Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Where's the outrage? Beshear administration changes qualifying process for state merit jobs

UPDATE: We thought we had a scoop here, but shortly after posting this, one of us opened a dead-tree copy of the Lexington Herald-Leader and saw a story on this very subject. Oh well....

During the Ernie Fletcher administration, the Personnel Cabinet consolidated a number of state merit system job classifications and changed the selection method for these jobs -- mostly clerical and administrative -- so that a trip to Frankfort to take a multiple-choice written test to get on a merit register was no longer necessary.

The Democrats cried foul, claiming that this was done solely to allow the Fletcherites to hire their unqualified political backers and cronies who could never qualify for a state job if they had to demonstrate knowledge via a written examination.

Never mind that a trip to Frankfort to apply and test for a secretarial job in Ballard or Boyd counties was and remains a major inconvenience in terms of time and expense, and never mind that most of the written tests were hopelessly outdated and many of the questions were ambiguous, where applicants often faced two correct answers out of four possibilities and had to choose the one that was deemed "most correct" in a subjective setting. Also never mind that if an applicant chose to test in one of the Saturday sessions sometimes offered in distant areas of the state, most times the application period for the vacancy had expired by the time a test was offered in the applicant's area of the commonwealth. This was just another way for the Fletcher administration to violate personnel laws, the Democrats screamed.

Fast forward a few years. The Beshear administration has eliminated testing for ALL state merit system jobs. Now applicants fill out their applications online, list their relevant education, training and experience, and are scored based on that. No written tests required.

So where's the outrage?

Friday, June 20, 2008

A golden business opportunity, ripe for the picking

In recent months, dating back to before the November gubernatorial election, we began seeing a lot of little oval stickers on vehicles. Emblazoned with the kicking jackass KDP logo of the Kentucky Democratic Party, the stickers also have the text, "Democrats Do It Better."

"Do what better," we're prone to ask. "Chronically mismanage the state to which voters have entrusted them for 36 out of the last 40 years?" But that's beside the point.

A more recent phenomenon is the amount of voter's remorse many Steve Beshear backers are expressing. We've heard lots of tales, and the number grows every week, of die-hard Democrats renouncing their vote, vowing to support an intra-party challenger in the spring of 2011 and the Republican challenger if Beshear wins re-nomination, and even wishing they had Ernie Fletcher back as governor.

These two unrelated phenomena, put together, strike us as a gold mine ready to be plundered.

Some enterprising bumper sticker printer needs to put out some kind of GOP logo identity stickers. They can use the red and blue elephant that adorns the state and national party sites. There can be a variety of slogans to reflect the attitude of even the most discerning Republican.

There could be the typical "Republican and Proud of It!" If you want to show some state pride, you could try "Proud Kentucky Republican" with the logo inside a state outline. If you, like us, are a bit disgusted with a lot of the leading Republicans in the state, try "Proud Conservative Republican" instead to tick your RINO friends off. Stick a needle in the eye of the people who are trying to chase the social conservatives out of the party with "Proud Christian Republican." Or be intellectually honest and try one that says, "I'm a Republican Because I'm Smart" or "Show Your Intelligence, Vote Republican" or any number of other possibilities that reflect the mental superiority of conservatives and the status of conservatism as the wise choice of philosophy.

The possibilities are endless.

This same entrepreneur could cash in on the anti-Beshear sentiment sweeping the state with stickers reading "Don't Blame Me, I Voted For Fletcher." Those who are suffering voter's remorse could opt for, "I Wish I Had Voted For Fletcher." Or if you want to capture the sentiment from a long-ago U.S. Senate race, those who voted for Beshear but now regret it could put a "I got Besheared" sticker on their bumper; those who lament the choice the state's electorate made could opt for a "Kentucky Got Besheared" message.

C'mon. There has to be some Republican entrepeneur out there who would print and sell these stickers. If someone takes the plunge, we'll even give you free advertising on this blog and will promote your product among other Kentucky conservative bloggers.

How about it? We here at KPac are dying to put some of these stickers on our cars and trucks. One of our collaborators went out and found an unused Fletcher-Rudolph sticker and put it back on his SUV during the legislative session. He really wants a "Don't Blame Me..." sticker. Another of us wants a "Proud Conservative Republican" logo sticker for her car. There's a ready-made market for the right business owner, and we'll give free promotion in addition to being one of your biggest customers.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Prosecutor considered patronage charges against Democrats during Fletcher administration

We are hearing that during the Fletcher administration, a local prosecutor considered bringing charges of criminal political patronage against employees of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and local Democrat leaders in a certain county.

In the end, the prosecutor decided the headaches involved in such a prosecution weren't worth the trouble, but we hear that a certain county attorney was very disgusted at the way Democrats continued to play patronage politics even after a Republican was elected governor.

This situation, we understand, was one of the key arguments administration officials made when they instituted the much-discussed Governor's Personnel Initiative.

The story goes like this: A position came open within CHFS for an administrative assistant in a rural county. A very qualified individual applied for the job, scored very high on the merit system test required for the job, and earned the support of high-placed Republicans and Fletcher backers in two counties, the county where the vacancy existed and the applicant's home county, which was adjacent. This applicant also had the blessing of the governor's constituent services office.

The only problem was, local Democrats and the longstanding Democrat power structure within the mid-level management of CHFS preferred their own candidate. The administration-backed candidate was given an interview, but the job went to the Democrats' preferred applicant. The CHFS employees in charge of the process owed their jobs to the Democrat patronage system that had been in place for years, and that's where their allegiances remained. When local Democrat elected officials and party officials intervened to support their chosen applicant, that's where the CHFS decision-makers sided, realizing who'd buttered their bread for these many years.

The Republicans were upset. One high-ranking Fletcher administration official said, "Well, this didn't turn out the way we wanted it to, but we're going to take steps to make sure stuff like this doesn't keep on happening." Indeed, complaints were flying from all parts of the state that mid-level bureaucrats in many cabinets, in charge of hiring decisions, were continuing to hire Democrats supported by local party big-wigs because they themselves were products of the Democrat patronage system. This is what led to the decision to centralize hiring in what became known as the Personnel Initiative: To end the longstanding system of patronage hiring.

The county attorney, after getting wind of this, seriously considered charging the CHFS managers with violations of KRS 18A, the state's merit system law. The prosecutor knew the vacancy was filled through patronage and not on merit. In the end, though, since the applicant was not a resident of the vacancy where the county occurred, the decision was made not to ruffle local feathers and push a prosecution for patronage. Little did anyone know that a year later, the attorney general himself would be prosecuting patronage allegations for his own political gain and that of his party. In retrospect, we hear, the prosecutor has engaged in a lot of second-guessing for not going forward with the case after all. The reasoning is that this would have exposed the patronage game the entrenched Democrats within state government and local party officials were still playing, and would have justified the Personnel Initiative in the public's mind and blunted the effects of the special grand jury.

This is an interesting cautionary tale, a story of "what-ifs." Perhaps in the future, some local county attorney won't be shy about prosecuting patronage violations when qualified Republicans are passed over for well-connected Democrats in coveted state merit jobs.

Hebert on the case?

We're hearing reports that Kentucky's premier broadcast investigative reporter, Louisville's Mark Hebert, is looking into the connection between a member of the special grand jury that indicted ex-Gov. Ernie Fletcher and an employee of Greg Stumbo's Kentucky Bureau of Investigation.

If so, this is big. For the first time, a member of the mainstream media is looking into the improprieties that surrounded and tainted that grand jury and its members.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Not so fast, Joey!

The Transportation Cabinet's reorganization at the highway district level went into effect today, but how long will the new status quo remain? Secretary Joe Prather better not count on smooth sailing for his unproven reorganization plan.

The new branch manager jobs in each of the dozen district offices will be opened up for competition soon, but there's a good chance that those newly-created vacancies will remain in limbo for several months.

We're hearing that some KYTC employees are considering suing to stop the reorganization from taking effect. We're not sure on what grounds they'll sue, but we do know that a KYTC employees association is having an emergency meeting in Frankfort this week to discuss the matter.

If a suit is filed, the next thing will no doubt be a temporary injunction halting implementation of the new organizational structure and filling the new positions created by it. We anticipate any such lawsuit taking years to litigate to completion. And that doesn't count any Personnel Board actions that may come about when positions are filled and the unsuccessful applicants protest.

In a somewhat related matter, KYTC released its executive highway plan late this afternoon, which is supposed to serve as a substitute for the legislatively-passed Six Year Plan that Gov. Steve Beshear vetoed. We haven't examined the contents of the plan, but it's a moot point. Senate President David Williams has a slam-dunk legal case against the Beshear administration on this matter.

We're also hearing troubling news out of Frankfort that Prather and his merry band of political hacks in KYTC are cancelling projects right and left, many of them which have been planned and promised to Kentuckians for years. Other projects are being scaled back to the point that it doesn't even make any sense to continue with the skeleton of what's left.

One year ago, Kentucky's highway department and budget was in excellent shape. Projects were being planned and let for bid, contracts were being awarded, and new construction was being completed. Two years in a row, the state set records for the amount of construction being done. Do Beshear and Prather want their legacy to be the dismantling of Kentucky's highway construction program and the destruction of the Transportation Cabinet's internal structure? Sure looks that way.

Ernie Fletcher's KYTC, while it did have some problems (and not what the mainstream press regurgitated after being fed by Greg Stumbo), was nothing compared to this cluster-foxtrot.

So, Joey Prather, you might want to slow down before you run what little is left of your reputation.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Transportation Cabinet employees unhappy about impending highway district reorganizations, but local officials will be really ticked off

Employees in the Transportation Cabinet's 12 highway district offices are unhappy about a reorganization plan that takes effect next week. But their anger is nothing compared to what will no doubt be coming down the pike once legislators and local officials get wind of the changes that are going into effect.

Currently, there are five engineering branches -- planning, pre-construction (design, right of way purchase and utility relocation), maintenance, traffic management (signing, striping/pavement marking, issuance of permits for right of way encroachment) and construction (contract management and inspection of projects done by contractors) -- within each of the 12 highway districts.

The reorganization plan, which goes into effect on June 15, consolidates construction and maintenance functions and cuts the number of engineering branches in each district from five to four. All current branch managers must reapply for their positions and those jobs are also open to anyone who meets the criteria. This means that co-workers are going to be in competition with each other for their jobs, and also subordinates who are qualified. With five branch managers and four branches under the new plan, there will be one odd man (or woman) out in each district. This is a recipe for hurt feelings, wounded morale, and a raft of new Personnel Board complaints filed by the unsuccessful applicants.

Besides merging construction and maintenance functions, the new plan basically does away with planning as a separate branch and folds it into pre-construction. Some of the other functions are taken from maintenance and construction and thrown into a "catch-all" branch.

These are internal changes, of concern mainly to the affected employees, and many of them are already unhappy over what's in store. Making the existing branch managers sing for their supper hasn't gone over too well in many of the 12 district offices, our sources in Transportation tell us. Some employees have threatened to contact a lawyer and file a complaint at the least provocation. Some of these were ardent Steve Beshear supporters in last year's gubernatorial election but have now sworn off any future support for him.

However, there are external changes that will be noticeable to the general public, and these are sure to spark outrage from local officials when the full details of what's coming are made known.

In each district there will be two branches for "project delivery and preservation," which is a fancy way of saying "construction and maintenance." The counties in each district will be split roughly in two, with half going to each project delivery and preservation branch. Within each branch, the counties will be further split into two sections. And that's where the fun begins.

While there will continue to be one or more garages in each county, called a unit within the new organizational structure, the sections will in essence be one huge multi-county crew. What this means is that basically, there will be no county crew anymore. If officials want, they can take half the members of one crew ("unit") and assign them to another county for a few days.

Kentuckians are territorial about their counties. And if they begin to perceive that the state highway maintenance needs in their county are being ignored because their workers are having to do things in other counties, they won't stand for it.

There's been no media coverage on this impending change, and to our knowledge local officials (county judges and mayors) have not been informed of what's new, and neither have the legislators.

Those with long memories may recall when Gov. John Y. Brown Jr. closed a few state highway garages in certain counties. It was a very unpopular move and it didn't take Brown's successor, Martha Layne Collins, to reopen the closed garages. This move to consolidate county crews is reminiscent of that, and many longtime Highway Department employees are predicting similar results with this upcoming reorganization.

It should also be noted that under the planned reorganization, the post of administrative branch manager is being eliminated. This person is in charge of purchasing, payroll, personnel and bill payment functions and the administrative managers (all merit employees) have traditionally been yellow-dog Democrats who played and perfected patronage hiring games for years. (We know of one former administrative manager who spoke in code, saying applicants had to be "the right religion" to be considered for a job in his district). Several of the districts have vacancies in this position, since the Fletcher administration chose not to fill those administrative manager positions that came open during Fletcher's four-year term. Some of these duties will fall under the supervision of a new non-merit "administrative coordinator" while others will be the responsibility of employees under the direct supervision of the chief district engineer.

We don't know how well these administrative changes will go over, especially the changes in the engineering areas. But we don't think that local constituencies and officials will be happy about the changes to the county crews, especially when they can't get pothole-ridden roads in their own counties fixed because half the workers are in an adjacent county helping pull ditchlines.

Another lieutenant governor gets hitched, will another party switch of convenience by the bride follow?

Before Kentucky's only Miss America, Heather French, got married, she was a staunch Republican.

But when she became engaged to then-Lt. Gov. Steve Henry, she changed her registration to Democrat.

Fast-forward a few years, when another 40-something bachelor lieutenant governor plans to wed another 20-something female.

Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo plans to marry Frankfort native Allison Patrick sometime, someplace. The details of those nuptials are being kept secret.

Mongiardo is a Democrat. He met Patrick on the floor of the Kentucky Senate when he was serving in that body, and was introduced to Patrick by State Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr.

Kerr is a Republican and Patrick was volunteering with Kerr's campaign. It's not hard to draw the conclusion that Patrick is a Republican from the fact that she was working for Kerr's campaign.

So we're left to wonder -- will Patrick change her registration out of convenience, as Heather French Henry did? Or will she remain true to her core beliefs?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Fletcher Inquisition: Has the smoking gun been discovered?

For months we have been asserting that the grand jury which issued indictments against former Gov. Ernie Fletcher and members of his administration (and even private citizens who supported Fletcher) was fatally flawed and compromised, if not outright corrupt. We pointed out the personal motivations of the chief whistleblower, Doug Doerting, in making the original complaint; the obvious political motives of Attorney General Greg Stumbo; the political loyalties of the chief prosecutor (Scott Crawford-Sutherland) to Fletcher's vanquished opponent in the 2003 governor's race; the political hostility inherent in a majority of the grand jurors; the financial conflict of interest posed by having state merit employees (including the grand jury's forewoman) on the panel because they were negatively financially impacted by the administration's increment policy; and testimony given by several parties (including Doerting) in various legal proceedings that the administration's intent was to follow and bolster the law, not break it, in the interests of providing better services to the taxpayers of Kentucky.

Each time we brought these things up, we were accused of impugning the integrity of the judicial process and that of 12 courageous Franklin County residents who were forced to take time out of their lives to pull grand jury duty. In fact, anyone who made these arguments in public forums, such as other blogs, became the subject of attacks.

Well, have we finally found proof positive that the grand jury was tainted and flawed?

An anonymous poster with access to Lexis-Nexis or some other source of information has provided a definite physical link between attorney general's office employee (and member of Stumbo's former Kentucky Bureau of Investigation) John Dudinskie and grand juror Tuyen Dudinskie. The two live at the same address, 105 Kensington Lane, in Frankfort.

How was a member of the household of a KBI employee ever allowed to serve on a special grand jury hearing evidence gathered by the KBI? Those who claimed we were questioning the very fabric of our judicial system ought to be outraged -- not at us (don't shoot the messenger) but at the very blatant ethical and legal conflicts posed here.

The Frankfort establishment and its willing accomplices in the press got what they wanted: Ernie Fletcher out of power, and a Democrat back at the helm of the state. But at what cost?

We'd like to know what other ties may have existed between grand jurors and interested parties in this case, but the judge sealed the juror information sheets filled out by the prospective jurors when they were called for jury duty. So the only way to discover this is to take the list of grand jurors, which is a matter of public record and is available from the Franklin Circuit Clerk's office, and do some investigation the way we and an observant reader did.

The fix was in -- and we may have stumbled upon a smoking gun to prove it.

Yes, Ernie Fletcher is out of politics, probably for good, but we will never forget the injustice done to him, nor will we forgive those who perpetrated it upon him. The process that ended his career and gave Frankfort back to the incompetent and inept Democrats to do things the way they've always done them, with the same old people running things, was a travesty of justice.

If any of our readers knows anything about any of the grand jurors, and can offer some proof, e-mail us at or post it here. We're mainly looking for information relating to conflicts of interest between the grand juror's job, family connections, friendships, etc., and their grand jury service, although juicy personal stuff might be useful sometime in the future if it becomes necessary for more pressure to be brought to bear to get a full investigation of what went on. It's time for an accounting to be made.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

EXCLUSIVE: More evidence that the Fletcher grand jury was tainted and corrupt?

In the comments section of a post on PolWatchers discussing recent changes made by Little Jackie Conway in the Office of Attorney General, including the elimination of the Kentucky Bureau of Investigation, the integrity and professionalism of KBI investigator John Dudinskie is called into question. Seems that Dudinskie is a defendant in a lawsuit filed in Russell County relating to his conduct in an investigation into public corruption in Jamestown. A cursory review of information available about this situation reveals that he even had a restraining order filed against him prohibiting him from contacting certain witnesses in the corruption case.

Seems to us that when a judge prohibits a law enforcement officer or official investigator from talking to witnesses, that's a pretty severe step and a good indication that something is rotten in Denmark -- or in this case, the Lake Cumberland area.

When we saw this discussion, red flags went up. "Dudinskie" isn't exactly a common name in Kentucky, and we knew we'd seen that name recently.

Turns out that someone with the same unusual last name was a member of the special grand jury that spent months indicting Gov. Ernie Fletcher and members of his administration for doing what had been official office policy in the preceding 32 years of Democrat rule in Frankfort, and when what the Fletcherites were trying to do was actually END the practice of political patronage hiring that had plagued this state for decades.

Tuyen Minh Thi Dudinskie, a female born on Nov. 1, 1968, is a registered Democrat. She lives at 105 Kensington Lane in Frankfort, an address so new the street doesn't even appear on Google Maps, Mapquest or Yahoo Maps. This residence must be on Frankfort's west side, since she votes at the National Guard Armory on Louisville Road.

We have no way of knowing if Tuyen Dudinskie has any connection to John Dudinskie, but we'd be willing to put a significant sum of money on it. There was a John Dudinskie who retired from the Frankfort Police Department a couple of years ago (thanks to that PolWatchers thread for giving us a link to that tidbit of info) and we suspect that they are, if not the same person, connected to one another. Again, Dudinskie's not a common name in Franklin County. We'd expect to run into a few Dudgeons and Shryocks in Frankfort, but not a lot of Dudinskies.

We don't have immediate access to property ownership or tax records in Franklin County to know anything about 105 Kensington Lane, such as who owns it. shows no phone listings for anyone named Dudinskie in Frankfort. But we'd certainly wager a significant sum that there is a definite close connection between John Dudinskie, accused rogue KBI agent, and Tuyen Dudinskie, grand juror.

If true, it's yet another powerful argument that the special grand jury was tainted and the indictments were illegitimate. It's also another very good reason why the court made a serious error when it sealed the juror information sheets, which would have revealed if there was any close connection between Tuyen and John Dudinskie.

We welcome any input on this matter, such as copies of deeds or tax information from Franklin County. We'd love to see joint ownership of property by John and Tuyen Minh Thi Dudinskie. It would be more proof that Ernie Fletcher and members of his administration were wrongly prosecuted for political purposes.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

What's wrong with Kentucky politics in a nutshell

If you really want to know what's wrong with Kentucky politics, look no further than the recently-contested race for state senate in the 29th District.

This district, which covers the most heavily Democrat part of the state (Breathitt, Floyd, Knott and Letcher counties) featured two candidates that, quite frankly, were not worthy of the public trust. The phrase "let the best man win" certainly didn't apply to this contest. Neither candidate could have been considered "best."

The incumbent, Johnny Ray Turner, was recently slapped on the wrist by the feds for a rampant vote-buying operation that was busted in Pike Floyd and Knott counties a few years back. Turner somehow managed to avoid any real responsibility for his role in the scheme.

He won re-election last month (there is no Republican candidate in the fall) over Eric Shane Hamilton, who is joined at the hip to the Hindman Mafia which dominates politics in Knott County and is a regional force.

The titular leader of the Hindman Mafia is former State Sen. Benny Ray Bailey, whom Turner defeated several years ago to be elected to that state Senate seat. Other members of the group include Grady Stumbo, former gubernatorial candidate; Bill Weinberg, son-in-law of ex-Gov. Bert T. Combs; Ron Daley, former Hindman newspaper publisher; and various current and former administrators at Alice Lloyd College in Knott County. Hamilton is a relative of Bailey, was seen as his surrogate by many, and thus must be considered a junior member of the Hindman Mafia.

(It should be noted that in the de-facto election for state representative in nearby Perry County, Bailey's son (also named Benny Ray Bailey) ran and lost, in large part because it was revealed that the younger Bailey has allegations of domestic violence in his past.

The Democrats have controlled this corner of Kentucky for years, and billions of dollars worth of public projects have been directed to the area, but still the region remains one of the country's poorest. The Democrats treat political power as their birthright and the counties and cities as their own little fiefdoms. They produce lackluster candidates with questionable intelligence, poor communication skills, limited educations in many cases, and more often than, not, lacking ethical and moral standards.

A crooked politician vs. the puppet of the Hindman Mafia. The voters of that Senate district didn't have a choice. And as long as they keep electing the officials they send to Frankfort, to the county courthouse and to city hall, they don't have a prayer.

It's not just in eastern Kentucky, either. Out in the Purchase, Democrats nominated pardoned federal felon Carroll Hubbard, who embarrassed the state with his misconduct while he served in Congress, for a state Senate seat. Julian Carroll, whose term as governor was tainted by a number of ethical lapses, resurrects his political career as a state senator and constantly panders to his constituency (state employees) to get elected, then turns around and betrays them via his votes.

It's just not Democrats, either, although they are the dominant political party in the state and they enjoy a distinct monopoly in many areas. We can point to counties where voters elect known alcoholics and bootleggers, who are Republicans, to local office.

But if we want to point out just why Kentucky and Kentucky's political scene is so screwed up, we will look unto the hills, from whence cometh not our help, but our answer. Johnny Ray Turner needs to be drawing his teacher's retirement check, and Shane Hamilton needs to be teaching karate, but one of them was going to end up representing a chunk of the mountains in the state Senate. And the people of Breathitt, Knott, Floyd and Letcher counties are poorer as a result.