Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 Kaypee Awards

Probably should have thought about this a week ago, but I was inspired today by Bluegrass Roots' Rooties and came up with a name for a Kentucky awards show called the Kaypees.

Time is short to really do it justice, but if you have a funny nomination, have at it. Otherwise, I thought we might take the high road and try to come up with a consensus Best Public Policy Idea/Worst Public Policy Idea for 2008.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Eyes On Arizona

Starting Tuesday, Arizona starts cracking down on employers of illegal aliens. Kentucky has a bill that would do the same thing here.

The Song That Never Ends

One thing that would really inform the present debate about what kind of fiscal shape state government is in would be to put all state government checkbooks online.

Where are all you good government types on this?

The House Democrats should have all kinds of motivation for supporting this. Jody Richards was out there this past week blaming the state shortfall on the national economy, for heaven's sake. If his much hoped for recession doesn't materialize -- or even doesn't materialize soon enough to lend some credibility to his ridiculous assertion -- what will he do?

Face it, big spenders, the cat is out of the bag. Citizen awareness and communication will soon demolish the old way of running Frankfort. Soon Rep. Harry Moberly (Mr. Government Secrecy and Mr. Conflict of Interest) will be the last one operating in the shadows.

Other legislators with better motives had better make sure there is no confusion about which side they are on in this most important battle.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Oklahoma!

The great state of Oklahoma leads the way on government transparency and Kentucky would do very to follow them.

Did I mention we already have a bill?

If you don't like being surprised by details of the state's finances when we change governors, you will probably want to get on board the transparency movement as well.

Saving State Health Dollars

We all agree that having more affordable health insurance would be a good thing. What should be clear, but apparently isn't, is that more competition and wider consumer choice would create a more efficient health insurance market.

In Kentucky, we seem to like to pack our insurers with mandated benefits. This increases costs, pricing more people out of the market. So, rather than address the root cost of the higher prices, we then seek to subsidize those prices with tax dollars. Any economics textbook would tell you this just causes prices to go up further still.

We need to give up the long-running lawsuit against Christian Care Medi-Share and encourage more such providers to come to the state. We need to shut down the ICARE subsidy Governor Beshear wants to expand.

And we need to give insurers more flexibility on which people they agree to insure.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Cut Spending, Have More Money

If we only cut the level of executive branch employment to the legal limit, stopped advertising the Kentucky Lottery, stopped the coal-to-liquid subsidy nonsense and cancelled the Louisville Arena project, we wouldn't have a "budget crisis."

I'm still laughing about Julian Carroll comparing state overspending to getting a car repossessed, but it's probably time we should seriously start talking about what assets the state should sell -- or at least stop leasing.

Beshear's Campaign Promises Dropping Like Flies

In his weekly column, Bluegrass Institute's Jim Waters says if we really want to lower healthcare costs we will push to allow people to buy insurance across state lines and let individuals purchase coverage just like businesses do -- with pre-tax dollars.
Typically, with the Bush vetoes came attempts to label him as the Grinch who stole health care from needy kids. But the president made the right decision.

Bush argued that expanding the program would hurt kids. It would “move children who already have private health insurance to government coverage,” he said.

Buckeye Institute researcher Marc Kilmer agrees: “Kids who would have had better private care will instead be using substandard government care.”

All of this sounds Grinch-like to those with an inclination to expand public programs rather than look for better solutions.

Reality is forcing Governor Steve Beshear to abandon more and more of his pie-in-the-sky plans. Cutting spending and state employee benefits will be the first two dominoes to fall. Casino gambling has no chance in a possible GOP super-majority Senate. Might socialized health insurance be next?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Anybody Up For A Media Appearance?

I will be a guest on the Leland Conway Show tomorrow with guest host Jim Waters. It's on 630 AM or www.wlap.com from nine to noon.

Skippy Miller, Gambling Man

Finance and Administration Cabinet Secretary Jonathan Miller met with the State Tax Increment Financing Commission this afternoon to discuss blowing more state tax dollars on the Louisville Arena project.

He didn't answer any questions, though, about about last spring's Las Vegas vacation he took one week after kissing the ring of soon-to-be casino nominee Steve Beshear and dropping his own bid for governor.

The scandal is in the cover-up, Skippy, not the sex. The real question is not who Miller was bunking with in Vegas, but who he was meeting with to discuss "career options."

Miller will be under a dark cloud until all these questions are answered. It is time for Miller to produce some of these suitors he met with, assuming he can remember them.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Your State Needs More Than Your Mouth

As the General Assembly warms up for its 2008 session, the big spenders really don't have a good reason not to create a "Tax Me More Fund."

The lottery and casinos are supposed to be voluntary as well, aren't they? How are those who don't want to wait in convenience store lines behind ragged, toothless scratch-off buyers and their malnourished, snot-nosed kids or who don't want to risk sitting in a urine-soaked chair going to pay a little extra?

It is only being humane to afford those generous souls the opportunity to avoid these indignities in support of their Commonwealth.

Perhaps Speaker Jody Richards would sign on to this bill if we agreed to send one-third of any contribution directly to foreign casino owners.

Kentucky's Education Odd Couple That Isn't

There is an interesting story in the Baltimore Sun about the Democratic governor in Maryland trying to run off the Republican state superintendent of schools.

Governor Steve Beshear already tried to get the state school board to not hire now-education commissioner (and former GOP state representative) Jon Draud. But while the difference between the two officials in Maryland has some basis in ideological conflict, their Kentucky counterparts seem to have little if anything they disagree about in terms of policy.

The education story for 2008, though, may well be that budget realities force a much tighter fiscal rein on the education establishment and an overhaul of the fraudulent CATS program, something neither Draud nor Beshear would ever be inclined to pursue in fatter economic times.

Specifically, what we need is an outside financial audit from the top of the Kentucky Department of Education to the bottom of the smallest elementary school. A bill to mandate this and to strip the KDE of the ability to grade itself with the CATS testing should be something both parties can get behind.

The education bureaucracy will be much easier to handle when their game is exposed for all to see.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

It has been a good year writing on this blog. I really appreciate the comments, criticisms, emails, and news tips. The way we get and share information is changing rapidly. I hope this site plays a role in how you stay connected.

David

Help For The Dentally-Challenged

You may have heard about the New York Times/IHT article discussing tooth loss in Kentucky.

Quoted in the article is a Corbin man who illegally provides dentures to people who need them.

It is currently illegal for anyone other than a licensed dentist to provide dentures. There is a bill from Rep. Tom Burch seeking to change this.

Are we actually allowing the private sector to lower a medical cost? Let's hope this idea catches on in Frankfort.

Did I mention this?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Getting Benefits Right Another Beshear Opportunity

The Louisville Courier Journal's David Hawpe gets it right this morning when he calls the effort by the Fletcher administration on public employee benefits weak.
The answer clearly is not the anemic approach suggested last week by a (pale) blue ribbon commission. The truth is, the current system is unsustainable. It must be changed. Future state hires will have to accept the kinds of changes that millions of Americans have had to stomach, as private employers have adjusted their retiree pension and benefit plans.

Empowering a generation of state government employees as a strong goody-getting voting block was never going to work for our fiscal health. Demanding a phase-out of legislator pensions would also help change this culture of self-destruction.

Cutting the benefits won't hurt state government. Not cutting them will bankrupt us. Do the math.

This political gift was wrapped up by Ernie Fletcher last summer when he didn't make the special session about public employee benefits.

Friday, December 21, 2007

For Mayor Jim Newberry's Eyes Only

The meltdown at the the Fayette County jail includes a sexual harassment lawsuit whose mishandling is indicative of the leadership failure in Lexington.

It will be interesting to see if the sexual harassment grievance filed at the Lexington Police Department is managed any differently. (You know, the one regarding the effects of a bullet-proof vest.)

Pinching Pennies

If Governor Steve Beshear is looking for new ways to save money -- and he'd better be -- he should get rid of the law that requires government entities to publish public notices in local newspapers.

It's much cheaper to put them online. The Kentucky Press Association already has a website set up.

Any other ideas?

Dissenting Comments On A Blog Make It Better

I don't know when the Louisville Courier Journal will start deleting unfriendly blog comments like some other newspaper's political blog. Maybe they just haven't seen this yet.

McCain Is Not Going To Win KY Primary

SurveyUSA did a presidential poll but left off Fred Thompson.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Highlighting A Good Gun Bill

Theres's a lively discussion on Kentucky Votes about Rep. Bob Damron's new gun bill.

Ben "Tax Man" Chandler Strikes Again

Rep. Ben Chander voted late yesterday joined 63 hardy tax-raisers in the U.S. House of Representatives in voting against the commonsense Alternative Minimum Tax "patch" that will save 22 million middle-class Americans from the punishing tax in 2008.

Just One Goal

The Lexington Herald Leader jumps on the Fletcher administration's handling of the Medicaid program this morning.
You'd think someone would be keeping track of whether reforms affecting all that money (for fiscal year 2006, about $1 billion from Kentucky's General Fund and $3.3 billion in federal funds) was being spent effectively.

You'd think wrong. Neither the cabinet administering the program nor the governor's office to which it answered nor the legislature that passed the budgets funding the program seemed to know what was going on.

The politics of this is very much beside the point.

The only way to gain anything from this is to recognize the need for greater transparency in our government agencies. There is already a bill, pre-filed by a House Republican, that starts to address this issue. Rather than just kill it for partisan reasons, House Dems should expand it.

Medicaid's accounting issues are miniscule compared to the public employee benefits programs that have been allowed to go underfunded for decades. Now everyone is starting to pay attention because the black hole we have there threatens to swallow up the entire state.

Both of these problems -- and many others -- will benefit from a full-court press toward putting all the state's checkbooks online.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I Thought The Other Guy Was The Flip-Flopper

Double Dipper Dan v. AG Steve Beshear ('81)

The citizens of the 30th Senate district in Bell, Harlan, Leslie, and Perry counties would have a new state senator today if Governor Steve Beshear had called the special election on November 9 when Senate President David Williams made the request.

As it is, a special election for the seat can not now be held before the end of January. Double-Dipper Dan should do the right thing and insist Governor Beshear do his part to ensure the people in his district have the representation they deserve.

Governor Beshear really does understand the need to protect citizens on issues like this. Well, sometimes. He understood it when he wrote the following Attorney General's opinion in 1981, in which he ordered legislative staff not to mail but to hand deliver the Writ of Election for a special election.
As the Court pointed out in the case of Furste v. Grey, 240 Ky. 604, the framers of the Constitution had in mind that vacancies in the General Assembly shall not continue but should be filled immediately in the manner provided by the legislature.

Thus, because of the urgency for filling the vacancy in question so that the residents of the 75th Legislative District will be properly represented at the earliest possible time following the beginning of the Session starting on January 5, it is suggested that the Writ of Election be issued on January 1st and hand delivered rather than mailed, to the sheriff.

Governor Beshear also recognized this necessity when he elevated Rep. J.R. Gray to Labor Cabinet Secretary last week and immediately called the special election. He understood the need to call a special election right away. Why doesn't he get it now?

The $14 Million Jonathan Miller Subsidy

Wouldn't it be great if you could spend state tax dollars promoting your latest great idea? Wouldn't it be even better if you could go back every year and get a huge government check when your great idea blew up in your face again and again?

Governor Steve Beshear's hand-picked Finance and Administration Cabinet Secretary-designate Jonathan Miller has a $14 million check coming from the state's General Fund to fill the current year's hole in the KAPT program.

Heckuva job, Johnny.

Fiscal Time Bomb Still Ticking

There is really only one thing that matters in Kentucky right now and that is what we need to do now to survive a full-blown crisis in our state employee benefit plans.

It is nearly impossible to exaggerate this disaster. The best analogy I can think of is that we are on the Titanic and can only avoid getting sunk by the iceberg if we start turning now.

We are nearly $30,000,000,000 short in the funds we use to write pension checks and pay health benefits for state government workers. If we don't raise taxes, -- and we can't afford to raise taxes -- we are going to have to cut spending. A lot. There is no other way around this and if the people don't start screaming about it now we will see, within ten years, employers fleeing the state and leaving a real mess behind them.

And we can't fund our state government on Social Security checks.

What this will take is radically changing the way we look at state government. We are going to have to get out of providing a lot of services we have gotten used to. We will have to cut out a lot of programs.

Our bloated and inefficient school system might be a good place to start with a surgeon's knife. Did you know that no other state has a higher percentage of non-teacher school employees than Kentucky? If we start there and then eliminate most of the Kentucky Department of Education we will be heading in the right direction.

Then we need fewer state employees and we need them to stop retiring from one government job only to take another. Did you know only fourteen states have more state and local government employees per 10,000 people than Kentucky does? Kentucky has a law limiting the number of state employees to 33,000 but every two years the legislature votes itself an exemption from this law. In January they are going to do it again unless we make them stop it. Ask your Senator or Representative why he or she thinks government can't get by with less when the rest of us have to sometimes.

If you want your children to be able to live in Kentucky ten or fifteen years from now, you will take this threat very seriously.

I Guess We Know Results Of Stumbo Poll

Now we know what a political hit job looks like. Rep. Brandon Spencer just last week was filing a bill to line his own pockets with Medicaid money and now he is resigning quietly so Greg Stumbo can have a job.

Could Jody Richards be the one quaking in his boots this morning?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Yarmuth: I Wanna Go Home NOW!

An hour ago, House Democrats in Washington D.C. tried to shut down their session for the year. Yarmuth voted to surrender.

Has he been talking to Jody Richards?

Smart Republicans Won't Touch Medicaid Fight

I just got off the phone with a spokeswoman from the Cabinet for Medicaid Services who told me they didn't have a comment on the Auditor's Performance Audit of their activities. She told me they are reviewing the audit and might have a comment by the end of the week.

The only problem with that is the audit included -- on page 108 -- a letter from the department dated December 5 responding to the audit.

This doesn't look good for what is left of the Fletcher administration.

Sniffing Out (Some) Conflicts Of Interest

The state just lost an appeal to eliminate what it said was a conflict of interest for a lowly technician at the airport in Frankfort who took on a second job to improve his skills.

But there has still been no official action taken against Rep. Harry Moberly in his conflict of interest as Budget Chairman and Vice President of Eastern Kentucky University.

I thought Governor Beshear said he was going to be different.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Tax Reform Idea Catching On

I will be on Leland Conway's radio show at 9:00 Monday morning talking about the Fair Tax. You can catch it in the Lexington area on 630 AM or on the net at www.wlap.com.

Boycott of Golden Compass A Success

The anti-Christian film Golden Compass has been a flop.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Baseball Analogy For Fayette Jail Employees

Some of the criminals working inside the Fayette County Detention Center continue to delude themselves. They seem to think lack of mainstream media interest in their crimes and the fact no one with dark sunglasses and arrest warrants has shown up yet means no one is coming for them.

But several internal conversations at the jail have turned to the the inconvenient fact investigators took four years to indict slugger Barry Bonds.

The jail abuse evidence isn't nearly as hard to sort through as the steroid evidence, though.

Happy Hanukkah: MIller "Mistakes" Like Noodling?

Told you three weeks ago about the Lexington Herald Leader sitting on a Jonathan Miller scandal. Why they put it out now, in the middle of December and on one of the slowest circulation days of the year, makes about as much sense as this:
Overall, Parker saw her salary rise from $21,000 a year when Miller hired her out of college as a secretary in 2000 to $78,981 a year this year as deputy state treasurer. That's an increase of nearly 380 percent in seven years.

Miller denied any suggestion that he gave Parker undue favorable treatment but said he has relied on her input regarding "personal business" matters such as future job opportunities.

For instance, Parker accompanied Miller on a trip to Las Vegas between May 14 and 17, just after Miller dropped out of the Democratic primary for governor.

Miller said in an interview in September that he flew to Las Vegas in May for a trip that was "personal or personal business" in nature.

"No state government work," he said. "I'm kind of looking at my own job opportunities after I'm treasurer and also it's a nice place to relax."


It may well sound like sour grapes at this point, but this sordid episode displays perfectly how the mainstream media in Kentucky covers for Democrats. Can there be any doubt if Miller were a Republican that the last three weeks would have featured wall-to-wall news stories speculating about wild sex and gambling parties in Las Vegas and systematic abuse of the merit system?

This story is far from over.

Blog Blockergate 2

The Beshear administration is trying to decide if state employees should be reading political blogs on the job.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Is A Blog Without Comments Really A Blog?

Kentucky's Rep. Adam Koenig has started our first state legislator blog. It will be interesting to see how he does with it, who else follows him in putting one up, and if he decides to accept comments.

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell already has a blog.

Sentenced To Life In New Jersey

We already know that half the people living in casino paradise New Jersey want to leave the state as soon as they can.

So it's hard not to wonder if they are now getting rid of the death penalty as some kind of economic development ploy.

Price Tag For Relevant KY Schools? $60 Million

This bill might have a chance to improve low-performing schools if it didn't have to depend so heavily on the Kentucky Department of Education.

Better Point Out Penalty For Misuse Of Military ID

Rep. David Floyd has pre-filed a bill to allow underage military members to purchase, possess, and drink alcohol.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Lexington's Wildcatting Taxi Service

Not everyone in the Lexington Police Department is happy that University of Kentucky basketball coach Billy Gillispie gets a free ride home when he gets pulled over in town and needs a little extra help finding his way home safely.

Hitting The Ground Walking

Since Governor Beshear seems to be struggling to find things to talk about since his inauguration on Tuesday, may we suggest he seriously engage in the effort to open up the state's finances for oversight by those of us paying his bills?

I Admit I Am Biased

I don't have a problem with a Mormon getting elected President of the United States. What I have a problem with is this.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Is More Gang Violence Coming Here?

Someone with a New York City IP address just came to my site after googling "Are the Latin Kings going to invade Kentucky?"

I have heard about this before, but nothing recently. Any information related to this anyone has would be very helpful.

Beshear's Labor Secretary Co-Sponsors Benefits Bill

Twenty one House Democrats, including Labor Secretary-designate J.R. Gray, co-sponsored a bill that would overturn the domestic partner benefit plans at University of Kentucky and University of Louisville.

Governor Beshear has promised to veto any such bill.

Empty Symbolic Gestures Can Be Fun!

We can wait patiently while taxpayers fund Governor Beshear's drywall hanging stunt, but if he really wants to improve accountability he needs to talk seriously about making government more transparent.

Isn't Mike Huckabee Satan's Brother?

Gov. Mitt Romney gave his "don't hit me; I'm a Mormon" speech so Gov. Mike Huckabee, of course, had to hit him.

I think Huckabee could have done a lot better than this.

Today I'm With Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee

This is not, repeat NOT, a presidential endorsement.

Instead, it is a statement that I'm in favor of a bold federal tax reform plan call the Fair Tax.

Rep. Paul and Governor Huckabee have several problems with their campaigns, but being wusses on tax reform isn't one of them.

I'll be a guest on the Leland Conway radio show this morning at 11:30 talking about the Fair Tax. You can listen on 630 AM WLAP or www.wlap.com.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Will Beshear Look At Lexington Jail?

None of the 89 names on former Governor Ernie Fletcher's last-minute pardon list work at the Fayette County Detention Center. If that's what you were counting on, I'm sorry about your luck.

Meanwhile, one thing jumped out from the coverage of Governor Beshear's inaugural address:
Beshear said he would introduce a legislative package that would strengthen penalties for ethics violations, improve protection for whistleblowers and change the way appointments are made to the Executive Branch Ethics Commission.


It's easy to guess Beshear is talking about merit system whistleblowers. But does he know something about the mess Lexington officials have made of their local jail and the systematic abuse of whistleblower Cpl. John Vest?

Speculation at the jail has the long-awaited federal indictments coming down very soon. But that isn't the important part. With the indictments comes the unsealing of the evidence the FBI collected in their 2006 raid on FCDC. You may remember: that's the hundreds of hours of video and audio evidence which brought dozens of FBI agents in to storm the jail and pull out even more evidence. This is the evidence Mayor Teresa Isaac claimed to have examined thoroughly in a one night cram session.

If he hasn't already, Governor Beshear would do very well to look into this fiasco right away. Getting to the bottom of Mayor Jim Newberry's stunning mishandling of this sorry episode presents a fabulous opportunity for the state's new chief executive.

Global Warming Thaws Frankfort Hiring Freeze

The city of Frankfort is determined to cut energy usage (there is a joke in there about hot air but, never mind...) and so they have decided to start, of course, with hiring a city sustainability coordinator despite the city's hiring freeze.

Another Politician Who Doesn't Know Where He Is

Madison County Judge Executive Kent "Otis" Clark has resolved his latest alcohol-related issue, but not without causing a stir.
When Shirley told Clark he was under arrest, the judge-executive became "very argumentative and began yelling," according to the citation. The document said Clark didn't really resist arrest, but was uncooperative.

"He caused quite a scene," Russell Springs Police Chief Joe Michael Irvin said in an interview.
...
In June 2004, Clark was charged with alcohol intoxication after he was found passed out on a Lexington sidewalk. An arrest citation said Clark did not know what city he was in. Clark pleaded guilty and paid a fine, according to court records.


As Governor Steve "I'm gonna pass it" Beshear lands in Frankfort today, we will wait for his casino industry giveaway ranting and raving to die down a little bit before gently reminding him he is in Kentucky and we don't do things that way around here.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Rich Brooks, Call Your Lobbyist

Tim Tebow grew up a home-schooled student in Florida. Florida has a law that allows home-schooled students to play high school sports. Tim Tebow played high school sports and is now the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner and University of Florida quarterback.

Alabama is working on passing a law.

Ask Mitt Anything Easy

I signed on to an "Ask Mitt Anything" internet chat session this afternoon and quickly submitted a half dozen policy questions to the moderator.

What a waste.

All the questions that got through were about how great Romney's "Mormon" speech was, what a great leader he is, what a jerk Huckabee is, and how can we send more money to the campaign.

No questions of any substance got through at all. Well, maybe one, but that question about abortion got a run-around answer.

Still looking for a candidate...

Actions Speak: Harry Moberly's Macaca

Sen. Mitch McConnell is certainly fortunate no one was running a video camera on November 28 when he spoke in Grayson county. Otherwise, this video would be his "macaca" moment.

As it is, he has a chance to explain. His campaign says he was taken out of context by his opponents and that the entire quote better explains that he was talking about funding the troops.
“Our brave soldiers have protected us for six years successfully. If we brought all of them home today (terrorists) they would be back here, so we need to stay the course. It's gotten better and there is a dramatic decrease in causalities and we have begun to withdraw troops.” said McConnell. ”The polls are reflecting that there is a 15% increase in optimism in American's views about the war.

“I won't tell you everything is great in Iraq; it is not. But we want to keep a steady flow of funds so that we don't disrupt the military,” said McConnell. “Unfortunately, most of our friends on the other isle are having a hard time admitting things are getting better; some days I almost think the critics of this war don't want us to win. Nobody is happy about losing lives but remember these are not draftees, these are full-time professional soldiers.

“We ought to provide funding fully without restrictions and without Congress micromanaging the war, ” added Mcconnell.


Whether this context totally eliminates the damage from what was certainly an ill-advised comment, no one really believes McConnell isn't concerned about volunteer soldiers.

The misplaced rage in this case might be put to better use in Kentucky by turning itself toward the very real conflict of interest our state's House Budget Chairman was caught in the same week.

But his political affiliation probably has something to do with that.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Stumbo Contribution Scam Overlooked

The Lexington Herald Leader reprised its familiar role this week as press release printer for Attorney General Greg Stumbo. In the release (I mean story), Stumbo reminds Kentuckians that not everyone asking for money this holiday season is what they portray themselves to be.
Stumbo held a news conference in his Capitol office with Better Business Bureau officials to publicize his office's Web site to show how much of consumers' donations actually go to charity.


No mention of the fact contributors to Stumbo's Senate campaign will get nothing when he drops out of the race.

CJ Questions Brain Development In Others

The Louisville Courier Journal editorial page seeks this morning to downplay concerns about potential conflicts of interest in the Beshear administration, calling it "moralistic hyperbole."

In the very next editorial, though, we get this:
And that's notwithstanding one conservative scholar's ridiculous claim that teens who became pregnant were "highly educated about contraceptives but wanted to have babies." His line of reasoning is easily discredited by scientific findings that teenage brains are works in progress. Development is slow in the region of the brain that allows one to fully consider the consequences of actions, for oneself or for others.


We might call that "amoralistic hyperbole." In any case, I'm glad the CJ editors didn't raise my children.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Score One For Mitch McConnell

Senate Democrats had no choice but to go along with the Republican plan to cut the Alternative Minimum Tax without keeping their campaign promise to match tax cuts with revenue neutral tax increases.

Think the mortgage bailout won't affect you?

Think again.

The General Assembly Is Coming!

Monday morning I will be on the Jack Pattie Show in Lexington at 9:00 talking about bills coming up in Frankfort and the session that starts January 8.

You can listen on 590 AM or www.wvlkam.com and you can follow the legislative activity in Kentucky by going to KentuckyVotes.org.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Scrooged By Mayor Jim Newberry

Fayette County Detention Center whistleblower Cpl. John Vest helped spark an FBI raid on the Lexington jail over a year ago. For his trouble -- and despite Kentucky legal protections for whistleblowers -- Vest has been on unpaid leave all this time and has had to fight repeated efforts by the city to fire him. Officials continue to claim the ongoing Justice Department investigation is without merit.

Just learned tonight, though, Vest was granted vacation time for Thanksgiving. Could Mayor Newberry be changing his tune? It will be interesting to see what Newberry does at Christmas.

Shining Light On Kentucky Tax Dollars

A new bill just pre-filed in Frankfort might help open up the process to greater scrutiny, but the bill isn't perfect.

Terwort's Rope-A-Dope

Conservative candidate Will Terwort, running for the 63rd House seat formerly held by Education Commissioner Jon Draud, has started planning his first fundraiser for the primary election in May.

His Republican opponents are vying for a nomination from the Kenton County Republican Executive Committee, a spot in the special election, and a guarantee of being stuck in Frankfort while Terwort campaigns in the district.

"I'm taking my message directly to the people of the 63rd district," Terwort said.

Rudy Cuts Through Bluegrass

Johnathan Gay has up not one, but two, great posts about Rudy Giuliani.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Final Word On Chamber of Commerce Ed Report

You may have noticed several media stories on the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce higher education report.

Dick Innes of the Bluegrass Institute has a take you won't get from the mainstream media.

Covering Up For Jonathan Miller

No idea how long Kentucky's MSM has been sitting on this evidence of Finance Secretary-designate Jonathan Miller illegally using state resources for his personal business.

Jim Newberry Not The Efficiency Fairy

Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry's personnel policies in office haven't exactly inspired confidence.

Now we find out city employees signing up for benefits are spending an average of nearly three hours each online and with a representative doing an on-the-clock enrollment.

Remind me again why Lexington voters were so eager to get rid of Teresa Isaac.

Competition, Web Killing The Corporate Tax Man

The rationale for what we now call the Limited Liability Entity Tax was that some companies were shifting taxable revenue to lower-tax states.

The growth of internet shopping is doing the same thing, isn't it?

And then we spend economic development crediting back taxes to corporations to either come here or stay here and provide jobs to Kentuckians.

Now that Republicans and Democrats agree the LLET needs to go, shouldn't we consider phasing out our corporate income tax as well?

After all, even Massachusetts is considering ending taxes of corporations.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

What's Wrong With Polwatchers, The Arena?

It has now been four days since the Lexington Herald Leader called on House Budget Chairman Harry Moberly (D-Richmond) to step down, given the clear conflict of interest in taking a high-level position with Eastern Kentucky University one week ago.

In fact, both major newspapers in the state -- neither of which has made a habit of asking Democrats to resign from anything -- have pointed out Moberly's conflict, but the political blogs of both papers have been completely silent on the controversy swirling around Moberly who, like his comrade Sen. Ed Worley (D-Richmond) always seems to have some kind of trouble with the law.

Cat got your tongue?

Bad Economics From KY Chamber of Commerce

With a tighter budget expected in Frankfort in January, it is imperative the discussion is based on reality. The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce higher education report released today isn't really a step in that direction.

A key part of the Chamber's proposal is the Kentucky 21st Century Scholars Program.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Are We Denying Liberties Or Saving Money?

The Kentucky Club for Growth is butting heads with the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce over the Chamber's support for a statewide smoking ban and boost to the cigarette tax.

"The Kentucky Club for Growth is amazed that with all of the (public) education bureaucrats that have infiltrated the chamber, not one of them is teaching basic economics to its leadership," the Club said in a statement.

"The Club for Growth said if the "goal of the chamber to reduce smoking is to reduce health care costs, at what point does the chamber start lobbying for a fast-food and doughnut tax?"


If what we are really concerned with is saving public health dollars, why not just cut people off of state welfare benefits unless they can test negative for nicotine?

Carroll Hunting For Successor

Senator Julian Carroll is looking for a candidate to run for his seat in 2008 so he can spend more time with his family.

Voting Noe

Someone is going to replace Lieutenant Governor-elect Dan Mongiardo in the state Senate in a January special election. Democratic candidate Roger Noe seems to be off to a bad start trying to position himself in the eastern Kentucky district.

Pretty funny to watch.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Begging The Question: What Is A Right-Wing Extremist In Education?

When Education Commissioner Jon Draud was asked if he is a right-wing extremist "when it comes to education," he said that he has always supported public education, so he isn't one.

Here is audio of the quote.

I guess what we need is a definition of an education "right-wing extremist" so we can be on the lookout should one happen to come along.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Kenton County Candidate Conundrum

The 63rd House district special election will almost certainly be won by the Republican nominee. The Kenton county GOP executive committee gets to pick the nominee.

And they have been given their marching orders from what's left of the establishment in Frankfort.

But Will Terwort will be the fiscal conservative in the primary in May when the voters get to decide. RPK should stay out of this.

Here Come The Thompsons

Fred Thompson's wife, Jeri, will be in Louisville on Tuesday for a private get-together with supporters.

Are Polwatchers Boycotting Their Boss?

A full 24 hours after the Lexington Herald Leader joined Kentucky Progress and the Louisville Courier Journal in asking Budget Chairman Harry Moberly to rectify his conflict of interest by resigning, there is not one single word about it on the paper's political blog.

What's up guys, boycotting your own paper?

Here is an exerpt from Friday's Herald Leader:

Ethical government, it bears repeating, involves not just avoiding conflicts of interest but also avoiding their appearance or the potential for them.

For that reason, state Rep. Harry Moberly, D-Richmond, should give up his powerful legislative chairmanship if he continues serving as the top financial administrator at Eastern Kentucky University...
Moberly also should decide where his first loyalty lies and act accordingly.


This is a terrific opportunity for Kentucky's independent blogosphere to assert itself and give fellow Kentuckians reason to follow our lead, don't you agree?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Trading In RINOs

Will Terwort is running to replace Rep. Jon Draud in Frankfort, who has resigned to take a position as education commissioner.

Terwort's best position is his promise not to vote for any budget that increases the level of the state's bonded indebtedness.

Friday In Kentucky Blogdom

I'm curious this morning to hear from readers about what Kentucky political blogs you read and why you read them.

A little help?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Political Gimmickry Gone Wrong

Rep. Jim Glenn has dredged up the old "sales tax holiday" gimmick House Dems try to run up the flagpole every year. Special wrinkles in the bill remove some of the good from previous bills, namely computers, and add a bunch of junk retailers won't be happy with.

Other states attempt to hype these "sales tax holidays," which provide little or no real savings and serve mainly to shift, rather than create, economic activity. A real tax cut would be much, much better than this waste of time.

Call To Action For Kentucky Schools

I've been trying the last couple of years to drum up support for a simple school policy change I believe will have a positive impact on our schools.

My efforts have brought very limited success (Ernie Fletcher thought I was talking about mutual funds -- true story!).

But it appears the success of the policy here in Jessamine county is getting noticed. Spread the word to your local high schools!

Fayette Jail Behind-Closed-Door Panic

The brain trust running the Fayette County Detention Center is working on a contingency plan for when federal indictments start raining down on the facility. The funny thing is one of the people in the closed-door meetings is providing information for this site.

Courier Journal Nails Harry Moberly

It's nothing personal coming from your pals at the Louisville Courier Journal, Rep./Vice President Moberly, but they see the conflict of interest in your latest coup.
This is not, Speaker Jody Richards insists, a conflict of interest. He says, "Harry is a very fair-minded person," and that's true. For example, he was open to funding the University of Kentucky's "top 20" plan because it promised specific, quantifiable results on a schedule that makes UK accountable. He also seems to understand the concept of "mission differentiation," which in budget terms means recognizing that not all campuses can be all things to all people. He seems to understand that "mission sprint" at "comprehensive" institutions like EKU could jeopardize fidelity to their specific regional missions.

Still, it's difficult to see how the public is supposed to see his new dual roles as anything but a clear conflict. Maybe it's one he is qualified to ignore, but it's there, and it will justify even more scrutiny than his legislative decisions have been given in the past.


Past legislative decisions? Try this one. And some people think they really want him with more power?

Moberly should choose between serving as Executive Vice President at Eastern Kentucky University and serving in the state legislature. Failure to drop one or the other is a clear conflict of interest. Public protection laws were never intended to be applied on a case-by-case basis.

I especially appreciated the Courier's headline "A duck is a duck." Next time you see Harry waddling along, just say "quack, quack."

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sky-Diving Gucci-Clad Ex-Cops Any Day Now

Mark Hebert does a great job connecting some dots around Governor-elect Steve Beshear.

Quieter

Sometimes, silence is golden.

Here, too.

Do you really want to run illegals out of KY?

When the people in Arizona decided to chase off illegal immigrants, they did it a lot like this.

Mayor Abramson: Let Them Eat Granite Curbs


Louisville Councilman Doug Hawkins today called out Mayor Jerry Abramson's effort to raise taxes for additional spending while lavishly pouring public dollars into, of all things, granite curbs.

From a Hawkins news release:
Solid granite street curbs now replace the standard concrete curbs on 6th Street from River Road to West Jefferson Street. The granite street curb installation project calls into question the Mayor’s priorities. Councilman Doug Hawkins challenges the Mayor’s decision to use such an expensive material, at a time in which “it is imperative that we take steps now to reduce spending.”
“How can the Mayor say that there is no money for the libraries, when the Mayor has money to burn on his downtown street curbs?” Hawkins asks.

Will Republicans Mutiny Against McConnell?

No, I'm not talking about Larry Forgy.

National blogger RedState suggests Sen. Mitch McConnell might face a challenge to his leadership position from Senate Republicans:
After 2008, McConnell either wins or loses. If he loses, John Kyl will probably become Minority Leader, moving up from Whip. If McConnell wins, he might still face a coup if the GOP Senate conference feels the need to go in a new, more conservative direction after a disastrous 2008 election cycle. If the GOP does get slaughtered at the polls, it will likely be moderate Senators bearing the brunt of the voters anger, making the remaining GOP caucus more conservative and more willing to vote their own into leadership. So, Kyl might take the reins then too.

With Kyl as leader, Cornyn will run for Whip, with a reduced number of Republican Senators, but a more conservative group. Sessions will get to Policy, which is what he wants, and that leaves DeMint available to be the Party's message guy in Conference Chair. That'll leave open a slot as VP for Conference, which a good conservative could fill.

Imagine, post 2008, having the top Senate Republicans be, in order: Kyl, Cornyn, DeMint, Sessions, and an as yet to be determined conservative.

One note, just so I don't get accused of anything I don't mean -- I'm not hoping that the GOP gets wiped out in 2008. I hope, in fact, that it doesn't. But I can see the writing on the wall. And sometimes, it takes hitting rock bottom for addicts to want recovery -- especially when they're addicted to earmarks. Let's just pray to God that if we do get slaughtered that we don't fall under 41.

Covering The News For You

Can't find anything this morning about Rep. Rick Nelson's (D-Middlesboro) illegal immigration bills, pre-filed yesterday, in the state MSM. The national blogosphere is on the story.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Mayor Newberry, Call Your Office

Thursday morning in Lexington, federal court proceedings include five sentencings that look suspiciously like a handful of Fayette County Detention Center guards who have flipped on their friends.

Can't tell for sure, but what other case in Lexington would involve five same-day sentencings with hidden defendents and the United States of America as plaintiff?

In any case, we are getting closer to the time Lexington taxpayers have to pay up for Newberry's jail fiasco.

Another Legislator Goes To Big Ed

House Budget Chairman Harry Moberly has been appointed Executive Vice President for Administration at Eastern Kentucky University, according to a memo from EKU President Doug Whitlock.

Legislative ethics rules do not prohibit a legislator from working for a state university, but there is this little goody:

KRS 6.731 General standards of conduct -- Penalties.
A legislator, by himself or through others, shall not intentionally:
(1) Use or attempt to use his influence as a member of the General Assembly in any
matter which involves a substantial conflict between his personal interest and his
duties in the public interest. Violation of this subsection is a Class A misdemeanor;


Moberly has made no secret of his desire to become President of EKU and this is no small step in that direction. Given that Whitlock's memo specifically points out Moberly's position in the legislature as justification for giving him the new job and calls Moberly a "significantly underutilized administrative resource" of the University, I'd say Harry is already dancing dangerously close to the line.

Moberly has clearly shown a predilection for trying to slip dangerous legislation past an unsuspecting public. In order to avoid any more conflicts of interest, he should resign from the legislature now.

This Should Be Part Of Illegal Immigration Fight

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld a San Diego policy of conducting home searches of welfare recipients.

The procedure is simple. If the search turns up evidence the welfare recipients don't qualify for benefits, they lose the benefits.

Here's one thought worthy of discussion, though, from a federal judge who sided with the ACLU against the policy:

"This case is nothing less than an attack on the poor," said Judge Harry Pregerson, writing for the dissenters. "This is especially atrocious in light of the fact that we do not require similar intrusions into the homes and lives of others who receive government entitlements. The government does not search through the closets and medicine cabinets of farmers receiving subsidies."


Now would be a great time to crack down on all kinds of people who apply for government checks.

Comparing Global Warming To AIDS

If you read just one thing in the Lexington Herald Leader this year, read this:

My presentation to state legislators on climate change was based on more than 300 peer-reviewed articles in the learned journals. Gore's movie was based on just two.

I made one central point: The U.N. climate change panel, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has exaggerated the effect of greenhouse gases on temperature at least fourfold. Correcting the panel's flawed math has an effect equivalent to cutting man-made greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent overnight.

The IPCC says the "radiative forcing" from CO2 rose by 20 percent between 1995 and 2005. Yet in that period the atmospheric concentration of CO2 rose from 360 to 378 parts per million -- just 5 percent. The radiative forcing effect -- which causes temperature change -- rose by only 1 percent. That's a 20-fold exaggeration by the IPCC.

Yes, the world is warming, we have made a small contribution to it and we can expect a little more oof it. But Gooch speaks for Kentucky's working miners and for everyone who uses the electricity their labor provides, when he agrees with me that we need to get the science right or -- as with HIV -- we will get the policy wrong.

If we get the policy wrong, it is the poorest people in Kentucky and elsewhere in the world who will suffer most. They will die in the tens of millions for want of the light and heat and power and medical care that we are lucky enough to take for granted.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Protect our precious local resource

The funniest thing I've seen all day is the Lexington Herald Leader caterwauling against itself over health benefits and sick days for the paper's employees.

The union is actually pointing out the Herald Leader is part of "a California corporation."

Somehow this reminds me of the many, many editorials in the same newspaper calling for the demolition of Kentucky-American Water Company because absentee ownership just couldn't be trusted locally.

So I just have to ask: can we really trust something as precious as our primary information source for the eastern half of Kentucky to a group of greedy bastards from, of all places, California?

Nine Minutes of Vanity, Kentucky Votes

I trade in my pajamas for a suit and go on television.

Three Things That Matter About Draud

New education commissioner Jon Draud had thought enough about that job to negotiate a four year, $220,000 contract plus $10,000 to live in a Frankfort hotel for the next six months. But he told the Lexington Herald Leader yesterday he hadn't yet gotten around to putting together a list of priorities for turning around Kentucky's schools.
Draud said he had not had time to draw up a complete list of priorities because he was only offered the commissioner's job Saturday night.


One priority we do know about is getting on the universal preschool bandwagon.

Despite this:
"A high percentage of elementary schools are on track to be proficient by that time," said Joe Brothers, chairman of the Kentucky Board of Education. But the number drops to 25 percent of middle schools, he said, and 12 percent of high schools.


In other words, Draud and the education bureaucracy want to pour more resources into the area that needs it least.

And speaking of bureaucracy: when it gets as bad as it is in Kentucky what we really need is someone to shake up the old ways and chart a new course.
Draud said two words that will define his work are cooperation and collaboration. "We've got to get people cooperating together to be successful," he said.


I'm in favor of people getting along, but the educrats have so badly mishandled the half of the state budget they are entrusted with that playing nice with them doesn't belong on our list.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Something To Be Thankful For Every Day

Three hundred sixty five days a year, we should be grateful for the many Americans who could vote themselves money out of the state and federal treasuries, but choose not to.

These are the kind of patriots we need.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Keep America Red, Nominate Hillary

Talking head Dick Morris blames President Bush for going easy on the Clintons and opening the door for Hillary Clinton to be the Democratic party's front-runner for the 2008 nomination.
Then Bush let Clinton off the hook another time when the former president’s former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger was caught smuggling classified documents relating to 9/11 and the war on terror out of the National Archives in his pockets and socks. The Bush Justice Department accepted a plea deal with Berger which did not require him to say what documents he had taken and why he had swiped them. As a result, we never knew what aspect of the Clinton record on terrorism Berger was so anxious to cover up.

I'm not a big Hillary fan, but I'm also not afraid of her. Her nomination would probably be the best thing to ever happen to the right-of-center blogosphere, which could use the help.

I think Hillary loses to whoever the Republican nominee is.

Kentucky Blogger Informs On Steve Henry

Louisville's Jacob Payne states on his blog that he turned over incriminating evidence against Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Henry.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Is Damon Thayer Turning Into John McCain?

Sorry, but I can't sit here writing on a blog and have anything but disdain for more regulation of political speech. If a candidate can demonstrate claims are false, he or she can get media outlets to pull an ad. But in any case, what is more regulation really going to accomplish here? Straw man contributions got a lot of attention in the last election, but only because they were done so sloppily. In the next election, cheaters will just avoid running contributions through college students and hairdressers.

Senator Thayer says he is going to file the bill, but it isn't in yet. He should drop it.

Beshear's Chance For Change

Governor Ernie Fletcher gets thumped again by the Louisville Courier Journal this morning. But as usual, the CJ can't separate its fiction from fact.

Four years from now, Republicans are going to claim that they left Democrat Steve Beshear with a state government in sound fiscal shape.

Not true. And Mr. Beshear should say so, up front. He should make absolutely clear, without partisan carping or personal criticism, exactly what shape his predecessor left government finances in.

Clinging militantly to anti-tax dogma, Gov. Fletcher managed to create a mess, which Mr. Beshear will have to clean up.


Four years from now, Republicans are going to be as likely to bring up Ernie Fletcher's fiscal policies as Beshear will be on December 11 to devote his entire inaugural address to returning to the good old days of Paul Patton.

And this may be an opportune moment to remind Governor-elect Beshear of his October 26 promise to repeal Fletcher's LLET tax and to not raise any others.

Speaking Of The 2008 General Assembly

I will be on the Leland Conway show in Lexington this morning (630 WLAP) talking about bills coming up in Frankfort starting January 8.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Do We Really Need This?


The Lexington Herald Leader is sitting on evidence incoming Finance and Administration Cabinet Secretary Jonathan Miller illegally pre-selected someone named Michael Bates to a position in the Treasurer's office and arranged special pay raises for his Chief Of Staff Brooke Parker.

A Holiday Blogger Oddity

I'm off for a while to spend some time with family, but wanted to check the site. Part of that routine is checking to see where search engine traffic is coming from.

It isn't always directly related to Kentucky politics.

Last night someone in Portland, Oregon googled "whips that make marks" and wound up on Kentucky Progress looking at an article about Rep. Stan Lee getting elected to House leadership.

Didn't stay on the site long...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Eat Like A Conservative At 40

The Wall Street Journal's Health blog says pig out on brain food this Thanksgiving! (Probably not bad diet tips for you twenty year-old liberals, either.)

Governor Beshear, Pick 1,512 Connected Friends Who Don't Need State Jobs And Don't Hire Them

If Steve Beshear is serious about operating state government employment policy within the law, he should read this.

Should We Read His Lips?

A news story from a CNBC reporter's discussion with a Treasury official suggests the Bush administration is considering lowering corporate taxes and replacing the "lost" revenue by instituting a Value Added Tax.

This is not a good thing.

If we are going to lower taxes -- and we should -- we really don't need to be creating any new ones to make up the difference. Other than as another way to manipulate corporations with the tax code, what good would that do?

MitchBlog To Bloggers: Read It And Weep

Senator Mitch McConnell's campaign blog takes issue with critics who say he is running away from the Republican party.

Picking Your Candidate

The Republican Party of Kentucky(RPK) sent out a press release this morning announcing three upcoming fundraisers for presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani. The events will be in Northern Kentucky, Louisville, and Lexington on December 5.

The Lexington event will be a joint fundraiser for Giuliani and RPK.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Personnel Really Matters

One thing seems certain: if the state can reverse course on firing certain social workers...

The state has reversed its preliminary decision to fire Hardin County-based social workers who were accused in an Inspector General’s report of falsifying records and inappropriate conduct as they removed children from their parents, the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services announced Tuesday.


...then surely they can reconsider botching the education commissioner hiring again.

Mutually Assured Casino Destruction

The Louisville Courier Journal calls Indiana "sleazy" and accuses its policymakers of "playing neighbors for suckers." In the same breath they deem the case for casinos in Kentucky "compelling."

Should Steve Beshear sign non-proliferation treaties with Tennessee, Ohio, and Virginia?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Raising The Curtain On Medicaid Miracle

Medicaid is $112 million underwater.

Not good. This hands Beshear his first big opportunity. Expect him to make the most of it.

The temptation is to think first about the role this will play in the casino debate, but it really just heightens the need for serious attention to the public employee pension mess. Also, Beshear should resist the urge to use this news as an excuse to break his campaign promise to repeal the LLET.

We can't reasonably expect Governor Beshear to recognize the need to cut government spending, but that would be his surest ticket out of this one.

Floppy Shoes, Red Nose, Grease Paint

Did Fayette County taxpayers have any doubt the FCDC guard busted last night for impersonating a police officer will be put on leave WITH pay?

Nope.

What could they possibly cook up next?

A Hidden Casino Cost I Hadn't Considered

The case of a Louisville woman caught embezzling $7 million from an Indiana credit union to spend in Indiana casinos -- math majors will note the money is gone -- is interesting mainly because of the size of the theft.

But what caught my eye in the press release was this:

As Head Teller she was responsible for ordering and accounting for all cash replenishments for the credit union. She was also responsible for reconciling and overseeing vault activity. She also was responsible for the general ledger and reconciling the vault cash account to the physical count of cash on hand.


Part of her job was to prevent herself from embezzling funds which she, of course, failed to do. The credit union needs another employee or two.

So not only are the customers of the credit union out millions, but they will be hit again as the credit union has to hire more people for oversight to prevent this kind of fraud in the future.

There are a lot of businesses that handle large amounts of cash. If each of them has to go out and hire another layer of bookkeeping support to prevent this kind of embezzlement, we are looking at significant added costs to be passed along to customers.

And while Patricia Sherman is a guest of federal taxpayers for the next few years, whatever benefit Indiana taxpayers get from casinos may get sliced if Kentucky or Ohio start to play the same game.

Great GOP House Pickup Opportunity

Bryan Beauman is running for the open 72nd district House seat.

Watch this.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

NTU: Congressman Whitfield Breaks His Promise


The National Taxpayers Union chastised Rep. Ed Whitfield for voting to overturn a presidential veto on an appopriations bill after promising to sustain the veto.

That's Gonna Leave A Mark

The Louisville Courier-Journal has a great smackdown of Kentucky's state school board and the crummy way they have handled the hiring of an education commissioner.

Mr. Brothers also contended, "We have some responsibility to these people who have applied," to get on with the selection.

No, Mr. Brothers. That's not true, either.

The school board's responsibility is to the public. And if it goes ahead with an amateurish process, rolling right past the need for a credible national search, then the public will be justified in concluding the worst: that the board simply has failed to do its job.


But my favorite came in the comments section:

Stunning evidence: the Chairman of the Board says: "not just me but the entire board have heard" (sic, sic). No, Joe, the proper expression of your thought would be "not just I but the entire board has. . . ."

If the Chairman of the Board of Education can't string eight words together without making two grammatical errors, Kentucky deserves to be ranked in the very bottom tier of states.

Posted: Sat Nov 17, 2007 10:25 am


Governor Fletcher, there is still time to set this right.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Consider This

Recently, government agencies have been making news when they threatened bloggers with lawsuits for libel.

I've been writing for a year about the mess that is the Fayette County Detention Center. Google it and see what happens. The city of Lexington does, every day. I have proof that LFUCG computers are used every weekday to monitor this site to see what's up.

But I have yet to receive the first threat of a lawsuit.

Wonder why?

Starting To Look A Lot Like Christmas

Know any kids? Then you need to see this. Special deals for Kentucky Progress readers.

Get 3 Disney Movies for $1.99 Each, Free Shipping!

Silberman Scandal Update

The more I get into Stu Silberman's handling of Booker T. Washington Academy, the fishier it looks.

Go here for an update from Richard Day. Raises a lot more questions, but Friday afternoon is a heck of a time to try to reach people. I'll keep working on this.

Stay tuned through the weekend...

Is This The Worst Principal In Kentucky?


I sure hope so.

Restaurateur to Fletcher Democrats: No Soup For You!

Rick Paul, owner of White Light Diner in Frankfort, is well-known around town for his political views. Today he is offering a 10% discount for anyone who brings in proof of voter registration as a Republican.

In an email he sent out this morning:

What else for this morning---um, oh I know---in the interest of being kind and forgiving for what has happened in this state over the last four years, I am giving 10% off to all republicans today to help them get into the flow of the new administration. I cannot give the discount on the specials, pies or BBQ by the pound, however all other menu items are in! All republicans come join us at the White Light Diner today! Bring proof of party registration!!

"Turn Off TV, Spend More Money, And Vote For Me"

Barack Obama has an "education" ad on the air in Iowa.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Fayette School Superintendent's Actions Hard To Justify

Kentucky policymakers scramble to advance education in science and mathematics, hoping to compete in the world economy. Educators scramble to reduce achievement gaps found along economic and racial lines.

When Fayette County merged its two worst-performing elementary schools into Booker T. Washington Academy in 2005, district leaders knew they needed a special person to create success where there had been mostly failure.

They brought in Peggy Petrelli and she cracked the code. Under Petrelli, fourth grade science scores accelerated at a blistering pace. Learning surged with a military precision. Students entered class to immediately face a short quiz over information from prior lessons. Breaking into thirds, the class cycled orderly through laboratory stations for a systematic, hands-on approach found to be remarkably compelling to the kids. An end of class quiz tested mastery of the day's curriculum. And children who needed extra help got it immediately.

Peggy Petrelli should be doing seminars about her techniques. Instead she is unemployed.

Inexplicably, Petrelli was forced out of Booker T. Washington Academy this fall by Superintendent Stu Silberman, whose actions then and subsequently seem more than a little suspicious. Silberman's unprofessionalism reached a crescendo Tuesday when he announced to the cameras at a public, televised event that Booker T. Washington is "under investigation for its test scores."

The Kentucky Department of Education as of Wednesday had no official record of any complaint.

A spokeswoman for the school district couldn't specify today when the "investigation" started, what it involves, or who initiated it.

Digging deeper into this controversy seems to generate a lot of questions Silberman can't, or won't, answer.

Stu Silberman Blogburst

Don't know when the mainstream media will start to catch up on the Stu Silberman scandal, but some local bloggers are on the case.

The Principal proclaims:

Bluegrass Institute says Silberman is conducting a "secret investigation" of Perelli


And Page One Kentucky sums it up nicely:

Corruption in Lexington schools. Superintendent Stu Silberman ran a high-performance principal off, lied about it, tried to cover up his tracks and then made up a secret “investigation” that no one knows about. What the heck is going on in Lex Vegas these days? First the jail and now the schools? Seriously, people. Em-bar-ass-ing.

...Waiting To See Steve Beshear's Health Plan

Today Massachusetts starts fining people who haven't signed up for their government health insurance.

Happy Coercion Day!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Gov. Beshear Should End Corporate Welfare

The argument that we must keep subsidizing a select few companies because other states do doesn't hold water.

A North Carolina public policy group has done some good work on this that could just as easily apply to Kentucky.

Stu Silberman's Big, Big Mistake

Cross-posted on Bluegrass Policy Blog:

When Lexington school district superintendent Stu Silberman first came to town, he had a slogan to focus central office employee efforts: it's about kids. But after a comment he made yesterday at an all-day seminar, some are left to wonder if "it" may actually be about limiting legal liability for his bad personnel moves.

If what happened at Booker T. Washington Academy in the city's downtown is any indication, Mr. Silberman's tactics may bear some scrutiny.

Peggy Petrelli took over as principal at Booker T. in the fall of 2005. In two short years, test scores shot up 67% at the school. Then, three months ago, Petrelli was forced to resign.

Yesterday, in answer to a question at a Long-Term Policy Research Center public meeting, Silberman may have inadvertently shed light on what surely wasn't one of his finest moments.

Asked to explain what happened to the Academy to cause such dramatic improvement while Petrelli was principal, Silberman stated that it was a bad example. He said the school is "currently under investigation."

That was news to the Kentucky Department of Education. Spokeswoman Lisa Gross said this morning that no complaints had been presented to the Department.

Silberman's "secret investigation" smells a lot like trying to cover his tracks after running off a high-performing principal. Petrelli declined to comment about persistent rumors that she intends to sue Silberman. And Silberman's office did not return a phone call this afternoon.

Don't Go Out Like This, Governor Fletcher

Governor Fletcher presented another golden opportunity to the Lexington Herald-Leader today. And they took it.

The Kentucky Board of Education is in dire danger of failing some basic management and economics courses.

The legal spitting contest it has gotten into with the firm that conducted the ill-fated search for a new education commissioner will waste money and shine light on the board's own failure in the search process.


It is outrageous that Governor Fletcher's appointees to the state school board have put on a slapstick act that would shame Larry, Moe, and Curly when all they really needed to do was hire an education commissioner.

Governor Fletcher must step up and demand the Board pay the bill to the crappy search firm whose advice they took despite repeated citizen warnings. Then he must ask himself why we are trusting them on this search when they have given us so little reason to expect them to get it right.

Call off the search, Governor Fletcher.

Should We Pray For Education Accountability?

Last night, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue prayed for rain.

And by tomorrow, rain is what they shall receive.

We really don't need divine intervention in Kentucky to open the skies and pour a little common sense on our education bureaucrats, do we?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mother Of All Conflicts Of Interest

The Kentucky Department of Education is the worst example of a government agency that regulates -- and grades -- itself.

If we do nothing else, we should eliminate this situation right now.

The Lawyers Are In Charge Now

Rep. Rob Wilkey filed a bill today to shift up to $1.2 million in general fund dollars every month into a fund to pay law school student loan debt for attorneys working in the Attorney General's office and other government-related agencies.

Each lawyer will get up to $6000 a year in state taxpayer money if the bill passes.

On The Air

I will be on the Leland Conway show this morning at 11:15. You can listen here.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Grading The Kentucky Education Reform Act

Education bureaucrats take to the stage and the airwaves tomorrow to answer charges of exaggerating Kentucky's educational improvement under KERA.

Click here and here for the dueling reports at the heart of the controversy.

Ringling Brothers And Barnum & Bailey Was Never This Much Fun To Watch

The lawyers marching into the Fayette County Detention Center today were there to rake jail employees over the coals for various misdeeds. Must have been a treat for the inmates to see the guards running around crying like babies.

Mayor Jim Newberry's office, of course, had no comment.

Dems Loaded For Bear, Right About Ed Commish

Exactly how many headlines do future Republican candidates want about GOP intransigence in favor of a mediocre education commissioner?

Governor Fletcher can call off the hiring process now. He should.

The Soft Underbelly Of Mediocrity In Kentucky

If Governor-elect Steve Beshear really wants to improve efficiency in Kentucky's government, he will rip school accountability out of the hands of the Kentucky Department of Education.

The Bluegrass Institute today proves that our school assessment program, CATS, has been systematically manipulated to show phony educational improvement since 1999.

As an unreliable gauge of progress, the CATS assessment needs to be replaced by more credible tests. In hindsight, it was a mistake to charge the Kentucky Department of Education to both assist school systems in making improvements and be the sole administrator of the assessment system to determine if that effort was successful. A separate agency should be created to manage the assessment of educational progress in Kentucky’s schools.


There is no more important issue for the future of our state than getting a handle on how we manage the education of our children. This battle is not one for the faint of heart.

A Teacher Says It

Gary Yaden, a teacher at North Laurel High School, said a mouthful in a Lexington Herald Leader column:

And nothing will change as long as people don't realize that it is possible to educate only part of the public. The rest are dead weight, placing a huge burden on the schools and preventing other students from achieving their full potential.


We are, instead, hung up on artificially lowering dropout rates by either trying to force the least interested students to stay in school or by actually faking the dropout statistics.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Cowardly Blogger, Go Home

Some anonymous pinhead keeps pushing Larry Forgy to run for the U.S. Senate against Mitch McConnell. That's fine as far as wasting time goes, but while he is busily speaking for himself (and, until we hear differently, Larry) he should leave the Club for Growth out of it.

The half-hearted effort to shoot the wounded Ernie Fletcher in this year's primary should serve as somewhat of a cautionary tale for those who now want to shoot McConnell. Mitch has his flaws, certainly, but a state that just elected Steve Beshear its governor isn't going to do better than McConnell next year.

Let The Senate President Decide

The Louisville Courier-Journal went to the trouble of surveying all the state Senators about a casino gambling bill when they really only needed to talk to one.

David Williams, R-Burkesville: "I'm not going to vote for a bill that will put the casino gaming issue on the ballot."


That really is the end of the story, except to point out how misleading the headline is. "Beshear has shot at casinos in Senate" does not an accurately assess the situation. Besides the "let the people decide" slogan could be more accurately stated "let the Las Vegas casino owners decide." Hardly a populist slogan worthy of a Kentucky governor.

A casino bill in the House would force Speaker Jody Richards to weigh in on the issue against Governor Beshear as well.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

School Board Burning, Fletcher Can Put Out Fire

Just when Kentucky's education commissioner hiring debacle looked like it couldn't get any worse, it did.

There is no reason for the outgoing Republican administration to die on this hill. The four finalists in the current search have a combined state leadership experience of exactly zero days. Backing a school board who is now being dragged into court for botching their previous candidate search is not something that is going to benefit the conservative movement in any way.

The Kentucky Department of Education has made a huge mess of our assessment program. That is the battle we should be fighting now and will still be the battle we should be fighting six months from now. The commissioner search can wait. Sticking our necks out now for an under-qualified education commissioner serves no valid purpose whatsoever.

Governor Fletcher, please ask the school board to suspend the hiring process right now.

McConnell: What Fails In Paris, Stays In Paris

Speaking to the Republican State Central Committee meeting this morning, Sen. Mitch McConnell spoke about French President Nicolas Sarkozy. McConnell described him as a French-speaking Ronald Reagan.

McConnell quipped that Sarkozy is now trying to convince the French people that working is good.

And then he said the French are now rejecting the policies American Democrats are trying to implement.

Did I mention the U.S. House just passed a big tax increase yesterday?

Fletcher: Larry, Don't Run

Speaking to the Republican State Central Committee meeting this morning in Lexington, Governor Fletcher publicly stated that no one should run in a primary against Sen. Mitch McConnell.

Good.

Where Was Bill While Hillary Ate "Loose-Meat?"

An Ohio waitress says Hillary Clinton stiffed her and Hillary says she left a tip.

Who do you believe?

Friday, November 09, 2007

ATR: Ben Chandler A Three Time Liar

Ben Chandler promised on January 8, 2004 never to vote for a tax increase if central Kentuckians sent him to represent them in Congress.

Today, Americans for Tax Reform called Rep. Chandler out after breaking his promise the third time.

"I Shoulda Been A Tax Lawyer"



If this Congresswoman from Ohio were a tax lawyer, she would be able to tell you the House just passed an enormous tax increase in the name of "fairness."

And yes, Rep. Ben Chandler and Rep. John Yarmuth voted for it.

Pretend This Is The Back Of A Milk Carton


That's right, embattled Fayette County Detention Center director Ron Bishop is missing. He wasn't at work yesterday while the grand jury was meeting in Covington and he's not there today.

Ronnie, where are you?

Steve Pence Leads The Way

Steve Pence's stock goes way up after the announcement yesterday he will serve on the Beshear transition team.

With the real remaining problems that have festered in Kentucky government for decades, there is no need to wish Governor Beshear ill will. He has his hands full.

Might as well support his efforts, at least in the early going. The crashing sound you will hear soon enough will be his policy wish list smashing up against reality.

What we really need now is a solution to the public employee benefits mess Governor Fletcher tried to address years ago, but got crammed back in his face. Maybe it will take a Democratic governor to get it done.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Fayette Jail Abusers, Call Your Lawyers

A federal grand jury in Covington indicted several people this afternoon, but won't say whose number got called. Is your name on the list?

The Effeminate Men Unemployment Act of 2007

(Advance warning: There is no "gay-bashing" in this post. It is about economics.)

The U.S. House passed a bill last night which would criminalize employment discrimination based on "actual or perceived sexual orientation."

Rather than risk lawsuits, employers will simply avoid hiring anyone whose sexual orientation might be in question. It is much easier to come up with a reason for not hiring an individual than it is to get rid of a problem employee who may then sue under anti-discrimination laws.

But don't ask me, ask a black economist.

Rep. Barney Frank sponsored the bill and, in a blow to Kentuckians of various sexual orientations some will fail to recognize, Rep. Ben Chandler and Rep. John Yarmuth voted for it.

Governor Fletcher, Call Off Ed Comm. Hiring

Governor Fletcher would do his political legacy some good if he were to join Governor-elect Beshear in successfully encouraging the state school board to call off hiring one of the current four finalists for the education commissioner job.

We can do better.

The Next Education President

Found an interesting search tool that allows you to see some of the education proposals of each of the presidential candidates.

A couple of interesting points I hadn't seen before:

Mitt Romney supports English-only education and proposes a federal program waiving in-state tuition at public colleges and universities for top students.

Romney, Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, Ron Paul, and Tom Tancredo are all on-record supporting some form of parental choice in schools.

Barack Obama wants students at high schools without AP courses to apply for grants to pay for college courses.

Hillary Clinton wants to spend $10 billion on universal pre-kindergarten and increase the tuition tax credit from $1650 to $3500.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Casino Bills Are Coming!

Senator David Boswell has filed SB 19 and SB 20 to make Kentucky a casino gambling state.

First Word On 2008 Budget

Well, it's not quite as bad as "I don't have a clue," but Governor-elect Steve Beshear's first crack at comment on his first budget is not too inspiring.

And this is before he has been hit with the two ton gorilla Beshear was stumped by on the campaign trail: public employee benefits.

And don't forget about that promise to repeal the dreaded LLET.