Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Worley Is Toast, Lundergan Rocked. Bad Day For Dems

While Kentucky Democrats try to figure out which voice to use in the 2006 elections (and notwithstanding some wishful thinking in setting up Senate challenges) the big news is that Senate Minority Leader Ed Worley is in big trouble. There is no other way to view the Senate races this year. Senators Kerr and Buford drew interesting challenges, but should prevail rather handily. Barry Metcalf will dispatch newcomer Albert Spencer and then defeat what is left of Worley.

The House races will be a lot more difficult to handicap, but the year is definitely looking like a winner for the GOP. It won't stop the spinners from trying to prop up the Dems, but today will ultimately be just another case of close but no cigar as they lose the House this year.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Cindy Sheehan Rides Again (Herb Brock Version)

Herb Brock doesn't deserve to work at a conservative newspaper like the Danville Advocate Messenger.

I'm not even going to link to his stupid column printed in today's paper. It was a complete waste of newsprint.

Brock started his random walk with a recitation of the list of strange laws on the books in Kentucky. You know the one about carrying an ice cream cone in your pocket that the pro-expanded gambling ads keep telling us about? Well, Brock trots that one out again.

Then he steps way out on a ledge and attacks Senator Tom Buford for sponsoring SB 93, which would outlaw prostestors at funerals.

I'm used to Brock going off half-cocked in his columns, but this is insane. We have people protesting the funerals of Iraq War casualties and Herb Brock is too lazy or stupid (or both) to find out which end is up before puking all over them and their families.

And now I hear this bill is stalled in the Senate because of this one writer. I certainly hope that is not true.

Ed To The Woodshed?

Hide the Thorazine...

Phone lines were burning between Washington D.C., Frankfort, and Richmond today and the inferno is bearing down on one Senator Ed Worley(D-Richmond).

Tomorrow, insiders expect Worley to get a Republican opponent -- and a Democrat primary opponent to boot!

Ed's very shady land deal is getting ready to come around and bite him, hard.

Education Philosophy Needs Change: Here's How

As thousands of Kentucky high school seniors turn toward the home stretch on their secondary education, now might be an appropriate time to look at methods to improve the way we teach our kids. One simple step could make a big difference.

The time has come to break the mold on the way we educate Kentuckians.

Taxpayers have been mighty patient waiting for schools to improve as we pour in tax dollars year after year. If the goal for increasing school spending has been to graduate more students who can't do college-level work, then we are succeeding. Since it isn't, now may be past time to concede that a lack of funds is not holding us back so much as a problem with our philosophy.

We must now change our approach in order to change our future results.

The one thing that we can do to improve the prospects of our next group of high schoolers is to quit tying class credits to the amount of time spent sitting in a classroom.

Teachers get paid based on time spent in the classroom. But students benefit from what they learn. So if the question is "Who are schools for?" and if the answer we want is "educating students," then awarding class credits and diplomas the same way we pay teachers and administrators -- by the hour -- makes little sense.

A year spent in a high school class currently earns a student one Carnegie Unit. Mastery of a subject is not required -- a "D" is sufficient. You just have to put in your time.

That sounds a little like jail, doesn't it?

Nearly two in three of our high school graduates require remedial courses to even start college. We spend more money on education every year and get test results that do not reflect that increased commitment. Kentucky Economic Justice Alliance recently called for $337 million in annual spending increases for schools. For what? They don't say and I can't imagine.

This is getting a little ridiculous, don't you think?

Wiping out the Carnegie Unit would not cost taxpayers anything. If students could walk into a class and demonstrate mastery of the subject matter on Day One, they could move on to other academic pursuits at no cost to the taxpayer whatsoever.

I would love to hear a member of the education establishment try to prove why eliminating the Carnegie Unit system would be a bad thing. Actually, this approach could expose what is wrong with our public schools. Schools get money based on how many bodies are filling up their facilities and for how long. It should come as little surprise that this approach does not yield optimal results for students. Turning this old system on its head and promoting students on their learning schedule would put the focus where it belongs.

A good case can be made that very few students derive maximum benefit under a system that demands timing their learning curve to our agrarian-era school calendar. Better students tend to suffer under the Carnegie Unit system because the pace in the classroom is too slow for them. Struggling students suffer because the pace is too fast. It seems that we are paying a high price to keep the flow of education moving at a middling speed that doesn't fit -- and doesn't work for -- too many of our students.

We are already utilizing distance education in our high schools. This can be expanded at minimal cost to assist students in achieving subject matter mastery when they are ready.

Student misbehavior takes up an increasing amount of school resources. This could be turned into an advantage without the Carnegie Unit system. When students determine the speed at which their learning takes place, they will have less time or opportunity to be bored with school.

Our kids are capable of doing more in school and many of our dedicated teachers lose sleep trying to figure out how to help them succeed. The Carnegie Unit was established in 1907 and, clearly, doesn't fit in a world where everything else is customized by technology to fit the individual.

Like everything else in a free society, the Carnegie Unit can be done away with when the people demand it. What do you think?

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Abortion-On-Demand Lobby Strikes Again

Next Thursday, the Kentucky House Health and Welfare Committee will vote to allow "morning after pills" to be made available over the counter.

I guess that would be so they can pass them out at middle schools, along with condoms and dental dams. Why else would the ACLU be so hot to see HB 353 get passed?

Friday, January 27, 2006

The "Let Them Eat Filet Mignon" Bill

Rep. Kathy Stein (D-Lexington) wants waiters and waitresses to be paid the federal minimum wage. Tipped employees must currently be paid at least $2.13 per hour by their employer. The federal minimum wage is $5.15, but Ted Kennedy wants it increased, so here we go.

I suppose she thinks all restaurant owners are multi-millionaire Republicans, but the businesses that aren't shut down by this will have to raise prices. So who gets to pay for Rep. Stein's largesse? You do. Oh, and the tipped employees who lose their jobs probably won't appreciate it much either.

Eat up.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

International Communists Join Mayor Isaac Tonight

Mayor Teresa Isaac kicks off her re-election campaign tonight with a communist group she has formally pledged that the city of Lexington would support.

The ONE Campaign demands 1% of the federal budget be dedicated to "make poverty history."

"The ONE Campaign is an effort we can all support and be proud of because America is in the best position to eradicate poverty," Mayor Isaac said.

The ONE Campaign will have a rally tonight at 112 W. High Street in Lexington from 5 pm to 6:30.

Oh, and the guy who signs all the state's checks, State Treasurer Jonathan Miller, will be there demanding more of your money too.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Whither Harry Moberly?

After busting his campaign budget in 2004 to keep his seat, House Budget Chairman Harry Moberly (D-Richmond) seems to be looking around for something else to do. With less than a week before the filing deadline, no one has filed for the 81st district seat.

Look for a big surprise on this one.

House Digs Up Dead Law, Passes It Again

Back in 1990, Kentucky enacted a law called "No Pass, No Drive." It was an attempt to cut down drop out rates by suspending the drivers licenses of minors failing to make adequate progress toward a high school diploma.

It didn't work.

When the law was pulled off the books in 2003, it was found to be totally ineffective at keeping kids in school. In fact, the law was widely ignored by young drivers. Erstwhile students continued to drive until they were caught by police. Then they went to court to convince judges that a hardship necessitated keeping them on the road, despite the law.

So fast forward to 2006. Just yesterday the House voted 82-14 to dredge up this waste-of-time law. It is easier than actually doing something to improve education in Kentucky. Let's hope the Senate straightens this out.

Charlie Hoffman Can Run But Can't Hide

Charlie Hoffman clearly didn't want to run for the state House again. Rep. Hoffman (D-Georgetown) explored running for mayor of Georgetown and Scott county PVA. After failing the exam for PVA, he filed for the House seat.

His ardent support for union bosses could be problematic in the home of Toyota Motor Manufacturing of Kentucky. As House Democrats threaten to kill off a bill that would give workers the right to opt out of paying expensive union dues and seek to pad their own pockets with a minimum wage increase, Rep. Hoffman has much to fear from his Republican opponent Chuck Bradley.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

First Conservative Victory of 2006; "Book of Daniel"

NBC has cancelled its much-celebrated anti-Christian "Book of Daniel" program after three pitiful weeks.

The active conservative Christians who shut down the program now need to turn their attention to calling for Congress to pass Rep. John Shadegg's "Health Care Choice Act."

This would allow Americans to buy health insurance across state lines, effectively neutering Kentucky Democrats' health insurance reform that destroyed our health coverage market sisteen years ago.

House Democrats Painting Selves Into Corner

House Labor and Industry Chairman J.R. Gray is expected to push an increase in the minimum wage through his committee today at noon. This comes only days after a resolution supporting socialized medicine was advanced by the same people.

Kentucky Democrats cling to a slim six seat advantage in the House of Representatives. They are expected to campaign this fall as being much more conservative than Washington D.C. Democrats who vote for fringe liberal issues like increasing the minimum wage and nationalizing our healthcare system.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Governor Fletcher Reaches Out To Teachers Union

... or maybe we should just call it "Brer Rabbit Says 'Howdy!' to the Tar Baby, Again."

Conceding the union talking point that teachers are underpaid in Kentucky will not earn Gov. Fletcher anything and will only leave him stuck in the tar. Fortunately, Speaker Jody Richards will come along soon to "knock his head clean off," so the Governor should be okay.

Ford Motor Cuts More Proof Old Ways Don't Work

The debate about big unions and money-losing defined benefit pensions took on a local dimension when Ford Motor Company said it would close fourteen U.S. plants by 2008.

Louisville's facilities weren't on the first list today, but the company said two more closings would be determined later this year.

This kind of thing will continue as more companies try to shift out of outmoded business practices.

And speaking of outmoded, Kentucky's House Democrats are joining the liberal bandwagon in thinking they are going to end poverty as we know it by forcing businesses to pay more than the federal minimum wage.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Proof The Left Is Killing "Civil Rights"

Days after the nationwide celebration of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., we have more evidence that liberal groups have bastardized King's movement.

Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, a socialist organization, has on their website a list of legislative priorities. Under "civil rights" at the bottom of the page, they promote "sexual orientation" laws and decry giving workers the right to opt out of paying onerous union dues.

Even worse, "Voting Rights" is now supposedly about restoring voting rights to convicted felons.

Here is the link.

Summing It Up Nicely

The Louisville Courier-Journal's John David Dyche got to the essence of what ails Kentucky Democrats with this description today:

Reactionary Democrats resist real change to inefficient, collectivist and financially unsustainable New Deal and Great Society relics like defined benefit pensions, monolithic Medicaid, and preferential treatment of labor unions.

Here is the whole column.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Worley Cheats Elderly Constituents

Senator Ed Worley left himself open to federal mail fraud charges during a Madison county land deal, a source with knowledge of the transaction said yesterday.

Worley currently faces a lawsuit in U.S. District Court over development of 27 acres of prime real estate previously owned by two of his own elderly constituents.

At issue is Worley's use of a dummy corporation he set up, an agreement with the two elderly victims to help develop their property, and a below-market offer from Worley's dummy corporation to purchase the property.

When Worley presented the offer as if it were from a third party -- and then recommended that his constituents accept the offer -- he was at least "pulling a fast one." When he used the U.S. Postal Service to consummate his ruse, he broke the law.

Here is the Herald-Leader coverage of this sorry episode. Expect to hear more about this fairly soon. If federal charges come down, Worley starts to look a lot like a ham sandwich.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Last Train From Clarksville, Indiana

Raising awareness about how unions hurt Kentucky got a boost last month when Colgate-Palmolive Co. announced they were closing their Clarksville, Indiana plant. Indiana's lack of a Right To Work law was said to be a factor then, and that was confirmed yesterday when Colgate leap-frogged over Kentucky and announced a move to RTW-state Tennessee.

Big Unions complain cost-cutting moves that limit bloated union wages are bad for America. The opposite is clearly true. As manufacturing jobs move to Mexico and China, employers who want to stay in this country can't compete in the marketplace while continuing to pay for union lobbying overhead.

The 220 jobs headed to Morristown, Tennessee would have come in handy in many places in Kentucky. A simple change to the law this year could make us more competitive next year.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

No Teeth, No Problem!

Kentucky's House Education Committee has just passed HB 51, the No Pass, No Drive bill. This is merely a waste of time pretend education reform. Remember, this law was supposed to lower dropout rates. While it was in effect from 1990 to 2003, the dropout rate was unchanged. Students who saw their licenses suspended for dropping out kept driving in large numbers. When they were caught, they went to court to prove hardship required them to keep driving despite the law. There are real things we can do to improve our schools, like suspending the Carnegie unit. This foolishness shouldn't even be under consideration.

Big Labor Strikes Back Against Consumers

As union membership in Kentucky has fallen below one-tenth of the state's workforce, political theater has replaced reasonable discourse on the left.

Kentucky AFL-CIO head Bill Londrigan said "I think we made our point emphatically, that when Governor Fletcher takes on the working families of the commonwealth, they're going to fight back."

Actually, it is the big unions that are taking on the working families of the commonwealth. When union wages get passed along to Kentucky consumers, it is the 90% of us who suffer because of the lobbyists who prop up the 10% who agitate.

Rep. J.R. Gray (D-Benton) is probably going to lose his House seat this year. His role in killing Right to Work in his Labor and Industry Committee will be part of the reason for his removal. Supporters of Right to Work legislation don't need to rent buses to go scream and yell at the Capitol. They need to send a few dollars to Gray's opponent Marvin Wilson, who lost narrowly to Gray in 2004.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Brilliant Sex Offender Bill

Rep. David Floyd(R-Bardstown) filed a bill Tuesday that would require drivers' licenses of sex offenders to identify them based on their crimes.

Nice job.

So Long And Thanks For All The Protestors

Those dust-covered politicians Governor Fletcher sees in his rearview mirror tonight are the ones who tried to scare him out of pushing for Right To Work and an end to prevailing wage.

And the union folks screaming in the hallway during the speech just killed public support for their cause.

Welcome Lexington Herald Leader Readers

Tune in to the Sue Wylie Show on 590 WVLK AM in Lexington this morning at 11:00. I will on there talking about why we should think twice before we pour more money into teacher pay.

Monday, January 16, 2006

KY Teacher Pay Update

Did you know that Kentucky's teachers don't pay into Social Security?

Just for fun, we should force them into the pool with the rest of us and see how quickly the teachers' union folks get religion about Social Security reform. Their "private accounts" have been exposed as a pretty sweet deal.

Kentucky Invaded: Isaac Admin Hiring Illegals

LFUCG insiders report the Lexington city government is currently employing dozens of undocumented aliens. Stay tuned for details...

Maybe We Should Pull Their Press Credentials

Has the Louisville Courier Journal done enough unbalanced reporting to show themselves to be not actual "journalists?" At what point do we consider them liberal bloggers with a print edition?

Judge for yourself.

Part of the fun of a partisan site is to run the occasional item with little redeeming value but smear. And when The Courier Journal throws together a completely one-sided "news story" about how Governor Fletcher isn't on the list of contributors to the Mansion restoration project he and his wife have championed across the state, they figuratively climb off their high horse and go step in his (the horse's) tangible work product.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Nashville Dumps "Book of Daniel"

Nashville's NBC affiliate has dropped "Book of Daniel" citing a torrent of viewer complaints.

Nashville, Tennessee is the nation's 30th largest television market.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Money Meets Mouth: A Book Of Daniel Update

Flipped over for three commercial breaks on the Book of Daniel television program on WLEX. Guess how many paid advertisements there were in three breaks?


The liberal media wants you to believe that the protest against this piece of trash was ineffective.

Zero commercials means no dollars. And that means a very short-lived attack on Christians by the Book of Daniel television program.

KY Democrats Bringing Higher Prices To Wal-Mart

Maryland Democrats yesterday struck a blow to consumers with a "Wal-Mart Health Care Bill." Kentucky Democrats may be about to follow suit.

The Wal-Mart bill in Maryland mandates that employers with more than 10,000 employees spend 8% of total employee wages on health benefits. This would double Wal-Mart's expenses in this category. Guess who gets to pick up the difference then. That's right. You do.

The good folks at the AFL-CIO are behind the Kentucky cut-and-paste version of the Maryland bill and Rep. Melvin Henley(D-Murray) is the lead sponsor.

This whacking of private businesses fits the union modus operandi and is just another fine reason why we need Right To Work in Kentucky.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Really Improving Education In Kentucky

This looks like a great bill.

Unfortunately in the Democrat House, it is unlikely to get out of committee.

Just yesterday, Rep. Harry Moberly made a statement about holding the education establishment accountable. This bill, presently before his A&R committee, presents an excellent opportunity for us to see if he was sincere about it.

Now They Are Calling Him BorkAlito

The liberal blogosphere is going bonkers with news that Sen. Joe Lieberman wants to filibuster Supreme Court justice nominee Sam Alito.

The only problem is that it isn't true. A group of Deaniacs went to Lieberman and asked him to not "stifle debate." He said he would think about it.

Doesn't take much to get them worked up.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I Thought We Already Killed This Bad Idea

Kentucky had a law called "no pass, no drive" from 1990 to 2003 that was supposed to cut down Kentucky's high school dropout rate.

It didn't work. Unfortunately for us, that isn't stopping House Democrats from bringing it back up all in the name of doing something about education.

There is no evidence whatsoever that "no pass, no drive" had any impact on the dropout rate in Kentucky back in its heyday, when 129 of 176 school districts used it. Thousands of students each year lost their licenses under the law for dropping out before turning 18, failing four classes, or skipping school more than nine times, but the dropout rate didn't go down.

If old court records are any indication, this law was largely ignored by its targets. Many would continue to drive on their suspended licenses and then plead "hardship" when they were caught and dragged into court.

School officials familiar with the "no pass, no drive" law complain that enforcement was often delayed by the time it took for the Department of Transportation to process school records.

Former liberal talk show host -- also former Third District Congressman -- Mike Ward sponsored the original bill back in 1990. Rep. Mike Cherry (D-Princeton) is pushing it now.

There is no good reason to consider passing this bill. It would be one thing if it worked or could convincingly be portrayed as more than another weak excuse for "doing something" about schools, but it didn't work and we can't afford to pretend that this is somehow worth another try.

We have made mention here before that there is no lobbying group to protect students and parents like there is to protect the status quo in the public education arena. If there were, louder objections to this bill would have been made this morning in the House Education Committee meeting. As it went, the Home School Legal Defense Association was notified this morning, an objection was voiced, and the bill was tabled for now. That was because of a tacked-on line by Rep. Cherry that looks like a back door method for making home schoolers answer to the Kentucky Department of Education and the courts. Rep. Tom Riner(D-Louisville), a home school parent, suggested the bill's reference to home schoolers be changed to "non-public schools," making it possible to anger more people. While this point was used to table the bill as that proposed change is to be discussed further, it really misses the larger point. Why are we trying to dredge up failed bills from the 1990's when we have real current problems to address?

The legislature is taking this moment at the crossroads of our educational system and cramming it down the toilet.

What a waste.

Democrats deserve blame for the current dithering and the recent decades of increasingly expensive treading of water, but Republicans are the ones who could have chosen real increases to educational standards as the perfect wedge issue and they have failed to capitalize.

It looks like we are going to spend the 2006 session arguing about the color of the drapes upstairs while the basement is flooding.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

KY Legislature Versus Home Schoolers, Again

The House Education Committee will consider a bill tomorrow that could cause home-schooled high schoolers to lose their drivers licenses.

The purpose of the bill (HB 51) is to resurrect the old No Pass, No Drive bill that was found to be unconstitutional in 2003 because of unfair enforcement. The unconstitutional part of the bill has been removed, but one change has been added to the bill that makes it particularly problematic. The bill could prove to be a back door into regulation of home schools. Here is the most troubling part of the bill:

(5) Withdrawal of a student from a public school with notification that the student will be home schooled shall not enable the student to avoid the consequences of this section if the basis for entry into home schooling is to avoid the consequences of this section. For purposes of this section, the student shall still be considered to have dropped out of school or to be academically deficient.

The home school associations don't seem to have this one on their radar screens, but that will soon change.

Stand Up For Right To Work

It is nearly impossible to calculate the positive economic impact Toyota Motor Manufacturing of Kentucky has had on our state.

Many of us know someone who works directly for Toyota or one of its providers. That can be measured and has been. But how many millions of dollars repeatedly flood our regional economy because of the ripples caused by people who serve food, clean up for, provide paper and technology equipment, temporary and permanent housing and hundreds of other products and services to people who provide even the most mundane services to help Toyota put cars on the road?

Again, it is nearly impossible to calculate.

So why would we consciously do anything to jeopardize all of that? Clearly, we wouldn't. But the same bad result could come about if a bill before the Kentucky General Assembly is killed by the big labor unions.

House Bill 38, filed by Rep. Stan Lee (R-Lexington), would simply allow employees of union shops to opt out of union membership. This is called Right To Work and it is the law in 23 states.

The United Auto Workers has been battling against the majority of Toyota's 7000 Georgetown workers who have consistently resisted unionization since 1988. They claim to be gaining support, though that seems hard to believe. But here is the rub: if barely half of the Toyota workforce did vote to allow the union in, then all the workers would be forced to join the union and pay dues or they could lose their jobs. That is one of the reasons we need Right To Work in Kentucky.

We already have enough difficulty bringing in industrial jobs. But our vitality depends heavily on housing and serving many of the people who work in those jobs. As union membership dwindles in the Rust Belt, ferocious proselytizing for unions like the UAW has moved here and elsewhere in the south looking for new converts. They are finding precious few takers, but the efforts continue with greater urgency and wilder rhetoric. Union sycophants have even stooped to blaming mining accidents like the recent one in West Virginia on the declining influence of unions.

Toyota has one American plant in Fremont, California -- co-owned with General Motors -- that is a union shop. Does Kentucky want to risk putting the key to its economic engine into the hands of those unions who have pulled companies like General Motors and Ford to their knees?

The problem with the big American auto makers is not much more complicated than union benefits negotiated in less competitive times that now have a stranglehold over those companies as they become less able to soak up excess costs in a new business environment. These companies often can't make small personnel adjustments that could help them ride out temporary slowdowns. With defined-benefit pensions and rich lifetime-guaranteed health insurance plans piling billions of dollars in fixed costs on their balance sheets, American auto makers are watching Toyota eat their lunch in the marketplace.

Unions, it seems, are consumed beyond all reason with their own perpetuation, even as their parasitical nature becomes clear to most people. Their financial support for liberal causes and politicians only manages to decrease their appeal with the public.

And financial support for such causes is what this is all about.

Common sense Right to Work legislation risks the symbiotic relationship between union leaders and Democratic Party politicians. In Kentucky, House Speaker Jody Richards(D-Bowling Green) has been outspoken in his opposition to HB 38. Interestingly, some "conservative" Democrats have been silent on this key economic issue. Polling indicates that 74% of Kentuckians favor a Right to Work law here. Democrats have seen the clear choice between the economic interests of Kentuckians and the union leaders who finance their campaigns. Sadly, they seem to be taking the money and running with it.

Finally, a comparison tale of two states is informative. Tennessee and Kentucky have spent much of their existence sharing similar circumstances. Their trajectories have diverged, however, as Tennessee has offered its citizens the choice to not pay dues to labor unions. As recently as 1969, Kentucky was 44th in per capita disposable income and Tennessee was 42nd. Currently, Kentucky ranks 41st and Tennessee is up to 19th. How much longer do we need to wait before moving onto the right economic track?

At its heart, Right to Work really is about employee choice and employer choice. Employees should be able to work in a business without joining a labor union. The choice they have now is to go to work elsewhere. Companies who want their employees to have that same opportunity have a choice as well. Right now, it is just too easy for those companies to avoid Kentucky. Remembering that ripple effect caused by Toyota, wouldn't it make sense to do all we can to encourage large employers to come here? Providing Right to Work freedom is the least we can do.

Bush, Economy, Liberal Media Bias

The Dow Jones Industrial Average has climbed back to its pre-9/11/01 level and the liberal media is none too happy about it. Thanks to The Locker Room for the heads up on this.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Democrat Response: 2025?! That's Not Even An Election Year!

The most telling aspect of Governor Fletcher's State of the Commonwealth address was in the Democrat response. After hearing the Governor lay out a wide array of short and long-term goals, Sen. Ed Worley and House Speaker Jody Richards couldn't get past the fact that Fletcher mentioned some standards for the state to reach by the year 2025.

"Setting ambitious long-term goals and laying out a vision for gradual improvement was a bold stroke for the Governor," Senator Worley utterly failed to say. Then he did not hasten to add "Democrats just don't have any ideas at all, so we are kind of stuck on whining about minutiae."

The upcoming budget speech is where we will get the real meat, but this was pretty good. The Democrats are just chafed about the Right to Work bill.

Rep. Perry Clark Resigns

Current State Rep. and Senate candidate Perry Clark has resigned his House seat and Speaker Jody Richards has called for a special election the same day as the Senate special.

This will get very interesting very quickly as most special elections usually are solo efforts. How the two campaigns are intertwined will be made more interesting if the Democrats nominate two men and the Republicans nominate two women. I have no speculation on who the Republicans are going to nominate, but would guess that Councilman Ron Weston is will get the nod from the Dems.

UPDATE: Kentucky Kos has picked up the story and is pushing again for Virginia Woodward to get the Dem nomination. Too funny.

But Will Raising Teacher Pay Help Students?

Look for a good old-fashioned bipartisan snow job this winter from our General Assembly on teacher pay in Kentucky. Taxpayers need to call a halt to this before it is too late.

We have heard the teachers' union complain about teacher pay for so long that it has become part of the wallpaper, accepted as true and never scrutinized. But distressingly often when education bureaucrats' statements do face scrutiny, they come up short. A look at some of these statements might give us pause on this hot-button issue.

Just this past August, we heard weeping and wailing about how Kentucky had fallen to 50th in state spending for education under Governor Fletcher. Turned out that Governing Magazine, the first source of this dire statistic, had used 2002 Census Bureau statistics. Stuck on blasting the Governor even for something that happened two years before he took office, some groups such as the Kentucky Economic Justice Alliance, the Kentucky Democratic Party, and most of the state's mainstream media outlets persist in promoting this falsehood today.

This fall I learned gains in ACT scores touted by the Kentucky Department of Education evaporate when private school and home school students are removed from the statistics. Last time I checked, these students didn't fall under the purview of the state's public education system. From a cynical, no-holds-barred point of view, taking credit for something they didn't do might be considered a shrewd piece of work. But coming from government officials who make policy affecting the lives of our children, this is extremely disappointing.

The sorry track record of those who have made careers out of demanding more and more money, coupled with Kentucky's failure to comply with the federal No Child Left Behind student testing component nearly provides the proper context in which to examine the idea of greatly increasing teacher pay.

For help with that, we turn to North Carolina. Researchers at the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh sought to examine similar claims of insufficient teacher pay in their state by making an apples-to-apples comparison of all the states. What they found was interesting: North Carolina's national salary ranking of 23rd was corrected to 11th when benefits were added in and relative cost-of-living was figured in. Cost of living is significant in the real world. New Jersey's $53,663 average salary goes roughly 70% as far in New Jersey as it does here in Kentucky. That helps put New Jersey's teachers at the bottom in pay nationally and Kentucky ranks number five.

That's right. Kentucky's teachers are the fifth best paid teachers in the nation. That should have been the education story of the year last year, but chances are excellent that you are seeing it for the first time here.

The current effort in Frankfort to bring Kentucky teacher pay up is said to keep them from escaping to higher salaries in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Georgia. Interestingly, of those states Indiana actually pays less than Kentucky in terms of real dollars. Louisville-area Kentuckians who run across the bridge to teach in the Hoosier state might actually want to take another look at the fringe benefits offered to Kentucky teachers. They make the total compensation here in the Bluegrass higher than that of Indiana. Ohio, Illinois, and Georgia join Michigan as the only states in the nation that have higher average teacher compensation than Kentucky. They all possess better education statistics than we do, but so do nearly all of the states who pay their teachers less than we do. I fail to see how adding enough to move us from #5 to #3 in teacher pay nationally is going to do much to benefit our children, who seem to be faring much worse than their teachers. Maybe they need a students' union.

Before we risk busting the budget with even higher teacher pay, skeptical taxpayers would do well to demand proof that it will actually help student performance commensurate with the high cost being suggested now. Given that Kentucky teacher pay already compares so favorably with other states, perhaps we need to look elsewhere first to improve student benefits.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Debbie Peden For Senate 37

Today Louisville Republicans nominated Debbie Peden to run in the special election February 14 to fill the 37th Senate district seat.

Peden is the wife of Louisville Metro Councilman James Peden and mother of two small girls ages 6 and 3.

She is a first time candidate, but a veteran campaigner for multiple local campaigns. A former teacher, Peden views education as her top priority, followed by affordable healthcare, and bringing more retail shops and jobs into her district.

Asked why she felt qualified to serve in the Senate, she replied that she brings "the voice of an educator, the voice of a woman, and the voice of every resident of the 37th district." She said she plans to run a positive campaign, adding that after the year-long court battle over her distict's representation "we need a Senator."

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Power Struggle In River City

Louisville Republicans gather Sunday at 2pm to vote on their candidate for the 37th Senate district special election coming up on Feb 14.

Doug Hawkins and Debbie Peden appear to be the locked in a tough battle for votes.

It is unclear whether a Peden win would actually be some kind of protest against the GOP leadership that has shown strong suport for Hawkins.

Stay tuned...

NBC Doesn't Want Christian Viewers

Nearly all NBC affiliates went ahead and aired the "Book of Daniel" television program Friday night. I have heard WLEX got slammed with complaint phone calls during the episode. Probably not a bad idea to keep that up every Friday at 9 pm.

In fact, I've been thinking about how difficult it would be to just stop watching the network altogether. Law & Order used to be interesting, but of late has fallen back on liberal preaching. What else is there? I can't think of anything good on NBC at all.

What do you think?

Louisville Dems Pick Perry Clark

Breaking News From Louisville: After deliberating nearly three hours, Louisville Democrats picked Rep. Perry Clark to run for the vacant 37th district seat.

Fur Flies In Louisville

Louisville's 37th Senate district electors have been locked in a room for 2 1/2 hours arguing about who will be the Democrats' candidate in the February 14 special election.

What could be keeping them in there so long?

Friday, January 06, 2006

Common Sense Eludes House Democrats, Still

It's a new year, but don't tell Frankfort's House Democrats.

They are partying like it is 2005 all over again.

Last year in their largest policy "achievements" in decades, Washington D.C. Democrats shouted down the discussion about saving Social Security, tried to shut down the war effort, and cried all year to prevent anyone from building oil refineries or drilling in the Alaska wilderness.

Their actions didn't feed any children, as the saying goes, but they sure showed everyone that they aren't completely irrelevant. Great.

Well, Frankfort's own Harry Reid is on a filibuster path of his own.

Asked his position on Right To Work legislation, Speaker Jody Richards said "Our agenda is 'A Commitment to Kentucky Families,' and during the 2006 General Assembly session, we'll be addressing these issues: Educating our children, leading the way to energy relief and independence, preserving our family farms, creating and keeping Kentucky jobs, standing up for Kentucky families, and promoting open and honest government. We invite the governor and Senate Republicans to join us in 'A Commitment to Kentucky Families.'"

In fewer words, Speaker Richards has a "no comment" on economic development. I guess their best idea for last year -- doing nothing, but doing it loudly -- is going to be their plan for 2006.


Thursday, January 05, 2006

KY Democrats Choose Symbolism Over Substance

House Speaker Jody Richards came on Lexington's Kruser & Krew program on WVLK 590 AM to discuss Democrats plans to raise teacher salaries.

What he didn't discuss is that his plan would move Kentucky teachers from 5th highest paid in the nation currently to 3rd. I hope they didn't stay up too late last night crafting that big plan.

Throwing more money at education is the liberal mantra, but if that were the key, Washington D.C. would have the best school system on the planet instead of the worst.

The hapless Richards admitted that the move is nothing more than politics as usual: "It will be a symbol that we are truly trying to raise our educational standards."

Waste, Fraud, and Abuse: "Intelligent Designers" Kill Time Fighting With "Evolutionists"

They haven't yet posted it on their site as I write this, but ACLU of Kentucky is moving to take advantage of the weak push by Republicans to make a wedge issue out of creationism.

ACLU of Kentucky is going to have a public meeting next Wednesday night at Broadway Baptist Church in Louisville. Speakers include two U of L biology professors and one anthropology professor.

I can't believe we are wasting time talking about this when the GOP could very easily take advantage of the wreck that public education in Kentucky has become during so many decades of Democrat control -- as both parties continue to have great ideas like throwing more money at the problem in hopes that it will go away.

Clinton Suspension To End

The five year suspension of Bill Clinton's law license for lying under oath is set to run out in two weeks. He agreed to the suspension on the last day of his term in office in order to avoid prosecution.

"Book Of Daniel" Update: A Crack In The Facade

As word gets out that two NBC affiliates are going to refuse to air the anti-Christian "Book of Daniel" television program, the network is having a bit of a meltdown.

Executive VP of current programming Vivi Ziglar actually said "People are reacting based on not having seen it. They're seeing the advertising, not seeing what the core of the show is."

So which is it, NBC? Is your own marketing of the show (which describes rampant drug abuse and illicit sex by a "Christian" family) meant to be misleading in some way or is the advertising specifically designed to make people not want to watch the show? It would seem that an organization that owes its very existence to advertising would be totally focused on showing "what the core of the show is," right?

Tim Gilbert, President of WLEX (Lexington's NBC affiliate), has said that his station will air the show, but he has said publicly that the show itself is a waste of time. He has seen the first episode, set to air tomorrow night and said "I was so bored I thought 'what am I doing here?'"

KY Democrats Have Their Wedge Issue

House Speaker Jody Richards (D-Bowling Green) should be unveiling Democrats' grand scheme to lock in teachers' union volunteers for their fall campaigns. They are talking about raising teacher salaries in budget-busting fashion.

I'm not surprised to see the party that hears "education priorities" and thinks "money, money, money" ramping up another effort to play to the KEA gallery by talking about 15% pay increases rather than somethiing that would actually improve education in Kentucky.

This only works for them because most people don't realize that Kentucky teachers are not the 34th best paid teachers in the nation as we continue to hear.

They would be, if we ignore both employee benefits and economic reality. In the real world, Kentucky's average teacher pay plus benefits (and figuring in relative cost-of-living expenses), Kentucky's teachers rank 5th best compensated in the nation.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Conservative Versus Moderate In Lexington's 88th

Rep. Bill Farmer (R-Lexington) might have been a little concerned when he noticed that former Lexington city councilman Fred Brown filed to run against him in a rare House Republican primary.

He shouldn't be.

In an interview today, Mr. Brown was asked to explain why he thought he would make a better legislator than Rep. Farmer.

He said,"I am more moderate than the incumbent." He added that he thought Rep. Farmer is an "ultra-conservative."

Looks like a pretty good way to position yourself out of a Republican primary before it even starts. Mr. Brown is well regarded from his years on the council, but 2006 is shaping up as the year of the conservative in Kentucky. Not only are nearly all the House Democrats busily trying to out-conservative each other, but insiders say that Governor Fletcher himself is ready to blaze a more consistently conservative trail through this session.

With any luck, that will mean more for economic policies and less for the goofy intelligent design in schools stuff. I call that lipstick on a pig. Let's not worry so much about the odd biology teacher who wants to make monkeys of all of us. We need school choice and to get serious about school accountability first. And be watching for a school voucher bill.

New Media Swings A Big Stick

Watching the staffers of www.kentuckyvotes.org hold court in the Capitol cafeteria this morning was striking. I saw legislators come by and explain their actions and ask questions about the functions of what is essentially the new sheriff in town.

Expect the House to change some of their voting procedures this year, especially the bum's rush of bills that legislators have to vote on without even reading in the waning days of each session.

When that happens, Kentucky Votes will deserve the credit. Complete legislator voting records will be available online for the 2006 session. Who do you think made that happen? The Herald Leader or the Courier Journal? Nope. It's Kentucky Votes again.

Voter disconnection from the legislative process has long since turned most people off to how our laws are made. Those who thrive in the shadows are hoping you don't embrace the new technology that Kentucky Votes has harnessed.

The Death of 24 Hour News

The West Virginia mine disaster story illustrates perfectly why we don't need 24 hour news.

The feeding frenzy that began in the middle of the night when a rumor that twelve of thirteen trapped miners had been found alive should never have made its way all around the world unchecked.

The mainstream media continues to push the ridiculous idea that they are the "official" word because they have layers of editors. The editors didn't help last night. The rush to get the word out first did.

Incidentally, I just got in from the Capitol in Frankfort. Got my "media" credentials.

So there. The times, they are a changin'.

Two Stupid Kentucky Bills

Two House bills filed yesterday jump off the page as particularly wasteful government activity: Rep. Rick "Black Out" Nelson (D-Middlesboro) wants to suspend market forces and prevent utility rate increases in 2006. Rep. Don "The Private Sector Already Does That" Pasley (D-Winchester) wants to set up a state government agency to compete with the private non-profits who have successfully for years helped low-income senior citizens get their prescription drugs for free.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Up Next: Louisville's 37th Senate Special Election

We are waiting for Democrat Virginia Woodward to drop any appeal of last month's Supreme Court ruling so Senate President David Williams can call a special election for Louisville's vacant Senate seat. President Williams said today that he is waiting for such an assurance from Woodward before he sets the special election.

Woodward said that she was unaware of President Williams' request and had not heard anything from him. Republicans would be well-advised to get on the phone with Woodward immediately. Then call the election.

Virginia Woodward is seen even by many Democrats as an illegitimate candidate because she only became the Democrat nominee in 2004 because of a scheme cooked up with Sen. Larry Saunders. He withdrew his filing, allowing Woodward to file with less than thirty minutes before the deadline as the only Democrat in the race.

Louisville Metro Councilman Doug Hawkins looks like the best shot for the Republicans.

Final Answer: "Book Of Daniel" To Air On WLEX, WAVE

I sat down and looked at a few network television shows Friday night to see if there was an alternative to the upcoming "Book of Daniel" show that starts this week.

There really wasn't anything on worth recommending.

WLEX President Tim Gilbert said today that despite local requests to not broadcast the program, the "Book of Daniel" show will go on.

He said he watched the program to see if it met community standards, a quasi-legal standard that usually refers to obscenity. He found no compelling reason not to air the show.

"Do I think someone went out of his way to demean the Christian faith? No," Gilbert said.

Gilbert said that, having watched the show, he could understand objections to the program but that banality wasn't a strong enough reason for an affiliate to fight a programming decision by the network.

"The show is completely ridiculous," Gilbert said, adding that the characters were unusually dysfunctional. "Halfway through the first hour I was so bored I thought 'what am I doing here?'"

Monday, January 02, 2006

Democrat Insider: John Kerry Coming To Bluegrass

Sen. John Kerry is making plans for an early spring fundraiser in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, according to a Democrat insider who spoke on condition of anonimity.

Can't wait to hear from elected Kentucky Democrats who Sen. Kerry is coming to represent.

More Drunk Tennesseans In Orange

A new law in Tennessee starting yesterday requires first-time convicted drunk drivers to don orange vests and pick up litter on the state's highways.

It's not all bad for the drunks, though. Following their community service, they are provided two free football tickets and they get to keep the snazzy vest.

Good Ol' Rocky Top!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Make A Law Against Anti-War Funeral Protests

Several states are actually having to go to the trouble of passing laws forbidding protest marches at Iraq war soldier funerals.

Kentucky needs to join this.

Or maybe we can trot out my favorite: a $25 dollar fine for beating up a war protester who would rant and rave at a soldier's funeral.

Could Kentucky Democrats Change Their Name?

Despite the flurry of media-inspired public relations debacles for Republicans in 2005, the fact remains that many Kentucky Democrats are going to have a tough time at the ballot box in 2006, primarily because of problematic policy positions locally and a national party seemingly oblivious to issues that resonate with the electorate.

One scenario could play out that would result in at least a superficial change for Kentucky's left-of-center politicians.

They could change their name.

I noticed a Wall Street story that could provide momentum for such action. Investment giant Merrill Lynch announced their strategy for improving the results of their troubled mutual fund division: you guessed it, they are changing its name.

Such a move is not unprecedented in recent American politics. Minnesota's liberal party is actually named the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. Has been since 1944 when Democrats merged with the Farmer-Labor party.

Kentucky's left-wing name change probably wouldn't involve such a coalition, but would of necessity probably have to undertake a little creative positioning and marketing license.

Maybe the "Very Conservative, Strong Christian, Family-Oriented Democratic Party of Kentucky."

What do you think? I don't know; maybe they need to work in something about having the courage to raise taxes and to hold the seemingly contradictory position of being against fighting terrorists but for the military.

Oh, and they will have to do something about their bad habit of protecting trade unions at the expense of regular workers and consumers. And there is the little issue of holding to the status quo in education with regard to policy and just continuing the clamor for more and more money.

Maybe a name change won't get it done for Kentucky Democrats, but neither will embellishing their fundraising efforts with Hillary in December. We will have the real numbers on that very soon.

Stay tuned.