Saturday, January 28, 2012

721. Louisville-Jefferson County Democratic Party Reorganization Filing Deadline

Every four years the Democratic Party, from top to bottom, reorganizes itself. It is a nationwide process in every precinct in every state and territory and culminates in the selection of a presidential candidate at the Party's quadrennial convention, this year slated to be held in Charlotte, North Carolina.

While the first election in the process will not be held until March 31st at 10:00 a.m., Jefferson County follows a protocol which calls for candidates for the Louisville-Jefferson County Democratic Executive Committee to register their interest as candidates by a given day and time and that day and time in 2012 is Tuesday, January 31st at 4:00 p.m. By that time, those persons interested in running must have filed the appropriate paperwork with the local headquarters, located at 640 Barret Avenue, just north of Broadway, down in the bottomland along Beargrass Creek.

Jefferson County has eighteen legislative districts (LDs) numbered 10, 28-35, 37-38, 40-44, 46, and 48. Each of those districts have offices to be filled through an election process which begins on March 31st and ends a week later at LD conventions held in the eighteen districts.

My interest in the process is personal in that those LD conventions will also elect a number of delegates to the state convention, presently scheduled to be held at the Kentucky State Fairgrounds in Louisville on June 2nd. I personally disagree with the decision to hold the event at the Fairgrounds and to my knowledge the State Central Executive Committee of which I am a member, never specifically voted upon that site. Also, given that there is an $8.00 entry fee for each car and most people will have to leave to eat lunch, an additional $16.00 is going to be incurred by every car entering the Fairgrounds for the event. This, of course, will help the state's bottom line, I suppose. But, I digress.

As stated in the previous paragraph, I am currently a member of the State Central Executive Committee, serving as a State-At-Large member since September 2008. From 2004-2008, I served as a Third Congressional District Committeemember. I have toyed with the idea of not seeking reelection but have not made that decision. But, should I run again, I will need the votes of those persons elected as state delegates at the April 7th elections, so my interest begins by alerting everyone I can that an election is at hand.

Internal Party elections can be infernal affairs. My uncle's race against Ernstine Roach and Mary Margaret Mulvihill in 1976 left bitter tastes in three different camps from the 35th District, where I later served as LD Chair, for many years. In fact, it wasn't until my race in 2000, with Mary Margaret as my running mate, that an effort was at least made to heal some of the wounds from 24 years earlier. The race between Stan Jakubowski and Irv Maze in the 46th LD race from 1980 was decided by mere thousandths of a vote - a very, very small fraction. The 2000 race in the 41st LD was only resolved by the addition of a local committee member under an action at the state level. Finally, four years ago I was challenged by an unnamed person to not file a candidate in a certain district simply because the incumbent was a good guy, which he admittedly was (and is). Like a kid told not to get in the cookie jar, I jumped right into that affair with an 19 year old college student who I knew from the 2006 campaigns of Jerry Abramson and John Yarmuth, someone I personally liked a lot, and felt would be a good addition to the Party. With little work, that particular candidate defeated the incumbent good guy, mostly because he could. (As a note, that didn't work out well as that same newly elected 19 year old LD chair later supported, in so many words, a libertarian candidate for Congress against Congressman Yarmuth and voluntarily resigned his seat. He is now a registered Republican and is active in the Ron Paul for President campaign. But, again, I digress.

If you are one of those people who want to be involved in the local Party, or if you are one of those people who constantly complain about the Party, to paraphrase Ephesians - Chapter 5, "no longer deceive us with empty words." Here is your chance to make a difference. While the election process is still two months away, one must file for office and that deadline is Tuesday at 4 p.m. For more information, call the Party headquarters at 502-582-1999 tomorrow, Monday, or Tuesday, or the State Party in Frankfort at 502-695-4828.

Happy Election Season.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Eggner's Ferry and other bridges comments

The Eggner's Ferry Bridge, a portion of which has collapsed into Kentucky Lake after being hit (or taken out) by a barge, has been mentioned in this blog at least three times since I began writing a little over five years ago. At just under 2/3 of a mile in length, it takes one - if headed eastbound - from near the Calloway and Marshall County line across the Tennessee River and Kentucky Lake into Trigg County and the famous Land Between the Lakes. It is a narrow two-lane structure first opened in 1932 which has been on the obsolete list for some time and plans have been in the making to replace it. A construction plan for a new bridge calls for that to happen between now and 2017. (The picture at left is taken from the WPSD website in Paducah).

I've driven across it many times, most recently in August 2011, when after making the eastbound trek into the LBL, I stopped to dip my feet into the waters of the Tennessee River and Kentucky Lake at Elbow Bay. The bridge is part of the famous southern Kentucky highway corridor of US68/KY80. Once in the LBL, the road has been widened considerably as part of a plan to three- or four-lane the route from Bowling Green west to Paducah (which includes the KY121 (new KY80) route to Mayfield and US45 route into Paducah). About the only portions left to be widened are the Eggner's Ferry Bridge at one end of the LBL and the Henry Lawrence Memorial Bridge at the other leading into Canton.

The loss of the bridge is devastating for the local community. Approximately 2800 cars cross the narrow span each day on average. My guess is this number is much higher in the summer during the vacation season to the LBL than it is in the winter, so if there are any silver linings, something I always search for, it is that the span will hopefully be back in place sometime this year at the ready for summertime travellers. Otherwise, travellers will have to trek either the 30 miles to the north to cross at Gilbertsville along the new US62 or I-24, or 45 miles to the south and the crossing on US79 at Paris Landing, Tennessee. Either way makes for a long commute.

Putting the closing of the bridge into perspective is easy. I often complain, especially in the spring, when my street, or those in my neighborhood, is closed for a few hours on Saturday or Sunday mornings to accommodate runners in some competition. There seems to be one every weekend leading up to the big daddy, the Kentucky Derby Mini-Marathon. It creates delays for me that I don't appreciate, even on a lazy Saturday or Sunday morning, but this is, frankly, a minor problem. Here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606, we have been living, since September 9th of last year, with a major bridge closure. The Sherman Minton Bridge carrying I-64 and US150 across the Ohio River connects Floyd County, Indiana, population 74578, with Jefferson County, Kentucky, population 741096 - a combined population of 815674. The Sherman Minton is estimated to carry approximately 80000 cars a days, or just under 10% of the local population. It was closed by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels - Indiana owns the bridge even though Kentucky owns the river - after a routine inspection found some loose bolts and "cracks in the main load-bearing structure" [official words]. While the Eggner bridge wasn't closed after an inspection, it has, as previously stated, been deemed structurally obsolete. Using the population of Trigg County and the average of Calloway and Marshall counties, one arrives at a total of 47132. Carrying 2800 cars daily works out to about 6% of the local population. Even though the impact is only three-fifths as much as that of our local brdige closing, it is still significant and shouldn't be dismissed.

But, as the title of this entry reads, there are other comments to be made with regard to bridges in general. Bridges have been a topic of discussion in this community for many years, the last fifteen of which have focussed on completing the I-265 loop from Prospect, Kentucky to Utica, Indiana, a proposal I support but something we just can't seem to get accomplished. There is also the plan to rebuild and reconstruct the I-64/65/71 intersection in downtown Louisville and build a second span carrying I-65 across the Ohio from Louisville to Jeffersonville, Indiana, a proposal I do not personally support.

We've recently seen the completion of US231 across the Ohio at Maceo in Daviess County to Rockport in Spencer County, Indiana and can witness the ongoing construction of the Milton-Madison Bridge carrying US421 traffic from Trimble County, Kentucky to Jefferson County, Indiana. The point here is that there must be a commitment to infrastructure, both for replacement costs as well as the occasional and unfortuante accidents such as that on the Tennessee River and the Eggner's Ferry Bridge. But that commitment isn't limited to bridges over major rivers such as the Ohio or the Tennessee. Our system of highways across the country are, for the most part, in great disrepair. And while they fall further and further into disrepair, we continue to build newer roads connecting an ever-increasing driving public. We presently have plans on the books in Jefferson County for four entirely new highways, two of which connect Shelbyville and Taylorsville roads - one inside and one outside the Snyder; another connecting Preston Highway with Bardstown Road - again, outside the Snyder; and another connecting the Outer Loop and I-65 with the Snyder, west of the present Minor's Lane.

At some point, we have to question the logic, financially, of the continued building of new roads. At some point, the allegedly high costs of light rail both within cities and connecting cities must be recognized as being a long-term advantage economically. My friend Daniel Borsch knows a lot more - a whole lot more - about this matter than I do and he and I have been discussing it for years. His discussions have been ahead of their time - but the times are catching up and we must sooner or later address them. Sooner would be better.

Friday, January 20, 2012

719. Seven Fewer Counties

No, this isn't an entry calling for Kentucky to reduce its number of counties to a workable amount. That subject was covered in an entry on January 8, 2010 where I proposed reducing our county-count from 120 to 55. This entry, though, is about counties.

Every year, shortly after the turn-of-the-year, I update my schedule of counties-visited, a schedule I've been keeping since 1979, the first year I visited all 120 of Kentucky's counties within the 365 day period from January 1st to December 31st. Last year's count was 57. Alas, 2011 saw visits to seven fewer counties.

I keep posted in my office a highway map of the Commonwealth and as each county is visited, I outline it in some way indicating the visit. At the end of the year, I number the counties tallying the visits. Moving from the left side of the map to the right, as Cawood used to say on WHAS when speaking of the University of Kentucky Wildcats, we begin with #1 which in 2011 was Graves County, home of Fancy Farm, site of the annual picnic for the Saint Jerome Parish Picnic. If I had trekked just three miles west of the little hamlet along KY80 I could have added Carlisle to the list, but, alas, I didn't. Moving across the map, the mid-points are, at #24 and #25, Spencer and Carroll, respectively. Spencer, adjacent to Jefferson, which is #18, and to the southeast, shows up regularly in the annual report. The Sixth Congressional District, as it is configured as of this moment, is well-represented on the charts. Finally, moving across the state to the east, Boyd County comes in at #50. Keep in mind, these aren't listed in any chronological order, just a listing. Last year's extremes were Fancy Farm in Graves County to the west; just north of Murray along the new KY 80 in Calloway County to the south; along Riverside Drive, Newport, in Campbell County to the north; and crossing the Big Sandy River on I-64 from Boyd County, Kentucky into Wayne County, West virginia.

Usually by this time in January I've already visited about ten counties for the new year. That isn't the case so far, as my visits have been limited to Jefferson (which is impossible to avoid), Shelby, Franklin, Woodford, and Oldham (recently with my friend Michael down along Rose Island Road). Shelby and Franklin were added on January 2nd as part of the Swearings-In of Kentucky's new Constitutional officers. In all likelihood, Hardin, Nelson, and Meade will be added this weekend.

I never really plan where I am going; I just plan to go.

Happy Trails to you for 2012.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

718. The Twelfth Lesson

A LESSON FOR THE TWELFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS, which is today, January 5th

As many of you know, I like to drive - a lot. In these trips, labelled in 2006 by the then-Yarmuth for Congress Campaign Manager Jason Burke as "nobling" it often appears that the drives are aimless wandering. I know my "greener" friends will not appreciate the idea that I like to drive aimlessly here and there. The truth is it usually isn't aimless at all. I often have a desitnation in mind, whether it be Frankfort or Perryville or Madison (IN) or Corydon (IN) or Maysville, as was the case a few weeks ago, or even Washington DC or Brooklyn NY. The wandering part comes in the route getting from Point A, somewhere near the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606, to Point B, wherever the destination might be. There is an entry on the blog called the Twelve Roads to Frankfort (or something like that). It could have just as easily been titled the Twelve Roads to Bardstown or Owensboro or wherever. Owensboro, technically, is not the easiest place to get to unless you are in Henderson or Evansville, just for the record.

In any event, I've known all along what the Lesson for the Twelfth Day of Christmas would be. It is a poem I've written about before on the blog, James Whitcomb Riley's My Philosofy. I learned it as an eight year old at the direction of my late great-uncle, Bob Lewis, Jr. I recite it all the time, to myself, and often to friends. I recently recited it at the 30th birthday party of Elizabeth Sawyer, a successor to Jason Burke as manager of the Yarmuth campaign. At the time I was with Kathy Wright, a Democratic Party activist from southeastern Jefferson County. It is my favorite poem.

Earlier today on Facebook, I rhetorically asked "who would provide the Twelfth Lesson?" I got feedback from several people including my friend Thomas A. "Tony" McAdam, who offered a 1925 quote from Lord Arthur James Balfour, "Nothing matters very much, and few things matter at all." I am familiar with that quote and really like it. I reduced that to the words from Bobby McFerrin's a capella song from September 1988 - "Don't Worry, Be Happy." McFerrin borrowed the line from an Indian guru/mystic, Meher Baba, who used it as part of his teaching in the mid 20th century. Interestingly, McFerrin's song and Tony's suggestion from Lord Balfour aren't far from the snetiments expressed in the poem which I knew would be the final lesson. Of course the poem is a much longer version, but it is one I have always known and somewhat followed.

I am understood by many to have a philosophy - I'm fairly liberal, fiercely partisan, and have sometimes been called a socialist, probably deservedly. I was so earlier tonight, in fact. But I have tried with great earnest throughout my life not to hold another's religion or creed or personal mantra or family status or any other distinction from having and keeping friends who are different than me. I believe I have been successful as most of my friends do share differences of opinions, beliefs, lifestyles, social strata, and many other measures of differentiation. I've never, or perhaps rarely minded. I am more of a process person than policy person. Sure, I support policy but I especially support policy if it is attained through the proper processes. I've been criticised for that over the years, most recently by Curt Morrison, but I haven't changed much in response to that criticism.

James Whitcomb Riley's poem has been a guiding light since the age of eight, which at 51 now was a long, long time ago. Here is the poem with its original rural gothic spelling -



I ain't, ner don't p'tend to be,
Much posted on philosofy;
But thare is times, when all alone,
I work out idees of my own.
And of these same thare is a few
I'd like to jest refer to you--
Pervidin' that you don't object
To listen clos't and rickollect.

I allus argy that a man
Who does about the best he can
Is plenty good enugh to suit
This lower mundane institute--
No matter ef his daily walk
Is subject fer his neghbor's talk,
And critic-minds of ev'ry whim
Jest all git up and go fer him!

I knowed a feller onc't that had
The yeller-janders mighty bad,--
And each and ev'ry friend he'd meet
Would stop and give him some receet
Fer cuorin' of 'em. But he'd say
He kindo' thought they'd go away
Without no medicin', and boast
That he'd git well without one doste.

He kep' a-yellerin' on--and they
Perdictin' that he'd die some day
Before he knowed it! Tuck his bed,
The feller did, and lost his head,
And wundered in his mind a spell--
Then rallied, and, at last, got well;
But ev'ry friend that said he'd die
Went back on him eternally!

Its natchurl enugh, I guess,
When some gits more and some gits less,
Fer them-uns on the slimmest side
To claim it ain't a fare divide;
And I've knowed some to lay and wait,
And git up soon, and set up late,
To ketch some feller they could hate
Fer goin' at a faster gait.

The signs is bad when folks commence
A-findin' fault with Providence,
And balkin' 'cause the earth don't shake
At ev'ry prancin' step they take.
No man is grate tel he can see
How less than little he would be
Ef stripped to self, and stark and bare
He hung his sign out anywhare.

My doctern is to lay aside
Contensions, and be satisfied:
Jest do your best, and praise er blame
That follers that, counts jest the same.
I've allus noticed grate success
Is mixed with troubles, more er less,
And it's the man who does the best
That gits more kicks than all the rest.


Merry Christmas on the Twelfth Night. Tomorrow is Epiphany. Thanks Be To God.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

717. Gatewood - and a birthday

Gatewood. You already know exactly who I mean if you have spent any time in Kentucky over the last three decades. I needn't give his first and last name - it isn't necessary.

My mother called earlier with the simple message, "Gatewood died." No explanation as to who she was calling about. And it isn't like she knew him, although like most Kentuckians, including me, she probably has cast one or more ballots in his favor on Election Days Past.

Gatewood Galbraith, of Lexington, died today at the age of 64. He was one of Kentucky's most colorful, insightful, and influential politicians never to hold office. As I said, everyone has voted for him for something, sometime. He ran for governor five times, including two months ago as an Independent.

Gatewood never hesitated to speak his mind and, perhaps, if he had four more elections to campaign in, he might have made it. What he did do was bring ideas and arguments to the table that otherwise would never have seen the light of day. Not all were good, nor were all bad. But they were all attention-getting. We will not be so fortunate to hear of his thoughts again.

Rest In Peace, Mr. Galbraith. You've got a whole new Kingdom to offer up ideas. God Bless.


The only other news, outside of the GOP circus going on across the Republic, is today marks the Fifth Birthday of the blog. With today's post, we enter our sixth year. Thanks Be To God.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

716. A Lesson for the Tenth Day of Christmas for The Iowa Caucuses


Will Rogers, a beloved American actor, writer, and satirist, offers up today's quote - not necessarily "one to live by" on a regular basis, just one to ponder on the first day of Election 2012. There is probably a lot of truth in it. Briefly, first, about Rogers, he was born in 1879 in what was called at the time "Indian Territory." We now call it Oklahoma. He died in an airplane crash 55 years later in another soon-to-be-an-American-state, the "Alaska Territory." Of his Native American heritage, he once remarked, "My forefathers didn't come over on the Mayflower, but they met the boat at the shore." Here is today's quote:

"More men have been elected between sundown and sunup than were ever elected between sunup and sundown." (1924, The Illiterate Digest)

I find the quote appropriate tonight, even for a slight smile. At 7:00 pm CST, 8:00 pm here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606, and thus after sundown tonight and before sunup tomorrow, voters in the midwestern state of Iowa began their infamous quadrennial caucus where just a few minutes ago, it appeared to be a three-way tie between Congressman Paul, Governor Romney, and the latecomer, Rick Santorum. Santorum has never impressed me. Paul once held my fancy, but that was many years ago and until he disavows the racist and homophobic statements made in his name, I have no plans to ever support him again.

I have spoken to one of his more ardent supporters, Preston Bates, on this matter and Preston agrees with me that Paul should say these were not his thoughts, words, or beliefs. Preston is, as we speak (and assuming he has told me the truth) working for the Paul campaign in New Hampshire, where voters will next week take to the polls in the latest installment of the long and winding road which will probably lead to the nomination of Governor Romney as the GOP standard-bearer. We'll see - the show goes on.

Happy Election Year, 2012.

Monday, January 2, 2012

715. Happy New Year - a day late

One of my seven faithful readers happens to be one of the biggest fans of The Beatles this side of Liverpool. Olivia Fuchs, who is otherwise an attorney, makes endless You-Tube posts, newsletters called the Bea-letter (or something), and other event-related comments about the Fab Four, especially as the Abbey Road on the River, conventiently abbreviated as AROTR in most of the posts, makes its way to Louisville late each Spring. Olivia, however, knows that while I share a great love for music in general, the Fab Four aren't among my favorites. That isn't to say I do not like their music. There are a few songs in particular I love - I Wanna Hold Your Hand and Twist And Shout come to mind immediately. Below is a quote from a different Beatles' song, one written by Paul McCartney with input from the late John Lennon. The song was written and recorded in March 1967 and released on June 1st of that year. The song is my story as it relates to the last few weeks. The quote below was the working title and it appeared on the Sgt. Peppers Lonely Heart Club album.

I get by with a little help from my friends. (1967)

Followers of my Facebook page may recall a status update of mine posted back around Thanksgiving. It expressed my concern, for myself and others of my ilk, who find the holidays - now thankfully past - difficult at best and extraoridnarily lonely at times. Yet, we manage to make it through the seven weeks or so from Thanksgiving to yesterday, New Year's Day. And, again for folks of my ilk, we could not do so without (more than) a little help from our friends. Late in the night, actually about 3:15 am on New Year's Day, one of those friends called me. It was a call I was hoping for, worried about getting and not getting, and most pleased to have received. The caller, Michael, reminded me of our friendship, the other friends I have, and the support they have all given me, some in large and known ways, others in the quiet corners of the season. Each year I do dread the holiday season. Thankfully, each year at this time I get by with a little help from my friends.

Thanks to all of you.

Happy New Year.


Below are the full lyrics for the song. I'm going to work on the chorus in my own life for 2012.

What would you think if I sang out of tune,
Would you stand up and walk out on me.
Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song,
And I'll try not to sing out of key.
Oh I get by with a little help from my friends,
Mmm,I get high with a little help from my friends,
Mmm, I'm gonna try with a little help from my friends.

Do you need anybody?
I need somebody to love.
Could it be anybody?
I want somebody to love.

What do I do when my love is away.
(Does it worry you to be alone)
How do I feel by the end of the day
(Are you sad because you're on your own)
No, I get by with a little help from my friends,
Mmm, get high with a little help from my friends,
Mmm, gonna to try with a little help from my friends

Do you need anybody?
I need somebody to love.
Could it be anybody?
I want somebody to love.

Would you believe in a love at first sight?
Yes I'm certain that it happens all the time.
What do you see when you turn out the light?
I can't tell you, but I know it's mine.
Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends,
Mmm I get high with a little help from my friends,
Oh, I'm gonna try with a little help from my friends

Do you need anybody?
I just need someone to love.
Could it be anybody?
I want somebody to love

Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends,
Mmm, gonna try with a little help from my friends
Ooh, I get high with a little help from my friends
Yes I get by with a little help from my friends,
with a little help from my friends

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.