- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:

April 13

Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader on the Bluegrass Area Development District:

It’s easy, even tempting, to get lost in the sea of acronyms in the ongoing tragedy of the Bluegrass Area Development District.

But in the particular case of the Bluegrass ADD and the Workforce Investment Board, the story is simple.

Federal money that’s supposed to be managed openly by local public officials to help job seekers is instead swallowed up by a secretive and scandal-ridden bureaucracy. The WIB should operate independently and openly to better address the problems of the unemployed.

Winchester Mayor Ed Burtner, vice chairman of the ADD and the chief elected official of the workforce board, must sever these organizations for the benefit of Central Kentucky.

The board exists to make decisions about how to use $8 million in federal funds. The feds require a chief elected official be designated. That CEO appoints the board and decides if grants will be managed in-house or by an outside fiscal agent. Federal guidelines are clear, though, that the fiscal agent works at the direction of the workforce board.

Not in the world of the Bluegrass ADD, according to a blistering report last month by the state auditor.

In that world, the ADD controls the WIB. Under an arrangement devised by the ADD, the highest-ranking public official on the ADD’s board is the chief elected officer who in turn controls the workforce board.

To review: an officer of the Bluegrass ADD board appoints the workforce board and decides who will manage its money, which turns out to be the ADD. In the measured language of the auditor’s report, “This conflict appears to weaken the WIB’s decision-making authority by placing more authority in the hands of BGADD.”

Even after the auditor pointed out this flawed relationship and the ADD’s stunningly bad performance as fiscal agent, the ADD is fighting to maintain its stranglehold.

This is particularly disturbing now, when joblessness is a pressing problem in the region. The Lexington Metropolitan Statistical Area, which makes up a huge portion of the ADD’s 17-county region, recorded 7.4 percent unemployment in February, well above the pre-recession range, and the highest since February of 2012.

Unemployment in the region has traditionally been lower than the nation, but is now almost a full percentage point higher.

Still, David Duttlinger, executive director of the Bluegrass ADD, says it should be allowed to continue handling the job training money.

Burtner, who makes the final decision, told reporter Linda Blackford Wednesday that he was struggling with how to proceed. “This is a very complex, confusing and difficult process.”

Agreed. But the right course is clear: The WIB must move quickly - in an arm’s-length, transparent process - to choose a new fiscal agent. Anything less is a disservice to the thousands in this region struggling to find decent jobs.

The status quo is unacceptable. The ADD was created to partner with the counties to improve planning, economic development and quality of life.

Instead, it has become a power unto itself, one that calls - rather than coordinates - the shots.




April 10

The Daily News, Bowling Green, Ky., on the Grimes campaign:

On the campaign stump, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes constantly claims to be the one looking out for all Kentucky women in her bid to oust U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell this November. But she has repeatedly dodged reporters’ questions since last summer about sexual harassment allegations by three women against a former state representative.

We are referring to former state Rep. John Arnold, D-Sturgis, who is accused of sexually harassing these women while still a legislator.

On Tuesday, the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission voted 4-1 to punish Arnold, but five votes are needed to approve an action by the nine-member commission. The deciding vote against punishing Arnold was Elmer George, who has contributed $5,200 to the Grimes campaign. George also contributed $1,000 to Grimes’ 2011 secretary of state campaign. He was appointed to the commission by House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, who has played a very active role at some of Grimes’ campaign events.

Campaigning in Lexington on Tuesday, Grimes once again refused to speak to reporters about the commission’s decision.

And this candidate believes she is the one who is standing up for Kentucky women and will look out for women in the workplace?

We say quite the contrary.

We see a weak candidate who didn’t have the courage to come out last year when this was all made public and say that Mr. Arnold should resign from office. The only statewide office holder to do so was state Auditor Adam Edelen, a fellow Democrat. Another reason she refused to answer direct questions about the situation is likely because Arnold is a Democrat. Had that been a Republican state office holder accused of what Arnold was accused of, you can be assured Grimes would have been more than happy to comment.

It simply wasn’t politically convenient for her to comment.

Grimes has shown time after time she can answer hardly any questions directed at her from the press. She can’t say if she is for or against the Affordable Care Act; she can’t give a yes-or-no answer on whether she supports gay marriage; she can’t give details of how many jobs her so-called “jobs plan” would create; she claims to support coal but attends fundraisers with U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., who is on record as saying “coal makes us sick” and other anti-coal liberals in Hollywood who have heavily donated to her campaign; she can’t say yes or no on whether she will return the $5,200 contribution from George. Until late Wednesday, she wouldn’t say whether she would return a $250 contribution from Arnold. It has been reported by two of Arnold’s accusers that Grimes offered to return Arnold’s donation, but the two, who have been critical of McConnell, urged her to keep it to fight for women …

Grimes talks tough about standing up for women in the state, but again this is an example of someone who only stands up for women when it’s politically convenient for her.

Mrs. Grimes, actions speak a lot louder than words.



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