Posts Tagged ‘Kentucky’

Rep. Thomas Massie the Freshmore: “Call Me Mr. K‘NO’W”

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Bill Goodman’s One to One interview with Rep. Thomas Massie airs on KET tonight at 6:30 ET.

Kentucky’s 4th District Rep. Thomas Massie began his service in Washington under a rare political scenario back in 2012. He won a special and general election on the same day to fill the vacancy left by retiring Congressman Geoff Davis. He was sworn into office immediately after the November election –a trajectory that explains the “freshmore” nomenclature.

In a crowded field of seven Republicans with the Tea Party winds and Greenbacks firmly at his back, Massie bested the two more politically well-heeled candidates: State Rep. Alecia Webb-Edgington and Boone County Judge/Executive Gary Moore for the win last year. If the victory was a surprise to some political observers and pundits, imagine the shrills of disbelief when he refused to back John Boehner as Speaker of the House and subsequently voted ‘no’ on a Hurricane Sandy relief measure. Massie’s maverick moves of going rogue in the Republican Party have earned him the nickname “Mr. No.”

A relative newcomer to politics, Massie earned his first electoral victory in 2010 as Lewis County Judge/Executive. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) engineering graduate with two dozen patents under his belt, tells Bill Goodman tonight at 6:30 ET how he relies on his engineering background to analyze legislation. Rep. Massie says he doesn’t operate on intuition, but facts. He adds that his policy making motivations are not to broker deals, but mine solutions. He also complains of the lack of time lawmakers actually are afforded to read bills before acting and how the moniker of “Mr. No” needs some correcting.

Visitors to his Washington office get a blunt reminder of Rep. Massie’s top priority: debt reduction. A large flat screen monitor, showing nothing more than upward-ticking national debt numbers approaching $17 trillion, greets you as you enter his office in the Cannon House building. Assuming a minimalist spartan approach to office decorating that matches his preference for less government spending, the only Kentucky memento to be found is a hemp pillow with “My Old Kentucky Home” embroidered in black stitch. On a coffee table flanking his desk is a prominently displayed press release on hemp paper announcing his introduction of an industrial hemp bill on February 6th of this year. Most members of the Kentucky delegation are backing measures in Congress to legalize hemp or push for a federal waiver to allow Kentucky to grow it.

Bill Goodman talks with Rep. Massie about industrial hemp, immigration, why he thinks the sequester is a clumsy way of dealing with government spending, and why he’s frustrated by what he says are federal lawmakers’ “propensity to abandon ideology to pursue some fixed partisan goal.”

Watch the entire interview tonight at 6:30 ET on KET. Tomorrow night, the special One to One series with Kentucky’s federal delegation continues with Rep. Hal Rogers.

Breaking Bad: Can Kentucky Get There?

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Former University of Kentucky president, Lee Todd, coined the term “Kentucky Uglies” to describe the state’s rear-end rankings on lists of most things good and blue-ribbon placement on indicators measuring most things bad. The exceptions are in college hoops and horse racing — but few are content with our state having only those two things on the ball.

We have made tremendous strides in education and addressing our drug abuse epidemic and other struggles, but there’s always more to do. Policymakers, educators, the business community, churches, charities, and average Joes and Janes often express to me what I’ve rephrased in this five-word question: “Can Kentucky ever “break bad?”

Many believe poverty is the root of the ills besetting our commonwealth. Recent U.S. Census Bureau data finds that more than one in four Kentucky children lives in poverty. The nation may ‘have a cold’ in lean economic times, but pockets of Kentucky have caught and are keeping ‘pneumonia.’

The limping national economy has taken its toll on public, private, and individual coffers the last few years, but the plight of the perennially poor in Kentucky has long been a focus of national and state media and those they quote and source. And so it was last weekend in the New York Times Sunday Review by columnist Nicholas Kristof. Kristof presented a narrative of poor families in Breathitt County, Ky., who withdrew their children from literacy classes out of fear they’d no longer qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a monthly government check to parents of a child with an intellectual disability.

The report and Kristof’s commentary about it stoked a response from the Bluegrass state’s leading child advocacy group, Kentucky Youth Advocates. In a rebuttal headlined:“Don’t Pull the Net Out from Children,” author Katie Carter supports Kristof’s rally for more investment in early childhood education programs as a remedy.

But Carter defends the need for safety net programs and scoffs at hints there’s widespread abuse of public assistance. Carter writes “In Kentucky, the families of 29,922 children with disabilities received cash assistance through SSI in 2011. For context, there are a little over one million children in Kentucky, and there were over 100,000 students with some sort of disability in 2010. While any cases of holding a child back from achieving their full potential are disheartening, the data hardly suggest rampant overuse.”

Poverty is complex. It’s situational, generational, geographical, race-based, structural, and behavioral, according to Dr. James “Ike” Adams, the dean of the University Of Kentucky College Of Social Work. We talked about poverty in Kentucky during our “Connections” taping this past September.

“African Americans and people of color are disproportionately beset by poverty, similar to Appalachian regions heavily reliant on a mono-economy,” says Adams. Adams, an Alabama import, now a three-year Kentucky resident, described the Appalachian areas of the state as suffering from structural poverty. “There are simply not enough jobs to accommodate all those who need one,” he adds.

Terry Brooks of Kentucky Youth Advocates said during that same program, that 47 counties in Kentucky are labeled as ‘persistently poor,’ meaning those places have been economically distressed for at least 30 years.

Brooks believes many Kentucky families are working jobs that don’t create bright economic futures. “No state in the country has more children living in homes where neither parent has secure employment, meaning full-time and year-round,” laments Brooks. “It’s not because mom is at home watching Oprah eating bonbons; instead it’s mom holding not one, not two, but three jobs — all part-time, all minimum wage and none with benefits,” he adds.

There are more layers to  poverty than what I’ve laid out here, and different, disparate opinions on why it exists and if/how much government should help. Bill Goodman and I are planning a special program in January about this, entitled “The Price of Poverty in Kentucky.” We’ll both keep you in the loop on that special broadcast. It’s one none of us can afford to miss.

Striding ‘Right’ for Black GOP Strategist is a No-brainer

Saturday, December 8th, 2012

Charles Badger is not your typical 23 year-old. His tersely stylized, self-description on Twitter provides little insight into what he thinks. In the maximum allowed character length below a picture of a jubilant dude in line dance formation, Charles fonts the following:  “NY-baked-Southern glazed inquisitive Cosmopolitan. Foodie. Bourbonist. Art-Jazz-Hip-Hop lover w/ a change-the-world complex.”

Okay. None of that seems peculiar. And, most of us are down with those having a can-do spirit to make a difference. But, what he doesn’t text out near his cyber avatar that you quickly gather from his Twitter feed is that he’s ‘say it loud, he’s black and he’s proud’ … to be a Republican.

What? Come again? That last part?

It’s a question he’s asked often: ‘why are you, a black man, a Republican?’ Given African Americans’ historic patronage to candidates with the parenthetical ‘D’ flanking her/his name – he understands folks’ curiosity.

Reporters seldom like to look like they’re asking obvious questions, but when I pose it to him in our upcoming interview, his answer provides real insight into his political paradigm. Charles’ urban upbringing in conditions that he says government failed to make better, has a lot to do with his view. He says he lived in a breeding ground for generational poverty that never improved no matter how much public assistance, programs, and services were piped in to help. That’s why he’s a Republican. He’s witnessed – in his words: “the failure of big government.”

Not content to watch from the sidelines and driven by his “change-the-world” complex, the Berea College graduate became a political operative, even before he’d graduated. Charles has already worked for half-a-dozen political campaigns, including the recent 6th congressional district contest that unseated Democrat challenger Ben Chandler. Did I mention Charles is 23?

If you looked carefully at our election night coverage on KET last month, you saw a glimpse of Charles’ brown dome making a cameo behind the night’s new political star, Congressman-elect Andy Barr, who won that 6th congressional district race.  Barr lost to Chandler by less than 700 votes in a match-up two years ago. This time around, Barr scuttled Chandler’s return to the Beltway by more than 11,000 votes. It was a victory he cinched with an arsenal of pro-coal ads, Chandler’s burden of sharing the ticket with a president unpopular in Kentucky, and a tight ground game.  Charles Badger had a heavy hand in Barr’s victory. It wasn’t the first rodeo for either and it showed.

Judging by the way things look now, Charles has a long time ahead in the saddle of politics. When you tune into our interview you’ll learn why. He has a strong command of the issues, a sharp articulation of message, and is trying to change the face we typically associate with the Grand Old Party in Kentucky and beyond.

Check out Charles Badger on Connections — Sunday at 1:30pm on KET. You can watch a preview.

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