All This Snow Makes Day Drinking OK

WDRB is apparently still freaking out over kids misbehaving on school buses. [WDRB]

Brown-Forman Corporation has received an initial go-ahead from city regulators to start major work on its Old Forester Distillery and visitors experience project at 117-119 W. Main St. [C-J/AKN]

We’d tell you what WHAS11 was freaking out about but their website was down all day. And their crotchety old twitter people have us blocked, unlike every other media outlet in town, because they probably can’t take jokes. Even WDRB knows how to take a joke. Eric Flack can take a joke. Can you imagine? It’s the most hilarious thing since A Kentucky Newspaper started blocking our websites due to criticism of its atrocious Felner coverage. [Deep WHAS11 Funtimes]

Preliminary estimates from a consulting firm hired by the city show the cost will be $175 to $200 million to build a fiber-optic network to increase sluggish Internet speeds and expand Internet access in Fayette County. [H-L]

SNOOOOOOOOOWWWWWPOOOOOOCALYYYYYYYYYPSEEEEEEEEE! [WLKY]

Rand Paul (R-Cookie Tree), still disappointed at being left off the main stage at last week’s GOP presidential debate, expressed disapproval of polling criteria during a campaign stop at a barbershop on Monday afternoon. [HuffPo]

Louisville Metro Police confirmed Wednesday that remains found in Oldham County were those of a UPS pilot missing since May. [WAVE3]

Just a reminder of what Julie Raque Adams has been doing to poor women in Kentucky. While she flits about Frankfort talking about how great she is for wealthy, Republican women? Poor people are suffering as a direct consequense of her imposing her antiquated religious beliefs on the Commonwealth. [Page One]

Police departments across Kentucky began outfitting officers with body cameras last year, but don’t expect state troopers to join their ranks anytime soon. [WFPL]

For years there have been calls for more transparency in Kentucky’s retirement systems, especially the system for lawmakers. [Ronnie Ellis]

Republic Bancorp Inc. CEO Steve Trager has just gained control of an additional 671,808 shares of the bank-holding company’s stock, according to a Jan. 8 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. [Business First]

Cheaper cigarettes are the lure for people in Illinois who cross the Wabash River to visit the Smoker Friendly tobacco outlets in Indiana. [News & Tribune]

Donna Hargens Is Now In Meltdown Mode

Your support is crucial if you want to see us continue. While other media outlets ignore scandals like those in Montgomery County, we’re shining the bright lights of transparency on issues that directly impact you across the Commonwealth. Love us or hate us, we’re putting in the time and effort to spend years reporting on issues from the pension crisis to government-sanctioned animal cruelty to educational corruption and we get real results. [Help Us!]

Donna Hargens is right when she says Jefferson County Public Schools are not in a crisis. She’s in a crisis. Of her own making. [WDRB]

When the Ohio River Bridges Project and Spaghetti Junction were redesigned in 2011 to trim $1.5 billion from the project budget, Louisville waterfront officials lost a chance to add up to 40 acres to Waterfront Park, widely viewed as a community gateway. [C-J/AKN]

WARNING! RIDICULOUS AUTOPLAY VIDEO! Jefferson County Public Schools approved a measure Monday evening that will have more students college and career ready. [WHAS11]

Kentucky legislators, who often call for greater transparency from the struggling state employee pension system, keep their own retirement accounts in a much better-financed system that publicly offers no information about itself. [H-L]

WARNING! RIDICULOUS AUTOPLAY VIDEO! Two murders in four days. It was the deadliest weekend in recent memory, in what police say has been the deadliest year in the city since 1979. [WLKY]

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry hailed the newly passed international climate change agreement as a major achievement that could help turn the tide on global warming, but got a quick reminder that Republicans will fight it all the way. So of course Mitch McConnell lost his mind. [HuffPo]

In it’s seventh year, Big Momma’s Soul Kitchen is worried they may not be able to keep up their annual tradition of free Christmas dinner for hundreds in Louisville. [WAVE3]

“Facts matter, science matters, data matters. That’s what this hearing is about.” That’s how Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), the chairman of the Senate’s Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness, began a Monday hearing he called about the reality of human-caused climate change. Cruz — who is also running for president — does not believe that human-caused climate change is real, which he made clear at Monday’s hearing. He did not make it clear that 97 percent of climate scientists disagree with him, but such is life in the U.S. Senate, where 70 percent of Republicans largely side with Cruz. [ThinkProgress]

Recently, I spent a week in Germany studying the country’s energy transition. Elected officials and businesses there have committed the country to aggressive renewable energy goals during the past couple decades; meanwhile, they’ve also mandated phase-outs for nuclear and coal-fired power plants. [WFPL]

Looking to improve Medicaid managed care for all Kentuckians, House Speaker Greg Stumbo pre-filed legislation that would end unnecessary delays in Medicaid payments to healthcare providers and recipients while setting a baseline limit on how much money must be spent on care on Friday. [Floyd County Times]

Yum! Brands Inc. CEO Greg Creed said he wasn’t shocked by yesterday’s downgrade from Standard & Poor’s Rating Service that cut his company’s debt rating to junk status. [Business First]

The Jeffersonville City Council At-large race recount is on a temporary hiatus. The recount, which started Saturday around 9:30 a.m., was put on halt around 5 p.m. after four of the 30 precincts had been counted, said Larry Wilder, attorney for the Republican candidates. [News & Tribune]

Need cheap mobile phone service? Maybe even for a backup cell phone? I’m talking $6/mo cheap? Use our Ting referral code and we’ll all get a sweet credit. You get $25 — enough for a couple months of service to determine whether you like it. Both CDMA and GSM options. [Ting]

Hackbarth & Hargens Caught In Another Potentially Illegal Anti-Transparency Mess

Remember Bonnie Hackbarth? She’s the PR hack being paid a couple hundred bucks per second or whatever to serve as a spokesperson for Jefferson County Public Schools. By all accounts, as you’ve read in nearly every publication in town, she’s served as an apologist and whitewasher for superintendent Donna Hargens.

And based on what just showed up in our inbox, she’s been violating open records law like woah.

I’m not gonna do extensive reporting on it because you already know I believe Bonnie Hackbarth to be remarkably bad at her job.

So check out this long PDF about the open records fiasco:


CLICK TO ENLARGE — PDF — REDACTIONS OURS

Here’s the email he was responding to:

Mr. Setters,
I am responding to your email to Tamera Crawford below.

First, I would like to apologize to you for our mistaken understanding that requesters are required to make an appointment to view records that have been prepared in response to Open Records Requests. Given your opposing interpretation of the law, I sought legal advice and was told that you are correct. Please accept our sincere apologies. It was never our intent to make it more difficult for you to view documents; in fact, we wanted to make sure that someone was here to assist you. Here is our current interpretation of the law: Once we have responded in writing to a written Open Records Request to let the requester know the date and place at which documents will be available for inspection, the requester may come to that location at any time on or after that date during normal business hours to view those documents. Again, I am very sorry for our error.

As for the status of your outstanding Open Records Requests, please see the letter mailed to you on November 16, 2015 (attached; please disregard the statements “by appointment,” pursuant to our corrected understanding of the law, as noted above). All other documents you requested in your October 5, 2015, that are listed as available in this response are available for your review.

Sincerely,

Bonnie J. Hackbarth
JCPS Communications and Community Relations
502-485-3551 (office)
Jcps.communications@jefferson.kyschools.us

How you gonna make something like $10,000 per month and not be at least loosely familiar with Kentucky’s open records law?

Please.

Just think — your tax dollars are paying for Bonnie Hackbarth to drag JCPS further into a boiling pot of awful.

Transparency? Not a thing with JCPS. Not now, not ever. The current administration is just like the two previous administrations.

Sadly, There Won’t Be 40 Days Of Peace

The 2015 Dirt Bowl Championship was held Sunday at Shawnee Park, but basketball wasn’t the only reason for the event. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and other community leaders helped announce a 40 Days of Peace Campaign, which will start Thursday. [WDRB]

When Jefferson County Public Schools launched a contest in 2013 for its “Schools of Innovation,” the plan was to find ideas for helping students so out-of-the-box that they could “make bureacrats gasp.” [C-J/AKN]

School starts on Wednesday for students in Jefferson County and officials are continuing the annual tradition of helping parents with making the bus commute smoother. [WHAS11]

More than 93 percent of teachers and 89 percent of education leaders who were evaluated have been rated “exemplary” or “accomplished” in the first year of statewide implementation of Kentucky’s Professional Growth and Effectiveness System. [H-L]

An area festival showcased the wide variety of hemp – a crop many are hoping to bring back to the Bluegrass. [WLKY]

Asked if his flat tax plan would further separate the haves from the have-nots, GOP presidential hopeful Sen. Rand Paul (R-WTF) said Sunday that income inequality is the result of some Americans working harder than others, rather than economic policies. [HuffPo]

A Kentucky non-profit organization is pushing for the legalization of medical marijuana. [WAVE3]

Robert Freeman has been helping people extract public information from New York state agencies for four decades. He is the executive director of the New York Committee on Open Government, a division of the New York Department of State that advises the public on the Freedom of Information Law — the state statute authorizing access to public records. [ProPublica]

Louisville home buyers and sellers interested in environmentally friendly elements and technology have a new way to identify those features on their homes. [WFPL]

Rand Paul in an interview Sunday called Donald Trump, who refused to rule out a third-party run during the first GOP debate, a “fake conservative.” [The Hill]

Nashville, Tenn., gets called a boomtown so frequently these days that it borders on cliche. Yet it’s clear that the city just three hours away down Interestate 65 has seen significant growth in the past several years. [Business First]

Options available for the city to address blighted commercial buildings, some of which have been shuttered for years, will be a topic during the next New Albany City Council meeting. [News & Tribune]

HELP PROTECT OUR SOURCES! Stop the Montgomery County-Joshua Powell-Phil Rison insanity! [CLICK HERE]

No Such Thing As Fischer Transparency

Roughly 30 members of the local city and government employee union rallied outside JCPS headquarters Monday saying it’s been more than two years since the district talked wages. [WDRB]

Of course Greg Fischer’s stunt broke state law. Did anyone ever expect this man to truly be transparent? To truly be up-front? Please. Not even the Brown Family is in his corner. First-rate shyster that the Democrats are afraid to oust. The news director of WAVE-3 is accusing Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer of violating Kentucky’s open meetings law after banning photographs and video footage during a press briefing to review new designs for the downtown Omni Hotel project. [C-J/AKN]

During the JCPS board meeting July 27 the board voted to hand over control of the Challenger Learning Center to the Kentucky Science Center. [WHAS11]

Would-be independent gubernatorial candidate Drew Curtis is making the trip to Fancy Farm in far Western Kentucky this weekend, and he said he has a speech prepared just in case. [H-L]

WARNING! RIDICULOUS AUTOPLAY VIDEO! Officials in Clarksville, Indiana, are seeing results after stepping up security at the local town hall. [WLKY]

Senators overruled heated conservative opposition Monday and added a measure reviving the federal Export-Import Bank to must-pass highway legislation. But House Republicans declared the transportation bill dead on arrival. [HuffPo]

One of the defining characteristics of democracy in the 21st century is that nearly every member of the public can watch the government in action. Through live broadcasts and daily TV news reports, citizens can see and hear the deliberations and decisions that affect their daily lives. [WAVE3]

Wondering how messed up your outgoing Commissioner of Education is in the world of corrupt superintendents? Here’s a fun deposition. [Page One]

An ordinance that affordable housing advocates consider a big step forward in Louisville’s quest to boost living options for low-income residents is being held up in a Metro Council ad hoc committee. [WFPL]

Will the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice give in to a literal hate group? [ThinkProgress]

It seems like just yesterday British distilling giant Diageo PLC broke ground on a $115 million distillery in Shelby County. But it wasn’t yesterday. It was actually last August. And now, less than a year since that groundbreaking, some warehousing operations at the facility already are up and running. [Business First]

Roundabouts. Love them or hate them, they’re the crux of the new Ind. 265/Ind. 62/Port Road interchange that is part of the east-end crossing project. And they’re among the first in Southern Indiana. [News & Tribune]

Support That JCPS Clothing Program

Just more of that well-known Greg Fischer transparency! Greg Fischer’s office called a meeting but banned cameras as it planned to update local media on the Omni Hotel project. [WAVE3]

Officials with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office arrested a man who authorities say passed contraband to a Metro Corrections inmate. [WDRB]

One by one, women board a breast-cancer screening van in southwestern Jefferson County to receive mammograms. [C-J/AKN]

We’d share more information with you but the new comms person at JCPS is apparently a disaster who refuses to communicate with anyone who doesn’t drink the Kool-aid. The JCPS annual Clothing Assistance Program Blitz kicked off Monday morning. [WHAS11]

Even after years of talk about a “war on coal,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell startled some of his constituents in March when he urged open rebellion against a White House proposal for cutting pollution from coal-fired power plants. [H-L]

WARNING! RIDICULOUS AUTOPLAY VIDEO! Just a reminder that, sure, there’s fun crap happening but your leadership is effectively ignoring the shooting problem in this city. [WLKY]

President Barack Obama fired back at former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) on Monday after the 2016 Republican presidential candidate invoked the specter of the Holocaust in comments regarding the Iran nuclear deal. [HuffPo]

History was made Sunday when the the city’s first statue honoring a woman was unveiled at Cathedral of the Assumption. [WAVE3]

In L.A. and cities across the United States, it is effectively illegal to be dirt poor in a country where more than 45 million people live in poverty. [The Intercept]

Harrison County, Indiana, officials are being sued in federal court by a former employee of the county clerk’s office who claims she was fired after refusing to process a same-sex marriage license. [WFPL]

New York state recently announced an increase in the minimum wage for fast food workers, to $15 an hour. It’s the fruit of a three-year labor campaign. But there’s another group of workers out there that hasn’t had a real wage increase in decades. [NPR]

The advertising and marketing agency Power Creative has developed a new executive leadership team. CEO David Power said he’s promoted three employees to serve as chief operating, innovation and marketing officers. He created the three positions to better define roles. [Business First]

This time last year, onlookers from the Big Four Bridge were met with the sight of dilapidated docks and an eroding, uneven shoreline at Jeffersonville’s Ohio River bank. [News & Tribune]

Major Reality Check For Greg Fischer

You thought everything was going swell for Greg Fischer?

His lack of transparency has gotten so bad that Gill Holland is speaking up:

As much as our city government and the Omni developers most likely want the critical letters to the editor to stop, the reality is that the groundswell of citizen dismay is growing. An increasing number of Louisvillians are realizing there are several significant issues with the Omni situation.

-SNIP-

There are two main problems with this deal. One is financial. The clause of the contract where the city contractually promises NOT to incentivize any other significant (more than 400 rooms) hotel group within a mile of downtown for almost 10 years is of utmost concern. In my mind, the city will grow significantly in the next decade, and we will need another major hotel. But nope, that can’t happen, not if it is within a mile. What if a developer wants to build a 400-room hotel overlooking the upcoming Waterfront Park West? Nope. This clause is a competition killer, and government should encourage competition, not stifle it.

The second problem is a general lack of transparency and community involvement in this deal.

-SNIP-

As concerned citizens and various constituencies write their letters to the editor and do their design charrettes, it doesn’t seem like the city has any true interest in hearing what citizens are saying, because the “deal is done.”

Instead of bucking up and saying things could have been done better, city government seems to be entrenching.

Click here to read the entire letter.

There’s a lot more where that came from.