See This Film on Mountaintop Removal

Public awareness of the tragedy that is Mountaintop Removal and its effects on eastern Kentucky have been looming large this week.

First, there was Ashley Judd speaking to 500 or more activists at I Love Mountains Day in Frankfort. There was the Diane Sawyer documentary that aired on ABC Friday, one of the highest-rated episodes in 20/20 history. The network is doing a follow-up report tonight at 10.

And it so happens that we finally got to see the award-winning documentary “Mountaintop Removal” thanks to our friend Gill Holland, who along with his wife Augusta were executive producers of the film. We also spoke with Mike O’Connell (not the Jefferson County Attorney) who produced the heart-wrenching documentary that chronicles a community’s fight with government to get a new school built to replace one that’s just down the hill from a toxic coal silo. O’Connell is the man behind Haw River Films, which produced the film.

Louisville native William Mapother narrates the film, which has won several awards, including one presented by Al Gore. It’s been featured at dozens of film festivals around the country, including one in Louisville just last month.

It’s eye-opening, in much the same way that Sawyer’s ABC piece is, but clearly shows the damage caused by the practice of mountaintop removal both to the landscape and the people. The footage of protests held in the West Virginia governor’s office are riveting. But it’s not all about protesters holding signs, as O’Connell explained to us. He has a lengthy interview with a big coal executive, and chronicles a man’s walk from Kentucky to Washington to make a point.

So you really need to see it. You can get a copy on the website above. Or, plan to attend the screening by the University of Kentucky Writing Program Film Series on Thursday, April 2, at 7:00 PM in the Auditorium in Young Library. O’Connell will be present for the screening and available to take questions from students and other audience members.

Big News Day Wrap-up Notes and Giggles

Only the Beginning: That audit on the Housing Department has everyone at City Hall busy. In three weeks, the Metro Council’s Oversight Committee will hold a Q&A with a rep from the Auditor’s Office.

500 Rally for Mountains: Ashley Judd wants to see mountaintop removal ended, and told 500 people at a rally in Frankfort today. She’s supporting Sen. Kathy Stein’s bill blocking coal companies from filling valleys with soil from mountaintops. Media note: photos of Ashley in the H-L, nada in the C-J. [Herald-Leader]

Can’t Stop Laughing: Page One has a post explaining what Gary Tapp’s homo bill really means. [Page One]

Another DTV Note: I know you probably turned off the TV after my appearance on the CW this morning, but later in the Louisville Live show this morning the CW became the first, and only, local station to shut down its analog signal. A farmer in Campbellsville complained, but otherwise everything went smoothly.

Eats Makes a Big List: We’re proud to announce that our own food and dining blog, Ville Voice Eats, has been selected by a significant national food blog as one of the “Best Food Blogs in America.” Congrats to our own David Domine for consistently coming up with great stories.

Fun with Facebook: I just got an e-mail with the subject line: Steve Forbert Sent you a Message on Facebook.  Steve has a new studio album coming out. How cool is that?

Time for a “What Were They Thinking” Update

Bulleit In Court: WLKY’s Jim Bulleit was in court yesterday. According to a court document, he pled guilty to the shoplifting and criminal trespassing charges and was placed in a diversion program — sort of a traffic school for shoplifters. And a condition of the deal was that Danger Boy can’t step foot in any Kroger. No word on whether he’ll be stepping foot in the WLKY studios anytime soon.

Lies at PRP: The principal at PRP thought so much of Coach Jason Stinson that he deleted e-mails complaining about Stinson’s practices. Then he told people he’d conducted a thorough investigation. David Johnson gave a four-hour deposition last week in which he said he didn’t even ask Stinson about the controversial practice for two days. And yes, Johnson, like Stinson, is still being paid by JCPS. [C-J]

Penetrating Read: Those potty-minded folks at LEO are having some fun with their new logo’s phallic possibilities. [FatLip]

Vroom Vroom: Gov. Beshear is holding a press conference at Kentucky Speedway to talk about the future of NASCAR here. Maybe it’s a new revenue plan to combine gambling, drinking, smoking and driving. [Press Release]

Taxing Phones: The smarties over at the Public Service Commission figured out that their revenue from a tax on landline phones was eventually going to disappear, so they ordered that everyone with a mobile phone now has to pay into a fund that provides devices for the deaf and hard of hearing. Kentucky has 2.4 million mobile numbers in use, while the number of landline phones has dropped by half since 2006. [PSC release]

Flooding the Troops: Okolona Metro Council member Madonna Flood has been collecting goodies for the troops in Iran and Afghanistan since 2007, and just launched a new drive. Called “Doing Our part from the Heart,” she’s collecting basic items to send overseas. [Metro Council release]

Lobbying Logic Lesson: Lobbyists spent $15.7 million on the General Assembly, led by the tobacco and casino industries. The tobacco tax increase was a fraction of what it should have been. Figure it out. [Page One]

Hump Day: Watch for news about I Love Mountains Day. Festivities start at 11 in Frankfort. [Page One]

Since it’s Tuesday: It must be time to watch the CW Louisville Live at 10. See you then.

Tomorrow is I Love Mountains Day

That’s right, ladies and Jim Gooch haters, I Love Mountains day is Tuesday, February 17th.

Here’s the schedule for the day as it’s currently planned:

11:00 A.M. – Kentuckians For The Commonwealth members and supporters gather at the Kentucky River in Frankfort where Capitol Avenue crosses the the river and intersects with Route 60.

  • 11:15 A.M. – Speaking begins at the Kentucky River
  • 11:30 A.M. – March begins up Capitol Avenue
  • 12:00 Noon – 1:00 P.M. – Gathering on the front steps of the Capitol for the rally

Speakers include:

  • Coalfield residents Randy Wilson, Willa Johnson and Silas House
  • Ashley Judd
  • Student Representative Emily Gillespie
  • Music provided by the Reel World String Band, Public Outcry, Daniel Martin Moore and Ben Sollee

So, if you’re a citizen who stands against mountaintop removal or a member of the media looking for a hot story? Head to Frankfort early Tuesday morning. The legislature won’t be in session but that won’t stop an amazing demonstration.

Inaugural Celebration Giveaway Thanks

We owe a special debt of gratitude to the great folks at Sustain for their generosity. The green lifestyle store (3724 Frankfort Avenue, Louisville) provided us with awesome t-shirts and water bottles as a giveaway for our readership that couldn’t make it to Tuesday night’s celebration.

We stopped by the store recently and want to share some pictures we snapped in anticipation of their grand reopening planned for late February. The store is open right now, but will be stocking thousands of great new products over the next few weeks. So stay tuned for that.

Without further ado, take a look and stop by their store sometime.

Click here to peep the rest…

Yarmuth Amendment Requires Global Warming Info

Rep. John Yarmuth will offer an amendment this afternoon to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2008 that will require NASA to make critical information and scientific research available to the public.

This is in response to a series of Oversight & Government reform hearings last year where House members uncovered evidence that information was suppressed in order to hide the causes and effects of global warming. My, how very Jim Gooch of NASA and the Bush Misadministration.

The amendment will make sure that NASA takes into consideration recommendations made by the Government Accountability Office and National Academy of Sciences to help prevent future manipulation of science.

The GAO and NAS recommend:

  • Information supporting major published results should be made available to other researchers.
  • An infrastructure must be put in place to make data accessible through unrestricted archives.
  • Data should be made available without delay to allow for analysis and publication of results.
  • Prices of accessing date should not exceed the marginal cost of reproduction and distribution.

All right for Yarmie standing up in the name of government transparency.