Wednesday, May 30, 2007

112. Summertime, and the livin' is easy

Now that the Primary is over, and the Memorial Day weekend is a memory, it time for all good Kentuckians to turn to one of their real passions, politics. Just kidding. I do want to point out that one of Governor Fletcher's former cabinet secretaries announced yesterday that he wants to run for Congress here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606. His name is Erwin Roberts. He made his name in Fletcher's cabinet, holding two different roles, while doing so taking the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution when called to testfy before the Franklin County Grand Jury in the governor's hiring scandal. The Fifth Amendment, of course, offers the privelege against self-incrimination. In a statement yesterday, Roberts said he felt he had done nothing wrong during the hiring scandal, which leads one to ask, if you felt that way, why did you take the Fifth? Maybe it is too early to ask such a question, but since it will no doubt be asked over and over later, why not get the ball rolling. As a true bill of his thankfulness to the governor for having hired him not once, but twice, he bailed out on the governor and endorsed Anne Northup in her race in the Primary. Northup lost 36 to 50 against the governor in last week's Republican Primary. That makes two losses in a row for Northup, who the previous fall lost to John Yarmuth, the current and likely future congressman from Kentucky's Third Congressional District, representing all but 12 precincts of the Louisville-Jefferson County Metro. It is time for John to start spending some time at local Catholic picnics, as he did all last summer in preparation for his November election. According to the latest "Week Ahead" releases from his press secretary Stuart Perelmuter, he is going to be doing just that while he is home for a short recess.

So, other than that, it is nigh-on close to summertime, and everyone is sort of laying back getting in the appropriate mood for such a season. There was a time when summertime "began" earlier than it does now. Anyone familiar with William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream will recall that the play takes place during the shortest night of the year, which is generally around June 22, which is generally either the day of, or one day off of, the official beginning of Summer, at least in the northern hemisphere, as our calendars are centered on solstices and equinoxes. (You should have learned all this in 5th grade). But, "midsummer" and "midwinter" festivals are generally centered on the solstice, putting the actually beginnings of the seasons respectively back to May 1 and November 1, days which themselves are often afforded celebrations - May Day and All Saints Day, which gives us the more secularly popular All Hallows Eve, or Hallowe'en, which is probably my favorite day of the year, and part of my favorite season of the year. But, that is jumping ahead.

Right now, as I started to say at the beginning, it is time to turn to one of Kentucky's favorite passions - in addition to politics. That would be fishing. George Gershwin's song from Porgy and Bess comes to mind -- Summertime, And the livin' is easy - Fish are jumpin' - And the cotton is high. We don't have much cotton here in Kentucky, but the corn is beginning to rise, and what is left of the tobacco crop has been planted and the seedlings have shot through the dirt. Here in the city, most pools opened either this weekend or the one coming up.

Summertime, And the livin' is easy. Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

As someone who drives a lot, using backroads and side alleys, it is nice when communities undertake as part of their civic pride and responsibility the proper posting of street names, street types, block numbers, and directional indicators. Of course, the larger the city, the larger the responsibility, and the more likelihood there will be mistakes. Nonetheless, some cities, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Lexington, come to mind, not only properly mark their streets, but the address indicators are just that - addresses - as opposed to Louisville's block numbers. At a major intersection, the sign on the odd numbered side of the street will have, for example, 2413, while across the street diagonally, the sign in the new block on the even side will read 2500. I appreciate the work that goes into such a system of proper marking.

This has been a favorite subject, or rather pet peeve, of mine for a long time. Back in the mid 1980s, a group of us who worked for the old Board of Aldermen of the City of Louisville would meet after Board meetings for a debriefling of sorts of the previously held meeting. These fetes took place in the Coffee Shop at Masterson's, on the corner of Third and Cardinal, back when Cardinal Boulevard was still called Avery Avenue. Staffers, a few aldermen, and a few others convivially discussed "whatever." When my time came, all were pretty certain I'd be pointing out which new street signs had been erected recently with incorrect information. Aldermen such as Tom Denning and Jerry Kleier would try to see to it that the proper folks in the Mayor Jerry Abramson's office were notified so corrections could be made. The most amazing thing was that every two weeks there were a new crop of incorrectly informing signs.

Over the years, one would think the situation would improve. It had become a sort of urban myth that wherever two or more were gathered to discuss chronic problems in the City, thereto would be Jeff with his chronic complaint about the recently erected incorrect street signs. With the advent of email, I took my complaints directly to Mayor Abramson's Director of Works, my good friend Bill Herron (who was the first person from the Beshear campaign to make contact with me after last week's Primary, but that is another story). I repeatedly discussed with Bill, both in person and in emails, the lack of supervision and concern those charged with this duty seemed to have. Later, as Louisville and Jefferson County began full implementation of the 9-1-1 emergency system plan under Mayor Jerry Abramson, and addresses were assigned to every parcel of land (which meant that a few streets long in existence but without proper names had to be assigned names - the section of New Cut Road from the old New Cut Road to the West Manslick Road, as well as the road sometimes called the Blankenbaker Connector in J' Town come to mind), I thought my salvation was at hand because of the strict requirements that every parcel must have a proper number and every street have a proper name. I was wrong.

Over the past few years, I have from time-to-time contacted the Metro Call service, operated out of Mayor Jerry Abramson's office, to inform them about incorrect signage. I've also emailed my friend Councilman Jim King, who forwards my complaints along. I am grateful to King because the few incorrect signs I've sent to him have been corrected, especially those in King's Tenth Council District, unlike those which are forwarded directly to the appropriate parties in the administration of Mayor Jerry Abramson.

Still, up go the incorrect signs, to be obvious disconcern of anyone in the adminstration, never to be corrected. And we now have a variety of sizes and types of signs, for every one of which are examples of incorrect information. Recently, I noticed new signs were being erected on the corner of South Park Road and Minor's Lane, a street the city calls Minor Lane. I was pleased they were going up because the ones that had been there for years had been incorrect for years. But, the new ones simply repeated the errors of the old ones, with block indicators off by 8 blocks on South Park and by 81 blocks on Minor (or Minor's) Lane. Why was I not surprised? In every corner of the Louisville-Jefferson County Metro, incorrect signs are erected, with no oversight whatsoever as to their correctness. Some have streets spelled wrong, such as Bellview for Bellevue. Others call a road a drive and an avenue a parkway. Several call Broadway a street, as in "Broadway Street." Others have a North indicator where there should be a South. Recently some new signage was erected on Blue and White signs in the downtown area. They must have been done by the same people. One calls Guthrie "W. Guthrie," with an unnecessary W where it isn't needed, while streets such as Ormsby, Burnett, and Saint Catherine, which have duplicated block numbers, one in the east and one in the west go without indicators. Even at our most important tourist-type intersection downtown, at 5th and Main, the block number indicates one is one block to the west. Why would Mayor Abramson, who has been mayor for 18 of the last 22 years, continually allow such a problem? Why?

Monday, May 28, 2007

110. The Bivouac of the Dead, and other notes, on Memorial Day, 2007

First, a poem appropriate for the day. Well, first, a little about the poet. The poem was written in 1847 by Thomas O' Hara, a native of Danville who was a writer who served in the United States Army and later the Confederate States Army. He wrote it in honor of the fallen soldiers at the Battle of Buena Vista in the War with Mexico. He was a captain and assistant quartermaster with the Kentucky Volunteers during that war and later lead a contingent of Kentucky soldiers during the 1850 expedition to free Cuba, where he was severely wounded. (The earlier entries on the missing statue of Jose Marti in Shively deal with the Cuban battle). While he recuperated, he became involved in journalism and edited a newspaper here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606. He practiced law for some time in Washington, DC. Still later, he re-joined the Army in 1855, serving for a year with the Second US Cavalry.

In 1856, O'Hara moved to Mobile, Alabama, where he was editor of the Mobile Register until the outbreak of the Civil War. He raised the "Mobile Light Dragoons" in the city and was elected company captain, before joining the CSA 12th Alabama Volunteer Infantry, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He later served on the staff of General Albert Sidney Johnston and General John Breckinridge (both Kentuckians, the latter a former Vice President of the United States). After the war, Lt. Col. O'Hara became a cotton merchant until he was wiped out by a fire. He retired to a friend's plantation in Alabama where he died in 1873 from malaria. The following year, his remains were re-interred in the military part of the Frankfort Cemetery returning him to his native Kentucky.

Iron plaques (or tablets) of the poem have been placed in national cemeteries all across the Republic, dating back to at least 1879 when the words first appeared at the McClellan Gate, the original entrance to Arlington National Cemetery. The verses can be found in Louisville at the Zachary Taylor and Cave Hill National Cemeteries, the latter located within the walls of Cave Hill at E. Broadway and Baxter Avenue.

The muffled drum's sad roll has beat
The soldier's last Tattoo;
No more on life's parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.
On Fame's eternal camping ground
Their silent tents are spread,
And glory guards, with solemn round
The bivouac of the dead.

No rumour of the foe's advance
Now swells upon the wind;
No troubled thought at midnight haunts
Of loved ones left behind.
No vision of the morrow's strife
The warrior's dream alarms;
No braying horn, nor screaming fife,
At dawn shall call to arms.

Their shivered swords are red with rust,
Their plumed heads are bowed;
Their haughty banner, trailed in dust,
Is now their martial shroud.
And plenteous funeral tears have washed
The red stains from each brow;
And the proud forms, by battle gashed,
Are free from anguish now.

The neighing troop, the flashing blade,
The bugle's stirring blast,
The charge, the dreadful cannonade,
The din and shouts are past;
Nor war's wild note, nor glory's peal,
Shall thrill with fierce delight;
Those breasts that never more may feel
The rapture of the fight.

Like the fierce Northern hurricane
That sweeps the great plateau,
Flushed with triumph, yet to gain,
Come down the serried foe;
Who heard the thunder of the fray
Break o'er the field beneath,
Knew the watchword of the day
Was "Victory or death!"

Long had the doubtful conflict raged
O'er all that stricken plain,
For never fiercer fight had waged
The vengeful blood of Spain;
And still the storm of battle blew,
Still swelled the glory tide;
Not long, our stout old Chieftain knew,
Such odds his strength could bide.

Twas in that hour his stern command
Called to a martyr's grave
The flower of his beloved land,
The nation's flag to save.
By rivers of their father's gore
His first-born laurels grew,
And well he deemed the sons would pour
Their lives for glory too.

For many a mother's breath has swept
O'er Angostura's plain,
And long the pitying sky has wept
Above its moldered slain.
The raven's scream, or eagle's flight,
Or shepherd's pensive lay,
Alone awakes each sullen height
That frowned o'er that dread fray.

Sons of the Dark and Bloody Ground
Ye must not slumber there,
Where stranger steps and tongues resound
Along the heedless air.
Your own proud land's heroic soil
Shall be your fitter grave;
She claims from war his richest spoil,
The ashes of her brave.

Thus 'neath their parent turf they rest,
Far from the gory field,
Borne to a Spartan mother's breast
On many a bloody shield;
The sunshine of their native sky
Smiles sadly on them here,
And kindred eyes and hearts watch by
The heroes sepulcher.

Rest on, embalmed and sainted dead,
Dear as the blood ye gave,
No impious footstep here shall tread
The herbage of your grave.
Nor shall your glory be forgot
While fame her record keeps,
For honor points the hallowed spot
Where valor proudly sleeps.

Yon marble minstrel's voiceless stone
In deathless song shall tell,
When many a vanquished age hath flown,
The story how ye fell.
Nor wreck, nor change, nor winter's blight,
Nor time's remorseless doom,
Shall dim one ray of glory's light
That gilds your deathless tomb.

***** *****

A friend and I did some travelling today, venturing out into the state on an unplanned and unplatted trip. It was a beautiful day to do so, although it did finally get a little warm. After leaving Jefferson County, we coursed our way through the following burgs, hamlets, villages, and cities: Mount Washington, Waterford, Taylorsville, Briar Ridge, Johnsonville, Chaplin, Mooresville (after stopping at one of Kentucky's remaining (though closed) covered bridges), Springfield, Lebanon, Calvary, Campbellsville, Black Gnat (up off to the south side along the old road), Greenville, Exie, Sulphur Well, Knob Lick, Hiseville (where we had a lunch of catfish, fried shrimp, and slaw), Griderville (also known as Goodnight), Cave City, Park City, Mammoth Cave (city), Horse Cave, Rowletts, Woodsonville, Munfordville (where Thelma Stovall was from), Bonnieville, Upton (where one side of the street is in Hardin County while the other is in Larue), and finally entering onto I-65 North at Sonora, taking 65 back into the city, a trip of maybe 225 miles. We stopped along the way at antique shops, flea markets, yard sales, a cave visit, and the Lebanon National Cemetery, located along KY 208 just south of the city, where we wandered among the 4,893 thus far interred within the 14.8 acre grounds, the first burial of which was in 1862.

Just south of our stop at the cemetery, my truck's odometer passed a milestone. Just before passing a mailbox identifying 6001 Calvary Road (KY 208) in Calvary, Kentucky, a few miles before the Marion/Taylor county line, the odometer tripped past 100,000 miles. I can recall only one other vehicle I happened to be driving when such an milestone was passed, that in my 1967 Chevy II Nova, sometime in 1978, as I was driving along Cooper Chapel Road near McNeely Lake in southern Jefferson County. I patted the truck on the dashboard for a job well done - thus far. As things are, I need to keep the truck in shape as we are now headed for the second hundred thousandth mile.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

109. Roll Call Vote # 425, HR 2206, 110th Congress

Yesterday the president signed into law, from his getaway (or is it a hideaway) at Camp David in the hills of Maryland a little north of the nation's capital, an appropriation for his War In Iraq, the war a majority of Americans oppose. The same war against which a number of Americans let their voices be known last fall when by their vote, a change was made in the Congress putting the Democrats in charge. It was a commitment between the voters and the politicians for whom they voted that direct and immediate attention would be given toward moving toward an end of America's involvement in a war on the other side of the globe, a war for which those who were involved in a previous American war in the 1960s, is more and more drawing strikingly similar comparisons. To their credit, leadership at both ends of the Capitol has worked toward such an end, but that working fell short this week when the House concurred, by a 280-142 (and 11 not voting) vote, by Amendment, with the Senate on funding the War without any reference to a pullout date. For the record, Congressman John Yarmuth, my congressman, and one of the so-called Majority Makers elected in 2006, voted against the measure as I felt he should given that many of those who sent him to Washington did so for the purpose of ending the Iraqi War. This measure does not do that. Yesterday, I heard Speaker Pelosi, about whom I have previously written with positive comments, say "This measure is the beginning of the end of the War." Yeah, right. She added "September becomes decision day." Well, not necessarily. September becomes the next time the congress must decide the political implications of voting Yes or No, and it should be pointed out that September is a hell of lot closer to re-election season than May. While I am hopeful, I am not convinced in the least.

Having said all that, and giving respect to my congressman for the honest and courageous vote he made, it should be noted that our Republic is based on a system of checks and balances, although Tony Snow and others in the current administration lose sight of those and other Constitutional niceties from time-to-time. Such checks and balances require a give-and-take. There is a role for compromise in government. Politics has long been called the "Art of Compromise." It is, in fact, an overwhelming part of how our governors actually govern. We the electorate should not only expect it but welcome it. We would not be happy with a "rubberstamp" Congress; nor would our desires for governance be sated by gridlock, a state-of-affairs we have lived with in the past, where nothing is accomplished, despite the fact that all the governors continue to be paid their paychecks by the governees during this time of atrophy. Thus, compromise can be good, even when the end result is different from where we want it to be. In fact, it will almost always be different from where we want it to be. We are a melting pot, a democratic republic electing to our houses of congress five hundred thirty five men and women whose job it is to arrive at some collective agreement on the governance of the Republic.

Like making sausage, it ain't pretty. And not all sausage is good. This is one of those times that the result isn't good. September is four months or so away. I hope the Speaker is right. I hope decision day does arrive. Until then, I'm pleased with the "No" vote of my congressman on Roll Call Vote #425, on HR 2206, a second amendment on the measure concurring with the Senate in the funding of the War.

To date, 3452 Americans have given their lives in this War. May their Souls Rest In Peace.

Decoration Day

My intended next entry is to be an essay of the Congress' recent passage of more money for the President's War in Iraq - but I am in too comfortable and easy of a mood to begin that conversation. It will be an argument - with myself - on the pros and cons of the role of compromise in a government. As a Libra - not that I put stock in such things - I am supposed to be a balancing person, weighing the good and bad, both the clouds and silver linings of each and every event. I try to be level-headed and like to think I am. So, I will not engage myself, or my five faithful readers, with that particular essay today.

As said yesterday, this is Memorial Day weekend, set aside officially to recognize our fallen soldiers; but, before it was Memorial Day, it was Decoration Day, especially in the South. The tradition in my family is to visit the dead, clean the graves, and place some flowers. Such it is a grand tradition. The most important people in my life who have gone on to their rewards, are buried in two different places, and all but one in one place. Most are buried in th Sunset Memorial Gardens, a cemetery located along US 60, just south of Frankfort, and just inside the Woodford County line, on the east side of the highway. Interred there are my grandparents who raised me, as well as their parents, many of their brothers, sisters, aunt, uncles, nieces, and nephews, as well as not a few of their former spouses and their kin. In one area of the cemetery, I have about 40 relatives all gathered together to one day cross over to the other side, It will someday, but not anytime soon hopefully, host the grave of my mother. The other place I will visit today is the grave of my friend Rob Spears, who died tragically in a motorcycle accident in 1991 at the age of 17. He is buried in Rest Haven Cemetery, which is on the southwest side of Bardstown Road, just beyond the community of Buechel. I miss Rob dearly.

I have family and friends elsewhere. My mother's ancestors occupy spaces throughout Franklin, Shelby, and Anderson counties. My Noble grandparents are in the Louisville Memorial Gardens in Shively. My Uncle Don is in Calvary Cemetery. My great-grandmother Gussie's family are in the Eastern Cemetery, the long abandoned spanse of land just north of Cave Hill. Further back relatives in her line are scattered through southwestern Jefferson County and into Bullitt and Meade. Others friends are buried at Cave Hill and elsewhere. I know all this because genealogy is a passionate avocation and I've visited gravesites all my life. So, this weekend will be no different.

To all of them, and to all who have gone on, Rest In Peace.

Friday, May 25, 2007

107. Briefly

The news is still political.

Steve Beshear will recommend Jonathan Miller to replace Jerry Lundergan as chair of the State Democratic Party. Can Jonathan shout? Has he ever shouted?

Steve Beshear will recommend Jennifer Moore to replace Joni Jenkins as Vice Chair. Excellent choice. Excellent.

Mark Nickolas is leaving town, removing to Montana. Interesting. One of my faithful readers had informed me of this possibility some time ago.

Big Unity Rally in Frankfort yesterday. Lots of accolades for outgoing Party Chair Lundergan, including some from Mongiardo, Beshear, and Miller. Interesting.

Long weekend coming up. My oldest nephew Jacob graduates from Southern High School today. Congratulations, Jacob.

Happy Memorial Day. Visit your relatives in a graveyard, do some decorating. My grandmother always called this Decoration Day.

That's all.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

106. The Democratic Primary last Tuesday

And the Tri-Fecta payout goes to the ticket of Beshear/Lunsford/Henry with 22 entries (mimicking their actual finish on Tuesday), followed by Beshear/Henry/Lunsford with 21. Then came Beshear/Lunsford/Richards with 16, followed by Lunsford/Beshear/Henry with 10. These are the place of finish in the 120 counties in Tuesday's election. My guy lost, ran third. The guy who won has avoided a Run-Off for which he is very happy. Even happier are the 120 County Clerks, whose offices were left with the cost of such a run-off, given that the legislature didn't bother to fund it.

So, who else won Tuesday? Sticking with the governor's race, it appears Greg Stumbo's help in the east may put him at an advantage should he seek to run for another office, perhaps in the Fifth Congressional District. The team of Lunsford/Stumbo placed first or second in every county in the 5th, with the exception of Wayne, which placed Henry second and Wolfe where Richards was second, each of which had Stumbo's team in third.

Jody Richards proved to be a regional candidate, for the most part carrying counties in and around his legislative district based in Warren County. My guy, Dr. Steve Henry, carried an odd combination of nine counties, around (but not including) his current home base in Louisville, as well as those of his wife along the Ohio River in northeastern Kentucky. Additionally, he won Daviess, the place of his birth, as well as its neighbor Hancock.

Another winner, based solely on numbers from the governor's race, is Gatewood Galbraith, The Last Free Man in America, which is the title of his autobiography. Gatewood, as everyone calls him, won his native Nicholas County. He ran a strong second in the state's second most populous county. While Nicholas County is in the 4th, Fayette is the heart of the 6th. Among other 6th District counties, Jessamine and Woodford also had Galbraith in the second spot. The truth is he did well in the 6th's more populous counties, while running further behind in the outlyers. With a little work in Franklin and Anderson, he could be in line for a congressional seat depending upon how long Chandler waits to move to the other end of the Capital in Washington, DC.

But the big winner, carrying 83 of the 120 counties was Steve Beshear. The outright win surprised many, including the candidate.

In down-ballot races, the winners were Bruce Hendrickson (Secretary of State), Jack Conway (Attorney General), Todd Hollenbach (Treasurer), and David Lynn Williams, a perennial candidate (Agriculture Commissioner). Crit Luallen, the incumbent State Auditor was not challenged in the Democratic Primary.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

105. Vote Early, Vote Often - If you can.

I went to vote this morning around 6:15 am but couldn't. The poll wasn't yet opened as one of the workers, the one with the "black bag" had not yet arrived. For several years, I've tried to be among the first two or three voters in my precinct, but knew that by 6:15 I wouldn't be this time. I was wrong. No one had voted yet in L-113, so I've gone on about other business and will cast my ballot later in the day. Wendell Ford always says to "Vote Early and Vote Often." I tried.

Monday, May 21, 2007

104. Tomorrow, visit your polling place.

Dottie Priddy's garage, the Louisville Firehouse at Winter and Rubel, Camp Taylor Elementary, the old Camp Taylor Firehouse, Durrett High School, the old Camp Taylor Firehouse again, Zion United Church of Christ, Liberty High School, Zion United Church of Christ again, the AmVets Post on S. Shelby Street, the Louisville Firehouse at Preston and Ormsby, and tomorrow for the first time, the Phoenix Place Apartments Clubhouse.

Those are, in order, the places where I have had the honor and privelege of casting my ballots, having my say as best I can, in the people and ideals who represent me at every level of government, from the local school board, to the local, state, and federal levels of the legislative and executive branches, as well as the state branch of the judicial system; additionally, over the years there have been several attempts to amend the Constitution of the Commonwealth, first approved and enacted in 1891, all of which require a Yes or No vote on the ballot, on nearly all of which I have cast a No vote. I cast just over a majority of those ballots at the old Camp Taylor Firehouse at the corner of Lincoln and Sherman avenues, in precinct H-121 which I called home for about eighteen of my nearly thirty years of voting. The vote cast at Durrett High School wasn't a Primary or General Election, but rather the 1984 Presidential Caucus, the only one of its kind in my voting lifetime. In that race, I voted for Jesse Jackson, who won the Third Congressional District's delegates for the 1984 Democratic Nomination. The other major contenders were Gary Hart and Walter Mondale, the latter going on to serve as the Party's nominee against Ronald Reagan in November.

As I said above, tomorrow will take me to a new poll for a new election, one which has attracted very little attention, even up to and including this weekend, as I found out by knocking on a few doors in support of the candidates I am supporting in tomorrow's event, not technically an election, but a Nominating Process. Elections are held in November. Tomorrow evening's tally may prompt, for the first time in Kentucky's history, a Run-Off Primary for the top slate of offices, assuming none of the state's nine slates for governor and lieutenant governor convince at least 40% of the voters in their respective Parties to choose them over the other candidates. For the Democrats, the leaders appear to be Steve Beshear, Bruce Lunsford, and Steve Henry (who I am supporting), with a large chunk of voters allegedly still undecided (or more likely uninterested). The Republican Party's titular leader, Governor Ernest Lee "Ernie" Fletcher, of Lexington (and originally of Mount Sterling in Montgomery County) is opposed by former Congresswoman Anne Northup of Louisville (former due to the efforts of a large body of volunteers who worked endless hours to help change the community and the country last November by electing John Yarmuth), and racecar owner/driver and multi-millionaire entrepreneur Billy Harper, of Paducah. A Run-Off appears likely for the Democrats; the Dark Side may avoid one as Fletcher has been steadily and handily leading in the polls. The Run-Off can also be avoided if two candidates get to 40%, with the higher vote-getter advancing to November. Several polls indicate both Fletcher and Northup may top the 40% mark. There are also down-ballot races and in those I am particularly supporting MaDonna White in her race for Secretary of State.

Someday I will write about the process of precinct drawing, an art and science I have participated in locally a few times, one which has advocates and adversaries, but not today. And some of you have commented to me, either by a posting here at the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606, or in emails, or in person, that my posting has become spotty, or at least less regular than they had hoped, and for that matter, than I had planned. I plead guilty to the charges. I have been lulled onto a plateau, one on which I have made myself comfortable. I make no promises toward reform, but will write again when appropriately inspired and allowed the time. It may be later today, or not until Friday. Please do keep reading though, and please, add your comments as you are inspired.



Unrelated. Today, May 21, is not the most popular birthday according to statistics. I do not know exactly where it falls among the 366 possible days a person can be born. I know the least common date of birth for Americans is tomorrow, May 22. It seems that mid-August apparently yields little in the way of procreation. It may stand to reason that today, as it is one day off from tomorrow, is another least popular day - again I don't know. What I do know is this. Today marks the birthday of six of my friends, more than any other day of the year. They are Jerry Spears, Jim Wayne, Gary Platt, Migael Dickerson, Keith Dickerson, and Casy Risinger. Happy Birthday to each of you. The most popular birthday, according to statistics, is October 5th, which happens to fall 274 days from New Year's Eve. I do not know anyone with this birthday.

Friday, May 18, 2007

103. From Pittsfield to Phoenix Hill

Is there an Indian Spring as there is an Indian Summer? If so, we are experiencing it here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River at Milepost 606. I've been enjoying the weather, especially in the mornings. I remember in August of the summer I was 16 (1977) a trip I made with my grandfather and his new bride, my step-grandmother Evelyn. We went to Pittsfield, Massachusetts for one of the annual gatherings of his WW2 friends, all members of the 114th Seabees of the United States Navy.

Our hosts there were George and Audrey Purnell, George being one of my grandfather's war-buddies. They lived in a subdivision called Allengate (as I remember). Arising early (even then) on the Saturday morning of the weekend, I walked into town maybe a mile and a half away. This would have been late August and the morning temperature there was around what it was here today, 44 degrees. Just as today's needle is expected to rise into the low 70s, that day as well saw a similar warm up.

I went to Pittsfield twice with my grandfather. Each time our plane landed in Albany, NY, a few miles away, maybe 20, to the west along US 20. Schenectady is just north of Albany and as it was home to General Electric, we were obliged to drive by and see the Mother-plant to Louisville's Appliance Park. Pittsfield itself was the original home of the Stanley Electric Transformer Factory, a forerunner to GE. Another place we visited was the Hancock Shaker Village, also on US 20 along the Massachusetts-New York line. We visited the college town of Stockbridge, took in Tanglewood (but it was August, and a little early for a visit from the Boston Symphony), and then went north of Pittsfield for a few miles. The towns of Adams and North Adams are just east of Mount Greylock, the tallest point in Massachusetts at just under 3500 feet, nearto the northwest corner, where looking west a few short miles is New York, while north the same distance is Vermont. The view on top of Mount Greylock is best taken in from the War Memorial Tower, built in 1933, dedicated to the war dead of WW1.

But, as with all good trips, that weekend came to an end with a flight back to Louisville on the old Allegheny Airlines. That second year, we went from Albany to Pittsburgh, and then because of weather conditions, were routed to Charlotte, North Carolina, long before anyone (especially any banking interests) had ever heard of the place, and finally back to Lee Terminal at Standiford Field.

On the other hand, this weekend just now beginning here in Kentucky, is the final weekend before our largely unheralded Primary Election, unheralded despite the fact that we have eight candidates wanting to replace the ninth one as leader of our Commonwealth. Lots of folks will be criss-crossing the state, stump speaking, knocking on doors, and dropping literature, to an uninterested and largely apathetic audience. The bean-counters are estimating the turnout between 13 and 20% of the electorate, which is deplorable. Polls currently show the embattled governor (the ninth above the other eight want to replace) in a comforatble lead in his party's primary over on the Dark Side.

The Democratic Primary is probably going to be a two-part affair with the top two finishers going to a runoff on June 26. Former State Representative, Attorney General, and Lieutenant Governor Steve Beshear, of Lexington, and formerly of Dawson Springs in west Kentucky, is in a comfortable lead, but not comfortable enough to assure and outright win, which requires 40%. Behind him is W. Bruce Lunsford, of Louisville, and formerly of northern Kentucky, who is a millionaire several times over and is using a large amount of his own money to win the race, just as he did four years ago, when, about at this point in the race, and $8,000,000.00 poorer than when he started, he withdrew his candidacy. That isn't likely to happen this time. Probably in third at this point is my friend Steve Henry, a former Jefferson County Commissioner and later two-term Lieutenant Governor. Steve is from Louisville, but like the others, always points out his roots in Owensboro, Bowling Green, Maysville, Augusta, Danville, Harrodsburg, and several other "home" towns. Henry will likely win Louisville and the west, but his problem will be in central and eastern Kentucky.

The polls open for Round One at 6:00 am, prevailing time, Tuesday, and will remain so for twelve long hours, particularly for the four highly underpaid, but also underworked people who are present to staff each polling location. I've indicated my support in the past for Dr. Henry as well as for MaDonna White, a candidate for Secretary of State. There are other races as to determine who will be in the lineups come this fall. My vote is cast in Precinct L-113 at the Phoenix Place Apartments Clubhouse.

In the meantime, enjoy the weekend. I plan to.

Monday, May 14, 2007

102. On Libraries

One of the five of my faithful readers, Nick Stump, posted a comment on my Library Tax entry from a few days ago. It bears repeating for all to read. We all have places in our upbringing which has led us down the roads we have taken in life, sometimes without our knowledge. Here is some of what Nick wrote:

I spent half my childhood in a small library in Hindman, Kentucky. My librarian was James Still, a very well respected writer in the 40's, (River of Earth) and in his day considered on par with and a friend of William Faulkner. Still never sought fame as a writer, preferring to live out in the country at a small cabin on Wolf Pen Branch. I don't believe, at the time, 50 people in Knott Country were really aware of what a great treasure we had in Mr. Still. He quietly lived his life and was always there to help guide an inquisitive child's thirst for books.

His comments reminded me of the libraries in my life. One of my first recollections of my childhood is in the library of Blue Lick Elementary, where I attended first (and second) grade. We assembled there - to the right of the office on the first floor of the building - to read the tale and listen to the music of Sergei Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf." The version we learned was narrated by Leonard Bernstein. I also recall the field trip we took in Ms. Hoagland's 2nd grade class to the Louisville Free Public Library downtown, where upon entering the old entrance on York Street, one made an immediate left into the Children's Section. I believe the location of that section remains where it was forty years ago. I could walk straight to the location of my favorite childhood story "From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler." The only other book I remember from the era was "Charlotte's Web." These books were first encountered at my 3rd and 4th grade school, Old Prestonia. The library at the old Prestonia School, all the way upstairs, was presided over by Mrs. Virginia Riegler. When the school moved to a new location the next summer, Mrs. Riegler and all my favorite books moved with it. New Prestonia's library was on the first floor in the first hallway to the right off the main corridor. It was there we made tapestries focussing on the "fertile crescent" of the lands between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, where we were taught civilization began, and where today we are concerned it might end. Little did I know then that those lands, as well as those in and around Israel, would be the central theme of foreign interest for most of my life, so far.

At Durrett High School, the library was on the second floor toward the bottom of the "F" shaped building, which was the Preston Highway end. The library was one of three places in the building which was properly heated in the cool months and air-conditioned in the warm months, the other two being the front office, and the wing leading over to the old gym. I quickly signed up to be an aide in both the library and the front office. Mrs. Patsy Meglemery was the librarian. (Durrett eventually closed and served for nearly a decade as an annex for the Board of Education. In 1990, it was remodeled and opened in 1991 as the new location for Louisville Male High School. I toured the new facility and noted the library has been relocated and extensively updated to a location on the first floor at the top of the "F").

Upon my enrolling at the University of Kentucky, I quickly familiarized myself with the Margaret I. King Library (South), the then-main building [actually buildings, a set of three] of UK's library system. Inside was a set of shelves, "the stacks" all in a scaffolding-like structure, which could be accessed at different and oddly placed points from the two older and newer wings of the building. It was quite an interesting place. Another of my favorite study spots was the Architecture (or maybe it was the Fine Arts since Architecture was over in Pence Hall) Department Library located in a basement of a newer building along the walk called Patterson Drive. I'm not sure if I could locate it today. Since 1998, the main library for the university is the William T. Young structure, built in a depression in the earth which back then was called Clinton Field, or maybe Pennsylvania Field, I'm not sure. It seemed like an asteroid may have hit there and caused the depression. It was an odd piece of terrain. Some people say the W. T. Young Library is slowly sinking into the earth.

At Bellarmine College, where most of my college credits (but not my diploma) were gained, the Library was nothing to write home about. Mrs. Klausing was the Chief Librarian. Bellarmine University replaced their library a few years back, moving it out of the old Administration Building and relocating it to a new and modern structure called the W. L. Lyons Brown, after a wealthy benefactor. At my collegiate Alma Mater, Spalding University, the library, another one which is nothing special, but does have a very interesting "Kentucky Room" with old volumes on Kentucky's history, is located, appropriately, on Library Lane, the northern terminus of which yields one back to the main entrance of the Louisville Free Public Library on York Street.

We all have libraries in our pasts and most of us continue to use them as we move through the present and into the future. Hopefully, the voting public of the Louisville-Jefferson County Metro will see to it that this opportunity appears on the ballot and the results are a positive move for our library and our community.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

101. O What a Beautiful Morning

Wow! This morning's tmeperature is a brisk and breezy 54 degrees. I think that is the temperature year-round when one descends into the depths of Mammoth Cave. It is a degree or maybe two cooler than Louisville's overall average temperature. The skies are solid blue and the day promises to be nice.

Such mornings are more likely in September and October than May. If I didn't know better, I would have thought it was time for an afternoon of racing at Keeneland followed by an evening of football at Commonwealth Stadium. For so many Saturdays when I was in my teens, 20s, and a few in my 30s, Saturday revolved around trips to Lexington for either the races, or UK football, or both. Actually UK football was more of a backdrop than an event in itself. By the time the game rolled around, the real purpose was comaraderie and networking. No one ever accused us of going to UK's games because the teams were so good. They weren't. Never really have been except for a couple of back-to-back seasons in the early 1980s. The most heartbreaking game I recall was coached by Jerry Claiborne and Kentucky turned over the ball to Tennessee three times on goal-to-go. It may have even been four. They were at the Richmond end of the Stadium and couldn't get the ball over the line. But it was also about that time that the 'Cats went to the Hall of Fame bowl in Birmingham and defeated Wisconsin. It was the second year in as many UK played in the bowl game, having lost the year before to West Virgnia. The '83 game was a few days before Christmas; the '84 game a few days before New Year's. I went to both of those.

But, it isn't Saturday, it isn't October, and UK hasn't had back-to-back invitations to a bowl game in some time. The current coach, Rich Brooks, did manage to get to a bowl last fall - I think they have one for every team now, kind of like trophy day in Little League, no one goes home empty handed. Let's hope this fall Brooks can post a second winning season for the Wildcats so all those people attending the football game will have something to watch while they are networking, politicking, and socializing.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Old One Hundredth

This is our 100th entry. Upon saying those words, I began to hum, as President Lincoln's Treasury Secretary Salmon Portland Chase was known to do, a tune from my Christian upbringing. Our one hundredth entry recalls the tune I first learned as a young child when I attended church services at the Thixton Lane Baptist Church, a member of the Long Run Association of Baptist Churches and an adherant congregation of the Southern Baptist Convention. I attended Thixton Lane for several years and it was there, at the age of thirteen, where I walked down the aisle and made my profession of faith accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Those last thirteen words (in italics) act as a formulary. They are in certain circles especially among fundamentalists, more often than not all said together as one word, much as when I was a kid and in some obvious mischief, my grandmother would call me not by the simple "Jeff" but rather by the entire name given at birth "Jeffrey Thomas Noble" typically followed by "Get in here and explain to me . . . . ." But, I digress.

The tune I began to hum is often called simply "Doxology" or in other hymnals, "Old 100th" as it is based on the words of the 100th Psalm of David in the Old Testament of the Holy Bible. It is a much heard tune and sung song. It was used in the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, a recent visitor here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606, at her coronation on June 2, 1953. It is often heard not only in Baptist services but Episcopal ones as well.

It is a small milestone for me to cross, having written (or in two cases largely copied) one hundred entries, and I happily do so. While I have given up the practice of recording the many different places from which readers access my blog, I can report we are approaching our 1700th visitor, visitors who have accessed nearly 2500 pages. For that I am grateful. I hope you continue to read and offer comments or suggestions. Thanks.



All people that on earth do dwell,
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice.
Him serve with fear, His praise forth tell;
Come ye before Him and rejoice.

The Lord, ye know, is God indeed;
Without our aid He did us make;
We are His folk, He doth us feed,
And for His sheep He doth us take.

O enter then His gates with praise;
Approach with joy His courts unto;
Praise, laud, and bless His Name always,
For it is seemly so to do.

For why? the Lord our God is good;
His mercy is for ever sure;
His truth at all times firmly stood,
And shall from age to age endure.

To Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
The God Whom Heaven and earth adore,
From men and from the angel host
Be praise and glory evermore.

Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow,
Praise Him all People Here Below
Praise Him above, ye Heavenly Hosts
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.


Pseaumes Octante Trois de David (1551)
The tune is usually attributed to the French composer Loys Bourgeois (c.1510 – c.1560).

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

99. The Library Tax

This morning's top story on page A1 above the fold is the movement to enact a Library Tax for the Louisville Free Public Library system. A link to the story appears below. Several weeks back, we discussed this issue by way of an entry which re-copied the work of "Moderate Man" written in another blog, that of Paul Hosse's called Another Opinion. There are links below to both my entry on Moderate Man's comments as well as Hosse's blog entry with Moderate Man's comments called "Big Steps."

The proposal for a Library Tax and the resulting work from its receipts are big steps indeed and ones that should be taken. In fact, they are just the beginning of many that should be taken if Louisville is to ascend to the heights to which the mayor of Louisville-Jefferson Metro thinks we have already ascended. We haven't. Back in the 1980s, we made some strides with the help of state government - despite Senator Benny Ray Bailey's tutu comments - in building the Kentucky Center along W. Main Street, filling in the big hole that had occupied the northeast corner of 6th and Main for years. That was the second beginning of the revitalization downtown along Main, the first coming some fifteen years earlier when the late hotellier Mr. Schneider, working with mayors Schmied and Burke built the Galt House at 4th and River to complement the new Riverfront/Belevedere. (Some might argue that Schneider's buildings and decor, coupled with the placement of I-64 along the river wasn't progress and that point is well taken, and with regard to I-64's placement is strongly agreed).

Nonetheless the progress has continued here and there over the years, getting another big boost from former mayor Dave Armstrong, whose administration served as yet a third beginning, jumpstarting the movement of not just offices and entertainment to downtown, but people living in residences along the river, Main, Market, and other downtown thoroughfares. There has not been enough recognition of the great amount of work Mayor Armstrong did in the four short years of his mayoral term, from 1999 to 2002. The end of the long renaissance for the land now known as the Waterfront Park is in sight as the approaches for the Big Four Bridge are taking shape, and a high-end residential development is arising along the land once known as Thruston Park (land upon which some title issues linger but the forge ahead is indeed forging ahead, title issues notwithstanding). Passage of this proposal carries us even further along the path of conversion to a world class city.

Libraries and schools are very strong barometers for companies and people looking to make their homes along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606. But, as with all things, someone must pay the bills. Since 1978, fewer and fewer of us have been paying the bills as anti-tax proponents have held forth, manipulating both politicians and voters into believing they could have something for nothing in a government. Now is the time to reject that sort of thinking and turn our attention toward our public amenities. One of the most important, if not the most important, is a library system. It is a road down which we have travelled before, only to be turned back by voters opposed to additional taxes. These same voters are opposed to most any progress which may cost them a dollar or two a week, progress which helps the whole community and not just themselves. It is a dollar or two well worth investing in Louisville's future. But, as always, the naysayers are out. Faye Ellerkamp has already passed judgment on the proposal saying her group of tax opponents will oppose this one as well. No particular reason was given other than the tax itself. This type of thinking came into vogue during the Me generation overseen by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. The time to think of Us again, as opposed to Me, has come.

I wholeheartedly endorse the new proposal and I am hopeful the community will as well. It is time to move Louisville's library system into the 21st century and on par with other cities of our class.


Tuesday, May 8, 2007

98. On the race for Governor

O to be in Kentucky now that it is Primary Season.

Yesterday, the candidate I was supporting for governor dropped out of the race and endorsed someone I do not plan to support, unless he is ultimately the nominee for the Democratic Party, something we are not likely to know until late June. I should point out that my support was based on his running mate, Irv Maze, the Jefferson County Attorney who is both friend and supporter, employer and political leader. Irv Maze would make an excellent addition to any administration in Frankfort, just as he has made an excellent public servant here in Jefferson County.

This is the second Primary in a row where this has occurred. Last time it was Bruce Lunsford who having filed again this year is, so far, still running, and spending millions of dollars doing so. Four years ago Lunsford spent $8,000,000.00 of his own greenbacks before withdrawing just a few days before the Primary and endorsing Jody Richards. Richards, the very likable Speaker of Kentucky's House of Representative did not win four years ago with Lunsford's last minute backing and is running again, this time without it - at least so far.

My previously supported candidate, a Harvard educated Lexington progressive, has served eight years as Kentucky's State Treasurer with no scandals, either personally or professionally. He had previously lost a race for Congress in the 6th District which generally is Fayette County and the counties surrounding Fayette County, with a few exceptions. He dropped out to endorse one of the two other Fayette Countians in the race, Steve Beshear, a former state representative, Attorney General, and Lieutenant Governor, who has more recently lost races for governor and United States Senator. The other Fayette countian in the race is Gatewood Galbraith, a highly intelligent and thoroughly comical libertarian/progressive, if there is such an animal, and if there is Gatewood is it. He is one of those people who do not need a last name - if you say Gatewood, everyone knows you are talking about the perennial candidate who justifies his perennial races (actually quadrennial to be honest) by saying that Kentucky has perennial problems. Gatewood has a base of around 11% of the electorate on any given Tuesday, so he isn't likely to win, but this has been an unusual season of politics - so far, with two weeks left.

There is another fellow, an eastern Kentuckian running a limited campaign, and what campaign he is running has largely been ran while riding on the top of a huge make-believe bull, circling the Capitol building in Frankfort while aboard the makeshift Bull. His name is Otis "Bullman" Hensley. He ran last four years ago in the Primary and, despite his best efforts, will likely do so again.

That leaves the candidate I will now be supporting, former Lieutenant Governor Steve Henry, who I have known and been friends of for over two decades, since my involvement in the Kentucky Young Democrats back when I was young - a time which is seemingly moving away from me despite my efforts to impede such movement. Steve is a surgeon, although there has been some news about his present certification, or lack thereof, by the University of Louisville, where for many years he served as both surgeon and professor. He has dodged some bullets questioning some campaign finance practices, mostly surrounding how he has reported monies raised for offices for which he has not yet actually filed.

These negatives, in my mind, are easily outweighed by Steve's true dedication to the people of our Commonwealth, dedication I have personally seen manifested year after year during Steve's service here in Louisville and in Frankfort. He served as a County Commissioner on the Jefferson Fiscal Court here in the 1990s before that body, along with its counterpart Board of Aldermen in the "old" City, were consolidated into the paraphysical entity knowns as Louisville - Jefferson County Metro Council. From Louisville, he went to Frankfort to serve two terms as Kentucky's Lieutenant Governor, a quite diminutive post in its former days, dimished even moreso by a constitutional amendment adopted by the voters in November, 1992, although not with my vote, which was, as has been the case in almost all questions placed upon the ballot to amend Kentucky's 1891 Constitution, cast as a "No." But, I digress.

Steve is a native of Owensboro in Daviess County. He was educated at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green in Warren County. His acheived his medical degree at the University of Louisville, here in Jefferson County. He married Miss America, Heather French, who is from Augusta in Bracken County, as well as Maysville in Mason County. Steve owns property, and thus is a taxpayer, in all the counties above, as well several others, including Bullitt, Spencer, Mercer, and Boyle. I have often joked with him about all his hometowns, although he has not always found my comments funny. Upon entering a county, I will always ask him if he is "from here" or has some claim upon the lands in any given county. More often than not, the answer has been yes. I'll question him about the small towns and back roads of Kentucky, and more often than not, my comments are met with stories and responses proving his personal knowledge of such places and the people inhabiting them. As any of my regular readers know, the places and people of Kentucky are important entities to me, and it is apparent to me they are to Steve Henry as well. Here at home, Steve is quite well known among conservationists and park supporters for his work, along with David Jones, in establishing the Ring of Parks, so lauded by our Mayor, a trail of land proposed to link in a circumferent line of acreage thus enveloping our paraphysical city/county entity with greenspace, from the Riverwalk in downtown Louisville, out along the floodwall levees in the southwest, through the Jefferson Memorial Forest (a truly spectacular body of land) along the south, over to McNeely Lake, and along the outskirts of the Snyder Freeway back to the greenspaces along the river. It is a great plan, much supported in a very personal way by Steve Henry and his Future Fund properties.

So, with fourteen days left, and the Kentucky Derby behind us, and one less horse in the field, the race is, finally, well underway.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Not yet recovered.

It has been a fun weekend.

Spent too much money.

Drank one beer and two glasses of wine, which for me was probably overdoing it.

Closed out the celebration with Sunday Brunch at Carly Rae's at 1st and Oak streets.


You have to wonder. The third largest crowd ever attended the race yesterday. This in spite of the dire predictions of wind and storm from Louisville's band of weather forecasters, all of whom were determined to have their turn in the sun, so to speak.

None of it happened. The sun shone bright. The attendance was 156,635. The only larger crowds were in 1974, when 163,628 fans attended the 100th Derby, and the 157,536 who came out last year to see Barbaro begin her heroic run. Should Churchill Downs (always looking for that additional buck, after all at $7.00 for a beer, they apparently needed some additional financial underpinning) and the Louisville - Jefferson County Metro (also endlessly in search of additional fees (but not taxes)) sue the weatherforecasters for causing people to stay away, spend less money, cause the economy to dip, and all the damnable results of "what could have been"?

Just a thought.

By the way, the big winner was Street Sense by a margin of 2 and 1/4 lengths. The winning jockey was Louisianan Calvin Borel. The horse was trained by Carl Nafzger and owned by Jim Tafel. The winning time was 2:02.17 minutes. A two dollar bet paid $11.80 to win.

The 134th running of the Kentucky Derby is scheduled for May 3, 2008.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

96. The 133rd Running of the Kentucky Derby


It is Derby Day here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River at Milepost 606. It is also my step-nephew Jimmy's 16th birthday. He and his full brothers and sisters and half- brothers and sisters and step- brothers and sisters will all be at my brother's place on S. Brook Street to celebrate both birthday and horse race.

Yesterday, I spent the better part of the day with friends from the John Yarmuth for Congress campaign at the track, celebrating the Kentucky Oaks, on which I had the exacta. Aaron Horner, Jason Burke, Ben Basil, Marty Meyer, and Antonia Lindauer and I held forth in a box in Section 117, under the overhang, and thus out of the weather, all at Aaron's invitation. (Aaron is the guy who stepped in in late April to help along the Yarmuth campaign, and served as Interim Campaign Manager, before Jason was brought in to orchestrate the November victory over Anne Northup. Ben Basil was the uber-master of the volunteers who made sure everything which needed to be done actually got done, and thus as much as anyone was responsible for the defeat of a five-term incumbent congresswoman who now thinks she should be governor of the Commonwealth, Marty was one the many volunteers who did the things Ben needed doing and did more that most any of them, all of whom did a lot, so Marty did a whole lot. Antonia came into the campaign late, as another of the dedicated many who helped change the community and the country on the first Tuesday of November in 2006. But, I digress). An estimated 100,000 people attended yesterday's race exclusively for fillies. On the exacta - I haven't cashed the ticket - it isn't much, but it is still something. Derby plans today are incomplete.

At a party last night in the 200 block of East Burnett Avenue, I met a 26 year old guy from Frankfort, a place which my regular readers know is of some interest to me. We chatted all evening about hangouts, friends, cousins, politics, and highways. He seems to know as many of Kentucky's county seats as I claim to know. I was intrigued. We are going to meet again for a cup of coffee and more discussion of related interests.

No new pictures today as I am blogging from a friend's computer and am not quite sure exactly how to make it work.

Oh - I made my Derby bets yesterday while at the Oaks. A three horse exacta box of Street Sense, Circular Quay, and Nobiz Like Shobiz. Here are the words to a version of Kentucky's state song, a song everyone should sing sometime today. These aren't the original words, but they are close.




Happy Derby.

Friday, May 4, 2007

95. Its the chance of a lifetime in a lifetime of chance, and its high time you joined in the dance.

In the traditions of the Catholic and Anglican churches, as well as other denominations which use a liturgical schedule, many dates are assigned to celebrate the lives or the deaths of people (or in some cases places) in the history of the church, and thus the history of the world. In some cases, entire groups of days are set aside, sometimes in 3s or 7s or 8s or 40s, which all seemed to have significnace amongst religious leaders.

For the last three weeks, a block of days has been set aside here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River at Milepost 606. It is called the Kentucky Derby Festival and its highlight comes tomorrow evening when the "most exciting two minutes in sports" will go off at whatever time the networks can work it into their schedule, sometime around 5:30 pm.

In the book of Ecclesiastes, at the beginning of the Third Chapter, is the "song of the seasons." To everything there is a season according to the scripture. Many folks learned the verses based on Pete Seeger's song, Turn, Turn, Turn, best known in a 1965 version by The Byrds. In Louisville, this week is Derby Week. If, as in the church, there is a feast day or days for a place, today and tomorrow are it for Louisville.

Despite the overcommercialization of all-things Derby, it still remains a special time for Louisville and Kentucky. While many locals do not attend the event itself, and many never have and never will, countless parties are held, jackpots are made, and, as the saying goes, a good time is had by all. Most offices will close early today and Jefferson County's public and Catholic schools have dismissed classes.

To get a feel for the real purpose of the season, and not that of all the activities, each with one or more corporate sponsors, one need only turn to music, as we did at the beginning of this entry. In the Spring of 1980, when ABC Sports was broadcasting the Kentucky Derby, they asked Dan Fogelberg to compose a song for their broadcasts. On the night before the Derby, at the old Red Barn at the University of Louisville, which was a student activities type center, I heard Fogelberg sing his new song, not yet recorded for publication (except for ABC) called Run for the Roses. I still think it is one of the most beautiful ballads ever written. As a 19 year old kid out celebrating the night before the Derby, which used to be a big deal with the Derby Eve Jam and the old Central Avenue bizarre bazaar, chances are I was somewhat involved with celebratory spirits (or some other intoxiacants) at the time, but I've never forgotten that song and its central theme, not on Churchill Downs and all its corporate hoop-la, but on the horse, the noblest of animals, as it has sometimes been called. Here are the lyrics, written and sung by Fogelberg. The song was released a year and a half later on a 1981 album called The Innocent Age.

Born in the valley
And raised in the trees
Of western kentucky
On wobbly knees
With mama beside you
To help you along
Youll soon be a growing up strong.

All the long, lazy mornings
In pastures of green
The sun on your withers
The wind in your mane
Could never prepare you
For what lies ahead
The run for the roses so red --

And its run for the roses
As fast as you can
Your fate is delivered
Your moments at hand
Its the chance of a lifetime
In a lifetime of chance
And its high time you joined
In the dance
Its high time you joined
In the dance --

From sire to sire
Its born in the blood
The fire of a mare
And the strength of a stud
Its breeding and its training
And its something unknown
That drives you and carries
You home.

And its run for the roses
As fast as you can
Your fate is delivered
Your moments at hand
Its the chance of a lifetime
In a lifetime of chance
And its high time you joined
In the dance
Its high time you joined
In the dance --

Ecclesiastes 3:4 say there is a time to laugh and a time to dance. This is it. Enjoy the Derby.

Ecclesiastes 3:8 calls for a time of peace. The Byrds 1965 song calls for a time for every purpose under the sun including a time for peace. I hope it is not too late for that as well.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

94. 410 in three inch high black and white stick-on numbers

Some things just bother me. One is incorrect street name signs. Louisville has more than its fair share, signs which call avenues streets and spell names like Bellevue as Bellview. And all those signs that don't know an east from a west, or in which "hundred" block a person might find themselves. It is an issue about which I have been complaining since Jerry Abramson's first term as Mayor of the City of Louisville and nothing has changed since he became Mayor of Louisville-Jefferson County Metro. Apparently, such minutiae is not as important as balloons and begonias.

But that's not what is bothering me today. It is the placement of two sets of three numbers upon blacks of marble. Huh?

In 2004, the new Metro government bought the old Federal Reserve Bank building, a branch of the Saint Louis Distict, a rather opulent building built in the 1960s, located at 410 S. 5th Street. The city paid Uncle Sam $4,000,000.00 for the structure. We have since undertaken to spend $70,000,000.00 - that's Seventy Million Dollars - to make it work as part of our Metro Safe program, tying together all the Emergency responders in the region, truthfully a noble purpose.

We have laws in Louisville which say you must have you address in at least 3" high numbers on your building. The now-called MetroSafe building has almost 12" tall numbers identifying the property's address as "410" etched into the entrance windows. Nonetheless, someone following government regulations decided the building needed to be identified a second, and yet a thrid time. So they have bought two sets of the cheap black and white stick-on numbers and have stuck them on the two slabs of beautiful black marble which serve as an exterior wall of the building on either side of the entrance. Tacky.

I've never been accused of being a part of the fashionista corps. But I suppose there comes a time and now is it. Just in time for Derby, we've adorned one of our more beautiful government buildings with two sets of 3" high black and white stick-on numbers, identifying for all the world to see a building that is for the most part closed to the public, that its address, should one miss the elegantly sketched foot-tall numbers in the windows, is indeed 410 S. 5th. In fact, they did it twice just in case. Tacky. Tacky.

Today is the Great Steamboat Race in Louisville.
Tomorrow is Parade Day along Broadway.
Friday is Oaks Day.
Saturday is Derby Day.

Blogging will be light.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

93. Two Bridges good? Yes, but where?

I was asked today which of the designs for I-64's widening over Waterfront Park I preferred, assuming such work will ever come to fruition as part of the "Two Bridges" project crossing more lanes of traffic over the Ohio River, here along the Left Bank at Milepost 606. Last week, David Hawpe, editor of the local edition of the USA Today's stepchild, the once great newspaper known as the Courier-Journal, offered photos of several options for such a bridge. There is even a link on their site where one can go and show their support for one or all of the bridges. I assure you at some point they will report that "x" number of people showed preferences for one or another of the plans, thus giving credence to the idea that the people and the Courier are of one mind in this endeavor. We and they are not.

I have no intention of promoting by a vote a plan for a bridge I would never vote to have built. That's akin to asking which "form of Capital Punishment" would I prefer the Commonwealth use when it chooses to take a person's life as a sentence for the conviction of a crime. I do not prefer my Commonwealth take such measures and thus have no desire to say one form is preferable over another. As a candidate for Metro Council in 2002, one of the questions asked by the Courier-Journal board was my position on "The Bridges." My response has not changed in the ensuing - and bridgeless - five years.

I think we need an East End Bridge connecting the two stubs of I-265. I think we need a Southwest Bridge connecting the Greenbelt/Snyder with IN211 up the hill and ultimately to I-64. I do not think we need to encourage additional traffic through our downtown interstate system, coursing through both our hospital zone as well as our newly built Waterfront Park, by adding more lanes of traffic, either on land or across the river.

The C-J does not accept any differences of opinion once their minds have been made up, ergo do not expect a fourth option. The downtown bridge is one of three recent examples of this attitude of "my mind is made up, don't confuse me with the facts," the other two being the passage of Merger being financially feasible, which has been proven wrong; and the new Arena being financially feasible - which in time as Councilman Jim King is finding out, will also be proven wrong, although I doubt Jim Host and his host of friends, including those at the C-J, really care as their receipts will likely come in up front.

I supported and support building an Arena downtown. It is an amenity a world-class Big Town such as Louisville should have. And I think the government should pay for such amenities, so ultimately, even the payment of operating costs is probably something we should do. But we should be told the truth about such costs up front, as opposed to estimates and promises, and rosy pictures, and powerful but pointless power-point presentations.

The same is true with a downtown bridge. Will we be told the true cost? Whither the additional noise, the lessening of livability; the hours of time, land, and lives spent during the construction? Finally, as having a new bridge downtown will ultimately lead to the widening of I-64 and I-71, what of Seneca Park, the Cochran Tunnel, and the tranquil scenery between Louisville upriver to Blankenbaker Lane along I-71. When this land is taken for widening, then what?

Where do we draw the line - or do we?

I support 8664, even if it does not fully address Louisville's traffic problems. In my mind, it addresses them much better than any current plan for a downtown bridge.

Jeff Noble

92. May Day - "M' Aidez"

It was a year ago today that immigrants (some of whom are probably in Louisville illegally) and their non-immigrant supporters (some of whom probably have outstanding legal issues of their own) held a huge rally in Jefferson Square, replete with flags, both American and others, and other signs carries rallying cries, the main one being "Si Si Puede" taken from the motto of the United Farm Workers Union, the union from which Cesar Chavez made his mark in American history. I was one of those in attendance at the rally and I remain supportive of immigrants in general, including working toward an amnesty program for those who are here in our Republic illegally. I am supportive - to a point - of several of the proposals President Bush has made toward finding some answers to America's problem with immigration, both legal and illegal. There have been a variety of measures introduced in the Congress, none of which have made it very far at all. The president has been the lead man on most of these, countering the very aggressive tactics of Congressman Tom Tancredo, a Colorado Republican who has called the estimated 11,000,000 illegal immigrant in this country "a scourge that threatens the very future of our nation," lamenting "the cult of multiculturalism," and worrying that America is becoming a "Tower of Babel." His words treat these illegals as non-humans.

The threat of multi-culturalism is the real sentiment for most who are so vehement in their proposals for - actually against - illegals; it is not the false cry that the economy suffers from such a workforce. The argument has often been made that many of these illegals are here taking jobs from Americans, and I am sure that in some instances, that is the case. But when I see immigrant-after-immigrant doing roofing job-after-roofing job repeatedly, where all the workers seem to be non-American, it makes me believe that perhaps Americans aren't willing to do the jobs these people have taken, and in a sense, many Americans have come to expect to find them in. When a so-called red blooded Amnerican drives past a roofing, landscaping, or driveway resealing job, or other such occupations, it is nearly a given that one will see immigrants doing this labor, and not Americans, and many of these red-blooded souls have hired these same immigrants to do work on their own homes and driveways. There should be an avenue available under federal laws to work these folks into our system, paying taxes legally (as many who use false Social Security numbers are currently paying into the system illegally), and generally enjoying the benefits that many of our forebears first came to enjoy when they first came to America, in a sense illegally, as for the most part they usurped and cheated the Natives out of the territory that came to be the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.

As I said, I support the president up to a point - and it is a very sharp point. It is the point at which he begins to speaks from both sides of his mouth - and his mind - and from both sides of this issue. He has talked about three year visas, called Z-visas, which cost $3,500.00 each, and available only after people make the trek back home and then back to the states, whatever that might cost, and in some cases pay a $10,000.00 entry fee. And it eliminates anyone who can not come up with an extra $3,500.00 every third year from their employment making between $5.75 and $8.00 an hour. Think about that. If you are making that amount of money, paying rent, buying goods, and covering basic needs, from where does the extra $3,500.00 Bush proposes you spend come? Well, the method is that it doesn't come. The plan is conveniently designed for failure.

Another part of the Janus-like words emanating from the president are his ideas of turning over to local policing agencies the power - and requirement - to enforce federal immigration laws. Does his plan help pay for this additional enforcement duty? No. It is yet another unfunded mandate, something both the federal and the state governments like to pass along to local governments at an alarming rate.

The other part of Bush's deception in this matter has to do with the Wall. The great Wall dividing the United States from Mexico is a waste of money. Plans are to spend Billions (with a B) on a high-tech border, ultimately resulting in more deaths of those seeking to enter our Republic illegally. Making plans which knowingly result in the deaths of others is not an occupation in which my country should be taking the lead role, but it is. And if the illegals do not die crossing the border, and are then caught, their lives in one of the several detention camps the federal government operates in Texas and elsewhere will cause them even more sufferage.

I'm not sure what the answer might be to solve America's problem with immigration. I know the proposals fostered by Tancredo are morally and ethically wrong. I know the president has some good ideas, but he is unwilling to cross the conservatives in both parties to execute those good plans, without also accompanying them with the Draconian measures of excessive fines and unattainable fees, a Wall reminescent of the one Berlin erected in 1962, and detention camps approaching Hitler-like conditions in the South of Texas. This is a mark of shame upon the Republic of the United States of America.

A year ago, there was some willingness to look into this problem with some degree of compassion. Is it still there? On this May Day, it is my hope that it is.

A note: the word Mayday, when repeated three times, is a distress signal. It derives from the French language phrase for "Help Me." "M' Aidez." Come to my aid. Its derivation makes today an appropriate time to work for these, some of the least among us. Remembering the words of Jesus Christ in the Gospel of Saint Luke, would it not be better for our efforts - in the Billions of dollars - to be centered on the poor, the brokenhearted, deliverance of the captives, and setting at liberty them that are bruised, rather than just the opposite?

Are we the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave?

The Archives at Milepost 606


Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Never married, liberal Democrat, born in 1960, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.