This Is Not Goodbye

NOTE: Updates will appear below this post, as it will be stickied at the top for the next several days.

Late Sunday I announced something that’s resulted in a lot of chatter and unbelievable attention: I’m leaving Kentucky. Just hold your horses before cheering – I’ll still be covering the ongoing scandals that have been uncovered by this website (like Montgomery County Schools, hemp, various Democratic Party messes) and will still be releasing huge amounts of documents and recordings that I have worked hard to acquire over the last few years.

Page One and The ‘Ville Voice will be focusing more on covering Kentucky’s delegation in Washington, as that’s something we’ve all dropped the ball on for years. As I begin to dig in, I’ll transition to several updates per week instead of several updates per day. The change is necessary for progress and sustainability.

I’ll also be transitioning back into doing what I love – research! Unrelated to my work here. It’s essentially what I did before this and have continued to do in order to get great stories. It’s exciting and affects real change. Only makes sense to keep my network of sources, law enforcement contacts, friends, legislators and the like intact. Democrat or Republican, candidate or issue, cause, concern, reporter, that means I’m for hire. My work speaks for itself and there’s a literal decade of material proving my value. Not afraid to toot my own horn here because there aren’t many others who have had the persistence and determination to dig things out of the darkness these last several years. Need someone to uncover something in Kentucky? A typical D.C. firm won’t have the access I have struggled to gain no matter how much you pay them. Just ask Louisville Metro Animal Services, Will Coursey or the Montgomery County Board of Education.

Those paying attention shouldn’t be surprised by this departure. The latest efforts in Frankfort to enact homophobic “Religious Freedom” legislation have had a chilling effect on business and progress in Kentucky. 90% or more of our advertising (location-targeted, mostly directed at state employees and the education community) comes from the enterprise world outside the state. All but two of those sponsors have expressed serious concern and outright doubt about spending money here as a result of that homophobic mess. It’s not just North Carolina – its happening here, just quietly. Who could blame them? Kim Davis and the unreal marriage license circus she kicked off haven’t helped.

After a few years of progress, we’ve jumped back at least 20. Remaining in a state that wants to deny people housing, jobs, access to care and other basic human rights because a handful of old guys are gay-panicked is no longer an option.

Governor Matt Bevin’s decision to back off the expansion of broadband infrastructure while slashing and burning the already starving higher education budget are additional setbacks that will keep Kentucky in the dark ages for decades to come. And in this world of Netflix 4K streaming and feature-rich websites, the only places in Kentucky keeping up are our major cities. That’s not good enough for the Commonwealth and isn’t exactly acceptable for Kentucky’s 110 other counties. The best places, the best people and the most important stories aren’t in the Golden Triangle. When you can’t reach them, you can’t reach Kentucky.

And no offense to the city I love but people in Somerset just don’t care about your arena, your bridges, your murder rate or Rick Pitino. There’s another world outside the expressway and it deserves our attention.

The health care roller coaster is another nightmare and you don’t need to hear my thoughts about that. Because young creatives are leaving, the working poor are beginning to suffer, those who need help the most are being treated as expendable. In fact, I never would have had access to affordable care if it weren’t for kynect.

All of this is happening while the Kentucky Democratic Party is officially in turmoil. People are getting indicted left and right and all the key players seem content not rocking the boat. With the exception of Mary Lou Marzian, Denise Harper Angel, Morgan McGarvey, Darryl Owens and a few other legislators? Complacency reigns supreme.

With that out of the way, I don’t want to be super-negative. Not sure how to put the rest of this into words because it’s not a goodbye, though it’s still tremendously difficult to express.

The Commonwealth of Kentucky is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. I’ve chosen to live my life here because of that beauty and its people who love what I love. If you’re a Kentuckian, you *get* what I mean. It’s not something that’s easily explained. It’s just in your blood, you catch the bug, you get sucked in, hooked on it. From fine Kentucky bourbon to Eastern Whippoorwills to the foothills of our Appalachians, I love it all. Every bit of it. It’s intoxicating and I hope I get to return here some day soon.

When people close to me have died or I’ve hit bumps in the road, support has come from the most unexpected places and from people no one would have ever imagined. I’ve mostly kept things to myself all these years but want to highlight a few of them today:

  • When a corrupt hospice organization was complicit in draining my dying mother’s accounts and keeping me from seeing her, former Congressman Geoff Davis was on the phone with me within an hour. He went out of his way to help mom all the while knowing I would continue to publicly criticize and scrutinize his every move. Democrats don’t like hearing it but he’s a man of tremendous integrity. He never allowed me to thank him but I remain grateful.
  • When mom died, former Senate President David Williams and his family unexpectedly jumped to my rescue. The sent food (OH GOD THAT CARROT CAKE!), made sure I was functioning, sent people to my home. They showed compassion that made me believe family isn’t just blood.
  • When I wanted to bridge two unlikely forces to tackle some major holes in Kentucky’s anti-elder abuse efforts, I wasn’t sure what I could do. But my mind was blown when Senator Rand Paul’s people stepped up to the plate and State Represenative Joni Jenkins did the same. They sat down with me over several meals and they made things happen. Who could have predicted THAT? I still can’t believe it occurred. They put their differences aside and started something that’s rolling on to this day. Whether they admit it or not, those two camps are responsible for improving Kentucky on that front.
  • When Jack Conway’s people launched a nasty defamation campaign against me in 2011 (how dare anyone highlight corruption involving Democrats! especially when they’re gay), Dan Canon stepped up to help. He fought for me and for others and helped change the game. It may have cost me everything I had but it was worth it because Dan made it worth it. He’s gone on to score one of the biggest equality victories in history with his team. All while helping people from all walks of life seek justice. He’s a treasure in your own backyard and you don’t even know it.
  • When a tornado struck my hometown of West Liberty in March 2012, an unthinkable number of people jumped on the Red Cross website when I asked. No one said no. It warms my heart to know that every single person I called made contributions while on the phone and almost everyone emailed verification. Some of them sent trucks of food and supplies. Others got their congregations and friends together and moved quickly into action when I suggested they could stay with my loved ones back home. That remains one of the most impressive things I’ve witnessed in life.
  • After nearly a decade of uncovering corruption at Louisville Metro Animal Services, ousting director after director, documenting instance of horrific abuse after instance of horrific abuse, someone in a position of power finally took me seriously and put his foot down. Metro Councilman Kelly Downard, a conservative Republican, stepped in and launched an effort to clean things up. He got his colleagues together and used my years of work to hold people like Sadiqa Reynolds and Margaret Brosko accountable. Along with the assistance of his fellow councilmembers, Cindi Fowler and the incomparable Tina Ward-Pugh, they even changed the law. Sadie’s Law. Named in honor of the dog I profiled. That heartbreaking story ultimately changed the law and altered the direction of animal care in Kentucky’s largest city. It’s humbling and I’m grateful for Kelly Downard.
  • After uncovering a level of corruption – I still can’t fully believe it! – in Montgomery County Schools that shook my knees, I jumped on it, shed light on the situation day in and day out for what’s going on three years. Everyone in power sat on their hands, turning a blind eye to abuses of authority and outright law breaking, thieving and good old boy shenanigans you only see on television. Until an attorney at the Education Professional Standards Board named Alicia Sneed took action and launched a years-long investigation. That investigation is about to come to an end in a few weeks but it’s what helped me get the ball rolling. Once she started taking things seriously, I was able to get superintendent Joshua Powell removed, got his illegally-hired wife ousted, swept out about 50 (really) members of his henchman-filled inner circle, changed the makeup of the school board and got the former Commissioner of Education “resigned” from his contract nearly two years early. If it weren’t for Sneed, thousands of children and hundreds of teachers would still be suffering. She gives me hope that public servants can be inherently good.

That’s just scratching the surface but I hope it gives you a feel for what I’m talking about.

So many of you have reached out to ask what you can do to help and there’s one big way to do so:

You can also make contributions via secure credit card invoice if you shoot me an email. You could even consider purchasing ad space because you know Frankfort is watching. This website is their guilty pleasure.

Traffic here is insane even on days when I don’t publish, so I know you’re getting something out of it. If you do and you want to see me continue to cover what your mainstream media outlets ignore, please chip in. Immediate support will help me move a storage unit filled with documents to a more secure facility where I’ll be for the next year. Seriously – Uhaul is outrageously expensive.

Never imagined a gay kid from the mountains could get this far. With your help, I climbed to the top in a homophobic place like Kentucky. Now I just want to continue lending the voice I’ve gained to people who deserve it far more than the person writing this.

I’m never giving up on Kentucky and I hope you don’t give up on me.

NOTE: Updates will appear below this post, as it will be stickied at the top for the next several days.

4 thoughts on “This Is Not Goodbye

  1. I’m gonna miss this site and your reporting. It was a daily requirement for me.
    We’re gonna be worse off in this city and this state without your muckraking.
    Much success to you.

  2. Won’t be disappearing, site isn’t going anywhere. I’ll just be focusing more on the critters in DC.

    Though, in fairness, The ‘Ville Voice has become a bit of an afterthought the past few years. Only really updating when there’s something that doesn’t fit with Page One.

  3. Ah, Jake… Much luck to you – and BAD luck to the miscreants that fall under your microscope.

    *Before your mind & body wander, do you know why the JCTA pays for TV commercials?

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