Snake Oil or Savior? Gambling in Kentucky.

Or how to turn the State House into a circus.

LEO’s Jennifer Oladipo and Cary Stemle take a look at the push to legalize casino gambling in Kentucky and they do it from both sides of the debate. It’s a decent examination of what’s going down in Frankfort these days and is an especially good read since, well, it’s timely. Take a peek.

Snake Oil or Savior? CLAIMS ARE FLYING FROM BOTH SIDES OF THE CASINO DEBATE — SHOULD WE BELIEVE ANY OF IT?

There are no quick fixes for a $900 million budget deficit, poor national education rankings, an aging population and a host of other issues Kentucky faces now and in the near future. Gov. Steve Beshear and others say casino gambling, twice eschewed by Kentucky voters, will go a long way toward alleviating some of those problems. Consequently, Kentucky lawmakers are now debating a proposed constitutional amendment offered by Beshear that would legalize casino gambling.

The governor’s plan offered 12 casinos — seven freestanding and five tied to racetracks. Lawmakers shot back last week with a proposal for nine, five of which would be tied to racetracks; Beshear has said he’s amenable to the idea. On Tuesday, the House Elections, Constitutional Amendments and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee voted down that proposal, leaving the casino bill stalled in committee. Beshear was sharply critical of lawmakers for the move, saying in a statement that it was time for them to get their act together and move the bill.

Casino supporters are banking on letting the voters decide, and surveys have shown that most voters would at least like the opportunity to vote on the issue. But what voter could be blamed for confusion about casinos with so much rhetoric on both sides: Will casinos mark the true end of morality in Kentucky? Will they help fund new education and culture initiatives? Will they invite more vice to the state? Will they attract young people with disposable income? Are we ceding our state to the whims of the unsavory? Will healthcare become more affordable if casinos are here?

Click here to read the rest…

Mountaintop Removal, Gooch, House Leadership

Stephen George once again knocks his weekly feature out of the ballpark. He’s the only journalist in the state to give face time to the issue of mountaintop removal and the massive KFTC demonstration that took place in Frankfort last Thursday. He lends emotions and a face to serious issues before us in the Commonwealth and is one of the few who attempt to hold Reps. Jody Richards and Jim Gooch responsible for their actions.

If you aren’t reading Stephen every Wednesday you aren’t paying attention.

High on the mountaintop

By Stephen George

Advocates descend on Frankfort to persuade lawmakers to help stop mountaintop removal mining in Eastern Kentucky. Is anyone listening?

We’re standing outside the home of Todd and Barbara Bailey, a sprawling one-story perched on a slight hill just off Kentucky Route 7 in Hueysville, on a bitter-cold February afternoon. Todd is showing me a crack in the red brick; it snakes from the house’s concrete foundation up to a bay window about six feet off the ground. He says it’s from blasting on a nearby job, permit no. 836-0335, an expansive mountaintop removal mining operation that has taken a handful of peaks across the road, behind the modest homes of his neighbors, too high to really notice from ground level.

A tan, late model Toyota Tacoma 4×4 pulls into his driveway, and out come two young men, one probably in his early 20s, the other a little more worldly. They smile politely. The worldly one announces they’re from Miller Bros. Coal, that they’ve come to deliver notices to landowners within a half-mile of this and another job, no. 836-0338, just over the hill behind the Bailey residence. Before the jobs can expand, the company is required by law to notify residents that they may request pre-blasting home surveys at no charge. I ask for copies of the notices as well; it’s clear they smell my city stink, so we posture at each other for a couple seconds before the younger one goes back to the truck for the copies.

Click here to read the rest…

On Comment – Wellman is the Choice

As many media types expected, former WAVE3 reporter Ferrell Wellman was named the permanent host of KET’s Comment on Kentucky television show.

Wellman is a solid, polished on-air talent,and was the right choice for the job. Al Smith served as the show’s host from 1974 until late last year, and the show has continued with guest hosts (including Wellman) since that time. Wellman covered Frankfort for WAVE3 for 16 years. He starts this week. The show airs on Fridays.

Jim Gooch Wants to Tax His Critics

You read it correctly, kids.

From David Adams:

Rep. Jim Gooch has filed a bill requiring editorial writers and cartoonists for “a news organization which engages for profit” to register with the state as lobbyists.

Perpetual tool Rep. Jim Gooch (Democrat who should be ousted)– one of Kentucky’s largest (literally) embarrassments– wants to tax and penalize the very people who criticize him. Seriously, requiring editorial writers (us) and cartoonists to register as lobbyists? Are you kidding?

More on Gooch, the man who appeared on Good Morning America proclaiming global warming a myth: here, here, here and here.

Is he hands-down the stupidest man (we mean that) in Frankfort? Is he dumber than Vernie McGaha? Jesus. To think Speaker of the House Jody Richards approves of this idiot.

Message to little boys like Gooch and booger eater Charlie Hoffman: grow a set of balls. If you can’t take the heat after becoming an elected official, it’s time to leave Frankfort.

Like the legislature doesn’t have anything better to do. Don’t we have, you know, 500 crises to resolve?

Here’s betting dollars to donuts that Gooch still thinks global warming is a myth even after the 70-degree February weather that produced killer tornadoes all over the midwest.

Idiot.

UPDATE @ 4:10 P.M.: The Associated Press has a great story about Mr. Walrus himself. Further illustrating just how stupid and incapable Jim Gooch truly is.

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

Super Tuesday and a Local Broadcasting First

Feeling a little left out with all the hoopla about Super Tuesday?

So was Joe Arnold of WHAS-TV. With the network planning wall-to-wall national coverage of the big Presidential primary Tuesday night, there just wasn’t a whole lot for folks in Kentucky to hang onto. Arnold jumped on the feeling that interest in the Obama/Hilary sweepstakes has gone beyond being the most interesting national political race in the lifetime of many citizens, so he convinced his bosses at WHAS to allow him to host what may be a local broadcasting first — a live stream of political commentary on the race from the perspective of local politicos.

Read moreSuper Tuesday and a Local Broadcasting First

LEO Follows up With Heather Ryan

LEO’s Stephen George (who consistently goes the distance in the name of journalism– not just politically) went a little further than most mainstream press outlets in Kentucky in telling the story of Heather Ryan, the young mother who claims she was fired after confronting Senator Mitch McConnell at a Paducah commercial taping.

More on Ryan here, here and here.

From LEO:

Ryan has alleged that pressure from McConnell about this money, and how close an avid war protestor stood to its destination, played a part in her demise.

It was during that meeting — which she taped… — that board chairman Siska implied that McConnell’s staff wanted her gone.

“What they were thinking was that an employee from the building was doing this, and that concerned them because they have a connection to the building,” Siska said at the meeting. “… That someone would feel so negatively towards the Senator coming from this building. That’s what surprised them.”

“I’m confused about their concern,” Ryan replied. “Are they concerned because they thought I was a threat, or are they concerned because —”

“The way it was told to me is, they were shocked at the hatred that they felt coming from your daughter,” he said.

What was that about McConnell’s people not meddling in this mess again?

Read the rest in this week’s LEO…