Thursday, July 27, 2006

Information needed

If anyone has any information on Greg Stumbo's infamous DUI case (when, where, the name of the trial judge, etc.) please forward that to

Many thanks!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

No merit in this system

It's been common knowledge in Kentucky for a long time that the merit system is broken and needs fixing.

Democrats have violated the laws and abused the system for decades. How else does one explain the disparity in ratios between voter registration and political affiliation of state employees, especially in Republican counties?

A commission established by former Gov. Brereton Jones recommended overhauling the merit system. So, too, did the blue ribbon commission formed by Gov. Ernie Fletcher. The fact that an attorney general who himself has violated merit system laws (by trying to use his political clout when he was in the House of Representatives to get his recommended job candidates hired) is now prosecuting a sitting governor on an overreaching indictment just cements the thought that repairs are needed in Kentucky's civil service procedures.

And, as if more evidence was needed, came the revelations last week of personnel problems regarding recurring abuse of residents at the Oakwood home for the mentally handicapped in Somerset.

If Oakwood was a private establishment, those people singled out in the Herald-Leader story would have been fired months ago.

But for better or worse -- often worse -- the state makes it nearly impossible to get rid of an employee for a bad act. The state's Personnel Board, which hears appeals of dismissals and demotions, has a terrible track record of overturning perfectly logical employee termination decisions and instead substituting five-day suspensions in lieu of firing.

The most egregious case was probably that of Richard Vissing. Vissing was a Transportation Cabinet employee who, during the Patton administration, got caught masturbating while driving along I-65 in a state vehicle. The media coverage brought Kentucky another round of national embarrassment. The Transportation Cabinet fired him, a state hearing officer upheld the dismissal, but the Personnel Board rejected that recommendation.

This case outraged the newly elected Fletcher administration. It, in large part, motivated the governor to select members to the Personnel Board who would uphold standards and expect exemplary conduct from state employees while on duty.

With a few exceptions, most in the state are in agreement that merit employees should be free of firing because of politics. But are those safeguards too onerous when it comes to job actions for performance reasons? Should the state have more leeway in firing employees for cause?

The bet here is that those poor abused patients at Oakwood, and their familes who entrusted the state with their care, wish that such was the case.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

On the Personnel Initiative...

During the investigation into hiring practices in Gov. Fletcher's administration, there's been a lot of talk about what's called the Governor's Personnel Initiative. If Fletcher's case makes it to trial, which is doubtful given the strength of the recently filed motion to dismiss, no doubt there will be a lot more talk about the initiative.

The Democrats in the AG's office have characterized this program as a corrupt political scheme, but they are wrong. We'll let others determine the appropriateness of the "disciples" nickname that was given to the personnel administrators, but in truth the program is definitely a "good government" initiative and is actually designed to root out the vestiges of Democratic cronyism that still plagued state government even after a Republican was elected governor.

By now everyone knows how the merit system is supposed to work. The administration has control of a limited number of appointive, or non-merit jobs. These appointees serve at the pleasure of the governor and are, to be blunt, political appointments. These jobs include both policy makers and support staff for the governor's office, cabinet secretaries, and so forth. The bulk of the jobs, however, are merit system jobs, and those hired for them are considered to be career employees that can't be fired at the change of an administration.

No matter how vehemently the Democrats may deny it, they have abused the merit system since it was put into place more than 40 years ago. One has a better chance of surviving a stroll through Harlem while yelling racial epithets than of being a Republican and getting a merit system job. As a result of decades of patronage hiring and promotions, Democrats dominate all levels of state government, particularly the mid-level bureaucracy of branch managers and section supervisors. These are the officials who do most of the hiring. Their loyalties lie not with the current administration in Frankfort, but to those who got them their jobs.

Even after the Fletcher administration had been in place for several months, Republicans were not getting a fair shake at the merit system jobs. Those who interviewed and hired applicants were more likely to seek and take advice from their local Democratic Party county chairman than their directors and commissioners.

So it made sense for hiring to be centralized in each cabinet. It's unconscionable that the Democrats were still running their own shadow patronage system in a Republican administration. Plus, the Democrats already in place in state government were (and still are) doing their best to undermine and sabotage just about every initiative the administration puts forth.

The merit system prohibits personnel decisions based on political registration, but the law is mute on governmental philosophy. And if you are trying to enact change in government, it makes sense to bring like-minded people on board. With many of the merit system jobs actually being decision-making positions, you need people who are on the same page.

For instance, let's say your policy is to make Kentucky's state resort parks profitable. It makes no sense to hire people who think the state should continue to subsidize the lodges and restaurants with tax dollars, especially if they are in management or budgetary positions.

If your goal is to tighten restrictions on social programs, do you really want counselors who are going to attempt to qualify as many people as possible for the programs?

And if you are looking to expand what the local highway garages do, why hire county superintendents and maintenance engineers who want to contract out services like mowing, sign replacement and striping?

Yet that was what was happening. The Democrat mid-level managers, who owe their jobs to the Democrat patronage machine, were still oiling that machine by hiring their own. The new hires still owed their allegiances to the opponents.

"They're still hiring too damn many Democrats!" That was the exclamation of one influential Fletcher supporter during a conversation among party leaders in late 2004.

Did some of the Fletcher appointees take the hiring deal too far? Most assuredly, and those who did so found themselves out of work as the administration conducted its own investigation into hiring practices. That was a measured and appropriate response.

But in concept, a centralized hiring office, with top-down management, remains a good idea. Merit system restrictions are good and worthwhile, but a governor and his or her appointees should be able to hire people with a similar philosophy of governing. That can transcend party lines. You can be a Democrat and still want the lodges, restaurants and campgrounds at state parks to turn a profit.

How the role of the Personnel Initiative will play out as the governor' criminal case continues remains to be seen. But this is a good policy initiative that shouldn't be discarded just because Greg Stumbo didn't like it.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A good move by Governor Fletcher

Kudos to Governor Fletcher for his executive order banning smoking in state offices. Now smokers will have to go outside to smoke.

If the Fletcher administration really wants to improve workplace efficiency, now it will limit smoke breaks to the 9:30 and 2:30 scheduled 15-minute breaks and let smokers go outside to smoke only during those two break periods, instead of several times during the day.

Many private companies make workers clock out for smoke breaks. State government should do the same!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

A thank you!

We here at KPAC 2 currently are at odds with Mitch McConnell over the way
he has failed to defend the Republican Party and its governor from the
Democrat onslaught being led by the Deadbeat Dad from Prestonsburg, but we
do want to thank him for his principled, if unpopular, stand on
flag-burning. McConnell takes the only correct position that a defender of
the First Amendment could be expected to take, sacrificing popularity and
political expediency for principle. That is to be applauded.

If we are to say we value free expression of ideas, we must allow this
free expression even if it is done in a way in which we disagree.

Friday, July 07, 2006

A winnable motion

Word has it that today, lawyers for Gov. Fletcher filed a motion to have the misdemeanor indictments against him dismissed due to selective and malicious prosecution on the part of the Office of the Attorney General, as led by Democratic political operative Greg Stumbo.

This is a highly winnable motion because of the unprecedented nature of the charges brought against Fletcher and others in the merit system investigation.

Despite weak protestations to the contrary, patronage hiring has gone on since the merit system law ostensibly banned it. Yet no one had ever been prosecuted for it before, and certainly never has a grand jury been convened to spend a year investigating misdemeanors and costing the state thousands of dollars.

The most recent and most glaring example came during the waning years of Paul Patton's term. Patton publicly admitted, and accepted an Executive Branch Ethics Commission reprimand because of it, that he helped secure a promotion for a Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement officer who got Patton's mistress, Tina Conner, out of a traffic ticket at Conner's request. Patton chose not to appeal the decision and paid a fine.

This constituted an admission that he had violatd KRS 18A, but despite this public admission, former Attorney General Ben Chandler did not see fit to prosecute Patton.

If the judge needs arguments when he considers Fletcher's motion to dismiss on grounds of selective prosecution, Ben Chandler should be witness No. 1 for Ernie Fletcher on the witness stand. Then let Chandler explain why he chose not to prosecute Paul Patton for merit system violations. Not only will this prove selective prosecution -- a Democrat AG chose not to prosecute a Democrat governor, but a Democrat AG fired all guns at a Republican governor -- but it will force Chandler to go on the record on this issue as he contemplates running for governor next year.

This is a question that needs to be answered by Chandler no matter what political offices he pursues in the future. He must be pressed on why he condoned Patton's blatant and admitted violations of state merit system law.

Some will argue that Chandler more than made up for it by his pursuit of vote fraud and campaign finance irregularities stemming from Patton's 1995 election run against Larry Forgy. The big difference is that in 1995, the integrity of the election process was in question and Chandler had no choice but to pursue it. He certainly used prosecutorial discretion not to seek charges against Patton for patronage hiring, and that discretion set a precedent that should apply in Fletcher's case.

The prediction here is that by the time all motions are filed and appealed, the charges against Fletcher will be dismissed. There are several good reasons why they can and should be tossed out, and this selective prosecution motion is but one excellent example.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The PAC is back!!!!

These should be heady times for Kentucky Republicans. After all, we have both US Senate seats, five of six seats in the US House of Representatives, control of the state Senate for the first time in anyone's memory, and we are gaining on picking up a majority in the state House of Representatives. Plus we are electing more local officeholders than ever before, some in counties that have never had a Republican county judge-executive until now. And the biggest prize is that we now have the governorship for the first time since the period 1968-1972.

But all's not well in the Republican Party of Kentucky. Our governor is under fire from partisan Democrats so intent on taking back power that they will stoop at nothing. Gov. Ernie Fletcher is under misdemeanor indictment from the most trumped-up charges that anyone can imagine. And many in our party seem intent on helping the Democrats instead of defending our governor from a mess that, ironically, many of our Republican leaders helped create.

That's crap. Total crap. It's time for the GOP to get its act together and start acting like the enemy is the Kentucky Democratic Party and its operatives like Greg Stumbo and Crit Luallen, not our own governor.

So that's why the PAC is back. The original Kentucky Pachyderm blog gave a strong voice to Kentucky Republicans, but in the last stages of its life it wandered into irrelevance before disappearing without a whimper. This KPAC will pull no punches and we'll call a spade a spade, an idiot an idiot, and a partisan Democrat hack a danger to our great Commonwealth and our beloved nation.

Comments are welcome and appreciated. Anonymous comments are OK. There are only a few rules. No gratuitous profanity. That will get your post edited or deleted, and repeat offenders may be put on moderation or banned.

And no libelous statements. If you make a comment about someone that could be construed as libel or slander, you'd better post the proof to back it up or offer to make it available to the Blogmaster via e-mail at

Tips are welcome to and anonymity is guranteed, but again if you are making an allegation of wrongdoing or what you say is questionable in terms of libel/slander, you'd better provide the proof of your accusations. Scanned documents, MP3 files of telephone conversations, etc., all will be considered supporting evidence.

So have fun -- and remember that we don't need to be fighting amongst ourselves. We need to support our governor and remember that the enemies are the Democrats.