Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Education advocates continued to raise questions yesterday about the newly appointed Kentucky education commissioner after additional errors on her résumé were discovered. The state board of education last week unanimously approved a four-year contract for Barbara Erwin, who also has been criticized by parents and board members in other school districts for her "dictatorial" leadership style. A review of her résumé prior to the meeting revealed some inaccuracies, including the listing of an honor she did not receive and a claim that she had been a presenter at a Chicago education conference.
Other mistakes have now surfaced, including an error in the number of years she served on the board of directors for the Scottsdale, Ariz., Chamber of Commerce. Erwin's résumé says she served from 2000 to the present, but she left that district four years ago and is not currently on the board, a spokeswoman with the agency confirmed. Erwin's résumé also lists her membership on the executive board of the American Association of School Administrators from 1991-2000. She was actually a member of the AASA executive committee from 1999 to 2002.
Erwin also claims to be a member of Kappa Delta Phi, a fraternity. The similarly named Kappa Delta Pi, an honor education society, does list a Barbara Erwin as a member. Erwin could not be reached for comment for this story. School board chairman Keith Travis said the board spent several hours with Erwin reviewing every detail on her résumé before the vote. "Once we did that, she got my vote of confidence," he said. "Barbara Erwin is the person that will provide us with the leadership to move forward."
Erwin will receive a four-year contract with a base salary of $220,000 a year, and she will start work July 16. Either side can get out of the contract with 90 days notice, but the board would have to show cause to discontinue the contract. Several critics are alarmed the board is not more concerned with the inaccuracies and also with Erwin's reputation in other school districts. Erwin, who has 36 years of experience in education, was most recently superintendent of schools for the 15,000-student Community Unit District 303 in St. Charles, Ill. Previously, she was superintendent of the Scottsdale Unified School District from 2000-2004 and of the Allen (Texas) Independent School District from 1994-2000. She also was superintendent of the Tipton Community School Corp. in Indiana from 1991-1994.
Dick Innes, education analyst with the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, said résumé blunders are a bigger deal than the board is letting on. "The point is, does this woman pay any attention to detail?" he asked. "Clearly we think (the search process) was ill-advised."
Innes said other education advocates and analysts are overwhelmingly against having Erwin serve as commissioner. "There's a lot of controversy and concern here," he said. Also, "somebody with an abrasive personality is probably not going to last too long in this position."
Republican candidate for governor Anne Northup launched a TV ad this afternoon narrated by Gov. Ernie Fletcher's former running mate, Lt. Gov. Steve Pence. In the ad, which first ran on the 5 p.m. newscast of WTVQ-36 in Lexington, Pence says Fletcher "failed" to follow through on his promises to "clean up Frankfort" and "do away with the good ol' boy system."
"Instead, Fletcher risks an even greater scandal with his secret legal defense fund," said Pence, a former U.S. attorney from Louisville. He goes on to accuse Fletcher of making "false charges" against Northup, referring to a Fletcher TV ad that accuses Northup of "voting against school prayer."
"Anne is a conservative who supports school prayer, and has the votes to prove it," Pence responds.
As a congresswoman, Northup did vote in 1998 against a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment that would have clarified a person's right to pray in school. Northup said she voted against the bill because it would have allowed teachers of any faith to lead classroom prayers. Northup also points to 21 votes in Congress that she says support school prayer. Most of the votes are for school appropriations bills that say none of the funds can be used to "prevent the implementation of programs of voluntary prayer and meditation in the public schools."
She also supported two non-binding resolutions that say school prayer contributes to the moral foundation of students and urges the Supreme Court to rule accordingly. The two campaigns traded barbs over the prayer issue for much of the day. “Anne Northup, regardless of all her rhetoric, voted against the school prayer amendment in 1998," said Marty Ryall, Fletcher's campaign manager, in a news release. "She also voted against the law to allow concealed carry in Kentucky, and even once told a Louisville reporter that she was not pro-gun."
Earlier, Northup's campaign released a statement questioning Fletcher's decision to use automated phone calls attacking Northup on the prayer issue that were narrated by former Republican congressman Bob Barr of Georgia. Barr, who co-sponsored the prayer resolution Northup voted against, has since left the Republican party, is a lobbyist for the Marijuana Project and is considered a "friend" by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Once again, Steve Pence attacks from his elected office. As previously stated, Pence is a politician of convenience. His actions are cheap and tactical. The truth is, Pence did not have concerns, does not have concerns, and never had concerns. If Pence were disturbed with Fletcher’s actions, he could have resigned. If he were a man of conscience, he would have done this. He would have marched into Fletcher’s office, chastised him, resigned, and publicly condemned the Governor. He sat silent. Pence is a wretched human being.
Additionally, education, healthcare, and spending are priorities. School prayer? When did school prayer become relevant? Fletcher ruins education, expands healthcare, Ford is suffering and school prayer is the battle? School prayer is a non-issue. This summarizes Northup vs. Fletcher. Kentucky is not their concern. Defeating their opponent… this is their lone concern.
From the Kentucky Post:
A decade ago, Kentucky's political leaders set ambitious goals for higher education, saying the state's economic health depends on peak performance. The goals were straightforward: Get more kids in - and through - college. Attract top professors and research grants. Rebuild the community and technical college system into a nimble, modern network responsive to employers' training needs. Now, a panel of 25 top business leaders will assess the results and recommend steps to assure progress to Gov. Ernie Fletcher or his successor. "Business people realize the direct correlation between higher education and economic betterment. That connection has to be nurtured, and this task force assessment will be about that," said Dave Adkisson, president and chief executive officer of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
The chamber announced the panel today. Two members are from Northern Kentucky: Jim O'Brien, chairman and chief executive officer of Ashland Inc., headquartered in Covington, and Kelly Swartz, site president of Citi Cards of Citicorp Credit Services Inc. in Florence. The task force chairman, Victor Staffieri, chairman of Louisville-headquartered E.ON U.S., an energy services company, predicted the group will produce a significant report. "In today's knowledge-based economy, a postsecondary education is of vital importance to the economic well-being of the commonwealth," he said.
"The members of this task force are leaders in their communities who understand local issues across the state. Given their successful track records, we can expect exciting results."
Adkisson said business interests lobbied heavily for postsecondary education reforms in 1997, and now there's a sense that the business community needs to reengage. "Sometimes, the business community helps fix something and then is guilty of going on to other challenges," Adkisson said.
"The business community has developed a bad case of laryngitis when it comes to education in Kentucky, and we realize we've got to stay at these efforts from day to day and year to year."
Adkisson said the intention is to have the assessment completed late this year, in time to "frame the issue" for a governor inaugurated in December and for the 2008 General Assembly. Fletcher is seeking a second term, although he'll first have to advance in next Tuesday's Republican primary, then win a run-off if one is required in June, and, finally, win the general election in November. "Members of the task force are very strong business leaders from around the state, and they will not be shy about stating their observations," Adkisson said. "My sense is they will be looking for opportunities to make mid-course corrections toward achieving the goals set in 1997."
A consulting firm from Boulder, Colo., the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, will assist the task force. One yardstick of progress will be college enrollment and graduation rates. The Council on Postsecondary Education, which was formed to help implement the Postsecondary Education Improvement Act of 1997, set a goal for Kentucky to match the national average of bachelor's degrees awarded annually by the year 2020. In 2000, there were 400,000 Kentuckians - 19 percent of the state's population - with bachelor's degrees. The goal is to have 800,000 - 32 percent - by 2020.
However, if the current rate of producing college graduates continues, the state will be 200,000 under the national average in 2020. To get the state on track to meet the national average by 2020, the council has set high enrollment and graduation goals for all colleges in Kentucky. The goal for Northern Kentucky University is to increase undergraduate enrollment to 22,520 and double the number of bachelor's degrees it awards to 3,149 annually by 2020. The total cost at campuses across the state for new and renovated classroom buildings that will be needed to accommodate such a huge influx of students was estimated last month by council consultants to be $11.7 billion. At NKU, where President James Votruba said at least a half-dozen new classroom buildings will be needed to meet 2020 enrollment goals, council consultants said $544 million will be needed for new construction and $316 million for renovation, a total of $860 million.
How the task force convened by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce approaches money matters remains to be seen, said Adkisson. "The task force is beginning without any assumptions regarding money," he said. "But as they revisit the challenge of the 2020 goals, they're likely to identify financial implications to making any changes and will deal with those as business people as responsibly as possible."
Votruba said before a search for money begins, people like the governor and lawmakers must want more and better educational opportunities for Kentuckians. "Start with the 'will,' and if there is a strong will for education, then you go about finding the capacity to fund it," he said.
"You find the will first. That means the governor and General Assembly have got to fully understand the significance of post-secondary goals for overall economic progress."
Votruba said he doesn't know if it's possible to concentrate resources in education and still do what needs to be done in other areas of government. That will be up to the governor and legislative leaders to decide, he said. "But, over the next 15 years, we're going to see states that are winning and states that are not. And in the winning states, higher education has a prominent place," Votruba said.
Harper offers a consistent conservatism and no-nonsense style Kentucky could use if we are to escape backwater status. And with Democrats likely to nominate a baggage-laden politician, Republicans would do well to represent themselves with someone not encumbered with evidence of questionable judgement.
Harper's support of KERA is a little tough to forgive, but that is overwhelmed by his continuing involvement in education and his current solutions, which involve more than just spending more money and would likely reverse a lot of KERA's damage while placing us on a course for substantial gains.
Economic development is something everyone talks about, but really belongs in the hands of someone who can move it along with more than just subsidies. Pulling the state out of debt will require someone with a solid mandate. Listen closely to Harper. It isn't immediately apparent, but he is the type of leader who can inspire people to look beyond partisanship and toward the vision of the little guy from Paducah who said and meant "and I mean NO!"
The other two candidates are not as promising. Northup has run a very negative campaign, mainly attacking Fletcher, offering no new ideas, and even refusing to answer a survey on the issues by The Courier-Journal. Fletcher’s performance as governor has been disappointing, and he has been taking advantage of his position as governor to use taxpayer money to buy support in this election. The polls have shown Harper to be in third place, but the situation can change rapidly, and votes are what really count.
I am tired of wasting my vote on people who give us the same old failed policies. I’d rather risk voting for someone who is likely to really make a positive change if he is elected. If Kentucky Republicans, who are very discouraged both with Fletcher and Northup, would take a moment to think about their options, they may reach the same conclusion I have reached. For the sake of our state, I sure hope they do.
Despite her delusional supporters…
Northup Gets A on Guns from Group That Counts: the NRA (Cyber Hillbilly)
In 2006 the NRA reviewed Anne Northup’s career the way they do every other candidate for Congress at the end of every term and gave the Congresswoman an “A” for her record in Washington fighting to protect the 2nd amendment. That should be the end of the story. The NRA is the nation’s preeminent gun ownership lobby in America and is nearly universally trusted by hunters and gun aficionado’s alike.
Sadly, it’s not. As Elendil's Journal points out, Northup does draw fire on guns. But look who’s doing the firing: the Gun Owners of America. This is a group that accuses the NRA of selling out gun rights. They’re even opposed to finding ways to keep firearms away from “mentally unstable killers like [VA Tech Shooter] Cho Seung-Hui.”
Northup’s gun record is reality….
Gun Control Ratings for Northup in Congress (Elendil’s Journal)
Many people have questioned, including myself, Northup's support of gun owner's right . So I wanted to go and look at her record in the legislature to see if the criticism was justified. I went to GOA (Gun Owners of America) to find out Northup's rankings while she was in Congress and found the following rating system.
A+ Pro-Gun Leader: introduces pro-gun legislation.
A & A- Pro-Gun Voter: philosophically sound.
B & B- Pro-Gun Compromiser: generally leans our way.
C & C- Leans Our Way: occasionally.
D & D- Leans Anti-Gun: usually against us.
F Anti-Gun Voter: a philosophically committed anti-gunner.
F- Anti-Gun Leader: outspoken anti-gun advocate who carries anti-gun legislation.
In this scale anything less than an A- in my mind is problematic. That means they would be willing to compromise on our the second amendment right to bear arms. I would have a hard time voting for someone that didn't at least have a B average.
So how did Northup fair while she was in Congress?
Term Served Grade
106th Congress D-
109th Congress A-
Ouch! Only in her last term did she show any affinity for the second amendment. What I find more disturbing was her vote on the concealed carry law in the Kentucky General Assembly back in 1996. Concealed carry is a cornerstone right for those who believe in the second amendment. It allows law abiding citizens that chance to defend themselves against evil. She was one of 20 legislators to vote against the measure that passed 74-20. Heck she even introduced a measure that would require people to give a reason for seeking the permit. This disregard for the constitutional rights of law abiding citizens is very disturbing.
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.
From Blue Grass, Red State:
Now that the actual Fletcher campaign is publicly resorting to lies and negativity instead of allowing henchmen to do the dirty work for them behind closed doors and in roundabout ways, we have a great chance to see firsthand again the incompetence that has plagued Ernie Fletcher during his entire term as Governor.
Did the Fletcher campaign think the Barr recording would only be heard by people listening to their answering machines? Did they think they could keep it all hush hush? Or, are they just so dumb that they didn't think to research the biography of the man they were using to attack Anne Northup?
Bob Barr is an anti-Christian anti-terror fighting pothead, and now he's speaking for Ernie Fletcher! As I said just last week, when Anne Northup represented KY-3 in Congress, one of the extraordinary things she did was wield her power to fight social ills using conservative methods in attempts to reach conservative goals. For this, she drew the hatred of liberal Democrats, the ACLU, and other assorted kooks. Now, Ernie Fletcher is using a friend of the ACLU who lobbies for the Marijuana Policy Project and withdrew from the Republican Party to speak on his behalf in phone messages attacking Anne Northup's stellar record.
From Cyber Hillbilly:
What is it about Anne Northup that makes kooks oppose her so fiercely? Over the past few months perhaps nothing has been more amusing than to watch a steady procession of nut jobs come out in opposition to the former Congresswoman in her bid for Governor. First there were the libertarians: as KY Progress reported, the Take Back Kentucky group endorsed Gatewood, and singled out Anne Northup for criticism. I guess we know what those guys were smoking.
Then Frankfort restaurateur Rick Paul got into the game on Friday, when he suggested in a blast email that the Congresswoman is set to and should drop out of the Governor's race in spite of confirmation by the weekend that she’s actually ahead in at least one poll. Paul is listed by the Kentucky Hemp Food Association as a 1999 supporter of the Hemp Food Banquet which “conducted a test for taste and the drug, THC.” He's also on record as a strong Gatewood supporter.
Now comes word that the Governor has allied with former Congressman Bob Barr to bring the message to the state that the former Congresswoman who fought so hard to get millions for her local churches, the devout Catholic who’s fought abortion tooth and nail her entire career, the same lady who believes deeply enough in the sanctity of life and God’s commandments that she not only had four children of her own, but actually adopted two more… that this lady wanted to take God out of our children’s schools. Yes, you heard me right.
Excerpts From Ernie Fletcher's Inaugural Speech:
....State government has too often been used to look out for the insiders and not the citizens. This has insulated poverty from progress, and need from remedy.
What could have been a broader, common, wealth has become a guarded treasure, traded among the well positioned.
Though we are so proud of being Kentuckians, we are, in our state, somewhat divided from one another. West, East and Central feel enjoined neither to each other, nor to the whole. Rural and urban nurse jealousy, and not entirely without reason, and it has been this way for so long that it has been accepted without even realizing the cost of these hurtful divisions.
I am surrounding myself with women and men of integrity, character and self-discipline to work on behalf of the people of Kentucky. That is how to create an ethical government.
We can pass page after page of ethics laws, but in the end, they will only be honored by ethical people.
For the second time this year, the state has issued a "Type A" citation to Baptist Convalescent Center in Newport. It came after a resident who had become dehydrated at the nursing home died of renal failure on April 8, two days after being hospitalized. The citation is the most serious type the state issues. It was issued April 26 and accuses the center of placing the resident's life in immediate jeopardy when it failed to monitor fluid intake and failed in March to assure lab tests were conducted. Baptist CEO Robert Long said he plans to appeal the citation, but acknowledged that there were failures in the home's system of care.
According to the citation, the center's medical director admitted the facility "dropped the ball" in letting the resident become dehydrated. The first "Type A" citation this year against the center was issued on March 16, after a resident went four days without food or water because no one noticed that his feeding tube bottle needed changing.
This is a third story concerning elderly mistreatment. During the previous weeks, child mistreatment stories have disgraced the newspapers. Yet, our Governor has remained silent. This center received a second serious citation. However, no special investigations or intervention. No condemnation. Governor, why do you not care?