Doggone it, We Elected Them

otis.jpgIt occurred to me that during these dog days of August we’re seeing some shameful and embarrassing acts by our elected leaders unfolding in the media. Thankfully, there are bulldog reporters on their trails, exposing their actions. But, really, when the Governor gets away with appointing an outlaw hunter to oversee the Fish and Wildlife Department, what can regular folks do? For one, keep your dog on a leash.

It’s been a good time for a few hard-working journalists. To wit:

Who Let the Dog In? — Thanks to LEO’s Cary Stemle for helping us understand the complex Metro Louisville dog ordinance, an example of local politics gone bad. Metro Council members have been barking at each other for more than two years to come up a way to keep dangerous dogs in check, while not infringing on dog owner rights. It’s somehow devolved into a partisan battle.

What’s that Smell? — The Metropolitan Sewer District dropped a $30 million tax hike on the city (your share is about $14 a month), and only one member, Doug Hawkins, raised a stink about it. Stephen George of LEO exposes some flaws in MSD’s structure.

Playing Hardball at School – A state legislative committee exposed more incompetence at the Dept. of Education straight by flushing its anti-recruiting proposal for high schools down the drain. The KHSAA would prefer that schools not recruit students based on their athletic prowess, but their solution amounted to shooting an ant with an AK-47. Proposal 2 would have forced hundreds of kids to sit out a year of competition. As the parent of a high school athlete, I’ve seen firsthand that recruiting goes on. Two years ago, a promising football player for Manual transferred to Trinity a week after playing in a freshman game against them. But I don’t think it’s widespread, and giving some investigative powers to the KHSAA, as suggested by the Glasgow Daily Times’ editorial on the issue, is a better solution.

Fletcher Caught Again — Every time our Governor appoints a crony or dodges an ethics charge, there seems to be an army of bloggers poised to point out the Gov’s incompetence. No one has done that better than Mark Nickolas, who looked up just how badly stacked Fletcher’s so-called Ethics Commission really is. Later in the week, Mark Hebert alertly pointed out that Fletcher’s choice to head the Fish and Wildlife Commission was well qualified – he was related to a Republican state senator, and he had experience breaking hunting laws. Sounds like a guy who’d feel right at home in a dogfight.

Stopping Smoking — In the House of Representatives, Ben Chandler and John Yarmuth quietly voted for a massive national cigarette tax increase of 45 cents, as part of a bill to provide health insurance for 11 million kids. The measure passed 225-204, largely along party lines, though Indiana’s Baron Hill was among just 10 Dems to vote against the measure. Don’t think future political opponents in Kentucky won’t bring this one up in future campaigns against Chandler and Yarmuth. Meanwhile, both candidates for Kentucky’s governorship refuse to consider bringing the state tax on cigs out of the country’s bottom five, or to bring up a statewide smoking ban.

Look Who Joined the Party: I’m a partner, with Jacob Payne, in a new media venture called PageOneKentucky. On Wednesday, Jake told me he’d seen a court record about Louisville footballer JuJuan Spillman’s arrest on DUI charges. The incident happened eight months ago, but had somehow been missed by local media, and Spillman was due in court this week. My call to U of L sports information officials seemed to take them by surprise, and once we published the news, both the Courier-Journal and WHAS-11 did their own reports. It was the second exclusive in an exciting first week for Page One.