Tuesday, March 27, 2007

KY Pac 2 Excoriates Anne

Let us be up front -- we heartily support Ernie Fletcher's re-election campaign (if that's any great secret). We believe that the policy accomplishments of his administration, made in the face of overwhelming political opposition, have earned him a second term. We also believe that the merit system hiring investigation was overblown, unnecessary and politically motivated.

We are further saddened to see Republicans whom we originally believed to be intelligent and reasonable buying into the partisan allegations made by Greg Stumbo and his accomplices on the stacked grand jury and hanging their opinions on the nails driven by selective leaks by the prosecution and the press' subsequent gobbling them up like emaciated dogs who find a 5-pound pack of ground beef lost by the roadside.

We agree with the Fletcher administration's contention that mistakes were made in the hiring of new state employees to fill vacancies, but there was no criminal intent. Those mistakes were properly dealt with by the firing of those who made them. We also note that none of the indictments was for the improper firing for political purposes of an existing merit system employee with status.

We believe that much of the damage done by the merit system investigation could have been blunted or avoided had this state's top Republican officeholders, officials and unofficial party leaders immediately denounced the investigation and instead turned the mirror on the investigator. That list most certainly includes Sens. Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning, as well as most of the state's Republican members of the House of Representatives. Had they swiftly defended Fletcher, criticized Stumbo and then flexed a little political muscle, Fletcher would be cruising to renomination and we wouldn't even be having a discussion about a Republican primary. We can give Anne Northup a pass for not originally standing tall for Fletcher, while we hold that against the others.

After all, Northup represented a district that is overwhelmingly Democrat and she knew that she would be in for a tough re-election battle. But there is no excuse for McConnell, et. al, to have left Fletcher hanging. We were wholeheartedly behind Northup in her Congressional re-election campaign and we were saddened when she lost. We want to see Northup back in public service sometime in the future. But we definitely cannot support her candidacy for governor.

Not only do we not endorse her candidacy, we do not even endorse the concept of her challenging the incumbent of her own party. No thinking Republican could have ever imagined that the Democrats would give a Republican administration a free pass, considering that Democrats think that running this state is their birthright and the top two investigative offices were occupied by D's. The press has never seen fit to print the real stories behind the merit system investigation because they don't reflect negatively on the Republican incumbent.

Had there been a Democrat governor, any complaints about hiring practices would have been handled administratively, as they had been for more than four decades since Kentucky's civil service system was established. But because this state has a Democrat attorney general, suddenly administrative actions became criminal misdemeanor indictments. It hasn't helped matters that most of those responsible for the missteps in the Fletcher administration were hired at the behest of the federal delegation.

It's particularly disgusting to hear Northup out on the campaign trail, parroting many of the same things Greg Stumbo has been saying -- the same Greg Stumbo that dropped the charges against Fletcher with prejudice. We applaud Northup for her service in Congress and before that, in the General Assembly.

At another time, she might make an excellent governor. But not now. At a time when she should have been standing behind her former friend and Congressional colleague, she turned her back on him. Doesn't she wonder what will happen at the first sign of trouble if she is elected? Will Jim Bunning defend and support her, or will he desert her the way he did Fletcher?

That's why we say Ernie Fletcher deserves better than he has gotten from his own party -- and why we say that if Fletcher is defeated in the primary, we aren't sure that the Republican Party of Kentucky deserves to win the race in the fall. If we can't support our governor in the eye of the Democrat siege he's been under for two years, we aren't much of a political party. We say we value loyalty and integrity, yet as a party we've shown neither.

Carroll Pummels Pence

From Pol Watchers:

For the second time this legislative session, state Sen. Julian Carroll, D-Frankfort, railed against Lt. Gov. Steve Pence for his "disloyalty" to Gov. Ernie Fletcher and challenged him to repay taxpayers for his salary and expenses. In a speech on the Senate floor, Carroll questioned Pence's use of a "new Chevy Tahoe" and communication equipment provided by the state. "Where is he driving that Tahoe?" Carroll asked. "I want to know whether or not he's using it for political purposes around the state."

Carroll also alleged that Pence is transported by Kentucky State Police in a limousine.Pence, a Republican, has endorsed former Louisville congresswoman Anne Northup in the Republican primary for governor. In an interview, Pence described Carroll's comments as "out of touch." "Perhaps he forgot that he gave this speech once already," Pence said.

As lieutenant governor, Pence said his loyalties lie with the voters and the state Constitution, not Fletcher. "I was not indicted. I did not take the 5th. I didn't pardon anybody. I don't have a secret legal defense fund," he said.

Pence has said Fletcher pardoned his administration from any charges related to an investigation of state hiring practices in an effort to cover up actions taken by workers in the governor's office. Pence said he has driven the same Chevy Tahoe for more than two years. He said he drives himself to events and has no limousine. Pence said he uses a private cell phone and has not made a call from his state-provided Blackberry in several months. Carroll, a former governor, said Pence should resign because "the people of Kentucky elected Ernie Fletcher governor, not Steve Pence. He didn't get a single vote."

Carroll said he understands why Fletcher has not assigned Pence any tasks in recent months. "Anybody who is disloyal as he is, it certainly wouldn't be carried out to the governor's instructions," he said. Sen. Tim Shaughnessy, D-Louisville, defended Pence, saying the lieutenant governor is "a man of great character." "We should perhaps take a good look at ourselves before we start throwing rocks at others," Shaughnessy said.

"Shaughnessy said he is "embarrassed" that lawmakers have not completed important work this year, including restoring $370 million of building projects vetoed from the budget last year by Fletcher.

"I don't have a Chevy Tahoe, but we've all been paid to be up here and I don't want people telling me to write a check," he said.

As previously stated, Pence has no staff, no political responsibilities, and no reason to remain Lieutenant Governor. He should resign. However, Pence has neither humility nor character.

Legislature: The Final Days

Fletcher: politics partly the cause of deadlock

Gov. Ernie Fletcher this morning attributed the deadlock between the House and Senate in the current legislative session partly to gubernatorial politics. "You’ve got a couple of candidates in the House that are running for governor or lieutenant governor. You have some issues there that are challenging," Fletcher said. "And I think there’s some political posturing that’s going on. That’s unfortunate, but it is part of the political process." House Speaker Jody Richards of Bowling Green is a candidate for governor in the May 22 Democratic primary.

Campaigning stalls legislation? Politics creates gridlock? I never knew this.

Lawmakers reach agreement on Boni Bill

The state would hire as many as 80 new social workers under an agreement reached by the House and Senate on the Boni Bill Tuesday, said Rep. Tom Burch, D-Louisville, and Rep. Jimmie Lee, D-Elizabethtown. But, with the late hour of the legislative session and the political maneuvering that goes with it, the bill could still fail to become law. The agreement has to be approved by the two chambers, and disagreements over other bills could hold it up.

The bill passes. The bill does not pass. Why not protect our social workers?

Military leader appeals for tax break in Senate speech

In a highly unusual move, Adjutant General Donald Storm addressed the Kentucky Senate today, issuing a last-minute appeal for a tax break for military personnel stuck in the House. Storm, head of the National Guard in Kentucky, profusely thanked senators for passing a measure that would exempt Kentuckians in the military from the state income tax.

These men and women are American heroes. They deserve every break possible.

Cyber Hillbilly Pathetically Defends Fletcher

The spin would have you believe that Anne Northup is a day late and a dollar short in unveiling her political platform. She should have released details statements on dozens of major issues with actuarial analysis to back them up, goes the thinking of Fletcher supporters. But what was Ernie Fletcher’s strategy back in 2003 when he was a candidate for Governor?

From the archives of the Kentucy Post, snippets from this op-ed by John David Dyche: The May primary is less than seven weeks away, but so far the primary characteristic of Kentucky's campaign for governor has been its sterile superficiality.

The six serious contenders have made a hodge-podge of public pronouncements, which the press has partially and selectively reported. But citizens search in vain for systematic statements of candidates' plans and positions. Nobody in either party has put forward anything approaching a comprehensive program for Kentucky's future. […] At www.fletcher2003.com, Ernie Fletcher backs medical malpractice reform and calls for "fiscal discipline that reduces waste, while ending the political patronage."

Fletcher wants to "cut political paybacks, not raise taxes" and believes "this can be accomplished while maintaining strong support for education, healthcare, public safety and other vital services." While his site shows him praying with President Bush, browsers' prayers for substance on issues go unanswered.

The articles themselves are paid access only, but the headlines are free… and speak volumes:

Lexington Herald-Leader (KY)
April 8, 2003
GOP Hopefuls Vow To Restore Integrity... Say Little on Platforms

Lexington Herald-Leader (KY)
May 4, 2003
Governor's Race Clogged With Visionless Clones, Everyone's Running on 'Me, Too' Platform

Lexington Herald-Leader (KY)
May 22, 2003
Now To Find The Issues, Candidates Have Yet To Outline Real Differences

Courier-Journal, The (Louisville, KY)
July 3, 2003
Gubernatorial candidate outlines ethics- reform proposal

Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer (KY)
October 26, 2003
Fletcher's platform is more about style than substance

Legislature: The Final Days

Fletcher: lawmakers should avoid special session

Gov. Ernie Fletcher today urged lawmakers to use to their final hours in Frankfort to pass pending bills so he won’t have to call a special legislative session. "Clearly it would be in the best interest of the taxpayers,’’ Fletcher said, speaking to reporters at the Capitol.

Governor, would your Blue Ribbon Commission recommend the special session?

Actuary: Pension plan won't mean big savings

The actuary for the Kentucky retirement systems testified this morning that proposed changes in pension benefits for future state employees would not result in significant savings to the state. "It’s surprising to me that the commonwealth is considering the comprehensive nature of the changes here in a very tight time frame," the actuary, Tom Cavanaugh, said. "It looks like we’re doing an awful lot to gain very little."

Politicians fudging the numbers. I am stunned.

Senate committee votes against secrecy measure

A Senate committee turned back a third attempt today to pass a measure that would make it easier for a handful of leading legislators to effectively change the law without first holding a public debate. Some Republican members of the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee went against the recommendation of their leaders and voted against an amendment to House Bill 400 that would have given lawmakers the ability to set aside existing laws and create new laws within the executive branch budget bill, which appropriates billions of dollars once every two years.

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Grayson says leadership needed on runoff

Secretary of State Trey Grayson said today that an absence of political leadership has doomed a proposal to either eliminate the gubernatorial runoff or help counties pay for it. He said he points the finger at all elected officials, including himself, for not being able to find a compromise on an issue that almost everyone agrees needs to be fixed. "The voters are the ones who are going to be harmed by it, I don’t care who is to blame," he said during a press conference this afternoon.

Leadership is required. Leadership must state: “Don’t pass this ridiculous proposition.”

Governor signs horse sales bill

Gov. Ernie Fletcher has signed a bill pushed by winemaker and breeder Jess Jackson that is aimed at strengthening horse-sales integrity. House Bill 367 amends a law that requires an agent representing both a buyer and a seller to disclose the position before many sales. The new bill says that an agent’s compensation cannot be enforced in court unless put in.

Governor Fletcher endorsing integrity? Again, stunned.
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