Yates Launching Campaign to Unseat Hawkins

David Yates has the ideal pedigree to knock off Doug Hawkins in the 2010 Metro Council race in District 25.

Yates’ grandfather, James B. Yates Sr., served 22 years in the Kentucky General Assembly, often taking his grandson with him to campaign stops, government meetings and trips to Frankfort. The younger Yates, 29, is an attorney. Graduated from Holy Cross High School, U of L and law school at NKU. He was political even in college, winning the presidency of U of L’ s College Democrats.

He married his high school sweetheart and has a three-year-old child. He’s active in his church, and has volunteered as an instructor in that Dave Ramsey course. He addresses people he doesn’t know on the phone with a respectful “Sir.”

He’s done plenty of other resume-building in Valley Station, and he’s launching his campaign next weekend at the Carpenters Union Hall on Dixie Highway. Just this week, he opened his own private law practice. He was previously the in-house lawyer for the local UAW, which he said he’s retaining as his first client.

Of course, I couldn’t get him to say anything negative about his opponent, Doug Hawkins. Yates’ downfall could be that he’s exceptionally polite. Except he did tell me he wasn’t a supporter of the whole guns-in-church idea, which Hawkins has supported to the point of doing one of his increasingly frequent YouTube interviews with the pastor and getting his name in the New York Times.

Hawkins has won two elections for Metro Council, neither by a substantial margin. He lost a race against Perry Clark last fall for State Senate. He holds the Council record for being on the short end of 25-1 votes, including every budget bill. His attempts to block a bomb shelter from being put in his district, in retrospect, seems pretty silly. If Yates chooses to attack Hawkins on the campaign trail, he’ll have plenty of ammunition.

Hawkins knows how to get his name in the media, and how to use technology to get attention. Some would say he can stir up a crowd. The question in 2010 will be whether all that publicity will be a positive in the minds of voters who, for the first time, will have a real choice.

Anti-Jerry Movement Taking Hold

Today the local Republican Party came out with some bold statements criticizing Mayor Jerry Abramson. Brad Cummings, the local GOP chair, for the first time, listed the Mayor’s sins in a lengthy document, which you can see here.

Ultimately, the Republicans are encouraging the Mayor not to run for another term. Last week, amid speculation that he might be a part of Steve Beshear’s gubernatorial ticket in 2011, Abramson said he’d make a decision on his future by August.

The GOP isn’t alone in criticizing the Mayor, and perhaps today’s presser is meant to persuade him in making that decision. A loud contingent of South End-ers, led by Doug Hawkins, has its own complaints about the Mayor on multiple issues ranging from taxes to placement of a bomb storage facility.

The Mayor might be considering whether he’s up for a campaign in which he’ll be mightily criticized, but the GOP campaign could also backfire and push the ego-flashing Mayor toward a more determined run for re-election. Who knows what he’s thinking?

The question remains, though, who’s got the name ID and resources to challenge him? Certainly no one on the Metro Council, though we’ve speculated that the Republicans might put up Kevin Kramer. It’s hard to imagine him doing any better than Kelly Downard last time.

The critiques center on the multiple controversies we’ve been chronicling in the last several years. You know what we’re talking about here, but the list indicts the Mayor for his handling of and promotion of individuals in the departments of Inspections, Permits and Licensing, Metro Animal Services, Planning and Zoning, Libraries and the notorious Department of Housing.  Cummings didn’t even mention the problems at Corrections, which is a disaster waiting to happen.

Any opponent would be able to thrust these people into the spotlight of a political race — John Flood, Kimberly Bunton, Charles Cash, Gilles Meloche and Mark Bolton — just to put names to the perceived Abramson mistakes.

Cummings devotes much of his speech to criticism of the city’s deal with Cordish Companies, but doesn’t talk about his ill-conceived decision to promise to clean up everyone’s yard after the big storms.

The local GOP makes a strong case against Abramson, and no doubt wants him to get to a decision on running again right away. The field for the 2010 Mayor’s race won’t form until we knew whether Jerry’s in or out, and there are plenty of people eyeing the race with a plan to jump in if Jerry’s out.

Litter vs. Speech Will Go to Court

It didn’t take long for the Courier-Journal to file suit against the city over the Metro Council’s new anti-littering ordinance.

The Council approved the ordinance this month, which doesn’t outlaw the distribution of C-J advertising supplements, but requires that they be delivered to porches instead of thrown on driveways and streets. A similar ordinance was proposed two years ago, but the C-J at that time convinced the Council that it would voluntarily change the way the supplements are distributed. That worked briefly, but Council members say it’s gotten out of hand again.

C-J publisher Arnold Garson says he can’t accept the restrictions in the ordinance, even though he claims the supplements aren’t thrown on driveways and sidewalks.

The Council gets lots of complaints about the little green bags. The problem is especially prevalent in the South End, places like Okolona, PRP and Valley Station, but also in sponsor Brent Ackerson’s district, around Taylorsville Road and Browns Lane.

Ackerson said he met with C-J representatives shortly before the ordinance was passed. He was confident, after talking with the county attorney’s office, that the ordinance was constitutional. He said the paper was unwilling to discuss a way to pass any type of ordinance, claiming that any type of  legal restriction would be unconstitutional. So the meeting was unproductive, and the Council moved ahead.

The newspaper claims it’s a First Amendment matter.  The Council says there’s a limit to how much you can litter on the streets of the city.

If the ordinance survives the C-J’s fight, its effects may be felt by politicians this fall, because it applies to political advertisements, or any printed material distributed without consent. Imagine the stakes as opponents in political races charge each other with violating the ordinance, and then lodge complaints with the city.

C-J attorney Jon Fleischaker, in a gross exaggeration, wrote in the paper’s suit that fines could equal $68 million a week. No, that won’t happen as long as the C-J instructs its carriers to deliver the supplements properly.

The county attorney’s office will defend the ordinance in court. The law was scheduled to go into effect Aug. 25.

Nice Weather, Not Nice News

Enjoy this stretch of good weather, but check with us for all the news.

Everybody Loves Shelly: Not really, but the School Board gave a really positive review of Sheldon Berman’s performance as JCPS superintendant, no doubt impressed by the 35-page self-assessment he provided yesterday. The teachers’ union criticized the glowing evaluation. [Courier]

Bad Guy in Health Insurance Dispute: Consumers will be the big losers in the dispute between Anthem and Norton, which comes to a head when the contract between the two ends tonight. Norton wants too much money, and Anthem isn’t providing good customer service. Patients will have to pay more or switch doctors. [Courier]

No Black Judges: As the NAACP’s Raoul Cunningham writes, there’s something wrong with a community with 20 percent African-American representation and ZERO African-American judges. [Cunningham]

Supremes Reject DVR Case: The Supreme Court is not going to step in and hear a case that would stop the surge of DVR technology. Network execs are worred ‘cuz it allows viewers to skip commercials. [NYTimes]

Running From the Camera: We love a good TV ambush, especially when the targets take off on a sprint away from the camera. Check out Adam Walser trying to track down some company guilty of ripping people off in an oil scam. [WHAS-TV]

Horsey Competition: Lexington residents are painting fiberglass horses to display around town with something they’re calling Horse Mania.  Really, really similar to Gallopalooza. [LexGo]

Reporting on a Slow News Day

Is It Required that Every Business Association Abuse Its Members’ Finances?: The latest Lexington Herald-Leader investigation turns up abuse of privileges by execs at the Kentucky Association of Counties. Travel and entertainment bill for five people in two years — $600K. When is somebody going to clean house? [H-L]

Horne On Board for Jack: Andrew Horne is the latest Democrat to sign up to support Jack Conway’s U.S. Senate bid. [Page One]

Wondering What’s Happening with Our Fave U of L Professor: Here’s the latest in the never-ending Robert Felner scandal. [Page One]

How to Be a Reporter: Thanks to WFPL’s Gabe Bullard for pointing out YouTube’s Reporters’ Center, which gives helpful hints on reporting from people like Katie Couric and Bob Woodward. Cool? Yes. [YouTube]

How Slow Is It?: I counted six video cameras and plenty of reporters at today’s Sullivan University System news conference. The expansion was newsworthy, but the story got a lot more play because nothing was going on. And it was nice to get outside.

Long Way Down: Imagine being a doctor grossing $7 million a year, then blowing everything at casinos and racetracks. Dr. Stanly Lowenbraun killed himself in a Vegas hotel room, 10 years after initiating the largest bankruptcy case in Kentucky history. [Courier]

Power Out:  LG&E is experiencing some random power outages, (including Jake’s neighborhood) nothing widespread, but still if you call its phone system and try to talk to someone, it’s impossible to do.  The message says they’re experiencing high call volumes, so too bad for you.Which sucks.

The Grim Reaper: Add Fred Travalena, familiar to those of us who watched late-night TV in the ’70s and ’80s, to the list of celebrity deaths that’s getting kind of creepy. Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Billy Mays in the span of several days.

Bluegrass Treasures & Horse Farms Give-Away

We recently gave away copies of The Complete Guide to Kentucky State Parks because we love our magnificent state parks system.

And now, thanks to Sunshine Publications, we’ve pleased to give away two copies (each) of Horse Farms and Horse Tales of the Bluegrass and Bluegrass Treasures: A Guide to Extraordinary Lodging, Dining & Entertainment. If you’re a Kentuckian or someone who plans to visit the Commonwealth of Kentucky, these books could come in handy.

Horse Farms tells the stories of Kentucky’s thoroughbred industry dating back to the Commonwealth’s early statehood and includes some recent additions to the racing scene. The stories of the beautiful horse farms we all cherish are deep and interesting. A few have absentee owners, some are family-owned and operated but all of them consistently produce outstanding horses. The book is a thin 91 pages but contains 85 black and white photographs and an area map. It includes a visitor’s guide that details racetracks, rehabilitation facilities and a jockey school.

Bluegrass Treasures is a real traveler’s guide and details the Bluegress Region. You’ll find information about the finest inns, beds & breakfasts, coffee shops, cafes, bistros, fine restaurants, golf courses, horses, lakes, hiking trails, theaters, festivals, the arts and an infamous castle. The book is likewise a thin and convenient 94 pages and contains tons of full-color photographs and maps. Written by Wilma Clapp and Mary Newton Davis, it’s also sure to be treasured by anyone who loves Kentucky.

So, leave a comment we’ll draw winners this Friday afternoon. You know the drill. Two winners receive a copy of each book.

In light of recent horse industry news, the least we can do is keep this conversation going. So maybe let us know what you love about the Bluegrass with your comment. And keep it positive.

CLICK HERE to enter the contest by leaving a comment…

Berman’s Case is a Long One

When the Board of Education considers Sheldon Berman’s accomplishments this afternoon, they’ll have digested quite a case being made by the Superintendent. In preparing for today’s meeting, Berman put together a comprehensive document listing four goals with multiple strategies for achieving each one.

In his intro to the Board, Berman’s “Progress Report on 2008-09 Comprehensive District Improvement Plan and Strategic Action Plan” discusses a county-wide “Theory of Action” of in-progress initiatives, including the controversial student-assignment plan.

Before concluding, Berman mentions the setbacks that have plagued his tenure, including economic reductions, the brouhaha over not renewing teachers and the ensuing battle with the teachers union, and the death of PRP football player Max Gilpin.

Of course, the document doesn’t touch on stories we’ve published at Page One chronicling conflicts of interest and his travel schedule, like the ones here, and here and here.  The evaluation of Berman by the Board takes place in private, but we’d sure like to know if the Board plans to bring up any of these items as it considers his performance on the job. They’ve got nearly two hours on the agenda to do it. Here’s his message to the Board:

In spite of the challenges of 2008-09, I am optimistic that we will continue to strengthen JCPS and foster a national reputation for excellence in urban education.

Interested in reading the whole thing? Here’s a link.