Friday, February 26, 2010

602. Moving Numbers

As I was going to St. Ives
I met a man with seven wives
Each wife had seven sacks
Each sack had seven cats
Each cat had seven kits
Kits, cats, sacks, wives
How many were going to St. Ives?


Now and then I will use the number of an entry as a basis for the contents of that entry. Some time ago Marty Meyer expressed to me an interest in having entry #602 be somehow related to him. Much more recently, some unknown commenter reminded me, as King Hamlet's Ghost called to Hamlet from below the stage in Scene V of Act 1, "remember me." Okay, the comment actually said "Remember post 602." So I am.

My friend Marty Meyer is a candidate for the Kentucky State Senate this fall, running in the 38th District, presently territory stretching across southern Jefferson County from Pierce Way in Leemont Acres in the southwest eastwardly along the county's border around to the 8600 block of Old Heady Road southeast of Jeffersontown. Here and there it juts northward, such as to Arnoldtown Road at Saint Andrews Church Road, which, unrelated, is opposite the original farmstead of my 3-greats-grandfather John Antle, who is buried in a small cemetery near this intersection. But, I digress.

In the east side of the district, the northernmost jump is up to the intersection of Hopewell Road at the Gene Snyder Freeway. Meyer lives in yet another jump northward from the county-line, in a subdivision off Stony Brook Drive, which is one of the former Hurstbourne Lane segments which were planned in different parts of the county, all to one day be connected, and most now have been. The picture at right is from a ribbon cutting connecting many of those Hurstbourne segments. Taken on June 2, 2005 (a day on which I was a patient at Norton Suburban Hospital awaiting brain surgery), on the far right is State Senator Dan Seum, who will be more fully discussed in the paragraphs below.

Another jut northward is over in South Louisville where the district reaches up to Alger Avenue and Southside Drive to take in the precinct where the incumbent once resided. The truth is the 38th Senate District has been a moving target for twenty years. Part of what is now in the 38th was at that time in the old 7th District, which started out in the 1970s in southwestern Jefferson County, then switched to a larger area of southern Jefferson County, then added to it in southern Jefferson was the entirety of Bullitt County; and was, in the latest redraw, shifted in its entirety to all of Franklin, Anderson, and Woodford, and a large part of northern Fayette counties where it is interestingly represented by my old friend Julian Carroll.

But we're talking abut the 38th. Currently representing the 38th District is Republican Danny Seum, a friend of mine, personally - not politically - of many years. Danny lives on a small farm in Fairdale, or technically in Coral Ridge. I spoke to him briefly last week at the Louisville Metro event for the legislators at the Kentucky History Center in Frankfort. I worked against Danny the first time he ran for this district in the 1994 Democratic Primary. Back then, he was a very libertarian Democrat. I supported Virginia Woodward, who as I recall lost by 45 votes in that Primary (almost all of them entirely west of the L&N RR), as both were seeking to succeed a different Meyer in that seat. Marty's father, Danny, had represented the 38th for many years, after having served prior to that as the alderman for the old City of Louisville's 8th Ward. But, again, let's get back to the moving 38th.

My earliest recollection of Jefferson's senate districts is from the late 1960s and early 1970s. We had the old 7th in most of southwestern Jefferson, represented by Democrat Bill Quinlan from the Terry Road area. Then we had the 19th, Tom Mobley's seat, also Democratic, a vertically shaped district running up and down Preston Highway from Eastern Parkway out to the Bullitt County line. Tom lived in Audubon Park. The 33rd was then generally where it is now, in the old City's west side, solidly Democratic and represented by Georgia Davis Powers, who still has her 33rd SD tags on the front of her car, which I see now and then along 4th Street. The old 34th, now located in Madison, Lincoln, and Rockcastle counties (and one which has a good chance of going from Democratic to Republican this fall), was back then in southeastern Jefferson County. I remember working as a teenager for the late Helen Pezzarossi's organization against the Republican, Jon Ackerson, and in favor of Democrat Tevis Bennett somewhere in that period. Politics, it is known, makes strangers become friends. Jon won that race and he and I are now good friends, despite our great political differences.

The 35th Senate District was a compact chunk of land in the Highlands and extending somewhat out Bardstown and Shelbyville Roads. For the last century, it seems, it was represented by David Karem, a Ransdell Avenue resident. The 36th was most of northeastern Jefferson County, represented for many years by Eugene Stuart, who was a very amicable and effective Republican legislator. We had A. D. "Danny" Yocum, of Shively, representing the 37th, which was also in the southwest but north of the old 7th, extending from PRP and Shively over into the western edges of South Louisville. Finally we had Danny Meyer's 38th, a strong Democratic district which was basically a big circle in the center of a City of Louisville map, taking in areas from Broadway to Eastern Parkway and from the 10th Street railroad line eastward to Baxter Avenue. And Danny represented it through the geographical changes brought about in both the 1980s' and 1990s' redraws.

Then a funny thing happened in 1996. Senate district lines, for the first time between the decennial census, were redrawn. Federal law mandates that legislative jurisdictions get redrawn at least every ten years to ensure equal representation, or as close to one-person-one-vote as is possible. But there is no rule keeping the legislature from doing more than the required-every-ten-years redraw and thus it was in 1996 that several senators found themselves with newly redrawn districts. The next year an even stranger thing happened. Led by State Senators Benny Ray Bailey of Hindman and Larry Saunders of Louisville, both Democrats, control was wrested from the other Senate Democrats in a coup which left Saunders and Bailey voting with the Senate Republicans for leadership. Saunders was elected State Senate president without the support of most of his fellow Democrats. The summer of 1999 brought yet even more shenanigans with theretofore Democrats Danny Seum of Louisville and Bob Leeper of Paducah switching from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party and thereby giving power in the Senate to the Republicans by a 20-18 margin, power they continue to hold. Seum has since given up any pretense of his prior libertarian philosophy and is strictly a McConnell Republican. It was after a discussion at McConnell's Louisville residence in June 1999 (and allegedly after the exchange of a necktie) that Seum switched over to the dark side of the aisle. Leeper's switch was in August, a few weeks later. Leeper has since switched again and is now an Independent. In this regard he is like former New York Mayor John V. Lindsey, who was elected under all three political monikers. Again though, I digress.

Seum originally lived on S. 2nd Street just south of W. Woodlawn Avenue. He later moved to The Esplanade Avenue, a beautiful street in the Iroquois neighborhood. With him moved also the 38th Senate district, from a once City of Louisville-centered compact area to now a wide berth of southern Jefferson County, almost entirely outside of the old City. As noted earlier, he now lives on a small farm in Fairdale in precinct I-133.

During most of the time I've written about above, I did not know Marty Meyer although I knew of him. His father and my late uncle Don Noble were friends. He was also a friend and supporter of one of my early political mentors, former Alderman and Councilman Cyril Allgeier. He helped get Allgeier elected alderman in 1981 after Allgeier had failed in two previous elections. I got to be good friends with the Meyer family and at one time ran around with Marty's older brother Danny. I also knew Marty's younger brother Michael. For whatever reason, Marty I missed out on in those early days. I came to know Marty when he worked at Ditto's Restaurant on Bardstown Road. It was there I learned he had a far greater interest in politics than I thought. I also came to know his wife Tracey and her son and others in their family, all of whom, like grandfather Danny, seek to serve an honest and effective role in civic involvement.

We really didn't become friends though until 2006 when he became a volunteer in the John Yarmuth for Congress campaign. He was one of two volunteers whom I had known from the past but in totally non-political ways. The other was my favorite American playwright Stuart Perelmuter, whom I had met three years earlier at a movie-premiere of a script he had written and in which he had starred. Stuart started in the campaign as a volunteer but was quickly hired as a writer and spokesperson. Marty became the proverbial super-volunteer, always able and willing to go wherever he was sent, and to do (and do well) whatever it was he was sent to do.

Upon John's election to the 110th Congress (which coincides with the commencement of this blog), both Stuart and Marty went to work for the congressman, Stuart in Washington DC - again as the writer and spokesperson, and Marty here in Louisville - as the congressman's district representative. Stuart has since left DC (see entry #487 entitled "Mr. Perelmuter Leaves Washington"). Working for Congressman Yarmuth, Marty has quickly ascended the political ladder and is well known as one of the hardest working people in local government. No one questions this work ethic. And because of that, he decided last year that this year he would seek election to his father's former Senate seat, the 38th, and I am supporting him.

By this point, you may have forgotten about #602, just as some people may have forgotten the first line of the 19th century riddle first printed above. Marty grew up at 603 E. Brandeis Avenue. But his first home of his own, where his children were raised, was at 602 E. Brandeis Avenue. We all remember that first home of our own.

That's the story of the moving number.


Two days ago, I was walking through the third floor hallway of Louisville's City Hall when I came upon Metro Councilwoman Tina Ward-Pugh, Democrat of the 9th District. Knowing that she, like me, was turning 50 this year, I asked her when the big day was. Her response, said then, was "tomorrow," which was yesterday. There was a degree of empathy so I gave her a big hug and wished her well, reminding her my day arrives in September. We both commented that being 49 has been difficult, as was for both of us, interestingly, 29.

She is past that now - she is 50. I remember 30 being just fine once I got over the hangover from that Sunday night celebration in 1990. I called Bingo my 30th birthday night at Holy Family Catholic Church, something I did there on many Sundays over a twenty-five year period from 1984 to 2009. And, I was still enjoying cold beer then, something I haven't done since the mid 1990s, and I enjoyed quite a few that September night. But leading up to that night, 29 was just plain hell. So, I've got a few days under seven months left to enjoy my 40s. I'm trying to enjoy them.

Unrelated, but on the bright side, literally, there was a blazing sun in the sky when I got up and moving this morning, albeit still 22 degrees outside. I've had two very close friends who've been unemployed for over six months. One got a call to go back yesterday and the other was told he'd be getting a call today. Those are great burdens lifted for them and for me.

Life is getting better, even at 49.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

600. My college alma mater has a new president

This just in. I really never doubted Ms. McClure would get the nod. My congratulations to her.

From the press release:

Carl Thomas, chair of the Spalding University Board of Trustees, announced today that Tori Murden McClure will become the University’s tenth president. She will officially begin her presidency on July 1, 2010.

“As we begin an exciting new chapter at Spalding University, we could not be more delighted to have as the next leader of the institution an individual like Ms. McClure. Not only is she deeply engrained within the Louisville community, she brings a significant passion for and understanding of higher education, and specifically, Spalding University. We are poised for a very bright future,” Thomas says.

The University’s Board of Trustees selected McClure, who currently serves as the Vice President of External Relations, Enrollment Management, and Student Affairs at Spalding, after an extensive six-month search that attracted outstanding candidates from across the nation. A Presidential Search Committee and the search firm RPA Inc. of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, headed the search.

“Guiding this process, which was national in scope and very thorough, has been challenging, but so very rewarding. Tori Murden McClure is excited about her new responsibilities and eager to lead Spalding University into a bright future,” says David Fannin, co-chair of the presidential search committee.

McClure will succeed Dr. Jo Ann Rooney, who announced her departure from the university last fall after seven years of service. During her time at the university, Rooney has been instrumental in re-establishing a sound fiscal foundation, creating innovative academic delivery formats and in particular, developing a national reputation for adult learning.

“Simply stated, we desired a unique individual to lead this institution, which boasts a history and tradition of educational excellence begun by the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth in 1814,” says Sr. M. Serra Goethals, Ph.D., co-chair of the search committee. “While numerous candidates were considered who brought the leadership component and academic experience, Ms. McClure is also able to claim deep roots in the community and a true passion for Spalding’s position and potential for growth.”

A long-time resident of Louisville, McClure has extensive ties to the Louisville community and local government and has served many roles prior to joining Spalding in 2004, including director of development at the Muhammad Ali Center, project manager for Empowerment Zone Initiatives at the Louisville Development Authority, project coordinator for public policy in the Office of the Mayor, and director of the Women’s Center of Volunteers of America.

“Our entire senior leadership team and the campus community have a wonderful working relationship with Mrs. McClure. This transition will be swift as we continue on our upward momentum as a doctoral level institution,” states L. Randy Strickland, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs.

McClure is an advocate of higher education and strong promoter of Spalding University. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Smith College, a Master of Divinity from Harvard University, and her Juris Doctor from the University of Louisville law school. In 2005, she completed her Master of Fine Arts in Writing from Spalding University; her nonfiction book A Pearl in the Storm (Harper Collins, 2009), about her journey as the first woman and first American to row solo across the mid-Atlantic Ocean, is based upon her creative thesis for the program. The book was recently recognized as a 2010 Christopher Award winner.

“Succeeding Dr. Rooney will be an honor. Throughout our history, the majority of our alumni have devoted their careers to the service of others. In an age in which notions like “community” and “citizenship” seem to have lost meaning, institutions like Spalding University are more vital than ever,” says McClure. “I look forward to standing shoulder to shoulder with my colleagues as we endeavor to live up to the examples of teaching and stewardship so honorably established at the core of our mission by Mother Catherine Spalding and the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth."

599. Light Travel

I finally made it out of the familiar confines of Jefferson, Shelby, or Franklin counties. A little trip over the weekend to me first to the northeast, then later to the southwest, added a few new outlined areas to my 2010 Map of Counties Visited.

Still it has been a struggle getting started - it is almost like 2010 is just getting off the ground. Between the cold and the snow, and some family issues - my dad spent nearly nine days in the hospital recently - it has been difficult to get away.

But, I do have travel plans this year - not just to other counties, but also to othere states. My annual trip to Washington, which seems to take place far less annually than I would like, should happen one weekend soon. Later this spring is Puerto Rico, the island Commonwealth. I'll get back to Fancy Farm this summer - I know it is in Kentucky but at 222 miles away, I might as well be in another state.

And this fall who knows. This fall - that is the very beginning of this fall - marks, as you know, the 50th anniversary of my nativity. There will be a celebration - maybe two.

But for now, my travels are mostly the mile drive westward from home to work or the mile drive eastward from home to the Fischer for Mayor campaign HQ. That's not much distance from an admitted free-will wanderer.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

598. Mayoral Debate on Downtown Issues

As many of you know, we have a mayoral election going on here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606, the first real one we've had since the 1998 Primary. Actually, every city in the Commonwealth has a mayoral election this year along with elections for their councils and commissions. My friend Greg Anderson is running for mayor in Murray. Another friend, Will Cox is running in Madisonville. I'm supporting Jim Gray in Lexington. Here in Louisville, in the Democratic Primary, I am working for and supporting Greg Fischer.

Earlier today, a debate was held between the Louisville candidates, one of several which have taken place (and a few more which will, one of which is the Metro Democratic Club's debate, scheduled for March 10). Today's debate focussed on downtown issues, something near and dear to me and people who think like me. It was sponsored by the Louisville Downtown Management District, whose Director of Operations is my friend Ken Herndon, who is supporting Tyler Allen. I did not attend the debate so I won't comment on it. Instead, I am providing a link below to where one may listen to the debate on Louisville's National Public Radio station, WFPL, 89.3.

Below that link I've copied straight from the LEO Weekly's webpage the comments of its political reporter Phillip M. Bailey. You can listen to the audio and read Phillip's comments to form your own opinions.


From the WFPL webpage:


From LEO Weekly's Fat Lip webpage, a loose play-by-play by Phillip M. Bailey:

12:13 p.m. The first question returns to a question around merger and the different taxes and public services between those who live in the city and county. Democrat Greg Fischer says we need to review merger and look at what has worked and what hasn’t, but Independent candidate Jackie Green points out that it’s impossible to make everyone happy and maybe there needs to be a referendum to change the tax rates and services.

12:20 p.m. Last year, in our annual interview, LEO Weekly asked Mayor Jerry Abramson about the tax structure post-merger. When asked about the different tax rate Abramson said:

JA: In terms of the money that’s spent in the urban service district, only the money generated by those who pay a higher tax — and you pay a higher tax if you live in the urban service district — those are the dollars that pay for the extra services.

From time to time you have people asking, why do people who live in the urban service district get free garbage [pickup]? The reason is they pay two-and-a-half times the property tax. Nothing’s free. As more and more folks want more and more services, then we’ll be in a position to be able to say, this is what it costs, and this is what we could deliver. There’s a mechanism in the statute that allows that to happen.

12:24 p.m. The focus turns to local businesses and giving them more incentives to build downtown. And given what’s happening at ear X-tacy, this conversation certainly has the audiences’ attention.

Democratic candidate and Councilman Jim King says downtown development will be a mark if we’re a great city (or not) and Louisville needs more business anchors in the area. “We can give tax breaks, but ultimately it’s about safety and the perception of safety,” he says, adding that will be a centerpiece of his administration and continuing the crime fighter aspect of the campaign.

King’s “crime first” position on downtown contrasts with Fischer, who puts housing and bringing people back as the engine for development.

Democrat Tyler Allen continues a line that he made during our one-on-one interview, saying that it was a great first start, but that momentum was lost after Fourth Street Live was created.

12:34 p.m. You can’t talking about downtown development unless you deal with the juggernaut — The Ohio River Bridges Project — and the candidates have dug in their positions over which bridge to build first (downtown or east end), the project’s viability and whether the favor project at all. It’s a subject where Green and Allen shine even though their positions are considered irresponsible by the mainstream.

12:41 p.m. “Would you be in favor of toling any of the current downtown bridges?” For a $4.1 billion project you can’t avoid that question.

Councilman Tandy points to private financing, but tolling is certainly an option even though he said it could have different rates in different areas.

Democrat Connie Marshall favors tolling becuase it works in larger cities.

Councilman King says no, he’ll need to see a financing plan. He wants federal dollars invested as they were promised years ago. “It will be neccessary to complete the project,” says King.

Green: “I do not support tolling on the three existing bridges. We don’t know who will be towed or the rate. It will change our traffic patterns and modify our regional cross river economic exchange…You’ll increase the price of a meal on the other side of the river.”

When Fischer brought up needing more transparency, Allen slapped back and asked how are we going to get transparency when we turn the decision over to an unelected tolling authority? Can the Allen campaign to get their candidate to get this excited and energized about an issue other than transportation?

12:48 p.m. The discussion turns to creating a downtown police division. Councilman Heiner says we haven’t reach the point where downtown is absolutely safe and it will not grow until that perception changes, but it’s too early to say if we need an isolated division.

Tandy: “I’m certainly open to it, but we need to talk to Chief Robert White … before we get to that point we have to utilize the resources we already do have.”

Besides Councilman King, who has made banging the drum of gangs a centerpiece, the candidates appear to all believe that a substation isn’t needed until the police department is consulted. Maybe this conversation is related to the creation of a new substation in the Shawnee neighborhood. In January, Councilwoman Cheri Bryant-Hamilton, D-5, announced a new partnership with the Shawnee Neighborhood Association, the Shawnee Weed and Seed program and Metro Police extending the department’s 2nd division headquarters into the French Plaza.

1:05 p.m. After the debate tune-in to WFPL 89.3 FM at 1:30 for post-analysis on State of Affairs. The panel will include Courier-Journal columnist John David Dyche, law professor John McGarvey and WFPL’s own Gabe Bullard.

1:10 p.m. “How will you be different or the same as Jerry Abramson?”

“Interesting question,” says Heiner, adding that job attraction, transparency and finding efficiencies in Metro government.

Councilman King highlights that unlike Abramson, he has a background in finance and job creation. Bringing up transparency, as council president he created the government accountability committee.

Tandy’s considered to be the most Abramsonesque by many, and he brought attention to that he can work on the local, state and federal levels. Interestingly, he didn’t really answer the question.

“I need a deep breath and much more than 60-seconds,” says Thieneman. It couldn’t be an easier question for the Republican businessman, who released a television spot attacking Abramson, but the Louisville developer added his support for Senate Bill 80.

Allen says he’s like Mayor Abramson in that they both love the city, but did something few elected officials do in Louisville, be brought up the Mayor of Christmas Past — Dave Armstrong. The difference, Allen says, will be he challenges common perceptions and conventional wisdom.

Before going off on a tangent into his still foggy biography, Fischer told the audience he wants to redefine and repair the relationship the Mayor’s Office has with the Metro Council even going as far to say he wants the two branches to be peers.

1:21 p.m. The 30-second closing statements. Overall this forum contrasted the differences and consensus among the candidates on job attraction, local business incentives, crime downtown and the bridges project. Nice.

I'm hoping Phillip (or someone) can explain his comment of Greg's "foggy biography." I'm not clear on that - no pun intended. Feel free to make any other comments.

597. Snow-colored glasses

Will it ever stop? When is Spring? Too much snow. Too much cold.

Snowpocalypse - I like that one. First read it in a Facebook comment by Aneillo Alioto, formerly of Louisville, now residing in the Federal city.

I'll admit to not liking the cold. The walls of my old brick house - three bricks deep for the most part - have gotten cold and won't warm up til May or June. The temperature in two of the rooms hovers at 50 to 54. The living room and kitchen, on the other hand, stay in the 70s or even 80, given their natural-gas fired sources of heat. Still, it keeps me cold at night, which, if nothing else, does help me to sleep better.

But the snow - well, I still like it. We've had seven inches, then a few more, then some dusting, then four more, and now some more dusting, with a few more inches on the way. And it isn't ice like we had last year, with branches and electric lines falling with regularity. It's just snow. We often speak of the big snows when we were kids. Francois Villon, the fifteenth century French poet and vagabond wrote "Where are the snows of yester year?" Well, my friends, like David Rogers' 1973 play, they are "Here and Now." Enjoy the snow. Eat, Drink, and Be Merry. For tomorrow starts Lent.

Friday, February 12, 2010

596. "Oh, he's my cousin"

I cut class today - no, I played hookie from work today. I didn't call in sick - I actually told my boss I wouldn't be in and he said ok.

Part of my unscheduled holiday was spent in Louisville doing those things you can't always get done during the day because you are at work. But I had planned my afternoon around a trip to Frankfort. (I know what you are thinking - how many times is he going to write about a trip to Frankfort pretending such a trip isn't just another in a series of the mundane adventures of a political junkie?). Well, here is another in the series.

Today's trip had little to do with politics. I attended a ceremony at the Old State Capital on Broadway honoring the conclusion of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial and the beginning of the Civil War Sesquicentennial. Today, of course, marks the 16th president's 201st birthday. During the last few years the nation has been celebrating the bicentennial of his birth. Many of those events have taken place in Kentucky, in places like Springfield, the Lincoln Homestead State Park, Larue County, and in downtown Louisville on the waterfront where we have a new larger than life size statue of Lincoln, created by Louisville's famed sculptor Ed Hamilton. All of those celebrations, at least in Kentucky, officially came to an end today. But with that closing of one door, we open another, the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War, or as some call it the War Between the States, or the War of Northern Aggression. Through the Kentucky Historical Society, of which I am a member, Kentucky will be marking the Civil War for the next few years. That program will be ran by Donna M. Neary, the director of Kentucky's Civil War Sesquicentennial Initiatives.

After the official program this afternoon, I found a friend in the audience, former State Senator Lindy Casebier, and we discovered each other's interests in being present today. I told him I wanted to meet Ms. Neary as she and I had already been exchanging tweets on the Twitter. She came over to our conversation and he made the formal introductions and an expansive conversation ensued. The end result is that I am hoping to somehow get involved in this sesquicentennial celebration as the Civil War in general, and the Civil War in Kentucky in particular, is something which holds my interest. My backroads travel of the Commonwealth often - regularly - involve stopping to read historical markers scattered across the state, many of which concern the Civil War. I have "cousins" buried here and there in the state, some with graves marked by a cross and the letter USA for the United States Army, while others have the same cross, but the letters CSA, for Confederate States Army. Most any Kentuckian with roots in the state have relatives on both sides of the blue and gray line. Again, it is something which interests me.

During our conversation, we somehow got talking about the colorful new interior in the New State Capital, which itself is celebrating a milestone, its own centennial. And at some point in that conversation I heard a familiar name and responded, "Oh, he's my cousin." I didn't go on to explain just how we were cousins as I have never thought of this person as anyone other than my cousin. I see him pretty regularly, we are the same age, and fairly close. But then it occurred to me that here I was in the Old Capital, which in the past housed the Kentucky Historical Society, which is the repository of so many genealogical records and resources, that maybe my casual reference to this person as simply my cousin was an orthographic faux pas. After all, we aren't simply cousins.

I have no first cousins. My brother and me are the only grandchildren of both sets of our grandparents. Our cousin-counting technically starts with second cousins, or properly, in some instances if we had any, first cousins-once removed - we don't have any. There is a nomenclature amongst genealogists, some of whom follow it with zeal and precision while others are lazier in their observance of the proper rules and terms. The person I casually referred to as my cousin is technically my third cousin-once removed. I am his second cousin-twice removed. Some people might call us fourth cousins. We share a common ancestor - Annie Collins. Annie Choate Brawner Collins was his great-grandmother. She was my great-great-grandmother. She lived at the fork between E. Main and Broadway, just east and opposite the Capitol Avenue bridge in downtown Frankfort. I've written about her before here on the blog. Whatever the technical relationship, in my family we're simply called cousins. And I have a lot of them.


Before I left Frankfort, I stopped in my favorite Frankfort coffee shop, the Kentucky Coffeetree Cafe, located across Broadway from the Old Capital Annex. It is a ritual of mine although I've never been in there this late on a Friday. The time was about 6:30 p.m. There was a band setting up while I was there which was to be performing tonight to a sold-out house. Now, to be honest, there probably aren't 30 seats in the house, so selling it out shouldn't be difficult. For Louisvillians, the best way to describe the Kentucky Coffeetree Cafe is that of a true combination Heine Bros. - Day's - Old Louisville - Sunergos coffeshop with a little Rudyard Kipling thrown in for music. It is quickly becoming a cultural center for downtown Frankfort.

Tonight's band is The Farewell Drifters, based in Nashville, Tennessee. With one exception, they all looked about 22 years old to me - with one older. The promo picture at right reminds me of a Procol Harem promo pic from the 1960s. They have a website - The warmup was a very mellow combination of folk music and bluegrass picking, played a little too loud but I am sure with a full house it won't be. I wish I could have stayed and the truth is I probably should have. As a Jackson Browne devotee, I am sure, based on the fifteen or so minutes I was listening, that I would have liked their performance. Here is some copy from their bio:

"Zach Bevill (guitar, lead vocals) and Joshua Britt (mandolin, vocals) write eclectic folk songs unbound by tradition, yet invariably influenced by it. Add the rest of the Drifters – Clayton Britt (lead guitar), Christian Sedelmyer (fiddle), and Dean Marold (upright bass) – and you have a delightful synthesis of folk pop and traditional string band music that appeals to a wide range of listeners."

The coffeehouse itself has a website - Those of you into indi music should check out their show schedule. Just remember, the seating is very limited. Also, they have a varied food menu and their beverage list isn't limited to coffee. There is also beer and wine, and being Kentucky, Ale-8-One in a bottle.

Another reason Frankfort is my favorite little capital city.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

595-Addendum. Metro Democratic Club Meeting Cancelled

The Metro Democratic Club meeting scheduled for tonight has been cancelled. I just received this email from the president, Lindsay Dickinson.

Hi everyone,

I have decided to cancel this evening's meeting. I hated deciding to do so, but with the all the snow from yesterday and the freezing temperatures, I didn't want to take a chance on anyone's safety.

I have talked with the Mayor's office already. I'm going to be in touch with them in the near future to reschedule Mayor Abramson's visit.

Thanks for everyone's help on tonight's meeting. Let me know if any of you need anything!


595. Abramson at the Metro Democratic Club

A few years back then-Metro Democratic Club president Bruce Maples suggested the club ask the mayor to come for a visit. Every January, His Honor the Mayor of Louisville-Jefferson County Metro gives a State of the City address to the Downtown Rotary Club at the Galt House. Bruce's bold idea was to have him come at a later date and repeat to some extent the same address. His idea was generally dismissed by those (including this writer) who knew the mayor wasn't apt to bring his road show to a Democratic Club. We were wrong; Bruce was right.

Bruce called the mayor's office and they agreed to schedule us on his calendar. And now we have a tradition. All because Bruce Maples had the audacity to ask.

That tradition repeats itself tonight - weather permitting. In what will be his last State of the City address to the Metro Democratic Club, outgoing Louisville Mayor Jerry E. Abramson will speak to the club tonight at 6:30 pm. The club meets at the American Legion Hall on Bardstown Road, three blocks north of the Watterson.

All are welcome.

To my knowledge, this is the first blog posting wherein I have used the mayor's name. Just a thought.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

594. Seven Inches among other things

It is snowing here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606, and it has been since about 2 a.m. I measured the white stuff about an hour ago in my front yard with a reading of 4 inches. The National Weather Service, in one of those instances where they got the forecast exactly right, they are now saying will get at least 3 more inches. Some places already have that much, especially in central and southern Kentucky. It isn't the two or three feet experienced in the Nation's Capital this week, but it is more than I can recall falling around here in several years. Seven inches works for me. I like the snow.

But as a sign of getting older, something I'll be doing in grand fashion come September, crossing the threshold of a half-century of living, I find myself complaining more and more about "the cold." I first noticed this phenomena - both the cold itself and me complaining about - in 2008 when I was, for the most part, 47. That was the same year I first noticed the wrinkles in my hands. It was also the same year I started rubbing my feet with alcohol, first, followed by baby oil. None of these were things I planned on doing til, you know, later, when I got old. Sunday after church one of the ladies expressed the thought that she was tired of the cold already and didn't like the forecast of snow. My response was I still like the snow. In fact, liking the snow is one of the ways of fighting against the inevitabilites of time. I told her I was afraid to stop liking the snow - that such a change of heart was simply a step which might lead down the slippery slope of aging.

Maybe it has just been the year itself. It has gotten off to a slow start, just as it did last year with the ice storm. Last year I added to the cold by going to Washington and standing in the 17 degree weather for six and half hours waiting to see the new president inaugurated. It took me til March to warm up. I doubt I've been outside (meaning not in the house, car, or other building) for six and half hours thus far this year. And as for travelling, this year's county count thus far is three: Jefferson, Shelby, and Franklin. I haven't even made it to Bullitt. It's very disappointing. And such a start has revealed itself in this year's blog postings. They've been limited to say the least.

For now - meaning right this moment - I'm going to bundle up and take a walk, maybe down to the skatepark or over to Market Street. I've got nothing else to do. Meetings later today may have been cancelled. Tomorrow's schedule includes the Metro Democratic Club's monthly meeting. It is the annual address to the club by His Honor the Mayor of Louisville-Jefferson County Metro, the last one for the current holder of that office as he did not seek re-election. The meeting will be at the American Legion Hall on Bardstown Road. It starts at 6:30 pm.

Enjoy the snow.

My house this morning.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Greg Fischer Announces Jobs Plan

As some of you know, I am working for and supporting Greg Fischer, a Democratic candidate for mayor. This morning he released a jobs plan at a press conference in the Park Hill Corridor area. The full plan will be available on his site later today. Below I have copied his press announcement.

Dear Friend

With unemployment rising above 10%, Louisville needs a Mayor who can be trusted to start on Day #1 to create jobs we need. I’ve launched, built, or invested in more than 15 area firms and directly created more than 1,000 local jobs. I know what it takes to help small and medium-sized businesses to grow and as Mayor, and I will win a new generation of jobs: blue, white, and green-collar jobs.

Today, I announced a substantive Plan for Jobs and Economic Development to put Louisville Metro back to work, which you can learn more about below and at

The keys to jump starting our economy are: jobs and economic development, transportation and infrastructure, and education and workforce development.

As mayor, I will relentlessly champion job growth and a culture of customer / citizen satisfaction. My top line economic development goals include:

Helping Our Existing Businesses Expand
Encouraging and Simplifying the Process for Entrepreneurs and Innovators to Start New Businesses
Attracting New Businesses to Louisville
And I will embrace the challenge to transition our economy to one that is cleaner and greener.

Our citizens need jobs now. Therefore, we must turn first to the area where we can put people back to work immediately: Transportation and logistics. We must get thousands of construction workers back to work now by starting work on the East End Bridge, continuing infrastructure improvements around Louisville International Airport, and remediating and restoring the brownfields of West Louisville and the Park Hill Corridor.

I will approach jobs and economic development as I always have – as an entrepreneur. I will create an Office of Innovation and Breakthrough to nurture ideas that have the potential to create significant numbers of jobs in new areas.

Another example of breakthrough initiatives will be my work to make Louisville Metro a national leader in local food economy-related jobs. We can bring fresh, healthy local food to every neighborhood and create hundreds of food-related jobs. As part of this initiative, I will create Local Food Enterprise Zones – called LIFE Zones - that provide incentives to food-related businesses that locate in the zones.

Finally, education and work development is an area where we must unite as a community and commit to making a lasting, meaningful improvement so that our children and grandchildren can be prepared for the jobs of the 21st Century. I am committed to making Louisville Metro a National Center of Joy in Learning from Childhood to Adulthood. This lifelong learning will be vital to putting Louisville Metro citizens back to work so that they can earn the blue, white, and green-collar jobs I plan to create in my administration.

I call on you to join me in support of these critical initiatives of jobs and economic development, transportation and infrastructure, and education and workforce are the keys to ensuring a brighter future for Louisville Metro.

Your support is critical to my mission and in the coming weeks, I’ll detail the second part of my plan to create an Open, Honest and Transparent Government which will be critical to delivering on the services that our citizens need and deserve.

Thank you,


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.