Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Steve Beshear speaks with forked tongue

All the reviews are in from the political bloviating at Fancy Farm, and the judgments of who won and who lost are predictably breaking down along partisan boundaries. The mainstream press gave Ernie Fletcher credit for some of his lines and comments, but are basically hailing (predictably) Steve Beshear as the winner of the unofficial oratory contest.

They particularly liked his comment about following the law, and how it would be nice for a change for Kentucky to have a governor who followed the law. His comment came in response to Fletcher's remark that Beshear played a key role in the removal of the 10 Commandments from Kentucky public school classrooms. Beshear said he was simply following the law.

We have looked and we don't see any requirement that a STATE attorney general enforce a FEDERAL court decision, but that's beside the point.

Beshear certainly turned a blind eye to the law when he ignored the Brown administration's violation of merit system laws in the dismissal of several employees shortly after he took office in 1979. After all, Beshear served as attorney general during Brown's term as governor, and it was no secret across the state that the fired employees were taking their grievances to the state Personnel Board and to court.

If people out in the state knew about the situation, it couldn't have been unknown in Frankfort. It defies logic to think that Beshear did not know of the situation. His failure to act constitutes neglect of his duties as attorney general.

There are significant differences between the personnel decisions in the current Fletcher administration and what happened in the Brown administration. The Fletcherites were accused of using political favoritism in making decisions on whom to hire for vacant positions. Only one questioned personnel decision involved the dismissal of an existing employee, and he was on probation and subject to dismissal at any time for any reason, or no reason at all. The Personnel Board ruled that he was let go for political reasons, in the process ignoring testimony from Transportation Secretary Bill Nighbert that there were legitimate reasons for letting him go.

In contrast, the Brown administration terminated merit employees "with status," meaning they were off probation and under the full protection of the merit system laws.

In recent days participants on other blogs have begun reciting a litany of other misdeeds committed by Gov. Brown and ignored by AG Beshear. They even mentioned The Bluegrass Conspiracy, a book which chronicled the sordid activities of a number of Central Kentucky folks and one which hits home to one member of this blogging collaboration because of a relative who figured prominently in the book.

So when Beshear speaks of obeying the law and having a governor who obeyed the law, it's fair to ask him what's changed since his 1979-83 term as attorney general. He certainly wasn't interested in enforcing the same laws back then that he is accusing Gov. Fletcher of violating now.

And we're still waiting for the mainstream press to ask Beshear about his inaction and failure to investigate the Brown administration personnel firings. They raised the Kentucky Central issue a couple of months ago, hoping to get that out of the way so it won't come back up between now and November. Maybe they realize this is a very explosive issue and don't want it to get out in the open and away from the blogosphere, or maybe they classify this in the same category as they do the biases of the merit system grand jury and the lies on which Doug Doerting built his whistleblower charges.

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