Monday, December 20, 2010

How about a little justice, Judge?

I do not believe in the death penalty..not even for an horrendous criminal, such as Cecil New..but that is not my subject today.

New pled guilty in Louisville to the kidnapping, sexual assault, and murder of a 4 year old boy. Judge Judith McDonald-Burkman sentenced him to life in prison, calling it even harsher than the death penalty..and issuing a thinly disguised belief, if not an outright challenge, for "prison justice" to do what she decided not to do.

As reported by the Courier-Journal, Judge McDonald-Burkman said.."He will fear for his life every day"...surrounded by "bigger, meaner men who have nothing to lose." And, she added.."Living outside of death row, in general prison population, in fear of prison justice every day is a hell more suited to you, Mr. New, than living under the protective guise of death row."

Of course, "prison" justice is not justice..and the state corrections commissioner got the judge's drift, issuing a statement that the department "in no way condones any type of inmate retaliation or vigilante justice."

But that is exactly what I suspect we will soon get..those "bigger, meaner men" don't like other men who prey on little boys. So stand by for New's murder in prison, with the likelihood no one will ever be convicted of his murder, plus extra expenses to taxpayers from this judge's extraordinary comments.

New's life term is justice for the little boy he killed, but in suggesting, maybe even urging "prison justice" for him makes a mockery of our judicial system. If New is killed in prison, can this judge be charged with being an accessory before the fact???

I'm just sayin'.....

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bah! Humbug!

"On the first day of Christmas,
The advertising's there, with
Newspaper ads, billboards too,
Business Christmas cards,
And commercials on a pear tree."

Just a sample of Stan Freberg's glorious satire of the Christmas Commercial Season from his inspired "Green Christmas" song of 1958..a song some radio stations refused to play, and some advertisers refused to pay if their spots ran within five minutes of the song's broadcast.

(In another life, working as both radio dj and newsman, I made sure I played the song on the station where I worked.)

When I came to WKYT and did commentaries for them, I tracked how early Christmas decorations appeared in Lexington stores. One year it was on Sept 10th.

Freberg's satire is set in a fictional advertising agency, headed by a certain Mr. Scrooge, who urges all his clients to take advantage of the season. In a dated reference, he applauds a client's "magazine ads showing cartons of your cigarettes peeking out of the top of Santa's sack." This year we've gone that one better an eager aide responds: "we have him smoking one."

Soon a chorus breaks in:

"Deck the halls with advertising,
Tis the time for merchandising,
Profit never needs a reason,
Get the money, it's the season."

And a little later:

"We wish you a Merry Christmas,
We wish you a Merry Christmas,
We wish you a Merry Christmas,
And please buy our beer."

(By the way, am I the only one who thinks it incongruous, to put it mildly, that there are Salvation Army kettles outside liquor stores?)

When one small client objects...guy named Bob Cratchet..urging the rest to "remember..whose birthday we're celebrating", Scrooge replies.."Don't get me wrong. The story of Christmas, in it's simplicity, is a good's just that we know a good thing when we see it."

If you truly want to see a "good thing", buy the Courier-Journal on December 24th. For years that paper has run Hugh Haynie's award winning cartoon about the true meaning of this season. I hope the paper won't let me down this year; we need his approach more than ever, especially when my Sunday paper contained an ad for one of the "hot" gifts for 8 year olds, at a mere $130.

Television deserves special mention for driving parents batty, for causing repeated gift requests from small fry for the latest "hot" toy, but let it be noted, as a recent Washington Post story put also repeats "A Charlie Brown Christmas", whose corporate sponsors never balked at including Biblical passages. The story quotes producers that "Linus' reading from the Book of Luke...(is) ..the most magical two minutes in all of tv animation."

I just may be slightly biased. Including great aunts and cousins, four members of my family were born on December 25..including myself.

On their behalf, and my own..and especially His, may I wish you the true Joy of this Christmas season, which does not come wrapped in colored paper and ribbons, but in the heart.

I'm just sayin'....

Monday, December 6, 2010

Timing is everything..and it's not the time!

I admire Mitch Barnhart, think he's been a good Athletics Director for the University of Kentucky. He's made some good calls..bringing in Coach Calipari, standing behind Coach Brooks when it was not popular, elevating Coach Phillips, and he's entitled to a major boo-boo...Billy G.

But this is not the time to expand Commonwealth Stadium, and not just because of the economy. A great stadium does not produce a great football team; it goes the other way. Do what we need to elevate our team's stature in the SEC and then the time may be ripe for a stadium expansion.

The idea he has for a new downtown arena replacing Rupp is even worse. Rupp may well need some tweaking and modernizing...probably does. But a new arena? Meadow Muffins! (especially when the real idea is, let's face it, to add sky boxes---and not for all those true Cat fans who have a hard time affording regular tickets.)

Mayor Newberry's administration did the right thing in calling off this idea. And I don't care a fig for the oft-stated UK rationale that the athletic department foots most of the bill, or the Good Old Boy Donors will. UK needs other things far more: increased faculty salaries, repairs and maintenance, labs, student aid, etc.

(And as a Lexington citizen, and UK sports supporter, I neither want added taxes for any part of a new arena, nor the disruption any such construction must inevitably cause. Lexington needs other things far more: improved sewers, better traffic flow, a planned tree program, etc.)

So, Mr. Barnhart, No Thanks. Not now. Not even if the economy improves (which, barring a new war or similar disaster, it time) Not even when we win the Final Four, which we time.

Timing is often everything...or a big part of everything...and the time is just not now for expanding Commonwealth Stadium or a new downtown arena.

Go Cats!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Echoes and Omens of the Forgotten War

As the "Forgotten War" on the Korean Peninsula heats up, and Sarah Palin proved that point last week by referring several times to North Korea as "our ally" ..I was reminded of a recent Kentucky news item. In September, Sgt. Charles Whitler was buried in his hometown of Cloverport..after being missing in action for sixty years!

He died in the Korean war in 1950. His body was found during a brief lull in our relations with North Korea a few years ago, and DNA testing recently confirmed his identity.

Will there be new Kentuckians, new Sgt. Whitlers to buried in the months ahead? As I write this, it's too early to tell, but let us hope sanity will allow both sides to avoid continuing armed conflict.

If we don't, kiss any chance to reduce the deficit goodbye. War, that topic so studiously avoided in the recent election campaign, must be addressed by both parties if either, and especially Republicians, are to make good on reducing the deficit. Forget the medicare-medicaid problems, the alleged social security imbalance, the entitlements debate...all peanuts compared to the one trillion, with a "t", cost of Iraq and Afghanistan.

If Mitch and Ben want to trim the deficit, let them address the war.

They might start with a recent book,"Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War" by Andrew Bacevich--a West Pointer, retired colonel, and Vietnam vet. For all too many years, he argues, America has lived by the doctrine that only we can "lead, save, liberate and ultimately transform the world." His "Washington Rules" can be read as being the same "military-industrial complex" that Eisenhower warned against in his farewell address.

Col. Bacevich proposes America should always live the freedoms we espouse at home, but not try to promote it through military action abroad. Set the world an example here (and we have much work to do to perfect our own democracy) before we start nation building elsewhere based on our own flawed example.

We just might trim the deficit in the process. And stop a few more Kentucky families from not knowing the fate of their loved ones for another sixty years.

I'm just sayin'....

Monday, November 22, 2010

I am a tree hugger.

My house is surrounded by different varieties, and as those old pin oaks have declined over the years--one of which fell on my house in a storm, I have replaced them with new ones.

I support the PDR program..Purchase of Development Rights, which allows the LFUCG to pay land owners to set aside land so it can be maintained in its natural state. I suspect this program has worked well.


When the PDR was introduced it was, admittedly, a radical concept. It had not been done in Kentucky before, actually in very few states then. Kentucky has a conservative judiciary. I thought then, and I think now, we need a friendly suit to test the PDR program in our courts.

What worries me is that, down the road, some new heir to land his parents set aside 20 years earlier will sue ... knowing if he wins, that land can be sold to developers for mucho dinero. IF they win, what happens? How do we protect the rest? How many more suits will be filed? Are we taxpayers entitled to a rebate on our taxes spent for this now outlawed program? I see many questions raised, and serious ones.

Let's set these possibilities aside, so we may continue the PDR program. Our new city administration should institute a suit to, once and for all, settle this important issue..and I'm seldom in favor of friendly lawsuits..but trees (and preserving our blue grass landscape) are worth it.

I'm just sayin...

Monday, November 15, 2010

We're number, uh, three!

And that's no compliment, because Kentucky is third among all states in providing guns used in crimes in other states. Why? A report to a group of mayors says its because we have few laws controlling guns.

Now, before the NRA gets het up, there are all sorts of laws here, from very minor to very stringent. We don't have any of the ten possible laws examined in the report; not even a law that provides a penalty for someone who buys a gun for someone else who can't buy one legally; such as an underage person, a felon, or mentally impaired. (Have we forgotten the massacre at Virginia Tech?)

So while a 12 year old or a felon can't buy an AK47, there is nothing to stop someone else for doing it for them. That's a pretty obvious law we ought to have, if nothing else. But three members of the General Assembly think that's too much; they even want Kentucky exempt from all federal gun laws--which is undoubtedly unconstitutional and has been held so in the one case that has come to a court test so far. Yet that approach has been passed by eight states, including Tennessee. It hasn't gotten out of committee in Frankfort so far, but they plan to try again next year.

Why is it not possible to pass some minimal, sane laws (such as the one suggested above) without everyone hitting the panic button, shouting Second Amendment, or NRA Forever???

I own a gun; I believe in the people's right to bear arms, but there are limits. We haven't been able to buy or use machine guns for years. No one, not even the NRA seems to object to that, yet AK47s may well be the new Tommy Gun, and our laws need to be updated.

If we don't, then Kentucky has no kick-back when other states ship in weapons used to kill our citizens; just as we, unfortunately, are doing that to so many in other states right now.

As the report points out, many people believe that more guns lead to less crime, but actually, in Kentucky's case, the absence of some laws regulating guns leads to more trafficking in guns, and more crime; not less.

This is something I don't want my state to be number one in, or even number three.

I'm Just Sayin...


I am indebted to the Courier-Journal for bringing this recent report to my attention. If you want to read about these crime guns go to:

Monday, November 8, 2010


Our recent election has been characterized by many as against the establishment in Washington (and Frankfort). More than just "throw the rascals out" was "throw them all out."

I'd like to suggest another was also against the party establishment.

A few years ago, when the Dems in Frankfort couldn't find anyone to take on Jim Bunning, Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo stepped up, and, surprise!, darn near won. (Had it not been for some sleazy GOP statements implying he was gay, he probably would have won).

Fast forward and the Grand Master of the Grand Old Party, Sen. Mitch McConnell, forces Bunning out. (Thanks, Jim, for all your service. Oh, you already have a watch.) He picks Trey Grayson to run, as the Establishment anoints.

This laying on of hands didn't sit well with the ultra-right wing of the party, and Rand Paul decides to run. He wins --handily, as the voters decide to buck the Republican Establishment. Mitch swallows hard and backs the tea partier –albeit late in the campaign.

On the other side, Mongiardo runs again. He should have had the thanks and backing of the Democratic Establishment for his earlier valiant run, but no. They anoint Jack Conway. Thanks to establishment backing, Conway narrowly wins in the primary.

Now it's General Election time. Conway runs a bad campaign. Could Lt. Gov. Dan have done better? We'll never know for sure. But look at the Jefferson county vote, Conway's home county. He carries it narrowly. Mongiardo carried it big time when he ran against Bunning. These days, if you're a Democrat and you don't carry Jefferson and Fayette by big margins, you seldom win statewide.

So, one way to view the Kentucky returns this election year is as a repudiation of the party establishments--both of them.

Will they get the message?

Do woodchucks really chuck wood?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Statesmen are but dead politicians

Some wag said (that) years ago, but I don't agree. There have been many true statesmen in our history, including some still alive in our own times (A question I asked long time CBS Washington reporter Roger Mudd when he was at the Frankfort Book Fair last year. He had his own list, not the same as mine, but my point is they do exist, even today.)

But perhaps the most famous of all Kentucky statesmen, whose wisdom and experience we could most certainly use today is Lexington's own Henry Clay. Born in Virginia, he moved here as a young man, practiced law, and was elected first to the House and then the Senate in Washington.

His career there gave luster to his adopted state; and as "The Great Compromiser", staved off the Civil War for years. It happened after his death; leading to endless historic speculation whether America would have avoided that dreadful conflict had Clay lived.

That question I can not solve. I can resolve once again to read more about Clay, and there are some excellent books I can recommend to all of you as well.

The latest which the critics have been applauding is by a husband and wife team: David and Jeanne Heidler's "Henry Clay: The Essential American." A slightly older book which I always liked was Robert Remini's "Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union".

I have always admired, even more, one of Clay's contemporaries--Daniel Webster, probably because of S. V. Benet's short story and a fine movie of the same title "The Devil and Daniel Webster." If you want to cast a wider net, read "The Great Triumvirate: Webster, Clay and Calhoun" by M. D. Peterson.

Do not assume Clay is ancient history. You may now read his speeches to the House and Senate in a Kindle electronic edition, for a magnificent price of $1. Money well worth spending if you have a Kindle.

What we all do have in Lexington and Central Kentucky is Henry Clay's estate, Ashland, well worth a visit if you have not done so, and his legacy, which our current Kentucky and American office holders might well emulate if they wish to become not just politicians, but true statesmen.

I’m Just Sayin’…

Monday, October 25, 2010

Religion and Politics Don't Mix Well-Nor Should They

A few thoughts about Religion in our Politics:

In 1960 in West Virginia, I covered one of the most important presidential primaries in our history, that of John F. Kennedy versus Hubert Humphrey; the "primary that made a president" as some have dubbed it. For in a state that was at that time 95% Protestant, the Catholic Kennedy won overwhelmingly.

Some thought that had put the issue of religious intolerance to rest; it hadn't, but it helped. JFK fought religious discrimination in almost every primary after that, but its importance as a campaign issue was diminishing. His eloquent speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association was replayed throughout the nation during his fall campaign.

Here's an excerpt, and a point he made being overlooked today..."I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute; where no Catholic prelate would tell the President--should he be Catholic--how to act, and NO PROTESTANT MINISTER WOULD TELL HIS PARISHIONERS FOR WHOM TO VOTE.."

Ironically, in the years since, we have grown more tolerant of Catholic candidates; there have been a slew for President after all, with hardly an outcry from anyone....but we have had a slew and a half of Protestant ministers telling their parishioners how to vote; especially ministers from the religious right.

To me, this is just as intolerant as those who opposed JFK because some (quite wrongly) thought his Catholicism threatened our democracy.

Is religion important in a person's life? Of course it is. Should it matter in an election campaign? 99% of the time, I say no.

I am appalled by the extent and manner in which religion has been injected into our Senatorial campaign--by both sides. In the voting booth I will cast a vote on the issue stands both men have stated-- not "Paul believes in Aqua Buddha" or "Conway is challenging my faith."

In that way I hope to give this type of Religion In Politics another type of R.I.P.

I’m Just Sayin…..

Monday, October 18, 2010

A few thoughts now about the UK presidency.

A few thoughts now about the UK presidency.

One, I think Dr. Todd has made a good president, and am sorry he has decided to resign. I wish he could be persuaded to stay on.

Two, I do not favor hiring a search firm to assist the board of trustees in finding his replacement. Such firms often are a waste money, and fail to do their jobs properly, because some suspect they are "head-hunting" for other groups at the same time; a conflict of interest in my book.

Let's remember the fiasco of only a few years ago in the search for a new state Commissioner of Education--or whatever the exact title was then-- when the firm failed to do its job of checking applicants' past history, had to go back and search again, and I think, was later sued by the state for its miserable job performance. (Lexington had similar problems finding a new library head.)

Now, each firm shouldn't necessarily be judged by that bad one but...

Three, I think members of the board, Dr. Todd himself, and top administration officials ought to know who a half dozen or so of the best candidates are already, without the use and expense of such a search firm. That, in my opinion, is part of their job.

Besides, I'll make the search a quick one.

Hire back Dr. David Roselle.

At least on an interim basis to give the search extra time, if not permanently. Now, I seriously doubt that he would take the job, given the way he was treated by the the state government and UK when he was president before, but he certainly earned my respect--and went right out of UK to the highest paid university presidency in the nation in a much bigger state, Delaware.

He's retired now, but only 70 or so (the "new 50.") Probably very happy in his new life, but some of us can dream.

The rest of the university family may put their faith in a "national search firm", but I am not one of them.

"I'm just sayin"

Monday, October 11, 2010

Negative Ads Do & Don't Work

"Negative ads DON'T work": political consultant A.

Negative ads DO work": political consultant B.

Both are right--unfortunately.

Negative ads, those that attack an opponent's views, rather than putting your own views forward, predominate in the 2 major campaigns in this area: Conway versus Paul, Barr versus Chandler; to my intense regret. These guys should know better, and we voters certainly deserve better.

But since both are taking the negative ad approach--and one will win--ergo, for one candidate, negative ads work (and for the other, they don't). Drat!

May I make a modest proposal?

In future races, after the primary, can the candidates get together, perhaps with the help of an objective third party, such as the League of Women Voters, and agree on a few major issues that all candidates should address--issues the voters have a right to know where the candidates stand. Let Rand Paul pick 3 issues which Jack Conway MUST answer in their debates, and in the ads Conway runs on tv. Conversely, let Jack Conway pick 3 other issues which Rand Paul MUST answer in his ads and debates. Things such as: cap and trade, Bush tax cuts, the war in Afghanistan, health care, extending the Patriot Act, and so on. If Paul doesnt like Conway's answer on tax cuts, he can state his own position in a reply ad.

This does not completely rule out negative ads, darn it, but at least we will know where they stand on important issues, and not just in ads that attack the other.

Who knows? Maybe we will learn that "positive ads work!"

I'm Just Sayin'

Monday, October 4, 2010

Danger Will Robinson! Danger Coach Cal!

OK: the skinny lady has sung and the NCAA says it won't investigate the Eric Bledsoe case.

Lucky us; no telling what they might have found.

The one official probe into his Birmingham grades was unable to prove problems..emphasis on "prove." Grades were changed, and the teacher asserted his right not to say why. What little he did say the probe found "not credible." Another principal said he would "go to my grave" without answering other pertinent questions. Grade books, which by law were to be kept for there years, were missing. (In fairness the school where they were kept was closed and things do happen when major closing like that happen, things just aren't kept.)

So, those who hate the Cats can say, "see, we told you!" with justification. And Cat fans can say "Nothing was proven", with equal justification.

But this entire "one and done" approach by Coach Cal bothers me because that approach increases the possibility of things like the Eric Bledose case happening. When you're in-and-out in a hurry (in UK, out NBA) someone is always interested in cutting corners to make quick cash, knowing that the odds are as fully exemplified in Eric's case..the infractions won't be caught in time.

Ah, time.

Cat fans want another Final Four championship and many have embraced Coach Cal's approach as a way to win it. He's obviously a great coach; he also holds the record for the only coach to have two Final Four appearances wiped from the record books due to player ineligibility.

What irony it would be if UK wins some future Final Four, only to have the NCAA forfeit our win because some "one and done" player's grade books were found, and oh boy, what they showed!

Surely the NCAA wouldn't forfeit the championship game. (Surely they wouldn't forfeit the Heisman trophy; surely.)

Surely, the NCAA wouldn't "spring" for eliminating UK from that "field."


"I'm Just Sayin'"...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Republicans Should Get Credit For These Good Ideas

I know it's somewhat simplistic--but I like it.

The idea of House Republicans in Frankfort that legislators must forfeit their pay for a special session if they fail to pass the budget in a regular session.

That would bring pressure on both parties to get the budget done; their major work in a regular session. It should also bring about better planning, and better co-ordination between the governor and the legislature..sometimes a reason why a special session is needed in the first place.

But there's also egos and stubborness involved here. (I marvel at how Sen. David Williams keeps his crew in line vote after vote, sometimes when it really makes, to me, little sense.) Maybe not getting paid to keep on blindly following party leadership would bring pressure from the rank-and-file to "get 'er done!" If this takes a constitutional amendment, as House Dems suggest, let us begin.

I also like another idea from House Republicans..bills that spend tax monies or raise taxes must be made available to lawmakers--and you and me--at least 48 hours before a vote. It's well known that most budgets, because of their length and complexity, aren't event read over by lawmakers before reporters find out later when they start combing the fine print, and..sur-prize!

Senate candidate Rand Paul wants Congress to follow a similar approach..saying Congress must read all bills before voting on them. How to you require Congress to read a bill? You can't really require Congress to do anything; it often violates its own rules--and the law. When it couldn't (or wouldn't) pass the federal budget by the July first deadline, it moved the deadline to October first...and still hasn't met that deadline! The Frankfort approach of Paul's fellow Republicans makes more sense..get the bills out there for 48 hours before a vote.

That gives you and me a chance to comment and object..and that's what representative government is all about.

"I'm Just Sayin'"

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The recent massacre in Breathitt County didn't have to happen.

Stanley Neace, the man all the witnesses say shot and killed 5 people, was not supposed to possess important development buried in a Herald-Leader story.

He had been found guilty of flagrant non-support, a felony that prohibited him from possessing guns.

But, who enforced that law? (or so many others in our society?)

It wasn't enforced, and therein may lie an even bigger tragedy; just as Virginia didnt enforce its gun laws that led to the tragic shooting at Virginia Tech.

It's not enough to get good laws on the books; they need to be enforced..and I hope during this fall campaign season, some of you may ask the candidates about this. As a reporter, let me plead guilty here; I often asked candidates' positions on proposed legislation, but I can't remember ever asking them if they would see that laws are properly enforced, if elected. That includes adequate funding and staffing for agencies charged with that responsibility.

It's all very well to some candidates will,"we just don't have the money." But many of those same candidates will say the most important thing government can do for its citizens is to guarantee their security; so they approve spending on prisons, but not adequate salaries for those in law enforcement, or proper staffing for rural sheriffs. That's not only short-sighted, it's not "security."

Ultimately, it boils down to choices: another prison for example,(with its local jobs!),or funds for crime prevention--broadly construed.

And by the way, is there any doubt Neace was mentally ill? Kentucky has, for years, not adequately funded its mental health programs. That's often debated in Frankfort in the abstract, but the specific, practical result of that debate, and inadequate funds, is what happened recently in Eastern Kentucky.

The recent massacre in Breathitt County didn't have to happen.

"I'm Just Sayin"

Monday, September 13, 2010

Crime Labs Work Best When There's Equal Access

North Carolina has become the latest state where serious problems have turned up at its state crime lab. As in about six other states, including West Virginia and even the FBI's own crime lab, reports were either done badly, done wrong, deliberately falsified (sometimes in death penalty cases), or withheld from the defense which had a right to them.

As one Tar Heel official pointed out after a scathing report on their lab--justice is expensive and can't be done on the cheap.

Kentucky's own state crime lab has suffered from lack of funds, personnel and facilities; which means our justice system is flawed. Local officials wait weeks or months to get reports on whether drivers or suspects had used drugs in accidents or crime cases, and those might be the simplest of lab reports.

Kentucky ought to invest properly here, or our justice system may be forever flawed. Killing someone because a blood sample was misread, a bullet's rifling was misinterpreted, a drug sample was misplaced; all of which, and more, have happened in other states, should give us concern.

The North Carolina report has already freed an innocent man after 17 years in prison. More will follow.

But the basic problem, as I see it, in Kentucky and elsewhere, is this: crime labs work for prosecutors only; and you and I pay the tab. If the defense needs lab work, they have to pay for it. For justice to serve all of us, (remember we presume the suspect innocent), the defense should have the right to use the public crime lab. This would keep lab personnel on their toes, knowing they report to both sides, not just one.

Could the defense delay a case by making too many requests of an overburdened lab system? Certainly. (Bet some prosecutors have tried this, too.) So there need to be rules, the type of cases limited (certainly death penalty cases should always be allowed) as well as the number and type of requests.

I would hope our justice officials; the Chief Justice, the Attorney-General, Secretary of the Justice Cabinet, KSP commander, and others, would start work right away on a new system to allow the defense access to the crime lab, and start a public awareness campaign on the importance of an adequately supported state crime lab; before what has just happened in North Carolina happens here, and innocent Kentuckians are convicted, or in the worse case, killed.

"I'm Just Sayin'"...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

KY Backroads Features Part Of What's Good In Local TV News Coverage

There is a lot of justified criticism of Lexington TV news, including the unrelenting diet of fender bender crimes, each week, a new "parents' worse nightmare", and sexual peccadilloes by the various and sundry citizenry, but that ought not to blind us to a few gems on the local air.

Among my faves is the "Kentrucky's Backroads" series on WTVQ-36. Reporter Greg Stotelmyer searches out the overlooked, off-the-beaten-path places, and people..(he seems partial to old ladies who paint and collect, and some of them are just wonderful).

His pieces are well filmed and edited. His current cameraman, Chris Woosley, did a marvelous job recently catching the spirit of Yahoo Falls, as Greg introduced us to the Native Americans who call the place sacred and why. It's a sad tale of a massacre conducted by frontier Kentuckians who just didn't like Indians, so they murdered them; mainly women and children, before the returning braves exacted revenge---and justice.

By the end of the piece I wanted to go there for a visit, for its beauty, for its history, for a tribute to forgotten Native Kentuckians so badly treated by we who were "civilized."

So I turned to my well-used copy of the Kentucky Encyclopedia. The best thing I can say about this volume is that it is the best thing out there; it is also the worse thing out there because it is the only thing out there. It has its share of mistakes, including an inexplicable filing of people by their first names not last. (And the people who issued it don't seem interested in correcting their mistakes or issuing a new, updated, corrected version. Pity.)

Among its mistakes I soon found out was, no listing for Yahoo Falls. No listing actually for any of our waterfalls. Maybe the compilers just didn't know about Yahoo Falls, or maybe they were too ashamed to remind us of the unprovoked murders of the innocent.

Yahoo Falls is in McCreary County near Whitley City, in the Big South Fork Recreation area and is on federal land supervised by the U.S, Forestry Service. It is off U-S 27 at KY road 700; go west four miles and signs to the Falls should start to appear. It should be pretty in the fall but the falls may be only a trickle. In spring the falls can run over 100 feet high, and are believed to be the highest in our state.

And watch "Kentucky's Backroads" for more gems. It's on WTVQ-36 in Lexington, Thursdays on the 6pm newscast, and Sundays on the 11pm newscast.

“I’m Just Sayin’”

Monday, August 30, 2010

America Is Not a Christian Nation!

Nor is it a Protestant nation, and it is especially not a Southern Baptist nation.

It IS a religious nation, and those two thoughts are not contrary ones.

Our Founding Fathers were overwhelmingly Christian (but not all, Jefferson was not, for one example.) They were, perhaps even more so, students of history. They had seen, first- hand, the religious wars of Europe, the bigotry, the persecutions, the killings, the holocausts of their day; and they wanted no part of it. They knew few things unite people so much as religion, or divide them.

So they drew up a nation that was (1) religious; (2) devoid of any "state religion"--the real problem many of them saw in Europe--and (3) open to the free exercise of all religions, including those whose "religion" was no religion, the disbelievers, the unbelievers. They, too, were to have the freedom to "practice" or not, and never to be coerced by the power of the state.

Recent renewed attempts by some of our county officials to post in public places (whether at taxpayer expense or not is irrelevant) the Ten Commandments reminds me, it's an election year, and the pandering of some officials for votes never ceases. And that they do not understand American history.

You cannot fight for the freedom of a Methodist to worship, and deny it to a Jew. You cannot believe Mormons have the right to establish a Temple in your town--one of America’s most persecuted minorities throughout our history, and deny the right of Muslims to do the same. That's simply not fair, not right, not American.

Court records of many Kentucky cases make clear county officials wanted to post, first at public expense, the Christian ten commandments on public property in order to promote religion; their religion. The courts struck this approach down. Then, they got devious, surrounding the Ten Cs with other religions' words (including the Ba'hai!), and history, and all manner of nonsense to try to disguise their real intent. In some places, this, unfortunately, worked.

But make no mistake, the temporary success in any of these places, and the totally unwarranted expense to the taxpayers of all faiths, is a setback along the road toward true Freedom...and it is Freedom that is America's legacy to the world, not economics, or security. It's Freedom to worship or not without the state looking over your shoulder.

“I’m just sayin’”…

Monday, August 23, 2010

Company's Comin' And Our "Place" Is A Mess!

We've been told this for months and our downtown traffic mess certainly reflects it. But besides the big projects now on the clock before the start of the World Equestrian Games, may I suggest some little ones Lexington and private groups ought to do to "hep", sorry, "help" our forthcoming tourist stream?

One: Ask every restaurant to do what many do abroad--sometimes required by law; post a current copy of their menu, with prices, OUTSIDE the establishment. It’s so simple in France to check this to determine if you want to enter. Many have them displayed in small, glass-front, wooden cabinets, lighted at night. Simple, effective, helpful. Easy to change between lunch and dinner menus if required, also.

Two: For restaurants, department stores, gift shops, etc--places that cater to tourists--have signs posted in a front window or doorway, (somewhere that can be seen easily and quickly), listing the languages spoken by store personnel. I took some French friends to Sears a few years ago, where we were waited on by a saleslady whose French was quite good, and while it wasn't needed, my guests spoke excellent English. It made for a more delightful shopping experience.

So, let's get those signs; “Habla Espanol”, "Parlez-Vous francais", "Sprechen sie deutsch", etc. printed and displayed.

Three: We need at least two large, double-sided maps; I'm talking 4x5', 5x7' etc. to "hep" our guests find their way around downtown and nearby environs. I've used these maps in many a village and city abroad and they are helpful.

For example, put one at Thoroughbred Park near the Herald-Leader. One side would show the area from there, west through the Library perhaps, while the back side would be a map of Ashland-Chevy Chase- and U.K. areas. Put a second in Triangle Park. One side maybe from that area east to the Library, so there is an overlap of our main downtown area. The other side could be South Hills and west to include the Lexington Cemetery. I know our city mapmakers can do this and have excellent ideas. It may not be too late.

And you know what's really good about all this? When WEG is over, all 3 ideas can, and should, remain, to help people visiting Lexington, whether they come from abroad, or closer to home.

Y'all come back now, you hear? And, we've made it easier for you.

“I’m Just Sayin’”

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Media Coverage of Steve Nunn Trial Should Be No Different Than Any Other

Hurray! Hurray! Steve Nunn's back in court.



No more 6 day beard, no more orange jail garb.

Now, let the Lexington TV stations , and the newspapers discard their past pictures and tapes of the "old" Nunn. They should use video, stills of the Nunn who most recently appeared in court; looking as men his age and status do when going to court.

I have long believed that "perp walks" and especially the use of file pix and tape of suspects who looked like the "old" Nunn continue to impress viewers and readers that this person is guilty. That is contrary to our long standing, basic, and absolutely essential theory of "presumed innocence."

As of today, Steve Nunn is innocent.

Let me write that again...Steve Nunn is innocent.

I hope our local media will agree, and we have seen the end of the unshaven, prison garb file stuff. I do realize that until the latest court appearance, our local media only had that type of picture to use. But no more. From now on, if they truly believe in the "presumption of innocence" they will strive to use the file pix of the "new" Nunn, the "normal" Nunn, the "regular" Nunn, and not prejudice the public, his "peers" from whom his jury must be drawn, before his case goes to trial.

Would you want any less if you were that person on trial?

“I’m just sayin’”…

Monday, August 16, 2010

NASCAR, $150 Million? Probably Not!

As a former NASCAR race broadcaster, I did the Darlington races for a dozen years "back in the day", I am delighted to see NASCAR coming to Kentucky, but let's hold off on all those rosy projections of its economic impact; as in the Guv's prediction the races will bring in $150 million to the state.

First, as usual, most news media members swallowed this whole. No questions like "where did you get that figure, governor? How did you arrive at $150 million? Or was that $105 and a typo got into the news release?" Might as well have been.

Economic projections, especially these days, have a nice ring (as in cash register ring). We just don’t want any more bad news. And, as most public officials know, it is very seldom they are called to account for their optimism. Indeed, the media almost never goes back and does any follow up stories to see just how things turned out.

(This may change in Lexington if, as I fear, we are going to be way off our WEG projections, but I am not holding my breath; except for the Herald-Leader, which has a remarkable record of doing more with less these past few years.)

And it was the paper's sports guy, Mark Story who raised the only questions I've seen. While the paper's straight news report said the guv hung the $150 million price tag on what the event might mean to Northern Ky., Story's Q&A quoted the guv as saying "speedway officials" made that projection. The guv may be hung with it, though if he repeats it on the campaign trail; as , if I were a betting man, I would bet he will.

But Story pointed out a recent study in Atlanta, a much bigger metro area, showed a $75 million impact on the long established track there.

Let the racers come, and race safely; let the crowds come, and spend; let the jobs come, and stay, and let the media do its job, by doing a proper follow-up report after the inaugural races are held.

And thank you, Jerry Carroll, (the guy who started all this), and whose vision has resulted in the NASCAR announcement; and who plodded doggedly on after the PTB (powers-that-be) at NASCAR screwed Carroll and Kentucky for years; fighting the track in many ways. Let's not forget that as we welcome the descendants of those Carolina moonshine runners to our Commonwealth. It will work; just not $150 million’s worth.

I’m Just Sayin’….

Price Gouging--Kentucky Style

"Welcome tourists to Kentucky, our friendly Commonwealth is happy you came. Oh, by the way, your hotel room's normal rate has been doubled, tickets to UK games have tripled for the very best seats, and a house for the night for the WEG might run you a mere $5,000..but y'all come back, hear!"

Surely they will, and don't call me Shirley.

We have a law now preventing price gouging in certain limited situations; in weather emergencies primarily. Stores can't just keep on raising prices for food, gasoline, generators, emergency supplies and the like. The attorney general is responsible for investigating and charging offenders.

But it's much too limited, as almost everyone must have thought reading a recent news story that a place for the night at the WEG might cost up to 5 grand. Surely this offends every Kentuckian’s sense of fair play; besides being economically counterproductive. If you want people to come back and visit us often, that's not the way to do it.

We let hotels in Louisville triple rates for the Derby; why? It's the same room as the week before and week after. Why? Because they can, and there's no law to prevent it. But there should be, and we ought to ask A/G Jack Conway if he would support broadening the current law to include these examples, as well as the candidates next year for his job.

To those of you unrepentant capitalists who feel this is the law of supply and demand in action, meadow muffins! Can you say Greed? I knew you could, and greed is not good. Competition regulates capitalism, not greed. In the long run, unrestrained greed will ruin capitalism.

Let's get our price gouging law updated, and, oh yes, drop those 500 best UK basketball seats back to something affordable by Joe Six-Pack.

I’m Just Sayin’….

Fancy Farm Needs to Change!

Let me begin by confessing that I have never been to Fancy Farm. When I was News Director of WKYT-TV, I began our extensive coverage of this annual event in a small Western Ky. Town; chartered planes, worked out joint coverage with the Herald-Leader and others, sent off reporters and photogs, but never went myself.

I thought it was an important news event, and my viewers needed to know
about this traditional kickoff to the fall campaign. I still do, but I never went.

Over the years, Fancy Farm has been around for more than a century, such events change. If you believe, as I do, that civic issues need civil discussion, you have to be worried about Fancy Farm. Ever since busloads of hecklers started report has it we have our senior Senator to thank for this change... the coverage I see and read about Fancy Farm often talks about attempts to drown out the speaker. This is neither fair, nor democratic, nor right, nor what Fancy Farm should be about.

Let's kickoff our fall election campaign by starting with a thorough
discussion of the issues. There's far too little on the broadcast media
today, so we need all we can get. Let the oratory be as hot as the food and weather, but let the speakers be heard...all of them, on all sides of the issues.

Now that I'm retired I may go to the Farm someday, but not if the heckling continues as it has the past few years. Why drive all the way across state even for good barbeque, in weather often steamy, if you can’t hear the speakers? And aren’t people who may be our next governor, or senator, due this courtesy?

Let the sponsoring church, which strained at a gnat and swallowed a camel, in censoring "bitch", get its priorities straight. It's a great
Tradition, and could be even greater, with civil discourse.

I’m Just Sayin’….