Ark Encounter

Highway to Hell

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April 2, 2012
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If you missed it last week, the road to the Dinosaur Ark Park is under attack:

Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington D.C. non-profit, is protesting the legislature’s decision to include $2 million for improvements to KY 36, a project included in road budgets proposed by Gov. Steve Beshear and approved by the House and Senate.

The $2 million would be used to purchase right-of-way and pre-construction work on an interchange with I-75.

Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United, said the Kentucky Constitution bans the use of taxpayer dollars to support religion. Section 5 of the Constitution says taxpayers may not be forced to “contribute to the erection or maintenance” of any place of worship.

Even if you believe taxpayer funding for the erection of Ken Ham’s tyrannosaurs boat isn’t a beat too far, it’s pretty safe to say that spending $2 Million on improving a road for a destination that may not get built based on attendance projections no one really believes isn’t the best idea.

But it’s good enough for Steve Beshear and for Kentucky.

Rock on, Kentucky.

Beshear included on list of 5 “Right Wing Governors”

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February 13, 2012
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When you see an article with this kind of headline:

5 Right-Wing Governors Gutting Schools to Fund Prisons, Tax Breaks for the Rich…And a Bible Theme Park

When state after state slashes education dollars, we see what matters to them–and where they spend while cutting schools tells us even more.

You expect to find five Republicans, but lucky us… who doesn’t like surprises!

Coming in at #5 on this list:

Just to note that it’s not just Republicans who cut education dollars and spend on ridiculous things instead—Kentucky governor Steve Beshear is a Democrat, albeit one who brags on his official Web site about “trimming the state workforce” and “reforming” child welfare. Yet his budget offered up a 6.4 percent cut to higher ed and a decrease in funds to K-12 students as well.

But that’s not the best part. Travis Waldron at ThinkProgress explained that the governor did preserve a $43 million tax break for a “Bible-themed amusement park — which will include a 500-foot by 75-foot reproduction of Noah’s Ark,” as well as $11 million in spending on the highway interchange that will be near the park.

Olberman names Steve Beshear bronze runner-up in “Worst Person in the World” race

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January 21, 2012
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***SUNDAY, 4PM – 7PM, RALLY FOR REDISTRICTING: Stand up for Kathy Stein, Stand up to Steve Beshear, Greg Stumbo and David Williams; Stand up for your vote and stand up for democracy — Downtown Lexington, Main & Limestone, FIND MORE DETAILS AND RSVP***

As noted earlier, Steve Beshear is slashing $50 Million in state funds for education in his new budget but he’s not touching $43 Million for the state-funded dinosaur Bible theme park.

For that elastic skill of pseudointellectual gymnastics, our sweet do-nothing Guvner got named “WORSE” in America, right next to serial bigamist and Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Gingrich:

Beshear’s Big Bang: Cut education by $50 Million, Give $43 Million to Dinosaur Bible Fantasy

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January 21, 2012
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***SUNDAY, 4PM – 7PM, RALLY FOR REDISTRICTING: Stand up for Kathy Stein, Stand up to Steve Beshear, Greg Stumbo and David Williams; Stand up for your vote and stand up for democracy —- Downtown Lexington, Main & Limestone, FIND MORE DETAILS AND RSVP***

 

Somewhat overlooked in his rush to disenfranchise the voters of Lexington, Governor Steve Beshear’s budget has a glorious creationist upshot. Or, as we’ll call it, a Big Bang:

Beshear’s assessment of his own budget is, unfortunately, correct. The budget makes $286 million in cuts, including a 6.4 percent cut to a higher education system that has been plagued by funding cuts and rising tuition for years. And though it attempts to preserve K-12 education funding, it will result in less spending on Kentucky’s students and schools, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports:

Although the main funding formula for K-12 schools wouldn’t be cut, population growth means spending per student would decline. Also, education officials say the current year’s population estimate was low, resulting in a cut of more than $50 million to that funding formula.

At the same time, the $43 million tax break Kentucky approved for a Bible-themed amusement park — which will include a 500-foot by 75-foot reproduction of Noah’s Ark — goes into effect for the first time under Beshear’s budget. In addition, the budget includes $11 million to improve a highway interchange near the park. Proponents of the park, Beshear included, have claimed it will boost tourism and create jobs, but those assumptions are based on a report done by the park’s developers.

Thanks a lot, Steve. This is your legacy: Slash education because no amount of schooling will make dinosaurs co-existing with 600 year old men make sense… and that’s just how it is.

G-d bless your heart, Steve. G-d bless your heart.

[Via ThinkProgress]

Beshear’s Ark Park Sinking? Also: Bob Damron’s ‘Cold Day in Hell’

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January 17, 2012
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LEO Weekly reports:

As LEO Weekly first reported last month, emails from our Flintstone Truther friends at Answers in Genesis to the Kentucky Tourism Cabinet reveal that they are having serious fundraising difficulties for their Giant Dinosaur Boat, also known as Ark Encounter. Which of course might explain why their official groundbreaking has now been pushed back by at least an entire year.

At the end of December, The Christian Post joined several media outlets in reporting their fundraising difficulties revealed in the email. But as the eternally optimistic AiG communications director Mark Looy told them, the money is about to come flooding (ha ha) in.

Click through for more on AiG’s economic woes, the power of prayer and positive thinking.

Also from LEO, if you missed the print edition last week, then you missed a great story on payday lenders and Frankfort’s inability (or unwillingness) to reign them in.

Read the whole story, but one highlight comes from Bob Damron, Nicholasville’s Democratic representative, who has received $6,000 from the payday lenders.

Here’s Damron’s “Cold Day In Hell”:

“I don’t like the industry, I don’t like what they do, and I would not use that personally. But until someone is able to show me a realistic option that replaces them and meets the needs of these people, I can’t be for it.”

As for the contributions to him and his committee, Damron says that has zero impact on his vote.

“Campaign contributions do not make a difference in how I vote,” Damron says. “I know most people don’t believe that about politicians, but if you look at my background and my history of campaign contributions, it’s never impacted how I vote on anything.”

Damron followed up the interview with an email (sent to both LEO Weekly and a communications director with the Legislative Research Commission) taking issue with the line of questioning, stating, “It will now be a cold day in hell before I ever vote for that damn bill to limit them.”

LEO replied to the email, asking Damron if he stands by that statement, to which he replied simply, “NO.”

Way to go, Bob. That level of transparency and honesty is refreshing.

Read it all.

Leland Conway scrubs Ark Park criticism? *UPDATE*

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August 30, 2011
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Back on August 15th, local right wing radio talker Leland Conway put a post on his blog entitled:

God Helped Noah Build the Ark – He Didn’t Need a Tax Exemption

One day later, of course, David Williams slammed Steve Beshear’s dinosaur pArk in an interview with LEO Weekly — not that the two events are connected, it was just interesting to see these two loud Kentucky conservative characters attacking Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter.

So what did Leland Conway say?

Well, he appears to have scrubbed the post off his site. If you go to the page it once appeared on, you get a Page Not Found error. If you look at the calendar on the left side of his page, you’ll notice that it indicates no new blog posts between the 3rd and the 24th.

Why did he take the post down? I have no idea but, luckily, via Google’s cache of the page — you can still read it:

Grant County will be giving a 75% property tax break to the “Ark Encounter” theme park which will soon be built there.  This is in addition to the approximately $47 million dollar tax exemption granted by the state.  While, as a Christian I support this venture and see it as a viable business idea, I see no reason to grant them an exception over other businesses in the tax code.

The claim is that the Ark Encounter will create jobs so the tax break will feed back into the community, therefore everyone benefits and thus the tax exemption is justified.  But what about businesses in other areas of the state, who pay full taxes and will not benefit from the Ark Park’s existence?

The time has come to end the government’s ability to pick winners and losers.

….Some of my friends have told me that if the Ark Park didn’t get this exemption an opportunity to create jobs would be missed.  This is not a sufficient argument for giving some a favorable tax rate over others, but rather a stronger argument that our overall taxes are too high.  How many more businesses would locate in Kentucky if we assured them of friendlier and fairer tax environment?

Nothing in the post seems particularly shocking. It’s not a separation of church and state argument, or even one about the ridiculousness of a 600 year old man literally herding T-Rexes onto a giant boat he literally built in seven days. Leland’s argument is that no one should get tax breaks. Government shouldn’t use them to entice businesses to this state or that, this town or the next. All such exemptions should be axed.

For whatever reason, Leland later decided he didn’t like that argument — though it seemed a simple expression of his natural views. Perhaps Ken Ham or his Ark supporters came out in droves to change Leland’s mind, or maybe he just decided, well, actually tax exemptions are a grand idea.

Here’s a screen shot for posterity:

 

***UPDATE***

After we posted this, Mr. Conway reinstated the post, stating:

….a reader brought to our attention today that this post had dissappeared from the site.  Since we’re not quite sure what happened, we’re going with the “inadvertant keystroke” excuse.  Oh well – its something that we thought was important enought to say twice anyway.

Whoopsiedaisy.

LEO Weekly reporting David Williams slam on Beshear’s Dinosaur pArk

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August 17, 2011
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Sonka caught up with the Bully from Burkesville at a Tea Party meeting last night. During his public comments, Williams indicated he didn’t believe the Ark Encounters Dinosaur and Tax Break Extravaganza championed by Gov. Steve Beshear will ever be built.

Joe followed up:

LEO Weekly: So you don’t think the Ark is going to be built?

Williams: No, I don’t think it will ever be built.

LEO: Why not?

Williams: I don’t think there’s an economic feasibility study that indicates it will ever be feasible. And it doesn’t matter how much tax credit you give anybody, in order to get tax credits, you have to have the income in order to create it. And there’s never been a feasibility study I’ve ever seen, I don’t think there’s ever been one done. I think the governor is just playing politics with this.

There’s much more so you’ll definitely want to read the entire report, or risk missing out on Williams’ interpretation of the bible, his opinions on whether man ever walked the Earth with dinosaurs and his strong push back on the widespread re-creationist notion that his campaign for Governor is in disarray.

Dinosaur pArk gets more tax breaks…

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August 9, 2011
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As if $40 Million from Governor Beshear and another $11 Million in road improvements weren’t enough, the Answers in Genesis/Creation Museum creationist theme park featuring a replica of Noah’s Ark replete with early-man’s best friend, the T-Rex (come to think of it, if I was a dinosaur I probably wouldn’t eat a 600 year old man either, but that’s another story) is now getting ridiculous new tax breaks from its chosen land:

The city of Williamstown in Grant County has agreed to give a biblically themed amusement park a property tax discount of 75 percent over the next 30 years.

Mayor Rick Skinner said the offer is laid out in a memorandum of agreement that will be followed by a formal tax-increment financing deal with Petersburg-based Ark Encounters LLC in coming months.

The tax deal is in addition to almost $200,000 given to the company by Grant County’s economic development arm as an enticement to keep the project located there, along with 100 acres of reduced-price land.

The property should eventually be worth $150 million, the HL’s most-excellent Linda Blackford goes on, so the county will collect just a quarter of taxes on those 800 acres over the next three decades.

This is actually a win-win as most property taxes in the city are used for the schools so now the schools can fall further behind and the dinosaur-peddlers can grow their not-exploitative-at-all economy. Pretty good deal, no?

In other good news, Mike Zovath, AiG’s reddish spokesperson, tells Blackford the Park’s raised 80% of its $150 Million goal.

Meanwhile at the Ark Encounter website (which shows they’ve raised just 1/8th of their “buy a plank” $25M fundraiser), Ken Ham tells us how state officials showed up at a Chamber of Commerce meeting and sang the religious institution’s praises:

At a recent Chamber of Commerce breakfast, three of our staff members heard a talk by the Commissioner of Tourism and Travel for the state of Kentucky—Mike Cooper. As Mike summarized the importance of tourism to the state, he not only highlighted the success of the Creation Museum as a big tourist draw, but he also said he looks to even bigger and better things through our next project, the Ark Encounter in Grant County, Kentucky.

G-d bless Kentucky, Steve Beshear’s legacy project is going to be awesome.

In fact, let’s just say it together: Our Gov is an awesome Gov.

 

Do NASCAR traffic woes mean Ark Park should be scrapped, or get more $$$?

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July 19, 2011
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You’ve probably heard by now how thousands of NASCAR fans got stuck in traffic and couldn’t make it to the big race up at the Kentucky Speedway.

You may also have heard that David Williams is trying to blame this on Steve Beshear, with his latest foray being a hilarious new web ad that Mr. Joe Sonka at the LEO Weekly yesterday picked apart.

A couple of lingering questions:

1) If the NASCAR race hadn’t been a NASCAR race but instead, say, a Phish show and thousands of dirty hippies with bad taste in music were stranded on the interstate as the crappy band’s first hour long song got underway, they all would have gotten out of their cars and walked to the venue for miles and miles, leaving their environment-killing vehicles stranded where they sat in the traffic jam. Why are NASCAR fans less industrious than thousands of totally stoned music lovers?

2) Williams is claiming that Beshear mismanaged the traffic situation and that the interstate wasn’t ready for the influx of NASCAR fans. Which is better debated somewhere else. But if the interstate couldn’t manage the NASCAR event, how will the system ever be ready for Ken Ham’s dinosaur Ark Park?

As Beshear told the AP just the other day:

“I knew that they were looking at several locations at that time, but they sat down and talked to our tourism people and learned what all Kentucky could do. I felt like we were very competitive,” he said.

And one of those things that all we had to offer is a massive new Interstate interchange.

In addition to the tax rebate, the state may spend an estimated $11 million to improve an interchange off of I-75 near the 800-acre site in Northern Kentucky.

And what’s that?

[T]he state spent $45 million on road improvements to accommodate heavy traffic at the Speedway in Northern Kentucky, even widening a 3.2-mile stretch of Interstate 71 in Gallatin County.

So… the state spent $45 million on NASCAR’s road that ended up not working and is going to demand more money to fix.

Does this mean that the Ark  Encounter’s $11 million road improvement must be re-allocated to fix the NASCAR road?

Or does it mean that the $11 million really needs to be more like $22 million?

How much money should we give the dinophiles at Ark Enounter? How much is too much? Or, can they still build their dreamworld if the state can no longer afford to build them a yellow brick road?

Why aren’t David Williams and Steve Beshear asking each other these tough questions?

Why indeed.

Doonesbury does the Ark Park

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July 11, 2011
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Here’s just a taste below, but you can see the full strip here.

Of course, Trudeau gets Flintstone Truth wrong, because Behemoth was a dinosaur and Noah certainly did not forget them. Sing along, kids! Liberty University is taking applications!

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