Monday, December 08, 2008

Another example of Beshear's cluelessness: KYTC's SAFE Patrol being phased out

What happens when the state institutes a new program that garners rave reviews from Kentuckians and gets national recognition?

If it's an idea hatched in a Republican administration, it gets axed when the Democrats take back over.

Take, for instance, the Safety Assistance for Freeway Emergencies (SAFE) Patrol, established in the Transportation Cabinet two years ago during the administration of Ernie Fletcher.

In October, the program garnered kudos from the Intelligent Transportation Society of America.

In December, word has it, the state is phasing out the program.

We hear that Transportation has sold several of the custom trucks driven by the SAFE Patrol operators, and that a number of the drivers have either been fired, or have not been replaced if they quit.

The SAFE Patrol trucks operate on Kentucky's interstates, parkways and major four-lane roads, and can provide assistance to stranded motorists and assist with traffic control at accidents. Motorists who've used this program rave about the SAFE Patrol and the service provided. It's been universally hailed as a great state government service.

So what does the Beshear administration do? They make plans to end or severely curtail the service.

We've been critical of Joe Prather, Transportation secretary, and his upper management staff, and this is just another reason to call them on the carpet. They've butchered the state's road construction program, eliminated long-promised projects and proposed major cutbacks to others, and now they're axing a highly successful public service.

We don't want to think that this is being done because the SAFE Patrol was created under the tutelage of Fletcher and Bill Nighbert, but it's a logical conclusion. Prather and his deputy hacks have tried to reverse much of the progress made during the previous four years, from things as simple as scrapping a new cabinet logo in favor of an old one to vindictive acts such as cutting projects in the home counties of Republican leaders.

The SAFE Patrol is an example of a program that works. If the state cuts or messes with it, that'll be even more proof that this administration is run by idiots. And the saddest part is, we have three more years of these clueless boobs running the state.

Beshear's empty gesture

What more could we do but laugh at the press release, issued late this afternoon, that Gov. Beshear and Lt. Gov. Mongiardo, along with a handful of staff members, are taking a 10 percent pay cut for next year?

When you can count the number of people making such a "sacrifice" on both hands and still have fingers left, you can certainly use one of those fingers to point to a completely hollow and meaningless gesture, and another finger to salute the degree of fiscal mismanagement Beshear has shown during his first term in office.

There's nothing great, grand and glorious in this gesture. This is nothing more than a PR stunt and will do nothing to help alleviate the budget shortfall that Beshear keeps predicting.

If he really wanted to do something, he would order an immediate, across-the-board 20 percent pay cut for all non-merit employees above a certain rank or a designated pay scale. He should exempt some of the youngsters in the Governor's Office and some of the non-merit secretaries, who barely scrape by on their state salaries as it is, but he should immediately apply the pay cut to cabinet secretaries, department commissioners, division directors, executive directors, their assistants -- in short, anyone who's in a high-ranking management or advisory position upon appointment by and serving at the pleasure of the governor.

From here it appears that most of Beshear's appointments are overpaid based on their job performances this far into his term. We can't think of a single cabinet secretary, for instance, who's worth more than about $75,000, based on the work product they've produced. And if Jonathan Miller and Joe Prather had to pay the state to work, they'd still be bad hires.

People with discerning noses for news will be able to figure out what's stinking in this meaningless gesture pretty quickly. It'll be recognized for the cheap publicity grab that it is. But if Beshear wants to really be serious about making a statement, he'll move quickly to cut salaries for his appointees and by more than a measly 10 percent. Otherwise it's just more governing by press release, which is about all Beshear and his incompetent bunch can do.