Friday, November 30, 2007

Could Jefferson school decision on "fairness" spark another mass exodus to neighboring counties?

We remember what Bullitt and Spencer counties were like in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Shepherdsville was a small town, not unlike a lot of other county seats across Kentucky. A drive through the two counties was a rural experience through rolling hills and open fields dotted with wooded areas.

Something happened, though, and those two counties experienced a boom of growth. Subdivisions sprouted up overnight. Pastures became housing developments. Taylorsville didn't change much, but Shepherdsville did. Businesses flocked to the Bullitt County seat.

We remember when the Zoneton Fire Department was in a very rural area on KY 61, Preston Highway, near the Jefferson County line. First a subdivision called Maryville popped up, then incorporated towns like Hillview and Pioneer Village made their appearance.

Bullitt County's board of education, which consolidated local schools in the late 1960s into one central high school, had to de-consolidate. New schools were built in the Hillview and Mt. Washington areas.

A new road had to be built to link Taylorsville to Louisville because of the residential growth of Spencer County. The road between Shepherdsville and Mt. Washington became overrun with homes and choked with traffic, and a new road was built between Mt. Washington and Louisville.

Why did all this happen? Why the huge population growth of Spencer and Bullitt counties? The normal growth of the Louisville/Jefferson County metro area played a role, as did the presence of Interstate 65 in Bullitt County, but the major reason was the implementation of forced busing as a means of integrating Jefferson County schools.

Suburban parents revolted at the idea of having their children riding school buses away from their neighborhood schools and past several other schools to a distant facility, all in the name of reaching some arbitrary racial quotas and supposedly improving the inner-city schools. Parents feel disconnected when their children don't attend neighborhood schools. They aren't as active in the management of the schools and in the events that take place there, since it's not as convenient for them to attend. They didn't object to integration of the schools, but they did object to forced busing as the means to that end.

So they fled Jefferson County. At least many of them did. Those who didn't put their children in private schools moved to Bullitt and Spencer counties, and to a lesser extent Shelby and Oldham, and enrolled their children in their local schools in their new locales. They traded a longer commute to their jobs in Jefferson County for the right to have their children attend schools in their communities.

Could we be seeing the next great exodus from Jefferson County as a result of educational policies? It's possible after the Jefferson County Board of Education passed a "fairness" policy granting special protections to homosexual and bisexual school employees.

We certainly don't believe that people should be discriminated against in employment matters based on their bedroom habits, but we don't believe that special protections are good public policy, either. And we certainly don't believe that the matter of a teacher's sexual preference has any place whatsoever in the classroom.

The most troublesome part of the whole controversy is the revelation in the Courier-Journal that a lesbian teacher admitted that she looks for "teachable moments" to help educate kids about her lifestyle. This is ridiculous and should be cause for revolt among responsible parents.

Schoolchildren of any age have no business hearing about a teacher's bedroom behavior or their sexual preferences or gender politics. A teacher's sexual preference or choice of play partners has no place in the classroom. There should never be any "teachable moments" about how an instructor chooses to use his or her genitals.

At least the Jefferson County school board had the decency to remove "gender identity" from the list of protections. Unless it's Halloween and everyone is wearing costumes, we don't think kids should be subjected to seeing a male teacher wearing a dress or skirt because he believes he was born a woman trapped in a man's body.

It will be interesting to watch the reaction to this decision. As more and more teachers who practice an alternative lifestyle continue to come forward and seek "teachable moments," we predict that the counties surrounding Jefferson will see another growth boom. It may not be as pronounced as the explosion that came after Jefferson County began forced busing, but it'll be noticeable.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Baby Stumbo strikes again (or GWR, redux)

The fun never ends in Morgan County.

We have previously chronicled the politically motivated prosecution of Tim Conley, Morgan County's Republican judge-executive, on trumped-up charges that he improperly directed county dollars to repairing his personally-owned bulldozer and that he wrongly had county road materials used for church parking lots. The investigation and indictments came last year just before Conley, a rare GOP county judge in a Democratic county, faced off against Democrat opponent Mike Gevedon in last year's election. Despite the smear job, or perhaps because of it, Conley won re-election by a margin that surprised most everyone who had an eye on that contest.

The indictments that were returned against Conley were eventually dismissed on a technicality, but the story doesn't end there. Special prosecutor Brent Turner has vowed to re-present the charges to a new grand jury.

We have a new name for Turner. We're going to call him "Baby Stumbo."

The name's fitting. For one thing, Turner is commonwealth's attorney in Floyd County and is a political associate and crony of Greg Stumbo, the Floyd County resident who is ending his term as attorney general. Just as Stumbo has shown that he will use his power and his office for partisan political purposes, obviously so too will Turner.

This whole case is worrisome on several fronts. Foremost among them is the fact that the charges being sought against Conley aren't for the actual alleged acts. Turner is seeking to charge Conley with something called "abuse of the public trust," which means that if Conley is convicted of that offense, he could never hold public office in Kentucky ever again.

Baby Stumbo and the Democrats aren't just trying to regain the Morgan County judge-executive's office. They are trying to personally ruin Conley for having the audacity to be an elected Republican in a Democrat county.

Conley's only crime is called "governing while Republican," or GWR for short, and Stumbo successfully prosecuted Gov. Ernie Fletcher on that very same charge.

The case has spurred strong feelings in Morgan County, where Conley's popularity obviously transcends party lines. The publisher of the local newspaper, a self-admitted Democrat, penned a stirring defense of Conley and his character a couple of months back. That drew the ire of the county attorney, one of the most partisan Democrats in the county, who fired off a letter in response. The newspaper publisher's response was to pick the county attorney's letter apart and reprint his editorial alongside the county attorney's letter.

The actual facts of the case are that Conley lent his personally-owned bulldozer to the cash-strapped county to do some road repairs. When the bulldozer broke down while in use by the county road department, the county paid to repair it. That makes perfect sense. If you borrow your neighbor's lawn mower and it tears up while in your possession, it's the right thing to do to fix it. Similarly, since the bulldozer broke down while in use by the county, it was prudent for the county to pay for the repairs.

The other allegation is that Conley had drainage pipes installed for church parking lots, constituting an improper use of county materials and personnel. If this is an indictable offense, then every rural county judge in the state needs to be thrown out of office. It's a common occurrence for rural counties to repair church and cemetery roads and to clear them of snow in the winter.

Baby Stumbo's initial prosecution of Conley failed to achieve the desired results. Conley won his re-election campaign. The removal from office provision of the "abusing the public trust" violation was a consolation prize. However, the dismissal of the charges because the grand jury had exceeded its 90-day term without an official extension should have ended this sordid affair. The people of Morgan County spoke loudly and clearly in November, 2006. They said they did not believe Conley had committed any criminal offenses and that he should remain in office.

Baby Stumbo and Conley's Democrat foes in Morgan County should heed that message.

And one final comment on this matter -- if any situation ever cried out for the governor to use his pardon power to check prosecutorial abuse, this is it. Outgoing Gov. Ernie Fletcher should be sure to issue a pardon for Conley for any offenses relating to this farce of an investigation to bring it to a merciful end.

After all, Fletcher knows what it's like to be convicted of GWR. He has it in his power to spare Conley of the same torture.

Grayson throws cold water on Dems' election shenanigans concerning Mongiardo's soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat

Southeastern Kentucky Democrats hoping to pull a coup and force at least one Republican from his seat in the House of Representatives may have found their nefarious plot halted.

As everyone knows, Lt. Gov-elect Dan Mongiardo is a state senator from Hazard. He will have to resign his seat when he takes office as lieutenant governor next month. Despite calls for Mongiardo to go ahead and resign so a special election can be held to replace him in the state Senate and ensure representation for his district during the upcoming legislative session, Mongiardo has stated he won't resign from the Senate until his Dec. 11 swearing-in as lieutenant governor.

Should Mongiardo resign now, a special election could be held very early in the General Assembly session and his replacement seated only a week or so into the session. However, the longer he waits, the longer the residents of Perry, Leslie, Harlan and Bell counties will be without a state senator.

The most likely Republican nominees to fill Mongiardo's seat are state representatives, Tim Couch of Hyden and Brandon Smith of Hazard. Conventional wisdom is that by holding a later special election, the nominee would have to choose between running in the special Senate election or running for re-election to the House. This would especially effect Smith, who won a close race when challenged last year by former State Rep. Scott Alexander and is serving as a Republican in a predominately-Democrat district. (Couch's seat is considered safe for the GOP since his House district is predominately Republican). None of the Democrats who are considered leaders for their party's nomination are currently serving in the General Assembly, although two of them have served in the past.

Sounds like a pretty good partisan strategy for the Democrats, especially if Smith is the GOP nominee, doesn't it?

Well, as a famous native of that Senate district, Cawood Ledford, used to say, "hold the phone."

Comes Trey Grayson (a little legal lingo for you there), secretary of state, with a pronouncement that since the race to fill Mongiardo's vacancy is a special election and not a regular one, and that Mongiardo's seat isn't up for re-election next year, one person could file for both the special Senate election and the primary House election. That means that if either Couch or Smith are selected by the GOP as the Senate nominee and they lose, they won't automatically lose their House seat at well.

This is a place where the GOP definitely needs to show some prudence to ensure they have a candidate in the House races who can win in the fall. It's a given that Alexander, should he not win the special Senate election, will challenge Smith again for the House seat from Perry County. Couch's House seat is safe for GOP, unless they don't have a nominee. The Republicans need to recruit standby candidates for both seats (Couch's and Smith's) who will run only if the incumbent is out of the race, but will drop out if the incumbent House member stays in the hunt.

Mongiardo should do the honorable thing and resign his Senate seat now, but since he won't, it's comforting to know that the Democrats' dirty trick in this deal is not going to work.

Dear Susan...

We got a chuckle this morning while reading the letters to the editor in the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Susan Fey, a correspondent from Versailles, was lamenting the poor response a H-L subscription salesman was getting as he tried to peddle his wares in front of a grocery store. Ms. Fey wrote that she was saddened that the salesman couldn't even give away complimentary copies of that day's paper. She lamented what those people were missing by not reading the newspaper. She went on to say it's "truly tragic" that reading volumes in general are down.

Well, Susan, it might be that those folks weren't rejecting the art of reading in general, but were specifically rejecting the Herald-Leader's out-of-touch political and social philosophies. Perhaps these people were former subscribers or readers who choose to get their news and analysis elsewhere.

Newspaper readership in general is declining. At the same time, the popularity of talk radio, the Internet and other alternative media sources is growing.

No, Ms. Fey, this isn't a rejection of knowledge. It's a rejection of the mainstream media and their editorial philosophies.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Impropriety allegations surround Beshear transition team member

Given the scrutiny on Steve Beshear these days -- much of it invited upon himself by the governor-elect -- we'd expect he would show a little more prudence in selecting advisers and staff members.

However, one member of his transition team may have a few skeletons in his closet that could call Beshear's judgment into question.

And now comes word that one of his closest campaign advisers and chief of staff-to-be may be under the legal gun for his politicial activities in a Maryland election.

Given the baggage that most of his other appointees and advisers are carrying, so much for Beshear's promises of honest and ethical government.

John Paul Amis, superintendent of Perry County schools, is a member of the transition team for the Education Cabinet. Amis hails from the same hometown as Lt. Gov-elect Dan Mongiardo, so no doubt the two are tight.

Just like in many other rural Kentucky counties, especially in the mountains, school politics in Perry County are fierce. Factionalism often reigns supreme, and superintendents can find themselves hired or fired based on which faction takes power.

A few years ago, Amis found himself the target of a lawsuit over the validity of his contract, filed by his own school board chairman. During the course of the suit, content was discovered on Amis' school-district-owned laptop that was described as "very embarassing" and that "could lead to discipline" of Amis, according to an Attorney General's office response to an open records request for information. General consensus around Perry County was that the embarassing content was pornographic materials. Allegations were also made in the course of the contract dispute lawsuit that while he was the basketball coach and a faculty member at Buckhorn High School, Amis had an inappropriate relationship with a student.

The case became a political football in Hazard. Neither the county attorney nor the commonwealth's attorney moved forward with prosecution. Many felt this was because Amis was a high-ranking member of the local Democratic Party hierarchy.

We don't know if the original contract dispute that spawned the allegations was ever resolved, but when Amis was named to Beshear's transition team, the allegations about him surfaced on PolWatchers, the Lexington Herald-Leader's blog. After the initial mention of them was deleted by the blog moderators, a sourced reference to the AG's opinion was posted and comments on the matter have since been allowed. One individual who claims to be from Perry County and uses the name Lyndon Combs has posted on the matter on PolWatchers, and he seems to be fairly knowledgeable about the issue.

We aren't here to cast aspersions on Amis' character, or to pronounce him guilty or innocent of the allegations against him. That's for others to do. However, with this much of a cloud hanging over him, and with Amis and Mongiardo being from the same small town, someone should have done a better job of vetting him before naming him to the transition team. His presence there reflects poorly on Beshear's judgment.

Of course, none of his appointments to date appear to have had the benefit of sound judgment behind them.

Good riddance to Trent Lott

We don't make it a practice to comment on national political news, but we feel we can stretch the rules a bit to make an observation about Trent Lott's retirement from the U.S. Senate.

Good riddance.

(There are a couple of tangential Bluegrass State connections that allow us to bend the rules. Lott's son lives in Lexington. And it was Lott's fall from grace in the Strom Thurmond brouhaha that allowed Mitch McConnell to take over as Senate Republican leader).

Our dislike for Lott dates back a decade, when he was the majority leader of the Senate during the impeachment trial of President Clinton.

Lott could have pressed for a real trial, with the testimony of witnesses and the introduction of evidence, but he didn't. Instead of Monica Lewinsky testifying as to what actually transpired under the Oval Office desk, instead of the stained blue dress being put on display for all to see, and instead of transcripts of Clinton's perjurious testimony in the Paula Jones civil suit being read into the record, we got that spectacle of a sham "trial" that did nothing but waste everyone's time.

Since the Republicans did not hold a supermajority in the Senate, the outcome was probably a foregone conclusion, but perhaps real live testimony, with witnesses being sworn and evidence presented, may have swayed a few people to vote for removal from office.

Pachyderms have long memories. We've remembered this about Lott for a long time.

(As an aside, we got a major laugh when one Kentucky blog went all ga-ga over an outrageous rumor that Lott resigned because he was about to be outed as gay. Some people will believe anything, and Kentucky liberals/Democrats have time and time again proven to be the most gullible souls on the planet. After all, they bought Steve Beshear's promises of ethical government, didn't they?)

How do you pronounce "elitists?"

The thing we found most amusing over the fallout from the recent legislative hearings on global warming was the tempest in a teapot over the pronunciation of the title of one of the witnesses.

Christopher Monckton, a subject of the queen, is a viscount. Larry Dale Keeling, the petulant child of a Herald-Leader columnist in an upper-middle-aged man's body, recently devoted far too many column inches into correcting the pronunciation of Monckton's degree of nobility.

We at K-Pac are all well-educated and well-read, and we never knew that you don't prounounce the "s" in "viscount" or that it has a long "I" and not a short "I." Truth be told, we've never had reason to know that and never had reason to use the British title or to call anyone "My Lord."

But we shouldn't be surprised that liberals like Keeling know all about it. After all, they are the elitists of this state. And just as British nobility is a birthright for some, Democrats believe that control of this state and its government is their birthright.

(For the record, we believe the earth is getting warmer. The last few miserable summers and mild winters are evidence of that. However, we don't believe that global warming is irreversible or that the situation is reaching crisis stage. And we certainly don't want to see people losing jobs and Kentucky's economy, fragile as it is in our coal-producing counties, go into the tank because of Al Gore and his merry band of alarmists.)

Monday, November 26, 2007

One little victory

A certain measure of righteousness
A certain amount of force
A certain degree of determination
Daring on a different course...

The measure of the moment
In a difference of degree
Just one little victory
A spirit breaking free
One little victory
The greatest act can be
One little victory

For the first time in anyone's memory, there will be a conservative directing Kentucky's educational system.

For those of us who have anguished over the liberal philosophies brought to Kentucky by Tom Boysen and perpetuated by his successors, the news that Republican State Rep. (and longtime Kentucky educator) Jon Draud has been named Kentucky's education commissioner is welcome news indeed.

The selection of a state Board of Education by Gov. Ernie Fletcher that would thumb its nose at Gov.-Elect Steve Beshear and go forward with its selection of a new chief, and then select a respected conservative like Draud, may go down as Fletcher's most lasting contribution to the Commonwealth. And this, more so than the hiring scandal, may become his legacy.

We congratulate Draud for his selection, we congratulate the board for its choice, and we congratulate Gov. Fletcher for choosing a school board that has finally applied some conservative philosophy to our state's schools. We've seen the negative effects that years of Democrat rule have had on our educational system. Only now, as Fletcher prepares to leave office, do we get to see if Republican/conservative philosophy can make a positive impact.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Blame (or thank) Bunning for Mongiardo's rise to prominence

Daniel Mongiardo owes Jim Bunning a great big "thank you."

Conversely, Kentucky Republicans owe Sen. Bunning a beanball upside the head.

For if not for Bunning's horrible re-election campaign in 2004, Mongiardo would simply be another obscure local politician instead of the lieutenant-governor elect.

When Mongiardo first signed on to run against Bunning in the 2004 race for U.S. Senate, many thought he'd suffer the same fate as the last eastern Kentucky resident who dared take on an incumbent Republican. Mitch McConnell humiliated Lois Combs Weinberg in 2002, and the Knott County resident could claim to be Gov. Bert T. Combs' daughter. Rumors were that even her stepmother, Judge Sara Walter Combs, wasn't even supporting her.

Mongiardo wasn't even as well-known as Weinberg. He was some doctor from somewhere in the mountains. (Yes, we know that he is from Hazard, but most Kentuckians west of I-75 don't know Hazard from Harlan from Pikeville from Paintsville. They just know that "it's up there in the hills somewhere" and probably couldn't find Perry County on a map.)

The general thinking was that Bunning would annihilate Mongiardo by a bigger margin than McConnell had dispatched Weinberg two years prior.

But when Bunning started saying some outlandish and bizarre things on the campaign trail, things changed. He made a number of outrageous statements, most notably one comment about Mongiardo's physical appearance. He said that Dr. Dan, a descendant of Italian immigrants to an area of eastern Kentucky that has a surprising number of immigrant families, looked like the dead sons of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Saddam's two sons had recently been killed when Bunning said that.

Republicans were aghast, Democrats were outraged. The race began tightening. What should have been an easy victory for Bunning turned worrisome. He made a few other statements that got people to wondering if he had dementia, was going senile, or was in the early stages of Alzheimer's. People actually started analyzing his physical appearance for signs that he was losing his mind.

It took a last-minute campaign push from Kentucky's big-name Republicans to push Bunning over the top. And even that was not without controversy. When results came in on election night, they showed that many who voted for President Bush crossed over to vote for Dr. Dan. Bunning was trailing until returns came in from the western part of the state, where they are the farthest geographically removed from Hazard, and those returns pushed him over the top. However, because Mongiardo came so close, he quickly began being hailed as the rising star in the Kentucky Democratic Party. Many expected him to run for governor before he settled in as Steve Beshear's running mate. And even then, he was put on the ticket more for geographical balance and to counter fellow mountaineer Greg Stumbo's place on Steve Lunsford's ticket than any star potential he may have had.

Mongiardo didn't earn the "rising star" tag on his own. He had nothing to do with his unexpected finish in the '04 Senate election. That had everything to do with Bunning's boo-boos.

So, while Mongiardo is having his Thanksgiving turkey tomorrow, and he gives thanks for his blessings, he shouldn't stop at, "and Lord, thank you for women half my age. I'm sure I'll find another one to replace my ex-fiance." He should be thankful that Bunning's bizarre series of campaign gaffes inflated his value among Democrat activists and voters.

And Republicans ought to be furious at the junior senator for turning an otherwise obscure and unknown state senator into someone who might possibly be a future governor.

Careful with that axe, Joey!

Shortly after being named as the incoming Transportation secretary, Democrat political hack Joe Prather said he planned to take a look at every position in the cabinet and see if it was needed, and then look at every person in those positions to see if they were the right employees for the jobs.

Correct us if we're wrong (and we know we aren't), but wasn't cutting unnecessary positions the same rationale former Gov. John Y. Brown used when his administration treated the merit system like a cat treats a litter box and got rid of quite a few protected employees?

Those employees, of course, got their jobs back with back pay when they appealed their firings, costing the state a boatload of money. And need we remind you who was the attorney general at the time who sat idly by and did nothing while the Brown administration played fast and loose with the civil service laws? Here's a hint, he's from Dawson Springs and he's getting ready to take a new job on Dec. 11.

Since the hiring investigation was Ernie Fletcher's downfall in his re-election campaign, and since Transportation was ground zero for that investigation, one would think Beshear, Prather and others would show a little prudence. But if they go in and start canning merit system employees in the name of personnel reductions, they'll be in for a fight.

The Fletcher administration eliminated more than 1,000 jobs in Transportation through attrition, without firing anyone improperly. Due to changing retirement benefit factors, a large exodus of employees is expected next year with massive retirements. This will give Prather and the Beshear administration the opportunity to get rid of jobs and personnel without letting anyone go involuntarily.

Unless, of course, all the platitudes Beshear and company are spouting about their respect for the merit system is just all talk, and they really plan to revert to the Democrat norm of years gone by. And we have reason to believe they do. More on that later...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Oh, what a lucky man he was...

When Steve Beshear says grace at his Thanksgiving dinner table, he'd better offer up a few extra special prayers. He ought to be on his knees hourly, giving thanks to the Lord above that he was able to resurrect his political career and is now only days away from becoming governor of Kentucky. For he is indeed the luckiest man in the Commonwealth.

From the moment he began his campaign, he's been blessed with an incredible run of good fortune.

Let's start with the Democratic primary. Thanks to ex-chairman Jerry Lundergan's "play nice" deal he brokered among all the candidates, there were no harsh criticisms of Beshear's record or ideas voiced in the spring. Because of the agreement, none of his rivals exposed or exploited his abysmal record as attorney general, particularly where it concerned violations of merit system laws by Gov. John Y. Brown Jr.'s administration and by then-Secretary of State Frances Jones Mills. No one mentioned Kentucky Central, either. Had one of his intraparty rivals brought up that ethical lapse, perhaps it would have gotten more play than just a few days' worth of stories in one of Kentucky's major newspapers.

The end result of the "play nice" agreement was that Beshear did not have to spend a lot of money in the primary defending himself or attacking his key rivals, leaving himself with a nice war chest for the fall. Contrast that with the fierce primary campaign Gov. Ernie Fletcher had to wage to defeat two GOP rivals who sought to defeat him before the general election. Beshear left the primary with his reputation unsullied and his bank account fat.

Then, he was the beneficiary of Jonathan Miller's endorsement. Beshear was the second most liberal candidate in the field; Miller being the most liberal. When Miller dropped out and threw his support to Beshear, that all but guaranteed that the moonbats who were for Miller would follow their leader to Beshear.

Miller's support probably also helped push Beshear over the magical 40 percent mark that resulted in his avoiding a runoff election against Bruce Lunsford. In a two-way runoff, the gloves would have come off and Beshear would have had to spend a lot of money. The two candidates would probably have gone negative against one another, meaning Beshear's inaction on merit system infractions while serving as AG (which is an issue the Fletcher campaign inexplicably failed to use to its advantage) and his role in the Kentucky Central collapse would have gotten a thorough airing.

Pretty lucky, huh? Beshear truly hit the jackpot when he won the nomination. He should have emerged from the primary as a bloody mess, battered not only by Lunsford but by Jody Richards and Steve Henry as well. Instead, he came out without a scratch against an incumbent governor who hadn't enjoyed the same luxuries of a gentle primary.

Yes, Beshear should be thankful he's in the position he's in. And maybe he should play the lottery, given the run of good luck he's enjoying. If he does win big, he ought to share his windfall with Jerry Lundergan (who brokered the "play nice" deal) and Greg Stumbo (whose politically-motivated machinations softened up the incumbent). They were the ones who brought Beshear his good fortune.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Will bad legal precedent remain in effect as a result of administration change?

When the Personnel Board awarded Transportation Cabinet employee Mike Duncan his job back, it was with good reason that the cabinet appealed the decision.

This was a horrible decision. It basically stated that probationary merit system employees have the same rights as merit employees "with status," meaning they have fulfilled the terms of their probationary periods and are qualified for merit system protections against discipline or dismissal.

Duncan claimed he was fired, before his probationary period ended, for political reasons. In reinstating him, the Personnel Board ignored testimony from Transportation Secretary Bill Nighbert that should have given anyone pause before they hired Duncan.

Nighbert had encountered Duncan before, when Nighbert was mayor of Williamsburg and Duncan was an investigator with the attorney general's office. Based on those encounters, Nighbert had real concerns about Duncan's abilities and professionalism. Nighbert was also concerned that Duncan had engaged in an extramarital affair with a co-worker in a previous position.

With the change in adminisrations comes the very real possibility that the state will drop its appeal of the Duncan decision. If this happens, it will allow an absolutely terrible legal precedent to stand. The end result will be that it will be even harder than it already is for the state to get rid of a bad employee. It's almost easier to walk from Los Angeles to Honolulu than it is to fire a state merit worker. Usually in the first six months of an employee's tenure, it becomes obvious if he or she can do the job or not. Most state positions require a six-month probationary period; some require a full year. At any rate, if it now becomes much more burdensome to fire a probationary employee, many mid-level managers will probably decide it's not worth the hassle and will allow the new hire to meld into the merit system.

We fully expect the new administration to quietly drop the Duncan appeal, especially since incoming Secretary Joe Prather has indicated he will keep Inspector General David Ray, who was Duncan's most vocal proponent. If this happens, it will be an awful decision and definitely not in the best interests of the state.

From everything we've heard about Duncan, he needs to be dismissed. But this isn't about Duncan. It's about a bad Personnel Board decision that sets an even worse precedent.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Who's coughing?

Hack, hack, hack.

Is someone coughing? Does the cat have another hairball?

No, it's merely the sound of Steve Beshear appointing yet another longtime Democrat hack to a key position.

The latest news is that former State Senate President and state Democrat chairman Joe Prather will be the new secretary of the Transportation Cabinet.

While partisan Democrats around the state are jumping for joy at Beshear's transition teams and new appointments, the rest of us are saddened to see this state sliding back to the days of Jones and Wilkinson and Collins.

We have no confidence in Prather's ability to lead Transportation in an honest and ethical manner, especially considering the rumors of retribution against Fletcher supporters in that cabinet that are already circulating.

It truly is a sad time for Kentucky.

In the meantime, the Beshear/Mongiardo team will just keep on hacking away at the progress made in this state the past four years.

Is Herald-Leader sitting on a blockbuster story about Jonathan Miller?

We don't normally like to bargain in vile rumors about the personal lives of public figures or politicians. We'll leave that to others. We prefer to deal with documentable statements and facts, as well as the information provided to us by people we trust implicitly to pass along accurate information. However, we can't let this one go unnoticed, especially since there seems to be a concerted effort to stifle this story.

Back before the primary election, a rumor made the rounds on several Kentucky political blogs concerning outgoing state treasurer and Democratic Party chairman (and incoming Finance and Administration Cabinet secretary) Jonathan Miller. This rumor was about alleged inappropriate conduct with a co-worker. For many public figures, such rumors are a dime a dozen, but this one involved out-of-state travel and could easily be substantiated or debunked by state travel records.

The rumor was posted on several blogs, including Bluegrass Report (which was supporting Miller's candidacy), The Rural Democrat and the Herald-Leader's PolWatchers blog. None of the blogs bothered to delete the postings, not even Mark Nickolas' blog, which at the time was notorious for deleting posts and banning posters.

The rumor died down after Miller withdrew from the Democrat primary, but it grew legs again after Steve Beshear tapped Miller to be the finance secretary in his new administration.

On Oct. 18, on his blog, Brett Hall reported that an investigative story about Miller's out-of-state travel with an employee of the state treasurer's office, sourced by information obtained from an open records request, was about to break. Hall's post contained links to the Bluegrass Report, Rural Democrat and PolWatchers posts on the subject.

After Miller's impending appointment to the cabinet secretary post was announced, the rumors began appearing anew on PolWatchers. And almost as quickly as they were posted, they were deleted by the PolWatchers administrator, reporter John Stamper. Even after posters provided links to where the information had previously been reported, Stamper deleted the posts and threatened those posters with banning, citing PolWatchers' comment policy. And, curiously, only then were the comments referred to in Hall's Oct. 18 post deleted.

The really odd part was that posts detailing supposed e-mail conversations between H-L reporters and the commenters were axed as well. The gist of those exchanges was that H-L reporter Ryan Alessi had copies of the travel documents at issue in the matter, and was working on a story concerning them, but the story was killed by the H-L editors.

This is a story that needs to be reported, and soon, for several reasons. One major reason is that Miller, who is Jewish, gained notoriety for writing a book about the Ten Commandments while serving as treasurer. It strikes us as being more than a bit hypocritical that someone who is still "under the law" and who professes to be an expert on the Decalogue may have violated one of those commandments.

But the overwhelming need for this to see the light of day is the timeliness of the situation. It's probably a safe bet that these incriminating travel documents, if they exist, have already gone missing from the treasurer's office. After Miller takes over Finance & Administration in December, the odds are good that they'll vanish from the files there too.

This is a story that needs to see the light of day. If the Herald-Leader is indeed sitting on it, the editors should be ashamed of themselves.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

One of the Fletcher campaign's missteps was a simple thing

We'll leave the discussions of the effectiveness -- or lack thereof -- of the Fletcher campaign's strategies regarding issues and campaign ads to the others. There's plenty to discuss and plenty of "what went wrong?" to dissect.

However, there's one part of Fletcher's campaign that had nothing to do with strategy that someone botched very, very badly.

Someone in the campaign office, or the Republican Party of Kentucky headquarters, or both, did a very, very poor job of letting supporters and voters know where his campaign stops were going to be.

We've heard from readers who said they had no idea that the governor would be making campaign stops in their areas. One said he'd have taken off work to go see the governor and show support. Another said he'd have cancelled a doctor's appointment if only he'd known ahead of time. Another said he had to e-mail the campaign headquarters to get details on the appearances on the final day of the campaign.

This information should have been blasted out via e-mail to everyone on the list well in advance of the events. Instead of the final day's stops being a closely held secret, that information should have been disseminated in the form of e-mails, phone calls and on the front page of the campaign's Web site.

Someone with the campaign was certainly able to send out an after-the-loss thank you to the governor's supporters, and there were regular updates from the campaign and the party on Steve Beshear's various statements. Why couldn't they have sent out the governor's campaign itinerary in a timely manner?

It's hard to draw a crowd when no one knows about the events. People have been known to drive from one county to another to support their chosen candidate. The reports of low turnouts at some of Fletcher's campaign appearances may have helped fuel the notion that the election was a lost cause and thus kept the Republican vote from turning out.

Let this be a lesson to the GOP nominee in 2011. Publicize your appearances, far and wide. Supporters in Paducah aren't going to get angry if they get an e-mail saying the campaign bus is going to be in Lexington, Winchester, Irvine and London on that day. Similarly, no one in Ashland will be upset to hear about stops in Mayfield, Murray, Paducah and Princeton. E-mail is free. Use it well and use it often.

On Paul Patton's post-election comments

It's been more than a week since the Lexington Herald-Leader's post-election analysis included quotes from disgraced former Gov. Paul Patton about what this year's election means.

Patton stated that governors no longer will be able to allow their local campaign chairs, patronage contacts or county party chairs to dictate state hiring decisions in their counties or areas.

Pretty unusual comments, coming from a governor who presided over a well-oiled patronage machine for two full terms and is the only governor ever to be found guilty of violating the state's personnel policies.

Remember that Patton admitted using his personal clout as governor to secure the promotion of a Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement officer. This admission before the Executive Branch Ethics Commission cost Patton $5,000 out of his own pocket. Keep in mind, too, how this all happened. One of Patton's patronage chiefs, Tina Conner, also happened to be his sweet thing on the side. When Patton's lover got a speeding ticket from a KVE officer once upon a time, she told him that if he'd make the ticket go away, she'd get the governor to get him promoted. He did, she did, he did, and the whole sordid mess came to light after Patton broke off the affair and then sicced the state's regulators on her Western Kentucky nursing home.

Patton probably was more personally involved in patronage hiring decisions than any other governor in recent history. Of course, he had twice as long to do it as his predecessors since they weren't eligible for re-election, but anecdotal evidence shows Patton was a busy fellow when he wasn't carrying on with his Purchase area paramour. We've heard of one instance where Patton promised a promotion to a Democrat activist in the state highway department when this fellow's supervisor retired. When Patton changed his mind and instead promised the job to someone else, the supervisor decided not to retire after all.

The Luv Gov may believe what he said about the patronage days being over, but if so, he's badly mistaken. The majority of Democrats who get involved in gubernatorial politics at the local level aren't doing so out of any firm belief system or loyalty to the politician. They do it because they're looking for a little slice of power. They want to be able to control state merit system jobs, highway projects and other infrastructure improvements. They can be a fickle bunch. They may support one candidate this time, but an entirely different candidate the next time, depending on where they think they have the best chance of grabbing onto some authority.

If Beshear really does cut the local players out of the game, which we really don't believe will happen in a million years, these little local Mafia Don-like politicos will take their support elsewhere, even against an incumbent governor. They're not interested in what they can do for the governor or the state, but what the state and the governor can do for them and their egos.

We're hearing disturbing rumors about how Beshear's henchmen in the state merit system are already threatening their co-workers who supported Gov. Fletcher's re-election campaign. If the governor-elect is serious about his claims to respect the merit system, he'll send word to his operatives to cease and desist. Conventional wisdom is that Fletcher's administration set a high standard and then failed to meet that standard. Beshear's campaign, and the events of the past three years regarding merit system hiring, have set Beshear's bar even higher. We certainly don't expect the left-leaning press to hold Beshear accountable for his administration's missteps, but we here at KPac2 and other conservative bloggers certainly will.

Even though Patton certainly spoke with forked tongue about state jobs and future administrations, especially given his own past history, his words need to be heeded by the Beshear administration if the new governor expects to show any integrity or earn any credibility.

A reminder to Gov. Fletcher and to Democrats

Until 12:01 a.m. or so on Dec. 11, Ernie Fletcher is still governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. He still has all the powers and responsibilities that go along with the office. That includes the power to make appointments to boards and commissions and to issue executive orders.

Democrats need to wake up and realize this. There is no legal or political reason for Fletcher to defer to Steve Beshear on anything. Beshear won't be governor for nearly a month. So Fletcher is entitled to do whatever he likes until Beshear takes office. That may be tough for the Democrats to swallow but it's the truth.

We also want to remind Gov. Fletcher of this so he can use his powerful position to benefit Kentucky during the time he has remaining in office. We hope he won't defer to Beshear or to political pressure from Beshear's supporters and cronies. Use this time well, Governor, to continue your agenda for bettering the Commonwealth right up until midnight on the 11th.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Welcome, Mark Nickolas lemmings!

Several months ago, we heard from a reader who indicated that Mark Nickolas was not allowing links to posts on this blog to be posted to his site.

Today, we find that Nickolas himself has linked to and highlighted our post in which we urge current non-merit Fletcher administration employees not to surrender to the incoming Beshear administration and go quietly.

Well, yes, Nickolas, Fletcher has said that he will cooperate with the transition. What else is he supposed to say or do, stand in front of the governor's office or the mansion with a rifle? The fact that Fletcher urges cooperation is a measure of Ernie Fletcher the man, who is a good and decent and honorable person despite what the press and his political enemies have said the past four years.

All of us here at KPac readily admit that we are not as good and decent individuals as is Ernie Fletcher. He is much more charitable and forgiving than we are.

And about Larry Forgy and Mitch McConnell: We freely admit that we are angry at McConnell for not being more supportive of Fletcher, especially right after the investigation began. And we admire Forgy for being one of the few Republicans in this state with the loyalty and integrity to stand up for the embattled and under-siege governor.

We've had our differences with Forgy in the past, most notably for his decision to bail out of the 1987 governor's race when many believed he could beat the Democratic nominee (which turned out to be Wallace Wilkinson) and for his decision to get in the 1991 race late, after most of the party's big names had already come out in support of Larry Hopkins. But he has truly earned back a lot of respect in our eyes for his support and defense of Gov. Fletcher.

McConnell, while having served admirably for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, let a lot of conservatives down by originally supporting the illegal alien amnesty proposal. And we still quite honestly find his treatment of his political protege Fletcher to be shameful. We don't know if we're ready to support Forgy over McConnell, but right now we're angry with McConnell and proud of Forgy.

At any rate, we welcome those of you who follow Mark Nickolas to the ends of the earth. Stick around here, read and learn. You will be infuriated, angered, educated and enlightened. For here you will read truths that are readily available to any reporter or blogger, but truths that very few of them make public.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Did low turnout, poll statistics play a huge role in Fletcher's defeat?

For weeks, the polls predicted a double-digit loss for Gov. Fletcher, and that's exactly what happened.

Several Republicans and observers think that those polls were a self-fulfilling prophecy in that the dismal numbers caused lots of GOP voters to stay home.

We heard from one Republican activist in a staunchly-GOP county that went for Beshear. He said thusly:

"Every d--n Democrat in the county voted, but the Republicans just sat home on their @$$e$ and didn't turn out."

He placed part of the blame on the local party chair, who he said was not active in organizing the local party and getting the vote turned out in a county that should have overwhelmingly gone for Fletcher.

In another county, a very active community leader said she perceived that a lot of people who would otherwise vote for Fletcher took a look at the polls, said, "What's the use," and didn't go vote. This woman, whose family owns a newspaper, went as far as saying she thought polls should be outlawed because they unduly influence supporters of the trailing candidate to give up hope and not vote.

This is the equivalent of giving up when you're 20 points behind with 10 minutes to go in the second half, and quitting, and ending up getting blown out by about 35 points.

Preliminary observations we've seen in other Republican counties seem to bear this out; that Democrats turned out in force but Republicans, sensing a lost cause, skipped the election.

Had they voted, they may not have pulled it out for Fletcher, but they certainly could have made it closer, and made Beshear and his supporters sweat a little.

Unhappy days are here again

Yesterday, we decried the abundance of Democrat political hacks that make up Steve Beshear's transition team chairs as he prepares to take power next month.

After seeing the political lineage of this bunch of clown in print, we're aghast.

This crew of hacks traces its political lineage all the way back to John Y. Brown. Every Democrat administration since 1979 is represented here. Plus, there are members with direct connections to Greg Stumbo and Crit Luallen.

Although it's a relief to know that most of these yahoos won't end up with permanent jobs, what we've seen so far out of Beshear in his first three days as governor-elect gives us absolutely NO confidence that he can achieve anything positive for this state.

Getting rid of the old guard was what we as a state voted for in 2003. Now, four years later, we've brought back the same crowd that has held us back from acheiving positive things for this state for decades.

The tragic part is that many Republicans in this state, including some prominent ones, had major contributing roles in this massive regression to the bad old days.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Here they go again

As if there was any doubt that the old line would be beating down the door to return to power with Steve Beshear's election, that doubt was erased as the corrupt-lawyer-turned-governor-elect named his transition team.

The roster by and large looks like a roll call of partisan Democrat hacks:

Larry Hayes. Joetta Wickliffe. Mark Guilfoyle. Carol Palmore. Eleanor Jordan. Ernesto Scorsone.

The bad old days have returned.

And Beshear has already proven that he speaks with forked tongue when he pledges to work in a bipartisan manner. He does have a couple of Republicans on the team, but they are two of the most polarizing figures he could find. Steve Pence, of course, is currently lieutenant governor but chose not to run with Gov. Fletcher this year, instead endorsing challenger Anne Northup and then staying silent during the general election despite earlier saying he'd support Fletcher. And Steve Nunn ran against Fletcher in 2003 and supported Beshear this year. These two individuals are despised by a large faction of Kentucky Republicans now for their failure to stand behind the governor. Their presence on Beshear's transition team will only serve to widen the chasm in the state GOP and help harden the resistance to Beshear's administration -- and we intend to be leaders of that resistance -- despite Fletcher's call for Kentuckians to support the new governor.

He'll find no support here, we promise that.

Beshear isn't even in office yet, and we already feel Kentucky slipping backwards.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

What's the difference?

As this is typed, Florida officials are holding a press conference to announce the death of a Broward County deputy sheriff who was killed while transporting a prisoner. The presser is being covered live by the national cable news networks.

We don't remember such coverage when the same thing happened in Kentucky a few months back, when Clay City Police Chief Randy Lacy was shot and killed by a suspect he was transporting.

Why did the Florida event deserve so much national attention and "breaking news" coverage, while something similar in Kentucky barely rated a blip on the radar screen?

"Were you lying then, or are you lying now?"

We continue to be absolutely amazed at the gall of Shane Ragland, the young Frankfort man who recently pleaded guilty to killing UK football player Trent DiGiuro more than a decade ago.

The DiGiuro family has filed a wrongful death suit against Ragland, based in large part on Ragland's plea of guilty to second-degree manslaughter in the 1994 shooting. Ragland continues to maintain that he didn't go it, but he pleaded guilty only because the deal offered was credit for time served (around 8 years, most of which was on an initial conviction for murder that was later overturned).

The DiGiuros rightfully argue that Ragland's admission of guilt means just that -- he admitted he did it. But now Ragland's defense attorney in the civil suit claims that one of the defenses Ragland may use during the trial is that he didn't do it.

Initially, Ragland's lawyer said he probably would not fight the civil suit, in large part because he has no recoverable assets. The DiGiuros, however, know that Ragland has a wealthy farmer and they are trying to, in effect, attach his future inheritance.

The problem with Ragland now saying that he didn't shoot DiGiuro might be OK, except for the pesky little fact that Ragland swore under oath in open court that he did it. No matter the too-good-to-pass-up sentencing circumstances that led him to accept the guilty plea, he said he did it. If he wanted to maintain innocence, he could have accepted an Alford plea and gotten the same sentence.

If Ragland really didn't do it (and is there anyone out there who really believes he's innocent?) then he committed perjury during his sentencing. If he did it, and is now claiming he didn't, he's perjuring himself in the civil suit.

This is a line that prosecutor Jack McCoy on "Law & Order" would jump all over. "Were you lying then, or are you lying now?"

The "m" word

We've already seen the "m" word -- mandate -- pop up in a few places to describe Steve Beshear's victory yesterday, particularly in the analyses of what his election will mean for the future of casino gambling in Kentucky.

Beshear's election was no mandate. He received around 58 percent of the statewide vote, which is roughly equivalent to the percentage of registered Democrats in the population of Kentucky. Gov. Ernie Fletcher received around 42 percent of the vote, which is more than the percentage of registered Republicans in Kentucky.

This election boils down to a party-line vote. That's not a mandate by any means. When a candidate from the minority party wins, as Fletcher did four years ago, that's a mandate. When the candidate from the majority party wins by a margin significantly greater than voter registration figures, that's a mandate. When the vote breaks down along party lines, that's the furthest thing possible from a mandate.

If Beshear and his supporters are going into office thinking they have a mandate, they are badly fooled.

A few words for state employees

Moreso than anyone else in the state, those who draw their paychecks from the Commonwealth of Kentucky are the ones most effected by the results of yesterday's election.

We have a few words of advice for state workers of all stripes in the aftermath of Steve Beshear's win.

To non-merit employees:
Do not resign, even if requested, unless you get an absolutely unbeatable job offer elsewhere. This goes for Cabinet secretaries all the way down to non-merit clerical secretaries. Make Beshear fire you on Dec. 11 after he takes office. That way, you can draw unemployment for awhile and not give him the satisfaction of starting with a clean slate. Make him occupy his first hours and days with the details of getting rid of you. In NASCAR parlance, it's time for you to make your car very wide.

To merit employees who supported Gov. Fletcher:
Watch your backs. You are targets for illegal job actions. Don't do anything that could remotely be construed as being against policy. No questionable Web surfing. No forwarding jokes on e-mail. No fudging 5 minutes here and 5 minutes there on your timesheets. Consult a private attorney or discuss options with your local prosecuting attorney in case they come after you. Brush up on KRS 18A and also the state's whistleblower laws, and don't be afraid to invoke whistleblower status on something if you feel your job's in danger. Document everything. Take nothing lying down. If they so much as try to move your office across the hall from where it is now, tell the press that you are suffering political discrimination at your workplace after the Beshear administration promised to things differently. Above all, keep up the good fight.

To merit employees who supported Beshear:
Watch your backs. Given Beshear's history with violations of the merit system, don't think you've elected a friend or an advocate. Trust us, you haven't. Don't assume you have an ally in the Governor's Office, because you don't. Also don't expect a 5 percent annual increment. Jody Richards recently was asked about the annual raise at a gathering of state employees, and the Speaker of the House ducked the question and said the state needs to fund the retirement system, and he told the workers that they may need the money now, but they'll need it when they retire too. Translated, Richards was saying, "Sorry about your luck." Wake up and realize that you've been deceived once again by a candidate who told you what he thought you wanted to hear so he could have the benefit of your bloc of votes in his race against Fletcher.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Governor endorsement -- Gov. Ernie Fletcher

For decades, the Commonwealth of Kentucky has been run and dominated by a political machine that has held this state, its government and its residents from reaching our maximum potential. We are dumbfounded and, frankly, saddened that this state seems ready to re-embrace that legacy of failure on the basis of fewer than two dozen personnel decisions in the state's civil service system, and elect a governor whose hypocrisy on that subject is astounding.

We consider ourselves fortunate and blessed to know the truth about the hiring "scandal" that appears to be the catalyst for Gov. Ernie Fletcher trailing in the polls. We're lucky enough to have lots of very credible sources within state government, from low-level merit employees all the way up to the Office of the Governor. We haven't accepted the news stories in the state's main media outlets and the public statements from Attorney General Greg Stumbo's office at face value. We've done our own homework and we've learned and presented the facts here.

Because we know the truth, we discount as unimportant the hiring scandal when we evaluate the performance of Gov. Fletcher. Actually, we think this administration probably didn't go far enough in trying to eliminate the dominant mindset in state government and bringing in people with conservative philosophies to run the state.

When we look at Gov. Fletcher's record, we see a string of resounding successes. He got a handle on skyrocketing Medicaid costs. He cut the size of state government, eliminated and merged departments and the attendant high salaries, without cutting essential services to the state. He reinvested those savings for the benefit of this state, most notably in transportation where the state has set records the last two years for the number of construction projects awarded and the amount of money spent on improving the state's roads. He's championed highway safety measures that have made our roads demonstrably safer. He cut taxes on thousands of working Kentuckians, funneled needed revenues to schools, emphasized personal health and instituted newborn screenings, and dozens of other initiatives that haven't been adequately publicized.

Clearly, Gov. Fletcher has moved Kentucky forward. Steve Beshear, his Democrat challenger, represents a return to the bad old days of Kentucky politics and the Democrat machine.

Beshear has based his entire campaign on two points. The first one is bringing casino gambling to Kentucky as welfare for racehorses. The second one is Fletcher's personnel woes.

We actually disagree with both Fletcher and Beshear on the gambling issue. We support bringing casino gambling to Kentucky, but not in any way tied to the horse industry and not only at border locations or racetracks. We think casino licenses should be awarded to communities that meet certain criteria for unemployment, poverty and property tax bases in order to allow them to boost local economies. Lexington and Louisville and Northern Kentucky and Ashland don't need the jobs and tax base increase that a multimillion dollar casino would bring. Rural areas in this state do need those boosts.

On the personnel issue, Beshear has no room to talk. As attorney general, he ignored well-known and widespread abuses in the administration of Gov. John Y. Brown, and actually refused to investigate a complaint against Secretary of State Frances Jones Mills, saying it was a matter for the Personnel Board to decide. Now he says the investigation of Fletcher by the AG's office was appropriate. Funny that he says that only when he can use it to his political advantage. His past gives him absolutely no moral authority to use the hiring probe against Fletcher.

Beshear is not the ethical, above-reproach candidate he and his supporters make him out to be, as evidenced by the Kentucky Central case. Researchers have found dozens of instances where Beshear intentionally or inadvertently overlooked wrongdoing in high levels when he was attorney general.

We don't claim by any stretch that Fletcher's term in office has been perfect, by any means. We feel he missed the boat on improving access to and lowering the cost of health care in this state by not eliminating the Certificate of Need program for new hospitals and other treatment facilities. Fletcher brags about the fact that 61 percent of his non-merit staffers are Democrats. While we understand that a Republican has to have Democrat support to be elected in Kentucky, we aren't sure that the Democrats within the administration have been loyal to the man who hired them. And we hoped that this administration would be a bit more low-key. Instead, the pomp and circumstance of the inauguration in 2003 rivaled anything that the Democrats have ever done. We just wanted Fletcher to quietly be sworn into office and go to work, with no parade and no cancellation of work in state offices.

Still, we think the choice is clear. Forget the hiring investigation. The truth behind it does not lend support to the notion that it was significant in any way. Fletcher's record of accomplishments, coupled with his opponent's weaknesses and flaws and ties to the old-line political machine that covets power above progress, provides ample reason to give him another four years.

We urge Kentucky voters to reject the politics of the past and continue to move forward by giving Ernie Fletcher four more years to make progress for Kentucky.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Attorney general endorsement -- Stan Lee

If Paul Patton and/or Crit Luallen could look into a fountain of youth, the reflection they'd see staring back at them would be the face of Jack Conway.

Conway is a Democratic political protege of Patton and Luallen, which to us would be valid reason to vote against him even if his opponent was Al Capone.

But when there's a quality candidate like Stan Lee on the Republican side of the ballot, it makes the choice a no-brainer.

We heartily endorse Stan Lee for the attorney general position in Tuesday's election.

Conway left the Patton administration for a failed run against former U.S. Rep. Anne Northup a few years ago and has been practicing law in Louisville since. He epitomizes the liberal big-city trial lawyer of whom many Kentuckians are suspect.

Lee has represented a conservative Lexington district in the Kentucky House of Representatives for several years. Although Conway and his cheering section in the press like to call Lee "out of step" and "radical" and even "wingnut," stack their views on topics of importance to Kentucky up against one another and Lee's views will match those of a majority of Kentuckians, and definitely most of the geographical area of the state.

If you're looking for crossover appeal for Lee, you can find it in the position he's taken on the personnel hiring probe that has plagued Gov. Ernie Fletcher's administration. Lee says he would not have pursued the investigation into the Fletcher administration, but instead would have let the Personnel Board handle complaints of political discrimination in hiring, firing and promotion of state merit employees. Lee's position mirrors exactly the position taken by the Democrat attorney general from 1979-1983: one Steve Beshear, current Democrat candidate for governor, who was AG during a very well-documented time of violations of KRS Chapter 18A, the state's personnel laws.

It's too bad that Republicans didn't have this high-quality of a candidate four years ago, when problematic Jack Wood won the nomination over State Rep. Tim Feeley, and then went on to lose to the better-known but more problematic Greg Stumbo. The GOP voters didn't make that mistake this time. Out of a slate of very well qualified candidates, they selected Lee and their nominee, and if all voters all across the state want an attorney general who's in step with Kentucky values and who will enforce the laws in a non-partisan manner and not use the office as a political weapon with which to crush enemies, they should elect Stan Lee on Tuesday.

Party like it's 1995

With apologies to Prince for ripping off his hit song "1999," it looks like the Democrats are partying like it's 1995 in Louisville.

KyPolitics has the story about a massive vote-buying operation in Louisville's west end and other predominately black sections of Jefferson County, backed and run primarily by the labor unions.

Sound familiar? Many in Kentucky are convinced that the only reason Paul Patton beat Larry Forgy in a close gubernatorial race back in '95 was because of rampant vote fraud in Louisville. An investigation into those allegations led to the indictment of Gov. Patton's chief of staff Skipper Martin and three labor union officials. Early on in the prosecution, prosecutors in Attorney General Ben Chandler's office were publicly discussing the possibility of the vote fraud allegations being so serious that the results of the '95 election could be voided. Of course, the prosecutors never went that far, but they did give the Luv Gov ample opportunity to practice his alliteration when he claimed that Chandler wanted "to put Paul Patton in prison."

We all know how that turned out. The case was assigned to a corrupt special circuit judge, who eventually dismissed the charges and called the law under which Martin and his co-defendants were arrested "unconstitutionally vague." Appeals courts reinstated the charges and late in Patton's term, after the charges were fully back in place, he pardoned them before they ever went to trial.

(Why do we call the special judge "corrupt?" For several reasons. One, after he issued his ruling, he was heard telling people around his hometown that the Patton administration owed him because "I did my duty." He was also reportedly under investigation by federal authorities for cozying up to drug dealers and giving them slap-on-the wrist sentences, a reputation that caused his defeat in last year's election. And he also had to give up some of his criminal cases, most notably drug cases, to a special judge assigned by Operation UNITE. He was also accused of being a drug user in a sworn deposition filed in a court case. Sounds like evidence of corruption to us.)

At any rate, we may be looking at 1995 all over again. It will be interesting to see if local officials prosecute it, or if it falls to the attorney general's office. We have no doubts that should he be elected, Stan Lee will be all over it. But since Jack Conway's from Louisville and is a beneficiary of this drive since it reportedly emphasizes straight-ticket Democrat voting, we have our doubts if he'll lift a finger to look into this.

The Republican Party of Kentucky and the Ernie Fletcher campaign were criticized for pointing out the Steve Beshear camp's payout to Philadelphia-based Urban Projects, Inc., which has been linked to vote fraud in the City of Brotherly Love. Since the first report came out, apparently Urban Projects has gotten even more business from Kentucky.

We'll be watching this to see how it turns out. We begrudgingly give Ben Chandler credit for ignoring political loyalties and prosecuting a charge that strikes at the very heart and intregrity of the election process (although he never did go after the many and even some admitted merit system violations during Patton's term). So now we have to ask, WWJD? That, of course, means "What Will Jack Do?"

Friday, November 02, 2007

Larry Dale Keeling: A portrait of foolishness

We constantly scratch our heads and the offerings that Larry Dale Keeling, Lexington Herald-Leader columnist, blogger and editoral board (or idiotorial board, as we like to call it) member, gives us in print when he deigns to share his "wisdom" with us.

But we marvel at what the paper printed in Thursday's installment of "KyKurmudgeon," Keeling's blog. Keeling is no fan of Gov. Fletcher and misses no opportunity to bash him, but sometimes we wonder if Keeling even stops to think about what he writes.

On Thursday, Keeling was discussing the so-called "hit list" of Transportation Cabinet employees allegedly identified for personnel actions for political reasons. Keeling says that he learned this week that the "hit list" was contained in a box of documents that Transportation officials turned over to the attorney general's office in response to a subpoena. Keeling says this was "typical of the ineptness that so often has been the trademark of this administration."

However, we can only imagine what Keeling's indignant response would have been had the Transportation Cabinet failed to turn over that document, or even worse, destroyed it. Disgraced former Transportation administrator Dan Druen was indicted for allegedly shredding documents relevant to the investigation. Would Keeling have preferred that it be shredded too?

You can't have it both ways, Keeling. You and others have accused the administration of stonewalling the investigation, yet you criticize them for properly responding to a subpoena. So which is it? Which action do you prefer?

Stumbo's name surfaces during drug probe (Or, Mitch McConnell's big mistake)

The Big Sandy News, a regional paper in eastern Kentucky, is reporting that a defendant in a drug trafficking case has linked Attorney General Greg Stumbo to possible campaign improprieties.

Pamela Justice, a former associate of Stumbo's, is reported to have given federal authorities 'information relating to campaign issues involving Attorney General Greg Stumbo and former Floyd (County) Judge-Executive Paul Hunt Thompson, court records show," according to the newspaper.

Unfortunately, the newspaper's Web site is subscription-only, and they only have the headline and one paragraph available, so we can't further check into this explosive allegation at this point, but it's been no secret in the mountains of southeastern Kentucky that Stumbo was in danger of being prosecuted for vote fraud issues along with State Sen. Johnny Ray Turner, the late Ross Harris and others. Many in the region, along with a host of Stumbo's political foes across the state, are wondering how he escaped the long arm of federal prosecutors in that matter. During the height of the investigation, it was widely thought that the prosecutors were sniffing around to see what they could geton Stumbo.

(We're also hearing that Sen. Turner's involvement in this scandal may draw him an intra-party challenger next year, but that's a post for another day).

The timing of this news, the weekend before Kentucky's gubernatorial election that will likely be decided because of Greg Stumbo, is certainly not lost on us.

We have always contended that Mitch McConnell, the titular head of the state's Republican Party and one of Gov. Ernie Fletcher's political mentors, could have brought Stumbo's personnel investigation to a screeching halt by calling Stumbo and telling him that if he did not cease the investgation, his next call would be to the United States Attorney (at the time, it was Gregory Van Tatenhove) to instruct him to proceed with a full-scale investigation of Stumbo's involvement with Harris, Turner, et. al. Under that type of pressure, harboring the gubernatorial aspirations that he did, Stumbo would have had no choice but to close down the hiring probe lest he become the subject of a very public vote buying probe himself. Stumbo is nothing if not politically savvy, although he does let his "little head" and his fondness for the brew override his good judgment at times.

Now it appears that after the damage to Fletcher has been done, the investigation of Stumbo will be kick-started by, of all things, a cocaine trafficking probe. Although this may serve to be the final straw in getting Stumbo out of public life, which would be a good thing, it comes too late to have any effect on this year's gubernatorial election. Using this investigation as leverage against the attorney general two years ago could have had a tremendous effect on what will happen next week if only McConnell had handled the situation properly.

If we'd been in McConnell's shoes, we'd have made this phone call to Stumbo within a couple of days of Doug Doerting making his complaint, but certainly before the governor got back from his overseas trip during that time.

We consider this to be a failing of McConnell and will have a hard tiime forgiving him for his lack of support for Gov. Fletcher, the man whom he helped elect. While we will celebrate any calamity, political or otherwise as long as it's non-injurious, that befalls Greg Stumbo, it's a shame that this didn't happen when it could have made a difference.