- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 9, 2014
GM auto workers vote to allow strike in Kentucky

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Workers at the General Motors plant in Kentucky that assembles Corvettes voted Tuesday to authorize a strike over lingering safety concerns, but a local union leader said he hopes the differences can be resolved without a walkout.

Union members voted overwhelmingly to give union leaders the green light to call a strike if necessary. About 800 union workers were eligible to vote, and more than 90 percent of those casting ballots backed the strike authorization, said Eldon Renaud, president of United Auto Workers Local 2164

Renaud said issues involved were safety and quality control.

He said there have been several “near misses” that could have resulted in serious injuries for assembly line workers at the Bowling Green plant. The union also worries that the elimination of quality control positions will affect the integrity of the plant’s quality procedures, he said.

Renaud said he was confident the strike-authorization vote would get the “immediate attention” of management, resulting in stepped up negotiations.

“We’re like everybody else, we’re strike-shy,” he said. “Nobody wants to have a strike. Who really benefits by it?”

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State workers describe sexual harassment

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Former state Rep. John Arnold will not be punished on charges that he sexually harassed three state employees over four years.

Four of the five Legislative Ethics Commissioners present for Tuesday’s hearing voted to find Arnold guilty on three counts of abusing his position as a public official. But state law says the commission cannot do anything unless it has five “yes” votes. Commissioner Elmer George - appointed by Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo a few months ago - voted no on all counts.

During Tuesday’s hearing, three state workers - including two staff members of the House Democratic leadership - described how Arnold, a Democrat, touched them inappropriately during a four-year period in what they said was a pattern of sexual harassment left unchecked by their supervisors and legislative leaders.

“You just have to take a spanking on the butt. You have to take having your underwear pulled. You have to take being verbally assaulted, and nobody is going to care about it,” Yolanda Costner, executive adviser to House Majority Whip Tommy Thompson, said after the hearing. “You want to keep your job and your position? Keep your mouth shut.”

Arnold did not attend Tuesday’s hearing. But his attorney, Steve Downey, argued that Arnold is suffering from early signs of dementia, as diagnosed by his doctors. He called Arnold’s behavior - “if it occurred,” he clarified - “sophomoric and boorish and puzzling.” He pointed to sworn testimony from Arnold’s doctors urging him to not run for re-election in 2012 because of his declining health.

“This was completely out of character for him,” Downey said. “Mr. Arnold’s filters have been turned off.”

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June trial set for man charged with online threats

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - A trial date has been set for a Kentucky man charged with threatening to kill the state’s governor, first lady and their family in a series of Facebook postings.

U.S. District Judge scheduled 22-year-old William Collin Bordt of Lexington to face a jury on June 5 in Lexington. Bordt has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Federal agents believe Bordt may have also posted threats to a former employer and a political figure in South Carolina.

Department of Homeland Security Special Agent Michael Romagnoli wrote in an affidavit that Bordt posted “Your both dead if he doesn’t step down” and other messages on the governor’s Facebook page.

Kentucky State Police arrested Bordt in March.

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Official: Couch fires, arrests after Ky. NCAA loss

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Police used pepper balls to control some rowdy fans and several couch fires were lit in the streets after Kentucky fell to Connecticut in the NCAA basketball championship final.

Susan Straub, a spokeswoman for the city of Lexington, said 19 couch fires were lit overnight in the State Street area. There were 23 injuries, most of them minor and treated at the scene. She confirmed 31 arrests but had no further details in a statement released Tuesday.

She said in the statement that one of the injured was hit by a train in the State Street area and taken to a hospital. She had no further word on that person’s condition or identity.

Shirtless youths streamed into the streets soon after Kentucky’s 60-54 loss to Connecticut on Monday night. Some were crying and others hugging after the defeat. The crowd continued to grow after the game despite a chilly, rain-soaked night in the Lexington area.

Some fights broke out, but police used pepper balls to control the most unruly fans before the crowd dispersed overnight.

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