Saturday, January 31, 2009

Some hope for Kentucky public education

In a surprising Friday afternoon move, Kentucky's education bureaucracy gave House Democrats permission to vote for higher math standards in Kentucky schools.

Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence Executive Director Robert Sexton gave the official green light.
"Senator Dan Kelly has introduced Senate Joint Resolution 19," Sexton said, "aimed at revising the state’s mathematics content standards and related assessments based upon National Council of Teachers of Mathematics recommendations. I like this legislation because it starts to move Kentucky toward fewer, clearer, and deeper standards."

Now we need to take similar steps for English and science instruction.

Day five of Newberry videotape scandal

Still no word from the city of Lexington about where they hid the thirty minutes of embarrassing video of Fayette County Detention Center Director Ron Bishop catching flak for just a tiny bit of the problems relating to his mismanagement of the city jail.

Also, there can be no doubt that Lexington's fearless watchdogs in the mainstream media would be all over this if they weren't covering for Newberry.

It's the same story again and again.

Ohio Gov. Strickland: move to Kentucky

Funny quote about proposed education reforms by Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland in yesterday's
"Earlier in the day, Strickland took a hard line on one of the most radical ideas - adding almost a full month to the school year. If new teachers are unhappy with a longer school year in Ohio, or his proposed four-year resident-training requirement, he said they are welcome to work in other states such as Kentucky."

""... If a teacher says, 'I'm going to teach in Kentucky instead of Ohio because the school day or the school year is longer in Ohio,' I would say to them, 'Move to Lexington or Louisville or Hazard," Strickland said."

Must be some pretty good stuff in that Ohio reform proposal, right?

Not so fast, says Bluegrass Institute education analyst Richard Innes:
"What Ohio’s situation really shows is the deplorable lack of decent education research to guide policymakers about what really does work in education. That problem has seen Kentucky chasing expensive education fads since 1990. Sadly, it now it looks like the same lack of data to support intelligent education choices is going to wreck havoc on the north side of the Ohio River."

Get more of Mr. Innes' analysis here.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Wonder how much this job pays?

The image below shows site reader data of this blog captured from a Lexington city government computer.

I think I liked Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry better when he was blocking this site from the view of on-the-clock employees.

Will Democrats be "racists" now?

The Republican National Committee appears to be about to elect Michael Steele to a two-year term as chairman.

Democrats will be dismissive and may well avoid, at least for the most part, the usual slurs a conservative African-American usually gets from the left.

Steele and the Republicans get to claim they are ready to move in a new direction.

We certainly need a viable alternative to the new regime in Washington. It will be interesting to watch.

Pull down one charade, put up another

Remember last November when the Louisville Courier Journal sent three reporters out to find substantial support in the Kentucky Senate for raising taxes?

They "found" it, but it just didn't pass the smell test. This passage from Bluegrass Policy Blog sums it up:
"The "substantial" support includes twenty Senators who said they would either vote for, consider, or not rule out a cigarette tax increase."

"In other words, there is insufficient support in the Senate for a cigarette tax increase."

Reality is slowly setting in:

A noncommittal answer from a politician is the same as a polite "no." The big tax increase parade to save the state from spending cut doom just isn't going to happen. Accept it and get ready for a combination of smallish spending cuts that solve nothing and massive borrowing we can't afford.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tape erasing scandal belongs to Newberry

A full 24 hours since a report surfaced of erased videotape testimony in the ongoing Fayette County Detention Center scandals (here, here, here, and here), Lexington officials have neither responded nor provided the missing tape.

Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry shouldn't be allowed to hide from this one. Also, Councilman Kevin Stinnett, who chaired the meeting with the erased tape, has not returned a phone message from Wednesday.

Lessons about Rocky Mountain moochers

A report on Colorado's health insurance market suggests the much-repeated claim about government health insurance lowering healthcare costs is about as solid as the case for bigger government bailouts expanding failing government programs:
"This suggests that aside from gorging the coffers of those who want dysfunctional government health care programs expanded in order to crowd out all private medical arrangements, the massive SCHIP and Medicaid expansions in the pork-filled stimulus package will also raise costs for responsible people who pay for their own health care and health insurance."

More details here.

These are, of course, the same kind of reforms being brought to Kentuckians by our own Gov. Steve Beshear as fast as he can round up our money.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Didn't Richard Nixon try erasing tapes, too?

Online viewers eager to see Lexington Councilman Ed Lane blister Fayette County Detention Center Director Ron Bishop for his bad audit yesterday will be disappointed to see someone at the city edited out half of the Budget & Finance Committee meeting.

Missing is the half of the meeting in which Bishop was brought in to speak.

Wonder who would have done such a thing?

See it for yourself here. The first thirty minutes of the tape is full of commercials. Then the meeting starts at that point and the video ends mid-sentence at the one hour point.

Jack Conway's predatory rhetoric

Gov. Steve Beshear and Attorney General Jack Conway had a big time last fall calling gasoline retailers nasty names when worldwide oil demand caused prices to increase.

Given real-world concerns over possible supply disruptions and shortages in the wake of this week's ice storm, Conway is at it again. While some hot air might do us a little good, Conway's is at least good for one laugh:

Someone please buy Jack Conway a thesaurus before he tries to run for the U.S. Senate. Predatory pricing occurs when retailers seek competitive advantage by lowering retail prices below cost.

I'm assuming that's not what he meant to say.

Prichard should get out of the kitchen

The last thing Kentucky can afford now is clinging to the status quo, especially in cases where it has proven to be ineffective and counterproductive.

Enter the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, the chief protector of failed bureaucratic education policies that have held Kentucky back for decades.

The Bluegrass Institute's education analyst Richard Innes congratulated the Prichard folks for coming out of hiding to debate their policy positions a week ago when they started their own blog.

But now they appear to not be posting his comments. Bad form, Prichard. Here is my attempt to smoke them out:

Withstanding criticism of your ideas is hard work. And what kind of watchdog organization prohibits comments about unethical conduct? Could it be that Prichard just isn't up to the task of defending its practices?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

They really don't have a clue, do they?

The following email just arrived from someone trying to help Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) run us into the ground even faster.

Read it. They are actually giddy about the money they get to spend.

God bless Jim Bunning.

If Sen. Mitch McConnell is upset with Sen. Jim Bunning for being right about the federal bailouts, he should say so. From the Lexington Herald Leader:

Stick it in his ear, Jim!

Rightsizing Knoxville

One Knox County, Tennessee commissioner has the right idea.

Knox County and Knoxville are facing growing pension deficits and County Commissioner Paul Pinkston suggests the county should sell the nursing home it owns.

What is a county doing owning a nursing home, anyway?

This is terrific. I know this isn't an ideal time for anyone to be selling off assets, but the principle is more important here. Getting government tenacles out of people's lives is worth taking a bath on a few assets.

Kentucky and its cities and counties should be taking notes.

By the way, a great quote from Knoxville Mayor Mike Ragsdale:
"We're going to have to be creative and do things more differently than we have in the past."

More differently, indeed.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Why Beshear might make Obama mad

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich famously embarrassed President Barack Obama, so Obama had him written out of the state bailout plan. Here is the language from the "stimulus package" bill:

Some have interpreted this to mean that if Blago isn't ousted, Illinois doesn't get the money. But that is not correct. Maybe if the "or" were an "and," but the way this is written it simply means the legislature would control the spending decisions rather than Blago, if he is still around.

Given Gov. Steve Beshear's hesitancy to make decisions in a timely manner on most things, maybe he will tick off Obama and get the same deal for Kentucky. I sure don't want to see Greg Stumbo and David Williams fighting over how to spend borrowed federal tax dollars, but Beshear might find this a handy way to take the pressure off himself.

Can Edye Dabney dance?

Lexington's joint airport strippers and jail phone account scandals may be about to grow a third leg now that the Fayette County Detention Center is refusing to account for their "recreation" budget with the YMCA of Central Kentucky.

Meanwhile, jail officials are skirting the hiring freeze in Lexington as well as city job posting ordinances by sneaking Acting Assistant Director Edye Dabney into a permanent position.

I'm sure Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry's spokeswoman Susan Straub will tell any members of the media who call that none of this is true.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

More proof Kentucky turning into France

This should help make the case for cutting out state welfare for Kentucky newspapers. Specifically, Kentucky must immediately stop forcing government agencies to buy newspaper advertising for public announcements. As a fine example of what this kind of cronyism can lead to, France is pulling out all the stops to bail out their dead tree media:

Thanks to Andy Roth at the national Club for Growth (not to be confused with the Kentucky Club) for passing this along.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Dead Chinese student roils Lexington jail

Federal investigators appear to be digging deeply into Fayette County Detention Center Corporal Charlotte Trotter's role in the suspicious death of a University of Kentucky doctoral student named Dong Zhang back on June 22, 2004 at the jail.

FCDC Director Ron Bishop doesn't want you to know about this. Neither, one assumes, does the Lexington Herald Leader.

(Also, I'd really like to know why college students all over the world are coming to this site via Google to read about Dong Zhang. Will someone please tell me?)

Are Beshear and Newberry on same page?

The World Equestrian Games is shaping up to be a massive taxpayer soaking.

Even if the 2010 event in Lexington goes well, it will be much more expensive than we are being lead to believe. If it gets ugly -- and it looks pretty ugly now -- it will be very embarrassing as well as costly.

We need some public assurances that organizers know what they are doing. Maybe we should get Gov. Steve Beshear and Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry in separate rooms and see who gives up the other one first.

Finally, an optimist!

Don't let them fool you: opportunities are plentiful in a recession. Fortunes will be made buying distressed assets from distressed owners. Stronger manufacturers and service providers will emerge as inefficient ones find other things to do better.

And, on the flip side, big-government politicians will use general feelings of uncertainty to increase their own power.

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford will have none of that, though. He says he is actually having fun right-sizing government in the current environment.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Changing the world one tweet at a time

People keep telling me is the next big thing on the internet and I'm not at all sure they are wrong.

If you twitter, you can follow me here. Or at least you can click on the links. You might want to follow this one as well.

Will media miss this story, too?

If someone affiliated with free markets, smaller government, or conservative causes like lower taxes and less government spending provided evidence that supported an opposing point of view, the mainstream media would be all over it.

But what would happen if a University of Kentucky professor concluded from an academic study that school choice innovations such as private school vouchers, charter schools, and special needs scholarships would improve education in the state?

See for yourself.

Where's outrage for gun gouging?

In today's Frankfort State-Journal, Mike Sloan, the owner of Mike's Guns, Archery, and Pawn, is quoted saying that as the threat of an Obama presidency became increasingly likely gun sales skyrocketed and prices of weapons and ammunition increased.

This news comes on the same day Attorney General Jack Conway announced the results of his ridiculous gasoline price gouging investigation.

Unsurprisingly, the laws of supply and demand for gasoline -- and the subsequent government saber-rattling -- get all the attention.

Go figure.

As Minnesota zigs, Kentucky should zag

Politicos in Minnesota are talking about a bill likely to be filed in coming days that would automatically provide public assistance recipients moving to that state from other states the same benefits they received in their previous home.

Sounds like a great way to speed up the financial destruction of a state, doesn't it?

With the growing possibility of Californians on the dole fleeing a state unable to make cash assistance payments, doesn't it make sense that Kentucky should do something to protect itself from another influx of people with their hands out?

I mean, if we try to fit too many people on a life raft, we risk drowning everyone, don't we?

Another weak excuse goes down the drain

Can't find a job? Then you might want to go ahead and start a business.

Secretary of State Trey Grayson just made getting started a little easier by allowing new business owners to file state paperwork for a new business on the internet.

"This new service will save companies time and money," Grayson said. "By tearing down the bureaucratic red tape of state government, we hope this will encourage other entrepreneurs to start their businesses in Kentucky."

All you have to do is come up with a great idea for a new business, click the "FastTrack" button on here, and get to work.

That way, eventually, you won't have to worry so much about the state blowing up its unemployment fund or the welfare recipients escaping California or Illinois to come raid your state tax dollars.

Cover your own Newberry, please

A link to this post has been burning up the email circuit. It sparked an interesting conversation last night. First, this came in from a Lexington television reporter:

Minutes later came this response from a reader in San Diego some central Kentuckians will recognize (click the image to expand it):

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Are we ready for school vouchers?

As Frankfort politicians play their high-stakes game of chicken between spending cuts and tax increases, it's at least worth mentioning that school vouchers could save a lot of money.

And vouchers would likely improve educational outcomes in Kentucky more than just about any policy change.

Here's the latest from The Manhattan Institute:

Read the rest here. I'm open to better ideas. Anyone?

Still throwing rocks at government watchdogs

House Speaker Greg Stumbo has expressed openness to killing the Kentucky Department of Education's discredited CATS program.

This would put him on the same side of the issue as Senate President David Williams.

But protectors of the status quo have, instead of making a case for the efficacy of their programs, made a habit of taking potshots at The Bluegrass Institute and anyone else who dares to threaten their base of power.

Take, for instance, this anonymous jab at The Institute on The Prichard Committee's new blog.

The Bluegrass Institute has tried for years to engage KDE sycophants like Prichard Committee in a meaningful debate.

Rip Van Bishop: "Thanks for wake-up call!"

Fayette County Detention Center Director Ron Bishop knows that when you put yourself in hot water and the heat gets turned up, it's time to dance.

He's dancing. Bishop said:

"In 2004, shortly after I became Director, I requested the audit of all three accounts covered by this audit report in order to ensure that all assets were accounted for and to identify practices and policies that needed improvement. The Prisoner Account Fund and Community Alternative Progam accounts were audited but the Phone Account was not. Therefore, I welcome the recommendations contained in the current audit report."

Guess where all the problems were found? The one area, Phone Account, that wasn't audited. Anyone else wondering why he didn't bother to check into that for five years rather than apparently sleeping on it? If you know the answer, call the FBI. That's one of the things they are trying to figure out.

The audit report Bishop mentions touches on financial mismanagement issues at the heart of an ongoing federal investigation into the activities of former Senior Administrative Officer Don Leach. Bishop might be setting himself up for some follow-up conversations.

"We have not seen any evidence that funds were spent for inappropriate purchases during the audit period or that assets were misused," Bishop said.

The audit, however, states:
"We noted several Memorandums of Agreement between Cottrell Consulting and Community Corrections were executed by the Director of Community Corrections. The LFUCG Charter specifically states that the Mayor shall sign all written contracts or obligations of LFUCG. In addition, interviews with Community Corrections personnel indicate that Community Corrections did not follow the Request for Proposal process when a $120,000 project was awarded to Cottrell via Memorandum of Agreement in October 2005. This is a violation of CAO Policy #1."

Didn't see that in The Lexington Herald Leader.

Expect to hear more about the jail's "phone account."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Lexington has to do better next time

Multiple sources confirmed tonight Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry plans to announce soon he will not run for re-election.

Newberry has been buried by controversy surrounding the CenterPointe development, scandals at the Lexington Airport and at the Lexington jail, his mishandling of the World Equestrian Games, public pensions, etc.

What a mess. So, who's next?

Wednesday morning Update:

Did I mention that I really get a kick out of politicians who insist they never read blogs?

Obama honeymoon already over for KY Dems

An out-of-state political consultant says a group of very high profile Kentucky Democrats is setting up a plan to primary Congressman Ben Chandler in 2010, hoping they can score points against him for endorsing Barack Obama in 2008.

Look Mom, four year old bogus school data!

The Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence is the foremost apologist for propping up Kentucky's public school bureaucracy and now they have a blog.

It is very telling that the first graph printed on Prichard's blog provides one example of several data points debunked by Bluegrass Institute Education Analyst Richard Innes fifteen months ago, yet held up as gospel by Prichard even today.

Expect breathless rehashing of Prichard's posts very soon in The Lexington Herald Leader and The Louisville Courier Journal.

Something stinks in Lexington

The Lexington Herald Leader's story about a city audit of the Fayette County Detention Center keeps raising more questions than it answers.

The following passage has been added to the newspaper story:

If the audit was dated Wednesday, then why was Susan Straub telling reporters on Tuesday afternoon that it wouldn't be ready for weeks?

And why hasn't the report been posted to the city's web site now, if it has been available for six days?

Sources report federal investigators looking into how the city has handled multiple issues at the jail are not amused by these discrepancies.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Jumping off Bunning's frying pan into the fire?

Off-season talk about knocking Sen. Jim Bunning into retirement from public office is coming from both sides of the aisle. One thought to consider before Attorney General Jack Conway starts looking for a Virginia realtor: five of the seven new Democratic U.S. Senators in their election campaigns were against the bank bailout. Days after getting cozy in their new, warm offices, the magically became in favor of it.

If Bruce Lunsford had replaced Sen. Mitch McConnell earlier this month, can there be any question that the figure would have been six of eight?

Expanded think tank role for KP publisher

The Bluegrass Institute will announce soon expanding the role of Kentucky Votes Director and Bluegrass Policy Blog lead blogger David Adams to include the duties of Grassroots Coordinator.

"I'll be meeting with individuals across the state to organize and expand efforts to promote greater freedom and prosperity for all Kentuckians. It's part of the Institute's effort to build on its past successes by turning up the heat on public officials who misuse their power to hold Kentucky back economically," Adams said.

The Bluegrass Institute's main initiatives include lowering taxes, improving government transparency, eliminating policies that hurt Kentucky's competitiveness, and getting a better return on Kentucky's public investments in education.

The Bluegrass Institute's web sites include Kentucky Votes, Bluegrass Policy Blog, and Freedom Kentucky.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Bad news travels fast in internet age

Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry has told people in his administration not to talk to me. With more and more people getting their news from the internet, it is probably not a bad strategy to try to keep me in the dark. There is evidence to suggest, however, that it isn't working:

So this is what a community organizer does

Four steps (starting at 0:53): Bail. Fail. Trail. And sit in the dark.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Will Jim Newberry get anything right?

Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry took decisive action today in the airport scandal by blaming an accounting firm that had nothing whatsoever to do with the problem.

Shrewd. Very shrewd.

This gives a little perspective to Newberry's utter failure to manage the many, many problems at the Fayette County Detention Center.

(If you want another lawsuit to think about, think about this one.)

A Frankfort banker walks into a bar...

At first, I was puzzled to see this news story in the Frankfort State-Journal about the bank bailout:

Tony Busseni, the bank president, seems to have his Frankfortspeak down cold. Not a bail out; just a "temporary infusion of cash." Right. But a balance sheet is a listing of assets and liabilities. A $30 million loan would show up on both sides ot the ledger, cancelling each other out. How is the bank going to "strengthen" its balance sheet by adding a zero? Sounds like a bail out to me.

I then checked Mr. Busseni's campaign contribution page at Kentucky Registry of Elecion Finance and found $1250 in contributions to Finance and Administration Cabinet Secretary Jonathan "Skippy" Miller. That explains a lot.

When is David Hawpe's week?

Louisville Courier Journal employees will be forced to take a one week unpaid vacation before the end of March, in an attempt to stem the blood flow from its parent company Gannett.

Hate to see people suffer now, but it would be even worse to see this lead to a newspaper bailout.

Of course, Kentucky already has one set up. Did you know?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Technically it's a flip-flop, but I'll take it

Sen. Mitch McConnell joined 41 other U.S. Senators Thursday in voting against sending out the second half of the bank bailout.

Unfortunately, that left 52 Senators to do the heavy bailing. No one seriously expects this to do much of anything for taxpayers.

What a disgusting mess.

Sen. Jim Bunning did not vote, but he was one of the co-sponsors on the resolution to kill the $350 billion TARP foolishness.

What's Newberry trying to pull now?

Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry's actions relating to the city's internal audit of the Fayette County Detention Center took another twist today. The Mayor has some explaining to do.

After Newberry sat on the report the last couple of weeks and then claimed Tuesday that it wouldn't be available for as long as several more weeks, someone in the city leaked a version of the report to the Lexington Herald Leader today.

As of 8:07 pm, the audit is still not available on the city's web site. When it is posted, it will be here. City employees say it is very unusual for an audit report to be made available to a reporter but not posted online.

Sources say federal investigators are looking at findings of an earlier draft of the audit report and that the Herald Leader received a later, less complete version.

Kentucky can't go bankrupt

States are legally prohibited from declaring bankruptcy. That means if we don't get serious about borrowing less money and running entitlement programs more prudently and stopping the raiding of public employee fringe benefits accounts, some people may just be out of luck.

Some future politicians may have little choice but to stop making payments on state obligations. The way we are headed, that is not such a far-fetched idea. Ask California.

After decades of wild state spending, nothing is going to change until someone steps up and forces change. That's why I gladly support the Kentucky Club for Growth.

The Club today is raising awareness of the state employee pension disaster that could literally destroy our state by making it impossible to run any kind of government at all. (And some of their sources are excellent!) As pension and healthcare obligations increase, the money we have raided from those systems will have to be paid back out of other pools of money.

The Club is set up specifically to support candidates for office who will pursue responsible government spending practices. The big spenders opposed by The Club like to criticize small-government types as "hating" government, but keeping spending reasonable will never destroy government. Only the enduring insanity of the status quo will do that.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Around and around Beshear goes...

Gov. Steve Beshear threw a party in November and pledged to expand government health insurance programs Medicaid and KCHIP.

And now we find out that Kentucky's Medicaid budget is going underwater. Looks like "mission accomplished" for Beshear.

Giving Beshear the tax increases he campaigned against -- but now demands -- never looked like a worse idea.

Why would we take anything he says seriously at all?

GOP blasts Beshear, says fire Edelen

Republican Party of Kentucky Chairman Steve Robertson weighed in on apparent corruption in Gov. Steve Beshear's office:
"Emails on state government servers now prove that the Governor's Chief of Staff Adam Edelen was behind the illegal hiring of Ralph Coldiron at an inflated salary. Edelen conducted personal business using state government resources and then unilaterally hired his business partner at an illegal and unjustified salary."

"In order to protect Edelen, a spokesman for the Governor now claims the Governor was 'unaware of the law' but is silent as to whether the Governor was aware of Edelen's activities. Ignorance of the law is not a defense to breaking it."

"I now call on Adam Edelen to resign his position and the Attorney General's office to launch an immediate investigation into Edelen's illegal activity."

The ball is in your court, Governor.

Key issue brings Kentucky worldwide attention

While much of official Kentucky is pondering our tip-of-the-iceberg current state budget problems, insufficient attention has been paid to the nearly $30 billion in unfunded public employee fringe benefits that really threatens our fiscal future.

Slowly, that is starting to change. PensionWatch, a daily aggregator of data about the worldwide pension meltdown, noticed some top-quality coverage of the mess today:

The PensionWatch site is available here. The Kentucky pension story is available here. And yes, I wrote the Kentucky story. Someone had to, right?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Newberry's "hide the audit" game must end

At least ten days have passed since Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry's administration started hiding an internal audit report about financial crimes committed by Fayette County Detention Center employees.

(More about that here, here, and here.)

Mayor Newberry's staff held off reporters who have called about the report by claiming that the report is not ready. The time for Newberry to blame former Mayor Teresa Isaac for the problems at the jail is past. It's your baby, now, Mayor. Release the report tomorrow.

Keynes debunked in less than four minutes

Monday, January 12, 2009

"I don't call it a tax increase"

Speaking on KET's Kentucky Tonight, House Speaker Greg Stumbo's statement of support for the cigarette tax increase began tonight with a denial that it is a tax increase.

Now even KET's Bill Goodman is calling it a user fee.

Stumbo and Gov. Steve Beshear aren't going to get very far if they are too scared to even say "tax increase."

A question for J.R. Gray

We need to ask an important question tomorrow of Kentucky Labor Cabinet Secretary J.R. Gray: How much money are Kentucky taxpayers saving by hiring illegal aliens to work on the Secretariat Center at the Kentucky Horse Park?

What, exactly, is he selling here?

Bill Clinton wants us to buy some more change.

Thank your lucky stars Beshear is broke

When gubernatorial candidate Steve Beshear talked about expanding government healthcare in Kentucky, it was hard not to figure he was doing a Massachusetts on the installment plan. From his campaign web site:

So how is "universal" healthcare working out for Massachusetts? From
"Small businesses with more than 10 employees were required to provide health insurance or pay an extra fee to subsidize uninsured low-income residents, yet the overall costs of the program increased more than $400 million — 85 percent higher than original projections. To make up the difference, payments to health care providers were slashed, so many doctors and dentists in Massachusetts began refusing to take on new patients. In the state with the highest physician/patient ratio in the nation, some people now have to wait more than a year for a simple physical exam."

"The irony is that Massachusetts officials reluctantly admitted that, despite increased enrollment, the state is still far from universal coverage — the original goal of the landmark law. To make matters worse, Massachusetts is grappling with a multibillion-dollar deficit while Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick desperately tries to slow down those still-spiraling health care costs, which he said last week were "not sustainable.""
"If this sounds just like Canadian-style socialized medicine, that’s because it is. Massachusetts residents now pay more for less access to health care, yet their state still has an uninsured problem!"

Kentucky has already broken its bank on big government. Had it not, we surely would have gone for the sounds-good, feels-good quicksand that is drowning our northern friends.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Silliest bill in Frankfort, so far

You may be scratching your head over why Rep. Jim Glenn thought we had time to entertain his burgoo bill again this year. But that dumb bill doesn't hold a candle to new House Education Committee Chairman Carl Rollins' bill to pay state employees to volunteer in schools.

And, in case you were wondering, Rollins confirmed to the Frankfort State-Journal that the status quo will be well-protected during his reign:

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Why I support the Club for Growth

Club for Growth President Pat Toomey:
"We can't spend our way out of a recession. If that was all it took we wouldn't be in one now. I mean federal spending, government spending is at an all-time record high."

By the way, did you know there is a Kentucky Club for Growth?

Friday, January 09, 2009

Giving Frankfort drunks another drink

Friends don't let friends drive drunk, right? Given the way our elected representatives in Frankfort are spending our money -- and given mounting evidence that the keg isn't running dry -- shouldn't we really consider cutting them off?

Sending them more money seems to only make the problem worse.

It's Friday night party time and here they come looking for a good time. Are you ready to be a real friend and just say no?

Pucker factor increase at Lexington jail

Very reliable sources in Frankfort report Insurance Fraud Investigation Division Director Tony Dehner will be picked to replace scandal-plagued Fayette County Detention Center Director Ron Bishop soon.

How soon that happens is anyone's guess. Now that Mayor Jim Newberry has decided to sit on the incriminating internal audit report on the Lexington jail for a few more weeks, Bishop may have a few more paychecks coming.

No story here, move along

Former Fayette County Detention Center Major Tommy White has resigned abruptly this morning from his position as Interim Bourbon County Jailer.

White previously resigned abruptly from the Lexington jail as the federal investigation into inmate abuse there escalated.

Bourbon County County Judge assistant Carrie McCall at first declined to comment on the resignation other than citing "personal reasons." Upon further questioning, she denied the resignation had anything to do with a rape at the Bourbon County jail.

That denial, one assumes, would also cover the rape of an inmate at the jail on Tuesday in which a deputy jailer observed the crime and told the inmate to "quit squirming."

In an interview today, White said his resignation was dated 12-29-08 and had nothing to do with anything that happened this week. He said he will cooperate with state police and that he is considering rescinding his resignation.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

A bipartisan push against CATS testing

Members of Kentucky's House of Representatives from both parties have filed bills over the years to get rid of writing portfolios in Kentucky schools for years.

Interesting this year that there is one bill filed by a Republican to eliminate 4th grade portfolios and another bill filed by a Democrat to eliminate all portfolios from the CATS assessment.

Great to see a little cooperation on such an important issue.

One more day of Newberry's follies

Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry failed again today to release the internal audit he has about financial improprieties at the Fayette County Detention Center.

Senate math instruction upgrade unveiled

The Senate Education Committee this morning will start discussion of SJR 19, which would squeeze out the feel-good nonsense that pervades a lot of our K-12 math curriculum.

The bottom line is that children in India and China are eating our lunch in large part because they are learning math and we aren't.

Sen. Dan Kelly would upgrade math instruction in Kentucky by requiring the Kentucky Department of Education to base their curriculum on the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics "Curriculum of Focal Points for Prekindergarten through Grade 8 Mathematics" and "Principles and Standards for School Mathematics."

The Democratic response to this key initiative so far appears to be Speaker Greg Stumbo's "casinos will give us $700 million more to spend" nonsense. Let's hope they snap out of that long enough to do something simple to improve education in Kentucky.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Call your friends in Virginia

Norman Leahy at the Virginia Institute of Public Policy was on a candidate conference call Wednesday with Virginia gubernatorial candidate (and former DNC Chair) Terry McAuliffe. His report included this passage:
"But McAuliffe is careful to repeat that taxes -- and even small ones like tolls -- should not be raised during a downturn. Once conditions improve, of course, all bets are off. However, this does distinguish him from the other Democratic contenders, both of whom have made clear that tax increases remain on the table, even as the economy limps through the recession."

That sounds a lot like our own then-candidate Steve Beshear lying about not raising taxes before his own election. If you have any friends in Virginia, you may want to share your experience.

Worse than $4500 for strippers

Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry is still refusing to release an internal audit of some of the fraud at the Fayette County Detention Center.

This is happening as sources indicate more indictments are coming soon in the prisoner abuse scandal at the Lexington jail.

Time to come clean, Mayor Newberry.

Giving entitlement reform a chance

The real story about House Speaker Greg Stumbo's defeat of Rep. Jody Richards -- the coming change in committee chairmanships -- means some important bills that have previously been killed off before getting floor votes now have a chance.

One of the most important of those could be a bill to get drug abusers off the welfare rolls.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Answer this, Governor Beshear

Very plausible rumor on Page One Kentucky has Rep. Larry Clark going to work in the Gov. Steve Beshear Administration if he loses his House leadership position.

Clark would then join a growing list of lawmakers who taking advantage of a special pension provision they gave themselves that continues to cost the state money unnecessarily.

You're cutting expenses now, aren't you Governor? Then you won't want to do this, will you?

Monkey see, monkey do the opposite

U.S. House Democrats are getting ready to repeal term limits for committee chairmen. Kentucky's legislative bodies should, in turn, enact this power-checking reform just as those in D.C. are throwing it away. Committee chairmen would play much better with others if they knew they would each soon be back in the peanut gallery.

Conversely, imagine how much more of a jerk Barney Frank will be with enhanced job security.

There will be plenty of opportunities this year for doing the right thing by zigging in Frankfort while Washington zags. Take, for example, card check legislation.

Of course, the best we can hope for from Frankfort this year is probably just not to raise taxes.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Price fixing? Now there's an idea!

Monday night on KET, Senate President David Williams suggested that the desire to make college more affordable might necessitate fixing tuition rates at state schools.

At a time in which we really need long-term solutions, this isn't one.

Instead, we should move away from need-based aid and toward merit-based aid.

This is a discussion that Kentucky has to have, so I'm glad President Williams brought it up. But tuition freezes barely make a good band-aid. Getting the perverse impact of artificially inflated demand for a college education out of the equation is the only way to really lower education costs.

Big changes coming to Lexington jail

Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry remains tight-lipped about a very damaging internal audit relating to the Fayette County Detention Center, but sources with the city say the report could be made available as soon as this afternoon.

Newberry is already in plenty of trouble for his actions related to the jail.

Stay tuned for updates...

Six hundred thousand new federal employees

I didn't think to watch Barack Obama's video this weekend until I saw a reference to it on Drudge questioning his proposal to add 600,000 federal government employees. What Obama said was he is going to "create" three million jobs, of which "eighty percent will be in the private sector."

Considering that Kentucky is drowning in red ink largely because of excessive public sector labor costs, it seems striking that Obama would think this might work.

I didn't hear anything else worthwhile on this video, did you? Looks like more money for cornflation and infrastructure and electronic medical records. Wow.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Another indicator of where we're headed?

Looks like gouging on Barack Obama Inaugural memorabilia is as easy as taking candy from a baby:

And the private sector price is...

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Obama says he is swift and bold quotes President-elect Barack Obama mischaracterizing the coming trillion dollar federal bailout of cities and states as an act of courage that will somehow reverse the economic downturn.

Lots of luck:

I can't imagine giving people like Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear part of a trillion dollars will do much of anything but encourage him to come back next year begging for twice as much. The only way off this treadmill is to force governments to face the consequences for their actions and change their ways.

Maybe this is how we kill off Keynes

John Maynard Keynes is the early 20th century economist whose philosophy has culminated in Bush-Obama super-sized stimulus plans. Keynes famously deflected long-term concerns about his borrow now, pay later economics by saying "In the long run, we're all dead."

Keynes died in 1946. With any luck, remembering the following will lead to the death of his goofy, spendthrift fiscal policies. Seriously, does anyone really believe that the bailout of cities and states will stay under $775 billion? And if you really believe we will jumpstart the economy by "creating" 3 million government union scale jobs with even more borrowed money, I'm willing to sell you my share of the bridge spanning the Kentucky Ocean. Cheap.

Obama has the votes to do this. Knock yourself out, guys. We'll be waiting and keeping score.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Not why we sent McConnell back to Senate

The AP's Bruce Shreiner quoted Sen. Mitch McConnell talking about the bailout for cities and states, which will surely wind up over $1 trillion:
""This should not be treated as an appropriation bill, but something more broadly stimulative," he said."

Good grief.

Borrowing money at the federal level for politicians to spend at the state and local level can't be treated as anything other than an appropriation bill, because that is exactly what it is. And what the heck is this "broadly stimulative" stuff?

So much for hoping there were enough Republicans in the Senate to stop the really bad bills. Sure it may be nice to stop card check and socialized medicine, but what's the point when we are giving away the farm creating massive slush funds from sea to shining sea?

This is disgraceful.

Coverup always worse than the crime

Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry is sitting on an internal city report describing former Fayette County Detention Center administrator Don Leach's improper use of taxpayer property in his own consulting business activities.

Sources report Leach's abuse is ongoing, months after his forced retirement.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Vigilance takes no days off

Got a New Year's Day press release from the Libertarian Party of Kentucky about Gov. Steve Beshear's failure to follow through on his oft-repeated promise to show Kentuckians how their money is being spent.

From the release:
"We have not forgotten the promises made, and we expect the transparency that the state’s desperate financial situation demands. This is a trying time for every Kentuckian, and we all deserve the right to join the dialogue. Further, we reserve the right to be informed, in order that we can reach just and equitable solutions to the challenges facing Kentucky today."

Kudos to them for jumping on this opportunity to stand up for taxpayers.

That's what I'm talking 'bout!

Lexington's Bill Marshall nails it in a letter to the editor in yesterday's Herald Leader:

Brilliant! Thanks Bill.