Friday, October 12, 2007

A deal we'd take in a heartbeat (or, how the media again misrepresents the facts to make the Fletcher administration look bad...)

Once again, you can count on Kentucky's mainstream press to screw up a news story to cast Gov. Fletcher's administration in the worst possible light, when a simple glance at a map would have allowed the reporter to present facts instead of falsehoods.

Late last week, it was reported that Transportation employee Terry McKinney had been awarded a raise and an apology letter in a yet-to-be-approved settlement between McKinney and the Transportation Cabinet. The settlement has yet to be approved by the Personnel Board.

McKinney, a resident of Kuttawa, had been administrative manager of the Transportation District 2 office in Madisonville. He claimed that he was forced to take a voluntary demotion and accept a transfer to the District 1 office near Paducah. Under the terms of his voluntary demotion, he kept the same salary he was earning as administrative manager in Madisonville.

Press reports claimed that McKinney was transferred 85 miles from his home. This is a flat-out untruth. While it may be that Madisonville is 85 miles from Paducah, the fact is that Paducah is closer to Kuttawa than is Madisonville.

We don't know exactly where in Kuttawa McKinney lives, but we consulted a popular mapping program to run some numbers. When we ran the distance from Kuttawa, Ky. to 1840 North Main Street in Madisonville, the address of the District 2 office, We got a total of 53 miles, to be driven in 58 minutes. But when we ran the distance from Kuttawa to 5501 Kentucky Dam Road in Paducah, the location of the District 1 office, we got 27 miles and 31 minutes.

So the truth is that McKinney was transferred to a workplace half as close to his home as his previous workplace. Funny how the Fletcher-hating press has missed out on that fact.

Of course the Fletcher-haters in the blogosphere picked up on that, repeating again the untrue mantra about employees being fired or transferred for political reasons and being forced to sell their homes, move their families and pull their children out of school. It's easy to believe such lies if you take what the Associated Press and other Kentucky newspapers published at face value, but when you do a little research, as usual, you find the entire story is not being told.

But back to McKinney ... seems to us he got a good deal. He got to keep his salary, he lost a lot of job-related headaches, and his daily commute to and from work was cut in half. We'd take that deal in a heartbeat.

And one more question about McKinney -- no one seems to be asking just how it came to be that a former Democrat county judge-executive was in charge of hiring for a highway district during an era when Democrat patronage ran rampantly unchecked through the Transportation Cabinet. To us, that smells fishy. Where was the attorney general when we needed him?

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