Friday, May 4, 2007

Elendil’s Journal Analyzes KY Gubernatorial

As we head down the stretch, we need to evaluate the three elements of a campaign which matter most, polls, money, and message.

Poll Numbers

In an April 3rd poll the numbers showed Fletcher with a 9 point lead over Northup.

40% Fletcher

31% Northup

16% Harper

13% Undecided

Polling data released early this week shows that Fletcher has widened the gap between himself and Northup gaining 3 points to establish a 12 point lead. Not only that, but he is safely above the 40% line which would force a run off election.

46% Fletcher

34% Northup

14% Harper

6% Undecided

Looking at the numbers, it would appear that Northup has siphoned off some of Harper's support while Fletcher probably garnered his boost from the undecided category. Leading me to believe that Fletcher's positive campaign has been incredibly effective at winning over the undecided voters. In doing so, he has made it very difficult for Northup to force a run off election. Which at this point, seems to be her only real chance of winning the nomination.

The All Important Dollar

The money numbers came in last week for the final election push and the money difference was huge in favor of Fletcher. So far in the primary season Fletcher has raised almost $3 million dollars and has already spent over $2 million so far. He used it to push his positive message and solidify his lead early in the race. I know I have received at least 4 mailers from him while I have gotten none from Northup.

Northup on the other hand appears to have had some difficulty raising money. Especially outside of her home, Jefferson County. In fact she has only raised half of the money Fletcher has, and a third of it came from a $500,000 personal loan she made to the campaign. Making me to believe that there was never this groundswell of support for "Not Fletcher" that some in the party leadership tried to sell everyone.

So heading down the stretch Fletcher and Northup have about $1 million dollars to spend on advertising. Which means that neither will have financial troubles during the final push. At the same time, that probably means that the polls won't move much from where they currently are.
Northup's Negative Attacks

Northup continues to ignore Regean's 11 commandment, by continuing to blister Fletcher at every turn. She has blasted him for the AMT (Which her running mate helped pushed through the state house) . She blasted him for being a failure at education (even though the Jefferson County NEA endorsed Fletcher). She blasted him for not paying back the state for "political" trips (Even though the law allows for it. Fletcher has decided to avoid the appearance of impropriety by reimbursing the state for half of the costs). Her latest ad blasts him for the hiring scandal.

I understand her only way to gain is to drive up Fletcher's negatives, but didn't she learn anything from her last congressional race? You can only go negative for so long before it begins to hurt yourself more than your opponent. I believe that Northup's campaign has gone beyond the pale. I doubt the Democrats will attack Fletcher with such ferocity. I would be amused to watch Henry, Lunsford, or Beshear launch an "ethics" attack against the governor. Especially since most where involved in administrations or companies that had more than a few ethical problems.

Fletcher Remains Positive

Throughout the campaign Fletcher has continued to stay on message talking up what he perceives as his "accomplishments" in office. In fact he has been so focused on his message that he is ignoring any charges leveled by his opponents. The only thing his team will say about his opponents "this is just another desperate attempt by so and so". As I have said before, this is a primary that has two starkly contrasting styles of campaigning. It will be interesting to see which wins out on May 22nd.

Final Analysis

But at the end of the day, I believe this is Fletcher's primary to lose. He has a nice lead in the polls, more than enough money for the stretch run, and a message that is upbeat and positive. As long as he stays on message and doesn't get into a mud slinging competition with Northup, he should win the primary easily.

OSI Interprets

BILLY HARPER: "As a former member of the Prichard Committee, I agree that teacher pay should be a priority of the next administration. ... [W]e must find incentives to motivate college students to enter these fields upon graduation. We need to evaluate this process annually and solicit input from the education community ... . Billy Harper understands the need for teacher incentives, though he wants to study the issue.

ERNIE FLETCHER: "Our first priority is to give all teachers additional opportunities. I have made it a goal to bring teacher compensation in Kentucky to parity with our surrounding states, ... . I have proposed rewarding teachers for doing additional work to improve student achievement. Ernie wants increased teacher incentives.

ANNE NORTHUP: "We must find a way to attract highly skilled teachers into the classroom, so that we can improve the content of our math and science courses ... . Several different approaches can be taken, and providing increased compensation for math and science teachers is one way ... . Anne supports increased pay for math and science teachers.

Northup Won’t Quit

As previously stated, Anne Northup has no agenda. Her latest ad substantiates this. She does not discuss policy. She does not accentuate her positives. She hammers Governor Fletcher concerning the merit scandal. She ponders the Democratic playbook. She overtly restates “Fletcher can’t win.”

The truth? Northup cannot win. A general election requires an agenda. A general election requires a strategy. A general election demands more than one three word talking point. If Northup wins in May, she is toast in November. For months, Northup has been pounding “Fletcher can’t win.” The reality is Northup would get drilled.

From Pol Watchers:

Republican candidate for governor Anne Northup launched a TV ad tonight attacking Gov. Ernie Fletcher for pardoning his administration and invoking the Fifth Amendment during a lengthy investigation of his administration's hiring practices. Here's a description of the ad, which appeared during the 5 p.m. newscast on WLEX-TV in Lexington. "Why are these Democrats happy?" a male voice asks.

The photos of five smiling Democratic gubernatorial candidates — House Speaker Jody Richards, Louisville businessman Bruce Lunsford, former Lt. Gov. Steve Beshear, former Lt. Gov. Steve Henry and state treasurer Jonathan Miller — show up on the screen. "They think their opponent will be Ernie Fletcher and their commercials are ready," the announcer continues.

The screen then cuts to a shot of a TV sitting in someone’s living room with Fletcher’s picture and a female announcer’s voice echoing the words popping up in front of the governor: "29 members of Fletcher’s administration indicted. Eighty-five counts. Felonies. Fletcher pardons them all. The governor, himself, takes the Fifth and is indicted."

All the while a label appears that reads, "How Democrats will attack Fletcher."

The male announcer then comes back on, saying: "If Democrats take back the governor’s office, taxes will be up and liberals will be in control. Kentucky needs a fresh start. Anne Northup can win in November."

Fletcher's campaign manager, Marty Ryall, said the add shows that Northup has "hit the panic button. "From day one, she’s been carrying Greg Stumbo and the Democrats water," Ryall said. "I’m not surprised that now she’s running ads for them."

Ryall said the ad is inaccurate, although he did point to any specific details that were false. "The whole thing is misleading," he said. "It was a political with hunt and the charges were dropped."

Northup’s campaign manager, Michael Clingaman, said the 30-second ad is "factual and shows what Republicans can look forward to if Ernie Fletcher is the party nominee." "It’s obvious," he said, "that Democrats are ready to attack Fletcher."

Predictably Failing

Governor Fletcher is a habitual offender. He simply will not protect Kentucky’s children. State child services graded a ‘D.’ Social workers employed despite misconduct. These are merely the latest examples. Governor Fletcher’s record continues trending apocryphal.

Fletcher cannot control every state aspect. However, he can showcase interest. State employees lying, committing crimes, altering documents, coercing witnesses, threatening and striking clients? Upon hearing these allegations, Governor Fletcher should act. He should retrieve resignations and garner the facts. However, Ernie has sat silently.

Protect our children, Governor. Protect them or resign.

Child advocacy group gives state a 'D' for legal services

A recently released report on legal representation of foster children gave Kentucky a "D" for the services it provides to abused and neglected children. First Star, a national child advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C., issued the report, giving grades to states based on such components as mandates for representation, training requirements, children's involvement in proceedings and attorney immunity from malpractice.

Kentucky was one of six states to receive a "D" grade based on a 100-point index; 15 other states received failing grades. The commonwealth received a score of 60 out of 100. Neighboring states received a range of grades with Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri receiving failing grades, Ohio receiving a C, Tennessee a B, and West Virginia an A.

The group made recommendations to the Kentucky legislature that included developing training for attorneys, requiring that children keep the same attorney if possible, and giving children the right to legal representation during the appeals process The First Star report also recommended that children's attorneys have caseload and compensation levels that allow for "effective assistance of counsel."

"While Kentucky guarantees attorneys for children in its child welfare system, the issue of quality representation is simply not adequately addressed," said Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates. "At a broad level, we can do more to support the quality issue through proactive legislation in 2008 and a focused commitment from the legal profession. On a pragmatic basis, issues like increasing fees for court-appointed attorneys are imperative if we really want to tackle the quality issue."

The Louisville-based Kentucky Youth Advocates is one of two groups that issued a report on concerns with adoption practices, particularly in Hardin County, in January 2006.

Social workers remain on job despite allegations

At least 13 state social workers remain on the job nearly four months after a Kentucky inspector general's investigation alleged that they had committed crimes and violated policies while removing children from their families. Also still working is a supervisor under investigation since April 2006 for allegedly trying to alter documents and intimidate witnesses in the investigation by the inspector general for the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services, spokeswoman Vikki Franklin has confirmed.

Franklin said the supervisor, Pam Tungate, an assistant administrator for the cabinet's Lincoln Trail region based in Elizabethtown, is working in another county until the cabinet completes an internal personnel review launched as a result of the inspector general's report. Former Inspector General Robert J. Benvenuti spent a year investigating inappropriate state adoptions, terminations of parental rights and foster care before releasing a report in January.

Benvenuti found that employees gave false testimony in court and falsified public records and adoption records. The investigation showed that one social worker threatened, struck and cursed clients. Another social worker did not visit families, but lied and said she did. All of those workers are still on the job. Cabinet officials are reviewing the cases to determine appropriate personnel actions while they continue working, Franklin said. Benvenuti turned his findings over to Hardin Commonwealth's Attorney Chris Shaw, who could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.

Terry Brooks, executive director of the Louisville-based Kentucky Youth Advocates, said his organization is concerned that the workers might still be dealing with families. Brooks said his organization is not suggesting that the social workers be pegged as guilty before the investigations are complete. "But if the cabinet is serious about changing its climate and practices," Brooks said, "you have to wonder if you can do that with the same players."

Blue Grass, Red State Scorches Fletcher

If "our economy booms," why do the corporate jets of large companies fly over Kentucky and land in states such as Tennessee, which have right-to-work laws and lower tax rates? If "our economy booms," why do 24.7 percent of Kentucky's adults collect disability checks? (If you believe all those folks really have a disability, you could - "could" - have taken up residence in the state of denial.) If "our economy booms," why do statistics reveal only three states with higher unemployment rates in February than Kentucky?

By contrast, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the commonwealth's jobless rate equaled the national average when Fletcher took office some three years ago. The governor likes to say that more Kentuckians work now than ever. We should all applaud that reality. But to pretend Fletcher's economic policies led to that means that you moved to the state of denial. Actually, more Kentuckians work in spite of this governor's economic policies, not because of them.

With the economic revival experienced by the nation following the recession of 2000-2001 and the ensuing tax cuts promoted by President George W. Bush, much of the entire nation experienced job increases. If "our economy booms," why does the Bureau of Economic Analysis report that Kentuckians' personal incomes dropped nearly 4 percent during the past year, down from No. 44 to No. 46 in the nation? This leaves only four states with lower personal incomes.

Fletcher releases misleading TV ad

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

Gov. Ernie Fletcher's re-election campaign released a new ad Wednesday night touting his administration's efforts to turn a state budget deficit into a surplus, all while lowering taxes.

The 30-second spot starts by claiming that Kentucky faced a $1 billion deficit when Fletcher took office in 2003. That number is off by about $700 million. Days after Fletcher took office, a revenue shortfall for fiscal year 2004 of $262 million was projected by the state's Consensus Forecasting Group. The state also had to make up about $40 million in unexpected expenditures, bringing the total General Fund shortfall to $303 million.

Knowing that state law requires a balanced budget, Fletcher pulled $86.4 million from a variety of restricted and emergency funds, ordered state agencies to reduce spending by $147.4 million and received $68.7 million of relief funds from the federal government. He also ordered additional cuts in the state’s operating budget, which provided another $110 million to be used in the next two-year budget.

In the end, all those actions weren't necessary. The economy began picking up in the spring of 2004 and the state wound up collecting $132.4 million more than had been forecasted in December. "There was never a billion dollar deficit," said State Auditor Crit Luallen, the former executive secretary of Gov. Paul Patton's cabinet. "There was a balanced budget. That's what the Constitution requires."

Still, Fletcher repeatedly claims in speeches, mailers and TV ads that he erased a $1 billion deficit. Budget Director Brad Cowgill says the additional $700 million is a budget shortfall for fiscal year 2005 that Patton predicted in a November 2003 report. Fletcher clings to the report, even though Patton's prediction was wrong and the state's Consensus Forecasting Group never predicted a budget shortfall in fiscal year 2005. "I didn’t know the economy was going to take off like a rocket," Patton said today.

But even if it had been correct, Patton says it’s unfair to characterize the numbers in his report as a deficit. He was only trying to tell policy makers that they needed to find new revenue if they expected to increase funding for thinks like teacher pay, health care and prisons.

Some of the needs outlined in the report still haven't been met, he said. Cowgill argues that it's fair for Fletcher to take credit for eliminating Patton's projected shortfall because it was the best available information about the state's financial health when Fletcher took office. "It was the benchmark that affected the expectations of the people of Kentucky at the time he was elected," Cowgill said.

Conservative Edge Paints the Obvious Picture

You can't help but notice the stridency with which Anne Northup and her backers have hammered away at Governor Fletcher since CE broke the story on Fletcher's huge 22 point lead in the primary polls.

From Larry Dale Keeling, to Ryan Alessi, to John Stamper, to the edtors of the Herald-Leader and Courier-Journal, to Northup's campaign manager who green lighted the latest ad, to a raft of conservative bloggers, all Northup hands appear to be on deck. But is it the deck of the Titanic? We'll know in less than three weeks. What's sad is that some Northup supporters appear to believe that Anne will be treated differently than Governor Fletcher has been treated by Kentucky's liberal media if she is elected.

Northup Supporters Typing Desperation

From Blue Grass, Red State:

Please understand that Billy Harper lost votes in that latest poll. Billy Harper is not going to win, no matter what his consultants are telling him is possible and no matter what they are telling you is possible. He is not going to come from behind as voters fall out from both sides in the last three weeks.

Please consider supporting Anne Northup instead of Billy Harper in the primary, because in this election a vote for Billy Harper is in fact a vote for Ernie Fletcher. Right now, a vote for Billy Harper is counterproductive to the mission that you are trying to accomplish. Anne Northup & Jeff Hoover will make the changes that you want to see. They have the drive, willingness, and desire to do what it takes to change Kentucky for the better. Give them a chance to do it. Voting for Billy Harper makes it easier for Ernie Fletcher to beat Anne Northup & Jeff Hoover. Please consider changing your vote to Northup/Hoover.

Please understand, Anne Northup is losing in the latest poll. Anne Northup has no agenda and one three word talking point. No matter what her consultants are spinning. No matter what her bloggers believe. She cannot win in November. Why? “Fletcher can’t win” is not a strategy.

Prior to supporting Northup, please consider puking. A vote for Northup is a voter for disaster. Northup as our nominee is counterproductive. She will not win. She does not have the message, the support, or the ability to garner victory. Voting for Northup makes it easier for Democrats in November. Please consider sanity. Do not vote Northup\Hoover.

Blue Grass, Red State in Tank For Northup

Hebert Agrees With BGRS Analysis of Last S-USA Poll

Video: Ad Comparison - Truth and Effectiveness

Summary & Video: Northup/Hoover on Education

Sales Failing Where Leadership Has Failed

From the Louisville Courier-Journal:

Sales of Louisville-produced Ford Explorer sport utility vehicles held their recent pace in April, but the automaker’s chief sales analyst yesterday said future declines are likely as the SUV market continues to soften. Ford sold 11,956 Explorers last month. That was down 13 percent from 13,772 sold a year ago, but in line with average for the past six months.

The troubled automaker also reported an overall 13 percent drop in vehicle sales across all categories yesterday, selling 228,623 fewer cars and trucks than in April, 2006. Explorer sales have "farther to go but the steepest of the declines have probably happened," Ford chief sales analyst George Pipas said yesterday of the Explorer, adding SUV sales have dropped precipitously in recently years across the automotive industry. "It is starting to reach a point where we are meeting the needs of the person who needs that kind of vehicle."

Reflecting sluggish sales, Explorer production lines will move slower soon at Ford’s Fern Valley Road plant. Ford’s official date for that slowdown to begin is June 11, company spokeswoman Anne Marie Gattari said yesterday. However, the change is expected "sometime this summer," said United Auto Workers Local 862 president Rocky Comito.

Ford also moved fewer F-Series trucks, including the Super Duty and the smaller F-150, over the last year – 56,692 down 12 percent from 64,749 in April of 2006. Sales of the Louisville-built Ford Explorer were off 13 percent in April from a year earlier and sales of F-Series trucks, which include the Louisville-built Super Duty, fell 12 percent. Ford also moved fewer F-Series trucks, including the Super Duty and the smaller F-150, over the last year – 56,692 down 12 percent from 64,749 in April of 2006.

Amidst Fordfare, impending cuts, and contract negotiations, reality stings. The SUV market is faltering. Ford Explorers, which Kentuckians manufacture, are not selling. Obviously, our Ford employees require help. Will our Governor act?

Kentucky Pachyderm 2 Mocks Anne

Anne Northup began her campaign on a "Fletcher can't win in the fall" theme. When she saw that gained her no traction, she trotted out a few issues. When she saw that also gained her no traction, she's reverted to "Fletcher can't win in the fall." Sorry, Mrs. Northup, but the Republican voters see right through you. They are rejecting your divisive campaign. The polls, whether they are the Fletcher internal poll showing him ahead by 22 points, or the Survey USA poll showing him up by 12, are reflective of that. Fletcher is pulling away and you are slipping.

Your desperation is showing, be it your latest ad or your ill-advised exchange with Robert Stivers, or the comments that at least two sources have reported that you made at the Kentucky Right to Life dinner. Your service to this state and to the Republican Party is honored by most within the GOP, but you are tarnishing and trashing your legacy by your ill-advised candidacy.

You'll earn the respect of all Republicans, even the most ardent Fletcher supporters, if you will stick to the issues and get off your "Fletcher can't win" mantra. The fact is that he CAN win this fall against any of the seven Democrat candidates.

Par for the Gov

Pathetically, this is typical. Governor Fletcher had an opportunity. Sadly, he made an extremely questionable selection. Fletcher has stated he values education. Unfortunately, his choice reflects the exact opposite.

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

Critics of the woman tapped to become the next Kentucky education commissioner say they are surprised she was considered for the post because she has a turbulent history with districts she's led in the past 13 years. Several parents and board members in districts in Scottsdale, Ariz., and St. Charles, Ill., said Barbara Erwin, 56, left their districts in disarray with what they described as a "dictatorial" management style that led to high staff turnover.

"You don't come in and explode the place and leave the place in rubble," said Bill Page, a St. Charles parent who has been critical of Erwin in columns he wrote for the Kane County Chronicle. "If you look at her history, she comes into a district, she turns it on its ear, causes a lot of turmoil, and then she's gone."

Erwin, who has 36 years of experience in education, is superintendent of schools for the 15,000-student Community Unit District 303 in St. Charles. Previously, she was superintendent of the Scottsdale Unified School District 2000-04 and of the Allen (Texas) Independent School District 1994-2000. She also was superintendent of the Tipton Community School Corp. in Indiana. She accepted the position in Kentucky last week. The board of education must ratify her contract at its May 9-10 retreat. Erwin is expected to start July 1 with a base salary of $220,000.

Anne Hickie, a former Scottsdale school board member, said some of Erwin's initiatives deepened divisions within the community. "Everything looks great on the surface; it's what's going on underneath that concerns me," she said. "She divided this community and made it very difficult for people to even work together. Divide and conquer, that was the mentality. If I were asked to vote on Barbara Erwin, I would not vote to hire her."

Kentucky state school board chairman Keith Travis said the firm handling the commissioner search "thoroughly" researched Erwin's background. "She's still our top choice," Travis said. "She's been in some roles with challenged areas and in solving those challenges there is going to be some fall-out from that. ... I really hope a few negatives don't overshadow all the positive that she has done."

Erwin said she was not surprised by the criticism. "Guaranteed, you can go back to every place that I've been and find people that are unhappy with decisions I've made," Erwin said. "When you make difficult decisions, you don't please everybody. ... There tend to be naysayers that are more vocal."

Mary Ann Blankenship, executive director of the Kentucky Education Association, said the group heard only a few negative comments about Erwin. "We talked with our counterparts in Illinois and heard a lot of good things," she said. "We were told their loss is our gain."

Christine Schild, a former Scottsdale board member, said Erwin paid about $8 million to buy out the employment contracts of about 170 teachers, administrators and other staff. Schild said Erwin also led the effort to fire a popular elementary school principal -- who allegedly changed six test scores to meet an improvement goal -- and spent more than $225,000 of the district's budget to do so. The principal was escorted off campus in tears, in plain view of teachers, parents and staff, Schild said. Erwin also proposed a plan later rejected by voters to build a sixth high school despite a decline in enrollment as students transferred to charter and private schools, she said. "It's her way or the highway," Schild said. "Morale just went in the sewer. ... Everything got cut to the bare bone. She was very dictatorial."

Schild said two years after Erwin left Scottsdale, she received calls from residents of St. Charles who were unhappy with Erwin's job performance since joining the district in 2004. Several St. Charles school board members, where Erwin is still superintendent, would not comment for this story, saying they feared retribution. During her tenure at St. Charles, Erwin helped create an electronic system that stores student and teacher profiles and testing data. The district also tripled the number of students that scored high on Advanced Placement exams and saw an increase in ACT scores and state test scores.

In Texas, Erwin is credited by spokesman Tim Carroll with raising achievement in the district and introducing innovative technology practices. She was an adjunct professor at Texas Women's University. Questions also surfaced yesterday about an honor listed on Erwin's rŽsumŽ and in a Kentucky Department of Education release, which stated that Erwin was named Texas Superintendent of the Year in 1997 and 1998. The Texas Association of School Boards Web site shows Erwin earned the title only in 1997. However, in 1999 she was the Texas nominee for National Superintendent of the Year, according to the Texas Association of School Administrators Web site.

Brad Hughes, spokesman for the Kentucky School Boards Association, said KSBA considered it reasonable and understandable for a state's nominee for the national award to consider herself that state's superintendent of the year, even if the nomination does not carry with it an award called state superintendent of the year. Hughes said KSBA had not vetted Erwin's rŽsumŽ, but that the association did not "on the face of it" see anything that suggested Erwin was not qualified to be Kentucky's education commissioner.

According to reports in the Dallas Morning News, Erwin was blamed for the loss of several teachers and employees. In an Aug. 14, 1999, article, critics said staff were quitting Allen schools because the atmosphere was intimidating and teachers were afraid to question Erwin. Carroll said yesterday that the turnover was the result of changes Erwin made. "Most people would look back and think the changes needed to be done at the time," he said. "With change comes resistance."

But critics in Scottsdale say Erwin left a legacy that was more harmful than beneficial. "After you look at her track record ... if your board of education still thinks she is the best candidate for the job, then I wish you luck," Schild said.

Same Gov, Same Gov

Governor Fletcher violating a law? Why I am not surprised?

From the Louisville Courier-Journal:

Gov. Ernie Fletcher may be required by state law to pay for his political flights on state aircraft -- despite claims by his campaign that the law doesn't address the matter. A law on the books since at least 1998 requires governors and lieutenant governors to repay the state at commercial air-charter rates for using state airplanes and helicopters for trips that are purely personal or have both official and personal aspects.

In the past three years, Fletcher has taken at least 21 trips in which he combined official business with political fundraisers -- and at least 15 times used state helicopters and airplanes for those trips -- according to an analysis of records by The Courier-Journal. Those flights cost the state more than $9,000 in fuel alone. Fletcher agreed on Friday to reimburse the state for the political portion of such trips, though his campaign maintained that he has no obligation to do so under the law.

Marty Ryall, Fletcher's campaign manager, said yesterday that the campaign's understanding of the law is based on a review by Fletcher's office of general counsel. David Fleenor, Fletcher's general counsel, said his office has interpreted the law to mean that Fletcher is required to repay the state only for trips that are purely personal, or when the personal portion of a trip requires an additional leg. Fleenor said, for example, that if Fletcher were flying to Danville for both official and political events, he wouldn't be required to pay for any portion of the flight.

But, he said, if Fletcher were flying to Danville for an official visit and then on to Somerset for a political visit, he would be assessed the cost of the flight to Somerset. Fleenor said the governor didn't fly on any trips in which there was a purely political leg. State law generally forbids the use of state aircraft for personal business. But it allows the governor and lieutenant governor to use state planes and helicopters for such trips "for reasons of security, protocol, ceremonial functions or overall demands of time."

The campaign said Friday that it would reimburse the state for the cost of the aircraft using a formula based on the number of official and campaign-related events. If there were one official event and one campaign event, for example, the campaign would pay half the cost.

Yesterday the campaign of one of Fletcher's opponents in the May 22 Republican primary, former U.S. Rep. Anne Northup, called on Fletcher to immediately identify all trips using state helicopters, airplanes and cars that have included political functions and to pay for those trips before the May 14 deadline for filing campaign finance reports. "Republicans across Kentucky know what waste, fraud and abuse is, and this is it," Northup spokesman Barry Peel said in a statement. "Give the voters an accounting."

Ryall said that the campaign hopes to make the reimbursements to the state by Friday and that Northup had no impact on the campaign's decision to repay the state, as her campaign claimed in the release. "Our plans have nothing to do with her constant negative attacks," he said.

Nice Thought…

Ministers, your suggestion is excellent. Do not expect our Governor’s involement.

From the Louisville Courier-Journal:

When the Rev. Clay Calloway showed up at 35th Street and Broadway Monday morning, shortly after 21-year-old James Bland was fatally shot, the B-Line Food Mart parking lot was packed with people at a time when most around the city were either headed to school or work. "It looked like it might be a festival," he remembered last night, standing in the same parking lot with about 20 other people, mostly ministers, who want to help bring an end to the violence. Calloway said that experience and a nonfatal shooting a few blocks away on Tuesday afternoon showed him that "there’s a great need to provide some employment opportunities."

Calloway and other members of No Murders Metro joined with members of the Louisville Urban League last night to let at-risk young adults know there are opportunities. With them were three or four Louisville Metro Police officers who were there to show their support. One opportunity is the Urban Youth Empowerment Program, which provides job-skills training and education to at-risk people ages 18 to 21 who have not been convicted of violence or sex offenses. Each participant has a career coach who can give one-on-one help, said Juanita Sands, director of work force development for the Louisville Urban League.

The league’s goal is to serve 60 young adults, but it is only about half full. "There’s a real sense of hopelessness on the street right now," said the Rev. Jamil Armstrong, 27, a youth minister at St. Stephen Church. "People can only go as far as they can see." Instead of drugs, guns and money, young people need to be shown why they should not give in to these temptations, which are glorified on television and through other media, Armstrong said. "They think that’s what they have to have," he said.

There have been 20 homicides in Louisville this year, including one in Jeffersontown and two that involved police officers. In April there were seven homicides, with four of them in the downtown and western Louisville police divisions.

Earlier this year, several ministers from the Interdenominational Ministerial Coalition issued a 10-point plan that includes creating church activities aimed at alternatives for youth, better vigilance among residents, stronger family ties and adopting a corner to combat gang and drug activity. Among the ministers gathering last night was the Rev. Jerome Garrison, who suffered a broken bone and facial injuries after being beaten last fall by a gang of youths across Broadway from the B-Line market. Disconnected young people need to be shown that "you don’t have to be a gangster to be somebody," he said.

Despite the beating he suffered, Garrison remains hopeful that residents in his area can show the rest of the city that "the West End is still the best end." Anyone who would like information on the Urban Youth Empowerment Program can call Sands at the Urban League, 566-3370.
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