Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Three Faces of Northup

Raggedy Anne

Scardey Cat Anne

Queen Anne

Queen Anne Above Kentucky

On Monday, Anne Northup skipped a disability forum. The forum, which Governor Fletcher and Billy Harper attended, was held in Frankfort. Northup could have walked three hundred yards, from her press conference to the forum, and attended. She refused.

Northup has skipped four candidate forums. Instead, she has campaigned negatively and avoided policy discussion.

Someone remind Queen Anne, we hold elections in our country, not coronations.

Voter Assails Angry Anne

I attended the Shelby County Lincoln Dinner to hear Anne Northup explain why she should be our next governor. I came away with an impression of an angry Washington insider who seems to think she is entitled to be governor simply because of who she is. The fact that Northup served Kentucky's 3rd District for 10 years deserves our respect, but it does not deserve our vote for governor. Anne Northup's campaign strategy seems to be to attack the Fletcher administration, for problems that she perceives, without offering any solutions or ideas on how a Northup administration would do anything differently. …

Northup had a distinguished congressional career, but she needs to accept that her time is over and move on gracefully with her life, instead of making unbecoming and embarrassing presentations like she made on Friday night.

Simpsonville, Ky. 40067

Anne Northup-Dean

More will endorse Queen Anne? Who cares.

Their offices and stature are irrelevant. Voters will not care about endorsements. They will not tote an endorsement’s list into the voting booth. Their care resides with the candidate’s policy. As previously stated, Anne Northup has no policy. She has one three-word talking point, which is chanted during her campaign’s daily yell practice… “Fletcher can’t win, Fletcher can’t win, Fletcher can’t win.”

Bunning’s pronouncements are hollow. Endorsements will not win. Anyone doubt the aforesaid? Al Gore endorsed Howard Dean. Was Dean nominated?

From Lexington Herald-Leader:

U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning predicted that Kentucky’s second in command won’t be the only high-ranking Republican to throw support to an opponent of Gov. Ernie Fletcher. Republicans have been disappointed with Fletcher, especially after a hiring scandal mired his first term in office, Bunning said Tuesday. The Republican senator said that would likely lead to more endorsements of Anne Northup in the May 22 GOP primary.

Bunning wouldn’t say who might endorse Northup, only that "some very high profile Republicans" are likely to endorse the former congresswoman from Louisville in her bid to unseat Fletcher. "It is an indication of the dissatisfaction with the Fletcher administration," Bunning said. "It’s disappointment more than dissatisfaction."

Bunning’s comments came the day after Lt. Gov. Steve Pence threw his support to Northup, saying she is the better candidate and "has a real chance of winning." Pence has already refused to run for re-election with Fletcher.

Fletcher was indicted last year on charges that he illegally rewarded political supporters with protected state jobs. The indictment was dismissed in a deal with prosecutors, but the special grand jury later issued its findings in the case, saying Fletcher had approved a "widespread and coordinated plan" to skirt state hiring laws. Fletcher has maintained that the investigation was politically motivated by Attorney General Greg Stumbo, who is running for lieutenant governor on a ticket in the Democratic primary.

Runoff Repeal Dying

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

At one point, it appeared that the bill would become a way to eliminate the runoff provision that hangs over May’s gubernatorial primary. That now appears unlikely, said Rep. Mike Cherry, D-Princeton, who is ushering the bill through the House. "I would consider it much more likely that we will do runoff elimination in its own bill as opposed to tack it on to another bill," Cherry said.

Runoff repeal deserves own bill? Frankfort politicians should quit.

Quit considering runoff repeal. Play your ball as constituted.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Anne: Stop Campaigning, Become A Candidate

Who is Steve Pence? Traitor, deserter, defector, or as perfectly coined within camp Fletcher… the Brutus of Kentucky politics. Frankfort politicians incorrectly chose Pence in 2003 and today, Pence chose incorrectly.

Fletcher should not be re-elected. However, Anne Northup should not be elected. She has no agenda and one three-word talking point. “Fletcher can’t win.”

Additionally, anyone noting Northup’s false courage? Raggedy Anne is brave before a camera. However, she will not attend forums. She will not face her opponents.

Obviously, Northup is phony tough and the counterfeit courageous.

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

In his endorsement of Anne Northup in the Republican primary for governor, Lt. Gov. Steve Pence criticized Gov. Ernie Fletcher for violating the very campaign theme he rode into office. Pence, speaking at a news conference in Frankfort in which he formally threw his support behind the former GOP congresswoman, said the Republican Party "must have a candidate who can get beyond the scandals of this administration."

"For others the issue is not whether the governor can be re-elected, but rather whether he should be re-elected," Pence said.

He then listed a litany of things that he said the 2003 version of Fletcher might have railed against while criticizing the "good-ol'- boy" culture of Frankfort. "In 2003, what would our party's candidate for governor have said about a governor that had been indicted -- taken the Fifth Amendment -- and issued blanket pardons to his staff?" Pence asked. "In 2003 what would our party's candidate for governor have said about an administration that endeavored to punish those who dared to disagree with them?"

Fletcher campaign manager Marty Ryall issued a statement about Pence's endorsement of Northup. It said: ""Anne Northup has been on a negative rampage against Gov. Fletcher since entering this race. She has no ideas or agenda other than to tear down our first Republican governor in 32 years.

"It is no surprise that the 'Brutus' of Kentucky politics has joined her negative campaign. She should hope there are no rough waters ahead, because Steve Pence will be the first one to jump ship."

Sam Edelen, a spokesman for the Republican gubernatorial campaign of Paducah businessman Billy Harper, said in a statement: "This doesn't affect our campaign. We're going to continue talking about issues important to Kentuckians, such as education and economic development, rather than endorsements from politicians."

On the Mark Pounds Pence

One of the more interesting sidelights of the Pence-endorses-Northup news conference today was Pence's reasoning for staying on the job as Lt. Governor.

It's clear that Fletcher and Pence aren't speaking and Fletcher hasn't given his Lt. Governor any job duties, taking some away instead. So a reporter asked Pence if he would quit, now that he's endorsing Northup. Pence said no, that he was elected to serve four years and that's what he plans to do. The second part of his answer was the most interesting. He says he needs to be the one taking over the reins of state government if something happens to Fletcher. In other words, Pence says he's staying on just in case Fletcher dies or resigns.

He says he's done alot of soul searching on this issue and thinks he's doing the right thing. But there's a good argument to be made that any Lt. Governor with few job duties is wasting taxpayers money and should voluntarily relinquish the job to someone who will work with Fletcher for the last few months of his term.

Fletcher wouldn't elaborate on his earlier request for Pence to resign. But he gigged Pence by saying he went down to the Lt. Governor's office a few days ago but Pence wasn't there, Fletcher adding "I'm sure he was out doing something". Fletcher also says his 2007 running mate, Robbie Rudolph, is "hard working and loyal". That's another obvious dig at Pence. As for Pence, he says he's got a job waiting for him when he leaves office.

He plans to return to a private law practice. When I asked him if he might try to switch jobs with Irv Maze, if the Jefferson County Attorney wins election on his ticket with Jonathan Miller, Pence said he hadn't thought about running for county attorney again, but wouldn't rule it out. Pence joked that I should call his wife and ask her if that would be OK. Pence's wife is Louisville attorney Ruth Ann Cox, who has reportedly been pressuring her husband to get out of politics, get back into a law practice and earn some real money to help take care of their four kids.

Blogs Pensive Concerning Endorsement

Who is Steve Pence? His endorsement is not an earthquake. The blogs are barely registering the “news” as a faint breeze.

From Bill’s Political Blog:

Who does all of this help? Maybe Billy Harper? The Paducah businessman stayed out of the friction today continuing his strategy of hoping Fletcher and Northup will fight and ultimately self destruct. Harper has been out on his bus touring the state and once in a while shows up with his race car which he’s been known to drive at speeds of up to 230 miles an hour.

It’s a big endorsement for Northup and it was a clear opportunity for Fletcher’s folks to prove they can strike back hard. It’s really interesting on the GOP side of things right now.

From Blue Grass, Red State:

The few people who do still support this man are either not paying attention, blind loyalists, or state employees who care more about their own jobs than what's best for the party or the state. It makes me sick at these Lincoln Day Dinners the way state employees who support Northup often wear the Fletcher stickers anyway or wear no sticker at all because they're scared somebody's going to tattle on them and they're going to get fired. So much for free political speech in the Fletcher administration. That's intimidated away. That's my take. Here are others.

So the Fletcher campaign is going on a negative rampage against Steve Pence's integrity!? Unbelievable. Update: According to Pence, the Fletcher administration "endeavored to punish those who dared to disagree with them." According to the legal skills and logic of Jessamine County Attorney Brian Goettl that was applied to me the other day, this is not true and therefore makes Pence eligible to be sued by Fletcher for defamation or some such thing. Take it back, Pence! Endorse The Supreme Executive!

From OSI Speaks:

Both sides are likely going to play the announcement to their advantage (the Northup camp making it to be the neck breaker, while the Gov.'s camp will pretend it means nothing), but here is my take on it: The announcement means something and can be significant -- though it would have been much more significant had it been from someone who hadn't been so publicly anti-Fletcher -- like Sen. Mitch McConnell or any of the other Congressional delegates. But it is still a BIG announcement, in the sense that it is not often that one has one's Lt. Governor OPENLY endorsing, and campaigning for, the other guy (or in this case, gal) -- and maybe even appearing in the other guy's (or gal's) commercials, as I suppose Steve Pence will do. And certainly not one that will say the things that Steve Pence can say, and has apparently started to say!

From Northern Kentucky Politics:

Not totally surprising that Lt. Gov. Steve Pence is backing Anne Northup over Gov. Ernie Fletcher in the GOP gubernatorial primary. Pence was, after all, considering running against Fletcher. But still not good news for the governor.

From On the Right:

Fletcher spokesman Marty Ryal is starting to sound a lot like Brett Hall or whatever that Yankee's name was!

From Kentucky Pachyderm 2:

However, we will properly harpoon him on the issue on his loyalty, which has proven to be nonexistent. If Mr. Pence has any shred of decency or honor left, he will tender his resignation as lieutenant governor immediately. If a non-merit employee such as a Cabinet Secretary had made this endorsement, he or she would be asked to resign on the spot or else they would be fired.

Conservative Edge Bashes Northup, Begs Civility

Now this is hutzpah

The Herald-Leader quoted Anne Northup as saying that she regrets that people who will be endorsing her, will be in "the crosshairs" during this GOP primary. Considering that Northup organized, rallied and has been cheering on the Republican circular firing squad, regret is not nearly enough.

Northup should be apologizing to all Republicans. Billy Harper set the example of how to take on Governor Fletcher and his problems with class. Northup's campaign has been a case study in how to tear down a party.

Conservative Edge On the Edge

We broke the news last week that the "big endorsement" today would be Steve Pence. But this comes as no surprise to us - and shouldn't to anyone else. Steve broke away from the Governor very publicly during the merit hiring scandal. He distanced himself because he decided for one reason or another during that crisis that he didn't want to be on Fletcher's team. When rumors began circulating a couple of weeks ago that Northup would be announcing another "Big Endoresment" we knew who that would be.

There were only a finite number of "big endorsements" left and by process of elimination and political posturing the big foam finger pointed directly to Mr. Pence. A reliable source called and confirmed that suspicion - we were right. One other note: As the teams solidify in this coming primary the nation is watching. Brit Hume of FOX News was in Frankfort this morning to cover this primary.

Let's all keep in mind that even the losers of this race (and those of us in the media who are commenting and reporting on the race) are now representing the Commonwealth to a much broader audience. This fight may get bitter, but let's all remember to fight hard on the issues and not get personal. Kentucky is a great state and has a bright future. I am praying for a vigerous debate - and a powerful unity in May.

KY Progress Praises Billy Harper

Just as I am hearing from more serious GOP primary voters who say they will vote for Billy Harper for governor, Mr. Harper seems to be improving his message. The MSM didn't cover it, but Harper was the only GOP candidate to stand up with Rep. Stan Lee last week and support the HB 30 special needs student school choice bill.

The soft underbelly of the education bureaucracy is its poor return on investment and continued clamoring for more money. Mr. Harper did himself no favors in his early commercials when he linked himself to KERA, but seems to be hitting his stride with this:

The notion that we need increased taxes and more government spending to transform our schools is not only misguided, but reads right from the outdated playbook of the politicians in Frankfort. An unfortunate example of this approach is the Covington Independent School District, which spent $13,166 on each student during the 2005-06 school year Ð the second highest rate in Kentucky Ð yet ranked last among the state's 175 school districts for its performance on the annual CATS assessment.

Spending per-pupil in that district has risen 121 percent since 1989, but student achievement has failed to keep pace. The funding is there, but the approach clearly is not working. In fact, average per pupil spending in Kentucky has risen every year since the KERA reforms, but student performance as measured by a variety of standards is not on the same track.

Now that he is properly indentifying the problem, it is time to hammer home some of the solutions. One of them is empowering parents with school choice. With Mr. Harper deciding to take a stand like this on real education reform, he may want to take a good look at this bill too.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

What He Did & Should Have Said

From the Kentucky Post:

The portable classrooms at Conner High School are reasonably warm. So is the main school building. Students dodging snowflakes while going to their next class? Not so warm.

Of the 4,560 times each school day a student goes to class in a portable classroom in the Boone County School District, 71 percent are at Conner. Some students go back and forth four times a day, on a rotating schedule. Several of the nine portable rooms are within a few yards of the school. The farthest is exactly 77 footsteps away, across a parking lot and up a ramp. "It's all right, but sometimes it gets kind of cold," sophomore Bryan Shirden said recently as he filed out of his Spanish II class in 28-degree weather. "They have heating, but it's not the best situation."

Three hours earlier, it was snowing. Shirden is one of 17,000 students in the district, by far the fastest-growing in Kentucky. Over the past half-decade, the district has consistently gained 700 to 800 students per year. Given projections based on residential building permits, it will again in August. Superintendent Bryan Blavatt and Conner Principal Michael Blevins liken the use of portable classrooms to a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound, expressing concern over security, safety and adequate education.

They also wonder if it's had an impact on students' rates of weather-related illness, though that's never been documented. Conner's attendance rate of 92 percent is below the district's other two high schools, Boone County and Ryle. A new chapter in this story began to unfold early this month, when the Kentucky General Assembly convened for a short session. Boone school officials hope lawmakers will reserve some of the projected $279 million budget surplus to help the district finance new construction, specifically two new elementary schools.

Gov. Ernie Fletcher told legislators he was looking into that issue but was otherwise non-committal, echoing comments he made to Blavatt and others at a Jan. 9 town-hall meeting at Northern Kentucky University. State Sen. Dick Roeding, a Lakeside Park Republican, said it isn't very likely Boone schools will see help from the surplus. "That would require opening up the budget," Roeding said, "so they're going to be very careful about doing that."

Blavatt's appeal to Fletcher at the NKU session included a half-inch-thick summary of Boone's building needs. "This is the biggest push for school facilities I've seen in the state," the governor responded. "I think it's something to look at."

Blavatt knows he's in line with a lot of other entities asking for money. Suggestions the governor heard on how to spend the surplus included a residential drug-treatment facility for adolescents in Northern Kentucky, billboards in high-crime areas of the state, a credit to nursing home residents, college tuition assistance, and a grant of about $1 million for a new center for victims of child and sexual abuse. "The thing I was trying to convey to the governor, and maybe the legislators," Blavatt said, "is they view Boone as a wealthy area, and to an extent it is, but it's also a cash cow for the rest of the state. And the cow's drying up."

Boone has already spent $215 million in the past 12 years to renovate and build schools, and is currently building a new high school at an estimated price tag of at least $45 million. Conner, off Limaburg Road in Hebron, had 1,050 students 10 years ago. Blevins said that, when the new school year begins in August, he expects to eclipse the 1,700-student mark. There have been three building expansions since Blevins arrived at Conner in 1980. He's been principal since 1996. The school has to use the trailers to make do. "They're a pain," Blevins said from his office at the end of a recent school day.

"Really," he said, "with all the school safety issues, I'm concerned about kids walking across the parking lot."

Blavatt worries about what students are carrying in their oversized winter coats. Blevins worries about how easy it would be for someone to "mingle in with the students" while they're going back and forth.

For comparison, another of the largest school districts in Northern Kentucky, Campbell County, has just two portable classrooms at Highland Heights. They will be eliminated when a new elementary school, Crossroads, opens in August in Cold Spring. Back at Conner, the classroom in which Shirden is taking Spanish II has its downsides. It's air-conditioned with window units. One window screen is ripped. Whenever a student needs to use the restroom, it involves going out.

It's functional, though. Desks are in orderly rows. Maps of Argentina and Mexico grace the walls. The dry-erase board is covered with words in Spanish. Special-education teacher Greg Wingate, who teaches in the other half of that trailer, says the one upside is that students aren't distracted by hallway noise. The more glaring downside is equally inescapable, though. "You have to go outside to go inside."

This situation is horrific. The Governor is “looking into it.”

Governor Fletcher’s response is unacceptable.

Governing is leadership. Governing is prioritizing. Education is critical. A Governor spouting platitudes is useless.

Upon being informed of Conner High School, Governor Fletcher should have acted. He should have committed funds. He should have announced Conner was a priority. However, he said nothing.

Governor Fletcher’s inaction is deplorable. He should be ashamed.

Anatomy of A Calamity

Everyone believes the vast McConnell wing conspiracy.

With that stated, Sabato’s analysis is correct. The persecution of Governor Fletcher is imagined. His intentions were pure. However, his hiring was illegal. Subsequent attacks were not partisan. They were a response to Fletcher’s incompetence.

Northup’s candidacy is ridiculous. Her lone talking point is “Fletcher cant win.” Supposedly, she is a product of Senator Mitch McConnell. Reality states she is a Congressional loser from a Republican district.

Neither should win this election. Given the nomination, neither will win.

By Larry Sabato, published on 2 paragraphs of many on the 3 2007 Governor races:

In Kentucky the only question is who is not running for Governor. The genesis of the large field is the deep trouble in which freshman GOP Governor Ernie Fletcher finds himself. Fletcher has been enormously weakened by a prolonged legal and political battle over his patronage hirings. No doubt, the pressure was great in 2003 to hire GOP office-seekers since Fletcher is the first Bluegrass State Republican Governor since Louie Nunn left office in 1971, but his handling of the matter has nearly destroyed his Governorship.

GOP stalwarts insist it is all partisan, a product of the ambitions of Democratic Attorney General Greg Stumbo (now running for lieutenant governor on a ticket in his party's primary). Whatever the truth of that, some of the revelations have been highly embarrassing to Fletcher, and his job approval and re-elect numbers are languishing in the 30s. Almost all Democrats and many key Republicans do not believe that he can be reelected in November.

Enter the Svengali of Kentucky GOP politics, U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell, who is not about to sit idly and watch the Republican house he has built since 1984 crumble. The Senate Minority Leader also comes up for reelection himself in 2008, and he doesn't want a Democratic Governor recruiting a strong candidate against him. Behind the scenes, McConnell and his allies have promised support to former Congresswoman Anne Northup, who was persuaded to run despite last November's defeat for reelection.

Northup had represented the Democratic Louisville area for ten years, managing to win close victories in a hostile environment until she was finally washed away in the Democratic wave of '06. Northup has already tied Fletcher in at least one survey conducted for her campaign, never a good sign for an incumbent. If her campaign is well run and generously financed, she has a decent chance to win in the May 22nd primary--though we note that Fletcher has started to effectively use the powers of incumbency in an attempt to hold on. He still has a mountain to climb.

Multimillionaire businessman Billy Harper, who led Fletcher's fundraising efforts in 2003, has also filed to challenge the Governor in the GOP primary. His main threat appears to be in forcing a costly runoff, which will occur if no candidate secures at least 40 percent in May--unless the legislature abolishes the run-off, which is a live possibility.

BGRS, Keeling Slam Governor

From Blue Grass, Red State:

Here's the part about Fletcher:


Gov. Ernie Fletcher's proposal to spend $200 milllion of a bogus $401 million "surplus" on a variety of initiatives was an all too obvious re-election campaign ploy. And his plan to blame lawmakers for denying Kentuckians these initiatives when they exercise the fiscal restraint he seems incapable of doing is another obvious ploy. But as usual with our Boy Governor and the worthy successors to his original Kiddie Korps, they were a bit shy on anticipating all the possible consequences of their plan. BG and his aides knew legislative leaders were not inclined to open up the budget for wholesale revisions in a non-budget year, particularly when the structural imbalance in the budget greatly exceeds the bogus "surplus."

But he went ahead with his fiscally foolish proposals anyway, thinking it put him in a win-win situation of taking credit if he got what he wanted or blaming lawmakers if his initiatives failed. But there was a third option he obviously didn't consider. A governor who makes all sorts of promises to the public that he can't get the legislature to go along with just looks weak. A weak governor who fires off angry letters and goes into rants at legislative receptions in response to the House exercising some fiscal prudence on the "Boni Bill" looks both weak and whiny. Those are two traits BG has down pat, but why would Kentucky voters want to re-elect a weak and whiny governor?

I'm glad Keeling is just crazy enough to put this out there. All the sensible Democrats are trying to support Fletcher so they can win in the November general.

Sarcasm duly noted. However, Fletcher is vulnerable and the stated point is correct.

Fletcher is the Democratic choice. Given his nomination, they will win.

Anne Northup Has A Health Plan?

This response from to a question to candidates regarding the importance of health care to Kentuckians: ANNE NORTHUP:

1. A healthier and better educated workforce is vital to individual success and the collective productiveness to make Kentucky competitive in the emergent world economy.

2. There are things Kentucky can do to provide more access to health care without adopting the single-pay system. Many European countries are moving away from the single-payer system in order to provide access to better health care. Tuition rates are too high and we must find ways to stop the upward spiral and, if possible, achieve reductions.

3. Government must provide adequate access to health care and insure its quality including preventative care and information to help individuals make healthier life choices. But personal responsibility must be an equal and vital component of making that system successful. ... We need creative efforts to make sure affordable health insurance choices are available so that low income workers who have access to private insurance have the help they need … . Keeping tuition rates affordable for more Kentuckians will take partnership between the higher education community and the state.

The higher education communities must contain costs and address the inefficiencies in their system ... . The state must make tuition assistance a priority for qualified Kentucky students who deserve and need financial help.

Anne Northup proposing policy? Incredible!

She has talking points? I am stunned. I was told the lone phrase at the campaign’s daily yell practice was “Fletcher can’t win. Fletcher can’t win. Fletcher can’t win.”

Pol Watchers Recognizes Steele’s Kentucky

Blogging the Bluegrass


Steele's Kentucky (David Steele) says Gov. Ernie Fletcher's approach to economic development is like "standing on the beach, bailing out the ocean with a teaspoon."

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Conservative Edge Online Debate

We sent four questions to each of the three Republican Candidates for Governor. They were not the same four questions, but similar and customized slightly based on each candidates established rhetoric. Now we bring those answers - unfiltered - directly to you. Feel free to post your comments and thoughts as these three candidates give us thier vision for Kentucky's future.

We do ask that you keep the debate civil, and regardless of whether you agree or disagree with any of these three leaders, that you remember that they have taken upon themselves the responsibility to offer to Kentucky their own vision of tomorrow. Being a candidate is a tough job and we appreciate the step toward public service that these two men and one woman are making. We also thank them for taking the time out of their busy campaign schedules to answer these questions. Feel free to comment, but keep it on the issues and debate away.

Gov. Ernie Fletcher

What direction/vision will you establish for the Commonwealth in asecond term?

I intend to continue the progress that the commonwealth has seen in the first term of my administration. My administration has created a culture of life that provides further protection of all children, born and unborn. We confronted a $1 billion deficit and generated an over $700 million surplus through efficient management. We have reduced the number of state workers by over 2,000 through attrition only.

We have dedicated the surplus to building the rainy day fund to its highest level in the history of the commonwealth, sound fiscal management that has been recognized by Wall Street, allowing the state to refinance bonds and generate additional funds to fund state needs. We have cut personal and corporate income taxes. When I came to office the state was in a financial crisis. Education funding had flatlined for the last ten years because a substantial portion of every new dollar generated had to be dedicated to the skyrocketing costs of Medicaid. We have cleaned up this mess by reforming Medicaid, cutting taxes and running government efficiently, and now have the state in a position to build for the future.

There is work to be done to make higher education affordable for Kentuckians and continue to move healthcare in the state to a more transparent and market-based system, which I mentioned in the State of the Commonwealth and will discuss in the coming months.

How can we improve our education system? Are there ways that you plan to make higher education a priority and easier to attain for young people?

Education is a priority of the Fletcher administration. Unlike many politicians that make this claim, we've put our money where our mouth is. Thanks to the more stable financial foundation we have created, we have been able to provide record funding to education.

P-12 education funding is receiving record increases after a decade of flat funding. This revenue has not just gone blindly into the system, but to establish better tools of accountability. We have invested in the technology necessary to create a statewide system of longitudinal tracking, so we track in real time student performance, available on the web, and identify a student that needs intervention before it's too late. I have advocated directing enhanced compensation to teachers that volunteer to teach subjects of critical need or at low-performing schools, and will continue my efforts to make Kentucky a place where good teachers want to work.

Postsecondary education base funding has seen a 20% average annual increase during this administration compared to the previous eight years. Post secondary education capital funding has received a 120% average annual increase over the previous eight years, while maintaining a responsible debt level for the state, below 6% of revenues. Despite these funding increases, tuition continues to rise. In my State of the Commonwealth speech, I called for the creation of a Kentucky Covenant, a pact with Kentucky students that if they work hard, earn good grades and take rigorous courses, that we will guarantee an affordable college education in this state regardless of financial means. Using part of the reserve of the surplus, we can build a program to accomplish this goal.

Will you support an amendment to expand gambling in Kentucky?

As I have consistently stated in the past, I will not advocate an amendment to expand casino gambling. Should the legislature choose to offer the issue to the voters, I would support allowing the voters to decide this issue. I would not vote for the amendment. Further, I do not believe it would have a significant positive economic impact on our state.

Are you open to repealing the Alternative Minimum Tax?

We cut income taxes for 78% of working Kentuckians. We cut the corporate income tax from 8.25% to 6%. We repealed the corporate licensing tax which is a tax on investment. In 2006, we reduced the AMT by $45 million. We are always looking for ways to lower taxes further.

Congresswoman Anne Northup

What is your overall vision for Kentucky’s future?

Our vision is a state government committed to honesty, an administration that does not inflate numbers and facts to cover up the truth. We believe in a state government that tackles the most serious problems, lays out a plan, considers the public’s support, and reaches consensus. Instead of spending our days in office touring the state, and paving new blacktop, Jeff and I want to solve the problems affecting Kentucky. We believe there is a better way to educate our children—because our schools lag behind. We believe there is a better way to bring health care costs down—because costs are out of control. We believe our tax burden is too high—because the current administration has imposed the AMC.

Why should Kentuckians elect Ann Northup?

I can win in May and I can win in November, while Ernie Fletcher cannot. After strong consideration and encouragement from fellow Republicans, I decided to enter the race for Governor of Kentucky. The Republican Party deserves a nominee who will be able to spend the general election talking about the needs of our education system, not raising money for a secretive legal defense fund. The Republican Party deserves a nominee who will be able to address a real solution to the skyrocketing health insurance rates not defending investigations. The Republican Party needs a nominee and Kentucky needs a Governor who can focus the attention of the entire state on our pressing needs, not divert attention from a government besieged by scandal.

What will be your stance on expanded gambling?

Having voted against the lottery, I have said it would be a tough sell for me personally-- but this is an issue for the legislature.

Do you think that Kentucky’s tax system needs further overhaul? (Specifically the AMT, what would you do with it and how can we restructure the tax system to encourage more job creation in Kentucky?)

I have vocally announced my support of House Bill 88 sponsored by my running mate Jeff Hoover. The AMT has provided a disincentive for small business growth and has shrunk entrepreneurial spirit in this state. The role of state government is to spur economic growth and not tax small business only to use the additional revenue to spend on pet projects, no matter how worthy they may seem. The money belongs in the pockets of the people that earn it, not the government.

Businessman Billy Harper

During your campaign you have made it clear that you would eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax – how will that affect the projected surplus for Kentucky’s budget and how would you propose allocating that surplus?

Short term, the Alternative Minimum Tax will bring in less money to a government which is already spending too much. Long term, the repeal of the tax will help create more economic activity in Kentucky, which in turn will generate far more money through additional business taxes and personal income taxes from workers who now have better jobs. I would allocate the surplus only to projects that are vital to Kentucky’s future. Most important will be education and improving the state’s economy. If the program is not vital then the money should be where it belongs – with the hard working taxpayer.

Why is Kentucky’s education system struggling?

It’s not that Kentucky’s education system is so poor as much as its improvements are not happening fast enough. There have been some improvements. But anyone who has read the book "Good to Great" knows that Kentucky is a good state that needs to become a great one. It is no longer acceptable for our state to settle for mediocrity. It’s now time we educate our workforce and create better jobs to keep Kentucky moving forward.

Would you support an amendment to allow expanded gambling?

No. I will veto any legislation and campaign against a constitutional amendment to expand gambling in Kentucky. As a businessman, I can tell you that using gambling to fund our state’s future is like building an economy on quicksand, and I just won’t do it.

What quality do you bring that no other candidate has in this race and how will that quality make Kentucky a better place in four years?

I’m not a politician. I’m a businessman. We have tried the same old thing year after year, and Kentucky has made only small improvements. It’s time we start to think big in Kentucky. It’s time we do things differently. Politics as usual just won’t work anymore I’m the only candidate in this race who has created jobs and met multi-million dollar payrolls right here in Kentucky. I’m the only candidate with decades of hands-on management experience. And I’m the only candidate who has led the fight for education reform. The others in this race have only talked about these things.

Right Sentiment, Wrong Support

This editorial is correct. Supporting Ford is imperative. However, Governor Fletcher’s Fordfare is unnecessary. Simply cease taxing unprofitable businesses.

From the Louisville Courier-Journal:

State support for Ford Motor Co. and its Louisville operations continues to move through the General Assembly, with only the occasional whine from a rural legislator who thinks House Bill 536 is just more evidence that the "big city gets everything it wants."

It doesn't. In fact, Jefferson County sends a lot more money to Frankfort than it gets back. And that's as it should be. One of the reasons to have a state government is to help move resources from areas that produce a lot to those that need a lot. This is part of the social and political compact that holds Kentucky together.

On the other hand, when the state's largest city and biggest revenue creator has a real need -- full funding for an urban research university that's crucial to Louisville's economic future; a state school funding formula that doesn't hugely penalize Jefferson County Public Schools; a fair deal on road money; an occasional signature project like the downtown arena -- then state government would be both wise and fair to do something about it. One major need right now is to assure Ford that we're willing to invest in a future for that company, here in Louisville.

Since the first local assembly plant was established in 1913, Ford's presence has survived endless change in the auto industry, and within the company itself: the transition from Model T to Model A, the conversion of assembly lines to wartime use in 1918-19 and 1942-45, successive moves to bigger plant locations, addition of truck assembly, changeover from LTDs to Rangers and Bronco IIs and Explorers.

Ford's presence in Louisville has survived disasters and disappointments, both natural and corporate, like the 1937 flood and the Edsel. It will survive the STAR air toxics reduction program that is necessary to protect local citizens' health.. The point is to preserve Ford's presence, and the enormous employment and tax base it creates. That's what HB 536 is all about. Under its provisions, Kentucky's taxpayers could pick up 75 percent of the tab if Ford spends at least $200 million to improve its Louisville facilities. Those tax-credit incentives could be offered to any existing employer in the state, but the immediate goal is to make sure nearly 8,000 Ford jobs at the two Jefferson County plants stay put.

Mark Fields, Ford's president of the Americas, recently told The Associated Press, "It concerns me that too many people downplay the importance of the homegrown auto industry."

Not here they don't.

Brett Hall Compliments Harper, Questions Fletcher & Northup

Republicans and Democrats these days find themselves engaged in contentious primaries, up and down the ballot.

Before things get out of hand, best advice both parties can follow is to get a grip and think long and hard before going nuclear.

Democrat state party leader Jerry Lundergan got all seven of his party’s gubernatorial campaigns to sign the equivalent of a Ronald Reagan 11th Commandment. Nice work.

Time will tell if it works, but at least everyone’s on notice that they understand the consequences of their actions, IF they do choose to load their guns with live ammo.

On the GOP side, Anne Northup is trying to find 50 ways to say “Ernie can’t win.” The ex-congresswoman from Louisville got a tepid response from party faithful at last week's Franklin County Lincoln Day Dinner as she delivered this message.

Meanwhile, the incumbent governor travels the Great Commonwealth announcing highway projects and cutting ribbons on new projects with the energy of a happy warrior. Fletcher’s apparent strategy is to good naturedly confront his opponents with his record of accomplishment and a challenge for them to propose something better.

Only Billy Harper has stepped forward to offer something, a plan to improve public schools by spending more money with corresponding accountability on the part of educators. Revolutionary? Maybe not, but Harper has his sincerity going for him. Something voters tend to favor over glibness and in-your-face posturing.

The Fourth Horseman?

From Lexington Herald-Leader:

President Bush will visit Kentucky early next month to attend an event raising money for Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell’s re-election campaign, the White House said Friday. The March 2 event at a downtown hotel also will benefit the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Democrats seized control of the Senate by the slimmest of margins after last year’s election, preventing McConnell from becoming Senate majority leader. McConnell, the Senate minority leader, has been an unwavering Bush supporter on the Iraq war and the president’s domestic policies. McConnell has said he’ll seek a fifth term next year. No Democrat has announced plans to challenge him.

McConnell has been the chief architect of the Republican rise to power in Kentucky in recent years. Republicans hold both of Kentucky’s U.S. Senate seats, four of the six U.S. House seats, the governorship and control the state Senate. A recent Bluegrass Poll published in The Courier-Journal of Louisville showed that about half of Kentuckians think McConnell should oppose a plan to send more American troops to Iraq. Bush easily carried Kentucky in winning the White House in 2000 and 2004.

President Bush supports McConnell. Does President Bush support Northup?

Is President Bush part of the
Vast McConnell Wing conspiracy?

Friday, February 23, 2007

Fletcher’s Fund… Another Rock In His Ethical Gray Canyon?

Kentucky Pachyderm labeled this article “Fletcher media bias.” Are they kidding?

This is a relevant voter’s subject. Governor Fletcher is ethically challenged. He could be exchanging future favors for defense fund contributions. The public is entitled to know.

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

In addition to raising money for his re-election bid, Gov. Ernie Fletcher is on a fund-raising drive to help pay his legal bills that remain from the 16-month state hiring investigation.

But any money he raises for the "Governor's Legal Defense Fund" this year won't have to be disclosed to the public until the spring of 2008 -- long after he is either re-elected or defeated. Lt. Gov. Steve Pence said that was too long to wait in an election year. "I think the governor would probably be best served by making a full disclosure, especially during the campaign year," said Pence, who got elected with Fletcher but whose relationship with the governor has grown chilly over the past year.

Bill Stone, president of Louisville Plate Glass and an ardent Fletcher supporter, said he intended to contribute to Fletcher's legal defense fund but has not yet decided how much. He added that he hoped "the hundreds and thousands of Kentuckians, who believe like I do, that when you go into public offices we don't expect you to give up everything," decide to contribute as well. Fletcher and dozens of other administration officials incurred legal costs during the investigation into state hiring practices. A special grand jury indicted 15 former or current officials, including the governor.

Stone said Attorney General Greg Stumbo -- a Democrat who is running for lieutenant governor with Louisville businessman Bruce Lunsford -- forced Fletcher and his aides who appeared before the grand jury to have to pay high legal bills. "As a general philosophical matter, whether it's those kids who were subpoenaed by Stumbo ... or whether it's the governor who exposed his entire net worth to a political witch hunt, I see nothing wrong with it," Stone said, of the fund.

Fletcher earns a salary of $116,520. In addition, Fletcher said last year he had made a real estate investment in Florida of between $160,000 and $170,000, using the proceeds from the sale of his home and a rental property. R. Kent Westberry, one of Fletcher's personal attorneys, declined to discuss Fletcher's legal bills. Stone also was among several Republicans who tried to set up a legal defense fund in 2005 for some of Fletcher's aides.

That account received so few donations after Fletcher pardoned everyone in his administration on Aug. 29, 2005, that the fund was disbanded and the contributions were returned, Stone said yesterday. Fletcher did not pardon himself but agreed to a deal with Stumbo last August that ended the investigation. The governor's general counsel, Jim Deckard, issued a statement last night saying Fletcher would adhere to the law with the fund. "Disclosure of any gifts to the governor, including those made to defer legal expenses, will be disclosed pursuant to each and every legal requirement," Deckard said.

Showing donors

Such a fund would be loosely watched by the Executive Branch Ethics Commission, which has released several advisory opinions on the issue over the past two years. In August, the commission gave Fletcher permission to accept donations for a defense trust as long he didn't take checks from companies or individuals who have business with the state -- specifically not those "with which the governor has had or will have direct involvement or participation in such issues."

An earlier opinion from Sept. 2, 2005, said any executive branch official who receives money from such a defense trust must "disclose the source of the gift, including the source's name and address" on an annual financial disclosure report. Those reports -- which are due to the ethics commission by Feb. 15 each year -- require officials to list gifts they received in the previous calendar year that are worth more than $200. Those reports are then released to the public by the end of April.

That would mean donations to the legal fund made in 2007 wouldn't show up on Fletcher's report until next spring. Stone said he didn't believe waiting until next year was too long. "I think he should disclose it in a timely manner, which is a year after it's done, just like any other gift," he said.

Seeking funds

Scott Bucher, owner of S&B Cattle in Lexington, said he has been approached to contribute to Fletcher's legal fund but couldn't remember whether he has written a check yet. He said he also couldn't recall who asked him to give -- whether it was Fletcher or Mira Ball, one of the governor's chief supporters who has been working with the defense fund.

"I know the Balls fairly well. And I know the governor on a personal basis," Bucher said.He said it was a cause he could support.

"I think he was mistreated and abused, and I think he is a good governor," said Bucher, a co-owner of Blue Grass Stockyards. "I will help him and do anything as long as it's legal."

Ball did not return a call to her office. A woman answering the phone at her home said she was "on holiday." The August ethics commission opinion gave Fletcher the go-ahead to allow the chairperson or trustee of a defense fund to be "an individual who serves on a board or commission affiliated with state government" as long as that person doesn't have another conflict, such as serving as a government lobbyist. Fletcher has appointed Ball to the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees as well as the state Historic Properties Advisory Commission.

Fletcher’s Fordfare Receives Stamp of Approval

From the Louisville Courier-Journal:

The House Appropriations and Revenue Committee tonight approved a bill that would make tax credits available to the Ford Motor Co. as part of an effort to make sure that the company keeps its two plants and their 8,000 jobs in Jefferson County.

The vote on House Bill 536, which now goes to the full House, was 24-0. The committee made no changes in the bill. The automaker, which last year lost $12.7 billion, has announced plans to close 14 parts and assembly plants nationwide, though it hasn’t identified which ones.

Granted, a bipartisan stamp. However, Fletcher proposed the handout.

Fordfare is unnecessary. Simply cease taxing unprofitable businesses.

Correcting Cyber Hillbilly

As for his reelection campaign, he’s raked in millions, has an effective running mate at his side, and, at last count, has garnered the endorsements of at least 18 County Judge Executives in vitally important Eastern and South Central Kentucky. His top opponent has, thus far, kept the gloves on and resisted calls to hit hard.

To top it all off, in terms of delivery, he’s made two very important speeches, one to activists, the other a televised address to the General Assembly viewed by thousands of Kentucky voters. In sum, the Guv’s on a roll; which is why his latest Survey USA numbers have to come as a terrible disappointment to Team Fletcher. In spite of all his recent successes, the Governor still receives only 36% approval rating. While he did manage to climb to 50% approval rating among Republicans, only 25% of Democrats, still a substantial majority of the voters in this state, said they approved of the Governor’s job.

In terms of ethnicity, as Osi Speaks pointed out, the Governor received only 18% of black voters’ approval while only 37% of all whites voiced approval. I’m sure someone will try to spin these numbers in a positive way, but the folks who doubt Northup’s contention that this Governor- in spite of the fact that he is a good man- just can’t be reelected, are beginning to look like the proverbial boy who was convinced that there was a pony in there somewhere.

Their headline? “Latest Poll Reiterates Northup-Hoover's Key Message: Governor Can't be Reelected”

The aforementioned is not their key message. The aforementioned is their only message. The Northup-Hoover campaign does not have talking points. They have chant practice every day. “Fletcher cant win, Fletcher cant win…”

Voters want more.

Just noticed... in December the SurveyUSA poll showed that the Governor had the support of 41% of pro-life voters. This month, following Bunning's endorsement of Northup at a pro-life function, the numbers slipped to 37%. Anyone have any ideas about this?

Four percent fewer pro-life voters are supporting Fletcher. However, they have not said they are supporting Northup. Talk about your worthless stat.

K-Pac Is Revolting

Amidst their Fletcher kissing, Kentucky Pachyderm 2 has begun leveling vicious personal assaults.

K-Pac is pathetic. They should be ashamed.

From K-Pac 2:

Put in terms of marital infidelity, something [Greg] Stumbo should understand very well, Wells has accused Stumbo of cheating. And he has also accused Stumbo of the political equivalent of verbal spouse abuse (terroristic threatening) because he claims Stumbo threatened retaliation because of the refusal to endorse.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Candidates Pitch UK

Jeff Hoover’s learned the talking points… Fletcher can’t win, Fletcher can’t win, Fletcher can’t win… Governor Fletcher: “We’re reaching out through facebook.”

Twenty dollars says Fletcher wouldn’t know Facebook if the site entered his office and slapped him in the face.

From Pol Watchers:

In another example of the growing influence of younger party activists, the Central Kentucky College Republicans drew more than 90 people and representatives from all but four statewide GOP candidates' campaigns to a Lincoln Day Dinner last night.

"People realize that we are the grassroots effort," said Matt Ballard, a University of Kentucky student, who is co-chair of Gov. Ernie Fletcher's campaign at the university. "People realize it is the college students who give the most time to go door to door and make campaign calls at a nominal cost -- which is usually free."

Many of the GOP candidates who showed up to the event at the King Alumni House on UK's campus did ask the students for their help in the coming election. Fletcher, making a surprise appearance even though his running mate Robbie Rudolph already spoke, told the college Republicans that he was trying to reach out through a campaign site on Facebook.

But he also made a general pitch for young people to get involved in Republican politics, even if it means working for his opponents, former U.S. Rep. Anne Northup and her running mate state Rep. Jeff Hoover or Paducah businessman Billy Harper and his lieutenant governor candidate, Dick Wilson.

"If you support Jeff and Anne, go out and work hard for them. If you support Billy, go out and work for him. There's no better experience then going out on the campaign trail," Fletcher said. "Politics is getting more brutal than ever. But don't let that drive you away."

"But please know: We get up every day and try to do what's right," Fletcher added. "Sometimes we've looked and some of our friends weren't even there."

Hoover, representing the Northup campaign, thanked the various activists from College Republican organizations. He then made a general pitch for replacing Fletcher as the nominee. "When Republicans run on issues, as you all know, the Republicans win in Kentucky," Hoover said. "If the current governor is the nominee, we will have a campaign -- again, right or wrong, fair or unfair -- from the Democrats talking about grand juries, indictments, pardons, plea bargains, Fifth Amendment, who said what under oath and who didn't say what under oath."

And Harper, a construction company from Paducah, introduced himself to the crowd. "The state needs leadership. And I bring bold leadership," he said. "Leadership is about making the tough decisions."

Cheating Delayed

Runoff repeal vote delayed? They should not even consider this!

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

Lawmakers delayed voting on a bill that would eliminate the governor's race runoff, to give themselves more time to decide how to cover that election's costs as well as what the legal ramifications of junking it might be.

After a lengthy discussion about the bill that would eliminate the runoff starting with this spring's governor's race, Rep. Rob Wilkey, the Democratic House whip, asked members of the Elections, Constitutional Amendments and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee to pass over the issue and pick it up again in "a day or two" at a special meeting. "I think there have been some questions raised about whether or not we ought to repeal this particular statute after people have already filed and begun to run for this office," Wilkey told reporters after the meeting.

As the law stands now, a runoff election would kick in for the governor's race if no candidate in the May 22 Democratic or Republican primaries received at least 40 percent of the vote. The special overtime election between the top two finishers in a party's primary would be held five weeks after that May 22 election was certified.

It's possible candidates could file a lawsuit if the General Assembly eliminates the runoff, thereby changing the rules in the middle of a race, Wilkey said. He said he hadn't heard from any of the 10 candidates for governor urging legislators to keep or repeal the runoff. But Secretary of State Trey Grayson said he spoke in November with a candidate whom he wouldn't identify -- before that person filed to run for governor -- and "volunteered to that potential candidate that the runoff provision would be in place for this race."

"I asked, 'Would this make it more likely you would run?' And the candidate said 'Yes,'" said Grayson, a Republican. He declined to say what party affiliation that person has.

"It's easier to finish in the first two," Grayson noted.

In addition to the possibility of litigation, lawmakers also raised the prospect that a runoff election could be delayed by a legal challenge to the primary election results. That could bump back the runoff to as late as July or August.

County clerks across the state are pushing to eliminate the runoff, considering that it would cost counties as much as $1,500 per precinct to hold that extra election. "The money is a big issue for me. That's the reason we filed the bill," said Rep. Rick Nelson, D-Middlesboro, the sponsor of the bill. The Kentucky Board of Elections passed a resolution 6-0 yesterday to support the clerks' position. But Les Fugate, spokesman for Grayson, said that aside from the clerks, the secretary of state's office hasn't received any calls urging repeal of the runoff.

Another issue regarding the runoff that came up at yesterday's committee meeting was the effect it would have on absentee ballots. Leslie County Clerk James Lewis said that having to put together an election after five weeks provides only a limited window of 15 days to get such ballots to and back from Kentuckians who are overseas, including military personnel. Nelson, meanwhile, has filed another bill related to the runoff that would require the state to cover the estimated $5 million in total costs to the 120 counties for setting up voting booths and paying poll workers.

Wilkey said he thought that the legislature would at least decide to cover the counties' costs. But the House Democrats' position remains fluid. "I think we're going to have a runoff but it's going to be paid for by the state," Nelson said after the noon House Elections Committee meeting.

But three hours later, he said the chances of getting rid of it were back to "50-50."

House Democrats will meet today to decide where their caucus stands on the issue, said Rep. Charlie Hoffman, majority caucus chairman.

KYProgress Choice Compliments

Giving Kentucky parents the right to choose how the tax dollars allocated to educate their children are spent should be very easy to implement. That is school choice. Call it vouchers if you want to.

Taking the power from the teachers union and giving it to parents makes a lot of sense in terms of creating competition for our struggling schools. Competition will make our education process stronger and it can be done without any additional costs to the taxpayers.

All we need is a little leadership. Billy Harper was the only gubernatorial candidate to show up at the school choice rally today in the Capitol. His staff worked vigorously to get him a speaking role in the event and deserves a ton of credit for their efforts. Harper's words in support of school choice set him apart in the Republican primary. I know Governor Fletcher and Anne Northup had other events scheduled this morning, but where are they on school choice now?

Back in 2003 while in Congress, both Northup and Fletcher voted for parents and children in Washington D.C. to have access to a pilot charter school program. The program has been so successful, the worst thing critics can say about it is too many families want in.

Surely Fletcher and Northup don't want to deny Kentucky families the same thing they saw fit to grant families who live in Washington D.C.

Desperately Seeking Supporters

Eager to introduce herself to Knox Countians who might not know their primary race options, state governor candidate Anne Northup visited business and community leaders at Tri-County National Bank in Corbin Friday.

"I think there’s some real value about getting out and making your own pitch," Northup said. "It’s not what one restaurant manager tells you, it’s what the 25th manager tells you about what’s really going on." "I need every ambassador I have," Northup said. "Jeff and I feel like we can provide an alternative. We both value the perspective of people who are on the front line."

Anne Northup values the opinion of anyone registered to vote.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Fletcher’s Fordfare Now Bipartisan

Governor Fletcher’s proposals were unacceptable. Now, he has state legislators slinging handouts.

Additionally, the below is not a solution. This package will make Kentucky competitive? Make us superior. Tax breaks, return for investment, negotiable employment? This is not help. This is “great society” smoke and mirrors.

From Pol Watchers:

Louisville lawmakers filed a bill today that would provide incentives potentially worth tens of millions of dollars to Ford Motor Co. if it decides to invest at least $100 million in its two Louisville assembly plants.

The bill would allow Ford to claim tax breaks worth up to 50 percent of their investment, said Republican Rep. Scott Brinkman of Louisville, a co-sponsor of the legislation along with Democratic Rep. Joni Jenkins of Shively.

"It enables Kentucky to be competitive with other states who are negotiating with Ford Motor Co. for job retention and new investment," Brinkman said. "They made it clear that they felt Kentucky did not have a package in front of them that they felt was competitive."

The proposal would require Ford to maintain a certain number of jobs in Louisville, but that number would be negotiable, Brinkman said. Ford has about 8,000 workers at its two Louisville plants, which mostly produce Explorer sport utility vehicles and F-250 Super Duty trucks.

Gov. Ernie Fletcher has already recommended that lawmakers use $10 million of the state's projected $401 million surplus to provide training for Ford workers. Lawmakers have not yet acted on his recommendation. In an effort to reduce vehicle output at its U.S. factories by 26 percent, Ford announced in September that it would cut the number of hourly workers in North America by 25,000 to 30,000 and close 14 plants by the end of 2008, four years earlier than previously announced. The company offered buyouts to all of its 75,000 hourly workers.

Probing The Field

From KY Progress Blog:

The Pol Watchers survey of gubernatorial candidates about casino gambling was interesting. Can't imagine what the Northup campaign was thinking about when they didn't respond. Harper's video response was very good in terms of style. His answer was my favorite, though Governor Fletcher's may be the best political answer. Looks like if you want someone who talks straight about the fool's gold of casino gambling, Billy Harper is your guy. His answers need to get tighter, but he has improved light years since the disastrous Ford press conference.

Jody Richards had much less need to respond than Northup did, so his silence makes sense. Beshear gave the best answer, I think, but he is leading in the wrong direction. Miller and Lunsford would have been better off issuing a no comment. Galbraith suggests a plan to get by without any gambling money, which makes a lot of sense and stands as a stark contrast in the Dem field. Steve Henry responded too. Is he still in the race?

Anne Northup’s non-answer is unsurprising. She has no policy. Her soul strategy is “Fletcher can’t win, Fletcher can’t win, Fletcher cant win.”

Governor Fletcher’s response was politically acceptable? Kentucky has had enough political answers.

Colluding Their Delusion

From Kentucky Pachyderm Two:

We want to take our hats off to Brian Goettl, county attorney in Jessamine County and one of the outspoken commentators at The Conservative Edge. Mr. Goettl shows an outstanding ability to comprehend and analyze political events, especially as they relate to the hiring investigation and the governor's race.

For a synopsis of exactly how perceptive he is, read the comments section on this post and see his rebuttal to an obvious Northup supporter who posted on Conservative Edge.

Specifically, this one: "Finally, while it's clear that Governor Fletcher is the most qualified candidate for the position and in my view more electable then Northup, (which negates her entire campaign thesis), that is not why I have defended him. I have defended him, because precious few other Republicans have. I have yet to see a letter to the editor from party leaders like yourself, going after Stumbo. In fact, I have yet to hear Northup or Hoover comment on Stumbo let alone criticize him. If you have been reading this site for the last eighteen months, you would have known that what Northup and her supporters have done, is exactly what Stumbo and the Frankfort Democratic establishment wanted. Stumbo didn't care about the merit system, the Democrats have been abusing it for years, he cared about attacking the growing strength of the GOP. When Northup and her supporters attack Fletcher, they are carrying out the bidding of the Democrats. So, support Northup all you want. Greg Stumbo is enjoying the ride. "

Some of you scoff when we say Greg Stumbo is laughing at the dissent within the Kentucky Republican ranks? This squabble is exactly what Stumbo wanted to see when he took Doug Doerting's evidence instead of saying, "Go see the Personnel Board, their office is over at Fountain Place."

Mr. Goettl has a firm grip on reality. He certainly gets it in regards to the merit system hiring investigation. We tip our hats to him for a job well done!

Ford Excels As Fletcher Fails

Fletcher says Ford incentives would add to tax breaks

Gov. Ernie Fletcher says his proposal to offer incentives to Ford Motor Co. would involve changing existing tax breaks to include plans to retain jobs rather than add them and consider the company's two Louisville factories as one.

The governor didn't know when the bill would be filed with the legislature, but said its focus would be on expanding existing programs rather than creating new ones. The bill-filing deadline is Friday.

Ford says Super Duty sales better than expected

Ford Motor Co.’s Louisville-built 2008 F-Series Super Duty trucks are off to a fast start with dealerships ordering 70,000 models so far, the automaker said today.

“Every aspect of the truck is the result of spending a great deal of time listening to our customers. There’s no other family of trucks like this,” Mark Fields, Ford’s president for the Americas, said in a news release. Ford called the launch orders better than expected.

Ford sold about 320,000 Super Duty trucks last year, and it hopes to sell more of the redesigned 2008 models. It sold the first 2008 truck last month, but they won’t be widely available until the end of this month.

First, Congratulations Ford!

Second, Fletcher’s proposals are ridiculous. A Republican proposing corporate welfare? Job retention, not expansion? Fletcher is standing on the beach, bailing out the ocean with a teaspoon.

Very Fletcher Legislation

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

Shortly after 3:30 p.m., the state House approved a constitutional amendment that would limit the governor's pardon power by a 71-26 vote. It moves to the Senate, where it needs 23 votes -- or more than 60 percent -- to pass. It would then be on the ballot in the 2008 election, if approved by the Senate.

The amendment would: require any person seeking a pardon to apply to the governor, require that the person accepts the pardon, and limits pardons only to those who had been indicted and convicted of a crime. The measure, sponsored by Democratic Reps. Darryl Owens of Louisville and Rob Wilkey of Scottsville, sparked a brief discussion.

Rep. Scott Brinkman, R-Louisville, argued that the General Assembly shouldn't "act hastily" and should study how many other states limit the power in such way. He noted that the issue won't appear on the ballot until November 2008 anyway. But Owens and Rep. Derrick Graham, D-Frankfort, both said it was a "thoughtful" piece of legislation that protects citizens if they choose to adopt it. "We know that they have good judgment because if they didn't we wouldn't be here," Graham said. "Grant them the judgment to decide whether this should be a part of our constitution."

Wilkey said the bill was not meant to be a shot at Gov. Ernie Fletcher, who pardoned his administration in August 2005 in response to an investigation into state hiring practices. Rep. Jeff Hoover, the Republican leader from Jamestown who is running with Anne Northup against Fletcher in the GOP primary, was among 12 Republicans who approved the constitutional amendment. House Speaker Jody Richards, who is seeking the Democratic nomination, also voted for the measure. Rep. Dottie Sims was the only Democrat to vote against it.

Conservative Edge: Have You Lost Your Mind?

Democratic merit hiring farce continues: Richards, others prove they don't care about Democratic abuse of power

Assume for a moment that every allegation made against Governor Fletcher by Attorney General Greg Stumbo was true. That the Governor ran a corrupt criminal organization out of his office, that he committed criminal abuse of the merit hiring system and that he attempted to fire innocent merit system employees.

Wouldn't you have to conclude that Greg Stumbo abused the office of Attorney General when he completely exonerated the Governor by dismissing all criminal charges with prejudice, after having spent millions of taxpayer dollars investigating the Governor? And that the exoneration came only after it was determined that Stumbo couldn't run for Governor if his office were prosecuting Fletcher.

Or, assume that none of the allegations against Governor Fletcher were true. That his LINK program was ethical and legal. That he had a right to fire merit system employees who were using their taxpayer funded jobs to undermine the popularly elected Governor for partisan political advantage.

Wouldn't you have to conclude that Greg Stumbo abused his powers as Attorney General by wasting millions of taxpayer dollars on a purely partisan political prosecution? Designed to help Stumbo beat Fletcher in the gubernatorial election?

Regardless of what you think Fletcher has done, good or bad, you would have to conclude that Greg Stumbo abused the powers of the office of Attorney General. Yet, the House of Representatives passed a transparent, partisan, politically motivated bill that would limit the pardon powers of the Governor. But failed to in any way, address the abuse of the office of Attorney General.

Today's action sent a clear message to the citizens of Kentucky, that the Democrats in Frankfort don't care when other Democrats abuse the power of their office. It also sent a clear message that it's politics as usual. Frankly, it's a disgrace to gubernatorial candidate and House Speaker, Jody Richards. I expected more from Richards. These are not the qualities of a Governor of Kentucky.

Hoover and Williams should take action, even if only symbolic

As we noted in the previous post, that no matter what you think Governor Fletcher has done, that the logical conclusion is that Greg Stumbo abused the powers of the office of Attorney General. For that reason, I am asking House Minority Leader and current Lt. Gov. candidate Jeff Hoover, and Senate President David Williams to offer a resolution condemning Attorney General Greg Stumbo for abusing the office of the Attorney General, even if the action is only symbolic. In fact, we'd ask both Republican leaders to consult legal counsel on drafting language for a constitutional amendment that would prevent future AG's from abusing their prosecution powers. The citizens of Kentucky deserve to have all office holders held accountable.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Welfare Queens In Their Fletcher Machines

I thought we were Republicans. Why support Fletcher’s Ford welfare program? Stop taxing Ford when they are not profitable.

From the Louisville Courier-Journal:

A bill to allow the state to offer additional incentives to keep the two Ford Motor Co. plants operating in Jefferson County is expected to be filed in the General Assembly today. Most incentives that the state offers to businesses are restricted to companies that create or add jobs. But this bill would allow the state to offer incentives to companies that agree to keep existing jobs in Kentucky.

"It's just a tool we want to put in place that would help us, we think, keep Ford vibrant in Kentucky down the road," Gene Fuqua, interim state Economic Development secretary, said yesterday. "In general, it attempts to allow Ford to recover enough tax credits and enough wage assessments to maintain their operations in Kentucky if they choose to do certain things."

Fuqua and Gov. Ernie Fletcher were asked about efforts to retain the approximately 8,000 Ford jobs in Jefferson County during a meeting of the House budget committee. Later in the day, Fuqua and Ford officials spoke of the need for the bill at a meeting of Jefferson County's legislators.

Ford, one of the county's largest employers, recently announced that it lost $12.7 billion in 2006, in part because of lagging sales of sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks. The two Ford plants in Jefferson County make such vehicles, and concerns have been voiced about the factories' futures. Last week, Fletcher proposed that $10 million of an anticipated $401 million state surplus be spent on training for Ford workers.

Gabby Bruno, Ford's governmental affairs manager, told the Jefferson County delegation that other states are offering Ford incentives, which Kentucky is unable to match. "All of our government partners are stepping up," she said. "Your programs are more focused on job creation or about profit."

Such programs are not applicable to Ford's circumstances because it is not making a profit and wants to retain jobs, not add them, she said. Until incentives for job retention are added by Kentucky, she said, "I'd have to say you're not in the game."

Bruno said she does not know what decisions Ford will make as it works to become profitable. "I'm not in a position to answer that other than to say that time is of the essence, and we are making critical decisions right now, so the sooner they can get this tool on the books the better off we'll be," she said.

Earlier in the day, at the budget committee meeting, committee Chairman Rep. Harry Moberly, D-Richmond, asked how important it is that lawmakers approve the $10 million in training money for Ford. "We feel this is critical now because of what Ford is doing to reduce their work force through … early retirements and bringing new people in to keep their plant running smoothly and keep their people trained," Fuqua told the committee.

But he said that the $10 million is just a short-term solution, and that the tax-incentive bill would allow the state and Ford to negotiate a long-term agreement to keep the jobs in Jefferson County.

Ford and state officials have previously discussed the possibilities of tax incentives for the company. Fuqua and Fletcher said during the meeting and in later interviews that the bill was not final and that they could not divulge its details. The governor said the proposal would "allow us to pick up more flexibility in offering them an economic-incentive package that I think will be more appealing."

Asked to elaborate, Fletcher said, "It would be tax incentives. We need some flexibility on how we can get that to address the plants. … There's some flexibility that we need in looking at the two plants as one."

The governor, accompanied by more than 20 top administration officials, appeared for nearly an hour before the committee to explain his plan for the projected surplus, which he outlined last week in his State of the Commonwealth address.

While many lawmakers oppose reopening the budget this year, key members of the committee endorsed efforts to retain the Ford jobs. "It would be devastating to Jefferson County and all of Kentucky if they happen to close one of those Ford plants down there," Moberly said.

House Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark, D-Okolona, said: "It's a full-court press to try to keep that plant here. I think we're at the point where we can't afford not to do something."

Rep. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville, said the Ford jobs are so important that the legislature must consider the unusual step of offering incentives to companies to stay in the state. "All indications right now say that they need this, and we need to act on it," Wayne said.

Last year, Ford offered all 75,000 of its U.S. hourly workers buyouts and early retirement packages, and more than 30,000 will leave the company this year. As the automaker closes plants, it will move workers from those facilities to others that have gaps created by the buyouts. Fuqua said the influx of new workers from other Ford plants makes the training money desirable. "They have new people coming in who are going to need to be trained on new equipment and systems."

KY Politics: Northup Desperate

For weeks now, those supporting Anne Northup's gubernatorial bid have been bursting at the seams in their anticipation of the trial of Sam Beverage, one of the so-called state merit investigation defendants.

Is this clever political maneuvering or just plain desperation politics? One thing's for certain the time-honored practice of using the criminal justice system to do in one's political adversaries knows no bounds. Kentucky Republicans and Democrats are happy to do it to their partisan kin, with great vigor at that.

What may unfold in the days ahead is a report that one of Northup's advisers coached a prospective witness in the Beverage trial. What's with that? A Northup memo released today appears to be an act of desperation to draw attention to some exaggerated significance of the Beverage case and away from her error-prone bid for governor.

(One side note: After reading the Northup memo, a neutral observer commented, "This is pure emotional reaction on their part. Not a good sign for the Northup folks to be doing this. I can't believe Anne wrote this.")

Were she and her advisers more plugged into the Beverage case, they would realize that it won't begin to give them the octane they'll need to finish the race. Sam Beverage's legal woes are a non-starter for Anne Northup's political fortunes. But, it's not the first time Fletcher's GOP adversaries have tried to cook up a self-fulfilling prophecy. Nor will it be the last.

Of course, voters see beyond this thin rhetorical flak. They see that Ernie Fletcher was given the most intensive of prosecutorial colonoscopies. All that came of it was a few measly misdemeanors, which were later dismissed by Atty. Gen. Greg Stumbo himself.

Yet, what's mind boggling about this latest episode is how Louisville GOPers are so quick to throw a fellow Republican under the bus. Maybe they should consider that one day they may be on the receiving end of their version of party loyalty.

Just last week, Northup saw their election map shrink as U.S. Rep. Geoff Davis's 4th District slipped away from being competitive to solidly for Fletcher.

On top of that, she has no traction in eastern, western or southern Kentucky where Fletcher has assets already on the ground. Central Kentucky is also strong for Fletcher. That leaves Northup's hometown, Louisville as her one and only sure or competitive region.

When Larry Dale Keeling wrote for the Sunday Herald-Leader that the Sam Beverage trial was a dark cloud looming over Fletcher's reelection plans, Northup seized on it in a heartbeat. Never mind that Stumbo's office isn't prosecuting the case with their knack for putting political spin on things.

Overplaying one's hand can be fatal in this game of politics. Apparently, with Northup's chances dwindling, this latest salvo is what can and does happen.

On The Right Explodes Over Runoff

The Lexington Herald-Leader is reporting today that state lawmakers might use a bill aimed at increasing disclosure of campaign donations to eliminate the primary runoff provision that hangs over this springs primary for Governor. Playing politics and using legislative gimmicks to repeal the primary runoff law is a thinly veiled attempt by Democrats to make sure a weakened Ernie Fletcher is the Republican candidate in the fall! In addition, Fletcher operatives like Republican Damon Thayer of Georgetown are aiding and abetting in this nefarious game to change the rules in the middle of the game.

The same old stink is rising from Frankfort! An excellent reader comment to a story in today's Courier Journal regarding repeal of the primary runoff law: In spite of some revisionist history about what the ruling was all about, in the 2000 election, the US Supreme Court ruled that one cannot change election laws after the election has already begun, which is what the Florida Supreme Court tried to do when Bush won Florida.

If the legislature overturns the runoff law, and no one exceeds 40 percent (highly unlikely-I believe someone will break out the pack on both sides the week after Derby), whoever comes in second and would have been in the runoff will sue using Gore vs. Bush as a precedence, and will probably win in court. You don't change the course of a foot race after it has begun just because the person who is ahead is someone you don't like.

The time to change the law was prior to January 30th, election filing day, not afterwards. Those who decided to run knew what the rules were - they should not be changed, and according to the Supreme Court, they cannot be changed. I can't believe our legislators are actually considering it!

Swallowing Bull

This post was offensive, erroneous, and pathetic. Kentucky Pachyderm should be ashamed. Greg Stumbo as Satan? K-Pac, stop chugging the Kool-aid.

From Kentucky Pachyderm 2:

Somewhere, probably either in Frankfort or Prestonsburg, Greg Stumbo is laughing. With yesterday's e-mail sent by the Anne Northup campaign about the state hiring persecution, Stumbo's mission edged one step further to completion. He has succeeded in his major goal that was set forth when he launched the probe.

He has split the Republican party and has managed to get folks whom we otherwise regarded as intelligent and well-informed to buy his belief that Ernie Fletcher is a criminal. Stumbo had no interest in prosecuting crimes. His interest was in politically damaging the governor. Apparently he succeeded. We are astonished at the number of Republican officials and bloggers who have swallowed Stumbo's bait hook, line and sinker.

We continue to be amazed that these people put any credibility or belief in the charges that were brought forth by an assistant attorney general who works solely at Stumbo's pleasure and supported Ben Chandler in the 2003 gubernatorial election, and ratified by a grand jury that never showed any desire to act independently of the prosecutor.

We are still working on confirming some preliminary information, but we do know that most of the grand jurors were Democrats and several were state merit employees -- two groups that were already predisposed to dislike Fletcher and his administration and the policies they put forth.

The media never supported Fletcher, not before the election and certainly not after it. Northup is among many Republicans who never supported Fletcher after he got into office and ran into difficulty. If she ever made a public statement in support of the Fletcher administration and in denouncement of the Stumbo investigation, we aren't aware of it.

If she made any move to cut off federal funding to the attorney general's office after the persecution began, we never heard of it. If she did anything at all to help her fellow Republican and former congressional delegation mate, that remains a deep dark secret. You are either with Ernie Fletcher or you are with Greg Stumbo. And Northup obviously wasn't with Ernie Fletcher. So Satan -- we mean Stumbo -- is certainly laughing today.

He has enlisted the help of key Republicans in this state to tear down the Fletcher administration. One of us wants to cry. Another wants to puke. Others here feel like doing both. We just wonder how Northup would feel if she ended up being governor and on the receiving end of a politically motivated partisan investigation, and she got no support or defense from within her party.

That's something Northup, Hal Rogers, Mitch McConnell and others will have to live with on their consciences. In case you didn't get the "Satan, laughing, spreads his wings" reference, it's the last line in the song "War Pigs" by Black Sabbath. The line right before it goes, "Begging mercies for their sins." That's what Northup and the rest of the Fletcher critics in the GOP should be doing.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Send E-mail, E-mail, E-mail

Northup\Fletcher campaigns devour one another.

From Pol Watchers:

In the latest sign of growing contention in the GOP primary for governor, former U.S. Rep. Anne Northup and Gov. Ernie Fletcher engaged in a little cyber saber rattling today. And the unlikely person in the center of all of it was Herald-Leader columnist Larry Dale Keeling.

From OSI Speaks:

Larry Dale Keeling, a Columnist with the Lexington Herald Leader, has set off a firestorm of sorts between Northup and Fletcher. Over the weekend, LDH published his take suggesting that Dan Druen's anticipated testimony during the impending trial of Sam Beverage for merit system will spell doom for the Gov.'s re-election efforts, prompting the Northup/Hoover campaign to send out this campaign email:

From On the Right:

Over the weekend, the Lexington Herald Leader ran a story outlining the problems confronting the Fletcher Administration. Governor Fletcher seems to be facing yet another crisis flash-point. Special prosecutor Larry Cleveland says he will bring a former Transportation Cabinet official to trial on perjury charges stemming from the Fletcher abuses of the state merit system.

From Northern Kentucky Politics:

Earlier I blogged an email from the Northup-Hoover campaign that used fodder from a Lexington Herald-Leader article to criticize Gov. Ernie Fletcher. Anne Northup is, of course, running against Fletcher in the GOP gubernatorial primary. Now, the Fletcher campaign has responded with its own email message to supporters. Welcome to campaigns in the 21st century - candidates trade shots via email.

From Northern Kentucky Politics:

The Northup-Hoover GOP gubernatorial campaign e-mailed this campaign alert to those who signed up to receive the alerts off the campaign's Web page.

Kenton GOP Frowns At Fletcher

From Pol Watchers:

A growing debate point for local party organizations -- both Democratic and Republican -- is the issue of whether or not to publicly back a candidate for governor during the primary.

After more than an hour and a half debate Monday night, the Kenton County Republican Party decided to stay mute during the spring's intra-party battle for the nomination. One of the county's GOP executive committee members offered a resolution to formally endorse Gov. Ernie Fletcher over fellow Republican contenders Anne Northup and Billy Harper, said Greg Shumate, chairman of that committee.

From Northern Kentucky Politics:

Word is floating among political circles that the Kenton County Republican Executive Committee held a vote Monday night to endorse Gov. Ernie Fletcher in the GOP gubernatorial primary - he faces former Louisville Congresswoman Anne Northup and Paducah buinessman Billy Harper - and that the governor lost 2-1. But two people at the meeting, including Chairman Greg Shumate, told me the vote was against the notion of endorsing incumbents and not a vote against Fletcher.

Against incumbents and not Fletcher? Hand him a campaign position.

Fletcher is vulnerable. This was my opinion. This vote confirms as much.

Governor, Help Feed Ford

Fletcher promises Ford aid? First, Merrill rips Ford’s guts out. Afterward, our Governor prances around their remains.

Fletcher should not offer new money. He should stop stealing from Ford. Repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax… I mean Calculation. Governor, Ford knows how to fish. Stop stealing their food.

Merrill downgrades Ford to sell

Citing a nearly 30 percent climb in Ford Motor's shares since mid-December, Merrill Lynch this morning recommended investors sell the stock. Analyst John Murphy wrote to clients that the market appears to be taking into account a significant profit recovery in 2009 and 2010, but not considering the risks associated with the three years or more it will take to recover. "The real challenge will be turning around results in the midst of a product cycle slump, and ultimately fixing the reliance on one product, the F-Series," Murphy wrote.

Murphy cited three possible developments that could drive the stock higher in the short term: The potential announcement of a new restructuring plan by CEO Alan Mulally The potential for significant relief from the new UAW contract in September Asset sales beyond the sale of Aston Martin.

Ford shares were down 19 cents, or 2.2 percent, at $8.46. For the latest price click here

Fletcher to propose more aid for Ford

A bill to allow the state to offer additional incentives to keep Ford Motor Co.'s two plants operating in Jefferson County will be filed in the General Assembly later this week. "It’s just a tool we want to put in place that would help us, we think, keep Ford vibrant in Kentucky down the road," Gene Fuqua, interim state Economic Development secretary, said today.

"In general, it attempts to allow Ford to recover enough tax credits and enough wage assessments to maintain their operations in Kentucky if they choose to do certain things." Fuqua said, however, that the matter was "still under negotiations. No commitments from Ford to do anything. And there’s no commitments from us to do anything. It’s simply a tool that we’re working on to put out there and get into law so if we need it we can negotiate with it."

Fuqua and Gov. Ernie Fletcher were asked about the status of retaining about 8,000 Ford jobs in Jefferson County during a meeting today of the house budget committee. Ford, one of the county’s largest employers, recently announced that it lost $12.7 billion in 2006, in part because of lagging sales of sport-utility vehicles and pickup trucks. The two Ford plants in Jefferson County make such vehicles, and concerns have been voiced about their futures.

Last week Fletcher proposed that $10 million of an anticipated $401 million state surplus be spent on training for Ford workers. Committee Chairman Rep. Harry Moberly, D-Richmond, asked how important it is that lawmakers approve that money. "We feel this is critical now because of what Ford is doing to reduce their workforce through … early retirements and bringing new people in to keep their plant running smoothly, and keep their people trained," Fuqua told the committee.

But he said that the $10 million is just a short-term solution, and that a bill to be filed as soon as tomorrow would help address keeping the Ford jobs in Jefferson County over the long haul. Ford and state officials have previously discussed the possibility of tax incentives for the company. Fuqua and Fletcher said during the meeting and in later interviews that the bill was not final and that they could not yet divulge its details. The governor said the proposal would "allow us to pick up more flexibility in offering them an economic incentive package that I think will be more appealing.

"Asked to elaborate, Fletcher said, "It would be tax incentives. We need some flexibility on how we can get that to address the plants. … There’s some flexibility that we need in looking at the two plants as one."

"The governor, accompanied by more than 20 top administration officials, appeared for nearly an hour before the committee, explaining his plan for the projected surplus which he outlined last week in his State of the Commonwealth address. While many key lawmakers oppose reopening the budget this year, key members of the committee endorsed efforts to retain the Ford jobs. It would be devastating to Jefferson County and all of Kentucky if they happen to close one of those Ford plants down there," Moberly said. House Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark, D-Okolona, said, "It’s a full-court press to try to keep that plant here. I think we’re at the point where we can’t afford not to do something."
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