Saturday, October 27, 2007

Low-class comments by a low-class politician

For years, Democratic gubernatorial candidates have been going to the mountains and promising to expand the two-lane portion of the Mountain Parkway to four lanes. The highway, built in the early 1960s, is four lanes from Winchester to Campton. At Campton, in Wolfe County, it splits into two two-lane forks heading deep into the hills. The fork going toward Salyersville and Prestonsburg keeps the Mountain Parkway name while the fork heading toward Hazard and Whitesburg is known as Route 15.

Candidate after candidate has made the promise to start improving the Mountain Parkway, which has not seen substantial renovation since it was built. Even Paul Patton, who had to travel that road every time he went from his Pike County home to Lexington or Frankfort, never moved forward with the project that would pay significant economic and highway safety benefits to his fellow Pike Countians.

The Mountain Parkway thrusts through the heart of several staunchly-Democratic counties. Wolfe, Morgan and Magoffin are all heavily "D." Floyd County, reached by an extension of the Mountain Parkway from Salyersville known as Route 114, and Pike County, further to the southeast on US 23, are also dominated by The Party of the Ass. Yet the Democrats never pushed to widen the route after promising it.

Ernie Fletcher did.

Last weekend, Fletcher and other state and local officials broke ground on a project to widen the first 3 miles of the Mountain Parkway past the spot where it narrows to two lanes. This project is expected to cost $48 million. And to make it go faster, Fletcher designated it as one of 10 "design-build" road projects that were authorized by the General Assembly last year. We aren't engineers, so we aren't sure how to define the "design-build" concept, but we're told that it enables the construction timetable to be advanced by allowing phases of the behind-the-scenes planning and the actual dirt-moving to proceed simultaneously. It's faster and cheaper and moves the project toward completion much faster.

As is typical at these events, state legislators are invited to attend and participate. The governor is usually magnanimous in his praise of the legislators, even those of the opposite party, and he can always find some complimentary things to say about them. Wolfe County is represented by one state senator and is split into two House districts. Sen. Robert Stivers, a Republican, was unable to attend because of a death in his family. The two state representatives are both Democrats. Richard Henderson, a freshman legislator from Montgomery County, didn't show. Neither did John Will Stacy, a veteran House member from Morgan County.

However, Stacy was more than willing to make comments critical of the project and the groundbreaking event's timing, two weeks prior to the election, to an Associated Press reporter. The negative comments were picked up by the Courier-Journal and the Herald-Leader.

We asked some people we know in Stacy's area about him. About the nicest things they had to say about him were "arrogant," "obnoxious," "rude" and "a prick." Several more comments violate this blog's policy on profanity.

Stacy is known as one of the most partisan Democrats in the legislature. Yet he never had the clout within his own party to move this project, which will serve his home district, forward in the Six-Year Road Plan or toward construction. Perhaps the fact that it took a Republican governor to advance a needed road project in a heavily-Democratic area of the state is a testament to Stacy's own inadequacies as a legislator. Maybe that's why he didn't show up and was so critical of the project in print.

We should note that both the mayor of Campton and the Wolfe County judge-executive are Democrats, yet they attended and participated in the event willingly and happily. Their non-partisan spirit of cooperation for the good of the community is to be congratulated.

We have a suggestion for Rep. Stacy. In about three years, the Mountain Parkway widening project will be finished and there will be a new stretch of four-lane highway in Wolfe County. There is an existing two-lane road that bypasses the section of the parkway to be improved. We think that since Stacy seems so opposed to this project finally being done after years of being ignored by those in his own party, he should refuse to drive on it. Whenever he goes from Morgan County to the Bluegrass region, he should get off the Mountain Parkway at the start of the new four-lane and drive the old road.

His comment were certainly classless. Then again, sounds like he is, too.

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