, MACED, we’re with you. Responsibility is key and muddying the waters of reality like Gooch has attempted is, well, outrageous. [Cyberhillbilly]

Panhandlers are the devil and homeless people are scary. Rich white folks are afraid of downtown. Any downtown in the country. That’s especially true in Louisville where white flight is as apparent as it is in any other city. Some elected city hacks of Metro Louisville are suffering “cash-guilt” and have a serious problem with honesty. No surprises there. [LEO]

Guess who. It’s all about Crit. Never about people actually considering a run for office. Always about the woman who drags her feet. We’re not picking sides here but come on. We reported her desire to face McConnell months ago and she still hasn’t done anything. Time to piss or get off the pot. Playing games this late in the year is childish. We hear from our source in Schumerland that money for Crit is no longer guaranteed and no sides will be taken because there’s a serious candidate on the horizon. [CNN]

Open Records Whining. Mark Hebert has a great rant about state employee email and open records requests: “Now before you state employees start howling about privacy concerns, remember that you signed a legal form saying you would only do state business on your state computer and any other activity would be a violation of policy. In other words, if you’re sending nasty e-mails to a co-worker, or writing long letters to Aunt Betty on your state computer, you’re violating state policy.” P.S. We have a great photo of Hebert from his college days at Western. [Mark Hebert]

The McConnell Smear Machine

BlueGrassRoots has a great story on Mitch McConnell’s shameless attempt to smear journalist John Cheves with typical right-wing spin.

Since Cheves’ exposé last year about McConnell’s connection to Red China and the overall downfall of society, “Team Mitch” has been up in arms. They’ve been unsuccessful at changing the subject but they haven’t stopped trying.

Here is their basic argument: John Cheves was paid by a bunch of Commie liberals last year to spread lies (lies, damnit!) about Mitch McConnell in the Herald-Leader. After the LHL was caught red-handed, they were shamed into handing the Commie money back to the Reds. Fast forward to this year: John Cheves has returned to Lexington to spread more lies about McConnell. And where has he been? Why he’s been working for Sen. Ron Wyden (Communist-OR), busy plotting how to take down the Republicans with liberal propaganda.

Some of Mitch’s mindless minions use this argument: “if they’re so non-partisan, where is the research showing a corrupt Democrat”?!? Well, Billy, sit down and let me actually show you that. From CIR’s own website, we see CIR’s Will Simon ripping the Democratic leadership in the Senate to shreds in the pages of the LA Times. He scours Harry Reid, Robert Byrd, Herb Kohl and Jack Reed for hypocrisy on earmarks, as they publicly denounced them but filled legislation with pork to go back to their district. How’s that for ya?

Spin aside, there’s no way for McConnell to escape the dead weight that is China. It’s his Achilles heel. And we don’t know anyone who would want to be associated with the recent flood of dangerous products flowing from his inlaws’ shipping operations in China.

LEO Updates Copyright Story, Kinda Gets it Wrong

We have to take issue with with Jennifer Oladipo’s follow-up story in LEO this week.

Pimentel said the two sides had reached an agreement about the station’s expectations for how its content would be used, but declined to give specifics. He said WHAS would look at how user-friendly locating (and therefore linking to) video content is on its own site, once its Web content manager position is filled. In the meantime, he said the station doesn’t consider use of entire news segments as protected under Fair Use, nor is content that is posted unaccompanied by comment — links or no links. But yeah, there should be links.
No one will discuss any quid pro quo, but evidence suggests that WHAS has agreed to play fair as long as The Ville Voice and Page One agree to play a little fairer.

We linked to WHAS all the time– when we could, as their site is nearly impossible to navigate and uniquely devoid of content. We most frequently link to Mark Hebert’s blog because he’s quick with breaking political news.

We’ll assume she doesn’t completely understand the case as it was explained to her and is referring to a lack of links to WHAS on YouTube itself– the only area where we’ve not provided links to WHAS in the past. In our YouTube video descriptions we’ll be adding a link to WHAS11.com. As noted in the story, our critiques and discussion hit the web within minutes of broadcast– often hours (or days) before the information is available on the WHAS website. So a generic link may be all we can provide. At least for the time being and until content is provided more regularly by the station. We certainly will be making a concerted effort to link back to original stories when they become available. But as we pointed out yesterday, our audience isn’t WHAS’s core and we shouldn’t be considered competition. (Side note: We’re hopeful that WHAS11’s soon-to-be-hired web content manager begins to make video available for embedding on other sites. The station can still make money by including advertisements in the clips. Linking back to an occasionally available Windows Media file just isn’t viable.)

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Big News: WHAS11 Copyright Infringement Resolution Reached

Thousands upon thousands of people have closely followed an incident involving WHAS11 and Page One/The ‘Ville Voice over alleged copyright infringement. (Yes, we’re surprised by the sheer numbers.) On October 25th someone at WHAS11 wrongly filed a complaint with YouTube which resulted in the removal of video excerpts our media operation was using for purposes of important discussion and criticism, protected by federal Fair Use laws.

It turns out this is a case of much ado about very little. That’s not to diminish its importance. After a meeting last week, WHAS agreed to allow the videos to reappear on YouTube. We agreed to do a better job of linking to their website when we post their videos.

To recap, on November 7th the mainstream media jumped on our story. Louisville Eccentric Observer ran a feature news story about our battle for the freedom of speech in new media. We welcomed and encouraged the publicity. We love publicity. Any news is good news – that’s us.

The problem, as we understand it, was that our video excerpts were attracting a significant audience, web viewers that some at the station believed could have been watching the same video directly through WHAS11.com. We’re all competing for eyeballs on the web, so in their eyes we were a threat. And, one of our videos (like this McConnell story, for instance) did attract more than 22,000 views. So they were probably right to be concerned. Of course, a closer look at the traffic statistics shows that about 65% of our readership comes from outside the Louisville media market– not WHAS11’s core.

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