Sunday, September 30, 2007

195. Football, Volleyball, and the AIDS Walk

This was to be the Season of Brian Brohm who, unlike the other phenom from U of L's last season, chose to remain for his senior year to chase the Heisman Trophy. He is still in the chase, but not due to any help from his team or his coach, Steve Kraigthorpe. On the other hand, just a few miles to the east along I-64, Andre Woodson and the University of Kentucky Wildcats are 5 and 0. Unfortunately, I am old enough to remember the last time they were 5 and 0 - it was the season after the Summer of Love I wrote about several entries back in 1984 when I spent an inordinate amount of time somewhat inebriated solving the problems of the world while sipping a Whiskey and Soda, eating a burger, and listening to Whiter Shade of Pale being played on the stereo of Charlie Brown's on Euclid Avenue. Life was much simpler then - I think.

Yesterday I was jolted back into the reality of being 47 after a brief encounter with some female athletes at the White Castle on Eastern Parkway at S. Preston Street. They were all wearing Syracuse shirts and were in town for a volleyball game against U of L. Since I know nothing about volleyball, I decided to congratulate their college on its football win against Louisville. Two looked at me as if to say, "What did you say, old man?" One did say thanks, while the another said to yet another, "I guess he's some old football fan." So much for my southern hospitality. Incidentally, Syracuse lost yesterday's game.

Switching gears, today marks the 15th Annual Louisville AIDS Walk. I've participated in this event several times over the years, and in the late 1990s worked it as a vouluteer, back when my friend Denise Bentley was the Executive Director. I spent my big 40th birthday in 2000 on Sunday afternoon in the Belvedere, with emcees Melissa Mershon and Dawn Gee having the crowd sing Happy Birthday to me as part of the festivities. The walk leaves the Belvedere and proceeds along Main to the Clark Bridge, whereupon it crosses over into Clarksville, Indiana, makes a circle, and returns to the Bluegrass State, The course is about 3 1/2 miles, a little longer than in years past. The walk starts at 3:00, with registration starting two hours earlier. If you happen to be in the Atomic Saucer Coffe Shop on E. Oak Street, where I happen to be right now, they will happily take a donation.

Bring On October.

Friday, September 28, 2007

194. 5K Run

According to the 6th Chapter of the Gospel of Saint Mark, Jesus managed to feed 5000 souls from a picnic of five loaves and two fishes. The story is repeated in Matthew 14 and John 6. Five thousand seems to be a lot of people to be in one place. The moral of that story is about the sharing of food. Yesterday, sometime around 12:30 pm, the 5000th visit was made to the Left Bank of the Ohio River Near Milepoint 606. Here along the Left Bank, we share stories - or I least I share my stories with you and now and then I get a response. Thanks for the 5000+ look-sees from all of you. I continue to be amazed at some of the addresses and locales who stop by for a one- or two- page view. While very few people comment, and about 500 of those views might be me, I am still awed by the idea of 4500 people either intentionally or accidentally finding their way here.

The number of foreign country addresses continues to rise, as does, interestingly, the number of addresses ending in .edu, indicating an institution of higher learning. I have often clicked on these college links when letters appear which make no sense to me, taking me to a number of smaller colleges, community colleges, and other places I never knew were there. I have also noticed more than a few addresses linking to websites of both major national political parties, both congressional campaign committees, and four (so far) different individual congressional campaigns, although Erwin Roberts' site has yet to show up.

I have regular daily visits from about 17 different addresses, assuming the ones from are the same person. I've added the map which shows "where in the world" as well as a location monitor within the other two counters, which like the line in the Nicene Creed, cover things both seen and unseen. We've had entries on a number of things, but usually are trying to stick to the wide array provided for in the intro at the top of the site. As the labels on the right indicate, the most popular entries are on history, Louisville, and travel, followed by politics, sports, the weather, and religion. (And therein lies a question about the Oxford Comma - Stuart, are you reading? - Should the comma following the word travel in the previous sentence be a semi-colon instead?)

But enough musings for one day. I'm looking forward to some travel time this weekend, and as my truck has been laid up without gears for a week, its return to the road this evening should be worth a hundred miles or so.

Thanks again for stopping by.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

193. Weather Briefing

Briefly, back on the first day of Autumn we set a high-temperature record of 96. The next day we did it again at 93. The next day, which was yesterday, we came close at 90.

Autumn-like weather arrived today. It is currently 72 degrees and raining. No more "expected highs in the 90s" anytime soon. O to be in Louisville now that it is finally Autumn.

192. Two rights and a wrong.

Happy Birthday MaDonna.

Happy Birthday Terry.

I mentioned on the 23rd that today was also Will's birthday, but I was wrong. Rather than being three days after mine, Will's is three days before mine. He is considerably older than I had thought.

Happy Belated Birthday Will.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

191. Along US 50 - I haven't been there in a while

Although I haven't been there in many years, I followed this season's baseball games at Washington D.C.'s RFK Stadium, the last of which, for this season and ever, was played yesterday with the Philadelphia Phillies giving the homefield Washington Nationals a final victory of 5-3 before about 41,000 fans, the record for this year. And with that victory, baseball leaves the forty-six year old stadium in Washington's eastside neighborhood generically known as Capitol Hill.

The mostly residential area includes rowhouses, Victorians mansions similar to Old Louisville, the Folger Shakespeare Library, landscaped rectangular parks where the diagonal state-named streets cross the numbered and lettered streets on DCs streetgrid, to the north of the capitol Union Station, to the southeast both the Historic Congressional Cemetery (about which I have written in the past) and famously, the recently burned-down and being rebuilt Eastern Market, an open public market dating back to DC's origins along Pennsylvania Avenue at 8th Street SE; all of which are in some way east of the building housing the national seat of government from which the neighborhood takes its name. RFK itself sets amid the center of East Capitol Avenue at 22nd Street.

I haven't made it back to DC this year, as I promised myself I would do, but I still intend to. There are places I want to revisit and other places I've discovered on the internet that I've never been to at all. Another town I am hoping to revisit soon, in the same general area (if you are talking about the country as a whole), is Annapolis, Maryland, capital of that state and home to the United States Naval Academy. Washington D.C. and Annapolis are separated by about 33 miles along US 50.

Later today I am having lunch with Marty Meyer, of Congressman Yarmuth's office, who has recently returned from a visit there. I am hoping he will give me an overview of his visit. The two circles in the center of town, a few blocks apart, offer both a government center (the State House) and an ecclesiastical one (Saint Anne's Episcopal Church), both of which date to the 1600s, and both topics of interest to me. On the waters of the Severn River and at the narrowest point of America's largest estuary, Chesapeake Bay, Annapolis is one of the most enchanting places I know of.

But, I haven't been there lately either.

October - or maybe November, should be a time for travel.

Monday, September 24, 2007

190. More thoughts on Jefferson County.

Deboarding the #17 bus this morning, I noticed the balance of the magnolias which once stood on the Court House lawn are finally gone. Thanks Be To God. With them goes the thousands of starlings which regularly roosted among them, and the deposits they left behind on sidewalks, grass, and occassionally people. The work the County and the contractors are doing on the Court House has been exceptional. Too bad they are only doing one-half the job.

Several months back I made an entry on this matter. It seems the exterior renovation of the Court House finally got off the planning pages and into bricks and mortar due to a mold and mildew problem affecting the office of the Mayor of the Louisville - Jefferson County Metro, the over-abundant name we voted to name ourselves when we the voters assimilated the old City of Louisville government into the broader Jefferson County government, back on November 7, 2000. For the record, I voted No on that measure. I was concerned the City would lose its identity amongst all the folks in the County. But, I digress.

The mold and mildew apparently made its way into the southeast corner of the upper floors, the corner of the building where the Mayor keeps appointments when he isn't out planting begonias or announcing Parks improvement, neither entirely a bad thing to be doing as the City-County's Chief Executive Officer. Due to the dew getting into the executive suite of offices, the time arrived for a major renovation of part of the Court House exterior, the part including the area of Hizzoner's office. Old stucco, applied over some less-than-stellar quality stone used in the original construction needed to be removed. Moisture was making its way into the poor-quality stone and the stucco was forcing it to stay there, causing it to seep further into the stone, clear through to other side, which is to say, into the Mayor's suite of rooms.

So began the renovation of watersealing the old stones with a breathable mixture allowing excess moisture to escape to the exterior, rather than the interior. Over-laid upon the newly waterproofed stone was new stucco, which then was painted a very neutral and attractive color, allegedly and probably close to the coloring of the stone when the Court House was originally built in the mid-1800s. But this new waterproofing, re-stuccoing, and repainting is only for the southern half of the building. It is simply a facade, being visible only when one looks at the building from the front as most people do as they drive down W. Jefferson Street, following the route the bus I took into town today does. The rear of the building, which few see when driving will not be presently fixed. There is no money for this part, which, since the events of September 11, has been the part of the building most used by the citizens themselves. The main entrance to the Court House since that tragic day has been through the back doors, the double-set of double-doors in the Court House Alley (properly called Court Place, and elsewhere in the City called either Congress Street or Congress Alley). This entrance and its surroundings are not getting the update afforded the facade. Hopefully either the Mayor or the Council can find the money to finish the job on the building.

Coinciding with the update of the southern facade has been the relandscaping of the entire half-block where the Court House is situated. While some of the plantings have been a bit too suburban, symbolic of the City being consumed by the more suburban County, the end result has nonetheless been a great improvement. Along with the plantings has been the removal of the magonlias as well as a number of shrubs set against the building and rather poorly kept at times over the years. The effect of the entire project, as long as one views it from the front along W. Jefferson Street, is extraordinary. Job (or 1/2 job) well done.

While we are on the topic of Louisville, Jefferson County, and Louisville-Jefferson County, it has been reported in the news today that if we get to count all the citizens in the smaller cities, which is to say all the cities which weren't assimilated into Jefferson County by the vote of November 7, 2000, that our place in the Litany of the Most Populous Cities would fall at #17. But, as the Census Bureau which makes these counts is a responsible unit of government and refuses to count people twice, Louisville's population is set using the same standards as every other so-called Merged government and will county only those people who aren't in any other government entity, such as Saint Matthews, Hills and Dales, or South Park View, or any of the other 94 or so government entities that the so-called Merger vote didn't Merge. Thus the population of whatever Louisville is stands at 554,496, or #27 on the list. On the other hand, the overall population for the Louisville - Jefferson County Metro, which is to say all of Jefferson County, has risen above 700,000 and now reads 701,500. Congratulations are in order I suppose. If the Mayor had truly pushed a Merger bill in 2000, as opposed to one which only killed off the City of Louisville, then he could announce our place at #17. But the Merger he pushed and successfully passed was a Smoke and Mirrors affair, and now that the smoke has settled and the mirrors are cracked, the reality is we didn't Merge. We did away with the City of Louisville. We yielded its spirit up to that of the government of Jefferson County, whose population stands at 701,500.

If I sound bitter - perhaps sour grapes-ish, I am. The people of the old City of Louisville lost out in the vote and are continuing to do so - most noticeably by the continuation of being taxed both as a City, which they no longer are, and as a County, which is fair. Until and unless there is an equalization of the tax rates, meaning that those in the old City must be lowered and those in the unincorporated parts of Jefferson County must be raised, we will not have accomplished Merger. Rather, we will continue to be Keeping up Appearances, much as we are with the Court House's new facade.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

189. On the Anniversary of Certain Nativities

Later on today, around 12:00 noon, or technically around 1:00 pm, since 47 years ago Louisville observed Central Time, I will enter into the 48th year of my current presence here on Terra Firma, having completed 47 of the same and, therefore, consequently celebrating a 47th birthday. Today also marks the 57th birthday of my friend Sharon Holbert, and the 35th birthday of my friend Arlandria Spalding. Four days ago, my friend Tim Allgeier was also 47. Three days from now is my friend Terry Risinger's 37th birthday. He is spending the weekend working on my truck which went missing a few gears from its transmission in the last few days. Another friend and favorite, Will Carle, political fundraiser extraordinairre currently in the employ of Jack Conway's campaign for Attorney General, is celebrating his 27th birthday, also in three days. Yet another friend, MaDonna White will be celebrating as well - celebrating a few - but not very many more - years than the rest of us.

Happy Birthday, one and all.

As an aside, but important in the Earth's and Moon's relentless pace around the Solar System, this morning around 5:13 am Eastern Time, a Cardinal Point in that relentless pacing occurred, as we passed the Autumnal Equinox, denoting the point of days and nights of even time, hence an equinox. Starting today and running through the Winter Solstice in December, days will shorten and nights will lengthen. O to be in Louisville now that it is Autumn.

Friday, September 21, 2007

188. Identity Crisis

Not really.

In a previous post, I was asked if I am the Jeff Noble who is a weatherman for WBKO in Bowling Green, Kentucky. I have been asked this before. I am not, nor do I want to be confused with any other WBKO weathermen who have been in the news lately.

Nor am I the Jeff Noble who serves as the 3rd District member of the Breathitt County Fiscal Court, and is a resident of Lost Creek. Back in April, when I took a trip down to the Hillbilly Days Festival in Pikeville, my return trip was made through Breathitt County and I stopped along the way on KY 15 well south of Jackson, the Breathitt County seat, and met that Jeff Noble's mother. Breathitt County is home to a large number of people with the last name of Noble, including at least three or four more named Jeff. One is the editor of the Breathitt County Voice, who may or may not be the same person as the County Magistrate - I really don't know. Another one, age 27, was recently arrested on drug-dealing charges. Another Jeff Noble in Breathitt County makes his home in the hamlet of Ned, Kentucky.

Over in Perry County, to the south and east of Breathitt, are at least two more of us, one in Hazard, the other in Bulan along KY 80. I know of one other Jeff Noble, a student at Morehead State University. I do not know where he is from originally. And I met a very young Jeff Noble at the 2004 State Democratic Convention in Lexington. He was from London, Kentucky as I recall.

My first week of college at the University of Kentucky, I met two guys from Colerain, Ohio, outside of Cincinnati. They had gone through high school with yet another Jeff Noble. That Jeff Noble and I had the chance to meet two weeks later in September as he was making his way through Lexington on his way to the University of North Carolina. Not only was he a Jeff Noble, he was, like me, a Jeffrey Thomas Noble, which was chilling. Then we compared Driver's Licenses. At that point, amid some trembling, we each found out the other was going to have a birthday soon thereafter. The day after tomorrow, both of us will turn 47.

To my knowledge, I am the only Jeff Noble in Louisville with a birthday the day after tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Along the Old Frankfort Pike

Complaints have been logged by some of my five faithful readers that the posts of recent days have been too melancholic - not enough backroads adventuring or other things. In yesterday's entry, I simply glossed over the cruising I did between the meeting in Frankfort and the ballgame in Lexington.

What is there to say - only 26 miles separate the Democratic Headquarters building from Commonwealth Stadium, on UK's South Campus. It is pretty much a straight shot - I-64 to Newtown Pike then into and through Lexington. But, knowing that I-75 in Lexington is torn up and Newtown Pike is being reworked, and also knowing that many Louisville folks prefer the Versailles Road route, I opted to go up the middle, to use some football lingo, travelling along the Leestown Pike, which is US 421. Another even prettier ride, especially in the fall, is to travel the Old Frankfort Pike, which runs parallel to Leestown about 3 miles to the southwest. Saturday I was on both roads for part of my afternoon travel between the two towns, stopping over at one in between.

The tiny town of Midway hosted its annual Downtown Fall Festival over the last weekend. Midway is located, logically enough, midway between Lexington and Frankfort on US 62 at what was originally the Lexington and Ohio Railroad tracks. Curiously, it is also midway between Versailles and Georgetown. Over on its southeast side is Kentucky's only women's college, Midway College. Nearby is the remnant of Woodburn Stud, one of Kentucky's original horse farms; the present remnant, known as Airdrie Stud, is owned by Kentucky's former governor, Brereton Jones and his wife Libbie, on the south side of the Old Frankfort Pike. Mrs. Jones is said to be descended from Robert Aitcheson Alexander, Jr., who built the farm up to nearly 3000 acres, laying across both sides of the Old Frankfort Pike, extending northward to Leestown Pike and southward nearly to Versailles Road. Old Frankfort Pike is one of the prettiest stretches of highway anywhere in Kentucky. If you read the Page One Kentucky blog hosted by Jacob Payne, it is featured in one of the pictures which rotate through at the top of the page.

So making the 26 mile journey from Frankfort to Lexington can be time-consuming - and beautiful, if you know which road to travel.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

186. I've Been Away.

I've been out a few days and posting has been nil. Truthfully, I overplanned Saturday and paid for it Sunday and yesterday. Friday at work, I noticed a sore throat coming on but as usual did nothing to keep it from fully arriving. Hence, the absence of a few days of entries and the presence of a sore throat.

Friday evening and Saturday morning I attended the visitation and funeral, respectively, of an old friend - a fellow Bingo caller I've known for twenty years. Norbert Wiesemann, 79, had services at the Bosse Funeral Home on Ellison Avenue, and was buried the next morning after a Mass at Saint Therese's in Germantown on E. Kentucky Street at Schiller Avenue. Both were typical old fashioned Catholic affairs, with a service Friday night from the men of the Saint Martin's Brotherhood, a religious fraternity with a Beer license, presently located Winter Avenue. I've downed more than a few beers there over the years, prior to my more or less qutting alcohol, which was eleven years ago this week, more or less being key words in that sentence.

Prayers were offered asking Saint Martin to intercede for Norb, and for all who have died, awaiting til the Second Coming for a bodily resurrection and eternity in Paradise. Three Our Fathers followed by three Hail Marys closed the ceremony. Over the years, I have attended so many of these exact same types of services and they are always moving for me. I am hopeful upon my earthly demise, there will be some group of people on the night before my funeral, offering up prayers to Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, to Saints Anthony, Jude, and Michael, and to God, for the repose of my soul in Peace.

Saturday morning Mass was at Saint Therese, an older church in need of repair, and currently in talks of merger with Saint Elizabeth's and Holy Family, which is my home church. The three parishes presently constitute a Cluster, a word of recent vintage in the Archdiocese of Louisville, clustered churches usually leading to merged churches. Norb's Mass was celebrated by Father Gray, in his nasally monotonic voice, but centered on all the years of volunteering Norb did, a well-known fact in the Germantown and Paristown neighborhoods. As I said, Norb was a Bingo caller and his signature number was B-11. I've mentioned this once before several entries back. B-EE-OH-EE-LEVEN! Rest In Peace Norb.

From a religious celebration in Germantown (which is what a Catholic Funeral Mass is) I went up to Frankfort for a meeting of the Democratic Party State Central Executive Committee, a body of which I am a member. During the meeting we received a phone call from Governor Howard Dean, the national Party chair. I'm of the belief it was a recorded call, given there were a few unnatural pauses, where applause might have filled in the silence, if the committee had been given over to the need for applause. On two occasions we did, but on the two we didn't, the silence was obvious. But, it was nice to know that Dean and the DNC have located Kentucky on the map, which I know they have in a big way, given the national party's participation in this fall's election of Steve Beshear as our next governor. Thanks to Lisa Johnson and Queenie Averette, I had some sore throat lozenges to ease the pain growing in my head.

From Frankfort, I cruised around that part of the state for several hours ending up with some friends in Lexington, which Saturday night hosted 70,857 watching the Governor's Cup Football Rivalry between the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville. It was the first matchup between the teams I had attended since the opening of Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on September 5, 1998. Kentucky won that game 68-34. This past Saturday, in a Battle of the Defenseless, Kentucky won again, this time 40-34. The game was a back-and-forth affair, concluding with Andre' Woodson's throw of a 57-yard touchdown pass to Steve Johnson with 28 seconds left, upsetting the then- 9th-ranked Cardinals. Suffice it to say, Lexington rocked well into the night and I am too old for such shenanigans. The two teams next meet in Louisville on August 31, 2008.

Sunday and Monday I slept.

Friday, September 14, 2007

185. A Man, A Plan, Panama. Not this president. No man, no plan, Iraq.

If it wasn't so serious . . .

The Leader of the Free World went on TV last night to tell us that out of the 168,000 or so American troops in Iraq, he thinks he would like 6000 of them home to celebrate Christmas (which might assume he will only pick Christians to come home since it won't matter to the others), which would be nice. That's 3.57%. Then, just in time for next fall's campaign season, he'd like to bring home another 30,000 or so. Thanks again. He also basically promised political (hand-picked leaders), economic (that means more $$$), and military help (is that in addition to the 130,000 he plans to leave there next July?) far beyond his term as president, which thankfully will end on January 20, 2009. This is the second time he has mentioned in a nationally-televised speech that he indeed believes there will come an end to the lunacy of his administration. For that much we can be thankful. Redemption draweth nigh.

According to the Department of Defense, 3775 American troops have lost their lives during the President's War in Iraq.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

184. Bernheim Forest

When my brother and I were little, our dad would pick us up on Saturday or Sunday for his weekly visitation. On many occasions, our mother - his ex-wife - would join us, mostly to control me and my brother, but also because my father was still enamored with the idea that my mother was still enamored with him, which was not the case. We went a lot of places over the years, sometimes just for activities in local parks in Louisville. Among those were swimming at Wyandotte, playing in the spray pool at Triangle (now called Stansbury, after the late mayor), or roaming the hills and dales of Cherokee or Iroquois Park. Outside of Louisville, we visited lots of places associated with Abraham Lincoln, places I still visit today. Some of those are in Kentucky and others are in Indiana, over in the area of what was then called Santa Claus Village, another regular stop. Beech Bend Park in Bowling Green was the furthest south we'd go on a day visit, stopping by Guntown Mountain on the way back at Cave City. To the north, we might end up at Spring Mill Park or somewhere around Bloomington. Thinking about it, we didn't go much east or west. That has never really occurred to me before this moment.

But of all those places, the place we went to the most was Bernheim Forest, a 14,000 acre nature preserve south of Louisville in Bullitt County. Isaac Wolfe Bernheim, a wealthy whiskey distiller and merchant, bought the mostly ill-used hilly farmland mostly in southern Bullitt County, with a few acres in western Nelson County in 1928. And although the forest was first officially established a year later, it wasn't until 1950 that it was opened to the public. Between those years, the Olmsted Design folks, the ones we know so well in Louisville, created on paper the spaces to be built which would soon become familiar to so many visitors. So our visits in the 1960s and 1970s were done while Bernheim was still in its early usage stages.

I remember the old Kingfisher pond, the Nature Center with its boxes where you could reach in and feel the fur of some unknown creature, paths with all the trees and flowers marked, and the cool black shale which lined the bottom of several of the creeks we used to walk alongside and into during our visits. At the top of the hill was a Fire Tower of which one could climb to the top and see forever it seemed. The Fire Tower itself sits just over three miles from the entrance to the Forest on KY 245, just east of Interstate 65. KY 245 was the original Poor Farm Road in Bullitt County in the Leaches Precinct. The Bullitt County Fairgrounds still sits along the road, right at the I-65 intersection.

Bernheim has been on my mind this week in a melancholy sort of way. My father has not been well for a few weeks and so, for a restorative type visit, he and my mother - the ex-wife of 44 years, have made a visit to the Forest, mostly just to sit and relax and take it all in. (I should add here that in the ensuing years since the weekly visitations, they have become very good friends). Last Christmas, one of my presents to them was a membership in the Forest Association, allowing them to visit at will. At will finally arrived this week. Dad can't get around like he did when we used walked the edges of every creek and lake, and followed all the paths winding around the place, but the enjoyment of the place is still an easy task. Truthfully, I doubt that I could journey all those paths anymore myself.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

183. How to go Alcohol Free - Vote Early, Vote Often

So you and your pals have been hanging around your neighborhood, and you decide you want to outlaw the sale of alcohol in your precinct. Sounds hard, right? Think again.

KRS 242.020 says you need a petition with the verified signatures of 25% of those in your precinct who voted in the last general election. Let's say you live in the precinct where Phoenix Hill Tavern is located. (For the non-locals, Phoenix Hill Tavern is a huge nightclub/complex in the Old Highlands neighborhood established over 30 years ago). That precinct would be M139. Three hundred eighty six (386) votes were cast in M139 last fall. 386 x 0.25 = 96.5, so it takes 97 verified signatures. Ninety-seven verified signatures is all it takes to force the Mayor of Louisville-Jefferson County Metro to call for a Local Option Election to end alcohol sales in the precinct where Phoenix Hill Tavern is located.

So, the Mayor does his stautory duty and calls for an election on a given date. Local Option elections cannot be held as the same time as a regularly scheduled election, according to KRS 242.030. The election must be at least 60 days after and no more than 90 days after the signatures are verified, and cannot be within 30 days of any other election. Details. This means that whatever date is set, there is really no more than three months of campaigning, and probably less.

Then, you hold the election. Local Option elections, like Special Elections and Primaries, have remarkably poor turnout. Yesterday's Local Option elections in four precincts in the West End did outlaw the sale of alcohol by overwhelming majorities in each precinct. Here are the results:

N104 -- 224 in favor of the ban. 26 opposed.
N105 -- 130 in favor of the ban. 34 opposed.
N107 -- 176 in favor of the ban. 37 opposed.
N109 -- 107 in favor of the ban. 10 opposed.

What is that in percentages is an important question to ask. Why? Because as the ban affects everyone in the precinct, the question should be asked, what percentage of the voters determined the fate for all of the voters? Here is the answer:

N104 -- 18.4% voted in favor of the ban. 20.5% voted overall.
N105 -- 12.2% voted in favor of the ban. 15.4% voted overall.
N107 -- 15.0% voted in favor of the ban. 18.2% voted overall.
N109 -- 10.6% voted in favor of the ban. 11.6% voted overall.

In the best turnout, 1 in 5 people determined the outcome for the 4 in 5 that didn't bother to vote. In the worst turnout, 1 in 9 made the same determination. The other 8 must live under the rule of the 1. If you served on a committee of nine people, and one made all the rules, while the others were barred from doing so, this would be considered a bad thing. And it should.

On the other hand, this Local Option election is pure Democracy at the lowest political level. Irrespective of the fact that nearly 84% of those eligible did not participate in the process, those who did can celebrate. They made a lasting - at least for three years - change on their surroundings. How many of us can say that? Whether you agree with the ban or not, actively making a change in your neighborhood is something each of us should seek to do. These folks did.

See how easy Democracy is? Almost too easy?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

182. Election Day

Much of the country, and perhaps the world, will be commemorating the events of September 11, 2001 today, a day which, like December 7, 1941, will be remembered by any American who was living at the time. I did not then and do not now wish to dwell on the losses our country received on that day. I have never handled it well, and this year, the sixth anniversary, will be no different. Needless to say, prayers and condolences are still offered for those who lost their lives and their families left behind to carry on. It goes without saying that I join those who mourn the losses from that day.

Since that time, Americans have often been reminded that the war we are currently fighting, the worldwide one against Terrorism as opposed to the President's War in Iraq, is being fought to preserve a way of life unique to America. I hope and pray that that is indeed the case. That way of life worth preserving includes the idea and promulgation of self-government. Americans have the opportunity on a pretty regular basis to elect folks to represent them in the various government entities of which they are a part. These include the obvious offices at the federal level of members of the United States Congress, the United States Senate, and a convoluted system of electing a President and Vice President, which usually works, but now and then doesn't exactly work. At the state level, we elect our General Assembly as well as a host of statewide officials. It also includes local legislators such as (here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepoint 606) members of the Metro Council; the Jefferson County School Board; and, in the unincorporated areas of Jefferson County - that is to say the area outside of the old City of Louisville, the only government which was done away with in the Merger vote of 2000 - elections for Fire District Boards and neighborhood councils, as well as the smaller city governments' governors. (I'll throw in here that those of us who live in the former City of Louisville are now a part of the Louisville Urban Services District, and by design, we have no such election power to the committee which governs the Louisville Urban Services District).

While some states allow the placement of referenda on ballots, ours does so only sparingly, almost always either to change the Constitution of the Commonwealth (which for me are usually cast as NO votes), or the opportunity to establish taxing districts, something we haven't undertaken for some time, but will have the opportunity to do soon for the Louisville Free Public Library. The last taxing district I recall passing county-wide was that for the TARC system, Louisville's public transit operation taken back in 1972. But there remains the "Local Option" election, provided for under Chapter 242 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes.

Local Option elections are held at the bottom level of a political (little P) structure, the lowly precinct. In every state across the nation, cities, towns, and counties (or parishes) are divvied up into a unit of manageable organization for the purposes of conducting elections called precincts. Kentucky law allows people in a given precinct to decide very few things specific to that precinct. One of those very few things is the ability to control the sale of alcohol within the boundaries of a precinct. Precincts which allow the sale of alcohol are known as "wet" precincts while those which do not allow it are known as "dry" precincts. There are a number (I do not know how many) of dry precincts throughout Jefferson County. Kentucky law also allows entire cities and/or counties to vote themselves wet or dry. Of Kentucky's 120 counties, 54 are completely dry, including a few where spirits are made.

Which brings us to today's topic. In the northwestern corner of the county, in the old City of Louisville, in the area generally known as the Shawnee area, a largely Black-populated area named for the neighborhood Olmsted designed park created in the early 1900s, four precincts are today exercising one of those ways of life for which we are fighting the War against Terrorism. They are conducting a Local Option election, which will determine whether or not liquor of any sort can be sold within their boundaries. It is an exercise in self-government, an exercise at the very basic level of government, and one in which the majority prevails, without much concern about how much money was spent, who gave the limit, what outside agencies ran commercials, or worries about uncounted ballots or hanging chads (whatever that meant).

This entry is not an endorsement for or against the sale of alcohol, but rather is a reminder that local government, self-government, and participation in government is why we remember those who died in the events of September 11, 2001.

Monday, September 10, 2007

181. Congressman Yarmuth's response to General Petraeus' Report.

My congressman, John Yarmuth, Democrat of Kentucky's Third District, representing the nearly 700,000 of us living along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepoint 606, has issued a statement, just received from his PR Director Stuart Perelmuter. It is copied below in full.


Congressman Yarmuth Releases Statement on Petraeus Report

“I respect General Petraeus, and he is right that long term progress can only be achieved through political reconciliation. Today, he confirmed that progress in that regard has been nominal to nonexistent.

“Iraq has met just three of 18 benchmarks for success, the national police force operates as a uniformed Shiite militia, and with 254 American casualties, this has been the deadliest summer for our troops in the history of this conflict.

“Meanwhile, as our forces are bogged down in Iraq, al Qaeda terrorists are, right now, plotting in other countries— just as we saw last week, with the attempted attacks in Germany, which were planned and trained for in Pakistan.

“Therefore, I must again conclude that the escalation of this war, which has cost thousands of American lives and hundreds of billions of dollars, has brought us no closer to attaining a lasting peace and true national security. I will continue, as I have since day one, to call for and work toward a prompt and responsible redeployment of our troops that will save lives, enable our forces to combat global terror around the world, and end America’s role as the crutch upon which the Iraqi government continues to hobble.”


Thank you Congressman Yarmuth.

180. A Long Awaited Day

September 10th is finally here, a day a lot of people have been waiting for, a point in time to catch up on all that's been happening despite the fact that everyone knows the battle was lost sometime ago.

And we're not writing about the summer's American Idol loser's long awaited eighteenth birthday - yes, Sanjaya Malakar, star of the Summer of Hair, turns 18 today. Would that today's wait was something so uncomplicated and trivial.

***** ***** *****

Today is the day "in September" when President Bush's leader in his War in Iraq will report to the Congress and to us (or US) on where we are and where we need to be in Iraq. Very few people in the country think we need to be where we are. The latest CBS/New York Times poll from last week indicates 71% of all Americans do not approve of the president's handling of the War in Iraq. 59% say the removal of Saddam Hussein was not worth the cost in money and lives. 62% say it was a mistake to get involved. A total of 65% think we should either decrease our troops' volume or get out altogether. To that answer, the president, General David Petraeus, and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, will today report that the surge raising the numbers of Americans troops in Iraq to 170,000 is working.

As President Bush has little legitimate military training and experience, and Ambassador Crocker, a seasoned and respected diplomat, like myself has none, I will attempt to give some credence to the report of General David Petraeus, whose military career began with his enrollment and graduation from the United States Military Academy, Class of 1974, when he at the age of 22 he entered the 509th Airborne Infantry Battalion at Vicenza, Italy. It would be easy for me as a Democrat with a bumber sticker on my truck reading Teach Peace to dismiss the general's report in toto even before he has made it. However, I've been taught to respect and appreciate the jobs and roles those in the military play, from the lowly Privates, Airmen Basic, and Seaman Recruits, up to the Admirals and Generals. Petraeus has climbed the ranks, along the way serving as a Lieutenant Colonel, commanding the 101st Airborne Division 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment from 1991-93 at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Today he is a four-star general. He has an impressive resume, as for that matter, does Ambassador Ryan. Needless to say, the president's place among these three is a far-distant third.

On the other hand, it must be remembered that the president hired both of these men to carry out his policies. There have always been problems of governance between the departments of State and Defense, both between themselves and amongst all branches in the Executive. To bring the two of them together is obviously a push at seeing the overall plan for America's involvement in Iraq in as positive a light as is possible. As stellar as are the resumes of these two government officials, there isn't enough light to make this situation a positive one. To date, 3763 Americans have lost their lives, including twenty-one in this month alone. Another 27,186 casualties have been reported. These are all Defense Department figures. The deaths include Sgt. James Faulkner of Clarksville; Lance Corporal Thomas Echols of Shepherdsville; and, Sgt. James Faulkner, Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Phelps, Staff Sgt. George Rentschler, Sgt. Michael Acklin II, Sgt. Darrin Potter, Sgt. David Wimberg, and Petty Offc. 3rd Class Jeffrey Weiner, all of Louisville. May their souls Rest In Peace.

Is there a way for the general and the ambassador to make the case for America to stay in Iraq? I am not smart enough to know the answer to this question. Neither are most of us who protest against the war and against those who support it. Notice I didn't say "is there a way for us to win" as at this point, I do not believe that is an option. But can a case be made for the continued occupation of Iraq by American soldiers? Are they engaged in a civil or religious war which is frankly none of our business? Or is it our business in that the religious aspects of it may roll over into the so-called War on Terrorism, the one we've called ourselves into that even the president has admitted may not end in one or two generations.

I am of the belief that the War on Terrorism is a separate affair from America's involvement in a civil and religious war within the State of Iraq. I believe it is time for America to leave. How that is done, I do not know. I am confident that George W. Bush will not have the opportunity to proclaim, as he arrogantly, contemptuously, and erroneously did aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003 when he declared Mission Accomplished, an obvious photo-op in preparation for the next year's election. His actions that day were a mockery of the Americans lives lost due to his actions as president. The treasonous, treacherous, and tragic administration of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney has left the State of our Union in a precarious position.

We are at war, both with ourselves politically and with others around the planet. Historians have written about warring nations since the earliest of times, stories found in classic literature, within the chapters and verses of the Bible, and handed down orally, traditions from generation to generation. And the end result of many of those stories of war is nothing short of the beginnings of the end of those civilizations. We are at a point in our relatively short history of 231 years where the future of our Republic hangs in the balance. Will we be able to bridge the abyss created during the last thirty five or so years - which has dramatically widened under the 43rd best president in history. It is an abyss within between classes, cultures, and commuities and an abyss without, crossing not only the political limits of countries, but also the non-existant borders and limits which exist between peoples. These are artificial barriers which have been promulgated by this country and they must be altered or done away with entirely if we as a country are to live peacefully with other states, nations, and peoples on the planet we share as home.

Whoever the next president will be, he or she, and more and more I am feeling that it will be she, that person and their administration must be prepared to work to restore America to its place in the world and that task will be neither easy nor quick. George Bush has destroyed America as the City Shining of the Hill, the beacon of light and prosperity many of us love and cherish and yearn to yet be again.

The inauguration of the next president on January 20, 2009 can not arrive soon enough.

Friday, September 7, 2007

179. No D in Louisville, but lots of new housing.




Lou - a - vuhl.


Lul - vul.

Lu - ville.

No matter how you say it or spell it, there is no D in Louisville and last night the University of Louisville Cardinal Football team put on an exposition to prove. it. But, the good news: they did win 58-42, defeating Middle Tennessee State, another apparently D-less team.

And Papa John's Cardinal Stadium continues its romance with Heisman candidate Brian Brohm, who since his sophomore year of high school, has never lost a game on the field. Last night he extended that record to 14-0. Last night he was 25 of 39 for 399 yards.

Ok, enough sports.

In news concerning two of the three branches of Kentucky's government, a Judicial Nominating Committee led by Chief Justice James Lambert has nominated three people to serve on the State Supreme Court, one of whom the governor will appoint to fill the vacancy created by the death of Justice McAnulty. They are Appealate Court Judge Lisabeth Hughes Abramson, Jefferson Circuit Judge Geoffrey P. Morris, and Jefferson Circuit Judge James M. Shake - three good Democrats. Maybe the governor learned at least something from his debacle of an appointment of John Roach in central Kentucky in 2006. Roach was later defeated by Mary Noble, who, to my knowledge, is of no relation to me.

Two of the three appointed have already indicated they intend to seek the seat next year, when the balance of McAnulty's term must be filled by an election in November. Judge Morris has made no such indication as yet. I do not know Judge Abramson, who seems to be the favorite, as she has once before been appointed to the bench by Governor Fletcher, who gave her the post she currently holds.

Finally, weekend plans.

My mother wants to do the "Downtown Housing Tour" of all the new homes and condos along Main, Market, and other streets in downtown and the area just south of Broadway which civic leaders want us to call SoBro but most of us prefer calling it the area just south of Broadway since SoBro sounds like some sort of polish remover sitting out on a shelf in the garage. There are two routes one can travel on trolleys, an east-west along Main and Market, and a north-south along 3rd and 4th. The entire event is free. It is rather amazing the amount of new housing in the old city, much of it started and promoted under the city's last mayor Dave Armstrong.

My mother will be enchanted by the housing, but also overwhelmed by the costs. More information on the tour can be found at

Enjoy the weekend.

Oh yeah, one more thing. It was on this date, September 7th, in 1988, while delivering a speech to the American Legion in Louisville, Kentucky, that George H. W. Bush offered a remembrance for Pearl Harbor, which happened on December 7th. In his defense, Old Man Bush has an extensive and impressive military record, unlike his AWOL son, the current Commander-In-Chief.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

178. Steve Beshear, Congressman Yarmuth, and Chairman Dean

I attended a fundraiser last night for our Democratic gubernatorial nominee Steve Beshear. There were about 40 people in attendance, most of whom were not regulars at Democratic Party events. They were, for the most part, Republicans - upset with the hypocrisy of their candidate of four years ago and the administration he has managed to wholly mismanage since they themsleves helped elect him. There were a few Democrats in attendance as well.

In listening to the comments of the Republicans, there was a theme. "We sent Fletcher to Frankfort to clean the place up. We aren't really for you, we are against him. If you do the same as he did, we will go back to our Party's nominee the next time." As Beshear is already planning on being a two-term governor, the message was strong and clear. There were also, in the discussions, several comments made on both the state and legislative assemblies, the General Assembly and the House and Senate in Washington.

No one seems overly happy with any of them. Then again, legislators benefit from a curious anomaly - people tend to dislike the legislature overall but tend to like their personal legislator. People will say "Oh, the Congress is horrible." But when asked about their own member, they'll respond "Well he (or she) is ok, but the rest aren't worth a nickel." Of course, most in the Congress are worth millions.

As with all even numbered years, next year is one in which we all have a chance to put term limits into use, as far as legislative assemblies are concerned. I've always opposed term limits, since we elect quite a few legislators every other year. Every member of the state House as well as half of the state Senate will be on the ballot next year. Every member of the federal House as well as one-third of the United States Senate will be up as well. And one-half of the local Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Council will also be up for election. Where I currently live and vote, with the exception of the allegedly 117 year old United States Senator Jim Bunning, all of my legislative representatives (city, state, and federal) will be open for a challenge should they choose to seek re-election. To my knowledge, they are all seeking re-election.

Also next year, each of the major political parties will be reorganizing, from the precinct level all the way up to the National Party Chair, currently held by Dr. Howard Dean. On the Democratic side, chances are available in this process, assuming one participates, and very few do, to take part in the election of those persons who represent you as a precinct committeemember; a legislative district chair and vice chair; and by extension, your district's At-Large member, your county chair and vice chair; your chair, vice chair, and representatives on the State Party committee (of which I am currently a member and will likely seek re-election); as well as your chair, vice chair, and representatives on the National Party committee. It is also through this process that persons are chosen to attend the upocming State and National Party conventions, the Democratic ones of which will be held in Lexington, Kentucky and Denver, Colorado, respectively.

If any of this has any interest to you, let me know. It is a cumbersome process, but one in which few people participate. It is, at least for the Democratic Party, the same process which takes place in every precinct in each of the fifty states, as well as DC and several other territories and jurisdictions. The process formally starts on April 5th.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Appalachian who?

I only know one person who is a graduate of Michigan, home to the nation's winningest football program. His name has been mentioned here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606 af few times; today I am blogging from a secret bunker along East Oak Street he has taken the time to let me know he has identified. But, in the name of decency, I won't say anthing this morning about his alma mater's 34-32 loss yesterday to Appalachian State. In defense of Michigan, Appalachian State is the two-time defending champions from the level of NCAA football one below Michigan, the old Division 2A.

That's all for now.

Saturday, September 1, 2007


Today begins the first of my three favorite months of the year, in order of appearance, September, October, and November. College football is underway - all the blowouts over the weekend by the big name schools (including Louisville) means we can move into the real season later in the upcoming week. The baseball picture is coming into view - even Chicago is up a game and a half. Soon the leaves will begin turning colors - the ones that haven't already died from the summer drought - and people will want to drive "out into the country" to see the reds, yellows, auburns, and purplish tints before the leaves themselves begin their final travel season from the trees down to the ground, to become so much loam and earth to fill the bung hole of a beer barrel (according to Prince Hamlet in the cemetery scene with Horatio), or food for ants, worms, and other little creatures who find their food in the discards of other living things - such as trees.

Such is the time in which I find solace. The pace slows, the temperature drops (thankfully, as the Weather Service is reporting Louisville's hottest August ever to be one just concluded), and quietude and contentment begin to set in for a while.

Oh, I know it will be busy - we do have a governor to un-elect - and artificial Christmas Trees are being erected as I type these words, for early-bird shoppers at Target, K-Mart, and Sears.

Make haste slowly.

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.