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.


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?


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.


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.

Shutting Down Treasurer's Office Still Good Idea

If the idea of shutting down the Treasurer's office hadn't been presented as a deathbed conversion three months into a four-way primary and then backed away from late, Melinda Wheeler might have had a chance.

The important thing to realize is we still have a bill.

Still Good For Wrapping Fish

The Louisville Courier Journal went all in for the Louisville Library Tax Increase and got hammered by a two-to-one margin.

What's next, guys?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Best New Rumor On Election Night

Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer may file to run against Congressman Ben Chandler next year.

Congrats To Steve Beshear

Steve Beshear ran the race he needed to run to win. And he won big.

Those of us who have seen the great hopes we had four years ago dashed and stomped upon over these last four years by people we gave our trust to can still hope we won't fare too much worse at the hands of those we trust very little.

So the new sheriff has his town. Hope he does things that benefit us all.

Governor Beshear will find bipartisan support in calling for the state school board to abort their hiring plans for a new commissioner and start a real nationwide search for a superstar to come in here and really get our public schools on the right track.

Changing The Subject? You Bet...

Ron Paul is raising enough money get some serious attention and Fred Thompson is on the air someplace. Wonder how much money the candidates will save not actually buying advertising time now that YouTube lets them get their message out for free:

One Overlooked Indicator Of Changing Winds

On his campaign blog, Senator Mitch McConnell has links to several blogs under the heading "Recommended Reading." Included in the list are Kentucky blogs Blue Grass Red State, Cyberhillbilly,, and Osi Speaks.

It will be interesting to note what happens to that list of state links after today's election.

Happy New Media Day!

The first time I ever read a political blog was less than four years ago. Then I started this one in the spring of 2005. Now they are everywhere.

The political landscape in Kentucky is in for a big shakeup tonight and the blogs will have a lot to do with what things look like when the dust settles.

Monday, November 05, 2007


Another fine Christmas present for Fayette County taxpayers will be the soaking they get from a wage abuse class action lawsuit stemming from mismanagement at, you guessed it, the Fayette County Detention Center.

Read it and weep.

Tax-For-Hacks Showdown Tomorrow

The Club for Growth has picked up on the Louisville Library Tax increase. The city's big taxers found a loophole in the law against using municipal workers to run an on-the-clock campaign and Sen. Dan Seum has pre-filed a bill to close the loophole, but the cat is already out of the bag. Louisville voters decide on the tax increase tomorrow.

Hillary Clinton Freaks Too Early

Now might be a great time to ask Hillary Clinton how she is going to handle the terrorist threats:

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Huckabee For Breakfast

Before Mike Huckabee can be taken seriously as the "God candidate," he should stop lying about the Club for Growth.

Is Kentucky Moving To The Left?

Al Cross said this:

This election is almost entirely about Fletcher and his record, so Beshear should be careful about claiming any sort of mandate.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Courier Journal Exposes Self On Education

... and the Bluegrass Institute is there to shine the light.

Pimping My Ride

We are working on some major improvements to the Kentucky Votes website. Tuesday night, win or lose, the next item of business will be limiting the damage to taxpayer wallets in the 2008 General Assembly starting in January and Kentucky Votes can help.

A great way to keep track of the action is to go to and register for daily updates. You don't have to put any personal information in to register (though it would be nice if you did!). All we really need is an email address to send your updates.

So, if you haven't already, please take a minute to register on Kentucky Votes and leave the driving to us!

Playing Politics With Education Accountability

Steve Beshear's spokeswoman is in full, last days of the campaign "We're ahead in the polls, so we aren't returning calls to anyone who might ask a tough question" mode.

But if she were returning phone calls to people who might challenge her on something, she might provide some needed insight into Beshear's promise to seek a waiver from NCLB testing requirements.

This is probably just politics as usual since such an exemption is not at all likely to be granted, but Beshear's position does need some clarification. Any relief from added No Child Left Behind testing, which would be extremely small, would very certainly not be worth the risk of putting more of the accountability function in the hands of the Kentucky Department of Education.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Friends Don't Give Friends Pass When Wrong

The school voucher debate will certainly return to Kentucky soon as more bills have been promised to address the issue of poor Kentucky children stuck in failing schools.

I'm in favor of bringing competition to the school system and helping our most vulnerable citizens. For that reason, I can't stand by silently when someone on my side of the issue overstates the case for school vouchers.

I'm surprised and disappointed more people didn't jump on this one.

Naked, At The Jail, And Going To Prison?

The crazy scandal at the Fayette County Detention Center took yet another odd turn with an expansion of a sexual harassment investigation turning its focus on one Cpl. T. Roberts.

Cpl. Roberts, a guard at the jail who has passed around at the facility naked pictures of herself and another guard, has been crying on shoulders of co-workers at the jail, telling them she is destined to go to prison in the prisoner abuse scandal. It seems her woes are about to worsen.

Should Have Done Earmark Reform Last Year

Republicans have only themselves to blame for this:

But critics say McConnell is propping up a company that apparently can't compete without him. While it sounds good for a senator to defend jobs, "we should be spending federal money where and as we need to, not to keep the lights on in someone's district," said David Williams, vice president of Citizens Against Government Waste, a Washington watchdog group.

"I want to know when Sen. McConnell became the secretary of defense," Williams said. "The Pentagon has to sit down every year, draw up its priorities and budget its money accordingly. Who is Mitch McConnell to insist that we fund these projects?"

I hate to say I told you so...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Teaching An Old Dog New Tricks

In the last few weeks, I have made a concerted effort to tone down my use of political name-calling. I've done far more than my share of it in the past, I know, but my arguments are much sharper when I focus on what an opponent is saying or doing that I disagree with and not on what kind of name I can call him.

I'm not saying anyone else should do the same (flaming people can, after all, be fun) but I'm officially out of the name-calling business.

I hadn't really thought about this that much, until I saw my friend Jacob Payne post a comment about Jerry Abramson being called a liberal. Slapping the L-word on Mayor Abramson really isn't as effective as pointing out how funny he will look walking down the street with $16.5 million bulging out of his pockets after his Library Tax goes into effect.

Blue Christmas Coming For Jail Cover-Uppers

Indictments in the prisoner abuse scandal at the Lexington jail are widely expected to start coming down next Thursday.

Deep-fried Louisville Mayor

Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson eats his way through the City Hall pork and buries his snout right in the Library Tax trans fats.