Sunday, January 08, 2006

What a Way to Start a Year

The Democratic Party did a great injustice to Virginia Woodard. Here is a gal who is loyal party activist and a hard campaigner. She’s run three times before, and keeps coming back for more. There’s no questioning her resolve, no matter what anyone thinks of her personally. But, the “backroom boys” took her legal victory, and kicked her to the curb.

For those unfamiliar with the story, Virginia Woodard ran for 37th State Senate against the daughter of political rival Dan Seum, Dana Seum Stephenson in 2004. Neither candidate had a Primary opponent. The General Election was hard fought, but unusually free of mudslinging (much to the credit of both candidates). The day before the election, Virginia learned that Dana was an Indiana resident, and thereby unqualified to run for office in Kentucky. However, Dana won the election. Virginia took the matter to court (with little or any active support from the Democratic Party), and after almost two years, succeed in having Dana removed. A Special Election was scheduled for February 14th of this year, with each party to select their candidate in what the local newspaper said would be opened to the public.

Well, out of the woodwork came Democrat (and a former opponent of Virginia’s) Perry Clark, who’s the current 37th State Representative. Perry never expressed an interest in running for the State Senate before, but now that Virginia had cleared the way, it had his full attention. In a closed door meeting, the local party’s executive committee selected Perry Clark to run for the seat. Never mind that Virginia had her election team still together; or had already started fundraising; or that she had an established base of support, or already had the yard signs and campaign literature, or had run the race two years before; or even that she fought for a new election to make the whole thing possible while the local party, including Perry Clark, stood by and did virtually nothing.

Upon announcement of Clark’s nomination, Perry, the executive committee, and the local party chairman were sounded booed by most of the folks in attendance. Perry attempted to give an interview about how he has “always been a party unifier”, and was shouted down (I’ve known both Perry and Virginia for many years, and I can tell you a thing or two about Perry being a “unifier”).

Virginia Woodard worked harder than anyone I’ve known in my 27 years of politics. She ran the race, fought for a new election, and won, only to see her victory snatched away by those less interested in the residents of the district than in their own private agendas. People wonder what’s happened to the Democratic Party. Well folks, here’s a good example.

On another note, I’ve read lately where our soldiers lack adequate body armor, which accounts for 80% of the Marine Corps’ causalities in Iraq. Apparently the causality rate is just as high among US Army troops. The Pentagon has acknowledged the lack of protection given to our troops, and promises to investigate. Meanwhile, our soldiers are compensating for the lack of protection by using extra groin protectors to cover exposed areas. Families of some of the soldiers aren’t waiting around, with the promise of reimbursement by the Pentagon, they are spending upwards of $1000.00 to buy their love ones the additional protection that our tax dollars were supposed to have provided but didn’t. As an aside, none of the families have yet to be reimbursed for their out of pocket expenses. I’m sure many of you remember that some of our military vehicles, including the much vaulted HumVee orginally lacked even the most basic armor protection when first deployed to the area, resulting in the deaths for several service personnel before our troops started packing them with sandbags. After several months, and a few news reports, armor plating finally arrived for most of the equipment. Folks, I’m a disabled veteran. I went in just after Vietnam, and I can tell you, providing our military with the best equipment is paramount. Anything less is unacceptable. With the billions the Pentagon has been getting, you would think something this simple; this basic would never have happened.

I got my LG$E notice (yes, I used the dollar sign on purpose). Wow! Remember how we were originally told the rates would increase 60%, and after everyone began to fight back, they told us the rate would increase only 40%? Well, guess what? They lied. Some folks experienced as much as an 83% increase in their bill, with little additional usage. Most folks received the full 60%, and with the promise of further increases in January and February. Boy, I bet those folks down at LG$E are really hating this mild winter don’t you?

And did you notice gas prices are creeping up again. It started just before the holidays, and they continue to rise. Big surprise there huh? Do you remember that during the Great Depression, shanty towns, where whole families would live in cardboard boxes or in rags sewed together to create makeshift tents were called “Hoovervilles” or “Hoover Hotels” after the President, Herbert Hoover? Well, I suggest that whenever we get gas, we purchase the fuel in “Bushes” rather than in “gallons” after Bush and oil buddies. He wants to go down in history, let’s help him out!

Lastly, I saw where Governor Ernie Fletcher is starting the year off on the wrong foot again by proposing to break unions. That's no way to win a second term! You would think Fletcher has enough problems to deal with than to take on organized labor. Unions are the reason we have 40 hour weeks, laws dealing with safe working conditions, healthcare, vacation time, adequate job training, decent wages, and many of other legal rights protecting us from abusive employers. As we’ve seen the power of unions decline, we’ve seen of our jobs exported overseas, lowered wages, decrease healthcare coverage (or no coverage at all), and pensions vanish into thin air (actually, vanish into the pockets of management and shareholders, but that's another article). Does Fletcher really want to attack the working class in Kentucky in the name of minimum wage “McJobs”? I surely hope not. I’m union and I’ll do my part to keep unions strong in Kentucky. For many, it’s all that’s left protecting them from loosing everything.

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