Louisville

What can Lexington learn from Louisville?

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March 21, 2012
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Cautionary tale from Louisville about the YUM! Center and the business of arena building:

The Kentucky State Fair Board, which manages the building for the Louisville Arena Authority, expects net income of about $500,000 from operations in 2011. That’s far less than the $1.2 million budgeted, and a fraction of the $3.7 million forecast when the project was financed in 2008.

The lower profit margin has potentially serious ramifications for paying off the arena, which depends on a mix of money that includes steadily growing tax revenue near the building, corporate sponsorships and an annual payment by Louisville Metro Government.

If any of those fall short — and the tax revenue is already lagging behind expectations — arena leaders had planned to fill the gap by tapping leftover funds from the center’s operations.

What can Lexington learn as it looks at the Rupp Area?

The Courier article is good and long – give it a read.

Speaking of the Fair Board, if you haven’t read Joe’s piece from LEO (and why haven’t you?), now’s a good time to revisit:

Workman’s company

Fair Board records reveal high administrative salaries and questionable hiring practices

BY JOE SONKA

In December 2008, Barbara Whitley retired as the Kentucky State Fair Board’s director of Human Resources. But her retirement was short-lived: The following summer, the Fair Board rehired her as executive director of HR.

The new position not only resulted in a large salary bump — she makes $99,750 a year, almost $25,000 more than she earned as director — but she is simultaneously drawing her retirement pension, a practice commonly known as “double-dipping.”

A similar situation unfolded the following year, when Jennifer Bray was promoted from director of the Venue Services Division to a Fair Board administrator, where her salary has increased almost $12,000 to $81,900 per year. Bray is a double-dipper, too, retiring in 2008 before returning five months later.

It’s also worth noting that in her new position, Bray oversees three family members — her husband, son and brother — who work in her department.

…continued…

Louisville: The 5th Saddest City in America

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November 30, 2011
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Men’s Health finally gets one right:

Saddest Cities

100. St. Petersburg, FL F
99. Detroit, MI F
98. Memphis, TN F
97. Tampa, FL F
96. Louisville, KY F
95. St. Louis, MO F
94. Birmingham, AL F
93. Miami, FL F
92. Reno, NV F
91. Las Vegas, NV F

Meanwhile, happy days — Lexington’s the 22nd Happiest!

30. Cheyenne, WY C+
29. Lubbock, TX C+
28. Billings, MT C+
27. Oklahoma City, OK B-
26. Anchorage, AK B-
25. Laredo, TX B-
24. Durham, NC B-
23. Salt Lake City, UT B-
22. Lexington, KY B-
21. Raleigh, NC B-

22nd!!!

I’ve just received word that ol’ Media Czech is on a suicide watch. Pray for him.

Oh… and there’s also this:

8.6%!!!!

Roundup: Demarcus does Romney, Richie does “Job Creation,” and more…

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November 18, 2011
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Sometimes we get behind. (Okay, we’re always behind.) And sometimes there’s so much going on it can’t all get the time it deserves. We’ve been busy, sorry. So… let’s fly through some stuff:

Ryan Alessi got the exclusive story of Mitt Romney’s recent campaign fundraiser… at which Jorts and Demarcus Cousins shared a stage with Mittens and gave the silvering fox a white UK cap. The event was organized by Romney’s KY finance chair, Mr. Joe Craft, who once told a crowd of people that everyone he went to high school with aspired only to drop out and live off the government but that he, Joe Craft, had a different dream… which was apparently to blow up mountains and rip off the people he grew up with. But that has less to do with Harrelson and Cousins showing up for Mitt. Or does it?

Continuing with basketball, if you follow the team, you must already know that Saturday’s game against a JoePa-less Penn State team is viewably only via this internet and only then if you have the correct internet provider. A lot of people are freaked out by this. What I find surprising is that they’ve never encountered this before. As a roving UK fan, I have crammed myself into all manner of places in order to find a game on a big(ger) screen and have seen many, many times, the internet-only ESPN3 games funneled through a series of tubes into regular televisions… most particularly at Jack Dempsey’s, the UK alumni bar in NYC. The HL article on this conundrum is sad mostly because a series of bars and restaurants have no idea what to do and only Pazzo’s has taken the time to figure out what is really really simple. So… Pazzo’s is going to be crazy tomorrow and every place else has about 24 hours to figure out how to connect the teevee to the internet.

And… continuing with basketball!… it appears Richie Farmer has blown one more thing handily — in the waning days of his failed run at Lt. Governor alongside (outgoing) State Senate President David Williams, Farmer hired his girlfriend at $5,000 a month. I would’ve dated Richie for $2,000 a month but perhaps I don’t have all the qualifications for the job Richie was trying to create.

Less basketbally (sorry, really), the LFUCG approved of the Gray/Fischer Lexi/ville “Super Region.” Which was a super surprising move on their part and an all-round super decision. Our council members are super. Super leaders, really. But seriously, this is super (really).

And somewhat less basketbally (like, if you want to consider this story in context of the Rupp Area development, then it’s kinda basketbally), the Distillery District public meeting went down last night. I was hoping to get there but, sadly, was/am a bit under the weather and failed. So I can’t tell you any more than what this article can and, really, it tells you a lot. (One has to wonder whether Mr. Kegley enjoys the escape of covering a story like this or if he spent the whole time wondering what killer crime stories he was missing… like the next Lexington Spiderman.) In brief, plans are coming along, though slowly (or, in the parlance of such things, deliberately) and there may be a plan of some sort by Spring 2012 but it may take longer and in all, includes streetscapes, walkways, etc etc. I’ll try to get more information because obviously this ties into that larger saga down the street but for the time being, Kegley take it away.

Rand Paul is leading the charge to end the Iraq War (while the rest of the Republican Party tries to crap all over President Obama for bringing all the troops home). But how do you end a war that was never started? Bush didn’t declare it and Congress never approved it as such, the Clintons, Kerrys and Edwards of the world just voted to okay invasion and then kept paying for it, but no one made the declarative statement. Here’s a question for a Friday: Is Rand’s move most similar to me declaring that America should land on the moon, or me asking Rand Paul when he stopped beating his wife? Feel free to discuss. Other hypotheticals accepted.

Okay. That was easy. A morning’s worth of news just breezes on by. G-d bless you all and G-d bless Kentucky.

Is Kentucky the new Nowhere? Building a Bridge to the 19th Century

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September 12, 2011
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In his speech last Thursday, Barack Obama said this:

Building a world-class transportation system is part of what made us a economic superpower. And now we’re going to sit back and watch China build newer airports and faster railroads? At a time when millions of unemployed construction workers could build them right here in America?

There are private construction companies all across America just waiting to get to work. There’s a bridge that needs repair between Ohio and Kentucky that’s on one of the busiest trucking routes in North America.

This bridge — the Brent Spence, connecting Covington and Cincinnati – is “functionally obsolete” according to the Department of Transportation and this summer large chunks of concrete began falling from the upper deck onto the lower one.

Most people would identify this as a problem.

The I-71/I-75 bridge is a key connector between Michigan, northern Ohio, Upstate New York and the Great Lakes and the industries, consumers and shippers of the American South, in particular, Florida. According to the DOT (pdf):

“The Brent Spence Bridge, which opened to traffic in 1963, was designed to carry 80,000 vehicles per day. Currently, approximately 160,000 vehicles per day use the Brent Spence Bridge and traffic volumes are projected to increase to approximately 233,000 vehicles per day in 2035.”

Sounds serious.

Except for the fact it’s Barack Obama talking about fixing it. And it might require closing tax loopholes for billion dollar corporations. And it might mean a very, very small group of very, very rich people might pay the same taxes they paid before the war and before the Bush Tax Cuts bankrupted the country.

So says Mitch McConnnell:

But with those few words, Obama made the bridge a top priority for replacement and, perhaps, a subtle jab at House Speaker John Boehner of West Chester and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

“I appreciate the president highlighting this project and I trust this means that when the planning for this project is solidified this administration will prioritize it,” McConnell said Friday.

Whether it will help win their support for his jobs plan remains to be seen.

“I’m less enthused by the president lumping a crucial artery for goods and services in America together with a call for another stimulus and massive tax increases,” McConnell added.

Translation: Mitch McConnell’s going to fight Barack Obama, he’s going to fight the jobs bill, he’s going to pretend it’s a stimulus package and he’s going to pretend the last one failed. He’s going to lie, cheat and steal because, as he has made clear, Mitch McConnell’s one-and-only mission is:

“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

In Mitch McConnell’s world, America can go            itself. Let the bridge crumble. Let it fail. Let us fall.

As for Kentucky… who cares about Kentucky?

Certainly not Mitch McConnell. Or Rand Paul. Or Hal Rogers… or Geoff Davis, the Congressman who supposedly serves the people of Northern Kentucky most affected by this bridge. And it’s not just Davis, of course. The entire state is affected by the flow of traffic along these interstates, with I-75 in particular driving commerce and investments right through our center, with thousands and thousands of jobs depending on that continued flow of traffic.

But the state’s Republican delegation have all stated their opposition to the plan the President laid out last Thursday.

The Republicans of the Commonwealth of Kentucky would rather see the Brent Spence Bridge fail than see Barack Obama succeed.They would rather see Kentucky fail than see an America with a modern transportation infrastructure.

And if one bridge was not enough…

The day after Barack Obama’s speech, another bridge to Kentucky was closed:

The Sherman Minton Bridge was closed late Friday afternoon and will remain shut down indefinitely after officials discovered cracks in the span.

Will Wingfield, a spokesman for the Indiana Department of Transportation, said officials “do not have an estimate” on how long it will take to repair and reopen the bridge, which carries Interstate 64 traffic across the Ohio River.

Wingfield said the cracks were found in two steel support beams below the lower deck closer to the Kentucky side.

The bridge to Mitch McConnell’s hometown is falling apart — how long can his opposition to an investment in America stand?

Unlike the Sherman Minton Bridge, the will of Mitch McConnell and the Kentucky Republican Party doesn’t seem to be crumbling.

As ThinkPrgoress reminds us:

The closure came just a day after President Obama renewed his call for Congress to invest in infrastructure improvements to stimulate the economy and address the nation’s crumbling bridges and roads, as studies have shown the nation needs $2 trillion in investment just to bring its infrastructure up to date. McConnell criticized Obama’s plan, saying it was “a re-election plan.”

But while McConnell insists that Republicans “agree that we must bring America’s infrastructure up to 21st century standards,” his recent record doesn’t show it. When progressives and Democrats argued that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act should be geared toward infrastructure, the GOP under McConnell’s leadership fought to focus it on tax cuts. The Senate GOP derailed a 2010 jobs plan focused largely on infrastructure investment, and if McConnell’s post-speech rhetoric is to be believed, he will be at the forefront of the Republican Party’s opposition to this plan too.

Mitch McConnell and Kentucky’s Republican Party are so dedicated to the cause of Obama’s failure that they will allow America’s failure and this state’s failure.

With the failure of these bridges, Kentucky can return to the 19th Century, cut off from manufacturing, produce, consumer goods and jobs.

The old story of Alaska’s “Bridge to Nowhere” is just that… an old story. It’s time for a new one and Mitch McConnell (and Rand, Geoff, Ed, Hal and Brett) are writing it.

You don’t need a bridge to get to their Kentucky because, as everyone will soon know, Kentucky is nowhere.

 

As the state seal might someday read:

United we stand, Divided our bridges fall.

The University of Louisville is UnConstitutional

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September 6, 2011
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The University of Louisville is a welfare queen that must be stopped. They are leeching off the government. We work hard and they take from us.

The University of Louisville’s share of federal funds for research and development in science and engineering grew at the fourth-fastest rate among 100 universities nationwide between 1999 and 2009, according to National Science Foundation figures to be published in the Chronicle of Higher Education on Friday.

This is socialism. It is very nearly communism.

And no one is saying anything! Everyone is looking the other way.

Or, even worse, they are sanctioning this unConstitutional behavior.

Obama’s National Institutes of Health Czar was in Louisville to make the announcement. Standing silently beside him were not just UofL’s socialist fuhrer James Ramsey but also… Mitch McConnell?

Asked how his support for federal research funding squares with his calls to cut government spending, McConnell said, “The emphasis on debt reduction is going to have an impact on the federal budget across the board. And I think, particularly in the area of Congressional-directed funding, it’s going to be a minimum. That, of course, makes the role of NIH even more important.”

Where is Rand Paul? Where is the Tea Party? How can Mitch’s behavior stand unchallenged?

The Founding Father’s said nothing of funding state hospitals.

The United States Constitution does not mention a “national institutes of health.”

And further — if you’re paying attention, and the media hopes you are not — you’ll notice that’s not just one institute… it’s multiple ones!

InstituteS.

It’s like a metastasized government agency of government thugs taking our money and reallocating it… to what end?

We must end this tyranny.

Time Warner taking over Insight… or we could take over the internet

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September 2, 2011
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Few weeks ago it was announced Time Warner would gobble up Insight and with it Lexington’s internet market. Some people were angry about the conglomeration, others just experienced the rational modern helplessness of corporate controlled everything… like what does it matter? What does it really change?

There’s a great article up at BizLex right now. It comes from a Roy Cornett, Jr. and it argues, basically, that Lexington has a unique opportunity to take control of its underlying economic engine rather than continuing to lease it out:

Coming on the heels of the announcement of Louisville and Lexington’s formation of the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement (BEAM) to team up and make the Bluegrass an attractive destination for advanced manufacturing and the 21st Century economy, the two largest cities in Kentucky served by Insight can boost our stock and standing even more.

We can choose to maintain the status quo and allow out-of-state corporations to continue to control our access to the Internet, or we can rescind the franchise agreements to the copper and fiber lying in the ground around our community and treat the Internet as the piece of infrastructure essential for our future economic growth that it is.

Just as public roads fueled the industrial revolution and the highways aided interstate commerce, an open and sophisticated fiber optic network can be used to attract new businesses to the Bluegrass.

Guaranteed quality service at reasonable rates can be a very powerful tool for economic development. If costs were allowable, a joint municipal service could incentivize businesses to locate here with ultra-low or no-cost high-speed access. In the world of advanced manufacturing, that can be powerful.

As Cornett goes on to argue, for all those who immediately complain of socialism, there is the simple and obvious counter argument — this is a pure business decision. Unlocking the power of the internet, increasing the up and down speeds that, in most communities, the cable companies keep choked off would create a powerful incentive for businesses to locate in the Bluegrass. Additionally, the move would not negatively affect businesses at large, just one large business. And, in fact, there’s no reason Time Warner couldn’t continue to charge us all increasingly crazy amounts each month to pad their bottom line, just that a municipal ISP would provide them a little competition… or in this case, a debilitating competition. Which is why the Telecoms are freaking out. As Cornett says:

[T]he telecommunication lobby has convinced 20 state legislatures to pass laws forbidding municipalities from creating their own broadband network. The most recent was North Carolina, whose state legislature banned municipal ISPs in late August. This push came because the City of Wilson, N.C. decided to build its own network. This city of 55,000 had other broadband options available, but officials felt the existing ISPs were not upgrading their networks sufficiently to ensure that the city could compete in a global economy.

Read the whole thing, spread the idea around and, if you so choose, contact Mayor Gray, Mayor Fischer, your city council person and see what happens.

Bluegrass Super Region Road Show comes to Lexington at Noon

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August 17, 2011
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Recently anointed “Super” Mayors Jim Gray and Greg Fischer will make their Louisville/Lexington (Lexiville? Louington? Greater Lexington?) “Super Region” presentation today at Noon.

If you want to see the event in person you can give Commerce Lexington, our local bureau of the Chamber of Commerce $45 and they’ll let you in and you, too, can be super (if only for an hour).

The event last week in Louisville was big on buzzwords (mostly from Fischer and their “super” moderator) and a little light on specifics, but hey, we’re just getting started here and it’s about damn time so no real complaints. And they’re promising more specifics at today’s event in Lexington.

Commerce Lexington, as you’ll recall, is the taxpayer funded wing of LFUCG that guides our economic development and lobbies local, state and federal government on behalf of King Coal, Big Insurance and Anti-Labor forces. (And more here.)

If you don’t want to give those folks any more of your hard earned dollars, you can stream the event live at the LFUCG website starting at 12:15.

The “Super” location for this “Super” summit: The Hyatt Regency’s Patterson Ballroom.

The Super-Region: Lexington and Louisville teaming up…

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August 11, 2011
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Here’s video of the event. At 45 minutes long, maybe you don’t have time to watch the whole thing though the first minute (the introductions with warbling, wobbling Superman theme) is worth it in its own cute way, and if you go a couple more minutes in, you’ll hear Mayor Gray recite (basically) the Twain quote at the top of this page.

They’re calling this super-region the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement — BEAM — which I’m guessing ain’t going to stick but who cares, it’s nice to see Kentucky’s two cities laying some groundwork to work together.

You can check out the C-J for more, and there are sure to be fuller reports tomorrow and in coming days:

Rather than rivals, Louisville and Lexington need to act as a single region of about 2 million people seeking manufacturing jobs in an increasingly urban world, the mayors of both cities said Thursday.

Greg Fischer of Louisville and Jim Gray of Lexington held their first public forum on a $250,000 joint economic development effort they announced in late June.

“We want the national decision makers, the international investment decision makers, to say, ‘we’ve got to play in the Bluegrass region,’” Fischer told a sold-out crowd of about 1,000 at Leadership Louisville’s 2011 luncheon at the Galt House. “So this is a question about us coming together and being cooperative.”

Fischer and Gray are looking for public input on how the two cities can work together, big and small, and one place you can start with your input (or to follow along with others’) is, of course, BEAM’s Facebook page.

Rupp Arena info coming soon, Louisville’s skyscraper not so much

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August 2, 2011
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A few development developments.

First of all, Looeyville’s tallest building in Kentucky’ is donezo… as in, Museum Plaza is not going to happen.

Second of all, there’s a couple good items from Mr. Eblen at the Herald-Leader, one about the Lexington Legends stadium and what might have been missed by putting it out Broadway instead of downtown, and the other about Rupp Arena and previewing the coming preview of the super-secret committee’s early thoughts for what is now just a stadium but an entire district (which is currently known as ‘The Parking Lot District’):

Since April, task force committees have worked behind the scenes to digest previous studies of Lexington Center and coordinate with research being done by other groups, such as transportation planners and convention promoters. They have studied the city’s needs and desires. And they have had meetings with primary stakeholders, from UK Athletics to surrounding neighborhoods.

For example, Rice said, discussions with neighborhood representatives have focused on these two questions: What do you want to see there? What do you not want to see there?

The committees are writing draft reports that will be released Sept. 7, when the process starts becoming more public. Several open meetings will be scheduled in the fall. But citizens already have been offering good ideas, said Stan Harvey, who heads the Lexington office of the respected national planning firm Urban Collage, which is a consultant to the task force.

This privately financed process will cost at least $350,000, and 80 percent of the money has been raised, Rice said. Most donations, including in-kind services, have come from Lexington businesses.

 

‘Bout time

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July 21, 2011
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Attorney General Jack Conway is the first elected official in the state to step up and question the Louisville hospital merger, according to the Courier-Journal.

The C-J first reported on Sunday that despite original assertions by hospital officials, the merger will directly affect care. Specifically, women who deliver babies at University Hospital who want their tubes tied won’t be able to have the procedure done immediately upon giving birth. Instead, they will have to go to another facility, undergo a second round of anesthesia and be reopened. Because this is what efficient health care in the 21st century is all about.

“I think that as the state’s chief consumer protection official it’s appropriate for me to ask some questions,” Conway told the C-J. Ya think?

Meanwhile, Gov. Beshear and his opponent, Senate President David Williams, have remained silent. A traffic jam at a NASCAR race is apparently way more pressing to Williams than women’s access to health care. Naturally.

Merger officials, who have tried hard to take the “nothing to see here” approach until the FTC approves the merger, are shamelessly spinning this situation by saying the university, its medical school and its faculty are not part of the merger – just University Hospital. What this means is that med students won’t technically be denied the chance to learn how to perform tubal ligations, vasectomies and other procedures barred under the new Catholic rules, they will just have to do it somewhere else (a back alley, perhaps?).

But this still doesn’t solve the problem of low-income women having to unnecessarily undergo a second procedure at an outside facility to get their tubes tied.

I’d like to see the C-J pursue this story a little more aggressively. There are still a lot of unanswered questions about this merger and this story is much, much bigger than Louisville. How about some solid step-back pieces explaining why U of L, a public university, is going down this merger path (beyond the obvious $$ answer). I want to know what other ramifications there will be as a result of these new mega-hospitals that we are going to see more and more of. In general, I’d like to see more stories about the hospital industry in Kentucky, certificates of need, etc. Hospitals are big business and these moves affect every Kentuckians, rich or poor.

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