Thursday, July 31, 2008

KHSAA update

It was reported earlier in the week that a hearing officer for the Kentucky High School Athletics Association has ruled that University of Kentucky basketball recruit Dakotah Euton is eligible to play for Scott County High School this year, subject to approval from the Board of Control. This is a reversal of a ruling by KHSAA Commissioner Brigid DeVries and is a good and logical decision.

Euton's father lost his job with an architectural firm in the Ashland area and the family moved to Georgetown after Mr. Euton landed a job with a firm in Lexington. The KHSAA allows eligibility for athletes that have a bona fide change of address, and we cannot think of a more legitimate reason for moving than taking a new job in a distant city after you lose your old job.

This is a good individual decision but it still does nothing to rein in the KHSAA's arrogance and heavy-handedness in dealing with schools that come under court order to play certain athletes when the eligibility is in dispute. Even if a school is ordered by a court to allow an athlete to compete, the KHSAA still urges the school not to let the player play and threatens the school with forfeitures of on-field wins and post-season revenue if the ruling is overturned on appeal.

The state Department of Education needs to pass a regulation, sooner rather than later, that strips the KHSAA's ability to punish schools that abide by court rulings in good faith. It is not fair for the KHSAA to put schools in the position of either forfeiting wins, or subjecting school personnel to contempt of court citations or other legal liabilities, when a court orders a school to do something.

If the DOE won't do it, then the legislature should. The KHSAA is no longer an independent body; it's part of the state government educational system even though private schools participate in KHSAA post-season tournaments.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The "Beshear About Wasting Money in Kentucky" tour

When a member of Kentucky's federal delegation -- a senator or a representative -- holds a town meeting, there usually isn't a big entourage accompanying him (and that isn't a sexist term since both of Kentucky's senators and all six representatives are male) to the remote location.

The official will have a handful of staff members accompanying him -- a driver, perhaps two or three others -- and that's pretty much it, except for the little table in the corner.

There, two or three of the Congress member's field staff will sit to take questions and respond to complaints or requests from constituents.

The whole group can be accommodated in two, maybe three vehicles.

Certainly three planes aren't needed to, say, fly Ben Chandler from Lexington to Irvine or Danville for town meetings, or Hal Rogers from Somerset to Pikeville.

Much has been made of all the cabinet secretaries and high-level agency staffers accompanying Gov. Steve Beshear to his town hall in Pikeville, but that doesn't even begin to scratch the surface.

At these meetings, personnel from each individual cabinet are required to attend and set up a table to take comments and complaints from attendees. The mainstream press, which has rightly criticized the governor for the excess in his current "Beshear About Kentucky" tour, hasn't even touched on this.

When the statewide "Trying to Get My Approval Ratings Out of the Cellar 2008 Bluegrass Tour" is over, some prescient reporter -- and Ryan Alessi and Joe Gerth, we know you read us -- ought to file an open records request for all overtime accrued by all state employees required to attend this after-hours statewide extravaganza.

If a senator or congressman can handle constituent issues with two or three people at a town meeting, why does the Beshear administration need dozens of state employees to do the same thing? Is one reason that it allows them to pad their attendance estimates?

Steve Beshear -- exceeding expectations for incompetence on a daily basis.

Government by gimmick

We thought the proposed "gas tax holiday" was a stupid idea from the moment we first heard about it.

Eliminating the federal gas tax during the busiest driving months? Cutting off the supply of money to fix our roads and build new ones at a time when our transportation system needs major overhauls and upgrades?

That's lunacy. It does nothing to solve the long-term problem of gasoline being more expensive than it really should. Instead of temporarily knocking 20 cents off the price of a gallon of gas, government should be encouraging solutions to bring about a significant and permanent decrease down to at least $2 per gallon, if not cheaper.

Sens. John McCain and Hillary Clinton bought into this asinine idea during their presidential campaigns. We'll give Sen. B. Hussein Obama credit for recognizing this as a goofy gimmick and dismissing it, although we don't see B. Hussein Obama coming up with any real solutions to lower the price of gas for the long haul.

The current artificially high prices for gas and diesel ought to be a winning campaign item for nearly every Republican Senate and House candidate this year. Democrats have traditionally been opposed to increasing domestic oil production and refining capacity and have rebuffed GOP efforts to do so.

So what does Bruce Lunsford do? He jumps onto the goofy, gimmicky gas tax holiday idea. Guess he thinks Kentuckians are too stupid to recognize a nutty idea when they see or hear it.

The suggestion to release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is equally goofy. We are not in a true emergency or shortage situation that would justify such a release. The high gas prices are troublesome but there's still plenty of gas available for everyone. The SPR should be reserved for true emergencies.

Government by gimmick doesn't work. The American people want real relief for prices at the pump that is significant and long-lasting. A gas tax holiday is not the ticket and would actually do more harm than good. So, too, would releasing oil from the SPR.

We all agree with the concept of developing alternative energy sources, but for right now, gasoline-powered individual transportation is what we have and what we must live with. Until an alternatively-fueled vehicle can be developed that will run 400 miles at current highway speeds and can be refueled in a 5 to 10 minute stop at a price comparable to a tank of gas, we have to use petroleum-powered cars and trucks. That's the reality we face now and must plan for in the immediate future as we hammer out an energy policy.

Lunsford has no answers. He's part of the problem.

Bluegrass Report 2.0 off to unimpressive start

After months of inactivity, Bluegrass Report came back on the scene earlier this month. While founder Mark Nickolas is still no longer a Kentucky resident, he promised a commonwealth blogger would take the reins and continue that blog's tradition.

(A tradition of libel and slander, hyping falsehoods and twisting the truth? That's a tradition we'd rather not have, but to each their own).

So far, we've been unimpressed with this newest incarnation of the Democrat blog that purports (untruthfully, of course) to be An Unfiltered and Candid Look at Politics, Politicians and the Media in Kentucky but in reality spins like an out-of-control carousel.

The name of the new blogger is unimportant. He's someone we'd never heard of, anyway, so he can't be too terribly influential. But what he's posting is uninspiring.

To date, his contributions include whining about the lack of progress on Interstate 69 in western Kentucky (he must be living on a rock because Kentucky is one of the leaders in pushing this highway forward), an absolutely ludicrous rant about how the media hates Steve Beshear and is treating him unfairly (tell that to Ernie Fletcher, who really was given a raw deal by the press), and two "so-what" posts claiming that Senate President David Williams (gasp) has taken contributions from highway contractors and may actually know or be related to some of them.

Horror of horrors! The world is ending! The glaciers are melting and we're all going to drown in a global-warming-induced flood!

The Williams "expose" is hardly news. It really isn't even worth mentioning. It isn't scandal, or even noteworthy. Yet some Democrats are ranting and raving that the mainstream press is doing the state a disservice by ignoring this blockbuster story.

We've got news for you folks -- the mainstream press has missed stories a lot bigger than this. So far, we haven't seen one peep about the conflicts of interest inherent in the special grand jury that indicted Fletcher and members of his administration, and this is a story that strips away any validity or integrity of those indictments.

One post in reply to this earth-shattering "scoop" hinted that Williams had demanded that Bluegrass Report take the original story down. We can only hope this is true. One of our collective wet dreams has been for Bluegrass Report to be slapped with a libel suit that would shut down the site and financially ruin its owners. We blame that Web site for coarsening the level of political discourse in Kentucky and dragging it into the gutter. BGR made it trendy to substitute partisan rants and profanity for honest analysis of current events and political happenings; a relay torch that a bunch of other liberal Kentucky blogs have picked up and run with.

Not that BGR was ever anything to live up to or aspire -- we value the truth and integrity too much to ever regard that "slander blog" (as some have called it) as anything to emulate -- but the new incarnation has a long way to go before it will be relevant.

We know what sort of disgusting being Mark Nickolas is. The new blogger at BGR might want to consider disassociating himself with Nickolas and his blog lest the stench permeate him as well.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

State must rein in out-of-control KHSAA

In times past, the Kentucky High School Athletics Association was an independent body governing scholastic sports and administering the state basketball tournaments, football playoffs, etc.

This is no longer the case. Several years ago, the state Department of Education took control of high school sports. The KHSAA basically became an adjunct of the state education agency. KHSAA Board of Control decisions are now subject to review by the state, and bylaws must be approved by legislative subcommittees, much like administrative regulations.

Recent reports in the Lexington Herald-Leader show the KHSAA to be an out-of-control rogue agency that defies court orders and generally does not act in the best interest of student athletes.

One particular case shows the KHSAA's inadequacy in a nutshell, but what's more troublesome are revelations of the KHSAA's attitudes toward the judicial system.

Let's look at the individual case first. Anyone who follows University of Kentucky basketball knows that Dakotah Euton is a young recruit who has already committed to play for the Wildcats. Euton's family is from the northeastern part of Kentucky (Ashland/Greenup area) and Euton had been playing for Rose Hill Academy.

Several months ago, Euton's father lost his job and he was forced to seek employment elsewhere. Unable to land a job in his field in the Ashland area, the elder Euton finally found a position in the Lexington area. So Euton packed up his family, stud basketball player included, and moved to Georgetown, and Dakotah subsequently enrolled at Scott County High School.

It's not unusual for people who work in Lexington to live in one of the surrounding counties. In fact, that's the key reason for growth in such towns as Winchester and Richmond. A large segment of the population in those and other towns surrounding Lexington actually works in Fayette County. And the school system often plays a role not only in what town someone decides to move to, but also in what school district they settle in within the county.

The problem here seems to be that Scott County is a traditional high school basketball power, and Euton is an up-and-coming youngster who needs to test his mettle against premium competition before trading in his high school uniform for the Blue and White. At any rate, the KHSAA ruled Dakotah ineligible to play basketball at Scott County this coming year.

We're hard pressed to come up with any more asinine and ridiculous administrative decision ever. This was no transfer for athletic purposes. Mr. Euton lost his job. In order to find a job in his profession, he was forced to move his family two hours away. It's not something they did voluntarily. Did the KHSAA expect him to get a job working the drive-through at McDonald's, suffering a drastic pay cut in the process, and keep Dakotah enrolled at Rose Hill instead of finding a job in his field at a comparable rate of pay?

The Eutons will appeal this ruling, but that's where the arrogance of the KHSAA becomes even more troubling.

It's not uncommon for students' families to file challenges in court to KHSAA eligibility decisions, and often in these cases, courts will issue injunctions ordering the KHSAA to allow the student to participate in sports. But instead of abiding by the court orders, the KHSAA usually still urges the school not to allow the player to participate. The KHSAA says that if the ruling is overturned on appeal and the ineligibility finding is upheld, the school will be made to forfeit games and possibly face sanctions for using an ineligible player.

This is absurd. A state agency blatantly and willfully defies a court order and threatens punishment to member schools who abide by that order.

What if a court ordered the Cabinet for Families and Children to take some action -- say, removing a child from a home and placing it in foster care? And what if the cabinet secretary ordered the agency's staff not to abide by the ruling, and further decreed that any employee who did as ordered by the court would be suspended, fired, or otherwise punished? How long do you think that would be tolerated?

That scenario is no different than the way the KHSAA conducts business in eligibility cases. Perhaps the judges should broaden their injunctions and orders to state that the KHSAA is forbidden from taking any disciplinary actions against schools that comply with court orders. Or maybe it'll take a few members of the KHSAA Board of Control sitting in jail for a few days on contempt of court charges to finally make that body wake up and smell the roses in the common sense flower garden.

The KHSAA is out of control. It's very obviously a rogue agency, and it's time for the Department of Education to get a handle on it. Commissioner Jon Draud has found himself on the receiving end of a lot of bad publicity early in his term, about provisions of his contract and his choice of a state vehicle. Draud could earn some points for himself by getting a handle on the KHSAA mess and getting them back under the same rules as all other state agencies must follow.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dept. of Advocacy for Public Whining

No, no, no ... we know the real name for the state agency is Department of Public Advocacy. Yet we've never seen a state agency whose leadership whines more about its financial situation than the DPA.

The department has even gone to the lengths of filing a lawsuit against the state, seeking more money. This is reminiscent of biting the hand that funds you.

Already the DPA has been slapped down by state courts, as it was recently ordered to resume representing indigent clients in civil commitment cases.

But this concept of a state agency suing the state for more money is a bit intriguing. Maybe more agencies should do it.

For instance, Transportation has been cutting its budget like crazy, and scaling back or cancelling long-planned projects. (Transportation leadership denies this, but it's true. Compare this biennium's Six-Year Plan -- which itself is the subject of a lawsuit -- with last biennium's and see how many projects have been eliminated, and then feel free to truthfully call Joe Prather a liar to his face). Instead of cutting back transportation projects that the people of this state have been promised and have been expecting for years and in some cases decades, maybe Prather just ought to sue for more money. After all, roads have even more of a constitutional mandate than legal representation for the poor and indigent. If you don't believe that, see where the requirement for "post offices and post roads" is referenced in the U.S. Constitution and then try to find the Constitutional requirement for public defenders.

The good news in all this is that Chief Whiner ... er, we mean DPA Commissioner Ernie Lewis ... has announced his plans to retire soon. Maybe his successor will just make do with what the department gets in the state budget and won't whine incessantly about it.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Kentucky loses a great native son -- RIP Tony Snow

We were saddened at the unexpected news this morning of Tony Snow's passing. Snow, the former White House press secretary and well-known political commentator before that, died after losing his long-running battle with cancer at the age of 53.

Unknown to many, Snow was a Kentuckian. He was born in Berea and spent a good portion of his childhood in the Northern Kentucky area before his family settled across the river in Cincinnati.

Snow's decline in health had not been reported in the media. During his most recent conversations with friends and fellow conservatives Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, Snow said that he was doing well and fighting the good fight against his cancer. The disease is a wicked competitor, though, and in the end medical science and Snow's own cheerful personality and spunky spirit wasn't enough to overcome the killer illness.

We missed Snow when he left Fox News to work in the White House, but we always enjoyed hearing his press briefings -- where he constantly challenged the cadre of liberal reporters assembled before him -- and his interviews with hosts like Limbaugh and Hannity.

Today Kentucky mourns an accomplished and respected native son, and we join with Tony Snow's family and friends in mourning and express our individual and collective sympathy to them.

Friday, July 11, 2008

McConnell and Patton: Did they have a secret deal in 1990s?

Did Sen. Mitch McConnell and former Gov. Paul Patton have a secret deal concerning the 1999 gubernatorial race and the 2002 U.S. Senate race?

Given McConnell's tougher-than-expected re-election campaign, and Patton's re-entry into the public spotlight through his recent appointment to the Council on Postsecondary Education, it might be time to revisit this subject, which was a matter of much discussion a decade ago.

Flash back to the late 1990s. Elected in 1995 in a tight race over Republican challenger Larry Forgy, Patton found himself the first governor in Kentucky's modern history able to succeed himself in office. Yet Patton was rumored to be after bigger and better things, namely a seat in the United States Senate.

Despite the power of the Kentucky Democrat machine being behind him in his re-election campaign, Patton was vulnerable on a couple of fronts. His push to remove the community colleges from the University of Kentucky system was highly unpopular across the state, and his proposal to gut the workers' compensation system had made him many enemies. Despite these vulnerabilities, and a deep-seated belief that he had lost the election in '95 only due to voter fraud, Forgy opted against another matchup with Patton. That left the GOP without an obvious legitimate challenger.

Patton, on the other hand, had two options for a Senate run. He could choose to run against McConnell in 2002, or against first-termer Jim Bunning two years later. The major problem with a race against Bunning was that if Patton won re-election to a second term in 1999, that term would expire in 2003 and he'd be out of office for a year before facing Bunning. If he chose to challenge McConnell, it would be during his second term as governor and he'd be able to use that office to his advantage.

Kentucky Republicans are used to having Senate seats; the political prize they covet in the state is the governorship. They had come oh-so-close with Forgy in 1995 and were thirsting to knock off Patton, whom they saw as beatable based on the two aforementioned policy matters. What they needed was enthusiastic support from the party's leaders, including McConnell, to find and field a formidable foe, especially since Forgy had ruled out another run.

But did McConnell have other ideas? Namely, preserving his own senate seat? No credible Republican gubernatorial challenger ever emerged in 1999, and the nomination went to a woefully outclassed Peppy Martin, who got absolutely no support from the state party or from high-ranking officials such as McConnell. Rank-and-file Republicans were left scratching their heads at why the party would basically give a free pass to the incumbent, whom they perceived as having some potentially fatal flaws.

At the time, a theory surfaced. It was widely speculated that McConnell and Patton had reached a deal. McConnell agreed not to recruit or back a legitimate GOP opponent for Patton, and in return Patton agreed not to run against McConnell for the Senate in 2002 and would delay his candidacy for two years until '04, when he would challenge Bunning.

Other Republicans pooh-poohed the idea. The implication was that if Patton didn't challenge McConnell, that left him free to run against Bunning in 2004. Those Republicans couldn't believe that McConnell would hang a fellow Republican like Bunning out to dry in such a manner.

Oh really now? McConnell's actions over the past three years prove he's more than capable of abandoning fellow Republicans, including some of his closest allies. A large number of Republicans still haven't forgotten how McConnell did nothing to help Gov. Ernie Fletcher, whom he'd enthusiastically supported in 2003, when Fletcher came under attack by Democrats bent on regaining power in state government.

And now some folks who aligned themselves with former U.S. Rep. Anne Northup's failed primary challenge to Fletcher last year are also expressing dissatisfaction with McConnell. They believe McConnell talked Northup into running against Fletcher in the 2007 Republican gubernatorial primary, then left her on her own and didn't provide support.

If McConnell did cut such a deal, turns out that it didn't do Bunning any harm. Patton's political career was subsequently derailed by a sex scandal, and Bunning stumbled to a victory in his 2004 re-election bid that turned Dan Mongiardo from a political lightweight into a credible politician with a future.

But McConnell's obviously alienated two factions within his own party. If Bruce Lunsford presents a serious challenge, McConnell will need committed Republican voters to support him. But if they are ambivalent to him, or outright hostile, based on his treatment of fellow Republicans, he may have more difficulty winning re-election than he expects. The Fletcherites are already mad at him, some to the point of threatening to sit out the Senate election. If he has Northupians angry, too, then he has problems in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 3-2.

Should McConnell lose to Lunsford, he can tie it directly to his own party's dissatisfaction with him for not expressing the proper amount of loyalty and support to other Republicans when they come under Democrat siege. And it would serve McConnell right.

Transportation Cabinet reorganization update

It's been nearly a month now since an ill-advised reorganization plan went into effect in each of the Transportation Cabinet's 12 Department of Highways district offices. To date, the reorganization has garnered little publicity, but that doesn't mean that the furor over the plan has subsided. Instead, as each day goes by, more and more employees are expressing disgust, both publicly and privately. Even some of Steve Beshear's most ardent supporters among the merit employees in Transportation are being roundly critical of the governor and those he's chosen to lead Transportation.

Responding to rampant rumors statewide, the cabinet sent out a press release that stressed that no one would lose his or her job and no one would have his or her pay decreased as a result of the plan, which is causing dozens of involuntary demotions and transfers all across the state. That's little solace, though, to branch managers who are having to reapply for managerial positions and especially those who will not be chosen for the new positions and may be forced into a job they don't want to do, working for a manager they don't want to work for.

Some of the Transportation employee groups have raised questions, but the only concession they've received is that the managerial jobs are now open only to existing employees. Previously, the competition was open to everyone who met qualifications, even those who are currently not working in state government.

Transportation officials also sent a list of "questions and answers" via e-mail to employees, but bigwigs such as Joe Prather, Mike Hancock, Chuck Knowles, Gilbert Newman and Charles Wolfe continue to avoid answering some of the most basic questions being asked internally and externally; questions such as "Who made these decisions?" and "Why weren't any managers or employees at the district level consulted before instituting wholesale closures of offices and transfers of employees?"

We heard that one employees association was trying to recruit an existing branch manager to file a suit and seek an injunction against implementation of the reorganization plan, but it seems that effort was unsuccessful because to date, nothing's been filed. The number of individual personnel actions filed after the branch manager positions are filled is expected to be sky-high, however.

What's bothering many of the employees out in the field is their involuntary transfer to distant locations. Some employees will now have to drive an hour one-way to work when they previously were working in or near their home counties. Taking two hours from their days, and causing them to spend more of their own money for gas when prices are outrageously high, is certainly no way to win friends and keep employees happy. This is a major slap in the face considering that one of Beshear's campaign items was how badly Ernie Fletcher had treated state employees, especially in Transportation. Getting up an hour earlier, getting home an hour later, and spending $20 or more per day for gas isn't exactly treating state employees well, is it?

Two extreme examples have occurred in eastern Kentucky. Harlan Countians are unhappy that their construction office is being closed and relocated to Bell County. Local officials, who have been steadfast supporters of Beshear, have indicated that they believe their county will suffer because of this.

And in Knott County, the construction office is staffed entirely by residents of that county. That office has been closed and moved to Letcher County. This means that all these people will have to drive to Whitesburg to work every day instead of working in their hometown, costing them time and gas money.

Transportation officials are unable to satisfactorily answer questions about these decisions, saying only that people are being moved to where the work is. That doesn't fly. The regional construction offices in each district are spread out enough to allow all counties to be covered; no sense in moving people wholesale and inconveniencing them.

Since local district personnel were given no input into how the counties are grouped into branches and sections, some questionable decisions were made from geographical standpoints, as well. Counties that could have been grouped with other counties that are closer and easier to get to by highway were instead grouped with other counties to which it's a torturous hour-long drive in many cases. For instance, instead of putting Elliott County with Carter County, which is an easy half-hour drive, it instead went into a section with Rowan County. Morehead and Sandy Hook are only about 30 miles apart but it takes nearly an hour to drive the curvy, mountainous road. This blazing display of illogic boggles the mind.

Officials also are talking up their decision to merge construction and maintenance operations, saying it will allow employees to be shifted to where the need is greatest and it will allow for more cross-training and greater opportunities. In whose dream world will this happen? The construction inspectors check on contractors' jobs to ensure they are being built according to plans and to federal and state specifications and requirements. The flaggers and dump truck drivers on the maintenance crews are, for a large part, barely literate and have trouble signing their own names, much less being able to understand complex plans or federal regulations. Maybe a few inspectors have their CDEs and can help drive snowplows in the winter, but are the flaggers capable of inspecting a major construction project such as the US 41 bridge painting project in Henderson or the Somerset northern bypass? We have serious doubts.

Media coverage of the reorganization has been minimal. And no reporters have yet pinned down any Transportation officials to ask the tough questions. We expect this to change as the new branch managers are selected and unsuccessful applicants file their complaints with the Personnel Board and surreptitiously offer tips to the press. (Some of our sources have offered us lots of information, for which we are grateful; keep the tips coming).

We're told that many Transportation officials are of the opinion that "this is a done deal, we need to look forward, not backward." When your car is careening toward a cliff, you don't look forward, you try your best to stop it before there is a horrendous crash. And that's what many in Transportation are trying to do, heretofore without success.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Some things you just can't get rid of

There are some things in life that just won't go away. A drug-resistant case of gonorrhea. Delinquency notices from the IRS. And Mark Nickolas.

The former Ben Chandler campaign manager who later gained infamy as the blogger behind has announced his site's comeback. While Nickolas is still in Montana, he says he plans to comment on Kentucky's role in federal races and has promised a big announcement on Monday of a Kentucky-based contributor who he describes as wired in to the Bluegrass State's political scene.

One of the best descriptions we've seen of Nickolas and his site -- and indeed, one we've used ourselves -- is that the blogger and his blog are a cancer on Kentucky's political landscape. Indeed, we blame Nickolas for poisoning and cheapening the political discourse in this state. His affinity for foul language and his penchant for playing fast and loose with the truth earned nicknames like "slander blog" for his site while inspiring several other Kentucky sites that have carried on his tradition for vulgarity and untruthfulness, including Barefoot & Progressive, Bluegrass Roots (which actually predated Bluegrass Report) and Ditch Mitch. Bloggers there and at several other liberal Democrat Kentucky sites think frequent use of the F-word and screeching hatred for all things conservative and/or Christian is a suitable substitute for intelligent analysis and discussion of issues facing Kentuckians.

Then again, honest discussion was never welcomed on Bluegrass Report. What few conservatives that actually did post there, including some insiders in the Fletcher administration who tried to educate Nickolas and his sycophants as to what was really going on behind the scenes, were basically chased off the site by the hateful Democrats who already had their minds made up and were unwilling to confront or consider the truth.

Nickolas himself has a spotty history in Kentucky. Originally brought to the state by Jody Richards to run his 2003 gubernatorial primary campaign, Nickolas' stock shot up when Richards came oh-so-close to defeating Chandler. Never mind that the reason Richards came so close was because Bruce Lunsford pulled out of the race in the days before the primary, and the anti-Chandler vote went to Richards. Nickolas moved over to manager Chandler's failed gubernatorial campaign that fall and eventually channeled his bitterness at losing to Fletcher into his anti-Fletcher blog. He also found himself on the wrong end of more than one lawsuit (including one for defamation over a Bluegrass Report post) and a tax evasion investigation. He also led a "Draft Ken Lucas" movement that got Lucas into the race for his old House of Representatives seat against incumbent Geoff Davis in 2006; a race Lucas lost badly. Nickolas eventually fled to Montana, where he tried his hand with a Rocky Mountain regional blog and later a national blog. After his departure, he tried to run Bluegrass Report with guest posters including John Y. Brown III, but the site languished. The perception that Nickolas had cut a deal with Jonathan Miller to promote Miller's failed gubernatorial bid in 2007 also cut into Nickolas' credibility. We've also heard that his relationship with Miller put a serious crimp in his attempts to sell the blog and the domain name.

Yet Nickolas is trying a comeback in Kentucky. Much like a penicillin-resistant strain of VD, or a bad check, he returns, unwanted and unbidden, to spread his poison in a state where he no longer lives. A few of his loyal toadies are already welcoming him back. As for us, we'll be waiting to see who his "Kentucky political expert" is. No doubt it'll be some worn-out Democrat hack who wouldn't recognize the truth if it smacked him in the face like a wet trout jumping out of a creel.

In the meantime, we will monitor the "slander blog" for anything blatantly obnoxious or untrue, while at the same time realizing that its proprietor has exactly zero credibility among intelligent Kentuckians.

And we'll encourage the drug companies to come up with a stronger dose of VD medicine to cure Kentucky's case of the clap.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Another episode of "Where's The Outrage?"

Jumping out of the headlines over the holiday weekend was a blurb that Gov. Beshear appointed 10 Democrats and one solitary Republican to various boards of regents and trustees of Kentucky's public universities.

We are reminded that when former Attorney General Greg Stumbo thought former Gov. Ernie Fletcher had appointed too many Republicans to state university boards, in alleged violation of a law requiring the political affiliations of board appointees to reflect the voter registration makeup in the state, Stumbo launched one of his patented political witch hunts against the Fletcher administration.

Now, 10-1 does not come anywhere close to approximating the 65-35 breakdown of registered Democrats to Republicans in Kentucky. So we're left to wonder, where is current Attorney General Little Jackie Conway's outrage at Beshear's appointments? Why isn't Conway trying to force Beshear to comply with the law? Where's the outrage?

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Dear Congressmen Chandler and Yarmuth

Dear Congressmen Chandler and Yarmuth:

For the first time ever, gas is consistently more than four dollars a gallon all across Kentucky. Isolated incidences became widespread earlier this week when the price went up a dime a gallon in many places.

Gas prices have risen astronomically since your party took control of Congress two years ago. Your leadership promised to get gas prices under control when they assumed power, at a time when prices were still far too high but not anywhere near what they are now. Instead, gas prices have nearly doubled in fewer than two years.

Your party offers no solution. Instead, you blame Republicans for the situation solely because the president and vice president are "oil men."

Gentlemen, how do you propose to deal with this very serious matter? What real solutions do you offer?

To date, you have put forth nothing of any value to help us get a handle on high gas prices, which are wrecking the stock market and individual and family budgets. You have instead proposed increasing taxes on oil companies, which will only result in even higher prices as oil companies raise prices to compensate for the tax increase. And you have tried to make oil companies drill on federal lands they already have under lease, but where they haven't drilled because there is no oil there.

What's worse, you have obstructed real solutions to the problems, such as drilling on oil-rich areas and increasing refining capacity. You mouth platitudes such as "we can't drill our way out of this" despite the fact that the problem is immediate and pressing, and there is no other option besides petroleum-powered vehicle for individual transportation.

Until we can develop a vehicle that travel 400 miles at current highway speeds and be completely refueled in 10 minutes or less, the internal combustion gasoline engine will not be replaced because it is impractical.

Congressmen, it is time for you to step forward and show leadership on this matter. Instead of getting your marching orders from San Francisco, it's time for you to listen to your constituents. They want the price of gas to come down and you are doing nothing to allow that to happen. As Kentuckians struggle with increasing prices for gasoline and everything else, it's time for you to act in the best interest of your state and your fellow residents of the commonwealth.