Friday, April 27, 2007

Another stupid Northup trick

On his site, former Fletcher spokesman Brett Hall is reporting a confrontation between Anne Northup and State Sen. Robert Stivers that took place earlier this week in Stivers' hometown of Manchester.

(The Lexington Herald-Leader has a slightly different take penned by Ryan Alessi in Friday's edition.)

Hall says that Northup threatened Stivers, a strong Ernie Fletcher supporter, with a recruited primary opponent. He further reports that Stivers called Senate President David Williams, who in turn called a Mitch McConnell operative who's a strong Northup supporter, and that conversation was followed in short order by a mea culpa call from Northup to Stivers.

If this really happened, and we have no reason to believe that it didn't go down as Hall described it, Northup may have just shot herself in the foot in a staunchly Republican area of the state.

Stivers represents the counties of Knox, Clay, Owsley, Lee, Wolfe, Morgan and Magoffin. The first four are part of the so-called "old 5th" that is the most heavily GOP region of Kentucky. Wolfe remains a Democrat stronghold, but Republicans are on the rise in Morgan and Magoffin. Incidentally, Ernie Fletcher's father spent his childhood in Magoffin County and the governor still has plenty of relatives there.

Stivers is very highly thought of in his district and it would be very hard to recruit a challenger who could beat him. Stivers is active in community affairs in most all of his counties. Northup is picking on the wrong person if she's trying to pick a fight with him.

Fundraising numbers posted on Hall's site also show that this is Fletcher country. Northup has received contributions from only two of the counties in Stivers' district, $3,750 in Knox and $350 in Morgan. We have it on good authority that when Fletcher recently attended a public event in one of the smaller counties in Stivers' district, one in which no corresponding fund-raiser was planned, he went home with a similar amount for his campaign. Fletcher is very popular in this region and many loyal Republicans view Northup with disdain and outright dislike for challenging the incumbent instead of throwing her full support behind him.

This is the second really dumb thing Northup has done in the last month or so. Remember this report in which Northup explained her no-show at the Kentucky Press Association's candidate forum by saying she didn't want share the stage with the Democrat candidates and have to listen to what they had to say? That wasn't exactly the brightest thing to say in a state where Democratic registration still outpaces GOP registration.

Now she threatens to "primary" a very popular state senator who happens to support the incumbent governor? Not real bright.

Of course it'll be hard for Northup to recruit an opponent for Stivers from her position as an ex-Member of Congress and failed gubernatorial candidate, which is what she'll be after May 22. And it's highly possible her threat to Stivers will be a key reason why she'll lose next month.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Stumbo opens mouth and his brain falls out

Practically since he's been in office, Attorney General Greg Stumbo has demonstrated his lack of professionalism at every opportunity.

No real prosecutor would have handled the merit system investigation the way he did. Most prosecutors prefer to try the case in court, not in the press, but Stumbo did exactly the opposite. He wasn't interested in getting a criminal conviction against anyone in the Fletcher administration; he merely wanted to inflict the most political damage possible. His office's constant leaks to the press of anything that looked bad on Ernie Fletcher or his government had to give real, professional, credible prosecutors indigestion.

As we have documented here previously, the statewide media have trouble with the terminology they use to describe the agreed court order that dismissed misdemeanor charges against Fletcher with prejudice. The Herald-Leader and the Courier-Journal have both called that order a "plea deal" or "plea bargain" when this is absolutely incorrect. Fletcher pleaded not guilty from the start and never wavered from that assertion.

Proving he knows about as much as prosecuting criminals as Secretariat did, Stumbo himself has referred to the agreement as "a plea bargain."

One shouldn't be surprised when the Herald-Leader turns to Greg Stumbo to get reaction to a Fletcher campaign radio ad that proactively addresses the merit system investigation. After all, stories by Jack Brammer and Ryan Alessi the past couple of weeks have shown that the Herald-Leader clearly is unhappy that Fletcher appears to be cruising toward renomination and they're ramping up their anti-Fletcher stories as a result.

Maybe we should be grateful in this instance, though, because this story gave Stumbo an opportunity to show his incompetence, and he readily obliged.

Stumbo also said that "to say the charges were dropped is also a misquote."

Hey Greg -- do you even know what "dismissed with prejudice" means? We didn't think you did.

Stumbo also said that "you have to consider the source" in reference to the ad. Well, that's what we do when we ponder anything you say. After all, if it comes down to an integrity contest between you and Ernie Fletcher, the governor will win hands-down every time.

Fletcher's never-changing contention was that some staff members made mistakes regarding hiring practices but there was never any criminal intent. When Fletcher determined the depth of those mistakes, the offending staff members were fired, which was a completely proper reaction.

Stumbo obviously doesn't know how to keep a case from being tried in the press, doesn't know what a plea bargain is and doesn't understand the concept of "dismissed with prejudice," and he proved all of that when he gobbled up Brammer's invitation to dicuss the new Fletcher radio ad.

That squishy sound you heard was Stumbo's well-pickled brain hitting the ground when he opened his mouth.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Time for McConnell to be dethroned?

We would never advocate for the defeat of Mitch McConnell as he defends his Senate seat. He has achieved a leadership position that can only benefit the Bluegrass State, and we would never encourage anyone within the party to run against him in the primary.

However, we are coming to the conclusion that it's time for McConnell's reign as the godfather of Republican politics in Kentucky to come to an end. And it's our observation that many other Republicans out in the state are coming to the same realization as they chafe under McConnell's de-facto leadership of the party.

McConnell's acts during the Ernie Fletcher gubernatorial administration have been deplorable. Fletcher enjoyed McConnell's unabashed support in 2003 and was widely acknowledged to be his chosen candidate. McConnell enjoyed a prominent place on the stage in Lexington on that November evening in 2003 when Fletcher celebrated his milestone victory.

But when Fletcher came under attack from the Democrats, McConnell vanished. Given countless opportunities to denounce Fletcher's Democrat critics, McConnell stayed silent. Never was heard a disparaging word against Greg Stumbo. With just a few well-timed and sufficiently sarcastic comments, the Godfather could have cut the legs out from under Stumbo.

As time went on, not only did McConnell stay silent, but it became apparent he was going to support a challenge to the incumbency. Can there be any doubt that McConnell is behind the candidacy of Anne Northup?

We find it ironic that McConnell has recently been promoting a "unity rally" for Republicans after the gubernatorial primary is over. It is probably not coincidental that this call for unity came after Fletcher's strength began to solidify and he showed signs of pulling away from Northup in pre-election polling.

We believe the disloyal and disgusting way in which McConnell has treated his own party's governor and the man he supported and was suppposedly friends with would be cause enough for him to lose his position as titular head of the GOP, but that belief is bolstered by McConnell's actions in the 1999 governor's race.

Back then, Paul Patton was the first Kentucky governor to run for re-election since Kentuckians approved a constitutional amendment allowing gubernatorial succession. Patton was perceived to be strong, but he had a few glaring weaknesses that the right GOP candidate could have exploited. Unfortunately, the Republicans failed to field a credible candidate and the party gave absolutely no support to Peppy Martin, the brave woman who filed and ran.

It was widely believed that McConnell and Patton had brokered a deal; that Patton had agreed not to challenge McConnell for the Senate seat in 2002 if in turn McConnell agreed not to recruit a credible GOP candidate to run against Patton. Of course that left poor old Jim Bunning exposed to a possible Senate run by Patton in 2004, one year after Patton left office as governor, but the Tina Conner sex scandal torpedoed Patton's political career and got McConnell off the hook for that one.

No concrete proof of such a McConnell-Patton deal ever emerged, but there's plenty of anectodal evidence to support such a theory. The lack of a serious challenge to Patton angered a lot of Republicans across the state, but most of them deferred to McConnell out of respect.

Many of these same Republican loyalists out in the state aren't in such a forgiving mood this time. They're angry at Greg Stumbo and the Democrats for what happened to Fletcher, and they're angry at McConnell and this state's leading Republicans for surrendering and not firing a shot in Fletcher's defense.

It could be time for Hal Rogers to step up. It's widely known that McConnell and Rogers don't get along, partly because of party control issues. Rogers is the dean of Kentucky's federal delegation with four more years of service than McConnell has. Rogers has an ego the size of Lake Cumberland (at summer pool, not the lower level we're seeing this year) and although he is not publicly taking sides in the Fletcher-Northup battle, his staff members and his loyalists are firmly in the Fletcher camp, and they don't breathe without clearing it through Hal.

Mitch McConnell deserves credit for the ascention of the Republican Party to serious status in Kentucky, but it's obvious that he hasn't acted in the party's best interests at all times. His failure to quickly and forcefully react to the Democrat attacks on Gov. Fletcher, and his actions since then, are prime evidence.

It's time for McConnell's reign to end. Let's hand the reins of the state GOP to someone else with vision and determination and most importantly, a sense of loyalty.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Here we go again

The Kentucky Department of Education has released the names of the three finalists to be the state's next education commissioner. Guess what? They're all from outside the state.

After the passage of KERA and under the leadership of the first appointed commissioner, Tom Boysen, Kentucky's schools became a great liberal educational laboratory and our students were the guinea pigs and lab rats.

Surely there was a talented educator from inside the Bluegrass State that could lead the commonwealth's public school system without perpetuating the KERA disaster.

Even though we agree with Melinda Wheeler's desire to eliminate the state treasurer as an elected position, along with most of the constitutional offices, we wonder if it isn't time to go back to electing our chief school leader. At least that way we'd get a Kentuckian instead of someone who will play around with our kids' schooling.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Well, we accomplished one thing, at least...

We don't go around promoting or spamming our blog or its contents on other blogs. We figure we'll just put the truth out there and let people find their way to it if they are so inclined.

One of the truths we have repeated with frequency is that the entire investigation into the Fletcher administraton's hiring practices was bogus on several fronts. It was overkill, it was unprecedented, it was politically motivated, it bypassed the established protocol and past practices for dealing with this type of accusation, and it was not conducted by unbiased or disinterested parties with pure motives. That extends all the way from the person who originally blew the whistle, to those who prosecuted the case, and to the members of the grand jury that issued the indictments.

Mainstream media have discussed Greg Stumbo at length because he is a career politician, and they have at least mentioned Scott Crawford-Sutherland's ties to 2003 Fletcher opponent Ben Chandler, but they have completely glossed over Doug Doerting and the 12 members of the grand jury. The media would have us to believe that Doerting was merely a dedicated and loyal employee interested in seeing the right thing done, and the members of the grand jury as 12 "ordinary Kentuckians" who reviewed all the evidence and came to a noble decision when it came down to indicting the governor and members of his staff.

We had to read David Hawpe use that phrase to describe the grand jury today, and quite frankly, if we hear that term used too many more times we may vomit. There was nothing ordinary about the composition of that grand jury.

We have knowledge that the majority of the grand jury's members were registered Democrats. Who were the alleged victims in this whole deal? Yep, Democrats. We also know there were several merit system employees on that panel, and goodness knows that merit employees as a group have not been supportive of this administration. They have been insubordinate and often downright mutinous.

With a few simple open records requests and some investigation, the press could very easily have done an investigation into the grand jury and even if they weren't able to discern motives, they could have simply put the truth out there and let the public draw its own conclusions.

Given just one name -- that of the panel's forewoman -- we were able to find out enough information about her to find out that she missed out on about $12,000 over the past four years because she didn't get the traditional 5 percent annual raise.

Anyone who says grand juries can't be influenced is delusional. We know of an instance where a county judge was indicted simply because he refused to blacktop a private driveway belonging to a local activist of the opposite party. She had influence with the sitting grand jury in that county at that time, and she was able to prod the grand jury into indicting the county judge on a bogus charge, at the same time that a similar charge against someone else in Central Kentucky was being dismissed in a very high profile case. (Think "Watergate" and see if a name and the incident doesn't come back to you).

But we digress. As we said, we don't spam our little blog, we just put the truth out there and trust that people will find their way to it. Apparently someone did. After we posted the information about Rachel Auxier last week, someone obviously read it and raised the issue on the Herald-Leader's Pol Watchers blog. (It wasn't us, we promise).

And while that didn't and won't translate into a Herald-Leader investigative report, at least it puts that information in front of the eyes of John Stamper and the other Herald-Leader reporters. Now they will know it and they will know that other people know it too. We have at least made them aware that this is a legitimate issue in the minds of many Kentuckians who question the whole merit system persection of Ernie Fletcher.

If Fletcher does lose, perhaps the Doertings, Auxiers, Stumbos, Crawford-Sutherlands and the Herald-Leader and Courier-Journal staffs can all get together and have one big victory party, for they will have succeeded in what they set out to do.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Courier-journal makes the same error Herald-Leader corrected

Remember this post?

In case you don't, we called the Herald-Leader to task for using the term "plea deal" to describe the order dismissing misdemeanor charges against Gov. Fletcher.

After The Conservative Edge picked up on this, the H-L corrected their error.

Well, yesterday the Courier-Journal made the same error in this editorial:

"He basically reneged on all that he had admitted just a few months ago in the plea deal that allowed him to escape indictment without trial."

Guys and gals, it is NOT a plea deal. Fletcher pleaded not guilty shortly after first being indicted and never wavered from that assertion. There was no "plea deal."

Will the C-J have the courage to apologize for the same glaring error that another media outlet --its main competitor -- made and apologized for?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Portrait of an "average Kentuckian"

We're thinking of a person who lives in Franklin County. She is a registered Democrat. She is a state merit system employee. She earns an annual salary of $78,228 as of last year.

Any idea who this "average Kentuckian" is?

It's Rachel Auxier, the forewoman of the special Franklin County grand jury that returned the indictments against Gov. Ernie Fletcher and others in his administration in the merit system investigation.

Hmmm. Merit employee and registered Democrat. Any coincidences there?

Well, try this on for size. Under the Fletcher administration, state employees have not received their traditional 5 percent annual raises. This decision cost Ms. Auxier nearly $4,000 last year. Is it possible that the loss of four large would motivate someone to seek revenge?

We put the term "average Kentuckian" in quotes because that's the phrase Anne Northup used in describing the grand jury. We have long argued that there was nothing "average" about that grand jury, which was made up primarily of the two groups (registered Democrats and merit employees) predisposed to dislike the governor.

It's nice to know that an annual salary of 80 grand is now considered "average" for this state, isn't it?

At any rate, this tidbit of information about the leader of the grand jury is definitely not something you'll hear from the mainstream press, which has had its own anti-Fletcher agenda since his term began.

If only the press would do its job and investigate the investigation, it would become much clearer just how bogus the whole thing was.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The question the Northupians won't answer

We find it oddly telling that there's one question floating around out there in cyberspace that the Anne Northup supporters -- particularly those Benedict Arnolds who supported Ernie Fletcher four years ago -- refuse to answer.

So we'll ask it again.

Let's assume, for the sake of this hypothetical, that Northup is elected governor this fall.

Let's also assume that Crit Luallen is re-elected auditor (quite likely, we sadly note, given our like for Linda Greenwell).

Let's further assume that Jack Conway is elected attorney general. That's also quite possible.

Now, we know that Luallen is a Democrat stalwart who may have designs on the governor's office at some point in the future, especially if her health stabilizes.

Conway is an old political enemy of Northup's, having been one in her trail of victims for the 3rd District congressional seat. He'll have a score to settle, for sure.

The probability approaches 100 percent that Luallen, and especially Conway, will launch investigations of Northup in much the same way that Greg Stumbo did of Ernie Fletcher.

So our question to the Northupians is this: When the investigations begin, will you stand behind your governor, or will you bail at the first sign of rough waters like you did with Fletcher?

Monday, April 09, 2007

Greg Stumbo comments on his merit system investigation

"Hard-working Kentuckians are the victims when powerful people abuse their authority."
Lexington Herald-Leader, March 29,2007

Maybe he didn't realize he was talking about himself, but he certainly was.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Reckless accusations from Galbraith's running mate

We don't tend to pay too much attention to the candidacy of Gatewood Galbraith, perennial office-seeker who's trying again this year to be governor. He's a gifted orator; probably the best that either party has to offer, but he marginalized himself the first time he ever ran for governor with his Peter Tosh-inspired ("Legalize It!") platform. No matter what other ideas he may have to offer, and sometimes he has some good ones, he'll forever be known as the pro-dope candidate. Even though he's backed off that stance and now only openly advocates the medicinal use of marijuana, his main campaign platform of his first-ever statewide race willl forever taint him in the eyes of many voters.

His campaign this time around is noteworthy for a couple of reasons, though. First is that his polling numbers are on the same level as State Treasurer Jonathan Miller, considered a major and legitimate candidate by most. The fact that a fringe candidate with libertarian leanings has the same level of support among the Democrats as the most liberal (or "progressive," if you will) candidate is a curious indicator of the state of the Democratic Party in the Bluegrass.

But the second and more troubling reason that Galbraith's candidacy needs to be examined is because of comments recently made by his running mate, Mark Wireman.

Wireman recently retired from his job as an engineer with the Transportation Cabinet's Department of Highways district office in Jackson in order to run with Galbraith. State law prohibits merit system employees from running for partisan office; they must quit their jobs before they file for office. In campaign appearances, Wireman has been saying that he knows of incidents where highway contractors have intentionally done shoddy work so they could come back later and get another contract to do the work over. He has not mentioned specific projects to our knowlege, but he has talked about paving projects in general, alleging that the pavers spread the asphalt too thin so potholes would develop and the road would have to be resurfaced sooner than normal.

It occurs to us that if Wireman had knowledge of this alleged practice while working for the Transportation Cabinet, he should have reported it to his superiors, the Cabinet's inspector general or law enforcement authorities. If he knew about this and didn't report it, he's just as guilty of waste, fraud and abuse as any contractors who may have done this or any state employees who may have overlooked said alleged poor work when they inspected or supervised these contracted jobs. And if he did report it and those reports went nowhere, he owes it to the taxpayers to go public with his details so they can demand an investigation.

As it stands now, it appears that Wireman is either making unsubstantiated allegations to score political points, or he's complicit in defrauding the state. Someone needs to call the Galbraith-Wireman ticket out on this matter.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

An unholy alliance

No, we're not talking about the marriages of convenience between bootleggers and ministerial associations that occur in small towns all across Kentucky every time a wet-dry local option issue comes up for a public vote.

We're talking about the union between Tokyo Mark Nickolas (, the Anne Northup campaign, and the Northup supporters who infest the Kentucky conservative blog network.

All seem to be on a mission to see Ernie Fletcher defeated in next month's primary election -- and this despite the fact that Nickolas and his Kool-Aide drinking lemmings who participate in the daily patting-each-other-on-the-back circle jerk sessions on that blog seem to think Northup will be harder to defeat in the fall.

There have been reports of a pow-wow between Nickolas and Northup's press secretary, ex-WKYT-TV reporter Barry Peel. Why anyone associated with Northup would have anything other than obscenities to say to Nickolas, who bashed Northup and praised John Yarmuth at every opportunity last fall, is beyond comprehension.

When state unemployment figures came out earlier this week, Nickolas took a look at them and noticed that things haven't gone as well as could be hoped for in some of the more rural Republican counties in the state. He basically invited Northup's campaign and her supporters to use his "research" and sure enough, the Northup-lovin' Fletcher-hatin' bloggers (and you know who you are) took him up on it. They lapped up Nickolas' posting like kittens after a saucer of milk.

We have our doubts that Nickolas could find Owsley County or Butler County on a map, and we'd be highly suprised if he's ever been in any of the counties he singled out for analysis. It's definite, though, that he doesn't know much about those individual locales.

Most of them are very isolated and cut off from good highway access to the rest of the state. Only one (Rockcastle) has an interstate and only one (Butler) has a four-lane parkway. Many of these counties have a small local property tax base because so much of the land is owned by the federal government in the form of the Daniel Boone National Forest.

And there are extenuating circumstances involved with some of the counties. Mid-South Electronics operated a factory in Jackson County that employed a large number of people from that county as well as neighboring Owsley and Clay counties. That factory burned and a large number of employees were laid off. Not everyone was recalled when the factory began operating in a temporary facility, and that arrangement didn't work out well so the company severely curtailed its operations, resulting in even more layoffs.

In addition, in a lot of these counties, the largest employer is the county board of education. Small rural communities are losing population, and as a result school enrollment is declining. When that happens, school boards are forced to cut back on staff. Young non-tenured teachers and classified staff are often not rehired from one year to the next.

And in a community with a small population, even the loss of as few as half-a-dozen jobs can move the unemployment percentage a significant amount.

The types of things needed to increase employment numbers in communities like these can't be done overnight. The Tennessee border counties listed (Monroe, Cumberland and Clinton) suffer from extreme isolation and the highway projects designed to connect them to the rest of the state have languished in previous administrations. The Fletcher administration has moved forward on major north-south highways such as KY 163 (Tompkinsville to Edmonton), KY 61 (Burkesville to Columbia) and US 127 (Albany to Jamestown-Russell Springs) but it takes legislative cooperation to move them from paper-only design projects to actual construction. After years of neglect by the Patton and Jones administrations, the Fletcher administration is finally moving forward on the highway project that will link Jackson and Owsley counties to I-75.

We don't know what the Northupians think they'll gain from striking a deal with the devil (Nickolas). Surely they don't think he'll support her if his preferred candidate, Jonathan Miller, doesn't win the Democratic nomination. After all, Nickolas has been blasting Bruce Lunsford for his party disloyalty in 2003. Surely Nickolas wouldn't prove himself to be a hypocrite on this issue by ripping a Democrat for not supporting the party's nominee four years ago, and then turning around and not supporting the nominee this year.

At any rate, it's fun to watch Nickolas spout off about subjects of which he knows little, and the Fletcher-hating Northupians accepting Nickolas' ill-informed analysis as gospel truth.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Right comment, wrong candidate

When Ben Chandler filed for the special election to fill the seat in Congress vacated by Ernie Fletcher, Mitch McConnell made the comment that the day Chandler filed would be his best day and that it would all be downhill from there.

Unfortunately for Kentucky, it didn't work out that way. Chandler won both the special and the regular elections.

But it appears that perhaps McConnell was speaking of Anne Northup instead of Ben Chandler. Ever since Northup declared her candidacy for governor, things have gone south.

She's having trouble raising funds. Her campaign speeches are going over like Keith Moon talking to Bonham, Page, Plant and Jones. And now she's losing ground to Ernie Fletcher in the polls.

Northup must've thought Republicans would buy her "Fletcher can't win" manure. Six weeks is an eternity in politics, but from here it looks like Annie and her backers made a serious miscalculation -- almost McConnellian in nature. If Northup continues to lose friends and influence people to dislike her, we suspect that Fletcher will top the 50 percent mark in a three-way primary and he'll come out of the primary in very good shape against a highly flawed Democrat opponent.