Saturday, March 31, 2007

So easy, even a reporter can do it!

We don't think that's going to become the new tagline for the GEICO commercials, but finding out the political link between fired Transportation employee Mike Duncan and Personnel Board hearing officer John C. Ryan was simple. It took us about five minutes to post that information, and most of that time was spent trying to find the Registry of Election Finance's home page by searching on the main state site, and then converting the registry's query results to a PDF and then importing that PDF into Photoshop, cropping all but the relevant Chandler contributions from the document, and exporting to a format suitable to uploading on Blogger.

If we, a simple little collaboration of conservative Republicans and Ernie Fletcher supporters, can take a few minutes to unearth and publish this factual information that colors the whole perception of the hearing officer's recommendation, then why can't this state's leading reporters put forth the same effort and then make a phone call or two to get quotes about this fact?

Even the GEICO cavemen could have thought to do this. Too bad the Stampers, Loftuses, Alessis and Heberts of the world didn't.

Friday, March 30, 2007

See, we told you so!

We knew that the media coverage of the recommendation that fired Transportation Cabinet probationary employee Mike Duncan be reinstated would not mention the fact that the hearing officer had financially supported Ben Chandler in 2003.

Duncan asserted, and hearing officer John C. Ryan agreed, that Duncan was let go because he supported Ernie Fletcher's opponent in the 2003 gubernatorial election.

The fact that Chandler supporter Ryan sided with Chandler supporter Duncan is certainly worthy of mention in the press, in the interests of full disclosure. Had Ryan been a Fletcher contributor and had he sided against Duncan, you'd better believe that tidbit would've been splashed all over the papers.

That the Fletcher-hating press ignored this highly relevant fact is one thing. But the Courier-Journal's editorial today on the subject crosses the line.

Believe it or not, despite documented and factual evidence to the contrary, the Courier calls the hearing officer "a neutral fact-finder."

So in the immortal words of Rush Limbaugh, "See, We Told You So!" The Fletcher-haters are as easy to predict as the sun coming up each morning.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

EXCLUSIVE: Personnel Board hearing officer is Chandler contributor

John Ryan, the Frankfort attorney who ruled in favor of Ben Chandler supporter Mike Duncan in his Personnel Board case against the Transportation Cabinet, was himself a Chandler supporter and a contributor to Chandler's 2003 gubernatorial campaign.

According to the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance online searchable database, Ryan contributed $200 to the Chandler gubernatorial campaign on Oct. 22, 2003.

Duncan, of course, was an employee of Chandler's when Chandler was attorney general, and was also a contributor to Chandler's campaign. Duncan gave the maximum of $1,000 for both the primary and general elections in 2003.

So a Chandler supporter and contributor rules in favor of another Chandler supporter and contributor in a personnel case occurring in the administration of the governor who beat Chandler. Is that a coincidence?

We'll bet you won't see THIS reported in the mainstream Fletcher-hating press.

Sad news for Kentucky native Tony Snow

It's not widely known, but White House Press Secretary and former Fox News personality Tony Snow is a Kentucky native. Snow grew up in the Williamstown-Dry Ridge area in the northern part of the state, just south of Cincinnati.

Snow is a cancer survivor and this week he got the devastating news that his cancer has returned.

Snow gave up the fame and fortune of being one of the top cable television news and radio talk show personalities in the nation to serve his president. He has handled a hostile press corps with grace, dignity and humor.

We were saddened to hear of Snow's cancer recurrence. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.

Showdown at the Personnel Board corral

One of the biggest problems with state government is that it's nearly impossible to fire a bad employee.

The merit system is a mixed blessing. While it prevents employees from being fired for political reasons, it puts far too many hurdles in the way of managers who want to get rid of employees who don't do their jobs, or do their jobs poorly.

An employee almost has to be proven to be guilty of wrongdoing before he or she can be dismissed. And even when a supervisor takes that step, far too often the Personnel Board reverses the management decision and reinstates the employee. Even disciplinary actions are often lessened -- a 30-day suspension being reduced to a five-day suspension, and so on.

The net result is a workforce whose members have no fear and know that they can get by with doing little or nothing, or even screwing up far more frequently than would be tolerated in the private sector, and they take full advantage of that. This isn't meant to cast apsersions on all state employees, because many are good, dedicated and competent individuals who are willing to trade the higher salaries they might earn in the private sector for the benefits state jobs offer and the opportunity to provide a public service. But given the prevalence of Democrat patronage over the years, please forgive us if we view the state workforce in large part through jaded lenses.

One would hope that during the six-month probationary period that new merit system employees must serve before they become protected from firing without cause, managers would be able to observe these new hires and make judgments as to whether or not they can satisfactorily do their jobs.

However, if the state Personnel Board upholds the hearing officer's recommendation that fired probationary Transportation employee Mike Duncan be reinstated, a dangerous precedent is set.

Currently, when an employee is on probation, he or she can be fired or any reason, or for no reason at all. Upholding this order would basically extend merit system protections to all state employees from the date of their hiring and would render the probationary period meaningless.

Duncan is the probationary employee in the Transportation Cabinet's Office of Inspector General who appealed his dismissal before his probationary period was over. He claimed that he was let go because he was a strong supporter of failed 2003 Democrat gubernatorial candidate Ben Chandler. However, during the hearing proceedings, Transportation Secretary Bill Nighbert outlined a number of reasons why Duncan was terminated before falling under merit system protections.

The hearing officer's order now goes to the state Personnel Board for approval. If the board accepts the recommendation, Duncan is back on the payroll. If the board rejects it, Duncan remains fired. Either side can appeal the decision to Franklin Circuit Court.

This is a pivotal time. The Personnel Board MUST reject the recommendation and not give Duncan his job back. And if the board accepts the recommendation and reinstates Duncan, the Transportation Cabinet MUST appeal that ruling to court.

Why? Well, not only does this set a precedent for protecting probationary employees, it totally obliterates the concept of personal traits or characteristics or performance in prior jobs having anything to do with future employment.

One of the reasons that Duncan was fired was because Nighbert had, in the past, had contact with him when Nighbert was mayor of Williamsburg and Duncan was an investigator in Chandler's attorney general's office. Based on that prior experience, Nighbert felt Duncan had performed poorly in that previous assignment and the secretary had no confidence in the new Transportation investigator. (Remember that Duncan was hired while Clay Bailey was still Transportation secretary and Nighbert took over as acting secretary after Bailey transferred during Duncan's probationary period.)

Nighbert outlined several reasons why Duncan was fired during the hearings, none of which had to do with politics and all of which had to do with concerns over Duncan's past performance and his ability to carry out his new assignment.

Let's stretch this scenario. You accept a job as a branch manager in state government and find yourself supervising a probationary employee with whom you are acquainted. You have personal knowledge that the new employee's performance in a prior job was lacking and based on your knowledge that your predecessor must not have had, you would never had hired this employee. Under this precedent, you would not be able to terminate the unsatisfactory employee and you would be stuck with someone whose job performance you could not trust.

There's a political undercurrent to this, as well, that should be in the back of everyone's mind. Mike Duncan is a highly partisan Democrat. It's been documented that about 75 percent of the Transportation Cabinet employees are registered Democrats and it's no secret that most of them were hired through political patronage, especially in the district offices and county garages. One of Duncan's duties would have been to investigate allegations of waste, theft, fraud or abuse among those employees. Does anyone reliably have any confidence that Duncan would have conducted a thorough and proper investigation of fellow partisans, especially in a highly-charged political atmosphere such as exists in Transportation?

This is a serious matter, and the Transportation Cabinet should be willing to go to the mat on this one if the Personnel Board doesn't do the right thing. The integrity of the merit system is at stake. For if Duncan wins in the end, the already-difficult task of getting rid of unsuitable employees will become nearly impossible. It will take the proverbial "dead girl or live boy" to get a bad state employee off the payroll.

(This recommendation is the opinion of one hearing officer. Personnel Board hearing officers are generally attorneys contracted by the state. The hearing officer in this case was John Ryan. We will attempt to research Ryan's political and professional background to see if any obvious conflicts are present, since we are sure the mainstream Fletcher-hating media won't).

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Our view on Anne Northup and her candidacy

Let us be up front -- we heartily support Ernie Fletcher's re-election campaign (if that's any great secret). We believe that the policy accomplishments of his administration, made in the face of overwhelming political opposition, have earned him a second term.

We also believe that the merit system hiring investigation was overblown, unnecessary and politically motivated. We are further saddened to see Republicans whom we originally believed to be intelligent and reasonable buying into the partisan allegations made by Greg Stumbo and his accomplices on the stacked grand jury and hanging their opinions on the nails driven by selective leaks by the prosecution and the press' subsequent gobbling them up like emaciated dogs who find a 5-pound pack of ground beef lost by the roadside.

We agree with the Fletcher administration's contention that mistakes were made in the hiring of new state employees to fill vacancies, but there was no criminal intent. Those mistakes were properly dealt with by the firing of those who made them. We also note that none of the indictments was for the improper firing for political purposes of an existing merit system employee with status.

We believe that much of the damage done by the merit system investigation could have been blunted or avoided had this state's top Republican officeholders, officials and unofficial party leaders immediately denounced the investigation and instead turned the mirror on the investigator.

That list most certainly includes Sens. Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning, as well as most of the state's Republican members of the House of Representatives. Had they swiftly defended Fletcher, criticized Stumbo and then flexed a little political muscle, Fletcher would be cruising to renomination and we wouldn't even be having a discussion about a Republican primary.

We can give Anne Northup a pass for not originally standing tall for Fletcher, while we hold that against the others. After all, Northup represented a district that is overwhelmingly Democrat and she knew that she would be in for a tough re-election battle. But there is no excuse for McConnell, et. al, to have left Fletcher hanging.

We were wholeheartedly behind Northup in her Congressional re-election campaign and we were saddened when she lost. We want to see Northup back in public service sometime in the future.

But we definitely cannot support her candidacy for governor. Not only do we not endorse her candidacy, we do not even endorse the concept of her challenging the incumbent of her own party.

No thinking Republican could have ever imagined that the Democrats would give a Republican administration a free pass, considering that Democrats think that running this state is their birthright and the top two investigative offices were occupied by D's.

The press has never seen fit to print the real stories behind the merit system investigation because they don't reflect negatively on the Republican incumbent. Had there been a Democrat governor, any complaints about hiring practices would have been handled administratively, as they had been for more than four decades since Kentucky's civil service system was established. But because this state has a Democrat attorney general, suddenly administrative actions became criminal misdemeanor indictments.

It hasn't helped matters that most of those responsible for the missteps in the Fletcher administration were hired at the behest of the federal delegation.

It's particularly disgusting to hear Northup out on the campaign trail, parroting many of the same things Greg Stumbo has been saying -- the same Greg Stumbo that dropped the charges against Fletcher with prejudice.

We applaud Northup for her service in Congress and before that, in the General Assembly. At another time, she might make an excellent governor.

But not now. At a time when she should have been standing behind her former friend and Congressional colleague, she turned her back on him.

Doesn't she wonder what will happen at the first sign of trouble if she is elected? Will Jim Bunning defend and support her, or will he desert her the way he did Fletcher?

That's why we say Ernie Fletcher deserves better than he has gotten from his own party -- and why we say that if Fletcher is defeated in the primary, we aren't sure that the Republican Party of Kentucky deserves to win the race in the fall.

If we can't support our governor in the eye of the Democrat siege he's been under for two years, we aren't much of a political party. We say we value loyalty and integrity, yet as a party we've shown neither.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Another ingrate shows his (lack of) gratitude for his big break into politics

Any "pop" that the Northup campaign hoped to get out of the announcement that former Fletcher administration Personnel Secretary Erwin Roberts was endorsing her instead of his old boss disappeared when, about the same time as Northup and the latest Frankfort Judas were appearing at a press conference, news began breaking that Tubby Smith was leaving UK.

Of course, the Democrat blogs and the liberal media have had a field day with Roberts' defection from the Fletcher camp, even in the face of "all Tubby, all the time" press coverage, but at the end of the day, what does it really amount to?

Roberts was a protege of Steve Pence, who pulled his own Judas act some weeks prior.

Hardly anyone outside Jefferson County had ever heard of Pence before Fletcher picked him to be his running mate. How many people even within Jefferson County had ever heard of Roberts before Fletcher appointed him a Cabinet secretary?

These two men owe their political exposure and viability to Ernie Fletcher, yet this is how they repay him.

Both Pence and Roberts have been particularly disingenuous in their recent attacks on Fletcher, but Roberts' conduct has been the more aggregious.

When high schoolers pledge their undying eternal love for one another, no one really believes it and therefore no one is surprised when they break up 8 months later. But when an intelligent adult expresses unqualified support in a resignation letter and then barely a year later does a 180, something stinks.

Roberts didn't have to pen glowing platitudes and compliments of Fletcher the man and Fletcher the governor in his resignation letter. All he had to do was write, "I hereby resign my appoinment as Secretary of the Personnel Cabinet effective two weeks forward from this date. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve in your administration." But Roberts went much, much further than that. The Conservative Edge has a copy of his resignation letter online and you can head over there and read it for yourself to see the lavish praise Roberts heaped on Fletcher as he departed.

Now Roberts comes back and says, in effect, "I didn't mean all that?" Excuse us while we say, "bullcrap."

This is the same Erwin Roberts whose investigation into the hiring situation showed that nothing improper took place in the Personnel Cabinet regarding the qualification of job candidates and their placement on merit registers.

Now, since individual agencies do their own hiring, Roberts couldn't speak to what may have happened within Transportation or Environmental & Public Protection, but he did state unequivocably and for the record that all candidates on merit registers sent to agencies to fill vacancies were qualified according to law and policy.

Roberts was critical of the pardons Fletcher issued. Surely he has realized that he was heading for an indictment himself and that pardon probably saved him thousands of dollars in legal fees. He was also critical of Fletcher agreeing to allow Stumbo to drop the indictment of the governor with prejudice. How stupid does he think Fletcher is?

We're betting that if Roberts is ever charged with a crime (under bogus cover, especially) and the prosecutor later decides to dismiss charges, we don't think Roberts will say, "No, I don't accept this, let's go to trial and I'll take my chances.'

When Roberts resigned as Personnel secretary, his name was prominently mentioned as a candidate for attorney general. This was before Greg Stumbo opted to run for lieutenant governor instead of for re-election. At the time it appeared that Roberts was going to try carry the GOP's standard into battle to avenge Stumbo's politically-motivated prosecution.

But now, we wouldn't vote for either Roberts or Pence for dogcatcher. They have proven themselves disloyal and unworthy of public service.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

On Tubby Smith's departure

Reports are swirling this afternoon that Tubby Smith will be leaving the University of Kentucky to become the new basketball coach at the University of Minnesota.

If true, this news saddens us.

Tubby Smith, although a Maryland native, exemplified everything that is good about the Commonwealth of Kentucky. He was accomplished, humble, talented and intelligent. He represented this state with dignity and class in everything he did, on and off the court. He won basketball games, and he did so the right way. He made his players go to class, there were no NCAA violations, and when there were off-the-court problems, he dealt with them.

Even though his record has been one of the best in the nation during his tenure at UK, it still wasn't good enough. Smith never had a losing season, never failed to win 20 games or get an NCAA bid, recorded a national championship and an undefeated conference season and won National Coach of the Year three times while in Lexington, and this year had his team in the top 10 percent of all of college basketball (judging from the Wildcats being one of the top 32 teams in the NCAA tournament out of more than 330 possible participants in Division I basketball). Yet because the team failed to win the conference division championship for two years straight and lost more than 10 games, it wasn't enough for the unrealistic expectations of most UK fans.

Quite honestly, Tubby Smith deserved better from Kentucky and UK fans. And again quite honestly, we are not sure that with the way fans have acted, that the state and the university deserved Tubby Smith. Smith was concerned with the University of Kentucky and not with himself, unlike his predecessor. Rick Pitino worried about Rick Pitino, first and foremost. Tubby Smith was concerned about the school and the state he represented.

Tubby will be a hard act to follow. It will be interesting to see what will happen to his successor if he doesn't meet the lofty expectations of the most rabid and vocal Cat fans.

This state is a better place for Tubby Smith having spent time here. Godspeed and God bless to Tubby and Donna as they depart. We are proud to have had you with us these past few years.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Still no takers to our challenge

In his hurried critique of the first Fletcher re-election campaign ad last week, Courier-Journal editor David Hawpe again dredged up allegations of state merit system employees being fired for political reasons.

That reminds us that so far, no one has yet been able to meet our challenge of naming one merit employee with status who was illegally fired due to politics.

Our challenge is still out there and we are still anxiously awaiting someone to post or e-mail with details of such a dismissal.

Remember, we want names, positions and details of the circumstances, not just generalities.

C'mon, Stumboites and Northupians. As much posturing and mouthing as you've been doing, surely you know someone. Surely you wouldn't repeat lies in an attempt to bring Gov. Fletcher down, now would you?

We're waiting.......

Stupid Northup tricks (as reported in Estill County paper)

From many indications, things aren't going well in Annieland.

Rumor has it that Northup is finding fundraising to be difficult. Her attacks on Gov. Fletcher aren't going over well at Lincoln Day dinners across the state. (We have heard from more than one source that at the Corbin dinner last weekend, one of her attack lines drew thunderous applause from the Fletcher contingent because what she thought was a weak point for Fletcher was actually a strong point.) And she still hasn't come up with much of a campaign message other than "Fletcher can't win in the fall so vote for me in the spring."

But one of the dumbest things Northup has said so far was reported last week in a central Kentucky weekly newspaper, the Citizen Voice & Times out of Estill County.

Reporter Rhonda Smyth wrote a column published on March 15, chronicling her recent encounter with Northup. We'll let Ms. Smyth's column speak for itself, but there was one quote that was definitely attention-getting:

"...I asked her why she didn’t come and speak with the other candidates at the Kentucky Press Association Convention in January. Her answer was 'I didn’t want to participate in a forum where I have to listen to what the Democrats have to say.'"

How stupid a thing was that to say?

FIrst of all, any Republican running in a statewide general election needs lots of votes from Democrats in order to win, unless a lot of Democrats just sit the election out. To dismiss the other party's concerns out of hand is a bit foolish, don'tcha think?

But to top it off, if Northup is lucky enough to win the primary, she is going to have to face one of those Democrats in the fall. She will be participating in forums with the Democrat nominee at Fancy Farm, on KET debates and any number of other events. Wouldn't it pay to know what the Democrat nominee's strategy is? How do they approach the task of speaking to a group? What policy positions do they enumerate? What public speaking weaknesses do they show that can be exploited?

There's a reason that basketball coaches scout their opponents. We're sure the basketball coach at North Laurel feels like he's going into enemy territory if he watches a game at South Laurel, but he's observing his upcoming opponent and taking notes, even if the game he's watching is in December and the two teams won't play until February. Seems to us to be logical for Northup to do the same thing -- evaluate her opponents -- at every opportunity.

For the record, Ms. Smyth admits she's a Democrat and predicts a Fletcher win in the primary, and she also notes that she personally found Northup's "I have no ideas so I'll just attack Ernie" strategy somewhat off-putting.

Her conclusion? "Big mistake for somebody who wants to serve all the people in BOTH parties as governor, don’t you think?"

Ms. Smyth, we are in total agreement. Catalog this as a Stupid Northup Trick.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Who is Pam Platt trying to fool?

Normally we try to stay away from national issues, which get hashed about over and over again on other blogs and in the mainstream press, but when the national issues intersect with the Bluegrass State, sometimes we want to comment.

And when the intersection point is something as off-base as a column in Sunday's Courier-Journal, we can't help ourselves.

One of the left's leading complaints is that the mainstream press didn't do its job as the nation prepared for Operation Iraqi Freedom. The moonbats claim, outrageously so, that the press allowed the Bush administration to take the nation to war without doing its job to question the plan.

Honestly, we've never understood this claim. In fact, our recollection is vastly different. We struggle to recall one significant news outlet that supported the military action. In fact, we recall editorialists and columnists saying we needed to give the sanctions more time to work, that Saddam Hussein posed no threat to America or our allies, blah blah blah.

But over the past few years, more and more press outlets have been flogging themselves for not being more anti-war in the beginning. This past weekend, Pam Platt of the C-J joined the "let's beat ourselves up" crowd.

Who's she kidding? It's not physically possible for the mainstream press to have been any more anti-war than they were in the months and weeks leading up to the commencement of "shock and awe."

"Where were the news media when it came to ferreting out the truth during the build-up to the Iraq war," Platt says she is often asked.

Well, we know. They were out there saying, "Don't do it, don't do it."

Why ANYONE would question where the press was is beyond us.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Fletcher ad gives Democrats another chance to show their hypocrisy

The first television ad of Gov. Fletcher's re-election campaign has been on the air for about five days now. It's playing to critical acclaim and to howls of protest from both the Northup camp and the liberal Democrats, which means it must be doing something right.

The responses from the other sides have been fun to watch. Northup's spin machine issued a press release attacking the claims of accomplishment in the latter portion of the ad, but the funny thing is the accomplishments in the ad were listed in only general terms which are true. It was a stretch for Northup's people to challenge the assertions in the ad, but challenge they did because it seems the only thing Northup can do is attack Fletcher since she has no platform of her own.

The Democrat meltdown on the loony left blogs was predictable, but obviously the ad struck a nerve with some of the state's leading liberals.

Courier-journal editor David Hawpe scrapped whatever he planned to write about for his Wednesday, March 14 semi-weekly column and rushed into print with a piece attacking the ad and Fletcher. Relying on the multitude of press clippings and leaks of prosecution evidence and the unsubstantiated claims made in the grand jury's final report, Hawpe scoffed at the notion that Fletcher was bullied by Greg Stumbo during the investigation and instead claims that Fletcher himself was the bully.

How nice it would be if we could only get one substantiated, verifiable example of a protected merit system employee being fired for political reasons. But to date not one shred of evidence that this ever happened has been made public.

While Hawpe's public spleen-venting was amusing, what has been even more entertaining is watching the Democrats once again prove what hypocrites they are.

We harken back to the rift between the Bruce Lunsford/Greg Stumbo ticket and several of Kentucky's labor union leaders. When some of those leaders stated that Stumbo had threatened them, the anti-Lunsford Democrats howled like dogs wailing at a passing ambulance. They thought this was absolutely terrible that Stumbo might use his position to harass, intimidate and threaten these folks. Some even wanted to stretch the bounds of credibility and turn those political threats into physical ones and demand law enforcement step in. (We guess they took those "stabbed in the back" comments literally.)

But that's par for the course. Anyone who has dealt with Stumbo knows that bullying and intimidation are his strong points. He uses them as political weapons the way Ann Coulter uses words to slice liberals into little chunks of spoiled meat. Stumbo has a long record of strong-arm tactics. Ask Travis Fritsch, the woman who bore an out-of-wedlock child with Stumbo. When Ms. Fritsch had the audacity to go to court to demand the back child support that legally belonged to her and her son, Stumbo retaliated by filing suit against her, claiming that her child support claims were meant to harm him politically.

So why are the Democrats, who have seen how Stumbo reacts when challenged by the likes of Charles Wells and Eddie Bowling and Travis Fritsch, suddenly aghast at the notion that Stumbo bullied Fletcher during the merit system investigation? Why does the visual image of schoolyard urchins (one of whom just might be a young Greg Stumbo, Fletcher's campaign manager noted with a figurative wink and nod) trouble them so?

During the investigation, Stumbo was a bully and he led a pack of bullies. Only this group of bullies was armed with subpoena power.

Just two weeks ago, many Democrats were up in arms over Stumbo's bullying tactics. Yet when presented dramatic visual imagery of it in the form of a campaign ad, they chafe at the inference.

Not only does the Fletcher ad help define Fletcher as a victim in the merit system investigation, it helps expose the Democrats (once again) as the hypocrites they are. That's a two-fer; an added bonus in our book.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Joe Whittle smoking Gatewood's stash? His stupid comments would indicate so

Has Joe Whittle raided Gatewood Galbraith's stash and fired up a joint or two?

From the sound of a comment he recently made to the Associated Press's Roger Alford, we certainly have reason to believe that's the case

In a story about the continued fallout from the GOP split, Whittle claims that he took great umbrage at Gov. Fletcher's issuance of pardons.

Whittle said he was repelled by Fletcher's issuance of pardons to everyone on his staff who had been or might later be indicted by the grand jury. Whittle said those pardons prevented Kentuckians from ever knowing the truth about the state hiring scandal.

"That really bothered me," he said.

Surely Whittle does not believe the truth would have ever come from an investigation directed by a Democrat political hack with partisan motivation and his own record of merit system violations, conducted by a top supporter and donor to Fletcher's opponent's campaign, and bolstered by a grand jury made up mostly of merit system employees and Democrats.

If he does, then quick, somebody make Whittle go pee in a cup so we can find out what he's been smoking.

For the record, we know the truth. Fletcher determined that several of his staff members made some mistakes in the hiring process and as a result, they were fired. However, he did not believe that their mistakes rose to the level of criminal activity, thus the pardons.

In light of the way that this state's Republicans are treating their incumbent governor, we are really starting to wonder if the GOP deserves to keep the governorship if this group succeeds in defeating Fletcher in the primary.

In the meantime, don't let Whittle behind the wheel of a vehicle anytime soon.

Stumbo admits investigation motivated by politics, mainstream press ignores this revelation

Lost in the recent dust-up between Kentucky's labor unions and the Bruce Lunsford-Greg Stumbo campaign was Stumbo all but admitting that his drive to prosecute Gov. Fletcher was motivated by the thoughts of political gain.

As usual, the state's mainstream media whiffed. Our friends at The Conservative Edge took note, but few others did. That is a sad commentary on the perceptiveness of our press and the depths to which the Fletcher-haters in this state will go to avoid the obvious.

Those of us with knowledge of the situation have realized that since the whole deal began nearly two years ago. Of course the Democrats denied that from the get-go and have continued to deny it, but there has simply been too much evidence, ignored by the mainstream press, to the contrary.

The partisan Democrats and the Fletcher haters and the newswriters and editorialists hung on every word uttered by the likes of Stumbo and his lackeys Scott Crawford-Sutherland and Pierce Whites, and treated the unconfirmed allegations written in the grand jury's final report as red-letter gospel. They never paused to think that just maybe, perhaps, possibly, there were underlying motives for what Stumbo was doing.

It has been pointed out time and again that the grand jury investigation was unprecedented in this state. Despite ample evidence of merit system violations by every Democrat governor since the state instituted its civil service program in 1960, no one was ever prosecuted. All allegations, even those admitted to by Paul Patton when he got involved in the promotion of a Vehicle Enforcement officer who got his mistress Tina Conner out of a speeding ticket, were pursued by the Personnel Board and the Executive Branch Ethics Commission after that body was created in the 1990s.

For the first indication of partisan motivation, look no further than the week in November 2003 when Fletcher was elected. In their quest to help find an opponent for Fletcher in 2007, the media began identifying potential rivals and asking them about entering a race four years hence. Stumbo's response was especially telling. He said that he would not enter the race unless, and we quote the Prick from Prestonsburg, Fletcher became "wildly unpopular."

How ironic that the merit system investigation caused Fletcher's popularity and approval ratings to plunge. Never mind that Stumbo is only running for lieutenant governor on someone else's ticket instead of the top spot himself. He turned his prediction into a self-fulfilling prophecy through the investigation.

The press and Fletcher's critics have glossed over Crawford-Sutherland's close ties to Fletcher's 2003 victim Ben Chandler. They have also not pursued the composition of the special grand jury that indicted Fletcher and several of his administration's staffers. Had they done even the most rudimentary of investigations, they'd have learned that the grand jury was made up primarily of Democrats and state merit employees, two groups hostile to Fletcher in the first place.

So there is plenty of circumstantial evidence so far to prove that the investigation and indictments were motivated by politics and not by facts. But the icing on the cake came a couple of weeks ago, when the state's labor leaders began feuding with Lunsford and Stumbo.

In a story about reports that Stumbo had made political threats to Charles Wells, director of the Kentucky Association of State Employees, the Lexington Herald-Leader quoted Stumbo as saying that he expected the state employees' group to support him because he had pursued the merit system investigation.

As we noted, The Conservative Edge was all over this but hardly anyone else took notice.

What more evidence does one need to come to the conclusion that Stumbo ran with the probe to curry favor with the state workers voting bloc? That's as much of an outright admission that you're going to get!

Of course, we don't expect much from the Stumbo-lovers and Fletcher-haters that populate the press and the stark raving loony Democrat blogosphere. But the truth is out there if anyone wants to take notice.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Don't like Fletcher's re-election campaign? Thank the Democrats

A fine team, Kentucky Democrats and the anti-Fletcher faction of the Republican Party make.

We have no doubt they trade notes and game plans, much the same way Southeastern Conference basketball teams trade tapes if one of the member schools faces an opponent another SEC school played during the season in the NCAA tournament.

The "theme for the week" this time around seems to be a shared complaint about Fletcher using the power of his incumbency to travel the state campaigning and allegedly buying votes and support from local officials through project awards.

This is the first time this scenario has played out since Kentucky approved gubernatorial succession, in large part because Republicans failed to find and field a credible candidate when Paul Patton ran for a second term.

Had Larry Forgy opted for another shot at Pikeville Paul, who here doesn't think the incumbent wouldn't have been criss-crossing the Commonwealth, passing out those oversized checks and posing for the photos taken by community newspaper editors who turn a gubernatorial visit into the year's biggest news story on their front pages?

We opposed gubernatorial succession when the constitutional amendment was voted on many years ago for precisely this reason. We felt that the public good would be better served if the governor knew going in that he or she would have only a four-year period in office, wouldn't be able to run for a successive term, and thus would be more interested in public projects than re-election favors. If that governor wanted another shift at the helm, then in four years he or she could go back before the voters and they could pass judgment on the first term at that time.

But these are the rules of the game as dictated by the Democrats, who had control of both chambers of the General Assembly at the time of the amendment's passage as well as a chokehold on voter registration numbers.

We don't like the designated hitter and we don't like the 35-second shot clock, but that's the way those games are played now and if you want to win, you have to adapt to the rules. Ditto for gubernatorial succession. We can't say we're wild about it, but it's here and if Ernie Fletcher wants to win a second term, he is obligated to work under those guidelines. Not to do so -- to yield the power of incumbency when you have rivals from both parties trying to defeat you -- would be foolish.

So the next time we hear a Democrat complain about this, our answer is, "It's your dog, You feed it and clean up after it." And to Republicans who are supporting Anne Northup (the biggest complainers about Fletcher's campaign tactics) we would say, "If she had an opponent in the primary who was running her down the way she's doing Fletcher, she'd be doing the same thing."

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Closed societies in Bluegrass blogging

As one might expect from well informed and highly opinionated Kentuckians such as ourselves, we read several sources of news and commentary from around the Bluegrass State every day. That includes the Herald-Leader and the Courier-Journal, selected stories in several other papers, and the major conservative and liberal blogs. We want to know what's going on and what people are saying and thinking about the issues of the day.

We have noticed a troubling trend on the left side of the Kentucky blogging aisle.

While the conservative and Republican blogs seem to have a lot of interaction, with Fletcher supporters posting on Northup-leaning blogs and vice versa, and with occasional liberal posters participating to spice things up, the Democrat factions have coalesced. You'll rarely see a conservative poster on Bluegrass Report these days, and the only posters seem to be the hardcore lefties who support Jonathan Miller (the preferred candidate of Mark Nickolas). The hatred shown to those who don't toe Nickolas' line is stunningly amazing. The number of dissenting views posted there has decreased tremendously since the governor's race began in earnest. The usual suspects there ridicule and make fun of conservative blogs and even other Democrat blogs, such as the upstart Rural Democrat that supports Steve Beshear's candidacy and doesn't have such a liberal edge to its opinions. Those who frequent that blog don't post very much on Bluegrass Report, either.

Liberals usually pride themselves on their open-mindedness, so we have to chuckle at the way this state's Democrat blogosphere has become so polarized. It's almost as if they want to have their own private parties where their own opinions can be continually reinforced and they want to hear nothing contradictory that might actually force them to change their minds or consider another alternative.

This is a perfect example of the philosophical differences between most Kentucky Democrats and their national counterparts. A small but vocal group of extreme leftist D's are trying to convince their party mates to abandon Kentucky values for those of, say, Massachusetts or San Francisco.

We'll give you a hint, Bluegrass Report lemmings. We don't see it happening anytime soon.

The Republican gubernatorial primary is going to be a bitter one (unnecessarily so, in our opinion, because the challengers to the incumbent should have been out reinforcing the support for him instead of waiting for him to be tripped by a Democrat so they could trample him as he tries to get back on his feet) but at the end of the day, we suspect the varous factions in the GOP will come together a lot better than will the Democrat camps.

In the meantime, we are thrilled that the Democrats, especially the uber-liberals, remain closed minded and ignorant. Just continue having your self-contgratulatory love fests and the rest of us will be glad to debate the issues with those who disagree with our points of view.

Day 2 of our challenge -- still no responses

We're about 24 hours into our challenge for any Democrat -- or anyone, for that matter -- to give us the name of any state employee covered by merit system protections who was illegally fired by the Fletcher administration. We will extend that challenge to identifying anyone who was illegally involuntarily demoted.

A commenter yesterday asked why we did not extend that challenge to the Northup campaign. Well, for one thing, Northup has not been talking about possible merit system violations per se, but instead her focus has been about the fallout from the investigation.

And for another, Northup hasn't been on or PolWatchers whining and crying about how poorly the Fletcher administration has treated those intelligent, devoted, dedicated career state employees the way the Democrats have.

Democrats are continually insisting that there are dozens of state merit employees who were fired or forced out by this administration. We deny that this has occurred, since we have seen no specific evidence that it has, and we are offering them an opportunity to prove otherwise.

So if anyone can provide specific information -- names, positions and agencies -- of people who were illegally fired, we'd love to hear it. But we aren't holding our breaths that we will be given any proof.

Until we do get proof, we have to operate on the assumption that these claims are simply more of the outrageous lies that Democrats can't help telling about Republicans.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A challenge to the Democrats -- give names of those improperly fired in state government

For the past two years, Democrats have been complaining about the number of lives and careers of state government merit system employees that have been ruined by the Fletcher administration.

In Kentucky's liberal blogosphere, comments have abounded that the Fletcherites played fast and loose with people's lives and livelihoods. If we had a nickel for every time someone complained about all the illegal firings in state government over the past three years, we could mount a heck of a campaign ourselves and probably could outspend Bruce Lunsford.

There's one problem with these assertions. There's no proof.

Everytime a conservative faces the howling tides of ignorance that populate and post on the Democrat and mainstream media blogs and asks for some proof, he or she is laughed at and ridiculed and is given some lame excuse as to why no proof will be forthcoming.

So we are issuing a challenge to these know-it-alls to put their money where their keyboards are.

We defy anyone to provide the name of any state merit system employee with status (meaning not on probation) who has been illegally fired by the Fletcher administration. You can do so by posting a reply or by e-mailing your information to

Don't give us the "I know someone" crap, either. We want names and positions and agencies.

However, we don't think anyone will be able to provide any names because we don't think this happened. After all, no indictments were issued for personnel actions involving firings of merit system personnel who were off probation and thus protected by state law. No fired employees have come forward to sing their songs to the state's liberal newspapers, who of course would be more than happy to spread more anti-Fletcher propaganda.

So, Democrats, there's your challenge. Prove that your blog comments aren't despicable lies. Back up your generic claims with cold hard facts. We don't think you can.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Time to do away with gubernatorial slates?

We really can't remember what the rationale was for putting the candidates for governor and lieutenant governor together on a slate, back when that was done in the 1990s. The slate requirement was part of a sweeping election reform effort, though, that also included the now-defunct partial public financing of gubernatorial campaigns, also known as welfare for politicians.

We seem to recall, though, that it was seen as an effort to make sure that the governor and lieutenant governor were on the same page. After all, when Brereton Jones was governor, he didn't get along all that well with Paul Patton, who was lieutenant during that time. And Jones, during his term as LG, didn't jibe with Gov. Wallace Wilkinson.

We also seem to recall that the antics of Thelma Stovall, who was LG under Julian Carroll, played a part in the decision as well. Stovall, you'll recall, once used her powers as acting governor when Carroll was out of state to call a special session of the legislature.

And during Louie Nunn's administration, the Republican governor had a Democrat LG in Wendell Ford.

If the slate requirement was supposed to ensure harmony between the state's top two officials, it hasn't worked out well. Gov. Paul Patton and Lt. Gov. Steve Henry, the first slate elected to office under the new arrangement, had their well-publicized difficulties.

And now we have Lt. Gov. Steve Pence's abandonment of his boss, Gov. Ernie Fletcher.

If more evidence that the slate idea is a flop is needed, then look at the new rules for gubernatorial elections. Candidates can't start campaigning and raising money until they pick a running mate. When Pence decided last year not to run again with Fletcher this time around, Fletcher had to return the money given to Fletcher-Pence and couldn't start raising money again until he chose Robbie Rudolph to run with him in '07. On the Democrat side, Henry got a late start in the race because he wasn't able to secure a running mate (Renee True) until just before the deadline.

There has been a move afoot to allow the party nominees to wait until after the primary to pick a running mate, but we think a better idea would be to eliminate the slate requirement altogether and go back to separate elections for governor and lieutenant governor. And we'd give the lieutenant governor some meaningful duties while we were at it, such as mandating that he or she serve as secretary of the governor's executive cabinet or something similar.

That, at least, would give some credence to Pence's statements, in light of the recent calls for his resignation, that he was elected by the people to serve out his term.

We would remind Pence that a very small percentage of voters took the LG candidate into consideration when they pulled the lever for Ernie Fletcher in 2003, and we would further remind him that he wasn't even Fletcher's first choice for a running mate.

But this really isn't about Pence. It's about restoring some legitimacy to the LG's position and making it relevant and meaningful. The lieutenant governor should either be loyal to the governor or independent of the governor. As it is now, the position is neither.