Monday, June 13, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...6-14-'11
- The Kentucky Equality Federation says it is planning a public protest because two gay men with intellectual and developmental disabilities were kicked out of a recreational center run by the city of Hazard Friday. The Federation says the men, who were not identified, were swimming at the Hazard Pavilion with a group from Mending Hearts Inc. when Pavilion staff immediately entered the pool area and asked them to leave. Shirlyn Perkins, executive director of Mending Hearts, said in a news release issued Monday by the Kentucky Equality Federation that, "My staff asked the Pavilion staff why they were being asked to leave, and they were informed that 'gay people' weren't allowed to swim there." Ollie Adams, co-owner of Mending Hearts, says a staff member told her the Pavilion employee told the group to leave after one of the men sat on the other's knee and put his arm around him while sitting outside the pool. Paul Collins, the city's attorney, says he is still investigating the matter, but a lifeguard said he saw the two men repeatedly hugging and kissing in a corner of the pool.
- Tim Proffitt, a former Rand Paul campaign volunteer accused of stepping on the head of Moveon.org activist 23 year old Lauren Valle on October 25th before the final US Senate debate between Rand Paul and Jack Conway in Lexington, agreed to a plea deal Monday morning after being charged with 4th degree assault. Paul, who entered an Alford Plea in the case, said he was trying to protect Paul when Valle approached the candidate with a fake award. As part of the plea deal, Proffitt will be on probation for one year, and he will have to pay $600 in restitution for Valle’s medical bills.
- Katie Dailinger, the director of communications and policy in Governor Steve Beshear's administration, is changing jobs to take a role in the Beshear-Abramson campaign as communications director. Beshear made the announcement Monday, her last day on the job in the administration. Beshear said Kerri Richardson will assume the role of director of communications in his administration. Richardson has been serving as spokeswoman and deputy communications director in the governor's office.
- The Kentucky Bar Association Board of Governors is scheduled to hear oral arguments on Tuesday at a Lexington hotel as it prepares to decide the fate of class-action legal specialist Stan Chesley, the Cincinnati attorney known as the "Master of Disaster." A trial commissioner who recommended disbarment also wants Chesley to return $7.6 million of the $20 million he was paid in fees from a Boone County settlement for people sickened by the diet drug fen-phen. The trial commissioner says Chesley was fully aware that more than half of the $200 million fen-phen settlement was not going to the 431 people he helped negotiate it for. The commissioner called Chesley's behavior "shocking and reprehensible." Since Kentucky has a reciprocal agreement with Ohio, Chesley could lose his law license in Ohio if he is disbarred in Kentucky. Chesley could appeal any disbarment to the Kentucky Supreme Court, which has the final say on disciplinary matters. The bar association has already disbarred the three lawyers Chesley worked with in the fen-phen class-action case: William Gallion and Shirley Cunningham Jr., who were sentenced to federal prison and Melbourne Mills Jr., who was acquitted.
- Several Christian police officers led a prayer meeting in Hazard Monday, seeking God's help and urging Christians in the crowd to witness to their neighbors and co-workers in an effort to help with eastern Kentucky's devastating drug problem. Chris Fugate, a narcotics officer with the Kentucky State Police who helped arrange the service, said the event should not be seen as any criticism of the work he and other police do to arrest drug dealers, but, rather, the event was an acknowledgment that the problem is bigger than police, prosecutors, courts, jails and treatment centers can handle. Fugate says, while there is a role for police and courts in dealing with the issue, they can't arrest enough people to end the problem.
- Kentucky officials are heading to Louisville this week to try to find the owners of unclaimed property potentially worth $69 million. State Treasurer Todd Hollenbach's office says each year the Treasury receives millions of dollars from holders such as banks or insurance companies. By law, they are required to transfer the assets of inactive accounts, and in the past, about 20 percent has been returned to the owners. Under its Treasure Finders program, the state Treasury will work with local volunteers to set up a phone bank, review the property and contact residents to let them know about the unclaimed property. The first event in Louisville will be held on Saturday.
- A Corbin man is dead after an ATV crash Saturday afternoon on Ward Cemetery Road in Whitley County. State Police say 29 year old Travis Cox was riding an ATV when it traveled off the shoulder, crossed a gravel driveway and became airborne before overturning. Cox was ejected from the ATV and struck a wooden fence before landing in a ditch, submerged in 4 feet of water. Cox was taken to the hospital where he died from his injuries.
- State Police say 31 year old Travis Mahan of Corbin was headed south on US 25 in Laurel County over the weekend when he crossed the center line and hit a semi head-on. Mahan was cut from the vehicle and flown to UK Hospital where he died. State Police suspect drugs to be a factor in the crash. The driver of the semi, 55 year old Jimmy Gray of Barbourville, was taken to a local hospital for treatment of his injuries.
- Kentucky is dropping a state regulation clearing the way for the distinguished Commonwealth Diploma program, with officials saying it has become irrelevant to many students' college careers. The program, established about a decade ago as a way to honor high-achieving high school graduates, allowed students to take college-level courses and earn credit by passing a year-end exam. Kentucky Department of Education spokeswoman Lisa Gross says the state board wanted to move in a new direction and start fresh. The new state standards, which are beginning to be implemented, will push all students to become better prepared for college.
- A key strategist behind U.S. Senator Rand Paul's political rise is forming a political action committee in Kentucky to support tea party candidates. The PAC, called Kentucky Knows Best, will recruit candidates, stage rallies and make campaign contributions. David Adams, the group's executive director, says he hopes the PAC donates exclusively to Republicans but says it will look for the best candidates in state races. He says the group will endorse candidates in contested Republican primaries. Adams was campaign manager for Louisville businessman Phil Moffett, whose underfunded campaign finished second in last month's Republican gubernatorial primary. Adams was campaign manager during Paul's successful run for the GOP Senate nomination last year.
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