Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Your Banker Is Wrong

At least the Ky. Bankers Association had the good sense to wait until after the primary to endorse all the GOP members of our delegation in Washington. They made it clear in newspaper ads thanking all those who voted for Senate Bill 2155. (Democrat Yarmuth didn’t; he remembers a few things such as the S&L scandal, the Countrywide Mortgage scandal, the 2007-8 recession brought on by Wall Street.)
Now the ads proclaim "Ky’s community banks can finally get back to serving their local businesses and consumers with financial products tailored to local needs, especially as they relate to HOME MORTGAGES.”
Meadow Muffins!
Nothing in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street (& big bank) reform act of 2010—brought on by greed & fraud & criminal behavior by parts of the mortgage industry—prevented Ky. banks from making local, home mortgages. Zip. IF they wanted to.
But our banks wanted more. So they lobbied Congress to exempt “small” banks (with ONLY Fifty million in capitalization, etc.) from that bill, and also rolled back many of the minimal regulations it imposed.
So, sometime down the road we will have another financial industry scandal. Wells Fargo may just be a preview.
You will probably hear more on this during the 6th District campaign for Congress this fall. Listen and make up your own mind who is right here, because the lines are sharply drawn on this issue between Andy Barr and Amy McGrath.
Now then on another matter:
A Kentucky development this past week proved that "you can not be too conservative in our politics these days.”
Rep. Hal Rogers, a conservative 19 term Republican serving Eastern Ky. (and doing that well IMHO) drew the ire of the ultra-conservative Koch Brothers for voting for the $1.3 trillion budget bill. So they are going to run ads against him.  (Great idea as it just may make that part of Ky. “green” as Rogers wins his 20th term.)
But the moral is clear:  you just can’t be conservative enough..someone out there, beyond Ky. most likely, with zillions of money will mount a campaign against you these days.
I'm just sayin'...

Thursday, May 24, 2018

A Primary Shocker

I’ve covered Kentucky elections for over 40 years and I can’t think of one that was a greater shocker than this week’s primary; on all levels and for all parties.
Let me take them one by one:
CONGRESS: Oh how I wish Jim Gray had run again for mayor, as I said before he announced he wouldn’t. Oh how I wish Amy McGrath had run for congress against another incumbent from her old home town.
Did the Emmons family of political consultants stub their toes badly with their last minute TV ad questioning Mrs. McGrath’s lack of residence??? That will be debated for years, or at least until the next race (I think Yes)
Did I hear Andy Barr say he was “eager for debates?”  That will be a change. I felt his lack of debating in two races was enough to cost him his job—as it did Ben Chandler once upon a time. We will see if he finally follows through.
STATE HOUSE:  The Jonathan Shell loss to a first time candidate is the shocker-in-chief. His opponent, a teacher, is NOT a KEA member, and may even be more conservative than Shell. No matter. As House majority leader, and rising GOP star, this is a real blow to GOP control of each chamber, no matter what happens in November. And while it does show the current political muscle of teachers, the real question is: how long can they flex that muscle? Stay tuned.
MAYOR:  The real winner here was the Lexington Herald-Leader, which endorsed the 2 winning candidates out of a much larger field. Seeing that the losers included a former mayor and a veteran councilman (who had the best and earliest TV ads) that’s a bit surprising (and probably puzzling to political scientists and reporters such as myself.  Kevin Stinnett's ads were the ONLY ones that really spelled out a platform; these are the issues, here is what I would do.) The others were: I’m experienced, trust me. While Linda Gorton and Ronnie Bastin have experience, both have been out of the public eye for some time.  I was surprised, but it will be a good race in the fall; and civil, and in the end voters will win.
(To my friends at the Herald-Leader, just remember all the past times when your recommendations weren’t followed by the voters.)
THE PARTIES: When are you going to either allow Kentucky to have open primaries (that is, allowing we who would prefer to register independent to vote in either party’s primary) or REQUIRE that candidates MUST show their party ID in their ads?? When Shell ran his TV ads without listing himself as a Republican he was in good company (most candidates of any party didn’t) and this is a FRAUD upon voters. How can these 2 major parties maintain that fiction if they won’t require party ID?
THE PRIMARY: I believe most years this is the more important race of the two. I also believe we should be allowed to vote in either party’s race regardless of how we are registered. I believe party ID should be required in campaign ads. I believe we should vote for as many people in the primary as go forward to November – if 2 go to the fall, we should be allowed to vote for 2 if the field be larger.   
A FINAL WORD: The Grand OLD Party should re-evaluate its positions on a number of issues; remembering that once upon a time, not so long ago, Kentucky had 70 years of one party rule (MUCH too long)—so consider some changes, or...   
And to the Democrats, temper your enthusiasm. It was a lousy turnout—23%. You & the GOP need to consider bi-partisan measures to get more voters to the polls. Finally, your party failed to put up candidates for CONGRESS in 3 of our 6 districts, that’s half, and may not in a fourth. Some statewide party, that.
I'm just sayin'...

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

In Re: Common Sense NJ & KY

Only took 9 years, speedy by US Supreme Court standards, but by a 6-3 vote the court has held that states, not the federal government, are entitled to make rules regarding sports betting.  The case was filed by New Jersey.
Savor that BBN.
Savor that you state government officials eager for new revenues.
Savor that you anti-gambling people because you have every right to insist that some of these new monies be used to treat those afflicted with gambling; if states are smart enough and not too greedy.
Yes, there are arguments against, including the one just cited, and others that it will ruin those “amateur” sports. (Here in BBN we laugh. Remember those years we had the “best team money could buy.” Or the $$$ that fell out of the FedEx package, or the point shaving scandal, or the shoe scandal we haven’t heard the end of yet, or the “Breaking Cardinal Rules” book...or...Or...OR!)
When the recent legislature passed new taxes on services, there were the usual, considered arguments against, especially in areas that border other states. Would the new 6% tax on small animal vet care, for example,  cause people to go across state lines to get help for Fido and avoid paying a higher price?
These are legit concerns, but each time raised I wonder why we keep swallowing that gnat, while avoiding the camel? The money Kentucky loses to almost all the states around us, currently going to their casinos, betting parlors (and soon their sports betting emporiums) makes the 6% services tax a dwarf problem; and it will happen.
Gov. Bevin was one of 3 governors who signed the legal brief in this case. Bully for him! And bully for Kentucky IF we seize this opportunity, PLAN for its introduction properly, making sure those who shouldn’t gamble are taken care of (and their kids!) we can start meeting some of the social needs (and pension reforms) we have needed to do for some time.
Let the debate---and planning begin---ask your candidate for the legislature where they stand NOW.
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, May 7, 2018

One Step Forward, But Two Steps Back

Bless His Heart, our guv vetoes some things he  needed too, and didn’t others..for which Thanks. Because the GOP controlled legislature couldn’t get its act together (as many Dem controlled legislatures before them) the guv was able to veto some things that can not be overridden.  He could have been a “dog in the manger” and vetoed the necessary “clean up language” for the important budget and pension bills..where his early vetoes were overridden, but he did not. (This is another lesson for both parties..don’t wait til the last minute to put hundred page bills before each chamber when no one can read them and catch mistakes.)

Our governor did veto the “incumbent protection bill” which would have moved the filing date from late January to early January. But don’t hold your breath. Now the legislature will just past this lousy idea early enough next year to allow for an overide..unless you voters complain to all the candidates during this year’s elections.

The Courier-Journal also reported recently on the latest on the guv’ new home near Anchorage. He claimed it was worth $1.6M when he apparently bought it from a friend who does business with the state..and made that price stick. That was last year; this year the PVA has valued the house&grounds at $2.9M, up a “mere” $1.6M.  Stay tuned, you haven’t heard the last of this cozy deal yet.

(Since Lexington media have not covered this new wrinkle well..check out the CJ story “Bevin’s home worth $2.9M” on 4/28.)

Another major story not covered well by local media, if at all, was the Peabody award (broadcasting’s highest) to the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting and Louisville Public Media for their 5-part series on church leader (?) and state lawmaker Dan Johnson---who had lived a life of fraud and deceit—and who committed suicide shortly after the series started.  That was a sad ending, but the two groups stressed the necessity of holding elected officials accountable with the facts.

(You can also check the CJ’s story “Peabody Award honors local public media series” on May 1)

Investigatory journalism is one of the prices the media pays for protections of the First Amendment. All too few of our present day media seem willing to pay this price. WKYT (NB-my old station) is the only tv here doing it; The Herald-Leader does so occasionally, but not as much as in the past..and the Kentucky Kernel as well. But here student newspapers are facing serious odds to continue, often because of financial pressures brought on by public budgetary problems. I don’t believe the UK administration, or most state legislators would lose any sleep if the Kernel, and other student papers, just disappeared...and that would be a real pity. They are the training grounds for future mainstream they were for Kuralt, Murrow, and so many others.

You may also have notice, despite lousy local coverage, ISIS bombs in Afghanistan killed 9 journalists recently. It is not a field for the faint of heart.

We certainly make our share of mistakes. The annual White House Correspondents Dinner was one of them. I was glad to see the first woman of color named to be the head “roaster” altho I had not heard of Michelle Wolf before. Now I don’t care if I hear of her again. Even with the President a no show, it’s just not necessary to trot out frequent use of the “F” word. Your points and your humor don’t need that. I would not urge the WHCD to even consider censoring its guest roaster, but maybe a little more research would be appropriate in future years.

I'm just sayin'...