Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Fight in Frankfort; Appointment in Louisville

Kentucky’s families got a real boon this week when the House Labor and Industry Committee voted down two anti-worker bills. The bills had been apart of Governor Fletcher’s efforts at many people are calling “union busting”. There were thousand working class folks from throughout Kentucky, both union and non-union, showed up in Frankfort on Tuesday, March 7th, to protest the two bills aimed at lowering wages and benefits, as well as repealing the prevailing wage law. However, we can expect Fletcher’s efforts to push for “right-to-work-for-less” legislation to continue, so we need to stand vigilant.

Two recent MSN articles reported that a Federal survey showed that more Americans than ever are losing their homes to foreclosure, mainly as a result of the new bankruptcy law, which appears to benefit businesses while making it harder for average Americans get out from under crushing debt, while another article reported the average income for Americans declined 2.3% in 2004 while those at the high end of the income scale saw a raise. The survey also reported that total debt for most Americans rose from 12.1 in 2001 to 15% in 2004, with home mortgages making up 75.2% of that debt. As then candidate Ronald Reagan once quipped in his race against President Jimmy Carter, “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” Well, from the looks of things, I have to say the answer is a resounding “no” for most working Americans.

As many of you know, Ron Weston moved up to 37th House Representative, leaving Metro Council 13 vacant. Several individuals applied to be appointed to the fill out the remaining 10 month term. These included Cindy Hollis, Ray Pierce, Max Brown, and candidates Sharon Woodring, Renay Davis, John Gatton and Vicki Welch. Sharon and Renay are Republicans, while John and Vicki are Democrats. Cindy was good, but may have ticked everyone off by implying in her opening speech that the appointment was fixed. Sharon Woodring did pretty good job too, but came across with something of a flippant attitude when asked about her experience (“doing the job and not being paid for it”) as well as whether or not she ever served on Councilman Weston’s committees (in all fairness, Ron didn’t pick anyone whom he thought would cause him problems, and Sharon would have). Renay gave a nice opening statement about her qualifications, but added that she was withdrawing because she thought this should be a special election, not an appointment (many in the district agree). Ray Pierce did pretty well. Ray has an excellent grasp of the district’s issues, especially when it comes to drainage and garbage collection. Vicki Welch named dropped several times. She claimed to be "well known" throughout the district (she isn't) and had an attitude that she expected to the appointment. Vicki talked about all the work she's done in Yorktown (she has) and throughout the district (she hasn't). John Gatton blew just about every question. However, John had one really shining plus going for him: he’s the only candidate that’s a union member. And then there was Max Brown. Believe it or not, Max showed up in a tee shirt and jeans! Someone should have loaned him a dollar so he could buy a clue. Actually, he was comical, and several times got a good laugh from the council. Admitted he didn't know much about the district itself; any of the issues facing the residents; he hasn't been involved in the community; didn't know much about the merger; or the arena; or the STAR program; or could name his top three priorities (he did think drainage was a problem though).

Well, on Thursday, March 9th, the Metro Council voted to appoint Vicki Welch to fill the vacancy. The vote was pretty predictable (and seemed to vindicate Cindy’s opening remark of a few days prior). What was interesting about the vote was that no other candidate’s names were put forth. The vote was near unanimous, with two abstentions by Republicans Glen Stuckel (R-17) and Stuart Benson (R-20). Stuckel said it didn’t matter since the Democrats, who have a majority on council, had the vote “locked up”, which seemed to sum the view of the rest of Republicans on the council. Benson said he supported John Gatton because he was a union member, but knew he didn’t have the votes. Think about that for just a minute. None of the Democrats on the council supported Gatton, a union brother, while one Republican did. Maybe it’s just me, but isn’t there something seems wrong with that picture? I would expect at least a Democrat of two to have put forth his name. It’s attitudes like that which make efforts like Governor Fletcher’s recent anti-labor initiatives possible.

Finally, I would like to say “thank you” to the National AFL/CIO for added this site to their blog. You can visit them at: www.aflcio.org. I would also like to thank Joe Gandelman at The Moderate Voice too for adding this site to his web page. Please be sure to visit Joe at: http://www.moderatevoice.com/.

6 comments:

Bill said...

Dear Paul- Thanks. The "Blog" is humorous, even if you don't know the players. Just a suggestion, why not lobby for the establishment of "The Paul Hosse Fan Club" with the following "Board Members": Denver Butler, Vicki Welch, Ernie Fletcher, and a fellow from Washington by the name of Bush?
I also have a compassion for the rights as well as the plights of workers and I feel that absolute mandating of minimum wages and working conditions have almost always resulted in elimination and ultimate loss of jobs. In my opinion there should be much greater emphasis on relevant job skill training with educational programs along with meaningful commitments in the employer-employee relationship so that one, or the other, cannot just arbitrarily terminate the relationship.
Finally, I agree that the new Bankruptcy amendments are pro-bank or credit card company, however, I also feel that these institutions are greatly responsible for the free credit-free spending syndrome that is largely responsible for the necessity of a bankruptcy filing and not the Bankruptcy Laws themselves. From what I have been told the "needs test" under the Bankruptcy Amendments has resulted in very few cases being converted from a Ch 7 to a Ch 13, while causing much anguish and needless administrative expense. If the Dems gain control of Congress, I hope that they take an immediate run at proper reform.
Also remember that Ernie F may not be all wrong, if Ky intends to create and maintain jobs, it will have to compete with National as well as International competitive conditions.

Another Opinion said...

Hi Bill. I think we could add a few of the ultra right wing "good ole boys" to that list! I think management and labor need to find ways to work together. They both need each other. I never held much stock in this "us vs. them" mentality, which is something I am sadly all to familiar with.

Education and job training is the key for both sides. It helps the company remain competitive and the employee to remain marketable. A well educated workforce attracts businesses, which raises revenue, which funds most of the social services, not to mention roads, drainage, police/fire/EMS, and of course, schools. Education is a win-win for everyone.

I agree that credit is a two way street. Everyone needs it, but not everyone is equipped to undertake the responsibility that is needed. By the same token, why do banks and others solicit credit cards to high school and college students, knowing full well they are ready...mentally or financially...to handle the responsibly if debt. Heck, they even send out cards to preteens! I think these companies should be reined in on issuing these cards, and then, only to those who have demonstrated good fiscal judgment (perhaps by issuing credit in increments).

Sam said...

Hey Paul,

I looked at your blog. Foreclosure is heart-breaking. I sat with a couple last night that are in foreclosure. I couldn’t get them to list their house to try to beat the clock before the bank takes the property. They seem to just be numb. They’ve lost a business and each has lost a parent in the past 2 years. They’re just slowly and painfully going down the tubes. They’re probably in their mid-fifties and can’t explain what’s happening to their grandkids.

How does one begin to think of retirement after a situation like that? They’re going back to square one financially.

I’m glad to hear about all the folks that turned out to protest “right-to-work-for-less”. It would appear that you’re rejoining the Democratic fold.

Donna said...

good good good

Aaron said...

Good blog today! I knew Vickie would win seat.

clint said...

Hello,

This latest post was dead on the money. Members of Take Back Louisville wanted to invite you
to come to our next Take Back Louisville meeting at 11 AM on Saturday May 13th, 2006 at Ryan's Steakhouse(Preston HWY. location).
Please feel welcome to come discuss the relationship of unions verus Fletcher's proposals turning Kentucky into a right to work state.

Sincerely yours,

Clint H.
Moderator, TBL
http://www.takebl.org/