Friday, April 27, 2007

Queen Anne – My Take

This incident screams Queen Anne. She is preening royally. She is acting as she has already mangled May and conquered November. Her “Fletcher can’t win” rhetoric has ballooned her ego. Pathetically, she is parading as Kentucky’s assumed emporess. In reality, she is merely a monarchal pain.

Northup’s actions were juvenile, repugnant, and thuggish. She could have ignored the non-supporter. Instead, she threatened him. She treated him as a don would a target. The aforesaid illustrates that Northup is the wrong selection. Anne Northup is a career politician, a lousy campaign, and a reprehensible human being.

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

An offhand comment by Anne Northup has caused a political squall within the Republican hierarchy, fueling speculation about just how neutral two of the Kentucky GOP's most prominent officials really are in this primary race for governor.

The names of state Senate President David Williams and U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell -- both of whom have insisted they are not endorsing in the Republican primary for governor -- neverthelesshave been dragged into the strange saga that started Tuesday in Manchester while Northup was campaigning there.

Northup, that afternoon, spotted on the street state Sen. Robert Stivers, who is backing Gov. Ernie Fletcher's re-election bid instead of her candidacy. When she approached Stivers, Northup said she had heard some Republicans were considering challenging Stivers' re-election in 2008. "It was just a little joking matter, which Anne probably shouldn't have done," said Republican state Rep. Tim Couch of Hyden, who was escorting Northup around Clay and Leslie counties. "I wouldn't have done it. But it was a joke."

Once word reached Stivers' Senate colleagues, including Williams, it raised concerns about whether Northup was recruiting challengers to officials who weren't supporting her in this primary. Stivers didn't return calls for comment. Northup's campaign manager Michael Clingaman said the exchange was "lighthearted" and that Northup and Stivers had since talked. "He has assured her there's no ill will," said Clingaman, who declined to discuss the matter further.

But the remark, however, touched off a chain of calls through the GOP's ranks, culminating with a teleconference Wednesday among Republican state senators. On that call, Stivers described the encounter with Northup. And Williams, the Senate president from Burkesville, explained that he called McConnell's state office director, Larry Cox, in Louisville to ask him to tell Northup "not to threaten" senators, said Sen. Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville, who was on the call. "In my personal opinion, that connects Anne Northup to Mitch McConnell," said Buford. "If you call Larry Cox to get to Anne Northup, that tells you where Mitch is. I believe 100 percent that McConnell got her into this (the race) and now he can't figure out how to get her out."

Cox did not return a call for comment. And Williams declined to discuss their conversation. But McConnell's chief of staff in Washington adamantly denied that the state's senior senator and Republican leader in the U.S. Senate is in any way involved in the governor's race. "People from every camp have tried to drag Sen. McConnell into this primary," said Billy Piper, McConnell's top aide. "Any insinuation that he's anything but neutral is 100 percent baseless. We're going to help whoever the nominee is in the fall."

Piper noted that McConnell organized Kentucky's GOP congressional delegation to host a unity rally at party headquarters in Frankfort the Saturday after the May 22 election. Cox did call Northup about the incident with Stivers, said Couch. But Northup's campaign declined to comment on that conversation.

Who's supporting whom?

In addition to the Manchester incident, the Republican senators' conference call also touched on general trends in the GOP primary race, which features Fletcher, Northup and Paducah businessman Billy Harper.

For instance, the senators discussed results of a poll, taken this week by the Tarrance Group for Fletcher's campaign, showing the governor leading, Buford said. Marty Ryall, Fletcher's campaign manager, confirmed a poll was taken Monday and Tuesday. A summary was dispatched in an e-mail to 25 key supporters, he said. Even though Williams convened the conference call and directed the conversation toward the primary, he stopped short of revealing whether he is supporting Fletcher, said Buford.

"I think that he had already decided that Fletcher was it," Buford added.

Williams' spokeswoman at the Senate, Lourdes Baez-Schrader, said she wasn't on the conference call because it was political, but added that "no one endorsed anyone."

Sen. Tom Jensen, R-London, said he sensed from conversations with Williams toward the end of this spring's legislative session that Williams had picked a side --at least privately. But Jensen, who has endorsed Fletcher, said he would not reveal details of those talks. Williams has introduced Fletcher with positive remarks at recent public events in his southern Kentucky Senate district. "Sen. Williams has been quietly helpful and supportive," said Ryall, Fletcher's manager. "We consider him a friend, but publicly he's neutral."

Couch, the state representative and Northup supporter, said he received a phone call from Williams this week that he described as an attempt to "strong-arm" him and determine whether he was helping to recruit a challenger to Stivers. Couch denied talking with any prospective challengers, and he expressed "disappointment" that Stivers allowed Northup's comment to mushroom into a political soap opera. "It's very unfortunate that these guys are doing it," he said of Stivers and Williams.

Couch also said Williams has "flip-flopped" and is outwardly supporting Fletcher. "I guess he's jumped on the bandwagon," Couch said. "He and Fletcher are two peas in a pod. One's just taller than the other."

Kentucky Pachyderm 2 Pummels Queen Anne

On his site, former Fletcher spokesman Brett Hall is reporting a confrontation between Anne Northup and State Sen. Robert Stivers that took place earlier this week in Stivers' hometown of Manchester. (The Lexington Herald-Leader has a slightly different take penned by Ryan Alessi in Friday's edition.) Hall says that Northup threatened Stivers, a strong Ernie Fletcher supporter, with a recruited primary opponent.

He further reports that Stivers called Senate President David Williams, who in turn called a Mitch McConnell operative who's a strong Northup supporter, and that conversation was followed in short order by a mea culpa call from Northup to Stivers. If this really happened, and we have no reason to believe that it didn't go down as Hall described it, Northup may have just shot herself in the foot in a staunchly Republican area of the state. Stivers represents the counties of Knox, Clay, Owsley, Lee, Wolfe, Morgan and Magoffin.

The first four are part of the so-called "old 5th" that is the most heavily GOP region of Kentucky. Wolfe remains a Democrat stronghold, but Republicans are on the rise in Morgan and Magoffin. Incidentally, Ernie Fletcher's father spent his childhood in Magoffin County and the governor still has plenty of relatives there. Stivers is very highly thought of in his district and it would be very hard to recruit a challenger who could beat him. Stivers is active in community affairs in most all of his counties.

Northup is picking on the wrong person if she's trying to pick a fight with him. Fundraising numbers posted on Hall's site also show that this is Fletcher country. Northup has received contributions from only two of the counties in Stivers' district, $3,750 in Knox and $350 in Morgan. We have it on good authority that when Fletcher recently attended a public event in one of the smaller counties in Stivers' district, one in which no corresponding fund-raiser was planned, he went home with a similar amount for his campaign.

Fletcher is very popular in this region and many loyal Republicans view Northup with disdain and outright dislike for challenging the incumbent instead of throwing her full support behind him. This is the second really dumb thing Northup has done in the last month or so. Remember this report in which Northup explained her no-show at the Kentucky Press Association's candidate forum by saying she didn't want share the stage with the Democrat candidates and have to listen to what they had to say?

That wasn't exactly the brightest thing to say in a state where Democratic registration still outpaces GOP registration. Now she threatens to "primary" a very popular state senator who happens to support the incumbent governor? Not real bright. Of course it'll be hard for Northup to recruit an opponent for Stivers from her position as an ex-Member of Congress and failed gubernatorial candidate, which is what she'll be after May 22. And it's highly possible her threat to Stivers will be a key reason why she'll lose next month.

Brett Hall Rebukes Queen Anne

State Senator Robert Stivers was leaving the Clay County Courthouse Tuesday in his hometown of Manchester when he spotted Anne Northup talking to a few locals.

Stivers, an attorney and one of 15 state senators backing Governor Ernie Fletcher in the GOP primary, stopped to say hello. That was when things got ugly.

Northup reportedly told the veteran legislator and senate judiciary chair that she was going to contact people in his district to recruit a primary opponent to run against him in 2008, among other things.

None too happy about that news, Stivers contacted his good friend, Senate President David Williams to fill him in on Northup's threat to primary him.

Williams then called Larry Cox, who heads up U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell's state operations, informing him of his displeasure. Basically, it went something like this, "Tell your candidate, Mrs. Northup to kindly stop threatening members of my caucus."

Moments later, Northup was on the phone with Stivers offering a profuse apology for her remarks.

Wednesday afternoon, GOP state senators convened on a conference call to discuss the incident. The Senate President asked them to inform them immediately of any similar incident.

Queen Anne’s Royal Gaffe

From On the Mark:

Governor Fletcher's former press secretary Brett Hall, claims on his blog that Anne Northup threatened to recruit an opponent for Sen. Robert Stivers because of Stivers' support for Fletcher. Keep in mind that Hall is still a big Fletcher supporter and his wife works for state government, but I'll pass this tidbit on because it's interesting. Here's Hall's website

From OSI Speaks:

Did Northup make a "veiled political threat" against Sen. Robert Stivers, regarding a possible opponent for him, or was her comment a "joke taken out of context"? Read the H-L piece, judge for yourself and please share your thoughts.

How Very Small of Him

Governor Fletcher has pledged reimbursement? He has incumbency’s trappings, purse power, campaign “official” appearances, and state funded plane access. Expecting Kentucky’s taxpayers refunded was appropriate.

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

Gov. Ernie Fletcher’s campaign reversed course and now will voluntarily reimburse the state coffers for a portion of travel costs when the governor attends political events, such as fund-raisers, while on a trip for official business. The campaign issued a statement today saying that it’s working on creating on a "pro-rated reimbursement rate" based on the number of political stops on a trip compared to the number of official events, such as check presentations, ribbon cuttings and announcements. "This is new ground for Kentucky politics as it is the first time an incumbent governor has campaign extensively while in office," said campaign manager Marty Ryall.

The decision comes after the Herald-Leader reported that 11 of Fletcher’s 16 campaign fund-raising events since March 1 occurred in or near a Kentucky city in which the governor made a public appearance that same day. The cost of flying the state airplane to eight of those cities was $7,819.50, according to the Herald-Leader’s analysis. And initially, the campaign said it had no plans to reimburse any of that because state law — unlike other states and the federal guidelines for the U.S. president — doesn’t require it. "We’re following the law as it’s written in Kentucky," Ryall said at that time.

Ryall said today the campaign has reconsidered and is working with the governor’s office to calculate how much the campaign would owe dating back to Jan. 1. The forumla takes into account the number of political and official stops per trip. For instance, if the governor attended one campaign function and two meetings on state business, the campaign would cover one-third of the travel costs.

The campaign’s statement also points out that federal laws for members of Congress don’t require a U.S. representative’s re-election campaign to reimburse travel costs from Washington to the legislator’s home state as long as the trip includes at least one official event.

One of Fletcher’s rival in the Republican primary for governor is Anne Northup, a former congresswoman from Louisville, whose campaign for governor criticized Fletcher for not reimbursing the state. "That begs the question of how much she has reimbursed the federal government for travel to and from Louisville during her congressional campaigns," Ryall said.

Northup lost her bid for a sixth term last fall. The Northup campaign dispatched a statement dismissing that question, saying Fletcher "in typical fashion is making an excuse and playing the victim."

The statement did not include any data as to Northup's travel from Congress. "Ernie Fletcher campaigned on going to Frankfort to clean up the waste, fraud and abuse yet this is a perfect instance of how he has wasted taxpayer dollars and found every way possible to abuse the system for his own political gain," the statement from Northup's campaign manager, Michael Clingaman said.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Selling A Governor

On Monday, the Lexington Herald-Leader profiled Governor Ernie Fletcher. Their article was ridiculous. I will not share the contents. Simply stated, Fletcher should have paid for the advertising.

Restraining the Campaign

From OSI Speaks:

The H-L has done another good write-up. This one is on Billy Harper, who rejects calls to quit the Governor's race and instead declares that he's a better candidate than Northup or Fletcher because "I'm not a politician. I've come out of the business ranks where I know what it is like to make a payroll." Is Harper a better candidate or is he a "drag" on the Republican gubernatorial "race"?

Billy Harper is a drag. Billy Harper is a candidate. Anne Northup and Ernie Fletcher, they are a pair of drags.

Money As Expected

From Pol Watchers:

The re-election campaign for Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher shows that the incumbent has collected a total of $2,980,216 in the election cycle, including $1,292,401 since Jan. 1, 2007. Meanwhile, Anne Northup, another Republican candidate for governor, and her running mate, Jeff Hoover, have raised more than $1.5 million for their campaign. That includes a $500,000 loan from Northup and her husband, Woody Northup.

Fletcher has spent $1.8 million this year and now enters the last month of the campaign with $935,819 in the bank, according to the report summary just filed with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance. The Northup-Hoover campaign, in its 32-day pre-primary report, said it had about $980,200 on hand. "Jeff and I have been thrilled with the support we have received from people all over the Commonwealth," Northup said in a statement. "As the governor’s own campaign said last week, if you are an incumbent, it is easier to raise money, but we are thrilled with the response we have gotten despite the governor trying to prevent people from donating."

The report listed donations from more than 2,000 people in 67 counties. "Our efforts have been picking up steam each week and the momentum is building," Northup said, noting that the campaign reaped more than $110,000 contributions in the five days leading up to the close of the books.

Of the loan from the Northups, campaign manager Michael Clingaman said, "Their loan demonstrates how deeply they believe the Republican Party needs a new standard bearer who can put the failures of the Fletcher administration behind us."

Paducah businessman Billy Harper, the third Republican candidate for governor, has not yet filed his campaign finance report. Statewide candidates have until midnight Wednesday to file.

Obviously, Governor Fletcher and Congresswoman Northup raised money. They are politicians. Politicians talk (a lot) and consume donations. The monitary explanation? Fletcher has been bought. Northup was a Congresswoman. If elected, both will Kentuckians and serve special interests.

Speaking Anti-Abortion

Ask Republicans an abortion question. Unsurprisingly, you will receive various versions of “I support life.” Concerning Kentucky, Governor Fletcher treasures informed consent. He is cuddling the pro-life movement. Anne Northup said life four times. She is kissing the pro-life movement. Billy Harper opposes abortion, except concerning rape or incest. He is honest.

From Kentucky Post:

For some candidates in the governor's race, the topic of abortion is more complicated than simply a "yes" or "no." While some of the 10 candidates are firmly planted, others find themselves straddling the issue between what they personally feel and how they think government should handle the touchy subject. The Associated Press asked each of the 10 candidates - three Republicans and seven Democrats - their positions on abortion and whether they favored imposing restrictions on the procedure. The responses were generally split along party lines.

The three Republicans were, for the most part, supportive of abortion limits. Meanwhile, most Democrats felt personally against the procedure, but not in favor of banning it. Gov. Ernie Fletcher, who is seeking a second term, said his "convictions are pro-life." An ordained Baptist preacher, the Republican governor said he's worked during his first four years to reduce abortions in Kentucky. "I have worked to create a culture of life in Frankfort, by working to protect all children, both born and unborn," Fletcher, who is also a physician, said in response to the AP questionnaire.

Fletcher is facing challenges from two of his past political comrades, former U.S. Rep. Anne Northup and Paducah businessman Billy Harper. Seven Democrats, meanwhile, are seeking the nomination in the May 22 primary. They are: former Lt. Govs. Steve Beshear and Steve Henry, demolition contractor Otis Hensley Jr., Lexington attorney Gatewood Galbraith, Louisville businessman Bruce Lunsford, state Treasurer Jonathan Miller and House Speaker Jody Richards.

On the GOP side, Fletcher and Northup both used the term "pro-life" to describe themselves and have endorsements from the Kentucky Right to Life Association. Fletcher said he supports "informed consent" laws that would require women seeking an abortion to have a face-to-face meeting beforehand.

Northup held a similar view. "The value of all lives are precious and that includes the lives of the unborn," Northup said. "I am pro-life, and I support any measure that preserves the sanctity of life."

Harper said he opposed abortion, except in rape or incest cases, or when an expecting mother's life is at risk. House Speaker Jody Richards, a Democrat to whom the Right to Life Association gave high marks, shared the same opinion as Harper. Lunsford, however, said he supports "a woman's right to choose." "I believe it is a personal, private matter between a woman, her family, her doctor and her beliefs," Lunsford said.

Not all Democrats, however, were as clear in their responses. Beshear said the state can help reduce the number of abortions through education, health care and with new jobs. "Studies show that as the financial status of women improve, the number of abortions decrease," he said.

Henry, who is also a physician, said he did not personally support abortion and would never perform one. "I do not believe governors have the right to place their personal beliefs or make decisions on this issue for the people of Kentucky," Henry said.

Miller also said government can play a role in decreasing the number of abortions by reducing unwanted teen pregnancies. This could be done through teaching sexual abstinence, education, reducing poverty and promoting adoption, he said. "We must partner as government, parents, concerned citizens, clergy, as a community to reduce the number of abortions in Kentucky and the country," Miller said.

Women are allowed to have an abortion, but should be informed about the consequences, Galbraith said. "I am against abortion. Who isn't?" Galbraith said. "I believe women seeking abortions should be fully informed about its medical consequences and educated about what they are really doing which is ending a baby's life."

Hensley said in an interview that he hates abortion, but would not favor banning the procedure. Nevertheless, Hensley said he would create a panel consisting of people on different sides of the issue to address abortion. "The abortion issue works to divide us, both within our state and nationally," Hensley said. "We must begin to take steps to resolve this issue."

Martin Cothran, a spokesman for the Lexington-based Family Foundation, said that a candidate's view on the issue is important in Kentucky. "A lot of people consider a person's view on abortion to be what you would call a disqualifying issue," Cothran said. "People feel pretty strongly about it, and if they take a position on it that they don't agree with, they simply look around to see who else there is."

Beware of False Leaders, Speaking In Fletcher Clothing

From On the Right:

Excerpt from John David Dyche's column in today's Courier Journal: Nothing has become Fletcher's governorship like the missionary zeal with which he is fighting to keep it. His campaign religiously preaches a distinctly messianic re-election message.

Fletcher's first ad portrayed him as a pure young soul facing persecution while walking through a playground equivalent of the valley of the shadow of death full of loud-mouthed little kids. In another bit of Baptist-flavored electoral evangelism, Fletcher's face emerges from a flame as the choir sings "This Little Light of Mine."

Forget a special legislative session. Fletcher's campaign feels more like vacation Bible school. In answer to Ernie's altar call, state contractors are apparently filling the Fletcher collection plate with offering checks. Where their treasures are, there will their ballots be also, or so he hopes. Comment: My favorite Fletcher religious gaffe was his statement to the Herald-Leader in its Monday profile in which he compared himself to Jesus Christ: "You can lead like Jesus and be successful."

But, he added, "there's a price to pay." Well after all, he did have disciples!

The Domestic Partner Dance

Partner benefits in special session. Partner benefits not in special session. Special session dependent upon UK decision. UK approves partner benefits. Fletcher’s response?

University of Kentucky trustees approve domestic-partner benefits

University of Kentucky trustees on Tuesday afternoon approved domestic-partner benefits for opposite-sex and same-sex unmarried couples. The benefits are part of a major package that includes additions such as on-campus child-care centers and expanded opportunities for employee training and education for spouses, partners and children.

The benefits package passed by a 14-2 voice vote. Four trustees were absent. The "no" votes came from Pam May of Pikeville and Penny Brown of Corbin. The board's human resources committee approved the package earlier Tuesday by a 4-0 vote. Trustees Phil Patton of Glasgow, Sandy Patterson, faculty trustee Jeff Dembo and staff trustee Russ Williams all voted yes. A fifth trustee on the committee, Billy Joe Miles, was absent.

Governor says special session "unlikely" before primary

Gov. Ernie Fletcher said he doesn't expect to call a special session of the legislature until after the May 22 primary and is considering asking the General Assembly to address the issue of universities allowing domestic partner benefits. "It’s very unlikely that it might be before the primary," he told reporters in Louisville. "It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. After the primary is the most appropriate time."

3 in GOP discuss benefits for gays

The Fletcher administration may include the issue of domestic partner benefits for gays and lesbians working for state government in the call for a special legislative session. Robbie Rudolph, who is running for lieutenant governor on a ticket with Gov. Ernie Fletcher, said the administration talked about it today. Fletcher has said he wanted to call a special session to deal with the state's retirement system.

Both Fletcher and Rudolph oppose domestic partner benefits. "We'll take care of this once and for all," Rudolph said while discussing the issue during an hourlong debate on KET featuring the three Republican candidates for lieutenant governor.

House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover said Fletcher hasn't spoken to him about what he intends to place on the call for a special session, but he said adding it to the agenda might not have been needed if Fletcher had shown more leadership during the regular session. "If they hadn't closed their door every day at 5 o'clock — there wouldn't be a need for a special session," Hoover said in an interview later.

Hope Amidst Oblivion

From Louisville Courier-Journal:

Ford Motor’s head of North American manufacturing told a Louisville conference today that the automaker is committed to fostering manufacturing innovation in the United States. Speaking at the Global Automotive Conference in Louisville, Joe Hinrichs was asked what role Ford’s Louisville plants would have in that vision.

"I know the plant well and I’m sure this plant will step up to whatever we have to do," he said, referring to the Explorer plant on Fern Valley Road Concern about the future of the Louisville Assembly Plant stems from lower sales of the Explorer and Ford’s plans to close seven assembly plants by 2009.

It has identified five.

The plant will step up? Kentucky hopes. Given only Fordfare, hollow assurances, and temporary employment, the workers are starving. Either they will succeed or Ford will perish.

Dizzy, You’re Making Me Dizzy With All Your Spinning

This tale is laughable. If believe this, you are ignoring the facts. Gubernatorial fear? Paranoia personified. Hoover will play a meaningful role? There will not be a Northup administration. Hoover dominated the debate competition? What tape was watched? Northup will work for Kentucky, not Kentucky’s politicians? Northup is only a politician. Her speech received thunderous cheers? Which supporter pressed play for the pre-recorded audio?

From Blue Grass, Red State:

An undercover political operative for the Fletcher administration can say whatever he wants about the Governor's race, but if you listen to him, you're not getting the facts. He can say, "Even Washington insider columnist Bob Novak (He of Valerie Plame fame.) has changed his outlook on the race from leaning for Anne Northup to leaning for Fletcher," if he wants. However, that doesn't take away from the fact that while doing previous political work for Fletcher, he considered Novak's opinion worthy of the trash bin.

On March 30th he said, "These same operatives tuned up conservative columnist Robert Novak, who reported recently that the race leans Northup. (Wonder who's behind that?)" On April 24, he likes his opinion. He can say Al Cross believes "Fletcher will win" if he wants, but that doesn't take away from the fact that Al Cross never said that. Cross only said that Fletcher "now leads," and spoke of "fear of what a governor can do to you."

He can conveniently leave out the part about Jeff Hoover (R-Jamestown), who will play a meaningful and substantive role in the Northup/Hoover administration, completely dominating the competition in the LG debate last night. He can say that "scores of Republican county officials and legislators" want their Governor reelected, but we know the Governor isn't supposed to work for politicians like how Ernie Fletcher is doing.

The Governor is supposed to work for the people, and that is exactly what Governor Anne Northup and Lieutenant Governor Jeff Hoover are going to do. They will work for Kentuckians, not Kentucky politicians. As Hopkinsville's Kentucky New Era reported, this past weekend Kentuckians were excited about the coming Northup/Hoover administration:

Though many people had already decided who to support for governor, some, such as E.G. Adams, were happy for the opportunity to hear from candidates for some of the lesser-known offices. "I didn’t know some of the gentlemen, and I thought they did a good job," he said, specifically mentioning Stan Lee, running for attorney general, and Ken Upchurch, running for state treasurer. "I’m committed to Anne already."

"Anne" is Anne Northup, candidate for governor, and many of those attending seemed to share Adams’s feelings. Hers was the only speech that ended with enthusiastic cheers instead of the polite applause received by most other candidates. "I’m supporting Anne because I’m tired of the things going on and I want some change," said Donna Thurman of Russellville.

Staggering, Stuttering, Selling Northup

From NKY Politics:

This was just posted on the Web site of GOP gubernatorial candidate Anne Northup.

If you read the morning paper in Louisville or Lexington, you saw the Ernie Fletcher spin machine working overtime. The AP and Courier-Journal ran stories about the new Yard Sign program the Northup-Hoover campaign has offered on its website. The Fletcher spin was that Northup-Hoover was offering Yard Signs for sale because we couldn’t afford to buy them and give them away for free. That claim is FALSE and FOOLISH.

We have an official Yard Sign program that is fully funded and will be rolling out over the next couple of weeks. This program was a way for people that live on dead end streets or in the far reaches of the state, that want a chance to show their support for Northup-Hoover, to get the signs NOW rather than wait for our general distribution.

This Fletcher spin is just more politics of destruction from a desperate campaign. Whether it is Ernie Fletcher saying Kentucky has a "booming economy" when we have the 5th worst unemployment rate in the nation or that he has "lowered health care costs" when millions of Kentuckians are paying higher health insurance premiums, Republicans are catching on that its just more of the same from his campaign.

If you would like to purchase your sign you can click here and get it NOW or you can click here and sign up for one of our free signs which will be distributed soon.

This explanation is false and foolish. Northup has an official yard sign program? If the aforesaid is true, why sell yard signs? This program benefits those on dead end streets or rural reaches? Why sell them signs? If they wish to showcase support, why not send them a free sign? How does taxing her most rural supporters aid Northup?

This program screams desperate campaign. Northup has no agenda. She has no policy. She is struggling with contributions. She has resorted to sign profiteering. This is pathetic. Northup, you are not a governor. You are not a leader. You are a politician. A terrible politician.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Their House, Mostly Incomplete

From the Louisville Courier-Journal:

It's like a lot of home makeovers — taking longer to finish and proving harder to pay for than expected. But work now is well under way on renovating the Governor's Mansion — a project estimated to cost as much as $5 million. The goal is to complete work on the first floor by early summer.

When First Lady Glenna Fletcher announced the project in April 2005, she said she hoped the work could be done by the 2006 Kentucky Derby. The mansion's executive director, Kenny Bishop, said last week, however, that officials have come to understand how important it is "to move at a steady pace and be sure that it's done right instead of making sure it's done quickly so we can show it off — as much as we want to do that."

The project is aimed at dealing with problems that are far more than just cosmetic, including leaks in the roof and windows that have caused water damage. "This is the first time that we know of since the house has been built (in 1914) that we're taking it down to original wood or original plaster," Bishop said. "In several instances we were sadly surprised by the condition. We found termite damage, we found rotten wood that has to be replaced. A lot more plaster than we anticipated is having to be worked on and replaced."

During the first week of January, all furniture was removed from the mansion's first floor — the space used for receptions and other public events. While the Fletchers have not had to abandon their second-floor living quarters, the first floor is now a work zone, with chandeliers covered as work crews strip thick layers of paint and repair damaged plaster.

Glenna Fletcher said she found signs of damage soon after moving into the mansion, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, in December 2003. She decided an overhaul was necessary to protect the interior and artwork in the public spaces on the first floor from leaky windows, humidity and sunlight. The last major renovation had been done in the early 1980s, under Gov. John Y. Brown Jr. and his then-wife, Phyllis George Brown.

For the current project, Bishop and Glenna Fletcher have estimated it will take $5 million to fully renovate the 18,400-square-foot mansion. Available funds are more than $1.8 million short of that amount. So far, state government has provided $1,452,000. And the non-profit Governor's Mansion Preservation Foundation, created by Glenna Fletcher in 2005, has raised $1,739,000.

Governor Fletcher’s mansion makeover mirrors his administration. Costly, inept, and mismanaged.

Northup Can’t Win, Her Supporters Can Whine

This guest editorial is absurd. Obviously, Anne Northup and her supporters are desperate. They are not discussing policy. They are begging Billy Harper. Their request is pathetic.

Additionally, their assertions are hyperbolic. Fletcher cannot survive a two way primary? Harper would receive a prominent place in a Northup\Hoover administration? Anne and Jeff will save our party? Ridiculous. The truth is Fletcher will not survive any primary. Anne is not a savior. A Northup\Hoover administration will never exist.

Northup supporters, please stop crying.

From Christopher Thomason:

Billy Harper is a decent, honorable man who has been a loyal Republican for many years. His skills as a businessman are second to none and his principles and integrity make him an asset to our party. However, given the current situation in the Kentucky gubernatorial primary, Mr. Harper should do the right thing for the party and for the state and drop out of this race in favor of Northup/Hoover. There is clearly no way Ernie Fletcher can survive a two-way primary between himself and Anne Northup, but with Mr. Harper in the race, he may just squeak by.

I am certain that Mr. Harper would have a very prominent place in a Northup/Hoover administration, not to mention that he would be a hero within the party for making such selfless move and withdrawing from the race. We have the opportunity with Anne Northup and Jeff Hoover to save our party and right the wrongs of the Fletcher Administration, but that opportunity may not come to pass in this three-way primary. For the sake of the future of the Republican Party and our continued successes in Kentucky, please, Mr. Harper, do the right thing and bow out.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Another Version of Her Three Little Words

Why is Jeff Hoover running? Who cares.

Why is Anne Northup running? (Everyone now)… “Fletcher can’t win, Fletcher can’t win, Fletcher can’t win.”

From Pol Watchers:

Anne Northup is ready to go with her second television ad in her Republican campaign for governor. The new ad is called "Running," and tells why she and her running mate, House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover of Jamestown, are in the May 22 Republican primary election against Gov. Ernie Fletcher and Paducah businessman Billy Harper.

An Initiative… For the Education Governor

From the Kentucky Post:

Northern Kentucky University has launched a special scholarship program intended to make it financially possible for virtually all graduates of Newport and Holmes high schools to attend NKU. The new Holmes/Newport scholarships of up to $3,000 a year, when combined with federal and state grants, should cover the cost of NKU's annual $5,900 tuition in almost all cases, NKU officials said.

"This is about hopes and aspirations and opportunities," said NKU President James Votruba. "We want to make it possible for every qualified student in Newport and Covington to be able to go to college no matter what their financial circumstances. "My guess is that over the next few days there will be young people who never thought about going to college because they figured they couldn't afford it who will all of a sudden realize they can afford it."

Votruba said NKU will guarantee Newport and Holmes graduates up to $3,000 a year in tuition help, for four years, based on need, after the students have taken advantage of all the other financial aid they're eligible for. "Our financial aid office will calculate the difference and we will make up that difference up to $3,000 a year," he said. "In most cases, when students combine federal and state grants with this new program, they will find that their entire tuition costs are covered."

The new scholarships will be funded initially by NKU reallocating some of its current financial aid money. In the future, the school anticipates seeking private funding to support the program. "We don't know how many students this scholarship will attract," said Votruba. "We don't think it will be real large this first year. But we want to get started so the numbers do get large. Wouldn't it be a great problem if in three or four years we're sitting around saying, 'We can't handle this. There's too many. Where are we going to find the money?'"

To qualify for a Holmes/Newport scholarship, students must: Be federal Pell grant eligible. Be a graduate of Holmes or Newport high schools. Be a first-time college freshman. Submit an application for admission by May 15, 2007, or by March 1 in subsequent years. Be accepted to NKU. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form by May 15, 2007, or by March 1 in subsequent years.

Students must maintain a 2.5 college grade average, attend NKU full-time and remain Pell grant eligible to renew the scholarship each year. NKU is collaborating on the new scholarship program with Strive, a group of community organizations promoting education, and with the Northern Kentucky Council of Partners in Education and the Covington and Newport school systems. "This is part of our effort to help the urban core, including our schools," said Votruba. "You can't revitalize the urban core without revitalizing the schools."

Too many young people don't even consider college because they think the cost is so far beyond them, he said. "We want to create a sense of hope among these students and we think this scholarship is a good way to do it," Votruba said.

Imagine, allowing all graduates to attend college. You would assume “the education governor” champions this. Mr. Fletcher, why the silence?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Plastic Governor

Mailing campaign literature to college students: $277.50. Campaign buttons for each voting student: $650.00. Buying the mock primary: $1,650.00. Defeating Anne Northup: priceless.

There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s FletcherCard.

From Pol Watchers:

Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher and Democratic Treasurer Jonathan Miller were the winners in a mock election of this year's governor's race sponsored by Secretary of State Trey Grayson’s office involving students at Kentucky’s public universities. The mock election began April 10 and ended today. More than 750 students participated, said a news release from Grayson’s office.

In the Republican primary, the slate of Gov. Ernie Fletcher and Robbie Rudolph got 44.6 percent of the vote, compared to 40.3 percent for Anne Northup and Jeff Hoover. Billy Harper and Dick Wilson got 15.1 percent.

Planting Priorities

From Blue Grass, Red State Blog:

Northup/Hoover released a very exciting position paper on Kentucky agriculture today. Anne Northup and Jeff Hoover plan to make agriculture and rural development a priority. They plan to make the most of every farm product. They plan to foster an economic and environmental climate conducive to Kentucky agriculture. Finally, Anne Northup and Jeff Hoover will truly appreciate Kentucky agriculture and not use it for political gain.

Agriculture as a priority? What about education as priority? Mine safety as a priority? Ethics legislation as a priority? Pension reform as a priority? Spending restraint as a priority? What about actual priorities as priorities?

OSI Interprets

This week's question is: Do you support a constitutional amendment that would automatically restore voting rights to felons once they have completed their full sentence? Here are their responses -- in their own words!

Ernie Fletcher: "I do not think that it is too much to ask of a person who knowingly committed the most serious of crimes to comply with a few simple steps to have those precious rights restored." Ernie does not support the automatic restoration of voting rights for felons.

Anne Northup: "No, I oppose a constitutional amendment to automatically restore voting rights for felons."

Billy Harper: "Convicted felons need to work their way back into society and earn their voting rights." Billy does not support automatic restoration of voting rights for felons.

That's all folks, the candidates in their own words, deciphered.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Northup Endorses... Fletcher?

Fletcher: Special Session Soon, I Need the Votes

As previously stated, legislators would not when required. Good luck scoring laws via politics.

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

Gov. Ernie Fletcher said he will decide in the next two weeks when to recall lawmakers to address projects they left unfunded and a measure that would provide incentives for production of alternative fuels.

If legislative leaders can get on the same page, such a special session could even occur before the May 22 primary election, in which Fletcher and one of those key lawmakers -- Democratic House Speaker Jody Richards -- are vying for their parties' respective nominations for governor. "I don't think we're ready right now to call a special session, but over the next couple of weeks, we have to decide whether we'll have one before the primary," Fletcher said. "And if it doesn't occur in the next few weeks, then I think it's appopriate to wait until after the primary."

The governor made those comments to reporters following his brief remarks to the blue ribbon commission he empaneled to look into stabilizing the state employee retirement system, which currently faces as much as $12 billion in debt. Fletcher charged the commission specifically yesterday with coming up with recommendations on: How Kentucky fulfills its retirement and health care obligations to current employees and retirees in the face of debt and rising costs. What the state could do to retool the system and benefits for future employees' retirements.

"This is probably one of the most significant fiscal endeavors we will have in the commonwealth of Kentucky in several decades," Fletcher told the group of business leaders, experts, lawmakers and key administration officials. "You have quite a task."

Fletcher later told reporters that it's unlikely any broad reforms to the retirement system will be included in a special session before 2008. The state Senate had pitched a plan that would have restructured benefits for future employees, but the House balked, saying it was something that needed more studying. That contributed to the impasse over projects, which included $9 million for a new runway at Bluegrass Airport and $38 million for construction of a new stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park in preparation for the 2010 World Equestrian Games. But, it's still possible that Fletcher might ask the legislature to approve several hundred million dollars in bonds that would cut down on some of the retirement system's multi-billion-dollar debt "if we could get an agreement," Fletcher said.

When pressed, Fletcher said little head-way has been made so far in getting House and Senate leaders to agree. "We've had some conversations, and I've talked to some folks on both sides," Fletcher said. "I think there's a period of cooling off. We'll have to wait and see."

Also on a possible special session agenda is funding for the 120 counties to cover the cost of a runoff election, that appears likely to kick in at least for the Democrats. The state's first runoff since 1935 would be triggered if no candidate in a primary for governor receives at least 40 percent of the vote. In that case, the top two finishers would face off as early as June 26 for an overtime election that will cost counties at least $5 million. Fletcher said he could authorize up to $1.8 million to help but wants lawmakers to at least approve funds to cover the rest or eliminate the runoff altogether.

Selling Yourself For Friends

Selling your signs? Sweatshirts, t-shirts, I understand those are marketable. However, free yard sign distribution is tradition. This is both arrogant and ridiculous. Obviously, committed voters are the lone lawn sign advocates. With that stated, this policy screams Queen Anne.

From Bill Bryant’s Blog:

In an interesting twist… Republican candidate for governor, former Congresswoman Anne Northup is now selling yard signs on her website. Northup’s camp is charging $9.95 for a Northup-Hoover sign that could adorn your yard. It’s not unheard of for campaigns to sell merchandise these days… such as sweatshirts, caps, etc… in fact, it’s technically illegal to give away items of that much value… because it can be construed as vote buying. But signs? That seems to be a new one in a Kentucky governor’s race. Ted Jackson’s Spalding group has sold signs in other campaigns including President Bush’s… right now they’re also offering up Rudy Guilliani material.

Reaping Our Ignorance

From the Kentucky Post:

Officials in Frankfort are cringing over the future of an underfunded state retiree benefits system predicted to run out of money in 2022. But in cities and counties across Kentucky, the crisis is already squeezing budgets like a massive vise. Struggling to meet dramatic increases in contribution rates caused by rising pension and retiree health insurance costs, local governments are desperately looking for ways to cut costs and raise revenue for already tight budgets.

The crisis is outlined in black and white: In 1988, local governments paid an amount equal to 8.22 percent of employee salaries into the state-run retirement benefits program for their nonhazardous-duty employees and an amount equal to 18.85 percent for their hazardous-duty workers. For the fiscal year that ends June 30, those contribution rates have risen to 13.19 percent and 28.21 percent, respectively. For the fiscal year that begins July 1, they will go to 16.17 percent and 33.87 percent, and by 2013, they're projected to be a whopping 30.75 percent and 60.99 percent. "It's like a meteor and you can't get out of the way," said Newport Finance Director Greg Engelman, who predicts the crisis, left unchecked, will force cities to merge, consolidate services, dissolve, go bankrupt or leave retirement plans unfunded.

Obviously, we should have solved pensions. However, we prioritized. We raised our speed limit.

One Three Word Agenda, No Money

From the Kentucky Kurmudgeon:

Former U.S. Rep. Anne Northup's first TV ad suggested to me that she is having trouble raising money. Watching the ad, I was struck by the way the length of her hair went up and down in the various video clips. That was a clear indication that she was recycling pieces of ads from past congressional races rather than shooting a lot of new footage. That's the sort of thing a candidate might do when money is tight.

“Fletcher can’t win, Fletcher can’t win, Fletcher can’t win” has not inspired people? I am shocked.

Hall Assesses Debate, Assails Northup

The hour-long KET live debate went off without a surprise Monday night, giving viewers throughout the Commonwealth a taste of what Republican faithful have witnessed since early January.

Gov. Ernie Fletcher smiled and warmly discussed public policy, from economic development, transportation, health care to education. If he had any worry that his opponents would somehow best him on the tube, he soon discovered things were going to go quite smoothly.

On her first opportunity to speak, ex-Congresswoman Anne Northup gave a deer-in-the-headlights look, uncertain of how to answer Paducah Sun reporter Bill Bartleman's first question about whether she knew anything embarrassing about either of her Republican opponents. Later, Cincinnati Enquirer reporter Patrick Crowley asked another perplexing question of Northup: Name specific highway projects she didn't think the state should be building. But, Northup's toughest time appeared to be putting a smile on her face. For some reason, people tend to vote for candidates they like. Something to consider for the next debate.

Harper kept to his promise of not criticizing his opponents, refusing to take the bait on questions early in the hour-long program relating to Atty. Gen. Greg Stumbo's investigation of the governor. Northup, however, couldn't wait to jump on that one.

Problem is, she said nothing new to add to her claim she's more electable than Fletcher in the general election. If her performance tonight is any indication of her electability as a candidate for governor, Northup failed to measure up.

Numerous times, she refered to her plan for economic development, posted earlier today on her campaign website. That plan amounts to a reiteration of Fletcher initiatives during the past three years of his administration. Only exception is Northup's opposition to the Alternative Minimum Computation, a tax on out-of-state corporations who used to export profits out of Kentucky without paying taxes. Fletcher may well have scored more points had he challenged Northup and Harper on this issue, as Kentucky businesses could be on the spot to pick up the slack, if the AMC is abolished.

The edge of incumbency was quite evident tonight as the incumbent bested his two primary opponents with a warm and confident presentation. The other two opponents will may well wish the television audience was tuned in elsewhere, as they came up short in demonstrating they are ready for prime time.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Ernie’s Paradox: He Is Trapped

From Pol Watchers:

Gov. Ernie Fletcher's re-election campaign began airing its second TV commercial today. The 30-second spot, set to an upbeat version of "This Little Light of Mine," focuses on the state's economy during Fletcher's administration. The spot began running on network stations in Lexington, Louisville and Bowling Green this morning, said campaign manager Marty Ryall. It will run on cable outlets in other media markets, he said.

Here's an analysis of the ad that will run in Wednesday's Herald-Leader: Fletcher’s main strategy in the primary election is to tout his accomplishments, noting that he was able to remain focused on Kentucky’s future during the grand-jury investigation of his administration’s hiring practices. Establishing that Kentucky has a vibrant economy is fundamental to the campaign’s success.

However, the assertion that Kentucky’s economy is "booming" isn’t supported well by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Job growth has lagged the national average. So has growth in the average worker’s income. And the state’s unemployment rate went from 37th worst to 46th. The number of employed citizens has grown, but at a rate slower than the national average. How much slower depends on which data you believe.

One set of numbers says the number of employed workers grew by 3.4 percent under Fletcher, compared to a national average of 5.5 percent. Another data set says employment has grown by 5 percent in Kentucky, compared to 5.4 percent nationally. Meanwhile, the state’s unemployment rate has remained relatively steady at a time when the national unemployment rate dropped significantly.

Kentucky’s unemployment rate fell from 5.9 percent when Fletcher took office in December 2003 to 5.7 percent in February. Nationally, the rate dropped from 5.7 percent to 4.5 percent in the same time period. "Ernie Fletcher claims an economy that Kentuckians just don’t see," said Michael Clingaman, campaign manager for Anne Northup, one of two candidates challenging Fletcher in the GOP primary.

Lending credibility to Clingaman’s point is this: only five states had weaker personal income growth from 2005 to 2006. Still, whether voters believe the economy is booming or busting, they would be wise to put the issue out of their minds while in the voting booth, said University of Kentucky economist Kenneth Troske. "The president of the United States has a fairly limited impact on the short-term fluctuations of the U.S. economy," he said. "A governor would have even less of an impact."

Governor Fletcher is pathetic. He touts his accomplishments? The Lexington Herald-Leader proved them non-existent. Kentucky is struggling with unemployment and lower personal wages. Ford is floundering. Our children are endangered. Our college students are exiting. Fletcher’s light has been doused.

Obviously, Fletcher must campaign. You cannot win with “I have failed, I am flawed, I cannot produce recovery.” With that stated, this deception illuminates an irony. Fletcher cannot win. He cannot win with lies. He cannot win with his record. Both can be disproved.

Northup to Alaska: The Rush Is On

From the latest Economist magazine: The Republican who heads the executive is wildly unpopular. His scandal-plagued administration is accused of arrogance and indifference to the public mood. Others in his party are desperate to avoid losses at the polls. This scenario turned out badly for congressional Republicans last November, when an unpopular president cost them control of both chambers. Now Kentucky Republicans face a similar challenge.

The state's governor, Ernie Fletcher, has little public support... [and] Northup's strengths would arguably help her even more in a statewide race than they did in her heavily Democratic Louisville district, where she won five straight congressional elections before last year's defeat. She won those races not by being a centrist or moderate, as Republicans in other heavily Democratic districts have configured themselves, but by combining an air of competence and concern for the district with a conservative message. That combination should work even better in more conservative parts of the state.

Although they do not yet know who the opponent will be, Kentucky's Republicans know enough about their incumbent to be worried. The details of his administration's patronage scandal, as is usual in such cases, are tedious and unseemly. Politically, it is enough to know that Mr Fletcher has pardoned lots of his own people and refused to testify. Whatever the merits of the charges, moreover, the governor has failed in general to endear himself to voters.

Last autumn, as many states prepared to elect new governors, only two—Alaska's Frank Murkowski and Ohio's Bob Taft—were more unpopular than Kentucky's. In Alaska, Republicans had faced up to their problem by replacing Mr Murkowski in the primary. The Republican nominee, Sarah Palin, then won the general election handily. So far in Kentucky, the polls show a close race between Mr Fletcher and Mrs Northup. But a growing number of influential Republicans are in favour of the Alaskan approach.

In 2006, Anne Northup was defeated. This is correct. She combined an air of competence and concern with a conservative message? She combined pork barrel spending and a liberal voting record. Polls show a close race? Last month, Northup gained nothing. Republicans favor the Alaskan approach? Correct. We favor sending Northup there.

Gubernatorial Debate Analyzed

From NKY Politics:

Watch Monday night's KET debate between GOP gubernatorial candidates Ernie Fletcher, Anne Northup and Billy Harper? Who won? Who looked good, or bad? Who scored points? Before I give my thoughts, I want to address a couple of concerns raised by posters.

I asked about the hiring scandal because it will be an issue in the general election even if Fletcher does not win the nomination. The Dems will use it to show that the GOP should not be returned, so it is not going away. Also, this is a primary, different animal than a general. The base voters want to hear Fletcher's response, those that support him want to hear that it was a "political witch hunt" as he put it. That won't work in a general, at least not as well, but it is red meat for his backers.

I also ask the gambling question because in my mind the state is squandering an opportunity to go after a big pot of money. I hear pols in every election talk grandiose plans but with little ways to pay for their proposals. Gambling is a viable business in other states, KY should consider allowing casinos to operate.

Now, to the debate. Fletcher did a decent job handling the questions about the hiring scandal and had a command of the facts. He, of course, painted a rosy picture, but he looked more at ease than usual. Didn't give a lot of concrete proposals, but this primary is about deflecting criticism about the scandal and showing, in his mind, that he performed well while under criminal indictment and political pressure. A lot of people gave him up for dead a year ago, but he is definitely alive.

Northup did not seem as comfortable as Fletcher but she did a good job making her pitch that Fletcher can't be re-elected in the fall without sounding mean-spirited. Again, this is a primary and she clearly wants to instill in the base that if Fletcher wins the nomination the Dems win in the fall. Northup also pointed out that the state's unemployment rate is higher than the national average, which was a good point to counter Fletcher's claims about the strength of the economy during his administration.

Harper is a businessman who wants to run government like a business - a good concept but not always doable. Businesses need to turn a profit, government doesn't. That does not mean sound businesses practices can't be applied to government. But business owners are used to telling employers how to get something done; governors have to build consensus. That said, Harper did a decent job portraying himself as the outsider who can bring new ideas and approaches to state government. He does have some strong ideas about education and he made the point that job creation will be paramount in his administration.

From Bill Bryant’s Politics:

The Republican Debate on KET Monday night provided few surprises. Governor Fletcher tried to tout his accomplishments. Anne Northup tried to predict that Fletcher’s renomination would doom the GOP… She repeatedly said "We need a new standard bearer" and "We need to put this behind us," a reference to the merit hiring investigation. And Billy Harper tried to push his business background and said more than once that he would not run a negative campaign.

In staking their positions… the candidates were also working their strategy. Fletcher is trying to demonstrate that his administration’s accomplishments have been obscured by what he called again "a political witch hunt." Fletcher also pointed out that Attorney General Greg Stumbo is now running on a gubernatorial ticket as the governor predicted.

Northup was out to prove that she could be a tough leader and that as the party’s nominee she stands a better chance of winning. She pointed out that 29 members of the Fletcher administration were indicted and pardoned and that the governor pled the fifth amendment. The governor responded that he asserted his rights because it was in the best interest of the state.

And Harper went the route of saying he won’t run a negative campaign and would refrain from talking about the other candidates. He talked up his business experience. The issue of expanded gambling is likely to be higher stakes this fall now that the Republicans are all clear in their opposition to the idea…. while most Democrats say they’re for it.

Jim Clark Scrutinizes Debate, Criticizes Northup

The debate – not actually, just more campaigning – that took place on KET among the republican gubernatorial hopefuls on 09 April was not an exercise that would "captivate" an audience, certainly, but it served a useful purpose in that it provided the vehicle for allowing a voter to remark the differences in the candidates. Latitude was taken with the facts in some instances by Governor Fletcher and former Congresswoman Anne Northup, but this is always expected. Businessman Billy Harper played it pretty straight. The interrogators were Bill Bartleman of the Paducah Sun and Patrick Crowley of the Kentucky Enquirer.

As expected, there probably are few differences among the three with respect to the issues. None approved of casino gambling and made that plain. All three spoke at length about education but produced little more than clich├ęs about the need to make it better. The issue that should have been discussed was the suggestion made recently by some entity and endorsed strongly by the Lexington Herald-Leader that math and science teachers should be paid more than other teachers, since Kentucky students lag behind those in most other states in these study-areas. None seemed to have an answer to the "testing" problem.

None of the three saw fit to mention that Kentucky lags behind in education after 16 years of being operated under the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990, a nightmarish mixture of pork with pedagogy all tied up in the largest tax increase in the state’s history at that time. None even mentioned that legislatures through the years have rescinded much of the act but have done nothing to improve education. None of the candidates had anything new to say regarding the subject, but all agreed that something has to be done. The loaded question came early in the evening when the question was asked as to whether or not the candidates believed any fellow-candidate had misbehaved. This was the cue for Ms. Northup to lash out at the governor in no uncertain terms, citing the particulars of the "merit scandal," noting that blanket pardons had been granted, and lamenting that the facts would never be known since no trials had been or would ever be held.

Governor Fletcher insisted, as he has all along, that the effort by Attorney General Greg Stumbo in that matter was a "witch-hunt," proven by the fact that Stumbo has entered the gubernatorial sweepstakes as the number-two guy on a democrat ticket. Stumbo, of course, long ago stated publicly that he would consider a candidacy if Fletcher became "wildly unpopular." He was probably wise in going the lieutenant governor route to get the top job, since he hasn’t looked all that good in the merit thing himself. Also, he can ride on millionaire Bruce Lunsford’s financial coattails, thus dodging the pesky business of fund-raising.

Northup brought up the usual "blacktop gimmick" used in every race by a wannabe to color the incumbent as a con man bribing voters by building roads in their sections during election times. Using the golden opportunity she handed him, Fletcher listed some of those projects, even emphasizing one in deep-democrat country in the western end of the state. Harper is a contractor, part of whose business is building roads, so he predictably didn’t harp on the subject. In fact, he stayed away from mudslinging, leaving that up to Northup, who made a pretty good effort at it.

Crowley, strangely, seemed to try to make the case for casino gambling, throwing out the suggestion that the revenue it would generate would be worth going that route. The numbers batted around differed by the hundreds of millions. Northup and Harper turned him aside completely, though Fletcher repeated his position that if the legislature enacted a casino amendment-proposition to be put on the ballot, he would not stand in the way, letting the citizens decide. He made it plain he would not be for it.

The most grating thing in the nearly hour-long program was Northup’s constant use of the terms "leadership" and "plan." She used these terms sort of as a mantra, no matter the subject, making it plain that Fletcher had damaged the party and, at least inferentially, could not hope to be elected, and that he is a man without a plan, apparently for most everything. Harper played it cool on the subject, though, if memory serves, Fletcher’s "not-a-chance" was perhaps the primary reason he gave last year for his getting in the race.

Stridency best describes Northup’s performance. The target of her barbs was Fletcher, though she presented no "plans" in the process. Harper was kind of laid back and harped constantly that his being a businessman was the reason he should be elected. Fletcher was upbeat and able to tick off a number of accomplishments during his administration, not the least of which has been turning a sizeable deficit into a sizeable surplus in three years time. He also made it a point to mention how he has helped Louisville, Northup’s home-base.

Cheering From Frankfort

FBI avoiding Kentucky? Governor Fletcher is elated

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

Before the FBI led two high-profile investigations into public corruption in Clay County, voters were so disgusted with the county's crooked politics that few went to the polls. Two years later, investigations have led to charges against a former county election commissioner turned drug dealer, a county clerk, the Manchester mayor, an assistant police chief and a 911 director. Residents say the federal investigations have restored some faith in the system. "It gave people courage," said Doug Abner, a local minister.

Many former and current law enforcement agents are worried that a drop in the number of federal agents -- particularly FBI agents -- will mean fewer public corruption investigations such as the ones in Clay County. Former and current law enforcement agents say some FBI offices in Kentucky have been investigating criminal cases with fewer than half the agents they had 18 months ago. Last year, the FBI closed an office in Ashland after it had been open for decades. The bureau is also considering closing its Elizabethtown office, but no decision has been made yet, said an FBI spokesman.

The current number of FBI agents in Kentucky is not known. Nor is the net loss of agents over the past 18 months. The Herald-Leader sent the FBI a public records request in January, asking for a breakdown of the number of agents in Kentucky by office. More than 60 days later, that request is still pending.

A shift in the priorities of the FBI since Sept. 11, 2001, has meant there are fewer agents available to investigate white-collar crime and public corruption across the country, former and current law enforcement officers say. "Everyone in Eastern Kentucky should be concerned about this," said Scott Barker, a former supervisor for the FBI in Eastern Kentucky.

A Seattle Post-Intelligencer investigation has found that 2,400 FBI criminal agents nationwide who were transferred to counterterrorism squads since Sept. 11, 2001, have not been replaced. The FBI has requested money for more agents over the past two years, but those requests have been denied, according to the Post-Intelligencer story printed Wednesday. The six-month newspaper investigation found that the overall number of FBI-driven criminal investigations referred to federal prosecutors dropped from 31,000 cases in 2000 to 20,000 in 2005.

Many in Congress are calling for an increase in the FBI's budget. Sen. Joe Biden, a Delaware Democrat, pushed legislation to hire 1,000 more FBI agents and add money to state and local law enforcement budgets, but the measure died. Since the Seattle newspaper's investigation, Biden and others are trying to push the legislation forward in the next Congress. Kentucky federal officials say there has been a drop in the number of agents in Kentucky but say that over the past several months they have hired some agents to fill some of those vacant positions. Tracy Reinhold, FBI special agent in charge of Kentucky, said that over the past year the FBI has expanded its task forces and partnered with more local and state agencies to augment their forces.

Reinhold pointed to the Clay County investigation as an example of a case that used multiple agencies and got results. Reinhold said every tip that comes to the FBI's attention is investigated. U.S. Attorney Amul Thapar, the top federal prosecutor for Eastern Kentucky, said FBI agents and federal prosecutors are doing more with fewer resources. Thapar said the lack of resources is not just a Kentucky problem or a federal issue. "There isn't a federal agency or a state agency that has enough resources," he said.

The task forces have created a closer working relationship between state, local and federal officials, Thapar and Reinhold said. "Kentucky has been one of the best places I've ever worked," Reinhold said, whose career stops include FBI offices in Detroit and Las Vegas.

But many former FBI agents say that task forces have their limitations. A federal officer has to serve on those task forces to get a case into federal court. In some areas of Kentucky, federal resources are spread too thin. There are Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents that are on drug task forces because there isn't a Drug Enforcement agent available, agents say. Jim Huggins, a retired FBI agent and former supervisor, said some of Eastern Kentucky's most well-known public corruption cases have involved state and local police. Those are the types of cases that task forces can't handle, Huggins and other agents say.

David Keller, a former FBI agent whose work led to the arrest of several corrupt Kentucky sheriffs and police officers, said the bureau's decision to close smaller offices such as Ashland could result in fewer tips and investigations. "You can't cover Ashland from Lexington," Keller said. People in rural areas are more likely to report suspicious activity to someone they know -- a local FBI agent -- than call a 1-800 number.

"For some people, calling Louisville is like calling a foreign country," Huggins said.

Agents in Lexington and Louisville are so loaded with work that they can't take on cases in the far eastern portions of the state, former agents say. Both Huggins and Keller and other former agents the Herald-Leader spoke to said they have high regard for their former employer and are not criticizing bureau leadership. The agency has to work within its budget, they say.

"We are in a fight against terror across the globe, and there is only so many resources to go around," Keller said. "We have to address our needs here at home as well," Keller said. "In the past 25 years, I've seen Eastern Kentucky become a much better place to live. If the feds pull back because of funding, we could easily slip back to the early 1980s where we nearly had an open market for marijuana."

Anne the Pointless Pugilist

From Cyber Hillbilly:

The real campaign for the Republican gubernatorial nomination begins today, with all three Republican candidates up on the air. Anne Northup’s introductory ad casts her in terms likely to resonate with Kentucky Republican voters: a fighter, a successful public servant, and a dedicated family woman. It’s short and to the point.

The bottom line is that Anne Northup is the only Republican candidate who can win in November. With the current Governor embroiled in scandal, at barely over 30% approval ratings, and facing polls that show a full 60% of Republican voters prefer another candidate, it’s time Republicans turn to the candidate best suited to lead them to victory in November and, most importantly, beyond.

Anne is a fighter? She is best suited to lead? She will win? Three words cannot have this impact. (Everyone now, Fletcher can’t win, Fletcher can’t win, Fletcher can’t win, Fletcher can’t win, Fletcher can’t win…)

Finger In A Flood

From Louisville Courier-Journal:

As many as 500 temporary employees have been hired at Louisville’s two Ford Motor Co. plants in recent months to replace workers who have accepted buyout offers from the troubled automaker. There were almost no temporary positions at the two plants before the buyout offers were made last fall. Rocky Comito, president of United Auto Workers Local 862, said the temporary workers earn 70 percent of the typical full-time union wage. For an assembly worker, that would mean almost $19 an hour.

Comito said there are more temporary workers at Louisville Assembly Plant on Fern Valley Road, because more full-time employees from that plant accepted buyouts. He said a smaller number are working at Kentucky Truck Plant on Chamberlain Lane. About 30,000 workers nationally accepted the Ford buyouts and started leaving their jobs in January. Comito said the temporary workers filling vacant jobs pay full union dues and are allowed to vote on union issues, but they don’t receive a pension and other benefits.

Marcey Evans, a Ford spokeswoman, declined to comment on the number of temporary workers in Louisville or for the company as a whole. She said the temporary workers also don’t receive health insurance or accrue seniority, and there are no plans to offer any of them full-time jobs. "Every plant is working on its own transition plan for moving employees out who accepted buyouts and keeping their facilities running efficiently," she said.

Fletcher has instituted Fordfare. Thousands have lost employment. Ford is hiring temps?

Conservative Edge Compliments Harper

Harper campaign coming into it's own

Having watched the Billy Harper for Governor campaign for several months, it is becoming apparent that the campaign is coming into it's own. There were some stumbles in the beginning, but lately he's been to good to ignore. Take for example his message. It's positive, and casts a reason for wanting to be Governor and a vision for the future.

Billy Harper wants to be Governor to better the lives of Kentuckians through improving education and bringing good jobs to the state. Harper contends that he is qualified to do this becasue of his expereince as a succesful businessman. Harper is also ringing the "outsiders" bell. By positioning himself as the "un politician", Harper is going after a percentage of the electorate that is tired of politics as usual.

The only downside to this approach, is that it is a better message for a general election than a primary. Most primary voters are probably not "sick and tired" of the same old thing. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Harper's decision not to trash Governor Fletcher is also paying dividends. His debate performance drew praise from several quarters. It's certain that Billy Harper will have to be reckoned with by the two front runners. The question will be how they will do it, while keeping their own message on track.

Billy Harper ascendant?

Sources close to the Billy Harper campaign are telling me that the Harper campaign is feeling good these days. According to the source, Harper's up beat performance in Monday night's debate, coupled with Northup's lackluster performance and tired appearance means there is room for the Harper campaign to take over the second spot in the GOP primary. With 16% in the most recent poll, to Northup's 31%, it would be a tall order for Harper to catch Northup, but momentum may be on Harper's side.

He gained three points in 4 weeks, while Northup remained stagnant. In addition, Northup lost a similar lead to John Yarmuth last fall. If Harper can move in to second place, and Northup's constant attacks on Fletcher bring him below 40%, Harper could wind up in a runoff with the Governor. At that point anything could happen. Which begs the question: Is Harper ascendant?

Harper, Northup’s Echo: Fletcher Can’t Win

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

Two Republican candidates for governor questioned Gov. Ernie Fletcher's ability to win a second term on Wednesday, each saying they could fare better against the Democratic nominee in the November election. Former U.S. Rep. Anne Northup and Paducah businessman Billy Harper found little to disagree about during a forum with audience members at a downtown Louisville restaurant. Fletcher had planned to attend the one-hour forum but bowed out to speak at a funeral for an Army soldier killed in Iraq.

Harper said only he can attract Democratic voters in the fall election, while Northup said Fletcher has "no chance" to win and remains saddled by a hiring scandal. "This is a person who ran on a single issue, to change the culture and the climate and the ethical behavior in Frankfort," Northup said. "The question for our party, is whether we want to have a standard-bearer who is going into the general election with these problems."

Fletcher has been criticized by Republicans and Democrats for pardoning his entire administration, except himself, after several officials or supporters were indicted in a state hiring investigation. They were charged with violating state hiring laws by appointing political supporters to protected state jobs. Fletcher himself was charged with three misdemeanors that eventually were dropped in a deal with prosecutors.

Harper has avoided criticizing the governor directly, but indicated that some voters may select Northup in the May 22 primary because they dislike Fletcher. Kentucky is one of three states electing a governor this year. "You have two career politicians and one businessman on the Republican ticket. You have a positive choice for who you can vote," Harper said. "You don't have to vote against somebody, you can vote for somebody."

Fletcher campaign manager Marty Ryall called the hiring scandal "old news," saying voters would be more interested in Fletcher's plan for the future. He disagreed with Northup's contention that she would be a stronger Republican in November. "We had three candidates on the Democrats' side running for governor attack us yesterday, so clearly they don't agree on who they're more worried about facing in the fall," Ryall said.

The Wednesday forum was meant to be the second meeting of the three Republican candidates after a televised debate Monday night. Northup and Harper took issue questions from audience members during the forum. Neither said they want to raise the state's cigarette tax, both want to repeal Kentucky's alternative minimum tax on businesses and both said they don't favor expanded gambling. Northup, however, said the gambling should be left to the General Assembly. Fletcher has also said he personally opposes expanded gambling, but would not stand in the way of a referendum.

On health care, Northup said she would favor expanding private care to more citizens, while Harper said he would encourage preventative efforts like healthier eating in schools. Fletcher spoke Wednesday during a funeral service for Sgt. William Bowling, 24, who was killed in Iraq April 1 by a roadside bomb.

Conservative Edge Excoriates Northup

The Northup/Hoover campaign has put out a press release that basically accuses Governor Fletcher of lying during Monday night's debate. Unfortunately for Northup, the attack is based on faulty reasoning, illogical arguments, incomplete facts and simple minded rhetoric. It continues her arrogant, liberal like "I am smarter than you" campaign that has sickened many in the GOP. Over the next few days, I will take apart the Northup press release argument by argument. Here's the first installment. Northup's release is italicized, my rebuttal is in bold print. In Monday night’s televised KET debate, Ernie Fletcher made the following claims, now you can read the facts… "

And I think it’s important to focus on how we’ve begun to change the culture in Frankfort" Fact: Fletcher has been embroiled in a merit hiring scandal for the last 2 years and was himself indicted on 3 misdemeanor charges. Northup's sole fact does not refute Fletcher’s claims. Had Northup/Hoover bothered to check for more facts, they would have discovered that Fletcher’s change to the Frankfort culture is what triggered the investigation. Frankfort Democrat’s didn’t want Fletcher messing with their jobs. In addition, the merit system is not the only "culture" in Frankfort, that Fletcher has changed.

Under Fletcher's leadership, wasteful spending, indemic over employment and unaccountability are no longer the culture in Frankfort. The fact that Northup/Hoover think that their one, misleading fact, refutes Fletcher’s assertion is troubling. It demonstrates an arrogance, that Kentuckians aren't smart enough to think for themselves. Another very important fact that Northup failed to mention, is that all charges against Governor Fletcher were DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

I'd suggest that the Northup team consult with unbiased former prosecutors to learn what that dismissal means. In short, this attack by Northup gets an F- in thought process, honesty and originality. Next up: "We put in people based on experience and that shared our conservative values. And we said to all of our folks, we want to level the playing field." Fact:

A grand jury comprised of everyday Kentuckians issued a report stating the following: "People less qualified were hired simply because they supported Governor Fletcher financially and politically. Deserving and qualified people did not get jobs simply because they had a different belief system from that of Governor Fletcher and his supporters." Again, Northup’s one fact doesn’t refute the contention made by Fletcher. Is the Northup team unable to understand a complex thought?

Or are they again arrogantly insinuating that Kentuckians are incapable of thinking for themselves? Fletcher hired people "based on experience AND that shared our values". Surely Northup cannot be that dense to not catch the second part; the part that makes the thought, complex. As well, the grand jury foreman and at least three other grand jurors were merit employees. To call them "everyday Kentuckians" without mentioning the fact that they were merit employees is disingenuous.

Those jurors had a vested interest in protecting their turf. In addition, it’s preposterous for Northup to criticize the Governor for wanting to hire people who shared his values, just as the grand jury is ridiculous for raising that criticism. Any chief executive is perfectly within his rights to hire an individual who will carry out his wishes, over a more talented person who will undermine the chief executive. Plus, every person hired by Governor Fletcher was qualified for the position. If they were not qualified they could not have been placed on the hiring roll. The grand jury and Northup insinuate that the people hired, were not qualified. For Northup to imply that the Governor was being deceitful in the debate, while leaving out pertinent facts herself, is hypocritical and dishonest. I have hired numerous people.

I didn't always choose the most qualified. Sometimes the most qualified person is over qualified. Sometimes the most qualified person doesn't really want the position. They are using it as a stepping stone. Even a junior level human resources executive would know something as basic as this. It is almost beyond comprehension that this issue was raised by the Northup team. But, if Northup truly thinks the hiring practices of the Governor were a problem, she should pledge to hire people who do not share her values if elected Governor.

Of course, if she made that pledge, she would be unqualified to be the state's chief executive. We couldn't afford to have a Governor who would hire people that were unwilling to help her achieve her goals. I realize that my criticism of Northup is harsh. Some may even claim that it is unfair. But Northup put out the press release. If she thinks that she will get a free pass, or won't have to have her work scrutinized, she's mistaken. In additon, her press release is equally harsh on Governor Fletcher. If she and her supporters can't take the return fire, they shouldn't be in the game to begin with.

Northup’s Family Contributes

Anne Northup has one hundred and twenty-three relatives attending Western Kentucky?

From a WKU Press Release:

The Student Government Association in conjunction with the Office of the Secretary of State for the Commonwealth of Kentucky held a mock primary for the gubernatorial candidates in preparation for the May Primary.

The Mock Primary familiarized students with the candidates running for all the statewide offices, allowed students to use and be accustomed with the new voting machines, gave opportunities for unregistered students to register, and gave information on the absentee voting system. One hundred and twenty three students participated. The students of Western Kentucky University voted in the following manner:

Republican Winner: Anne M. Northup/Jeff Hoover

Kentucky Pachyderm Chastises Northup, Supporters

We find it oddly telling that there's one question floating around out there in cyberspace that the Anne Northup supporters -- particularly those Benedict Arnolds who supported Ernie Fletcher four years ago -- refuse to answer.

So we'll ask it again. Let's assume, for the sake of this hypothetical, that Northup is elected governor this fall. Let's also assume that Crit Luallen is re-elected auditor (quite likely, we sadly note, given our like for Linda Greenwell).

Let's further assume that Jack Conway is elected attorney general. That's also quite possible. Now, we know that Luallen is a Democrat stalwart who may have designs on the governor's office at some point in the future, especially if her health stabilizes.

Conway is an old political enemy of Northup's, having been one in her trail of victims for the 3rd District congressional seat. He'll have a score to settle, for sure. The probability approaches 100 percent that Luallen, and especially Conway, will launch investigations of Northup in much the same way that Greg Stumbo did of Ernie Fletcher.

So our question to the Northupians is this: When the investigations begin, will you stand behind your governor, or will you bail at the first sign of rough waters like you did with Fletcher?

Better To Remain Silent…

Obviously, Amber Jordan has never voted.

From The News-Enterprise:

This year will be the first time I have been old enough to cast a ballot in a gubernatorial primary. When I began to examine the Republican candidates for governor to determine the recipient of my vote, the choice was crystal clear. Former Congresswoman Anne Northup of Louisville — with her platform of honesty, integrity and openness in government — is by far the best candidate.

Northup has an aggressive agenda for Kentucky. She has taken a strong stand against the alternative minimum tax imposed on small businesses and championed by our current governor. She has a plan to bring jobs to Kentucky and lower the unemployment rate that has risen steadily under the current administration. She has a plan for health care that includes health savings accounts and ways for people to receive care without losing everything they own.

Finally, Anne Northup’s personal story is one that should inspire all. She comes from a large family of 11 children where hard work and sacrifice was the norm. Northup is the mother of six children, including two adopted children, whom she managed to raise while serving the community she loved as an elected official.

Anne Northup understands average Kentuckians and she embodies the deep conservative principles associated with family, faith and compassion for fellow citizens. Anne Northup is indeed a woman of vision and character and we need her more than ever as governor of our state. Fellow Republicans, please join me in voting Anne Northup for governor in the May 22 primary.

Amber Jordan

Another Attempted Vote Purchase

From Lexington Herald-Leader:

Gov. Ernie Fletcher authorized $25 million in grant money on Friday, making it available to communities in south-central Kentucky affected by the lower water level at Lake Cumberland. Federal officials have lowered the lake's water level to ease pressure on the leaking Wolf Creek Dam while repairs are made. The funding will help pay for public safety concerns and other issues associated with dam repairs. "This order is about preparedness, not panic," Fletcher said in a press release. "We must make sure Kentuckians in these counties are safe and have reliable, clean drinking water and utility services."

The Wolf Creek Dam in Russell County confines Lake Cumberland, which is the largest manmade lake east of the Mississippi River. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has embarked on a seven-year, $309 million repair project to control seeping under the dam. Officials are concerned that a failure at the dam would cause flooding in Kentucky and Tennessee cities along the Cumberland River. Fletcher asked the General Assembly to authorize the $25 million in spending, however the legislature adjourned without passing it.

Under the executive order, communities can apply to the state for financial assistance, according to a press release. Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, said he appreciated the move by Fletcher. "Gov. Fletcher appropriately recognized the Wolf Creek Dam structural issues as a true natural disaster," Williams said in a statement.

Separately, Fletcher directed the state Transportation Cabinet to look at ways of helping communities in the area get access to Lake Cumberland. Fletcher recently used an executive order to free up about $16.4 million to fund three law enforcement-related agencies - the Kentucky State Police, Department of Corrections and Department of Juvenile Justice.

State Treasurer Jonathan Miller's office was reviewing the constitutionality of that move. Kenneth Mansfield, a Miller spokesman, said the treasurer's office would also review Fletcher's latest move with Lake Cumberland. Fletcher's administration maintains it has the power to spend state money not appropriated by the General Assembly in such instances.

Assumed Leadership

Governor Fletcher has not protected our children. His inaction has burdened our schools. Thankfully, they are acting responsibly.

From the Louisville Courier-Journal:

Bulky guest books soon will be a thing of the past at South Oldham High School. Administrators recently purchased a machine that allows visitors to log into a database by simply scanning their driver's license. The machine, called a "School Check In," logs the guest's name, destination, arrival and departure time. A separate machine prints out an ID badge with the visitor's driver's license photo on it.

The "School Check In," which was purchased early last month for about $195, already has produced results, administrators say. "It makes the school seem more secure," principal Barbara Fendley said. "We're more aware of who's in the building."

Before purchasing the machine, the high school had visitors sign into a guest logbook. Then they were issued visitor badges. The problem was that not everyone signed into the book and the badges were inconsistent, Fendley said. Students and parents said the presence of the machine makes them feel a lot better about school safety. "I think it's overall better for the school," said Billy Steinbach, a 17-year-old junior. "It helps us know who's in the building and what time they left. It makes me feel a lot safer."

Vice principal Thomas Aberli said he saw the machine at an educator's conference and thought that it might improve tracking of its visitors. The machine requires a computer with Internet access. Along with scanning driver's licenses, it also runs the name of the visitor through a sexual predator Internet database. Aberli said the school will handle those situations on a case-by-case basis. The school gets about a dozen guests a day, many of whom meet with teachers, attend PTA meetings or volunteer.

At the end of each school day, administrators can print out a sheet showing who has entered the school. Administrators are still using the guest book until they determine if a digital sign-in complies with district policy. Many policies say schools must have a traditional guest book. They also want to make sure the sign-in machine works efficiently.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Kentucky’s Failing

This trifecta is both disconcerting and disgusting. Kentucky’s high school students are failing. Our universities are crumbling. Our universities are also increasing tuition. Seperately, each is nauseating. Combined, these three are infuriating. Where is our Governor, who pledged commitment to education? Where is our leadership? Why are children and education not priorities?

Obviously, this is an election year. The Governor is busy. However, the listed deserve immediate attention. Governor Fletcher, our children are unprepared, our universities require money and they are pricing out prospective students. Where are you? Children are Kentucky’s future. If they cannot graduate or attend college, what is there future?

Governor, become involved.

Progress too slow for most Ky. schools

Only 37 percent of Kentucky schools are on track to reach academic proficiency by 2014 -- a goal that all public schools are supposed to meet by then. The new findings, released today, surprised and disappointed state board of education members. Board member Joe Brothers said the education system needs a cultural change within the next 12 months. "We are not fundamentally doing the right things," he said. "We have to do better."

The report showed that while many schools are making progress on statewide testing as part of the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System, or CATS, those schools aren't improving fast enough.

Report: Ky. needs $12.5 billion for university facilities by 2020

Kentucky will need to spend $12.5 billion by 2020 to make sure all of its university facilities meet goals mandated by the state’s higher-education reforms of 1997, according to a study released Wednesday.

The study was conducted by three consultants for the state Council on Postsecondary Education. One of the major goals Kentucky faces is trying to double the number of residents with bachelor’s degrees from 400,000 now to 800,000 by 2020, under the 1997 higher-education reforms.

Panel approves final tuition increases for Kentucky universities

The state Council of Postsecondary Education approved the final group of tuition increases for Kentucky’s public universities for the 2007-2008 academic year.

Wednesday’s action included the University of Louisville and Kentucky State, Murray State, Northern Kentucky and Western Kentucky universities. On Jan. 29, the council approved tuition increases for the University of Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky and Morehead State universities and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.

Here is what an in-state student will pay at each institution for annual tuition and required fees, and the amount and percentage of the increase:

EKU: $5,682; $490; 9.4 percent.
KCTCS: $3,450; $180; 5.5 percent.
KSU: $5,320; $370; 7.5 percent
Morehead: $5,280; $410; 8.4 percent.
Murray: $5,418; $420; 8.4 percent.
Northern Kentucky: $5,952; $504; 9.3 percent.
UK: $7,199; $595; 9.0 percent.
U of L: $6,870; $618; 9.9 percent.
WKU: $6,416; $464; 7.8 percent.

Friday, April 6, 2007


Special session may not include pensions? What is the extra session’s point?

From Louisville Courier-Journal:

Gov. Ernie Fletcher said this morning that he still wants to call a special session for some spending items and other priorities but may not put the bailout of state pension systems on the agenda. "We’re assessing which things we would put on a special session," Fletcher said in a breakfast speech to a business group called the Lexington Forum. "I’m not ruling out calling one even before the primary at this point."

Fletcher was referring to the May 22 primary elections, in which he is seeking the Republican nomination for governor against two rivals. House Speaker Jody Richards is running against six others for the Democratic nomination. On Wednesday Fletcher appointed members of a task force to study the unfunded liabilities of retirement systems for state and local government workers and teachers and make recommendations by Dec. 1.

During the recent legislative session the Senate passed a plan to borrow more than $800 million and reduce benefits to future employees. The House rejected the plan, saying the issue needed more study. Asked after his speech whether he would put the pension issue on a special session agenda, Fletcher said, "At this point, unless I see movement coming together on the pension, I’m not sure that that could be part of the special session. But I’m not ruling it out that this time."

Fletcher said he will make an announcement soon about whether he has the authority as governor to require some emergency spending that lawmakers failed to approve. Matters he considers urgent that require legislative action, he said, would be put on the special session agenda.

Those matters, Fletcher said, could include funding for water projects and other expenses in response to the lowered water level at Lake Cumberland; some priority building projects at universities and community and technical colleges; funding for counties to conduct the likely runoff election for governor in June; exempting military pay from the Kentucky income tax; and a bill that would provide tax incentives for projects that produce alternative fuels.
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