Noise & Notes

On Noise & Notes, WFPL's Phillip M. Bailey doesn't just discuss the issues, he dissects them. From city government to national politics, Phillip has covered it all. 

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Politics
12:59 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

NY Senator Says Alison Lundergan Grimes Thinking of Entering Race Two Weeks After She Did

Did U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., forget Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is running for Senate?

Appearing on MSNBC's Morning Joe on Wednesday, Gillibrand says he is encouraged at women looking to run for U.S. Senate, adding Grimes was "looking" to run for Senate more than two weeks after the Kentucky Democrat announced her intentions to take on Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell next year.

Watch:

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Politics
12:06 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

Democrats Continue Campaign Against Mitch McConnell as 'Guardian of Gridlock'

Senator Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Credit U.S. Senate

National Democrats say Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's leadership is hurting Kentucky families and workers with his use of the filibuster.

Just this week senators were able to broker a deal on President Obama's nominations to avoid the "nuclear option" being pushed by Democratic Leader Harry Reid, who dubbed McConnell the "guardian of gridlock" recently.

A review of the 60-vote threshold used  by minority leaders since 1988 does show McConnell's tenure has seen a record-breaking use of the tactic, which senators hope to avoid since Reid's successful threat.

In light of those successful negotiations, however, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is continuing to blast McConnell's senatorial maneuvering, particular on economic measures.

Democrats argue the GOP leader has blocked key legislation providing incentives for businesses who don’t offshore, increasing the minimum wage and extending unemployment insurance.

"Time and again Mitch McConnell has turned his back on Kentucky workers and chosen to engage in partisan political gridlock," says DSCC spokesman Justin Barasky. "Kentucky workers deserve better than a Senator who is so thoroughly wedded to special interests that he forgets to fight for his state. Mitch McConnell even voted to block an extension on unemployment insurance during the economic crisis. It’s clear that after nearly 30 years in Washington he isn’t just part of the problem he’s the main source of it."

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Politics
6:47 am
Wed July 17, 2013

Barbara Shanklin's Attorney Lashes Out at City Officials Over Removal Trial Proceedings

Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin
Credit Louisville Metro Council

A Louisville Metro Council Court hearing turned into a shouting match between city officials and the lawyer representing embattled Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, D-2, in her upcoming removal trial.

Shanklin faces ouster from office after a Charging Committee of five council members filed a petition saying she violated three sections of the city's code of ethics.

The chief allegation is that Shanklin used taxpayers funds to benefit her friends and family through an upholstery program for ex-offenders.

The program was set up to help former inmates learn a trade, but city records showed few ex-offenders attending the class while Shanklin and family members did.

Mayor Greg Fischer's office shut down the program in late 2011, but The Courier-Journal discovered the councilwoman's office continued to fund the program with discretionary  through the Petersburg-Newburg Improvement Association, which Shanklin and her niece were listed as board members.

Attorney Aubrey Williams is representing Shanklin. He strongly objected to the council's handling of the proceedings, exhibits and who will be subpoenaed to testify.

At different points Williams lashed out at Council President Jim King, D-10, Charging Committee attorney David Tachau and Jefferson County Attorney Mike O'Connell.

Williams says O'Connell especially has been engaging in unprofessional "shenanigans" leading up to the removal trial.

"Now you be quiet and let me explain," Williams yelled. "You may think you can push district court judges around, but you won't push me around sir. Your behavior is appalling. How you are practicing this case is appalling."

"How dare you," O'Connell barked. "I'm not going to play your games. You accuse me of unprofessional conduct you better put it on the record."

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Politics
8:15 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

Alison Lundergan Grimes Files Paperwork for Senate Race

Alison Lundergan Grimes

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes filed paperwork with the U.S. Senate clerk to officially enter the race to take on incumbent Mitch McConnell next year.

Two weeks ago Grimes, a Democrat, announced her intentions to run for the seat held by the Republican leader at the urging of state and national Democrats.

Since then Grimes has been courting national donors with an ambitious fundraising goal between $26 to $30 million. This past weekend, Grimes reportedly impressed those at a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee retreat in Martha's Vineyard.

In her first campaign e-mail message, Grimes says she has received overwhelming support since announcing and plans to build a grassroots campaign to match McConnell's hefty fundraising machine.

"This campaign is going to require all of us to stand up," says Grimes. "We need to stand up to the Washington insiders and their Super PACs. We need to stand up and demand that we elect leaders who will work to move Kentucky forward."

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Politics
6:44 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

Mitch McConnell, Alison Lundergan Grimes to Headline Fancy Farm 2013

Credit Kentucky Secretary of State/U.S. Senate

The campaigns of Republican U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell and Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes have confirmed both will be attending the 2013 Fancy Farm picnic, Kentucky's premier political event.

The picnic will be the first face-to-face meeting between the two since Grimes announced her intentions to run against McConnell in next year's election.

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Politics
2:39 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer Called to Testify in Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin's Removal Trial

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer
Credit File photo

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is among a number of city officials being called to testify in the removal trial of Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, D-2, which is scheduled to begin next week.

Earlier this year, the Metro Ethics Commission ruled unanimously that Shanklin violated various ethics rules, including funding an ex-offenders upholstery program benefiting her friends and family.

The panel recommended the councilwoman’s ouster from office, and a Charging Committee of five council members filed a petition to begin removal proceedings.

Before the ethics complaints were filed the Fischer administration shut down that upholstery program in Shanklin's district, citing concerns about the lack  former inmates participating

Shanklin is being represented by attorney Aubrey Williams, who refused to comment for this story on why Fischer is being asked to testify before the Metro Council Court.

But in court documents provided to the council clerk, Williams says the mayor is expected to testify about "various matters relating to any laws, policies and procedures" that caused Fischer to halt the program.

Attorney David Tachau is the prosecutor in the removal trial. He says it’s unclear why Shanklin wants the mayor to be called as a witness other than an attempt to throw irrelevant issues into the case.

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Politics
10:32 am
Tue July 16, 2013

Congressman Brett Guthrie Announces Re-Election, Bypassing Governor's Race

Congressman Brett Guthrie, R-Ky.,

Kentucky Second District Congressman Brett Guthrie announced he is running for re-election next year, but made it clear he is bypassing a bid for governor in 2015.

Guthrie is a Republican from Bowling Green who has represented the district covering parts of western and central Kentucky since January 2009.

"We are fighting in Washington to balance the federal budget, to cut wasteful spending, and to create an environment where small businesses can create good paying jobs," he says. "My work in Congress is all about providing opportunity. I am passionate about improving the economy, cultivating educational opportunity for people of all ages, and getting our nation’s finances under control."

The GOP lawmaker was a top contender for the party's nomination in the 2015 gubernatorial contest. But Guthrie clarified he is not interested in statewide office and will keep his full attention on representing the state in Washington.

"I am not running for any state office in 2015, although I was humbled by the number of people who asked me to run for governor," he says. "I went to Washington solve big problems and to leave a better America behind for the next generation. I’ve spent every day doing that and I feel that my time and energy is best spent on solving the big financial and economic problems we face as a nation."

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Politics
5:28 pm
Mon July 15, 2013

Nate Silver Gives Alison Lundergan Grimes One-in-Five Chance in Senate Race

Credit Kentucky Secretary of State/U.S. Senate

Election guru Nate Silver is giving Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes a 20 percent chance of beating Senator Mitch McConnell in next year's election.

The Democrats hold a 54-46 majority in the Senate and are expected to regain the New Jersey seat later this year.

But the early speculation is Republicans will pick up at least three seats in 2014.  It's possible the GOP have enough to gain the majority, but Silver puts control of the Senate as a "toss-up" overall.

In regards to the Bluegrass, he says McConnell's seat could be vulnerable given his noted unpopularity, but the "fundamentals" favor the GOP leader over Grimes.

From FiveThirtyEight:

Kentucky. Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader, has only break-even approval ratings, and Democrats got one of their better potential recruits in Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Kentucky secretary of state.

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Politics
3:25 pm
Mon July 15, 2013

Councilwoman Attica Scott Uses District Twitter Account to Promote Congressional Candidate

District 1 Councilwoman Attica Scott's Twitter page

Louisville Metro Councilwoman Attica Scott, D-1, promoted a congressional candidate using her official Twitter account, which is in violation of the city’s code of ethics.

In a July 12 message sent from Scott's district Twitter account, she encourages followers to donate to fellow Democrat Elisabeth Jensen of Lexington, who is seeking to run for Congress against Republican Andy Barr next year.

"You can donate to @JensenElis to represent Kentucky 6th District in Congress at elisabethforkentucky.com"

Scott did have a personal Twitter account prior to being elected to the council that she used for campaigning and to express other political views, but that handle has been inactive for several months.

The @CW_AtticaScott is her official handle that lists her district web address and includes the city seal.

In 2010, the council amended the city's code of ethics to make it a violation for Metro officers to use any "government funds, equipment supplies, vehicles, or facilities" to advocate for a person's political candidacy, including their own. It bars officials from using Metro Government resources for the purpose of engaging in activities that "advocate the candidacy of a person for political office."

Thse changes were in reaction to former Republican Councilman Doug Hawkins, who used his official city e-mail to send out campaign materials and was heavily criticized for it.

"You're elected to represent everybody in the district and for you to officially go out there campaigning and soliciting funds as an elected official you are telling everyone to vote for them," says Councilman Ken Fleming, R-7, who has a personal Twitter account. "For me to use an official seal or stationary to put my name and tie it to a campaign, really that crosses a line I think."

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Politics
3:00 pm
Fri July 12, 2013

National Democrats Dub Mitch McConnell 'Senator Gridlock' Amid Filibuster Fight

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell
Credit File photo

National Democrats are calling Republican Mitch McConnell of Kentucky "Senator Gridlock" as the Senate considers altering its filibuster rules.

For most of this week, McConnell has been in a sometimes heated exchange with Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada over blocking President Obama's executive nominees.

Democrats are threatening to use so-called 'nuclear option' to break the gridlock, and McConnell has said that will make Reid the worst Senate leader in history if they do so.

"They’re not interested in checks and balances. They’re not interested in advice and consent. They’re not even interested in what this would mean down the road when Republicans are the ones making the nominations," McConnell said earlier this week. "They want the power. They want it now. And they don’t care about the consequences.

Since 2007, Senate statistics show McConnell has used the filibuster 413 times as minority leader. That is almost twice as much as when Democrats held the minority from 1995 to 2001. Update: Since 2007, the Senate has invoked cloture, which requires 60 votes, 413 times. This is not the same as McConnell using the filibuster. 

Democratic Senator Campaign Committee spokesman Justin Barasky says McConnell has led an unprecedented tenure of blocking Senate procedures.

"Mitch McConnell should change his name to Senator Gridlock because he’s the walking, talking embodiment of everything that’s wrong with Washington. And he’s the number one reason for record-breaking levels of obstruction and dysfunction," he says. "Senator McConnell has not only made things worse, but he’s actually embraced his role as the number one problem."

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