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/.
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