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
11:37 am
Wed May 15, 2013

MSNBC's Chris Matthews: Mitch McConnell 'Will Not Have a Serious Opponent' Due to IRS Scandal

Credit Shutterstock

MSNBC host Chris Matthews is predicting the scandal involving the Internal Revenue Service targeting conservatives will benefit Republican Mitch McConnell, and could result in an easy re-election for Kentucky's senior senator.

The agency has apologized for flagging political organizations with "tea party" and "patriot" in their name, but Republicans and Democrats have jabbed the Obama administration for not responding forcefully enough.

McConnell has pounced on the IRS controversy after all but predicting the controversy when he spoke out against the IRS targeting such groups last summer. Speaking from the Senate floor Wednesday, McConnell warned the president shouldn't "stonewall" any investigation and dismissed the agency's explanation.

Speaking on Morning Joe, Matthews says the scandal will haunt President Obama and the Democratic Party in the 2014 elections, adding it will likely save McConnell from a serious challenge.

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Politics
10:30 pm
Sat May 11, 2013

Noise and Notes: The 'Herculean' JCPS Audit, Teacher's Union Blasted and Charter Schools

Jefferson County Public Schools is set to be the subject of a what observers are calling a "Herculean" state audit to review Kentucky's largest school district.

It's unclear what the JCPS audit will turn up, but most agree a review of the city's $1 billion budget with over 100,000 students is long overdue. Some school board members object to the examination by saying JCPS has been probed enough, but critics argue paying $125,000 to learn more about the district's finances and administration is important.

The review will focus on contracts, travel expenses and ethics policies, and especially the financial and administrative operations of the central office.

"This is the result of properly focused policy makers organically having conversations about how important public education is," Audit Adam Edelen has said.

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Politics
6:54 pm
Fri May 10, 2013

Congressman Andy Barr Knocks 'War on Coal' Ahead of First Lady Michelle Obama's Visit

Congressman Andy Barr, R-Ky.,
Credit Barr Campaign

Republican Congressman Andy Barr is welcoming First Lady Michelle Obama to Kentucky this weekend, but took time to criticize the White House's energy policy in the process.

The First Lady will attend the spring commencement ceremony at Eastern Kentucky University on Saturday, where she will deliver the keynote address.

Mrs. Obama is speaking at EKU as part of her Joining Forces initiative to assist military families. Long lines are expected for those seeking to attend.

Barr says he hopes the visit will give the district an opportunity to showcase its local economy including the horse industry, but took a shot at the Obama administration's environmental regulations.

"I hope the First Lady will also take back with her to Washington a better understanding of the detrimental effects of the administration’s 'War on Coal' that is raising energy prices and crippling the futures of many of the very graduates to whom she will speak," he says. "It is my sincere hope that she will benefit from her time in the Sixth District and return with a new appreciation about the need to support policies that will get Kentuckians back to work."

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Politics
1:09 pm
Fri May 10, 2013

Mitch McConnell Demands White House Investigate IRS for Targeting Conservative Groups

Credit U.S. Senate

Update: White House spokesman Jay Carney says an inspector general is looking into the matter

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is calling on the Obama administration to conduct a government-wide probe in the wake of an admission by the Internal Revenue Service that it targeted conservative groups.

 

The IRS apologized on Friday for inappropriately flagging conservative political groups for additional reviews during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status.

Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS unit that oversees tax-exempt groups, said organizations that included the words "tea party" or "patriot" in their applications for tax-exempt status were singled out for additional reviews.

Lerner said the practice, initiated by low-level workers in Cincinnati, was wrong and she apologized while speaking at a conference in Washington.

McConnell says the admission is proof that his earlier concerns were well founded, adding the White House needs to review the agency's actions.

"Now more than ever we need to send a clear message to the Obama administration that the First Amendment is non-negotiable, and that apologies after an election year are not an sufficient response to what we now know took place at the IRS," he says. "This kind of political thuggery has absolutely no place in our politics."

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Politics
5:45 pm
Thu May 9, 2013

Senator Mitch McConnell Questions Governor's Decision to Expand Medicaid

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

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell questioned Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear's long-awaited decision to expand Medicaid coverage under the president's health care law, arguing it will expose Kentuckians to increasing costs.

As Kentucky Public Radio's Kenny Colston reports, Beshear, a Democrat, announced the state's Medicaid program will extend coverage to over 300,000 Kentuckians under the Affordable Care Act or what opponents calls Obamacare.

This means the state's Medicaid rolls will extend to more low-income and poor people who are below 138 percent of the federal poverty line.

The governor called it the right thing to do, and the decision was praised by fellow Democrats and health advocacy groups.

However, Kentucky's senior senator warned the extension will be costly for residents and hurt small businesses.

"Given Kentucky’s struggles to finance its current Medicaid program and the uncertainty of future federal funding, I am surprised the governor would make this decision to further implement Obamacare and expose the commonwealth’s taxpayers to more open ended expenses they cannot afford," McConnell said in a statement.

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Politics
5:37 pm
Wed May 8, 2013

Councilwoman Scott to Host Mayor Fischer, GLI Chief on District 'Reality Ride'

Louisville Metro Councilwoman Attica Scott, D-1, will host Mayor Greg Fischer and the new CEO of Greater Louisville Inc. on a "reality ride" through southwestern parts District 1.

Since taking office, Scott has held several tours through neighborhoods in west and southwest Louisville with city officials to show them blight, crime and economic issues.

This tour with Fischer and GLI Inc. CEO Craig Richard has been in the works for several weeks.

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Politics
3:06 pm
Wed May 8, 2013

Senator Dan Coats Joins Effort to End So-Called 'Obama Phones' Program

U.S. Sen. Dan Coats, R-In.,

U.S. Sen. Dan Coats, R-In., is joining an effort to cut funding for a program aimed at expanding telephone service for the poor, which was attacked as the "Obama phones" program during the 2012 elections.

The Lifeline Program provides discounts on monthly telephone services for low-income consumers in order to ensure they have access to things such as 911 emergency services.

During last year's presidential campaign, however, conservatives pounced on the program after a supporter falsely claimed the Obama campaign was passing out free cell phones. 

The "Obama phones" meme gained a foothold in search engines and political narratives despite the fact it was created in 1984 under President Ronald Reagan.

Still, lawmakers are taking aim at the program in a bill being sponsored by Republican Senators David Vitter of Louisiana and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma.

Coats says the program has ballooned under President Obama took office, expanding to include wireless service providers and spending increases from $143 million 2008 to $2.2 billion in 2012.

"Too often, Washington creates a program that may be well-intended, but ends up costing taxpayers more money because of poor implementation and a lack of oversight," Coats said in a news release. "As many Hoosiers and middle class Americans continue to struggle in this economy, they shouldn’t have to pay for a program littered with fraud that subsidizes free cell phones. I will continue to push Congress and the administration to examine every federal program to find ways we can be more efficient and save taxpayer dollars."

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Politics
12:16 pm
Wed May 8, 2013

Congressman John Yarmuth Optimistic on Immigration Reform

John Yarmuth
Credit U.S. Congress

Appearing on MSNBC Wednesday, Congressman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., says he is optimistic comprehensive immigration reform will pass in Congress this year despite an undertone of setbacks.

The "gang of eight" in the Senate are trying to gain a super-majority as Democrats and Republicans continue to negotiate. Among the issues being hashed out are provisions dealing with a pathway to citizenship that are linked to tighter enforcement of the U.S. borders.

Recently, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. warned that conservatives would be pulling back from the plan if stricter rules to protect borders are not added to the bill.

But Yarmuth, who is part of a bipartisan "gang of eight" in the House, says lawmakers remains motivated to pass an overhaul of the immigration system due to an unprecedented group of diverse interests.

Watch:

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Politics
7:30 am
Tue May 7, 2013

Rudy Giuliani's Firm Hires Former Congresswoman Anne Northup as Lobbyist

Former Republican Congresswoman Anne Northup is joining the law firm of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani as a lobbyist.

Bracewell & Giuliani LLP announced this week Northup will work in the firm’s Policy Resolution Group in Washington, D.C., where she will serve as a strategist on issues such as health care, trade policy and manufacturing.

In a news release, Northup says she is excited to join the firm's lobbying arm, and will put her experience in Washington towards advocacy and strategic communications.

"PRG has one of the top consumer products advocacy and strategic communications practices in Washington. I am equally excited to contribute to the firm’s other practice areas and look forward to working with my new colleagues," she says.

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Politics
7:35 pm
Mon May 6, 2013

'Compassion Walk' to Commemorate Parkland Shootings Criticized

Councilwoman Attica Scott announces Compassion March joined by Connected Voices
Credit Louisville Metro Council

Louisville Metro Councilwoman Attica Scott, D-1, and community activist Christopher 2x announced a march to commemorate the triple homicide in the Parkland neighborhood last year.

But one of the family members of a victim says it's a misplaced attempt by the city lawmaker and activist to grab headlines.

The shootings at 32nd Street and Greenwood Avenue occurred on May 17, 2012, resulting in the deaths of Craig Bland Jr., 22, Tyson Mimms, 24 and Makeba Lee, 24.

At least one of the shootings occurred in front of dozens of onlookers, including local media and police officers. The brazen act sparked local outrage among residents and elected officials and a mayoral task force was launched to conduct a study on how to prevent violence.

During a Monday press conference, Scott and 2X announced plans to hold a moment of silence on May 17 featuring Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad, along with a "Compassion Walk" on May 18 at the site of the three homicides.

"What I’m hoping it will do is one, to help people to reflect on the fact that we have lost way too many lives in the city of Louisville to senseless and unnecessary gun violence," says Scott. "And also to ask themselves what are they doing to make a difference in neighborhoods that are experiencing this type of violence."

But Lee's grandfather says it's disturbing neither Scott's office or 2X's group Connected Voices contacted his family about the march, adding the focus should be more about solutions than their personal tragedies.

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