Kentucky Club for Growth
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August 31, 2009

Nominate the Comrade of the Month Today!

The Comrade of the Month is an award to recognize those who are making a special effort to set up barriers to economic freedom in the Commonwealth.

Ft. Mitchell Mayor Tom Holocher was voted the Comrade of the Month for June by our members. He won for his efforts to raise taxes in a time of surplus.

Send in your nominations for July and August today!

August 28, 2009

Governor Beshear Exaggerates Spending Cuts

At the conclusion of his disastrous special session, Governor Beshear announced that he actually planned on trimming spending further than his original proposal.

Yesterday, the administration announced that new cuts would equal 4% to some agencies, smaller percentages to others, and no cuts to most government spending:

The result is that cuts for most state agencies, which Beshear intends to implement next week, will be 4 percent instead of 2.6 percent.

Budget Director Mary Lassiter briefed the legislature's interim budget committee on the move Thursday.

Lassiter said the priority areas will still be spared from cuts. And she said a few programs that had been targeted for 2.6 percent cuts will get some relief.

Programs in the Health and Family Services Cabinet will be cut by 1 percent. And three areas -- vocational-technical schools, adult education and environmental protection -- will not be cut.

Indeed, most of government will not face a 4% cut. In addition to the areas mentioned above -- the Health and Family Services Cabinet, vocational-technical schools, adult education and environmental protection -- the Governor has also said he would leave the government's biggest budgets alone:

Mary Lassiter, state budget director, told the Interim Joint Committee on Appropriations and Revenue that most state agencies will see a four percent cut with the exception of the main funding formula for K-12 education, universities, the Medicaid program, mental health services, the state police and other programs such as Kentucky Educational Television.

So here's the list of what does not face a 4% cut:

  • the main funding formula for K-12 education
  • universities
  • the Medicaid program
  • mental health services
  • the state police
  • Kentucky Educational Television
  • the Health and Family Services Cabinet
  • vocational-technical schools
  • adult education
  • environmental protection

This list of exemptions probably accounts for over 80% of all state spending. If you're only cutting 4% of 20% of the budget, that's only a 0.8% cut - a trifle.

Either way, with all of these exemptions, it hardly merits the headline:

Cuts to most state agencies will be 4 percent

KACo Needs to Get a Clue

Last Friday, we read that KACo would wastefully hire two consultants to teach them not to spend taxpayer money at strip clubs. We thought the action itself smacked of corruption, deciding to waste more tax money on expensive consultants to provide the leadership of KACo with the common-sense it so sorely lacked.

The most direct and economical route would be to fire its leadership, no? As a commenter put it on the Herald-Leader:

"You clean house and start over again with a group of people with a strong set of ethics and a willingness to work against the status quo."

We became more concerned when we read that the first consultant would be Paul Patton's Inspector General for the Transportation Cabinet. While most people remember the Tina Conner - nursing home home scandal, you might forget the tie in to transportation where traffic tickets were "fixed", cronies got raises, and the Office of Minority Affairs was implicated in falsely certifying Connor's company as a 'disadvantaged business'. These are the ethics violations that Patton admitted to.

Robert Russell was definitely KYTC's IG during this time. What we at the KyCFG don't know is what role the Transportation IG played in uncovering these violations: whether he was the hero that pursued them, or whether he was a part of the problem until Patton cried in DC. It seems an obvious question, but no one has yet reported on it.

So we don't know if Russell is he a good hire or just another member of the good-ol'-boy system hired to help KACo pretend that people shouldn't be fired over all of this.

Today we learn that Mr. Russell has some current troubles as well:

Robert "Bobby" Russell, the lawyer hired by the Kentucky Association of Counties to do a management review of the organization, is the subject of a state ethics inquiry stemming from his work at the state Transportation Cabinet.

...

The subpoena, obtained by the Herald-Leader through an Open Records request, also asks for documents related to Russell's hiring of former Circuit Judge William W. Trude, Jr. in the cabinet's legal office, as well as the promotion of staff attorney Jesse Rowe.

The Louisville Courier-Journal first reported in April that those personnel moves were voided because Russell and the personnel panel assigned to screen applicants didn't follow the proper procedures.

The Kentucky League of Cities' director has already resigned for similar but lesser troubles. KACo needs to get a clue and stop wasting our money.

August 27, 2009

Outrage: State Gives $800K in Tax Dollars to Disney

Really. Here's Governor Beshear's press release bragging about it. What you need to know: a "refundable tax credit" is money the government will pay regardless of other considerations -- like whether the company actually paid taxes to refund.

The Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority approved an application for the film "Secretariat," from Fast Track Productions, Inc., a subsidiary of Disney Studios, about the 1973 Triple Crown winner.

"This is a great way to kick off Kentucky's new film incentive package," said Gov. Steve Beshear....

Fast Track Productions' application projected $4 million in expenditures, meaning the production is eligible for $800,000 in tax credits.

There is no way spending $4 million would ever equate to $800,000 in state revenues. If the company went and spent the entirety of the $4,000,000 at Home Depot, Kentucky's 6% sales tax would net $240,000. If they spent the $4 million employing a single individual, the income tax that individual would pay wound mean only $239,666. Even if they spent the money entirely on one of our highest-tax items, cigarettes, that would only possibly net about $480,000 (if a pack costs $5).

The Governor (and his wife, apparently) are giving over half-a-million of your hard-earned dollars to media giant Disney and bragging about it!

June 2009 Comrade of the Month

The June 2009 Comrade of the Month is Ft. Mitchell Mayor Tom Holocher!

Holocher was nominated because of his love of tax increases.

In June, Mayor Holocher proposed that Ft. Mitchell citizens be faced with the full 4% property tax increase. He desired a tax hike despite the higher burden it would place on citizens in this difficult economy, and despite a forecasted budget surplus!

Additionally, he proposed a budget that spent $120,000 on recreation including trips to a skydiving jump zone and offered no spending cuts.

Faced with criticism, Holocher lowered his tax hike request to $1.47 per $1000 of assessed value, which still was a hike, a notch above the compensating rate of $1.46.

Fortunately for the taxpayers of Ft. Mitchell, the council enacted a tax cut despite Holocher's wishes.

According to Page One Kentucky, resigning Kentucky League of Cities director Sylvia Lovely had this to say about Mayor Holocher's award:

Spotted on Sylvia Lovely's Facebook page: "Just got back from Montgomery, Alabama and the Southern Municipal Conference. What a history filled city. That is why I love cities - they tell stories! Talked about stimulus money, health care reform (gonna be a while) and a host of issues affect...ing cities. Travelled with Mayor Holocher, Ft. Mitchell - a great mayor and public servant!"

Mayor Holocher is the inaugural winner of the Comrade of the Month, winning with 57% of the vote. Lovely's organization only netted 9%. Other nominees this month received: John Yarmuth and Ben Chandler (31%); KACo and KLC (9%) and Kentucky House Democratic Leadership (3%).

Be sure to send us new nominees!

August 26, 2009

The Races: House 10 - Ballard to Retire

Representative Eddie Ballard of Hopkins County has decided not to seek reelection in 2010:

Ballard, who has served in the House since 1987, said friends have encouraged him to run again, but "I have decided that if my wife Rae and I are going to do some of the things we have been planning for years, now is the time.

"That includes traveling and visiting friends in other states. Since we are both in reasonably good health - Rae walks regularly, and I can do more than 100 'sink-ups' in less than two minutes - I believe now is when we should start planning our retirement. Age has nothing to do with it; I won't even be 80 until December."

Ballard, who is chairman of the House Tourism Development and Energy Committee, said he announced his plans now so that others who may want to take his place have more than five months to decide. Jan. 26 is the filing deadline for those running in the May 2010 primary.

Ballard was one of the higher-ranking Democrats on our scorecard, ranking #42 in 2008 but with a paltry score of 40.

Hopkins County voted solidly Republican at the federal level in 2008, voting for McCain 61-37; McConnell 55-45 and Congressman Whitfield 67-33. On the other hand, the county voted for Democratic candidate Hendrickson over Secretary of State Trey Grayson in about the only competitive race in 2007, 52-48.

Ballard hasn't been challenged for the seat since 2000, when he beat Republican Todd P'Pool 62-38. Ballard was unopposed in '02, '04, '06 and '08.

The 10th district encompasses most, but not all of Hopkins county.

The Races: Senate 18 - Webb Wins

With an incredibly strong showing from her House district, Webb overcame the challenges of her own party to win the 18th Senate district special election.

Here are the headlines:

Webb outpolls Ditty, barely - Ronnie Ellis
Ditty still pleased with effort - The Independent
Webb wins senate race - Grayson Journal-Times
Gibbons gives advice to winner - Maysville Ledger Independent
Webb finishes 'tough race' with victory - Maysville Ledger Independent
Webb wins special election for state Senate seat - Herald-Leader
Democrat Webb wins special election for state Senate seat - Courier-Journal
Senate control closer for Ky. Dems - NKY.com

Will Racinos Save the Horse Industry in Kentucky Like They Did in Indiana?

From the Courier-Journal:

The owners of the casinos at the state's two horse tracks said Monday that lawmakers need to cut their taxes and rewrite the rules under which they launched their gambling ventures, or the racinos may not survive.

...

The General Assembly in 2007 authorized the two tracks to install up to 2,000 slot machines each -- but only if they paid $250 million licensing fees and invested $100 million each in new gaming facilities.

...

The tracks took the deals and built casinos, although they grumbled even then that the $250 million fee was too high.

Now that lawmakers and racino officials can evaluate actual numbers, it's obvious the state's business model won't work, said Jim Brown, general manager of Hoosier Park. He said racinos pay 12 cents more of every dollar in taxes and mandatory payments than riverboat casinos do, largely because of payments to the horsemen.

But lawmakers passed the racino legislation in part to help save the horse racing industry, said the study committee's co-chairman, Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville. Track operators touted the positive impact the slot machines would have on horse racing purses when they were pursuing the racino law, he said. Now, they see those payments as liabilities.

Oh, we get it. Supporting the horse industry is a burden to operating the slot machines...

August 25, 2009

The Races: Senate 18 - Fake Exit Polls Intimidate Voters

The word in the special election this morning is voter intimidation under the guise of "exit polling."

From Ronnie Ellis:

Les Fugate, deputy assistant secretary of state, said he began fielding complaints about exit polling at precincts in Carter and Lewis counties at 6:30 a.m.

He said exit pollers are asking voters before they enter the polls for personal information and also asking them to request a list from poll workers of who has already voted - which is illegal in Kentucky though not in all states.

Fugate said the apparent intent is to use that information to get voters for their candidates to the polls by identifying who has and who hasn't already voted.

"We got word (Monday) they'd be using exit polling, using it to determine who had voted," Fugate said. Exit polling is legal and often used by campaigns, political parties and media to predict election outcomes. But normally voters are asked to voluntarily identify how they voted as they leave the polls.

He said poll workers complained to the county clerks who contacted him.

"Asking for personal information such as names and phone numbers could be seen as voter intimidation," Fugate said. "But the law clearly says you can't have a check-off list of who has voted."

KY Congressmen Haven't Pledged to Exercise Common-Sense

The entire concept is ridiculous:

Signing a pledge to read legislation before voting on it?

Have we really come to a point where we have to have our representatives pledge to actually preform the simple acts they were elected to do?

Anyway, a group called "Let Freedom Ring" has created a pledge for our legislators to sign, stating that they will read the health care legislation before voting on it. Here's the text:

I, _________ pledge to my constituents and to the American people that I will not vote to enact any healthcare reform package that:

  1. I have not read, personally, in its entirety; and,

  2. Has not been available, in its entirety, to the American people on the Internet for at least 72 hours, so that they can read it too.

So which of Kentucky's Senators and Representatives have been so bold as to pledge to cast an informed vote?

Rep Geoff Davis, KY - 04
Rep Brett Guthrie, KY - 02
Rep Harold Rogers, KY - 05

Yep, that's it.

Senate 18: Election Day

Folks in Bracken, Carter, Greenup, Lewis, Mason and Robertson counties are voting today. Here's the rest of the election day news.

Remember earlier where the Maysville Ledger Independent confessed their pro-Democrat agenda? Even they've had to admit that Robin Webb lied about Jack Ditty.

Not getting off easily - Maysville Ledger-Independent

We would be "less than forthcoming" if we did not note that both campaigns have participated in the kind of tactics that make voters skeptical of politicians and the entire political process.

Well, we think they're still "less than forthcoming."

In Kentucky, Beshear Bets on Special Election Victory - Governing.com

Republicans have been on a fairly good run in legislative special elections this year, though Democrats did gain one Republican-held Kentucky Senate seat in February. I'd caution against judging the national political environment based on one election in one district in Northeastern Kentucky.

On the other hand, the results tomorrow might be something of a referendum on Beshear and his views on gambling. Or, they might merely tell us which party's supporters were more likely to be vacationing in late August.

What's clear, though, is that the race will have policy implications. It will also help tell us whether Beshear and the Democrats have a realistic shot of winning control of the Kentucky Senate when 19 of its 38 seats go before voters next year.

KY Horse Industry Proves Threat Not Hollow - Bloodhorse

In one radio ad, Ditty is accused of not meeting a deadline for paying state unemployment taxes and then having a state lien slapped on his medical practice. But Kentucky Republican Party head Steve Robertson said the 572 ad "trivializes" the situation and "drags Dr. Ditty's good name through the mud."

Robertson said Ditty's office assistant electronically filed the unemployment tax bill Oct. 30, 2006. It was due a day later, but was not processed until Nov. 1. That resulted in the lien, which was removed after Ditty paid a $5 late fee, Robertson said.

"The entire KEEP organization is spending untold amounts of money on something ridiculous," Robertson said. "They are talking nothing about their issue or about Robin Webb voting for slots."

"What they are doing to the people who own, breed, and race horses is a disservice," said Robertson, who noted he is a Thoroughbred owner and breeder. "They are presenting an ugly face, and that turns people off."

Turnout expectations:

Officials expect 20 percent turnout for today's special election - The Independent

Positive or negative, it all comes down to the voters - Maysville Ledger Independent

Health Care: Eblen Hits on a Truth, Misses Big Picture

The Herald-Leader's Tom Eblen recently wrote a column on the health care reform debate, where he makes the usual strawman arguments and negative unfounded assumptions against conservative proposals, but his first point is one we all should recognize:

There's a fascinating audio clip on YouTube. It's from a 1961 phonograph record in which a politically ambitious entertainer named Ronald Reagan tries his best to scare people about "socialized medicine."

The threat he warns about is legislation to create the program we now know as Medicare.

So here we are, nearly a half-century later, with talk radio entertainers and some Republican politicians trying their best to scare people about "socialized medicine."

The point he builds to is this:

What makes the recent tone of the national health care debate so ridiculous is that Americans have had "socialized medicine" for decades,...

How true. Unfortunately, he ends this sentence this way:

...and it has worked pretty well.

Really Tom? Not many of the rest of us equate 'going bankrupt' with 'working pretty well.'

Here's the country's bankruptcy from your programs that "work pretty well" in graphs from Keith Henessey:

While revenues have held consistent throughout history, spending is one the brink of disaster.

This spending projection is due almost entirely to the expense required to pay for entitlement programs as baby boomers retire.

About 3/5ths of that spending hump is Medicare and Medicaid, those programs that supposedly work "pretty well."

That's why we always find it so ridiculous when people like Eblen think the solution is a new entitlement.

August 24, 2009

912 Talks to Congressman Chandler

912ers had themselves their own personal town hall with central Kentucky congressman Ben Chandler. Here's some of their report:

We FOUND BEN!!!

Yesterday, RAK and I spent one hour with Ben Chandler in his front yard.

Key takeaways:

  1. He said that he probably would not vote for the healthcare bill.

  2. Will not have a town hall because he never has and made sure we knew that Mitch McConnell has never had one either.

...

    9.  Chandler stated that he is more of a foreign affairs and environmental specialist.

HA! That explains this!

Read the rest.

Cincinnati Conservative Rally - Sept. 5th

From our friends across the river:

When: September 5, 2009 2:00 PM

Where:
The Voice of America Park
7850 VOA Park Drive
West Chester, OH 45069

The Cincinnati 912 Project along with the Cincinnati Tea Party and the Ohio Liberty Council would like to invite you to Join thousands of your fellow Tea Party and 912 Project friends from around the tri state area, at the Voice of America Park in West Chester, Ohio just across the river.

You will be surprised, entertained, motivated, and enlightened. Join us for this very important major event.

Every Voice counts. Come join us at the Voice of America, and help us prove it.

State Pensions: Nothing Better Than Being a Good Ol' Boy

Once you're a part of the system, the good-ol-boy network rewards you well with the taxpayer's money. Charlie Borders is the latest example of the corrupt system rewarding a participant. This isn't saying Mr. Borders is corrupt, or that he shouldn't have joined the PSC, but the system that made his career path possible and the rewards it will bestow can be described no other way.

Recently, Kentucky Roll Call wrote of the spoils of being a Frankfort insider, (courtesy of your taxdollars):

Members of the General Assembly created a retirement system for themselves in 1980. At their very next chance, in the 1982 session, they made their pensions richer by giving every legislator who had served more than four years a 5 percent "service credit rating," instead of the 3.5 percent in the original plan. The SCR is one of three factors used to calculate the size of a pension check.

That action became widely known as the "greed bill."

Then, starting in 1998, legislators who had "maxed out" on their General Assembly retirement plan, and who continued to serve in the legislature, began drawing a second pension, this time in the state employees' retirement system, KERS.

Eight lawmakers have reached the "max" on their legislative pension, and seven of them have a second pension: Sens. Walter Blevins and David Boswell; and Reps. Tom Burch, Danny Ford, Jody Richards, Tom Riner and Greg Stumbo.

The eighth legislator, Rep. Harry Moberly, had a second pension at KERS, but he dropped that plan so he could enroll in the Kentucky Teachers' Retirement System -- not as a legislator -- but as an Eastern Kentucky University employee.

This means Moberly's legislative pension will be based on his university salary, not his legislative pay. As a result, his legislative pension from serving part-time as a member of the General Assembly for 25 years will be at least $168,000 a year, a lifetime increase of around $2.4 million.

His case is an example of how legislators enriched their pensions through a little-known law they passed in 2005 without any public hearings, in seemingly a planned maneuver to take advantage of the confusion during the mad rush of bills in the closing days of the session.

You should really read the whole thing.

The Races: Senate 18 - Weekend Headlines

The election is Tuesday. This weekend, a number of headlines and profiles were run regarding the candidates in the race for the 18th Senate district.

First, the state released a letter certifying that Dr. Jack Ditty was a Medicaid provider and exposing the lying advertisement supported by Robin Webb.

Ditty certified as Medicaid provider

On Thursday, Republican Party of Kentucky Chairman Steve Robertson demanded an apology from his counterpart at the Democratic Party of Kentucky, Charles Moore and from Webb. Both declined, saying the ad "is factual."

Here's the original post on television stations pulling the libelous ad.

Other headlines:

Candidates gain fans with social Web sites - Ashland Independent

Candidates for Kentucky's 18th Senate district are using Web sites and the social networking site Facebook as campaigning tools.

Republican candidate Dr. Jack Ditty of Bellefonte is leading the charge with 1,008 supporters on his political page on Wednesday afternoon. Democrat Rep. Robin Webb of Grayson had 779 members on her Facebook group.

Guy E. Gibbons, an Independent candidate from Russell, doesn't have a Facebook page. He has a Web site and uses e-mail to get in contact with supporters.

Webb, Ditty, Gibbons vie for Senate - Ashland Independent

Ditty also has criticized Webb's voting record, claiming she has missed more votes than all by one other member of the House of Representatives. As a member of the Senate, Ditty, a dermatologist, said he will not miss votes.

"We're elected to represent the people of our district, and you can't do that if you are not there," Ditty said.

Webb said she is proud of her voting record...

4 former governors attend political rally - Ashland Independent

Patton said passing the slots bill could help Kentucky get some of the $600 million that's currently spent by its residents in neighboring states where casino-style gaming is legal.

"There's evils in gambling, sure," he said. "But, in Kentucky, we already have five forms of legal gambling, most of which we've voted for. Adding one more isn't going to make anymore addicted gamblers, just like putting another liquor store in Lexington isn't going to make anymore alcoholics."

State Senate race draws lots of attention - Lexington H-L

In the mad dash to control Borders' seat, numerous political heavyweights such as Beshear and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Louisville have visited the district to campaign for their party's candidates. Six former Democratic governors are to be in Raceland Saturday afternoon on behalf of Webb, a state representative since 1999.

Ditty: Multiple motivations to seek seat - Maysville Ledger

On a large scale, those goals have always been to be a good husband, a good father, and advance his career. Seeking an elected office was never part of the plan -- until recently.

"It's just an altered plan," said Ditty of his aspirations to the 18th district's senatorial seat. And sometimes, Ditty said, a person has to take a detour to achieve their ultimate goals.

"This is an unusual election," Ditty said, since the seat he is running for was vacated by Charlie Borders after Borders accepted an appointment by Gov. Steve Beshear to the Public Service Commission. Ditty said he believes Beshear engineered the appointment as part of a bigger plan to move people who support expanded gambling in Kentucky into the legislature.

"He just eliminated the opposition, essentially," Ditty said.

Webb: Seeking to serve on broader basis - Maysville Ledger

Webb is a constitutional lawyer whose interest in politics dates back to elementary school. She said she has worked in campaigns since she was in the third grade.

Webb decided to run for an elected office at a time when the district was not prospering the way she thought it should. She said with her relationships in politics, law background and love of district, she would have both the ability and the motivation to make a difference.

August 21, 2009

Robin Webb Unfamiliar With Her Pro-Tax Record

Weeks ago, the Kentucky Club for Growth submitted the following editorial to various newspapers in Northern Kentucky. Unsurprisingly, they were uninterested in a discussion about the candidate for Senate's actual record.

525 W. Fifth Street • Covington, KY 41011

Robin Webb Unfamiliar With Her Pro-Tax Record

On her website, State Representative Robin Webb's biography states: "As our next State Senator, Robin Webb will work in a bipartisan fashion to protect jobs, grow our economy and keep taxes low."

A radio ad she's running states: "Serving as State Representative, Robin Webb pushed to invest in education, improve roads, attract jobs, hold the line on taxes and stand up for working people."

Unfortunately, as often in politics, this is a gross fabrication.

The Kentucky Club for Growth is a non-partisan advocacy organization dedicated to economic freedom. We pay attention to our legislators in Frankfort and how they cast their votes on bills that affect property rights, taxes and spending. We pay close attention to these issues, and regret to inform you that, since our inception in 2006, Robin Webb has been a consistent supporter of increasing Kentucky's taxes and debt. We score legislators each year based only on the votes they cast and how those policies will affect your pocketbook. Here's a summary of her record on these issues over the past three years.

In 2007, Robin Webb voted to incur over $160 million in new debt over the Governor's veto (HB 1) and voted to allow local governments to seize your car if you were late on tax payments (HB 240). She voted against allowing the House to consider a repeal of the LLET, a tax small businesses must pay even if they lose money (HB 88). Out of 100 members of the Kentucky House, she ranked last in terms of protecting the taxpayer.

In 2008, she voted for a $148 million tax increase (HB 262). She also voted to create a new 2% tax that applied only to new jobs created in designated "development areas" (HB 611), and voted to take away a voter's right to have a referendum on a nickel property tax (HB 734).

As vice-chair of the House budget committee, she created and voted for the most indebted budget in the history of the commonwealth: a $200 million increase in debt versus the previous budget, over $1.1 billion in total debt (HB 406).

Additionally in 2008, she voted for new health insurance mandates that make insurance more expensive in Kentucky (HB 148). She voted to stop another commonsense bill that prohibited government classified employees from working political ballot initiatives while at work (House vote #543), which is an obvious misuse of public dollars.

In 2009, she voted for four new taxes and tax hikes. She voted twice to create new sales taxes on IT services (HB 347) and preemptively created a new tax on a technology that doesn't even exist in Kentucky (HB 236). She voted to raise the gas tax (HB 374) and for a $200 million tax increase (HB 144).

To her credit, she voted against a new Appalachian restaurant tax in 2008 (HB 635), but that's the only time in the last three years Webb has chosen to "hold the line on taxes." Her recent record is one of creating new taxes and unsustainable debt that will create pressure for more tax increases in the future.

Representative Webb's actions do not square with her words, and we at the Kentucky Club for Growth encourage you to ask her why.

As Economy Shrinks, Government Grows

From the NY Times:

While the private sector has shed 6.9 million jobs since the beginning of the recession, state and local governments have expanded their payrolls and added 110,000 jobs, according to a report issued Thursday by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government.

The report, based on an analysis of federal jobs data, found that state and local governments steadily added jobs for eight months after the recession began in December 2007, with their employment peaking last August. State and local governments have since lost 55,000 jobs, but from the beginning of the recession through last month they gained a net of 110,000 jobs, the report found, in part because of the federal stimulus program.

We've said it before: the only thing the stimulus spending is creating is government.

Economy: Unemployment Tops 11% in Kentucky, Employment Also Rises

Unemployment in July topped 11% in Kentucky - doubling the unemployment rate at the beginning of 2008 - but employment also rose.

While month-on-month numbers are difficult to ascertain trends from, the combination of higher employment and heightened unemployment could indicate the beginnings of economic expansion. As jobs start to become available again, workers who had been discouraged from finding a job are more likely to reenter the job market, leading to higher unemployment.

However there is no good way to read the fact that one out of every nine job seekers in Kentucky can not find work.

At a recent forum where Congressman Ben Chandler declared that Obama's health proposal wasn't worth talking about...

"There's no point in talking about it if you can't get it through the Senate," Chandler said.

...he also declared that "Unemployment only dipped another .1% in July...better than in previous months...so, this is good news." and that "things are moving in the right direction."

Unemployment increasing, however slightly, is never the right direction as far as we're concerned. Clearly, he needs to get back to the state more or has a different idea of the right direction than the rest of us.

Ky. jobless rate hits 11 percent - Courier-Journal

August 20, 2009

Health Care: National Club For Growth Runs National Ads

If you haven't checked them out yet, you should watch the national Club for Growth's television ads that are running in critical states throughout the country.

Here's the second ad:

Recently, pollster Frank Luntz was on TV demonstrating why he called this ad "One of the most effective ads so far in healthcare."

The Races: Senate 18 - Dem. Chairman Charlie Moore Stands By Blatant Falsehood

There's hardly any other way to describe it. Here are the facts:

The KDP is running an ad in the special election that says:

The 30-second Democratic Party ad claims "Dr. Ditty refuses to provide medical treatment to poor children or seniors."

This is absolutely false:

Ditty said he doesn't know why the state list of providers does not contain his name but that he treats patients from age 0 to 102.

"Forty-two percent of my patients are on Medicare and Medicaid," he said.

Faced with the facts, Charlie Moore says:

"Absolutely, we stand by the ad," he said. "I can't imagine they'll have sufficient political power to keep that ad off the air because it's factual."

What is it with Democrats attacking everything to do with health care as evil?

August 19, 2009

The Races: Senate 18 - Maysville Paper Openly Roots for Democrats

The Maysville Ledger Independent wrote not one, but two (baseless) editorial endorsements of Robin Webb today, complete with a declaration that a complete takeover of state and federal government by the Democratic party would be "Good":

A victory by Webb, who has served in the Kentucky House of Representatives for six terms, would be a good first step in the Democrat's plan to take the Senate.

Is it better that the bias of the paper is so horrible that they didn't even attempt to hide it?

Are They Representatives Or Aren't They?, Part II

Back in May we noted a strange quote for Kentucky Youth Advocates executive director Terry Brooks:

"Spending cuts alone are not going to resolve the deficit, nor are tax increases alone. It has to be a combination," said Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, which lobbies for programs that help needy families. "If taxes are off the table, then it means the leaders in Frankfort have decided that re-election is more important than kids and families."

To which we commented:

In what situation is it unimportant to represent your constituents? If holding the line on spending is what is desired by the citizens you represent, than it is more important than the spending you personally desire.

Well, US Representative Eric Massa (D-NY) agrees with Mr. Brooks. Instead of working to make the world better for his constituents, he pledged recently to "adamantly vote against the interests" of his district. Watch below:

Conservatives Outnumber Liberals in All 50 States

According to Gallup:

"In fact, while all 50 states are, to some degree, more conservative than liberal (with the conservative advantage ranging from 1 to 34 points), Gallup's 2009 party ID results indicate that Democrats have significant party ID advantages in 30 states and Republicans in only 4," said an analysis of the survey results published by Gallup.

"Despite the Democratic Party's political strength-- seen in its majority representation in Congress and in state houses across the country--more Americans consider themselves conservative than liberal," said Gallup's analysis.

The Races: Senate 18 - Webb Accepts Illegal Contributions

From the Herald-Leader:

Democrat Robin Webb's latest campaign finance report for a state Senate election in northeastern Kentucky contains two apparent violations of state law.

One is a $500 contribution from lobbyist Bill Caylor, executive director of the Kentucky Coal Association. The other is a $1,000 contribution from Justice Real Estate, a Lexington corporation.

State law prohibits lobbyists and corporations from contributing to a legislative campaign.

Vere Loqui points out an unfortunate irony:

It has been revealed that the campaign of Robin Webb, who is running against Dr. Jack Ditty for the vacated State Senate seat of Charlie Borders after Gov. Steve Beshear lured the anti-slots Borders away from his seat with a lucrative appointment, has illegally taken contributions from lobbyists.

One of them is Bill Caylor. But what's interesting about the Caylor contribution is not that it came from a lobbyist--that's bad enough. What no one seems to have noticed is that Webb, who has said she was the victim of domestic abuse in her failed marriage, took it from a man who was recently charged for ... domestic abuse!

August 18, 2009

Kentucky Congressmen Fail to Stand Up Against Waste

From the Club for Growth:

At a time when our national priority ought to be economic growth, House members have been busy stuffing the 2010 appropriations bills with wasteful pork projects. While Representatives John Campbell, Jeff Flake, and Jeb Hensarling offered 68 amendments to strip outrageous pork projects from the 12 annual spending bills, none of the amendments passed.

The Club for Growth has compiled a RePORK Card of all members' votes on all 68 anti-pork amendments (see below). "When given an opportunity to save taxpayer dollars and to limit spending to true national priorities, most members of Congress took a pass," said Club Executive Director David Keating. "The RePORK Card will help taxpayers measure the dedication of their representatives to changing the culture of corruption that surrounds pork-barrel spending."

How did our delegation do? Disastrously:

Member District Party

Score Ratio
Geoff Davis 4th R 29% 20/68
Ed Whitfield 1st R 6% 4/68
Brett Guthrie 2nd R 3% 2/68
Hal Rogers 5th R 3% 2/68
Ben Chandler 6th D 0% 0/59
John Yarmuth 3rd D not listed

In a time of trillion dollar deficits, Kentucky's delegation saw no harm in tacking on a few millions in pet projects for themselves, further adding to the burdensome debt to be passed on to our children. These votes reveal that that their true priority is buying reelection, not creating a more free and prosperous economy.

Health Care: Canadian Doctors Say Government-Run System 'Imploding'

Often in our health care reform debate, Canada is used as an example of what 'universal care' might look like. Here's what the Canadian Medical Association thinks about their system:

The incoming president of the Canadian Medical Association says this country's health-care system is sick and doctors need to develop a plan to cure it.

Dr. Anne Doig says patients are getting less than optimal care and she adds that physicians from across the country - who will gather in Saskatoon on Sunday for their annual meeting - recognize that changes must be made.

"We all agree that the system is imploding, we all agree that things are more precarious than perhaps Canadians realize," Doing said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

What sort of change is needed?

His thoughts on the issue are already clear. Ouellet has been saying since his return that "a health-care revolution has passed us by," that it's possible to make wait lists disappear while maintaining universal coverage and "that competition should be welcomed, not feared."

In other words, Ouellet believes there could be a role for private health-care delivery within the public system.

That's right: more competition from private enterprise.

Canadian doctors recognize that a government-centered model is a failure, let's hope our leaders pay attention.

The Races: Senate 18 News

Some more headlines from the prolific Ronnie Ellis:

Interest growing in Senate special election

Ditty, a Greenup County dermatologist, has tried to make the race about health care. Webb, a state representative who serves on the budget committee, touts her experience. Ditty opposes allowing slots at horse tracks; Webb voted for the measure in the House before it died in the Senate. The Republican Party of Kentucky is active too, running ads about Webb and questioning her values.

Earlier, we wrote about the Governor Campaigning On the Taxpayer Dime. Ellis writes:

Beshear defends appearances with Webb

"We all know what it is," Robertson said of Beshear's appearances with Webb. "This governor is looking for ways to use taxpayer dollars to create earned media for a candidate."

Roberson said Beshear should make public a detailed account of his and the First Lady's travel on behalf of Webb and Webb's campaign should reimburse the state.

Webb nearly doubles Ditty's fundraising total

Democrat Robin Webb easily outraised her Republican opponent, Dr. Jack Ditty, in the special election campaign for the 18th state Senate District. Webb pulled in $235,000 - much of it from a list of Democratic Party who's who and horse farm interests - to Ditty's $103,725.

Page One Kentucky points out:

But when you search for the special elections summary on the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance website, here's the information available: Democrat: $169,321 receipts, $168,616 disbursements. Republican: $$498,799 receipts, $474,245 disbursements.

And from Katie Brandenburg:

Work hard for Webb, Dem faithful urged

Committee chairman Marcus Woodward encouraged attendees to make calls, talk to those in neighboring counties and do whatever they could to assist in getting Webb elected.

Webb was campaigning in her district during the event, he said.

"It's one more seat in the Kentucky Senate toward getting control back from Davey Williams," Woodward said, referring to Senate President David L. Williams, R-Burkesville.

And the Courier-Journal's Joe Gerth reports:

The Democratic Party has put out a statement saying that the National Rifle Association has given state Rep. Robin Webb an A+ rating and has endorsed her for the state Senate.

August 17, 2009

Death Panels and Public Health Care

There is a great deal of uninformed discussion going on about whether "Death Panels" are a fact or fiction of the current health care reform proposals in Congress. At issue is whether the proposals would create panels with the authority to approve or deny funding for life-sustaining health care as an individual's struggle to hold on becomes more and more tenuous.

In Kentucky's Medicaid, this sort of decision currently falls into the lap of the Secretary for Health and Family Services. You probably didn't know this, but the Secretary is regularly faced with a life and death decision for an individual in critical condition. With the advice of staff doctors, the Secretary must make a decision and inform the family that, despite their hope, the state has made the decision that the illness or injury is unrecoverable and that the state will end funding care.

The fact of the matter is, if more people are on government-provided health insurance, the decision to continue care will be made by the government much more often.

President Obama doesn't want this responsibility to lie exclusively with politicians and bureaucrats. So his proposal is to place this care decision under the authority of a panel of "doctors, scientists and ethicists". From an April interview in the New York Times (towards the bottom of the page):

President Obama: If somebody told me that my grandmother couldn't have a hip replacement and she had to lie there in misery in the waning days of her life -- that would be pretty upsetting.

NY Times: And it's going to be hard for people who don't have the option of paying for it.

President Obama: So that's where I think you just get into some very difficult moral issues. But that's also a huge driver of cost, right?

I mean, the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health care bill out here.

NY Times: So how do you -- how do we deal with it?

President Obama: Well, I think that there is going to have to be a conversation that is guided by doctors, scientists, ethicists. And then there is going to have to be a very difficult democratic conversation that takes place. It is very difficult to imagine the country making those decisions just through the normal political channels. And that's part of why you have to have some independent group that can give you guidance. It's not determinative, but I think has to be able to give you some guidance. And that's part of what I suspect you'll see emerging out of the various health care conversations that are taking place on the Hill right now.

There you have it: the President's words. A panel of folks to recommend whether to continue funding health care. What do you want to call it?

August 14, 2009

Vote For June's Comrade of the Month Through Friday; Send Nominations for July and August

Last Day!

Make sure to put in your vote for June's Comrade of the Month. We're going to run the voting through Friday, and announce the winner next week.

Also, send in your nominations for July and August. We're going to combine the two months since June voting started so late, but there are many worthy nominees out there! To nominate someone, just send us an e-mail.

To read more about the 'award', visit our Comrade of the Month page.

This will remain at the top of the blog until Friday. Updates are below.

Governor Campaigning On Taxpayer Dime

Governor Beshear was handing out oversize checks in Lewis County, part of the 18th Senate district with candidate Robin Webb in tow.

At the Lewis County Courthouse in Vanceburg, Beshear said Webb had "bugged and bugged me about this (sewer) project because she knows how important this is. I need folks like Rep. Webb - there is another title I think you're trying to get, uh, as a Senator - but I've got to have people like this to work with."

In a previous administration, such a trip in the middle of a campaign and such a remark might spawn widespread public and editorial criticism. Wait for it...

...

...well, we're sure it's coming.

In another note we have some good news for the Governor. If you'd like to work with Webb, you're in luck. She's already in Frankfort, and will vote for just about any tax increase or spending increase you propose.

August 13, 2009

Yarmuth Slams Pelosi's 'Misguided' Comments

John Yarmuth, who loves Speaker Nancy Pelosi so much that he votes with her 98.8% of the time, is backpedaling hard from comments she made calling one of Louisville's biggest employers "villians" and "almost immoral". From the Courier-Journal:

"Regrettably, with passions inflamed throughout the country, Speaker Pelosi recently made inflammatory statements that assailed the character of health insurers across the board. I unequivocally reject those misguided comments," he wrote.

"Not only do such overtures distract from a constructive debate, they are simply untrue. That certain insurers have engaged in unscrupulous practices cannot be denied, but to paint an entire industry with a single stroke is unfair."

Humana "has long acted in an upstanding, thoughtful manner," the letter said. "Your employees all deserve better than to have their integrity unjustly questioned."

The paper credits Yarmuth as being responsible for Pelosi's health care message. He thinks she might word things more artfully if given the opportunity:

"Nancy's a very experienced, hard-nosed political person, and I think given the opportunity, she would rephrase what she said," he said.

Wrong!

Pelosi's office declined to respond to Yarmuth's comments but said she stands by her remarks. "The speaker was expressing the role that the insurance industry has played in health care," said spokesman Nadeam Elshami.

Sorry Louisville. Pelosi thinks your fifth-largest employer is part of her axis of evil. And your Congressman does everything he can to help her. (well, 98% of the time).

More Headlines from Senate 18

Just Two:

Webb speaks out about abuse from the Journal-Times

McConnell lends Ditty a hand in special election from the Daily Independent

Both by Ronnie Ellis

Covington's Mayor Faces Reality

Covington's City Manager Larry Klein has recommended an 11% business property tax hike because...well, we guess because he's a pro-government bureaucrat.

The issue Covington faces is this:

The value of business' personal property in Northern Kentucky's largest city dropped a whopping 26.7 percent between Jan. 1, 2008 and the same date this year, showing how deeply the economy has hit home, local officials say.

The personal property's value dipped from $217.2 million to $159.3 million through just 12 months.

You can look at this development two ways. One is the "Government First" way proposed by Mr. Klein and his city employee minions:

Klein is recommending the city increase its rate from the existing rate of $299.50 per $100,000 of real-estate value to $332.90. That would be an increase of 11.2 percent. But Covington has infrastructure and equipment needs, and its budget this year also makes no allowances for employee raises, Klein noted.

One section of city revenue dips and his first concern is whether city employees will get raises.

The other approach is to put the people of the city first, and think about businesses, jobs and paychecks. Covington Mayor Denny Bowman is putting "Taxpayers First":

Bowman, meanwhile, said he believes there should be no increase at all because many in the city are hurting. The city also is in better shape than it was a month ago when it approved its 2009-2010 spending plan, and should stick to that plan, Bowman argued.

So there you have it. Larry Klein sees one revenue stream dip and proposes a 11% tax hike to further punish struggling businesses, despite the city having higher overall revenues. A Gold Star for Mayor Bowman for having none of Klein's anti-business ideas.

August 12, 2009

Sen. Gov. Carroll: Church No Place for Public Discussion

Seriously. Julian Carroll says that a church is an awful, horrible place to hold a public forum.

From the Maysville Ledger Independent:

Now a state senator, former Gov. Julian Carroll wrote a letter to area pastors expressing his concern about a meeting to be held at Seddon United Methodist Church today addressing the impact of expanded gambling on a community. However, it was not the topic that concerned Carroll, but the venue.

"I absolutely am disturbed, greatly disturbed, over the use of a church for political purposes," Carroll said Monday in a telephone interview.

Our country's freedoms include the right to assemble just about anywhere we please, and, until comparatively recently, churches were about the best assembly places any town had to offer.

Charles Shoemaker, pastor of Seddon United Methodist Church, said the meeting is not meant to be a political statement, but an educational presentation....

Shoemaker wrote his own letter to the editor in response to Carroll's letter to local pastors. In it, he said he has a responsibility to present the truth.

"Perhaps some will want the church to be relegated to the fringes of society, but I have an obligation to speak the truth," Shoemaker wrote.

Churches are forbidden by their nonprofit status from engaging in politics, but this does not equate to the ban on speech and assembly that Gov. Sen. Carroll espouses. When someone in government authority starts telling anyone they should be careful in discussing certain policy subjects on their property, well that's startlingly oppressive.

Fortunately, when bad ideas such as Carroll's gain attention, things tend to work out:

Though Carroll's letter was critical of the meeting, Shoemaker said it did have a positive impact.

"Here I thought this forum, we'd be lucky to have 15 people," Shoemaker said. "But this letter has gotten a lot of people upset."

Shoemaker is now expecting more than 200 people to attend.

August 11, 2009

Prather Resigns As Cabinet Secretary; Offers One Good Statistic

Joe Prather has submitted his resignation as Secretary of Kentucky's Transportation Cabinet empire. Of his tenure, Governor Beshear said:

"His biggest task was to clean up that cabinet, to change the culture there, and he has accomplished that."

The Transportation Cabinet is an unwieldy thing, with its own revenue stream, 4,500 employees grouped in small sections across the state and its own budget, and Prather deserves credit just for surviving, even if he did get a bonus traffic light for his neighborhood in his early days, and is hoping to get a heavily state-financed car battery plant on property he owns.

Most of his listed "accomplishments" are political filler that are not as nearly as interesting as the fact that he leaves the cabinet without any surrounding excitement. But two deserve mention and praise:

Instituting Practical Solutions, an approach that allows the Cabinet maximize road-building dollars by pursuing the simplest and most cost-effective way to build a road while still accomplishing the desired purpose. Initiative has saved taxpayers millions of dollars in costs.

This is a great concept, in effect saying that if certain construction requirements were unnecessary, like building an adjoining sidewalk, they would be ignored. Too bad we don't really know if they did anything since they offer no specifics.

Packaging projects to cross county lines where feasible - meaning distance would not confer advantage or allow for monopolies. The result: the Department of Highways now gets 2.64 bidders per project, versus 2.14 in 2007. That's an increase of nearly 25 percent.

Increased bids are good, and achieving it through scale makes intuitive sense. While a year-on-year statistic is not really telling, it's a good idea and a good effort.

Lexington Loves Makin' Sidewalks

Fishy Statements on Healthcare Reform

Keith Hennessy is being a good citizen and sending Obama's big-brother email address some "fishy statements" he's seen about Obama's health care reform:

I sent the following email to flag@whitehouse.gov this morning.

From: Keith Hennessey
Sent: Tuesday, August 11, 2009 7:47 AM
To: flag@whitehouse.gov
bcc: surveil@fbi.gov; bigbro@dhs.gov; patriot.act@nsa.gov; anon6427@dni.gov

Subject: Fishy statements about health care reform

The Honorable Linda Douglass
Communications Director
Health Reform Office
The White House

Dear Ms. Douglass:

I write in response to the request posted on the White house blog, "Facts are stubborn things."

If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.gov .

I call to your attention several fishy statements about health care reform legislation made by a gentleman named Dr. Douglas Elmendorf. He claims to be Director of the "Congressional Budget Office" and has posted frequently about health care reform on his website, cbo.gov. This information takes the form of personal posts on his Director's Blog, as well as in-depth reports that have the veneer of competent, thorough, impartial professional analysis. The IP address of his site is 206.106.246.254, and his organization has named their hideout the "Ford House Office Building."

Elmendorf appears to have several hundred followers in his organization, which has extraordinary influence over many in Congress. I understand that some right-wing Members of Congress support and even vote for his annual funding source.

CBO and Elmendorf make extraordinary claims about bills moving through Congress that attempt to implement the President's plans for health care reform. I bring them to your attention so that you can refute them. I have included these allegations below.

Continue reading the CBO's "fishy statements" here.

August 10, 2009

Paper's Blind Eye to Government Spending

The Herald-Leader has run a great series of articles and editorials examining the use of Kentucky tax dollars at quasi-public organizations. They've examined the Kentucky League of Cities, the Kentucky Association of Counties, and the Lexington Public Library. It all started with the board of the Bluegrass Airport.

This is all important and good work, but it's really beating around the bushes. The biggest wasteful spender of Kentucky tax dollars is the government itself, and the only opinion the paper seems to have of that 'organization' is that it needs more tax dollars to spend (not to mention more things to control).

The paper's had a good warmup with the investigations of the little 'leagues'. Now it's time for some major-league reporting on, say, the $4.5 billion we spend annually on P-12 education...

Beshear's Interesting Cabinet Shuffle

Last week, Governor Beshear announced that some senior members of his administration were shifting posts.

Larry Hayes, who was Beshear's Secretary of the Executive Cabinet was officially named the Secretary of Economic Development. Hayes had been the 'interim' Economic Development Secretary. Apparently Hayes beat out two other finalists, although the resumes of those individuals seem to suggest that few were interested in the high-profile job.

A few years ago, a lack of applicants for leadership of the Council on Postsecondary Education was suggested to mean that no one wanted to work for a lame governor...

Second, Governor Beshear named Budget Director Mary Lassiter to fill Hayes' former role as Secretary of the Executive Cabinet. This is an interesting development because Lassiter will remain the Budget Director.

Cabinet Secretaries generally have a tense relationship with the state budget office, as the budget office is often the 'bad cop' in budget discussions, telling the cabinets what they are not going to be able to spend on the one hand, and often putting up fights when a cabinet wants to innovate on the other. The budget director is usually a single but weighty voice of input when the governor makes policy decisions.

Now, the budget director is in direct authority over all the cabinets.

The new dual-role is also a departure because the role of the budget office is an independent, apolitical accounting of the state's finances. The Secretary of the Executive Cabinet is the Governor's chief policy-maker, directly answerable to implement the governor's political agenda.

It may be interesting to see how these roles are reconciled, or it may just prove what we've expected all along: when a tax-and-spend Democrat is in charge, recommendations of 'independent' agencies of the government and the political agenda of the governor are one-in-the-same.

August 7, 2009

Vote for June's Kentucky Comrade of the Month

We're going to leave this up here at the top of the blog to remind you to vote!

Updated posts start below.

The Races: Senate 18 - All Six Living Democrat Governors to Raise Funds

From the C-J:

Gov. Steve Beshear and all six living Democratic former governors are scheduled to attend a fundraiser for state Rep. Robin Webb's campaign for the Senate Friday night in Lexington.

Invitations to the event at Bakers 360, formerly the Lafayette Club, say that Beshear, Paul Patton, Brereton Jones, Martha Layne Collins, John Y. Brown Jr., Julian Carroll and Wendell Ford plan to attend, along with current Democrats in the state Senate.

The rare gathering of all living Democratic former governors for Webb's campaign is the latest sign of the importance that state political leaders of both parties are placing on the Aug. 25 special election to fill the vacancy in the 11th state Senate district.

Remember when Perry Clark resigned his House seat to run in a special Senate election?

Rep. Webb isn't so confident is she?

Rand Paul gets flack for announcing his candidacy in New York. Should Webb be criticized for having to go outside her district to Lexington?

Down Economy Makes Nigerian Scammers Work Harder

Off topic a bit...we tried to make it relate to the topics we cover, but just a bizarre article...

Worldwide Slump Makes Nigeria's Online Scammers Work That Much Harder

Succeeding in the midst of a worldwide economic meltdown? That, he said, takes even firmer resolve.

"We are working harder. The financial crisis is not making it easy for them over there," said Banjo, 24, speaking about Americans, whose trust he has won and whose money he has fleeced, via his Dell laptop. "They don't have money. And the money they don't have, we want."

Banjo is a polite young man in a button-down shirt, and he is the sort of guy on the other end of that block-lettered missive requesting your "URGENT ASSISTANCE" in transferring millions of dollars. He is the sort who made Nigeria infamous for cyberscams, which experts say are increasing in these tough times.

U.S. authorities say Americans -- the easiest prey, according to Nigerian scammers -- lose hundreds of millions of dollars a year to cybercrimes, including a scheme known as the Nigerian 419 fraud, named for a section of the Nigerian criminal code. Now financially squeezed, Americans succumb even more easily to offers of riches, experts say.

August 5, 2009

Charter School Bill Filed

For people who think competition benefits education in areas beyond the sweet sixteen, there is good news. Taxpayer champion Rep. Stan Lee (2008 Rank #2) has introduced a bill to allow charter schools in Kentucky.

If the legislation advances, Kentucky may become the 46th state to allow some type of school choice. That's right, school choice is another "We're number 46!" stat for our commonwealth.

Believing Kentucky students desperately need more options, State Rep. Stan Lee has prefiled Bill Request 115, which would authorize the establishment of charter schools in the Commonwealth.

Charter schools are public schools that operate free of over-regulation, including teacher union demands.

This bill is especially timely given the recent passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), which has as one of its objectives investment in education through a competitive grant program.

Only states with enacted charter school legislation are eligible to compete for these funds and to this end, Lee is taking the necessary steps to ensure Kentucky's eligibility for this funding, and thereby more education opportunity for our children.

[snip]

Representative Lee added, "Kentucky is one of only ten states without a charter school law and our students' test scores and graduation percentages consistently rank towards the bottom in national ratings. Is there a possible correlation?"

From kypost via kywordsmith

How Kentucky Retirement Systems Works

A few years ago, Kentucky Retirement Systems (KRS) engaged in a land deal that was dubious at best and criminal at worst. Mike Burnside inherited it when he took over as executive director, and disposed of the entire deal as efficiently as possible.

On the heels of an audit of the deal by the Finance and Administration Cabinet, it seems people are finally starting to notice that the KRS is run so poorly...

If KRS can't handle a simple land deal next to its headquarters, how confident should the public be in its more complicated investments, asked Christopher Tobe, a Louisville-based investment adviser to other pension funds and a former investment specialist at the state auditor's office.

"I literally think that our financial statements in this fiasco have been works of fiction," Tobe said. "I'm a trustee, and I have very little confidence in this system and its management."

Tobe said he was frustrated to find at least 14 documents cited by the auditors -- mostly e-mail exchanges between KRS officials -- that he didn't know existed, despite his requests to review records related to the property purchase.

"Even on the board, we get stonewalled when we ask for information," Tobe said.

Still, ridiculous apologists abound:

Board Chairman Randy Overstreet disagreed and said relevant documents are available to trustees.

It would be unfair to tarnish the pension system because of "a one-of-a-kind issue," Overstreet added.

Read the report, then email your legislator to ask how apologists like Overstreet are allowed to be put in positions responsible for administering such a large portion of our tax dollars.

August 4, 2009

The Races: Senate 18 - Updates

The latest news on the special election for the 18th Senate district:

Dr. Jack Ditty receives the endorsement of doctors from across the commonwealth.

Kentucky Physicians PAC (KPPAC), the political action arm of the Kentucky Medical Association, has announced its support for Doctor Jack Ditty, in his quest to represent Kentucky's 18th Senate District. Commenting on the decision for support, KPPAC Chairman Thomas E. Bunnell, MD, said, "Jack Ditty has been a leader in the practice of medicine and healthcare delivery for nearly 30 years. Considering healthcare is the most pressing issue facing our nation right now, we need Jack's leadership in Frankfort to ensure patient care comes first."

Congressman Geoff Davis cuts radio ad for Ditty

Special Senate race will draw big bucks

In the first days of his campaign for an open Senate seat, Republican Jack Ditty raised $26,720, according to a finance report he filed Thursday. But that's just a small part of the hundreds of thousands of dollars from across the state that Ditty and Democratic Rep. Robin Webb -- who had not begun fundraising during the period covered by her report -- are likely to raise given the high stakes for both political parties.

Horse industry leaders form political committee

Most contributions to Bluegrass Freedom were from casino and horse interests that favored Beshear's endorsement of expanding legal gambling in Kentucky. And those contributions were big, including $1million from a Northern Kentucky casino developer.

Neely said it is "probable" the new group will advertise in northeast Kentucky during the pending Senate race, but he said he did not know how much it might raise or spend. He stressed that the new group was created for the long term and had not yet raised any money.

Dr. Ditty introduces himself to Maysville

Republican candidate Dr. Jack Ditty of Greenup County was the guest speaker at the Maysville Rotary Club's weekly meeting and spoke briefly about himself, his family and how it came about that he is seeking political office.

Ditty raises $26,700 for special election

In addition to the possibility of improving the odds for expanded gambling's passage, Democrats want to take back control of the state Senate or at least to unseat Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville. During his 2007 campaign for governor, Beshear promised to "take back the Senate" after he was elected governor.

That should draw interest and involvement from party activists and interests like those who showed up in Ditty's campaign report.

The next report is due on Friday, Aug. 10. That's the last campaign report candidates must file before the election. Two others are filed after the election.

Webb makes rounds

Webb said she and other elected officials from northeastern Kentucky have taken a regional approach to government, working together for mutual interests.

"There's really no party line," she said. "There's really no county line."

Webb said she's a fiscal conservative who represents a district that's Republican by history and voter registration.

She also highlighted her experience working with the budget.

Lucas to Campaign

State Rep. Robin Webb will kick off her campaign for State Senate District 18 this Saturday, Aug. 1, with the help of former three-term Congressman Ken Lucas.

Lucas represented Kentucky's 4th Congressional District, which contains Kentucky Senate District 18, from 1998 to 2004. Lucas will join Webb at the Old Court House Yard in Maysville from 11 a.m. to noon, according to a statement from the Kentucky Democratic Party. Lucas is also a former Boone County judge-executive.

"I'm glad to see Robin running for State Senate," said Lucas. "I got to know northeastern Kentucky during my time in Congress and I know it needs to be well-represented in Frankfort. Robin is just the person for the job."

More From Fancy Farm

Some links you may want to check out:

The West Kentucky Journal of Politics has a good collection of pictures from the picnic.

KyWordSmith.com has a top ten list of things you would have seen.

Also, KyWordSmith collects the impressions of several Western Kentucky Republicans of whether we are in store for another wasteful special session later this year.

Ft. Mitchell Tax Increase Forum

Live in Ft. Mitchell and enjoy unnecessary tax increases? Here's your chance to express your pleasure (or displeasure.)

From Kenton County Connects:

Fort Mitchell will hold a public hearing on August 18 to discuss a proposed tax increase for real property within the city.

The city's 2008 tax rate was $1.47 for every $1,000 of valuation of real property, which produced $887, 038 in revenue. The proposed tax rate is $1.51 for every $1,000 of valuation of real property, and the expected revenue would be $924,972.67. The proposed tax rate exceeds the compensating rate as defined by the Kentucky Revised Stautes.

Under the 2008 tax rate, the owner of a $100,000 home paid $147. Under the proposed 2009 rate, the owner would pay $151, for a $4 increase.

The public hearing will be August 18 at 7 p.m. in the council chambers of the city building, located at 2355 Dixie Highway. For more information, contact the city at 331-1212.

So the increase is on top of a surplus, it's above the required compensating rate, and it will fund a large parks budget.

No wonder Mayor Tom Holocher was nominated as a Comrade of the Month.

August 3, 2009

Politics and Looneys at Fancy Farm

UPDATED 3:40. Listen to speeches here. More quotes after the jump.

Candidates to replace retiring Senator Jim Bunning made some speeches at Fancy Farm this weekend. Some were typical politics, and some people sounded like crazy loons.

Below are all the quotes we've collected from various news stories, from speeches at Fancy Farm and presentations elsewhere during the weekend. We offer only direct quotes available in the news (and hybrid direct-indirect quotes), without context. If you want to watch the speeches, the Herald-Leader has them online. You can sort out which are the crazies for yourself:

Jack Conway

"But just like Wendell used to say: 'Go ahead and chew on my hide. Chew on it. It only grows back tougher, and I've been around for a while, and you're looking at one tough son of a b****."

"Daniel, you may be an ear, nose and throat doctor, but you've misdiagnosed me. Because when it comes to me, you can't hear the truth, you can't smell the truth and you sure as hell can't speak the truth."

Trey Grayson

"The only thing stimulated is the unemployment rate."

"But that's a liberal for you. They'd rather punish hard-working Kentuckians than force China or India to deal with their own environmental records."

He said a better idea would be to cap federal spending and trade "this bunch in Washington for some people who understand that we can't tax our way to prosperity."

"I'm a candidate who draws support from all segments of the Republican Party."

He said Kentucky Republicans face a "tremendous burden we owe the rest of the country to keep the seat in Republican hands."

Rand Paul

He said if there is one bi-partisan trait, "I would say it is hypocrisy." He said there are Republicans who wear family values on their shirts sleeves but run off to Argentina with a mistress while there are Democrats "who tell us to pay our fair share of taxes, and yet lo and behold, when they're appointed to high office, they can't seem to pay their own taxes."

He said Republicans "promised to balance the budget and they doubled the size of the debt when they were in charge. Democrats promised to help the working class, and yet lo and behold when the bank bailout passed, there were multi-million dollar bonuses put in the bill because of (Democratic) Sen. (Chris) Dodd."

"He's kind of against it a little bit and he's kind of for it a little bit." He said Kentucky needs a "new leader, you need an outsider."

"The Republican Party is an empty vessel. We have to imbue it with beliefs. You're going to have to decide who's going to lead your party."

Dan Mongiardo

"I certainly wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth. In the Senate, I'm going to stand up and fight for the people who eat barbecue with a fork, not caviar with a silver spoon."

Bill Johnson

"There's no reason for us to be mean at this point. We pretty much agree on the issues."

He said terrorism is real and the country must remain vigilant. He said his job now is to fight "domestic enemies," and someone in the crowd shouted out "Obama." Johnson responded: "Obama is one of them."

"But the entire Democratic Party is a one-party wrecking crew on our economy. They're trying to get into our lives, they're trying to take over our lives. I'm going to stand up and fight back."

Darlene Fitzgerald Price

She said "crony campaign financing" has led to congressional representatives being bought by special interests, by the "bigs - big oil, big banks, big pharmaceutical companies and big insurance companies." She said she will not take "one thin dime from the bigs."

"Most of our politicians on capitol hill, if they were Nascar, they would have to wear their sponsors on their suits."

Maurice Sweeney

"Why don't we just have one Republican in Washington and that takes care of all the rest of them because they don't seem to have any original idea of their own?"

Jack Conway

Mongiardo has has "a record of showing up. That's a record of going to work and delivering for you."

"You all can holler all you want at me and I can hear you."

"If I seem a little tired, I come by it honestly."

"We need to return to fiscal responsibility. We need to focus on education."

Trey Grayson

"You all will love being parents. The good news is that babies eventually sleep regularly. The even better news is that after November 2010, you will have plenty of time to spend with your newborns."

"Cap and trade" legislation is "a new energy tax levied every time you start your car or flip on a light switch. It's anti-coal, and it's anti-Kentucky."

"I'm a legitimate 6′5."

"Some people in college tried pot. I tried Clinton."

"I am a conservative."

"It's clear we need a real check and balance. I am confident that we are going to keep this seat in conservative hands next November because Kentucky knows better!"

Rand Paul

"He spoke for 20 minutes and I still have no idea where he stands on cap and trade. He's kind of against it a little bit, and he's kind of for it a little bit, but he's not quite certain, and he wants to keep his powder dry."

"I do oppose new taxes. I do oppose new government programs."

"He will have to speak on being a Democrat."

"I pledge on any appropriation bill, to reduce it by whatever percentage it needs to be reduced by to balance the budget. If we're 20% over budget, I will vote to reduce and vote to..."

Dan Mongiardo

"He chooses to fight for the silver-spoon issues preferred by the champagne and caviar crowd."

"We want to protect the environment. Without putting a tax on coal."

Bill Johnson

"A country in debt, can't be a free country."

"Washington is getting far into our lives."

"I feel a responsibility to everyone to make our country great, and I am able and willing to serve as your senator."

Maurice Sweeney

"I don't know about you, but down on the farm a man's word was as good as his handshake."

I'm "a conservative Democrat."..."What does that mean? I bought this tie at Wal-Mart."


Ky. jobless rate hits 11 percent - Courier-Journal...

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The KY Club for Growth seeks principled candidates who are committed to the following:

* Free market principles
* Lowering taxes
* Reducing spending
* Decreasing the size of government
* Judicial reform
* Protecting property rights
* Expanding school choice
* Reducing needless regulation

We will hold endorsed candidates accountable for these principles by monitoring each candidate on a vote-by-vote basis. As a Club member, you will receive candidate monitoring updates and scorecards on a regular basis. Join us today.