The morning after being reassigned to a different school, outgoing Jeffersonville High School Principal James Sexton said "management styles" clashed with the Greater Clark schools superintendent.“The superintendent and my management style no not agree, so he’s in charge,” Sexton said when reached Friday morning.Last week Greater Clark County Schools’ superintendent Andrew Melin removed Sexton from his post, and said an investigation of school management was ongoing.Now, Sexton, who is also running for Jefferson County’s District 7 school board seat, has been reassigned as principal of Clark County Middle/High School, which offers an alternative program to get certain students back on track.Sexton, though he understands the importance of the alternative program, said he’s disappointed to be leaving Jeffersonville High School.“I would object to moving away from Jeffersonville High, but everyone works for someone and—philosophically—our management styles clash,” said Sexton.Sexton said he couldn’t get into specifics about what Melin doesn’t like about his management style. But in a statement to the media Melin said the change in assignment better suits the schools and Sexton, who started at Greater Clark Middle/High School in 2009.The school board still needs to approve the decision, but Sexton will start next Monday because the superintendent has the right of assignment, he said.Sexton considers his previous work with alternative students successful. The district, he said, was averaging 70 expulsions a year and since his arrival in 2009 there hasn’t been a single expulsion, he said.“I really don’t believe in expelling a student unless they have a weapon or they are dangerous to the population,” said Sexton.Jeffersonville’s assistant principal David Milburn will assume interim-principal duties.
The New York Times editorial board is joining the calls for Kentucky to end the death penalty.In an editorial published this week, The Times said:The death penalty in Kentucky is colossally unfair, costly and riddled with constitutional error. From 1976 through last year, of the 78 people sentenced to death in the state, 50 had their sentences overturned on appeal, with 15 of those for prosecutorial mistakes or misconduct.The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights recently urged the state to stop using the death penalty; they say it's often applied unfairly against minorities and the poor.The commissioners, who enforce state and federal civil rights laws, urged Kentucky lawmakers in a resolution last week to repeal the law that allows the use of the death penalty in some murder cases.The resolution unanimously passed by the commissioners will be submitted to Go. Steve Beshear and to each state legislator. As of April 1, Kentucky had 35 inmates on death row. Kentucky last executed an inmate in 2008.
Democrat Shelli Yoder is launching her first TV ad of the general election in Indiana's Ninth Congressional District race that touts the political newcomer as a champion for middle-class Hoosiers.The 30-second spot features Yoder talking directly to voters and pledging to protect entitlement programs.Yoder goes after Republican incumbent Todd Young, accusing the freshman of backing a plan to privatize Social Security and turn Medicare into a voucher program. Presumably, Yoder is talking about Young's support of GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan's budget plan.Check it out:Young, however, has not shied away from his relationship to Congressman Ryan nor has he run from that vote on the House Budget Committee.When Ryan was announced as Mitt Romney's running mate earlier this year, Young embraced the choice as a sign that Romney was serious about leading the country back to prosperity and highlighted their work together in Congress."At a time when unemployment remains above 8 percent," Young said in a statement in August. "Our national debt nears $16 trillion and political debate threatens to stall recovery, America needs leaders willing to put pen to paper and outline a clear path forward for our country. Ryan—with whom I’ve worked on the Budget Committee to draft such a bold, comprehensive and coherent vision for America’s future—is exactly that sort of leader."Since taking office, Young has said that entitlement reform is necessary due to a projected shortfall in Medicare and Social Security. He has also scolded both the White House and Congress for dodging tough decisions to make the country's safety net more solvent.
An excerpt from Fred Noe's new book, Beam, Straight Up.Starting OutI started on the bottling line. Clermont plant. Night shift. Relief supervisor. In other words, they didn’t put my picture on the bottle right away. It wasn’t glamorous, and I was on my feet a lot. I remember wondering after my first night what Hank and the boys were up to, where they were. A couple of weeks earlier, I had been partying in Nashville, living the life; now I was in a hot and noisy room watching bottles whirl around on an assembly line. Four pm to 1 am. Sometimes 4 pm to 4 am. Half hour for lunch or whatever it is you eat at 10 at night.Luke, this is your destinyI need to be clear on one thing here: nobody, not Booker or my cousins, nobody forced me to come work for the business. Despite the legacy, despite the generations of Beams working there, no one pressured me, or even encouraged me for that matter, to go make whiskey. Booker in particular was very impartial on the subject. He wanted me to make up my own mind, be my own man.“The distillery’s not for everyone,” he told me when I came back from the road. We were sitting at the kitchen table, waiting on breakfast from Mom.“I know that.”“Last time. You sure you want to do this?”“Yes, sir.”“Why?”I admit, since I had returned home, I had been asking myself that question a lot. And I came up with an honest answer: “Because I think this is supposed to be what I do. This is what I know.”Booker looked hard at me. “You know, this isn’t a party. No Hank Williams, Jr. It’s work. Hard work.”“Yes, sir.”He kind of chewed on his bottom lip, mulled things over. Booker was big into mulling. “All right,” he said. “We’re going to do it right then. You going to learn it from the ground up.”That was the reason he started me in the bottling house (where we filled bottles with liquor). It was the only part of the business he didn’t know. Booker had never worked there, so he had never been able to teach me much about it. It was a gap in my education, as he put it, so that’s where my bourbon career officially started.I can’t say I loved it at first. It wasn’t the most interesting job. Plus, the other workers there were wary of me; polite but distant. I found out later they thought I was a spy. Jim Beam’s great-grandson, checking up on them, ready to report back. But after a while, they saw that I was one of them, just another guy making a living. No special treatment. Bring my lunch bucket, just like them. Pretty soon, once they realized I wasn’t tape-recording their conversations or taking notes and running back to Booker, they relaxed.I remember the night they officially accepted me into the fold. I was on the bottling line overseeing a run of margarita mix (while we only make bourbon at the distillery, we sometimes bottle other products there before we ship them out) when one of the older guys, a mechanic, told me there was a problem with one of the palletizing machines and I needed to check it out right away. I had nothing to do with the maintenance of the palletizing machines, and I told him that.“Just go on now, go down there and check it out. Something needs your attention. Get your a-- back here when you’re done.”So I went over to one of machines off in the corner, and sure enough, there was the thing that needed my attention: a cold, tall margarita, waiting for me. I picked up that glass, turned around, and toasted my coworkers, then threw that thing back fast. From that moment on, I was just one of the boys.I ended up liking the work. It was important, and it was straightforward. I liked the fact that we were some of the last people to see our bourbons before they were shipped off to points around the world.Every so often, I got to do something that made a difference. After I moved over to the labeling room, I soon learned that we needed a system to track which cases were going where. So I came up with a code that we would put on each label before we put it on a bottle. Eventually it became known as the “F. Noe Code” and we used it for years, until computers came along. I was proud of that code. Made me think I had an impact.We had some interesting situations pop up in the labeling room, things that kept us scrambling. During that time we were expanding overseas, shipping our product to Australia, Germany, Japan, South Africa, and Russia. We had to come up with different labels for the different countries, and in some cases we weren’t sure what we were putting on the label. No one spoke Japanese in the shipping department in Clermont, so we had to call over to Tokyo and ask our local sales contact how to spell “bourbon.” In South Africa, we learned that we couldn’t use the word “proof” on our labels; apparently it was a derogatory term down there.Another interesting situation: We used massive containers to ship our products. We sent them overseas to Russia or the Far East full and they would come back empty on ships. Well, supposedly empty. More than once, workers unloading the containers in Europe found people, whole families hiding in them, stowaways, trying to sneak into the West free of charge. Like I said, interesting situations.So the work could be more challenging than it sounds, and I ended up liking it all right. I suppose I also liked the routine. After years of excess, years of partying, years of no real direction (case in point: I took seven years to graduate college), I finally found my footing at the distillery, felt earth beneath my feet. Like I said, it wasn’t glamorous work, but it was honest work and it helped me grow up.I mostly liked the people I worked with. They were solid people who had worked at the plant for years and years. Many of their fathers had worked there, and even some of their grandfathers. The Beams, I realized, weren’t the only family with bourbon-making roots. Bourbon and Beam had supported generations of Kentuckians for years and years. It was in a lot of families’ blood.Sometimes, after work, we would meet at the bottom of the hill in the parking lot (the Clermont plant is built on a hill) and we would relax and have us a few. No crazy stuff, just sipping and smoking. Someone might be playing guitar, someone might be singing. We’d sit there on the bumpers of our cars or in the back of our trucks and watch the night fade, see the sun come up over the hills, the light hitting the rack houses, turning them pink, then a little orange. I remember staring up at the rack house, wondering what time the ghosts got up, wondering what they thought of me—the prodigal—now.We drank our share of whiskey, but we didn’t overdo it. We were professionals; it was all about quality, not so much quantity. (Although, to be sure, there were a few who were into both, but they didn’t last too long; they tended to weed themselves out.) We were selective of what we drank, knew where the best whiskey was stored, which rack houses, which barrels.Sometimes we sipped on new whiskey, bourbon that hadn’t been aged yet. White Dog, clear as water, but dangerously seductive too. Drink too much of that and the next morning you would wake up with an earthquake between your ears. Bust Head, Booker called it. “You got the Bust Head,” he would say.Some of the workers, the old-timers especially, had something called a “mule.” It was a distillery secret, no outsiders knew about it. It was basically a plastic tube that you could hide down the front of your overalls. You would pull it out in the rack houses if no one was around, knock out the bung of a barrel (the plug), and slip it on in and have yourself a nightcap, or an afternoon pick-me-up, or a fat-free breakfast.There was a trick to knowing which barrels to sip from. Since the barrels were aged for years and years, they naturally picked up their share of dust as they sat quietly, undisturbed in the shadows. But every so often you would come across a barrel with no dust on one side, and that’s the one you put your mule in. The reason they didn’t have any dust on them was because the men (many of whom had, shall we say, prominent stomachs) would lean against the barrel while sipping on it. Their guts kind of shined the barrel up. Those barrels were called the sweet barrels. The shinier the barrel, the sweeter the whiskey. I always thought we should come out with a special bourbon, call it “Shiny Barrel.” I know it would sell well in Kentucky. People who knew their whiskey would know what it was all about and line up to buy it for sure.[Insert Text Break Here]I worked at the distillery for 28 years, moving around the place, serving in a number of capacities. As Booker wanted, I was learning the family business from the ground up, all aspects. Bottling, labeling, the distillery, the fermenting room, the dump room. My knowledge of the business grew inch by inch, day by day. Looking back on it, I was like a bourbon myself, aging slowly, gaining flavor in the relative quiet of the Clermont plant.Age and experience are important things in the bourbon industry. You can’t learn everything in one day, or one week, or even a year, especially in a business as old as ours. It takes time to absorb all the different facets and it takes patience to learn the nuances. There is a rhythm to making whiskey, it’s a slow, easy, and methodical process. This isn’t Silicon Valley where things change every day. This isn’t Wall Street with the big ups and downs. This is Bullit County, Clermont, Kentucky; things may change here, but when they do, they change slow.I was content enough. By then I had met up with a girl who would later become my wife. I had met her driving “the loop” in Bardstown. The loop was a Saturday or summer evening ritual, and you’ve probably seen it in movies about small towns. Bunch of people pile up in a car and drive around. We started out at Burger Queen (that’s not a typo; in Bardstown, we had a Burger Queen; not sure why) and ended up about a mile away at the McDonald’s. Then we’d drive back again. It usually turned into a parade of cars, people honking their horns, the radios up high, seeing what’s going on. Teenagers did it, people in their twenties did it. Bardstown is a little isolated; there aren’t many other towns really close by, Louisville is close to an hour away and Lexington even further, so our entertainment options were limited. It was either drive the loop, or sit on someone’s front porch and watch people drive the loop.Well, I met Sandy driving the loop, and we started hanging out and then going to ballgames, and later, the local night spot, Boots and Bourbon, and one thing led to another and pretty soon we were married and pretty soon, man, I was a father.It was all good. Sandy was a Bardstown girl, so she had a basic understanding of the bourbon business, knew what it meant to be a Beam, so there was no major education needed. She knew that bourbon, whiskey making, was going to be my life and she was fine with that. She understood she wasn’t marrying a doctor or a lawyer. I tell you, having a spouse who is on board with your career, someone who gets it, that’s a big help. And Sandy got it from the start and she’s been there the whole time.So I was all settled down and everything, Hank Williams, Jr. and that life, gone forever, the transgressions of my youth a memory. The days blended together, one after another, and my life kind of flattened out, no real highs and no real lows. I was happy enough. I had everything a man could want: a good wife; a son, Freddie (Frederick Booker Noe IV; we like to number our kids); a good job working with good people. Family nearby. Sandy and I were living in the Small House, next to Booker and my mom. I told myself that was enoughBut I knew it wasn’t, knew something was missing. Down deep, I felt an itch to do something different, an itch to see the world. I didn’t leave Bardstown or Kentucky very often, it was pretty much my whole world, so that itch was understandable and over time it grew.Booker was gone a lot, traveling, seeing new things, meeting new people, while he promoted the product. It was the 1990s and the Small Batch Bourbons, particularly Knob Creek, were on fire, demand high. When he came back, we would sit around the kitchen table, maybe sample a few batches of Booker’s the distillery had sent over, and he would tell stories about Australia, Japan, France. Places I could only dream about. That itch would get stronger after talking to Booker, but I ignored it, told myself to be happy with how things had turned out.Things changed one day, though, when Booker came home from some faraway place tired. Being the ambassador for one of the world’s most recognizable brands, being the face of a growing and global company, being here and being there, constantly entertaining people, key customers, retailers, salespeople, media, was finally taking a toll. He was pushing 70 by then, and the front porch was calling.“I’m done,” he said. We were sitting out back, staring at the smokehouse, waiting on supper. When Booker was in town, we still tried to eat together. “I don’t want to do this anymore.”I just sat there and let him blow off steam. He had complained about life on the road before, so I didn’t think much of this latest tirade about airports and too-small seats on airplanes. He had recently spent time in Japan and had to push two beds together to sleep, which he thought an outrage.“You can’t quit,” I said.“It’s not quitting. They got a word for what I’m doing and it’s called retiring. And that’s what I’m doing. I am retiring. Ball players do it. Hell, even racehorses do it.”I wasn’t taking him seriously. “You can’t do that.”“I can do whatever I damn well please. I’m not getting on any more airplanes. That last trip almost killed me. Waiting in line at the airport for an hour and then they lost my suitcase. Besides, I ain’t feeling too well. Gettin’ swimmy headed. My legs and my feet are swelling up all the time. No, I’m done, all right, I’m done. Besides, they don’t want to hear from an old man anymore anyway. They want someone younger. A different perspective. I’ve told all my stories and I’m getting tired of hearing myself talk.” He went quiet, started in on a good mulling. Then he softly said something.“What?” I hadn’t heard him.“I said it’s your turn.”“What do you mean?”“What do you think I mean? This is your time. Changing of the guard. I already talked to people about it. They’ve been watching you for a while and the reports have all been pretty good. You put your time in here, so they’re going give you a shot.”“A shot?”“Yeah, a shot. Speaking of which, I’m getting a little thirsty.” He pushed himself out of his chair and went into the house.I watched him walk away. Time to scratch that itch, I thought.
One of the most prominent names associated with Kentucky bourbon is Beam.The Beam family began making whiskey in 1795, but it was Jim Beam who put the product on the map, building the brand bearing his name after Prohibition.Today, Jim Beam bourbon and the company’s other varieties of spirits are among the most popular in the world.Jim Beam’s great-grandson, Fred Noe, has documented the colorful history of the family business and his rise from bottling line worker to Jim Beam master distiller.(Read an excerpt here.)“I thought about doing some other things but in my heart, I think, the bourbon making was there," he said.His book is called Beam, Straight Up: The Bold Story of the First Family of Bourbon. It was co-written with family friend Jim Kokoris.Fred Noe spoke with WFPL’s Rick Howlett.
Jeffersonville High School principal James Sexton has been assigned to lead Clark County Middle/High School after being put on paid administrative leave last week for reasons that were never publicly disclosed.Sexton is also running for Jefferson County Board of Education's District 7 seat.Greater Clark County Schools released the following statement Thursday night:On October 17, Mr. Sexton was placed on paid administrative leave. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Andrew Melin stated, “Placing Mr. Sexton on paid administrative leave was done to avoid any allegation of undue influence while I investigated management issues at Jeffersonville High School. There were no concerns related to illegal activities.”While acknowledging the improvements made in both the climate and academics at Jeffersonville High School over the past two years, both Mr. Sexton and Dr. Melin agree that they have management and instructional leadership philosophies that differ and that a change needs to occur. Greater Clark County Schools is in the process of expanding the corporation’s alternative program and Dr. Melin believes that Mr. Sexton’s management style will assist in broadening the program at Clark County Middle/High School. Mr. David Milburn, an Assistant Principal at Jeffersonville High School, will assume Interim- Principal responsibilities effective Monday, October 29, 2012.
A lawsuit filed in Jefferson Circuit Court seeks to kick Republican state Senate candidate Chris Thieneman off the ballot, citing residency issues.Thieneman is a Louisville businessman and political activist who is running against Democratic incumbent Perry Clark for 37th State Senate District seat.(Read the lawsuit here.)The suit was filed by Louisville resident Robert Walker this week and alleges Thieneman is not a legitimate candidate because he does not live in the 37th District, which is in southwest Louisville.Attorney Jennifer Moore is representing Walker. She says Thieneman lives in a condominium in the 33rd Senate District, which is in east Louisville."The voters of the 37th District deserve to have a choice between two qualified candidates to be on the ballot," she says. "It's absolutely unfair to these voters to have someone put their name on the ballot who is unqualified under the Kentucky Constitution."According to Jefferson County property records, Thieneman owns a home located at 2606 Alia Circle, but he lists a 7650 Dixie Highway address on his state Board of Elections paperwork.Several of Clark's supporters have said that location is a storage warehouse business, but Thieneman told The Courier-Journal's Mike Wynn he has an apartment in the building. The same issue came up during the Republican primary for the district, but a judge upheld his residency.The race has been closely watched in part because Thieneman has been able to out-raise Clark by a considerable margin. It has also become a nasty race, with the Kentucky Democratic Party launching a series of attack ads hitting Thieneman previously failed bids for public office and charitable work for kids with cancer.In a new 30-second spot, Thieneman stresses he is from the "South End" and says the General Assembly could use some "South End" values.Watch:The lawsuit also uses testimony from a neighbor of Thieneman’s to say the candidate actually lives at the Cliff View Condos on Brownsboro Road.The motion to remove him from the ballot is scheduled to be heard in court Friday afternoon.Thieneman could not be reached for comment.
Updated: Tonight's reading at 21C has been canceled due to Hurricane Sandy-related flight cancelations. Sarabande Books is working on rescheduling the event for 2013.Justin Torres' surprising and haunting debut novel "We the Animals" introduces us to three near-feral brothers and their young parents, a white mother and Puerto Rican father from Brooklyn who marry when the mother is only 14 and pregnant with the oldest boy. They move to a small town in upstate New York, where they are outsiders even among the other poor families, and struggle against the limitations of their poverty, lack of education and youth.“They’re these city kids, this mixed-race couple, in this tiny little town,” says Torres. “There aren’t many supporting characters in this book. There are the boys, and there’s Ma and Paps, and it’s very essential in that way. I wanted it to be, to emphasize the claustrophobia of the family, how much they rely on each other and how much they can’t escape each other.”(Read an excerpt of "We the Animals.")Torres will read from "We the Animals" Monday at the Sarabande Books reading series at 21C Museum Hotel. Poet Daniel Khalastchi, author of "Manoleria," will also read at the free event, which starts at 7:30 p.m. in the downstairs atrium. The brothers of "We the Animals" play together and rough each other up, and together they face the sink-or-swim parenting approach of their unpredictable Ma and Paps, who are loving and passionate, but also neglectful and violent at times. The boys are as physical and as close to each other as puppies in a box, not yet aware of how they are separate individual beings. The youngest boy, the one Torres doesn’t name, is the narrator.“I wanted him to be completely submerged in the family and in the identity of the brothers. I think that can happen with siblings, with three boys very close in age,” says Torres. “I think they can be able to communicate non-verbally, to understand each other so completely, and also their desires are all the same, they want a little more of everything, more food, more attention. Slowly, that all changes.”The Economics and Poetics of StyleThe style of the book is fiercely poetic, a muscular lyric compressed into a tight, economical package (the novel clocks in at a brief 125 paperback pages). Torres says he knew he and his editor clicked when (unlike other editors who had seen and liked his manuscript) she didn’t ask him to write another 100 pages. "I knew it had to be a short book,” says Torres. “The way that it’s structured, it’s very fragmented and kind of episodic. Every chapter, little episode, is like a flash of memory."“When I sent it out I thought, this is very unconventional, I wonder if anyone will publish it,” he adds. “I’m really glad that I didn’t [make the book longer]. It’s hard when you’re a first-time novelist, because you want to be published, but you also want to stick to your guns, stick to your principles. I knew the book needed to be short and function the way it does, but, you know, it was tempting to do what the big shots wanted me to.”Fact and FictionSticking to his guns worked out for Torres. He’s one of this year's Five Under Thirty-five, the National Book Foundation's high-profile short list of promising young authors selected by National Book Award winners and finalists.Torres says he never anticipated his novel, which he calls semi-autobiographical, receiving much attention as it has."I knew I was making fiction, and I knew I needed that kind of distance, but I didn’t think too much about how similar this family that I was creating was to my own,” he says. “I just assumed that’s what all writers did? I assumed you borrow from your life."Torres says while some of his family members were upset about parts of the book, ultimately, explaining to them why he wrote a novel so closely tied to their actual experiences helped him explain the need and desire to himself.“It’s been fascinating. My family has reacted in a way that has shocked me in their grace,” says Torres. “It took a lot of conversations about why I was doing this and why it was important for me to make art and make fiction from my personal experience. But I think that they get it now and that’s wonderful.”One of the novel’s most arresting chapters depicts the family swimming in a lake at night. The youngest boy and Ma can’t swim, and Paps, who has been holding them up, decides to abandon them to it in the middle of the lake, to literally sink or swim. Ma panics; the boy first sinks, then breaks triumphantly through to the surface. It’s a scene that makes an impression on readers.“That’s the one chapter that people always come up to me and are like ‘oh my God, when you got thrown in the water and you swam, were you so scared?’ That’s not me,” says Torres. “That chapter is a metaphor for a parenting style I was very familiar with, but nothing like that happened to me.”“I am very protective of my family. Although it might not seem like that, I am very protective of them. And this is not my family, this is a fictional family. I made myths out of family,” he adds.Growing PainsTorres is also experiencing the peculiar pains of a first book that becomes a runaway success—lots of reviews and critical conversations about his work. He’s working on his second book, but progress is slow.“All those voices need to quiet down significantly before I can do something new, and I want to do something new and different and fresh,” he says.
Excerpt from Justin Torres' new novel, We the Animals."Never-Never Time"We all three sat at the kitchen table in our raincoats, and Joel smashed tomatoes with a small rubber mallet. We had seen it on TV: a man with an untamed mustache and a mallet slaughtering vegetables, and people in clear plastic ponchos soaking up the mess, having the time of their lives. We aimed to smile like that. We felt the pop and smack of tomato guts exploding; the guts dripped down the walls and landed on our cheeks and foreheads and congealed in our hair. When we ran out of tomatoes, we went into the bathroom and pulled out tubes of our mother’s lotions from under the sink. We took off our raincoats and positioned ourselves so that when the mallet slammed down and forced out the white cream, it would get everywhere, the creases of our shut-tight eyes and the folds of our ears.Our mother came into the kitchen, pulling her robe shut and rubbing her eyes, saying, “Man oh man, what time is it?” We told her it was eight-fifteen, and she said f---, still keeping her eyes closed, just rubbing them harder, and then she said f--- again, louder, and picked up the teakettle and slammed it down on the stove and screamed, “Why aren’t you in school?”It was eight-fifteen at night, and besides, it was a Sunday, but no one told Ma that. She worked graveyard shifts at the brewery up the hill from our house, and sometimes she got confused. She would wake randomly, mixed up, mistaking one day for another, one hour for the next, order us to brush our teeth and get into PJs and lie in bed in the middle of the day; or when we came into the kitchen in the morning, half asleep, she’d be pulling a meat loaf out of the oven, saying, “What is wrong with you boys? I been calling and calling for dinner.”We had learned not to correct her or try to pull her out of the confusion; it only made things worse. Once, before we’d known better, Joel refused to go to the neighbors and ask for a stick of butter. It was nearly midnight and she was baking a cake for Manny.“Ma, you’re crazy,” Joel said. “Everyone’s sleeping, and it’s not even his birthday.”She studied the clock for a good while, shook her head quickly back and forth, and then focused on Joel; she bored deep in his eyes as if she was looking past his eyeballs, into the lower part of his brain. Her mascara was all smudged and her hair was stiff and thick, curling black around her face and matted down in the back. She looked like a raccoon caught digging in the trash: surprised, dangerous. “I hate my life,” she said.That made Joel cry, and Manny punched him hard on the back of the head.“Nice one, a--wipe,” he hissed. “It was going to be my f---ing birthday.”After that, we went along with whatever she came up with; we lived in dreamtime. Some nights Ma piled us into the car and drove out to the grocery store, the laundromat, the bank. We stood behind her, giggling, when she pulled at the locked doors, or when she shook the heavy security grating and cursed.She gasped now, finally noticing the tomato and lotion streaking down our faces. She opened her eyes wide and then squinted. She called us to her side and gently ran a finger across each of our cheeks, cutting through the grease and sludge. She gasped again.“That’s what you looked like when you slid out of me,” she whispered. “Just like that.”We all groaned, but she kept on talking about it, about how slimy we were coming out, about how Manny was born with a full head of hair and it shocked her. The first thing she did with each one of us was to count our fingers and toes. “I wanted to make sure they hadn’t left any in there,” she said and sent us into a fit of pretend barfing noises.“Do it to me.”“What?” we asked.“Make me born.”“We’re out of tomatoes,” Manny said.“Use ketchup.”We gave her my raincoat because it was the cleanest, and we warned her no matter what not to open her eyes until we said it was OK. She got down on her knees and rested her chin on the table. Joel raised the mallet above his head, and Manny squared the neck of the ketchup bottle between her eyes.“On the count of three,” we said, and we each took a number — my number was last. We all took the deepest, longest breath we could, sucking the air through our teeth. Everyone had his face all clenched up, his hands squeezed into fists. We sucked in a little more air, and our chests swelled. The room felt like a balloon must, when you’re blowing and blowing and blowing, right before it pops.“Three!”And the mallet swung through the air. Our mother yelped and slid to the floor and stayed there, her eyes wide open and ketchup everywhere, looking like she had been shot in the back of the head.“It’s a mom!” we screamed. “Congratulations!” We ran to the cupboards and pulled out the biggest pots and heaviest ladles and clanged them as loud as we could, dancing around our mother’s body, shouting, “Happy Birthday! . . . Happy New Year! . . . It’s zero o’clock! . . . It’s never-never time! . . . It’s the time of your life!”
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is defending Republican Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock and argues the GOP nominee's controversial comments on rape will not affect this year’s election results.Paul was in Louisville Thursday speaking to the Rotary Club, where he talked mostly about the gridlock in Congress, fiscal policy and foreign affairs. But the senator’s political action committee—Rand PAC—is stepping in the middle of the closely watched Indiana Senate race.Rand PAC is buying $100,000 worth of ads that reportedly attack Mourdock's opponent, Democratic Congress Joe Donnelly, for voting against legislation to block foreign aid to Pakistan.Paul says most of Indiana is pro-life, and the 2012 elections are more about jobs and the economy more than social issues."That’s why with the ads that we’re putting on in Indiana we have a six figure buy and we’re putting on ads that point out that Congressman Donnelly voted to send money to Pakistan when we have needs here at home that we think need to be met and we shouldn’t be sending more money to Pakistan," he says.In a message to Rand PAC supporters, Kentucky's junior Senator accuses the "liberal and medial elite" of unfairly targeting Mourdock in the aftermath of his remarks that rape pregnancies should not be an exception to an abortion ban because it is the will of God.Paul promises the ad against Donnelly will be "hard-hitting" and will shift focus on Donnelly's voting record and government spending."We’ve tried four years of government stimulus, $6 trillion worth of borrowing to try to stimulate the economy and it’s not working," Paul told WFPL. "The economy is not any better off than it was four years ago. I think people will make their decisions based on that."But while Paul argues this year's choice should be more about pocketbooks than culture wars, earlier this year Paul introduced a "fetal personhood" amendment that stalled a flood insurance bill in the Senate.From Huffington Post:The bill, which would financially boost the National Flood Insurance Program on the cusp of hurricane season, had been expected to pass easily in the Senate. But since Paul on Monday offered an unrelated "fetal personhood" amendment, which would give legal protections to fetuses from the moment of fertilization.(SNIP)Paul told reporters on Tuesday afternoon that he is "just trying to get a vote for people who elected me.""Can you believe that they're exasperated with me?" he said, responding to criticism of his attempt to attach the unrelated amendment. "If [Reid will] give me a freestanding vote, I'll take a freestanding vote any time."The highly controversial concept of fetal personhood raised by Paul's amendment could affect the legality of abortion, some forms of birth control, stem cell research and in vitro fertilization.The ad in support of Mourdock is expected to begin airing this weekend.UPDATE:In response, Donnelly campaign spokeswoman Elizabeth Shappell points out that in Rand PAC's message to supporters, Paul criticizes longtime Sen. Dick Lugar, R-In., and pressures Mourdock to clarify if he feels the same. "Joe Donnelly has visited our troops overseas several times and supports a strong national defense to keep America safe. To allude otherwise is irresponsible," she says. "Further, Sen. Paul called Sen. Lugar a member of the 'good ole boys' network this morning, so it would be interesting to know if Mr. Mourdock agreed with this assessment of Indiana's senior senator."
Kentucky State Auditor Adam Edelen will continue to do special audits of school districts, after three turned up a variety of issues.Reviewing education funding was one of Edelen's campaign promises last year. And so far, he’s made good by auditing Kenton, Mason and Breathitt County school districts. Those reports found poor documentation of funds and occasional misspending. “[I'm] focused on trying to right size school administrations, trying to make sure we have the appropriate culture in place. Making sure we are running our schools for the sole benefit of the children we’re trying to educate and the taxpayers who are paying the freight," Edelen told lawmakers Thursday, adding that he’ll continue doing the special audits as necessary. "We are going to continue to use a complaint based system, one that relies heavily on the people of Kentucky, on parents, on students, on people who are stakeholders in the system to report to us what they see, either for the better or for the worse," he said.Lawmakers said they support Edelen’s actions.
Louisville should hire a full-time violence prevention coordinator, do more to address vacant houses and foster more economic development in west Louisville, according to a report commissioned by Mayor Greg Fischer to find ways to address violence in Louisville.“This is not a mayor’s office program, this is not a police department program, this is not a parenting program. It takes all of us," said Fischer.The 37-member work group was created after three people were fatally shot in broad daylight in the Parkland neighborhood in May. Since then, five subcommittees have met to discuss how community building, education, employment, heath and criminal justice all play a role in the city's violence. At a news conference after the report's release, Fischer said the common themes of the report are youth, families and social norms.Each subgroup proposed various recommendations--nearly 80 in total--which Fischer's administration will review and use to create a long-term violence prevention strategy over the next six months.The report is just the beginning, said LaQuandra Nesbitt, task force chair and city health director. But, she said, Louisville is moving in the right direction.A leading youth violence prevention expert, Jack Calhoun, met with city officials to discuss the report. He said, "the report you have is a gold mine. Now the work is to shape that into an action plan of goals, objectives."Also among the Violence Prevention Work Group's recommendations are Louisville schools to implement violence prevention programs for children in pre-kindergarten to grade 12, more diversity training for teachers and intervention programs for young people who commit their first crimes, the report said.Read the Violence Prevention Work Group's report here.Fischer said Louisville has already begun addressing some issues related to violence, but metro government has yet to make a full plan -- and he called for community support in that process.Here are the 37 members of the task force:Chair Dr. Blaine Hudson, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Louisville (stepped down due to health issues)Vice Chair Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, Director of the Department of Public Health and Wellness (Current chair)Darrell Aniton, Louisville Metro Office of Youth DevelopmentMerv Aubespin, retired Courier-Journal editor and authorReverend Pedro Basden, Quinn Chapel AMECol. Kenton Buckner, LMPDDr. Kevin Cosby, pastor of St. Stephen’s ChurchBob Cunningham, civil rights leaderRaoul Cunningham, President of Louisville NAACPRalph De Chabert, Diversity Director for Brown Forman Corporation and Chair of Ali Center BoardChristopher 2X, community activistJudge Sean Delahanty, District Court JudgeWaymon Eddings, Chair for the Parkland Community Advisory BoardJudge Brian Edwards, Circuit Court JudgeTad Hughes, University of Louisville Southern Police InstituteDana Jackson-Thompson, Executive Director for Network Center for Community ChangeCouncilman David James, who represents Old Louisville and parts of west LouisvilleRev. Vincent James, Elim Baptist Church, located in the Parkland NeighborhoodDr. Ricky Jones, University of Louisville, Department of Pan African StudiesEleanor Jordan, President of the Parkland Neighborhood Improvement AssociationJames Leavell, Urban League, Reentry ProgrammingDr. Renee Mapp, Executive Director for Wesley House Community ServicesJohn Marshall, JCPS Diversity DirectorRhonda Mathis, Community ActivistState Rep. Darryl OwensTroy Pitcock, Louisville Metro Police FoundationNeal Robertson, community and neighborhood leaderChristina Shadle, Greater Louisville Inc.Councilman David Tandy, who represents downtown and parts of west LouisvilleSteve Tarver, President and CEO of YMCA Greater LouisvilleSam Watkins, President of Louisville Central Community CentersLavel White, Connected Voices youth leaderRichard Whitlock, Getting All PeopleJack Will, Executive Director for Jefferson County League of CitiesAubrey Williams, Sr., attorneySylvia Wright, Shawnee Weed & SeedDr. Tony Zipple, President & CEO of Seven Counties ServicesLouisville has already trained 60 people for a planned crisis response team, but the members still lack certification. Louisville Metro Police recently created a VIPER Unit intended to address the city's worst criminals. Chief Steve Conrad said that by arresting those worst offenders, communities will be able to change crime in their communities.WFPL's Devin Katayama is at the news conference, and we'll bring you more as it becomes available.