Thursday, April 28, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...4-29-'11
- During the East Kentucky Leadership Conference Thursday in Pikeville, leaders from across the region gathered to discuss topics aimed at decreasing obesity, cancer rates and other illnesses. They also focused on education and the economy. Leaders talked about the good and bad of the region and discussed how to tackle problems together.
- Eighty-three year old Willard Kinzer, the owner of Kinzer Drilling in Floyd County, is this year's Tony Turner Award Winner. After being expelled as a high school freshman, Kinzer joined the Navy at the age of 16 and served during the last months of World War II. In 1951, he took over his family owned business and began expanding it. The Kinzer family companies now operate more than 2,200 wells. He's been a big supporter of Pikeville College and the arts in the Big Sandy region, is actively involved in his church and helped form the Wesley Christian School. Kinzer says he ha no plans to retire.
- Governor Steve Beshear traveled to western Kentucky Thursday to personally view storm damages. During a stop in Paducah on Thursday morning, Beshear announced he has asked the White House for federal assistance to help the state recover from severe flooding. Beshear said, "Every agency of state government is fully engaged in assisting people in this commonwealth in every way that we can." Beshear has estimated damages from flooding, storms and tornadoes at $34 million and climbing. He says the state has exceeded the $5.2 million threshold needed to start the process of requesting federal damage assistance. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and U.S. Senator Rand Paul, both of whom have been at odds with the Obama administration on federal spending, co-authored a letter to the president on Thursday urging Obama to give "timely and serious consideration" to Beshear's request.
- Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway wants victims of recent severe storms and torrential downpours to be aware of scam artists who may try to prey upon their misfortune. Conway says consumers needing work done quickly to repair storm-damaged homes and property are at risk of falling victim to fly-by-night contractors, also known as "storm chasers." Common natural disaster scams include outright fraud, shoddy construction, charity scams, impersonating officials, and loan scams. Conway is urging consumers to call the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-888-432-9257 to report any incidents of possible fraud or shoddy construction work and repair.
- Lawyers for Kentucky are calling for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to detonate a Missouri floodwall to prevent catastrophic flooding in the city of Hickman. Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway said Thursday he had intervened in a federal lawsuit asking a federal judge to allow the Corps to breech the levee. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan also intervened in the case to protect Cairo, Illinois, from flooding. Missouri Assistant Attorney General Jack Mc Manus says breeching the levee would flood about 90 homes, displace 200 people and could sweep up fertilizer and other chemicals, creating environmental hazards.
- So far in Kentucky, one death has been attributed to the storms and flooding. Off-duty Kentucky State Police Officer 30 year old Andrew Washington of Murray, in western Kentucky, died Wednesday after his car hit a pool of water and slammed into a utility pole. Washington, who worked for the Mayfield Police Department, joined the Mayfield police in 2007.
- Jason Fields and Crystal Baker were taken to the Leslie County Detention Center Wednesday and charged with manufacturing meth after police went to an abandoned house on a hollow just off of U.S. 421 just outside of Hyden and discovered an operating meth lab.
- University of Kentucky officials said Thursday they are no longer asking for approval of an internal loan to the school's Athletics Association to partially pay for new scoreboards and a sound system at the University of Kentucky's Commonwealth Stadium. Instead, the Athletics Association asked the board of trustees to allow it to use private funds. The UK Senate Council passed a resolution Monday saying it "strongly opposes" a $3.1 million loan for the project. The $6.25 million project will now be financed entirely by private funds, including a withdrawal of up to $4.6 million from an athletics department endowment fund.
- Senator Tom Udall, a New Mexico Democrat, is seeking a national ban on performance-enhancing drugs in horse racing, calling for a federal role in a sport that lacks uniform standards. Udall plans to unveil the bill next week, ahead of the Kentucky Derby. Under the legislation, any person with three violations of the ban would be permanently banned from horse racing. A horse that tests positive for performance-enhancing drugs three times would receive a two-year ban. The bill comes three years after some in the industry urged the federal government to get involved.
- A horse farm and condo are being auctioned to help recover money that lawyers stole from clients in a multimillion-dollar fen-phen diet drug settlement. Attorneys Shirley Cunningham and William Gallion are serving federal prison sentences after being convicted in 2009 of defrauding their clients. A federal judge has ordered them to pay more than $100 million in restitution and property forfeitures. Federal authorities hope to collect more than $3 million from the sale on Friday of Hillcrest Farm in Georgetown, a 160-acre complex once owned by Cunningham. The U.S. Marshals service also ordered the auction of Cunningham's $266,000 condo in downtown Lexington.
- Republican gubernatorial candidate David Williams and his running mate, Richie Farmer, defended Farmer's controversial state expenses Thursday before boarding a big blue-and-white bus to start their "Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way" campaign tour of the state. Williams, president of the state Senate, and Farmer, state agriculture commissioner, appeared together at a news conference in Louisville before leaving on their bus tour that will run every day except Sundays through May 16th. Farmer was peppered with questions by reporters about state-paid expenses including a $359-per-night Lexington hotel suite for four nights last month during the Sweet Sixteen basketball tournament, a trip to a conference at a Caribbean resort, a new sports utility vehicle for his use and an about-face to participate in the state's six furlough days. Farmer first refused to participate in furloughs but agreed this week to donate six days of his $110,346-a-year salary to charities. He said the Sweet Sixteen trip was to promote his department's "Kentucky Proud" program to urge Kentuckians to buy local food products. As for the Caribbean trip, Farmer said he does not pick where the conference is held.
- Thursday, Republican gubernatorial candidate Phil Moffett's campaign dismissed as "absurd" a complaint that it may have coordinated with an out-of-state tea party group that is running at least one radio ad in Kentucky promoting Moffett's candidacy. Kentucky Registry of Election Finance attorney Emily Dennis warned the Moffett campaign in a letter to "cease and desist" any discussions it may have had with Western Representation PAC. Dennis said the Moffett campaign could end up in violation of state law if it is cooperating with the political group. Nevada-based Western Representation PAC, chaired by former Alaska tea party Senate candidate Joe Miller, endorsed Moffett for governor in March. And Miller was in Kentucky last week campaigning for Moffett. Miller said in a statement on March 30th that his group had launched an independent expenditure campaign to benefit Moffett. He said the group also would make a direct contribution to the Moffett campaign and activate volunteers in the state to work to get him elected. Moffett campaign manager David Adams said Thursday. "I'd love to have a real fight over this on the merits or on the basis of our free speech rights. We won't be scared off by this nonsense."
- The Council on Postsecondary Education met Thursday in Elizabethtown where they set maximums for tuition increases at state-funded colleges and universities. The panel set a maximum tuition and fee increase of 6 percent for the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville, 5 percent for comprehensive universities and 4 percent for the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. Council officials said the tuition increases were necessary to help offset cuts in state funding and expected increases in operating expenses and maintenance. The six comprehensive universities are Eastern Kentucky University, Kentucky State University, Morehead State University, Murray State University, Northern Kentucky University and Western Kentucky University.
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