Thursday, March 29, 2007

Conservative Edge: Women Whip Northup

I missed this Al Cross story from the March 18th edition of the Courier Journal on the Northup campaign. Here's the real interesting part of the story in which a "leans Northup" Republican was interviewed: The 60-second ad seems to be aimed at people like Hughes -- Republicans who think the hiring investigation and prosecution by Democratic Attorney General Greg Stumbo was "overkill," as Hughes calls it, and who still have personal regard for Fletcher but remain uncertain about their vote.

Republicans who put a premium on maintaining GOP control of the governorship are unlikely to be persuaded by the appeal to sympathy, given Fletcher's low job ratings in polls. But most voters in the primary, which also includes businessman Billy Harper, are likely to have less partisan priorities -- such as who they think would be the best governor. And as we wrote in January, they need to hear reasons to be for Northup, not just against Fletcher.

Hughes said likewise after hearing her litany and discussing it with the locals. "Not anything about what she's going to do, that didn't go over too well with those people there," he said. "Some of those little old ladies, they were ready to whip Anne Northup."

I'd say your campaign is not going well, when you incite "little old ladies" within your own party to do you bodily harm. Of course, I am a Fletcher supporter. But still, that can't be a good sign.

Governor: Children Are Your Occupation

Where is our Governor? Thirty one days, three children dead? Where is his statement? Where is a commission? Where is a special investigation? Where are new safety measures? Governor Fletcher, society survives via our children. If you cannot protect them, why serve or seek re-election?

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

When 2-month-old Brianna Brown died yesterday morning, she became the third Central Kentucky child in 31 days to die of injuries apparently caused by abuse. Parents have been charged with murder in the deaths of all three.

The deaths illustrate what many advocates and some in state government have known for years: The number of kids in Kentucky who die as a result of abuse and neglect has been increasing. "This isn't just a blip on the radar," said Jill Seyfred, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky. "There are children in Kentucky who are subjected to fear every day."

Caleb Bishop, 1 month old, died Feb. 25 after suffering blunt-force trauma to the head. Fourteen days later, Michaela Watkins, a chatty 10-year-old who dreamed of being a cheerleader, died in a Winchester apartment. Brianna's death at University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center came 16 days after Michaela's.

In one of the three deaths it is clear the state had been involved in the child's care. Family members have said the Watkins family had had several visits from social workers. Statistics show that the number of children who died as a result of abuse and neglect in Kentucky has nearly doubled from 2000 to 2004. And the number of children who have died while being monitored by state social workers has also increased. In 2004, the last year for which national figures are available, Kentucky ranked fifth among all the states in the number of children who died as a result of abuse and neglect.

Child advocates and state legislators say the three deaths in such a short time should be a wake-up call that the state needs to devote more resources to child protection. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, said advocates and some members of the legislature have said for years that child protection has been underfunded. Yesterday, one state lawmaker said she would push in the 2008 legislative session for more investigation into abuse and neglect deaths. It's not enough for the cabinet to do an internal investigation if a child dies while under its care, said Rep. Ruth Ann Palumbo. There should be outside scrutiny, she said.

The cabinet investigates all deaths due to child abuse. Palumbo, D-Lexington, says she will file legislation requiring the cabinet to release a summary of any internal review conducted in response to abuse or neglect that results in a fatality or near fatality. Palumbo filed similar legislation in 2004, but it was not passed. She also intends to draft legislation that would allow lawmakers on the Health and Welfare committee to review cases twice each year to track the decisions social workers make. "I want to go as far as we can go. As a policy maker, I want to talk to social workers about what we can do," Palumbo said.

Other advocates applauded Palumbo's efforts, saying more oversight is needed. "I would like for more outsiders to look at how these children die, people and agencies who don't have a contract with the cabinet," said David Richart, executive director of the Louisville-based National Institute on Children, Youth and Families. "These incidents go underground by virtue of confidentiality. It erodes public confidence."

From 2000 to 2004 in Kentucky, child fatalities due to abuse more than doubled -- from 16 to 36. During that time there was an increase in fatalities in which the children had prior contact with state social workers, from 16 to 25. Those numbers decreased slightly in 2005, and cabinet officials say the preliminary numbers in 2006 are lower than those in 2004. The cabinet has launched a host of initiatives to cut the number of abuse and neglect deaths in Kentucky, including a program with the non-profit Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky. Also, more than 700 physicians and other medical personnel have been trained to spot signs of abuse and neglect, Seyfred said. Better training in spotting abuse may be behind some of the uptick in both reports of abuse and investigations into child deaths, child advocates say. The number of reports of suspected abuse and neglect increased from about 44,000 in 2000 to 65,000 in 2006, although the number of substantiated cases remained flat.

Kosair Children's Hospital in Louisville started a series of child abuse prevention programs and an educational seminar for medical professionals to help spot abuse. Dr. Stephen Wright, professor of pediatrics at the University of Louisville and medical director at Kosair, said that about four years ago the hospital saw about a child a month who died as a result of abuse or neglect. "We noticed of the kids who came here ... almost half of them had seen a physician or some other health care professional within a couple of weeks prior to them having this catastrophic event," Wright said.

Child advocates hope others, not just police or medical professionals, will watch out for children's well-being. "If there is any hope that can emerge from a tragedy, maybe these kinds of headlines can make these kids the focus of the governor's race rather than a forgotten issue," Brooks said. "Kids should be a topic of conversation of every candidate."

Legislature: The Final Days

Key legislation collapses as legislature adjourns

Lawmakers adjourned this year's legislative session late Tuesday night without appropriating $9 million for a new runway at Blue Grass Airport or $38 million for a new outdoor stadium and other improvements at the Kentucky Horse Park. Afterward, Gov. Ernie Fletcher, who is seeking re-election, again promised to recall lawmakers to address what he called "urgent needs," but said lawmakers need a "cooling-down period" that might last beyond the May 22 gubernatorial primary.

What occurs when legislators slack? Miners are not safe. Critical tourism measures are not addressed. College students are slighted. Should we mock applaud our pathetic legislature or offer a moment of silence?

House balks on repealing runoff election law

The House and Senate yesterday refused to back down from their respective positions on the governor's race runoff, meaning Kentucky will probably have an overtime election and counties will have to pick up the tab. Senate Republican and Democratic leaders told the House Monday that they favored repealing the runoff provision -- the last remnant from 1992 election law reforms. The House's position would have left the runoff in place but provided $5 million to cover the counties' costs of holding such a special election. The state already is responsible for about $2 million for a runoff. The House didn't budge from that stance yesterday.

For months, I denounced the runoff. I said Kentucky politicians should play the ball as constituted. Victory is mine. Victory is mine. Great day in Kentucky people, victory is mine.

Social worker safety bill passed

The House and Senate passed a social worker safety bill and one other measure late last night and then adjourned the 2007 session -- without acting on other major issues. An impasse between the two bodies prevented action from being taken on the Senate's plan to bail out the financially ailing state retirement systems or bills that would fund scores of university construction projects and spending priorities of Gov. Ernie Fletcher.

Social workers deserve protection. Governor, sign this legislation.

Groups disagree on merits of special legislative session to address retirement systems

A day after lawmakers ended their 2007 session, several groups weighed in with various opinions on a possible special legislative session to address money problems in retirement systems that cover state and local government employees and public school teachers. The Coalition for Sustainable Benefits -- made up of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, the Kentucky League of Cities and the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence -- urged Gov. Ernie Fletcher and lawmakers yesterday to begin working immediately toward a special session this year to overhaul the state retirement systems. But the Kentucky Public Pension Coalition -- made up of the Kentucky Education Association, the Kentucky State AFL-CIO, the Kentucky Association of State Employees and the Technical Faculty and Staff Alliance -- urged interested parties to study the issue over the next nine months and consider it in the 2008 General Assembly, which begins in January.

During their term, legislators were lazy. How will they act when they have no desire to govern?

Legislative deadlock leaves university projects in limbo

At Northern Kentucky University, 200 students are on a waiting list for housing, and they'll keep waiting now that the General Assembly ended without approving money for a new dorm. NKU President Jim Votruba said he understands that the building -- along with $218 million in other university projects -- is merely a hostage to a political fight over the state pension fund. But NKU has to buy the new dorm, a former nursing home, by Monday, and he's not sure how they will do it without state funding. "We're disappointed we couldn't bring closure to this," Votruba said. "My hope is that can be done in a special session." In the meantime, it will "take some creativity" to figure out what NKU will do.

Clearly, Ernie is the education Governor.

Personnel officer recommends reinstating fired merit employee

The hearing officer for the state Personnel Board issued an order for Gov. Ernie Fletcher's administration to reverse the firing of Mike Duncan, a former staff assistant in the Transportation Cabinet's inspector general's office. The board's hearing officer, John C. Ryan, issued a 54-page recommendation that concluded that Duncan's firing was "excessive, erroneous and improper under the circumstances." Under the term's of the order, Duncan is to be returned to his previous position with the same pay and back pay.

Obviously, the merit hiring scandal was warranted.

Fletcher says state will sponsor 2007 Bluegrass Games

Gov. Ernie Fletcher announced plans to sponsor the 2007 Bluegrass State Games through his Get Healthy Kentucky initiative. Through the initiative, Fletcher will donate a $100,000 grant to the games, which will be July 20-22 and 28-29. "I can't think of any better ambassadors to help us spread the Get Healthy Kentucky message than the athletes that participate in the 2007 Bluegrass State Games," Fletcher said at a press conference Wednesday at Rupp Arena.

Kentucky is the Bluegrass state. Who else would sponsor these games?
KYConservativeBlogs Network
Another Opinion
Bluegrass Institute Blog
Blue Grass, Red State
Conservative Edge
Conservative Musings
Elendils Blog
Jefferson Review
Jim Clarks Muckraker
Kentucky Club for Growth
Kentucky Pachyderm 2
Kentucky Progress
On the Right!
Osi Speaks!
The Pure Investor
Right Foot Forward
Right in Kentucky
Steele's Kentucky
Tri-County Consulting
Vere Loqui