Archive for the Politics Category

Aung San Suu Kyi to Speak at U of L

Posted in Happenings, Louisville News, Politics with tags , , , , , on September 13, 2012 by othersideoflife

The Courier-Journal is reporting this evening that Nobel Prize winner and Burmese democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi will speak at the University of Louisville on September 24th:

Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, a longtime pro-democracy activist in Myanmar who spent nearly two decades under house arrest, will speak Sept. 24 at the University of Louisville.

Suu Kyi’s visit — organized by U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a fierce critic of Myanmar’s military junta — comes amid reforms in the former Burma that recently led the United States to restore full diplomatic relations.

In April, Suu Kyi was elected to the country’s parliament, more than 20 years after she was placed under house arrest in the violent crackdown that followed a short-lived pro-democracy movement.

McConnell, who has championed Suu Kyi’s cause and was among the U.S. leaders, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to recently visit the once-closed Southeast Asian nation, invited Suu Kyi to stop in Louisville, university officials said.

“Daw Aung San Suu Kyi symbolizes the peaceful struggle for freedom, democracy and reconciliation in Burma,” McConnell said. “Having her visit the University of Louisville and the Commonwealth of Kentucky is a great honor. I appreciate that she accepted my invitation, and we look forward to welcoming her to the Bluegrass State.”

Despite not being a big fan of McConnell, we gotta say, this is pretty fantastic, and we thank the Senator and the University for giving Suu Kyi the opportunity to speak in Louisville. Here’s how to get tickets:

The Center for Asian Democracy is inviting people in the Louisville community with ties to Myanmar to attend Aung San Suu Kyi’s talk Sept. 24 — including some in the refugee community. A limited number of tickets will be available to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. Those who want to request a ticket can do so at www.mcconnellcenter.org starting Monday.

Also, as a reminder, the Dalai Lama will visit Louisville in mid-May, 2013.

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Kentucky Birther Didn’t Get the Memo

Posted in Art, Elections, Kentucky History, Louisville News, Media, Politics with tags , , , , on August 23, 2012 by stateofthecommonwealth

In it’s-so-embarrassing-it’s-got-to-be-Kentucky news, the Courier-Journal is reporting that this guy (on the right, we think):


(Picture of Dr. Todd House and, apparently, his wife Suzanne, and your jet! from the very dubious http://obamaballotchallenge.com site.)

thinks this guy:


(Picture of President Obama from http://www.whitehouse.gov.)

is, how you say? NO BUENO when it comes to his citizenship, and they’re suing to get Obama off the Presidential ballot in Kentucky:

A Louisville anesthesiologist has asked a Frankfort court to bar President Barack Obama from the November ballot.

Dr. Todd House — who is running for president as a write-in candidate with his wife, Suzanne Dudgeon House as his vice presidential candidate — filed the lawsuit Aug. 10 claiming that Obama is not a “natural born” citizen, which is required of presidential candidates by the U.S. Constitution.

Face, meet palm. But wait, it gets better!

In an interview Wednesday, Todd House, 52, said that he filed to run for president in part to give him standing to file the suit but also because he opposes both Republicans and Democrats and wanted to help get the Libertarian message out.

And he said he wanted to bring suit because the courts are “shirking the issue” by not addressing the merits of similar cases that have come before them. “Really, the judiciary and the Supreme Court needs to hash this out and decide it once and for all for the greater good of the country,” House said.

Read the rest of the article for some good ol’ anti-14th Amendment gobbledygook. And, if you’ve got the stomach for it, you can read a nifty little press release about Dr. House’s suit at a creepy web site called obamaballotchallenge.com here: http://obamaballotchallenge.com/do-it-yourself-obama-ballot-challenge-opens-another-case-in-kentucky. The site offers a Do It Yourself Obama Ballot Challenge Kit!

In case you were wondering, here’s where Dr. House practices (though technically his practice is separate from Calobrace Plastic Surgery Center): http://www.calobrace.com/about/anesthesiology.cfm.

WHAS 11: Metro Parks Spent $600k Last Year on New Mowers

Posted in Development, Economics, Environment, Kentucky News, Louisville News, Media, Metro Parks, Otter Creek Park, Politics on February 25, 2009 by stateofthecommonwealth

WHAS 11 aired a whopper of a story last night, that Louisville Metro Parks spent over $600,000 on new mowers last year, just before spending cuts were announced by Mayor Abramson in December. Here’s the full story (you can watch video of the story by following the link above to WHAS 11):

Louisville, Ky. (WHAS11) – WHAS11 News has learned that as Louisville Mayor Abramson was closing Otter Creek Park to save a half million dollars, the Metro Parks Department was spending more than that on new lawn mowers.

It’s your tax dollars, and critics are saying its misplaced priorities.

But the parks department says the mowers are a great deal for taxpayers for the future.

The parks department says the fancy new lawn mowers are more efficient and were purchased just before the price went way up.

But spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on lawn mowers in tough budget times has got some folks flabbergasted:

You’ll be seeing these all-in-one Toro lawn mowers on Louisville’s public golf courses this summer. The metro parks department bought eight of these new mowers last fall to replace the old tractor and pull behind blades currently being used.

Those eight faster, easier mowers were purchased last October. The total cost was $507,000. The next month, in November, metro parks purchased nine of these tractor pulled blade mowers which are designed to bushhog and cut high grass. Total cost on those was $96,000. More than $600,000 spent on new mowers just as Mayor Abramson was announcing a huge budget shortfall and millions in spending cuts.

Nowhere in the parks department’s capital budget is there any mention of cash for new mowers. Storch says that’s because the money is coming out of metro government’s depreciation account. Councilman Downard still wonders how the mower purchases will sit with city workers who face four mandatory furlough days without pay.

And yes, it is true, that $600,000 price tag on the new mowers is about $100,000 more than metro government expects to save by closing Otter Creek Park. Downard says that’s one less park to mow with more lawnmowers.

One minor note about this story: Louisville Metro only predicted to save on the order of $180,000 for this fiscal year by closing Otter Creek Park, so the $500,000 figure cited in the story is a bit misleading. Louisville may save $500,000 in the next fiscal year if OCP remains closed, but closing OCP also ended a revenue stream, as well the potential for more. Either way, spending $600,000 during a recession on lawnmowers that, no matter how nice they are, will depreciate is not what we’d call fiscal responsibility.

Your 2009 Portsmouth Rock Dispute Update

Posted in Art, Crime, Environment, Kentucky History, Kentucky News, Kentucky Small Towns, Ohio River, Politics on February 4, 2009 by stateofthecommonwealth

(Photo of the Portsmouth Rock from nytimes.com.)

Now it’s gettin’ good. Remember the Portsmouth Rock? And how officials from Ohio and Kentucky have been squabbling over it for the past year? Well, the Associated Press (via the Courier-Journal) is reporting this morning that Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway is takin’ it up a notch:

Kentucky’s squabble with an Ohio city over a historic rock that lay for years at the bottom of the Ohio River is rolling into federal court.

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway has filed a federal civil lawsuit in Ashland, Ky., against the city of Portsmouth, Ohio, and three men over the 8-ton boulder known as Indian Head Rock.

The lawsuit claims a violation of Kentucky law and is seeking, in part, the return of the rock to Kentucky.

The rock bears numerous carvings of initials, names and a crude face and once was an attraction for locals. It had been submerged in the river since about the 1920s until September 2007, when a historian in Ohio led a team to extract it.

The boulder now rests in a city garage in Portsmouth, Ohio, about 110 miles southeast of Cincinnati.

Thank goodness, we were tired of reading nothing but serious news!

McConnell to Obama: Don’t Buy American

Posted in Economics, Elections, Kentucky News, Labor, Media, Politics on February 2, 2009 by stateofthecommonwealth

Since Barack Obama was inaugurated at the end of last month, we Kentuckians have been used to seeing our senior Senator, Mitch McConnell, grab lots of media attention as the Senate Minority Leader. (Nevermind our junior Senator, Jim Bunning, whose actions over the past month seem like what could charitably be described as a “senior moment” — link to today’s Joseph Gerth column in the Courier-Journal.)

Unfortunately for Kentucky, not all of McConnell’s time in the spotlight has been positive. Some of Mitch’s actions and comments in the public eye have been downright tone-deaf to the overall mood of the nation. Case in point, today Mitch is calling for a provision in Obama’s stimulus package that would require government to buy American iron and steel to be stripped (from the Associated Press):

The US Senate should strip a “Buy American” clause from President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan, the chamber’s top Republican said Monday amid anger at the restriction from US allies.

“I don’t think we ought to use a measure that is supposed to be timely, temporary, and targeted to set off trade wars when the entire world is experiencing a downturn in the economy,” said Senator Mitch McConnell.

Asked whether he would support trying to strip the measure from what is now roughly an 888-billion-dollar economic stimulus package, the Republican minority leader told reporters: “I think it’s a bad idea to put it in a bill like this, which is supposed to be about jump starting the economy, yes.”

The House of Representatives last week voted to require that public works projects funded by its 819-billion-dollar stimulus bill to use only US iron and steel. The Senate version extends that restriction to all manufactured goods.

McConnell’s comments came as Canada Trade Minister Stockwell Day warned that US protectionism “can only trigger retaliatory action” as he urged Obama to fight the provision.

The Republican leader also urged Obama to lean on his Democratic allies in the US Congress to accept or at least accommodate Republican ideas for how best to pull the US economy out of a paralyzing recession.

“I hope he can get through to them that the way to build this package is, indeed, to do it on a bipartisan basis, which doesn’t mean just talking to us, but including ideas that we think would work,” said McConnell.

That would include plans for government-backed, four percent fixed mortgages to qualified homebuyers, and cutting the bottom two income tax bracket rates from 15 percent to 10 percent and from 10 percent to five percent, he said.

McConnell also denounced the amount of social safety net spending in the stimulus plan and indicated Republicans would like to see fewer zeros on the overall price tag.

“We’ve been throwing figures around like it was paper money,” he said. “We all agree that we need to do something, but I don’t think we should just completely act like the amount is irrelevant.”

While Senate procedures give the minority Republicans powers to slow or stall legislation, McConnell made clear his party’s goal is not to stymie passage of a bill that might revive the US economy.

“Nobody that I know of is trying to keep a package from passing. You know, we’re not trying to prevent a package from passing. We’re trying to reform it — reformulate it — put it in a different place,” he said.

Given how the US steel industry has been decimated over the past twenty years, McConnell’s comments seem downright mean. Though to be fair to Mitch and his fellow Republicans, the only thing that kept the industry alive in the past eight years was the weak dollar. Still, we gotta wonder what Mitch is thinking here. Telling American workers that their own government shouldn’t buy their products isn’t exactly a confidence-boosting measure.

LEO‘s Interview with the Mayor and Otter Creek Park

Posted in Development, Economics, Environment, Kentucky News, Louisville News, Media, Metro Parks, Ohio River, Otter Creek Park, Politics on January 15, 2009 by stateofthecommonwealth

(Photo of Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson by Frankie Steele for LEO Weekly.)

From our sister blog, Save Otter Creek Park – The Friends of Otter Creek Park Blog:

If you haven’t seen it by now, we wanted to make you aware that LEO Weekly‘s issue this week includes their extensive annual interview with Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson, who has quite a bit to say about both the controversy surrounding the closing of Otter Creek Park, and our group, the Friends of Otter Creek Park. Here’s the relevant parts of the interview (you can read the entire interview here):

LEO: Another group that is getting louder by the day—

JA [Jerry Abramson]: Otter Creek.

LEO:Yes, the Friends of Otter Creek.

JA: It is very simple to explain to you why we moved in that direction. For many years, I’ve had this discussion with six governors — I’ve been mayor a long time — we have thought that this magnificent park, this very, very unique jewel of a wilderness setting and just gorgeous landscape, needed to be a state park. Because we don’t do a very good job running it, because we know how to run municipal parks — we can handle Cherokee Park, we know how to do Iroquois Park, we can handle Shawnee Park, we know how to handle Hays Kennedy Park or Long Run Park, etc. — but we don’t do very well in terms of a park that has cabins and hookups for RVs, for electricity and water.

So we have said we lose money every year; we used to lose $500,000 a year. We’ve tried to get governors to take it over. There was always a reason not to. I tried to work with the federal government, to have Fort Knox take it over; there was always a reason not to. We talked with the Meade County judge — it’s in Meade County — several judges ago, and asked him if we could serve wine. Maybe if we could serve wine and champagne, there might be an opportunity to host more events, which would help cover some of the expenses to defray the cost — because if you’re spending $500,000 out there, you could’ve spent the $500,000 at … parks within Louisville-Jefferson County. We tried to get the liquor license; the county judge made a commitment they would vote it wet, and then at the fiscal court meeting, he voted no.

… At this point in time, when you’re looking for a half a million dollars, and you’re also looking for money that you can save for these six months that will roll forward because this next budget’s going to be even tougher, we said we’re going to close it, and see if that would generate interest. [emphasis ours]

And you know what? The state parks are going out there, the state Fish & Wildlife [department is] going out there, I met with the garrison commander of Fort Knox — they’ve been out there twice. So all of a sudden, there’s a lot of energy around in terms of what can we do to ensure that the park is open as soon as possible? The county judge in Meade County is interested, he’s said, in making it an industrial park, or a residential area. Well, we’re not going to allow it to be developed into an industrial facility. We want it to be what it is: a beautiful wildlife preserve, an opportunity for folks to commune with nature. We’ve also got nonprofits that have contacted us: the Y[MCA] has a facility out there, [Boy] Scouts, saying what role can we play?

Suffice to say, we’re working on crafting a response to Mayor Abramson’s comments, to be published in LEO as soon as possible. We’re also very interested in meeting with him to discuss Otter Creek Park, anytime. However, there’s some elements of this interview that, based on just our initial impressions from reading it, we have to respond to.

According to Mayor Abramson above, closing Otter Creek Park was actually a ploy to save it! Somehow, we’re not buying this argument. Louisville has a number of private/public partnerships and quasi-governmental groups dedicated to serving citizens. Off the top of my head, I can think of the Olmstead Parks Conservancy, the Downtown Development Corporation, Greater Louisville Inc., Waterfront Development Corp., etc. If Otter Creek Park has been such a drag on the city’s budget year after year, why wasn’t any initiative taken to fix the problem before closing the Park? The savings of closing OCP reportedly only comes to $180,000 per year — why was there no effort to try to find that money from sources other than Louisville Metro’s budget?

Which goes on to the second problem of finding a group — whether governmental or otherwise — to run the Park now: how does closing the Park complicate the problems it already has? What hidden costs might be added as a result of the closing? Certainly while closing Otter Creek Park to visitors has kick-started our group’s activism on behalf of the Park, it has also hurt interest in OCP by both local residents and visitors from elsewhere. Sure, it’s winter, and that’s the slowest season for outdoor recreation, but closing the Park entirely has to have had a “chilling effect” (pardon the pun). Additionally, since the Park isn’t being maintained, what start-up costs will a potential buyer/operator have to contend with? Wouldn’t the Park be more attractive if it was still open and being maintained?

The Mayor goes on to discuss Friends of Otter Creek Park within the context of “citizen enragement”:

LEO: I was at a community meeting [last] week in the southwestern part of the city. It’s been my experience at some of these meetings, including some where you’ve been there, that they start off on issues — and this one was about Otter Creek Park — and they get derailed into criticism of you, conspiracy theories about you and your administration. It seems to me this is the only part of the city where this happens with such regularity and drama.

JA: Citizen engagement is great. The fact that there are individuals pulling together to set up a Friends of Otter Creek, to look at options, to work with me ultimately on how we can keep it open. I think citizen engagement is great.

What troubles me are those that are involved in citizen enragement, and I’m afraid that in the area you’re referencing, there are two or three individuals who take much more pride in involving themselves in citizen enragement rather than citizen engagement.

… Citizen enragement, with sometimes not sharing the facts, framing the issues in a way that enrage rather than involve — unfortunately there have been a couple of folks out there in that area that have done that more than once, on more than one issue. And so it is what it is: We work with the folks who want to work with us.

I can’t speak for anyone else involved in Friends of Otter Creek Park in terms of their feelings towards Mayor Abramson. Given that our group consists of a large, diverse group of individuals from all over the surrounding region — including people who don’t live in Louisville Metro — it’s fair to say that there is probably not one, monolithic point of view given Louisville’s Mayor.

Speaking for the group, however, I will say that Friends of Otter Creek Park is ready to work with Mayor Abramson or any other government official, organization, charity, or group willing and interested in reopening Otter Creek Park. Period.

That said, our meetings are open to the public, and we value what everyone in the community has to say — otherwise we wouldn’t bother with public comment periods at our meetings. As far as I’m concerned, Friends of Otter Creek Park is about finding a solution to the problem through democratic and transparent means. The citizens of Louisville Metro and Jefferson County don’t deserve any less than that.

Short Friends of Otter Creek Park Interview on 84 WHAS

Posted in Development, Economics, Environment, Happenings, Kentucky News, Kentucky Small Towns, Labor, Louisville News, Media, Metro Parks, Ohio River, Otter Creek Park, Politics on January 5, 2009 by stateofthecommonwealth

(Otter Creek Park sign from whas.com.)

From our sister blog, Save Otter Creek Park:

84 WHAS aired a short story on Friends of Otter Creek Park this morning. You can read the story here, and listen to it here. There’s a short clip of audio in the piece from when I was interviewed by Suzanne Duvall of 84 WHAS last Friday. Obviously they couldn’t use everything, but the short bit where I point out that Otter Creek Park is one of the things that makes Louisville “unique” was nice.

Both WHAS-11 and WDRB-41 (clicking on the WDRB link will open Windows Media Player) mention the meeting tonight in news stories as well. Links courtesy the Valley Report.

And as the story points out, please don’t forget tonight’s meeting at the Southwest Government Center, 219 Dixie Hwy #106 in Southwest Louisville at 7 PM!

UPDATE: The agenda for tonight’s meeting has been posted here: http://saveottercreekpark.wordpress.com/2009/01/05/agenda-for-tonights-meeting.