Sue the Government — State Supreme Court rules against Beshear administration and their coal company cohorts

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April 27, 2012

Back in 2010, a handful of community groups sought to join a legal dispute between the state government’s Energy and Enviornment Cabinet and a company, Frasure Creek Mining. A Judge allowed the action, which then complicated the Beshear administration’s Cabinet plan to settle with the mining company… because, you know, the citizens’ groups didn’t want to settle, they wanted justice. Crazy, right?

Beshear’s cabinet and the mining company then filed to remove the citizen’s from the lawsuit so they could do their behind-closed-doors Frankfort wheeling and dealing like normal.

Well the state’s Supreme Court just ruled that in fact the lower court judge was absolutely correct in allowing the groups to join the suit and while your duly elected Governor might see this as a loss, people who appreciate democracy will see it as a victory:

The high court unanimously found that Judge Phillip Shepherd did not err in allowing Appalachian Voices, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Kentucky Riverkeeper, Waterkeeper Alliance and three citizens to take part in a suit brought by the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet against Frasure Creek Mining.

The groups sought to intervene to object to a settlement between the state and Frasure Creek, which operates coal mines in Pike County, over the discharge of pollutants into the Kentucky, Big Sandy and Licking rivers and their tributaries.

You can also read the Supreme Court’s full ruling if you like. Spoiler alert… this is how it ends:

Because the trial court has jurisdiction to permit the Citizen Plaintiffs a limited intervention, and because the propriety of that intervention under Kentucky law can be challenged and assessed in the ordinary course of trial and appeal, the Court of Appeals correctly denied the Cabinet’s and Frasure Creek’s petitions for extraordinary relief. Accordingly, we hereby affirm, the Court of Appeals’ Order in these consolidated cases.

All sitting. All concur.

Boo-hoo for coal bought politicians, woo-hoo for the rest of us.

And to the Supreme Court, Steve says…

“I have no power,” says Kentucky Legislator

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April 11, 2012

Over at KFTC, a lovely look at lobbying… in which you don’t need a suit, a briefcase or a smarmy attitude. You can be a lobbyist, KFTC can help you, it’s fun and informative:

Throughout the day we managed to see four more representatives. Two of them were already supporting the bill, another was sympathetic and was easily convinced to co-sponsor the bill. The last representative we spoke to was not sympathetic but his words stuck out to me more than anything else that was said that day. We filed into his neat office, settled in his guest chairs and gave him our usual pitch, focusing again on the economic boom that this bill would bring to Kentucky. At the end I watched for his reaction, he looked up from the note card on which he had been taking notes and, like the other representatives, asked us what we wanted him to do.

“Co-sponsor the bill, or help us get a hearing in committee.” His response made me cringe: “I have no power,” he capped his pen and then continued, “I’ll keep an open mind, but how could I possibly influence the bill getting a hearing?” With that, I felt hope drain from me. I thought I was the powerless one. I thought I was the one who needed to influence representatives and they, the officials with power, could make the change. But through the day, every politician we met had told us to look elsewhere for help. “The committee chair is really in charge, my support wouldn’t help… Go to their constituents, they’ll have influence over the representative… You can’t talk to me, talk to higher ups, they’ve got the control…”

Ahhh… Frankfort. Read the rest of Fiona Grant’s report

They were lobbying in favor of the Clean Energy Opportunity Act… you can read more about it here (PDF).

Pretty soon, maybe none of us will have any power.

Get it? Get it?

There’s still a chance to restore former felons’ right to vote this session.

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March 27, 2012

Maybe it’s tacky to wholesale copy an action email from KFTC onto your blog, but this is important:

Thanks to the many members who have contacted Kentucky senators urging their support for House Bill 70, legislation supporting the automatic restoration of voting for most former felons once they have completed their sentence. We want to let you know where things stand with HB 70.

Your calls, emails, letters and face-to-face meetings with senators have made a difference. We have unprecedented momentum behind HB 70, and feel confident that we have the 23 votes needed in the Senate to get this proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot. Despite this movement, however, we have no guarantee that there will be a hearing and vote in the Senate.

HB 70 is in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Judiciary Committee has been one of the busiest legislative committees in recent weeks, dealing with several high-profile issues. The committee met last Thursday, yesterday and again this afternoon, each time with seven or eight bills on their agenda (often the same bills). HB 70 has not been one of them.

Yesterday, committee chair Sen. Tom Jensen told a KFTC member there isn’t enough time left to get to HB 70 (this is the last regular week for the 2012 General Assembly). We believe otherwise – that if the political will is present there is enough time and opportunity to get HB 70 through the Senate.

Will you help us create some of that political will?

Take Action

Please contact Sen. Tom Jensen and Senate leaders (David Williams, Robert Stivers, Dan Seum, Carroll Gibson, R.J. Palmer, Johnny Ray Turner and Jerry Rhoads).

MESSAGE: There is still time to pass a good bill! Please bring HB 70 up for a hearing and vote.

You can call the Legislative Message Line at 1-800-372-7181 and leave your message for Sen. Jensen and “Senate leadership.” If you’d like to speak to these senators directly (especially good to do if you’re a constituent), call 502-564-8100. To send an email,  you can find their email address or link to their online contact form here.

We’re currently one of only two states that still automatically disenfranchises former felons.  We can do better, Kentucky.

Watch ‘I LOVE MOUNTAINS DAY’ Live Stream

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February 14, 2012

Via KFTC, a livestream of “I LOVE MOUNTAINS DAY” in Frankfort, from Noon to 1:45PM:

Free live streaming by Ustream

It’s ‘I Love Mountains Day’ — head to Frankfort! (Or: Watch it live!)

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February 14, 2012

If you haven’t made your plans to attend, you still have time! And take some friends — a car pool to the state capital. Go:

  • 12:00 p.m.: Gather on the front steps of the State Capitol (please eat lunch before you arrive).
  • 12:30 p.m. to 1:45 p.m.: Rally and march. Our rally will feature special guest speaker, Tar Sands Activist Melina Laboucan-Massimo
  • 2 p.m.: Head home


And afterward… good music and food at Al’s Bar:

Happy Hour For The Mountains after the rally 4-8 pm, Al’s Bar, FREE. Food, Music, Good Friends: 2/3 Goat, Warren Byrom, and Berea College Bluegrass Ensemble.

Here’s something else to do this lovely day — Sign this:

Republicans (lead, as usual, by the great Kentucky delegation) are leading the charge to bring back the XL Pipeline and while our two current Senators aren’t ever going to listen to you, you can still tell them like it is… so sign it!

If you cannot make it to Frank’s fort, you can you can watch the festivities live, thanks to Kentuckians for the Commonwealth — from Noon to 1:45ishPM:

Free live streaming by Ustream

Lexington Loves Mountains… and so do you!

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February 9, 2012

It’s that time, folks. Time for the annual mountain fest when all you mountain lovin’ freaks take to the streets and flaunt your mountain lovin’ predilections.

Disgusting amounts of fun and activism begin today and run through next Wednesday, with the biggest event coming next Tuesday, the 14th, Valentine’s Day, aka, I LOVE MOUNTAINS DAY.

Highlights of the multi-day Lexington Loves Mountains include:

  • Thursday, Feb. 9th: Film Screening — Dirty Business: “Clean Coal” And The Battle For Our Energy Future // @ Homegrown Press 7 pm, FREE, 574 N Limestone
  • Friday, Feb. 10th: I Love Mountains Oldtime Music Showcase with Rich & the Po’ Folk, Karly Dawn, Little Sarie & The Hillfolk, Sugar Tree, The Jarflies, Carrie Jean & Sylvia Rose // @ Al’s Bar, $10, 8 pm
  • Saturday Feb. 11th: Legislative Letter Writing Party Hosted by The Morris Book Shop. Featuring Kentucky Authors and Musicians. Starts at 12 pm

And more — check the facebook list for full details — including Monday’s “Dine for the Mountains” during which 10% of all food and drink sales at Third Street Stuff, Al’s Bar and Stella’s will go to KFTC.

Tuesday, February 14th is the big day. I LOVE MOUNTAIN DAY!

12:00 p.m.: Gather on the front steps of the State Capitol (please eat lunch before you arrive).

12:30 p.m. to 1:45 p.m.: Rally and march. Our rally will feature special guest speaker, Tar Sands Activist Melina Laboucan-Massimo

You can head up earlier than noon to lobby legislators, wander Frankfort or make new friends and you’ll be done by 2PM. So why wouldn’t you go?

And afterward, there’s a happy hour shindig from 4 to 8PM at Al’s Bar featuring the music of Warren Byrom and others.

So go. Blow the top off Frankfort, poison their air with your disgusting mountain loving voices.

Tell ‘em to get off your backs.

Do Something: ‘Kentucky Forward Revenue Plan’

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January 18, 2012

Today is Kentuckians for the Commonwealth’s “ECONOMIC JUSTICE LOBBY DAY” in Frankfort. If you’re not headed to the capital to join them (8:30A to 2:30P, details here), you can still help lobby our dear leaders:

Call your legislators

If you can’t come to Frankfort, call the legislative message line (1-800-372-7181) and leave a message for your representative and senator, as well as House Leadership. Here’s a suggested message:

“My name is ____ and I live in _____ County. I want to see a better quality of life in Kentucky, and the time is now for the legislature to make it possible. I urge you to support HB 127, the Kentucky Forward Revenue Plan.”


Write a letter to the editor

You can also write a letter to the editor of your local paper this week. Here’s one way to think about the story that you want to tell:

- I live in _________ County and I’m _______. [Are you a parent? A student? A teacher? Someone who’s concerned about our water quality? Someone looking for a job?]

- I want to see __________. [Name the good things you want to see in your life and your community…Things that we all want, right?]

- But right now_______. [What’s standing in the way? What do you see instead?]

- That’s why, this session, I’m asking ________[your legislator's name] to support HB 127, the Kentucky Forward Revenue Plan sponsored by Rep. Wayne.

- This bill would raise $330 million a year that we could invest in ______________ [How does this bill work toward your vision?], while making the tax structure fairer by lowering taxes for Kentucky’s low- and middle-income families.

- Kentuckians deserve a better quality of life, and we can get there with HB 127.

You can read the text of the bill here, but you could also peruse KFTC’s quick overview:

What the Kentucky Forward Plan would do:

Restore our estate tax

We want to stop giving tax breaks to those who don’t need them by reinstating the state estate tax. This tax excludes farms, and would only apply to those who have more than $1 million in assets, like trust funds and other inheritances. It’s not fair to give the wealthy yet another tax cut and leave everyone else behind.

Modernize our income tax

Our income tax rates are from the 1950s. This bill would replace our deductions and old rates with a stair-stepped rate structure that modestly increases with income. For the lower-income 60% of us, these changes would, on average, lower our state income tax.

Reform our sales tax

Other states tax luxury services like limo rides, armored car services, and private golf club fees. Kentucky does not tax these services. We can bring our tax structure up-to-date by closing the exemptions for luxury services.

Lower taxes for many working families with a 15% state Earned Income Tax Credit

An EITC for working parents of families earning up to about $40,000 would put more than $100 million a year back into the pockets of those working families.

Bill Johnson’s War on Democracy

November 2, 2011

Election Day is one week away, folks, and there’s one guy — Bill Johnson, Republican candidate for Secretary of State — who’s waging war on democracy. Letting him into office would only escalate his mission.

For instance, Bill Johnson’s ludicrous attack on homeless voters. Why is Bill Johnson afraid to let Don Blakeley vote?

I’ve had a long life and I’ve done a lot of different things – over a decade of service in a military career as an Army Platoon Sgt, I owned a 25-acre farm and made a living as a farmer, was in the construction business for a while, and even owned a computer business.

I was a Army Platoon Sergeant, serving from 1972 to 1983, and I’ve done my
time to protect this Democracy.  Questioning my right to participate in
it just doesn’t seem right.

I’ve been a respected leader with technical skills and a lot of experience, so like I said, I didn’t think I’d end up homeless, but I ended up on the street just the same.

Lots of people might be closer to that than they think.  Just losing your job might make you homeless.  I’m not trying to scare anyone, but we’re a lot closer to being in the same boat than some of us think.

Bill Johnson wants to Don, and folks just like him, their Constitutionally protected right to vote.

That alone — and there are plenty of other reasons — make it plain Bill Johnson is unqualified for the job of Secretary of State. You know, since the SoS is supposed to oversee elections and protect peoples’ right to vote.

Kentuckians for the Commonwealth is collecting stories just like Don’s, people targeted in Bill Johnson’s war on democracy. Check them out, spread the link around, and warn your fellow voters about the vote-stealing warrior down the ballot. Or, heck, vote for Bill next Tuesday if stealing votes from homeless veterans is your thing.  Democracy!


Party at Hal’s place tomorrow… add your voice, send a photo or head to Somerset

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October 13, 2011

Kentuckians For The Commonwealth is organizing a visit to Congressman Hal Rogers’ Somerset office tomorrow at 3PM.

We are Kentuckians. We want some basic things for ourselves – good jobs, clean water and air, and safe and healthy families. We want adequate, honest, and transparent government. These basic things aren’t much, but they’re much more than Congressman Hal Rogers has delivered.

Policies that will shape our future are being debated in Congress, and Rep. Rogers has a powerful role in shaping those polices. Rogers represents Kentucky’s 5th District of eastern and south-central Kentucky. As the new chair of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Rogers is one of the most powerful politicians in Washington. Yet, his district and Kentucky as a whole rank at or near the bottom of the nation in many important quality of life indicators.

Over the last several weeks, he’s proposed policies that would make college less affordable, cut access to nutrition programs, reduce opportunities for energy efficiency jobs, and block safeguards for our water and air. His positions put many families further at risk, allow additional degradation of our land and water, and do nothing to improve the quality of life for Kentuckians.

If you can make it to Somerset tomorrow, do it — CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS. And if you have a green KFTC shirt, wear it. (And if you don’t have one now, get one for the future).


  • Bring an item to leave for Congressman Rogers that symbolizes something you value and that helps explain why we need and deserve better leadership. For example, you might bring jar of water, photos of your family, copies of your student loan bills, the classified jobs advertised in your local newspaper, or a copy of your electric bill.

And whether you can make it or not, you can still take part… head over to KFTC’s new Tumblr and submit your own photo-message to Hal and Kentucky’s other sterling political leaders


‘Why is Bill Johnson afraid to let me vote?’

October 12, 2011

Republican Secretary of State candidate Bill Johnson is on the warpath, churning out fantastical stories of homeless people and poor people usurping our elections by the tens of thousands, all controlled by shadowy forces bent on enslaving the rest of us under socialist tyranny.

Bill Johnson’s scaremongering is ridiculous, it’s funny, it’s insane. It’s also dangerous.

In case you’ve missed it, Bill Johnson is convinced that homeless veterans are being bussed in to our cities to illegally vote for Democrats. Bill Johnson believes that a non-existent organization with a supposedly anti-White army is secretly acting behind the scenes to commit election fraud on the grandest scale. (You can view highlights from Johnson’s recent debate below.)

So now Kentuckians for the Commonwealth are getting involved. KFTC has a long history of standing up for and protecting voter rights. Broadening and strengthening Kentucky’s democracy is at the core of their mission — so the fact that they’re pushing back against a Secretary of State candidate who is claiming that same passion for democracy should make it quite clear who’s side you are on.

This letter is hitting mailboxes statewide. It reads:

Kentucky’s Demucracy is under threat and I’m writing today to ask for your help in turning things around before Kentucky’s statewide election on November 8th.

For years, Kentuckians For The Commonwealth has worked to make our Democracy stronger. We help ordinary people become strong leaders, help citizens lobby their government, and educate the public on issues affecting them. We’ve registered tens of thousands of Kentucky voters and have championed legislation to make it easier for everyone to vote. We do all this because we believe our Democracy works better if all its citizens have a vote and a voice.

We’ve made a lot of progress, and our work has made Kentucky’s Democracy broader, deeper and stronger.

But now that progress and much more is under serious threat from a man named Bill Johnson. He’s running for Secretary of State, Kentucky’s chief elections officer and he’s leading his campaign with a platform that will disenfranchise homeless voters, make it harder for elderly people and others without photo IDs to vote, and prevent former felons from regaining their right to vote.

The letter is written by a mother, grandmother, former Lady Cat who is also a former felon — she has served her debt to society and she has turned her life around. And she has gotten her voting rights restored. Which seems common sense enough — and of course, that’s reason #1 why Bill Johnson might be opposed to it.

The letter continues:

We have to do something. Let’s tell Bill Johnson that we will not allow him or anybody else to silence the voices of hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians. Let’s remind him that everyone has a right to be involved in choosing our leaders and making decisions affecting out lives.

KFTC and its members are now planning a targeted media and field campaign to challenge Bill Johnson’s plan to limit democracy in Kentucky. You can help.

Either by lending your voice in support by joining KFTC, or, if you’re already a member, by giving a little extra.

And by supporting KFTC, you’re not just supporting their work to protect democracy, you’re helping to protect Kentucky’s enviornment, its future and its working people.




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