Posts Tagged ‘Fancy Farm’

Annual Kentucky Chamber Event is “Fancy Farm Gone MILD”

Friday, January 11th, 2013

At Thursday night’s 18th Annual Kentucky Chamber Day with 1500+ politicians, lobbyists, and business leaders looking on, affirmations of bipartisanship abounded from the podium speakers that included the governor and top ranking legislators from both chambers. KET’s Bill Goodman emceed the event held in Lexington. While business attire at the Kentucky Chamber dinner is expected, spectators are eager for the Capitol’s top brass to infuse a less buttoned-up approach in their addresses.

Think of it as “Fancy Farm Gone Mild,” with light-hearted partisan punch lines and polite audience laughter instead of the fist-pounding, call and response rhetoric to which the yearly western Kentucky political event claims ownership.

Some of the speakers come with prepared text that’s more policy than joviality. House Speaker Greg Stumbo started with the latter, but cranked up the decibels on his main takeaway: “It’s time to quit kidding ourselves in Kentucky with 1 in 4 kids in poverty…we need to stop talking and be courageous to do something for Kentucky, he said in signature animated fashion. “Let’s stop talking about bi-partisanship and do it,” he added.

Bipartisanship was the theme of the night, as were calls to act on public pension and tax reform, legislative redistricting; even industrial hemp got a mention. With about 2/3 of the state legislature in attendance and a handful of former governors sitting among the packed crowd, newly-elected Senate President Robert Stivers kept to the script on policy points after jokingly expressing gratitude to Governor Steve Beshear for the judicial appointment of former state Senate chief David Williams that made way for Stivers’ ascension to the top slot. Perhaps the most salient remark from the 17-year legislative veteran was that “systemic changes in Kentucky will be made through education.”

That remark is particularly poignant on the same day he stood among a phalanx of lawmakers and university presidents to announce bipartisan support for a plan to let public universities issue their own bonds for projects ranging from classrooms, to housing, and athletic complexes. House Republican leader Jeff Hoover pointed to that shared goal as one demonstration of the new day in Frankfort.

Senate Democratic leader R.J. Palmer spoke of how tax reform has been “studied to death and now it’s time to act,” and stressed the need to tackle legislative redistricting this year.

“This is the first legislative session in five years that I’m looking forward to,” said a grinning Governor Steve Beshear at the dinner. He bragged about recent rankings showing Kentucky’s progress in education and government metrics giving the state a second place ribbon for job growth. Beshear also tempered pleas for public pension reform now without creating “a massive influx of revenue” to mitigate the system’s multi-billion dollar unfunded liability. He added that it can’t be accomplished by slicing and dicing government programs. What he didn’t mention was the prospect of expanded gaming as a coffer-plumping measure.

Many folks are cautiously optimistic about a new day in Frankfort. By session end, there will be a clear record of vows made and kept. When the seasons change from winter haze to spring’s splendor, we’ll know if (in the words of Senator Stivers) “gotcha politics are a thing of past.”

“Legislative Update” has the wrap-up of the first week tonight at 11pm ET on KET. And, we will present a one-hour highlights program of the Kentucky Chamber dinner on Monday night at 9pm ET following “Kentucky Tonight.”

Generation Screwed? The Youth View

Thursday, August 9th, 2012
Youth at Fancy Farm

Youth at Fancy Farm

The belly bloat of barbeque and mutton from the 132nd Annual Fancy Farm picnic has eased, and we’re basking in the comfortable chill of air conditioning instead of melting in the outdoor, triple-digit heat indices in Western Kentucky. We’ve had our fill of pork, pie, and politics after our weekend trek to the Jackson Purchase area.

KET intern and youth correspondent Kara Ferguson has penned her impressions of her first Fancy Farm picnic experience. You met Kara, who I’ve nicknamed “Fergie” after our road trip together, last week when she introduced herself as a guest blogger for “Prompter.”

Well, we couldn’t leave you hanging about what she thought. Her pointed essay from Fancy Farm about the concerns of her generation follows.

Kara’s views:

Tucked away in a small corner of Western Kentucky is the world’s largest one-day picnic. Fancy Farm is famous for its barbeque, scorching hot weather, and fiery political speeches. This year was no exception.

The crowd hissed and cheered from the sidelines as the politicians spoke of their opponents’ voting records or stance on certain key issues. The politicians addressed the adults in the crowd, but they seemed to be forgetting a generation.

Youth reaction at Fancy Farm

Youth reaction at Fancy Farm

They forgot the generation that will inherit the outcomes of the decisions made in this election. They forgot the generation that my peers and I belong to. They forgot the generation that could be screwed in the future. We are the generation that holds a college degree but has no job, a generation that has started asking, “Do you want fries with that?” just to pay back student loans.

Looking around the stands, young faces could be seen supporting both sides. The number of young kids and young adults showing support for candidates and engaging in the political theater was surprising. The youth present showed support with the signs they held, the t-shirts they sported, and the individuals they heckled. From time to time, their voices could be heard above the rest.

My generation wants to have its voices heard; we want the public to know how we feel about education costs, the current economy, and the job market. We want to make sure that we are not forgotten.

Generation screwed? Not if we have anything to say about it.

Hefty Helping of Political Rhetoric Spices up Fancy Farm Picnic

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

Some say that the annual Fancy Farm picnic is more rhetoric than reality—more politicking than policy. When the office holders and office seekers duke it out in the verbal showdown that unofficially launches the fall campaign season, taunts over control of the Kentucky House of Representatives will likely abound. State Senate President David Williams boasts of the possibilities in an interview you’ll see during KET’s coverage of the 132nd Fancy Farm picnic.

“For the first time in a long time, you have a realistic possibility that the Republicans will take control of the House of Representatives for the first time ever,” says Williams in a KET interview.

“It’s numerically impossible for the Democrats to take control of the Kentucky State Senate in this cycle, which is fairy amazing, when you think of the victory margin that the Governor had over me in the three-person race with the late Gatewood Galbraith, yet he wasn’t able to recruit candidates sufficient to put the majority in the Kentucky State Senate,” he adds.

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo douses those predictions and red marks Republican math on seats expected to be gained this election cycle. “They’re not going to take our house. They’re not going to take this house, not without one heck of a fight, and I can tell you when people start talking about where we are as a state and how we’ve come through this recession under Governor Beshear’s leadership and working with him,” declares Stumbo.

But Williams reminds listeners of history’s repetitious tendencies as political party swaps by two state senators in the late ’90s yielded Republican control of the Upper Chamber. “That’s what happened in the Senate, you had some conservative Democrats, when the numbers got close and they didn’t have to give up too much as far as committee assignments or influence within the body, they switched,” says the Senate president who rose to that authority following those defections. “And I anticipate this is going to be a competitive cycle, especially if you look at the battleground areas as being areas where there is a lack of enthusiasm among Democrats,” he adds.

Stumbo says Republicans have overinflated their chances of seizing control of the Kentucky House. “I think it is going to be maybe two or three for two or three our way. We’ve got a good crop of candidates in the field this fall,” he says. In signature silver-tongued fashion, he adds: “It’s kind of like when somebody asked me the other day ‘are you committed to helping with these fall races?’ I said there’s different levels of commitment. It’s the old story about the chicken and the ham. In the breakfast, the chicken contributed to the enjoyment of the meal but the ham was totally in.”

Williams and Stumbo share their thoughts about annual picnic’s relevance to Kentucky politics, the consequences of verbal foibles by speakers and messages in the presidential contest in this recent interview with me.

Tune into KET Saturday at 2:30pm/1:30pm for exclusive coverage of Fancy Farm 2012.

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