Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Kentucky Pachyderm 2 Lambastes Negative Northup

We can’t remember which Kentucky governor started the tradition of handing out oversized checks to announce the funding of local projects. It was either Wallace Wilkinson or Brereton Jones; we’re not sure. (One of us said Martha Layne Collins, but the rest of us think the practice started after she left office). But one thing’s for certain, governors have been doing this for at least 15 years and the tradition dates back to before gubernatorial succession was allowed.

Years ago we heard one Central Kentucky mayor say he hoped to paper the walls of his City Hall with those ceremonial checks. Of course since he was a Republican mayor in a Republican community, his dream didn’t come true. But the moral of the story is that local officials in small towns appreciate state funding for their projects.

It’s not news when the governor appears in Lexington or Louisville, or even larger towns or urban areas like Northern Kentucky, Owensboro, Bowling Green, Ashland or Paducah. The press pays little to no attention to him being there or why he’s there. On the other hand, when the governor visits places such as Inez or Burkesville or Calhoun or Cadiz, that’s of note to the local populace as well as the local press.

Even when a Democrat governor comes to a Republican town, he is treated like visiting royalty. Leaders from both parties turn out for the event. The local newspapers often cover a gubernatorial visit like it’s the biggest story of the year, and in many cases, it is. The people in Booneville and Owenton and Greenville want to think the governor is interested in their needs and concerns, and not paying attention only to Fayette and Jefferson counties.

The rural counties in Kentucky have their own special needs from the government. They don’t have a sufficient property tax base or payroll tax base to fund services like Lexington and Louisville do. They need state government’s help in funding projects like street and road repairs, water line extensions, and other things that the larger communities can pay for themselves.

When a governor comes to town to break ground or cut a ribbon or present a check, the local people appreciate it. They are happy to see that Frankfort is looking out for them. That’s one reason we don’t think Anne Northup’s recent flurry of negativity is going to be of benefit to her. It’s almost as if she is ridiculing these communities and their needs. When she criticizes Gov. Fletcher for going to places like Lancaster or Elkton or Owenton, in effect she is saying, “You people don’t deserve the projects you are getting from the state and the governor is wasting his time by visiting your community.”

People realize that, too. We’ve seen Gov. Fletcher go to counties that are heavily Democratic in registration and receive an enthusiastic welcome. We’ve also seen Democrat governors such as Jones and Wilkinson and Collins go into staunchly Republican counties and receive the same recognition, even though they could not succeed themselves. No one begrudged those communities their projects back then, nor the visits from the governors.
When Northup attacks Fletcher for traveling across the state and announcing projects, she not only aims her poison barbs at the incumbent governor, but to every community that gets these much-needed state projects. Would she prefer that the money go to her hometown of Louisville instead? Anne Northup’s negative campaign insults the intelligence of every Kentuckian who does not live in a major metropolitan area.

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