Voter registration in Kentucky has closed for eligible voters, but Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is encouraging non-eligible voters to sign up for a mock election.“From the moment I could read I was reading precinct lists and the moment I could walk, walking door to door to help get out the vote on Election Day,” said Grimes.For those who aren’t working the polls or involved in politics early on Grimes says the mock election is a chance to show students how voting works and why it’s important. Schools, classrooms and individual students can sign up through the Secretary of State's website to cast their ballots next month.In 2008, nearly 100,000 Kentucky students cast their ballots in classrooms and at computers across the state. Forty-eight percent of the vote went to Republican John McCain’s ticket, while 47 percent voted for then-Senator Barack Obama’s ticket. Grimes said the mock election is a great way for schools to engage students in government and to instill the culture of voting in youth.“They may not be eligible to vote yet, but it’s important to instill in them the responsibility of being a citizen and making sure to be involved in issues that matter to them,” Grimes said.The mock election will be held Nov. 1. Registration for students will close on Oct. 31.Voter registration in Kentucky has closed for the Nov. 6 general election and Grimes says voter turnout estimates are expected to be released next week.
The task force Governor Beshear appointed to study Kentucky’s alcoholic beverage control laws will hold a series of public forums this week. Robert Vance, secretary of the Public Protection Cabinet and chairman of the 22-member panel that will prepare a report for the governor, says the meetings will be held in Somerset, Madisonville and at Northern Kentucky University. "We’ll basically be getting just feedback," Vance said. "And that feedback will be included in the report." Vance says the task force has been asked to look into three areas: the number and type of liquor licenses Kentucky issues, the effectiveness of local option laws and enhancement of public safety. He says many of Kentucky’s alcoholic beverage control laws have not been changed since Prohibition was abolished. Vance expects the panel will have a report on the governor's desk by January 15.
A federal court appearance is scheduled this week in Louisville for Stan Curtis, the man who received worldwide acclaim for his efforts to provide food to the needy. Curtis is accused of stealing donations from one of his charitable organizations. A bill of information issued last month accuses the 63 year old Curtis of mail fraud, money laundering and filing a false income tax return. Authorities say Curtis stole more than $180,000 in donations intended for USA Harvest, the food distribution charity he founded along with Kentucky Harvest and Blessings in a Backpack, which are not part of the case. Curtis is also accused of charging more than $370,000 in meals, travel and entertainment to USA Harvest and failing to report it as income. It appears likely that there will be a plea agreement in the case. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 52 years in prison. The 63 year old Curtis was said to be hospitalized with an infection at the time the charges were announced last month. He’s scheduled to appear in court Thursday before U.S. District Judge Thomas Russell.
Some 250 volunteers have signed up to help build a playground in just six hours at the Parkland neighborhood Boys and Girls Club on Tuesday.The project is a partnership between the Humana Foundation and a national non-profit organization called KaBoom, which has helped build over 2,100 playgrounds nationwide. The playground, which includes a community garden space, will be built next to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Kentuckiana's Parkland neighborhood club.“We want it to be used by the community. So not only will Boys and Girls Clubs members have access but we want all community members to have access," said President Jennifer Helgeson.The Parkland club was the second club reopened by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Kentuckiana after the Salvation Army closed three clubs last year.Helgeson said the decision to reopen Parkland came from the neighborhood’s lack of services.“With KaBoom’s application process they ask that playgrounds within a mile radius be listed and when we were looking at Parkland specifically we did not have any playgrounds to list," she said.Since its reopening, the Parkland club has registered about 300 members and is one of the Kentuckiana chapter’s most active clubs. The daily attendance is around 120, said Helgeson.The playground will be built between 9 am to 3pm over a 2,520 square foot space. The project is one of 18 playgrounds being built by Humana and KaBoom nationwide.
Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer is the only Republican serving as a constitutional officer in state government, and is frequently mentioned as a future gubernatorial candidate.Comer was elected to office with the highest number of votes among any candidate running in last year’s statewide election and he arrived at the agriculture department promising a new, bipartisan direction.The former state representative immediately partnered with State Auditor Adam Edelen to address a growing scandal left by his predecessor—former University of Kentucky basketball star Richie Farmer—who is now reportedly being investigated by the FBI.Since then, Comer has been trying to bring transparency and efficiency to the department while bridging the gap between Kentucky's rural and urban communities. He has also partnered with U.S. Sen Rand Paul, R-Ky., to legalize industrial hemp in the commonwealth, which both believe could be a new revenue stream.I talked to Comer about Farmer’s tarnished legacy, his own political future and how this summer’s drought impacted the commonwealth.
Louisville’s Senorise Perry ran for four touchdowns and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater threw for 304 yards and another score to lead the Cards to a 45-35 victory at Pittsburgh today. The Panthers led 21-17 at halftime but U of L scored three quick touchdowns in the third quarter to grab the lead for good and win their Big East Conference opener. They also snapped a four-game losing streak to Pitt. The 16th ranked Cardinals remain undefeated at 6-0 and are bowl-eligible for the third straight season. Pittsburgh falls to 2-4 overall and 0-3 in conference play. It was the teams’ final Big East matchup. Pittsburgh joins the Atlantic Coast Conference next season. Louisville returns home next weekend to take on South Florida. The Kentucky Wildcats dropped their fifth game in a row, losing at Arkansas 49-7 in a game that was halted with just over five minutes left in the third quarter because of lightning. UK, now 1-6 on the season, returns to Commonwealth Stadium next Saturday to face Georgia. And in Bloomington, eighth-ranked Ohio State held off the Indiana Hoosiers 52-49.
The Louisville AIDS Walk is this Sunday, and for many, it's a time of solidarity and celebration. But AIDS activism in Louisville faces a big challenge: apathy. There are more people living with HIV in Louisville now than ever before, but the disease doesn't make the headlines it once did. One thing that hasn't changed as much as activists want is the stigma that comes along with living with, being tested for, or even talking about HIV and AIDS. And we know the effects are racially disproportionate; African Americans make up 32% of HIV cases in Kentucky, even though only 7.7% of the commonwealth's population is black.This week on Strange Fruit, we spoke with Brad Hampton, director of the AIDS Walk, about what we can expect this year (hint: wear red!). Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, director of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness, gave us the stats on the HIV racial disparity in our city, and some of the reasons why it may be so broad. Chicago-based poet Tim'm T. West explores the difficulty of telling a new partner you're HIV positive—and some of the reactions that may follow—in his piece "Umm... Okay." It's featured in the anthology For Colored Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Still Not Enough.We also met Gary, an African-American gay man living with HIV for the past seven years. He told us the story of his diagnosis and offered some advice that it seemed could apply to us all, regardless of HIV status: Openly communicate with your partner, even about difficult subjects, and value yourself enough to make your life and your health a priority.
The vice presidential debate at Centre College on Thursday night was viewed by millions of television viewers worldwide. Two of our own reporters - WFPL's Political Editor Phillip M. Bailey and Kentucky Public Radio’s Kenny Colston - were there in person to watch the 90-minute debate between vice president Joe Biden and Republican nominee Paul Ryan. They were also part of the media throng at Centre College for several hours both before and after the debate. Bailey and Colston talked about their experience this past Friday on Byline.
A producer with MSNBC's award-winning prison documentary series "Lockup" says Louisville Metro Corrections Director Mark Bolton made inaccurate statements about the city’s contract with the cable news network.The series began filming at the city jail earlier this year, and its season debut Saturday will feature footage from the corrections department. Bolton told WFPL in a telephone interview that Metro Corrections was given final edit approval and that his department had received $20,000 from the show for leadership development.But MSNBC spokeswoman Wessie Vieria says Bolton’s claims are not true, and the cable network never gave Metro Corrections the rights to final editorial control of the show’s content."MSNBC does not ever give any editorial control to the people who appear in the stories and it was not different in this case. MSNBC and NBC News have final editorial control over every episode of Lockup and that is very, very clearly stated in our agreements with the jails and the prison," she says.According to a contract between the city and Lockup producers obtained by WFPL that was signed by Bolton on March 6, the city has a right to request the removal of certain footage if it is deemed as a safety risk to corrections staff, but the department cannot control content.In regards to any payments, the agreement states that "Lockup" would reimburse Metro Government for any additional security that the film crew may require. But MSNBC says no funding was given for officer or staff training, and that the $20,000 went to pay for their own security while filming the documentary."According to our executive producer MSNBC makes no payments to anyone on the program. The only exception to that is that in the case of shooting stories in the prisons when we bring our crew in we hire security escorts to come in with each member of the crew," says Vieria. "And that’s just for the personal safety. And the reason that Lockup pays for it is because they don’t want the prisons to have to incur that cost."Bolton could not be reached for comment.
Australian conductor Sarah Ioannides will conduct Schwantner From Afar: Fantasy for Guitar and Orchestra for the Louisville Orchestra concert this evening. This afternoon on Byline she spoke with WFPL's Erin Keane about her career in music.
A local environmental attorney is challenging the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet over statements officials made earlier this week at a conference.The contentious point revolves around a comment Energy and Environment Secretary Len Peters made during a session at the cabinet’s annual conference earlier this week. Here’s how his comments were summarized in a story by Jim Bruggers of the Courier-Journal.In a discussion about smog, Peters said the current ozone standards are about as stringent as they should be.He questioned the wisdom behind a Clean Air Act requirement that the standards be examined every five years to make sure they protect public health. That process, based on an EPA review of medical science, typically results in more stringent standards.Peters predicted it would be “tremendously costly” to further reduce ozone levels, and said the health benefits would be “questionable.”Kentucky Resources Council Director Tom FitzGerald responded with an opinion piece in the newspaper. In it, he cites facts and studies about air quality and concludes:The statement that further tightening of the ozone standard would be of questionable benefit is quite simply wrong. Peer-reviewed research published in the journal of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences reports that the potential human health benefits of tightening the standard to the range recommended by the Clean Air Science Advisory Committee (between 70 and 60 parts per billion) would “result in dramatic public health benefits,” and that the annual number of avoided deaths during the years 2005-07 at 70 ppb would have been between 1,040 and 1,650; and between 3,800 and 5,510 at the 60 ppb range.The suggestion by Secretary Peters that the process of periodic review of these public health air quality standards, which has since 1970 resulted in significant improvement in air quality, is somehow flawed or unwise, raises a legitimate question as to whether new leadership more committed to the goals and principles of the Clean Air Act and other environmental regulatory programs may be needed.FitzGerald has freely criticized the Beshear administration before on environmental issues—like when he resigned from two state boards last December—and he says the administration has thus far been “very disappointing” on the environment.But Energy and Environment Cabinet officials say Peters’ remarks were taken out of context. Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bruce Scott didn’t dispute the Courier-Journal’s account of the conference, but said it didn't include all the necessary context. In a phone conversation, he said Peters’ remarks were in response to a hypothetical question, and the secretary values the Clean Air Act.“If they want to try to spin it now, they can spin it all they want to,” says FitzGerald, who wasn’t at the conference session, but double-checked to make sure the reporting in the Courier-Journal was accurate.“That’s my understanding of what was said and it’s my understanding that it was not hypothetical in any fashion,” he added.Scott says the Clean Air Act creates a logistical problem for regulators because it’s reevaluated every five years. Standards are always delayed for various reasons (like litigation or paperwork), and the tight timeline makes it difficult for the cabinet to implement one standard before another one comes along.For the record, the federal government is responsible for setting the air quality standards. In Kentucky, the Energy and Environment Cabinet (or, in Louisville, the Air Pollution Control District) is required to participate and meet the standards, or can step aside and let the federal government implement the plan for them.
Green Party vice presidential candidate Cheri Honkala has been touring Kentucky this week to draw attention to issues that are not being discussed in the campaign as well as speak out against the debate at Centre College.Several demonstrations were held before the debate in Danville, Ky. on Thursday, including rallies to draw attention to access while others addressed issues of poverty and austerity measures. The Presidential Debate Commission barred Honkala and other third party candidates from participating alongside Vice President Joe Biden and Republican Congressman Paul Ryan.The commissions rules dictate that in order for third party candidates to be included they must poll at least 15 percent among registered voters.Honkala says the commission is the problem and should include more perspectives so that all Americans can have their views represented."I was outraged when I found out that myself and (running mate) Dr. Jill Stein have not been allowed into the debates, especially because we worked really hard to get on the ballot in about 38 states and 85 percent is eligible to vote for us," she says.Democracy Now hosted a third party candidate forum Friday following the debate between Biden and Ryan, featuring Honkala and Justice Party vice presidential nominee Luis Rodriguez.Watch:Other third party candidates running for president this year include former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson is running as a libertarian and Constitutional Party candidate Virgil Goode. But candidates outside the two-party system have had trouble being included in the debates since Texas billionaire Ross Perot was in 1992.Honkala says keeping candidates out means important discussions on the banking system, homelessness and the use of aerial drones were missed at yesterday’s debate."But how can even develop the political will if our elected leaders totally stay away from talking about homelessness or poverty altogether in our country? And then in terms of foreign policy all that both Biden and Ryan talked about last night was who is meaner, and leaner and tougher," she says.Honkala is scheduled to be in Louisville Friday for a meet and greet in the Old Louisville neighborhood.The Green Party ticket will appear on the presidential ballot in Kentucky this fall.
As the dust settles on this year’s vice presidential debate at Centre College, local officials are saying the school is ready for the next step. Centre College has now held two vice presidential debates: this year’s and 2000's.Those debates will be historically known for two different styles between candidates—Vice President Dick Cheney and Senator Joe Lieberman were cordial in 2000, while Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan were much feistier this year. But behind the scenes, both debates are known for how smoothly everything ran.After the two wildly successful matchups, some officials say it may be time for Centre to get a presidential debate.“I think it would be great," says Attorney General Jack Conway. "I think President Roush and what this campus and what this community have done, has certainly shown they are ready for primetime, they’ve done it now twice."Other officials are just hopeful that Centre could become a vice presidential debate mainstay in the future.“I would settle if they would promise another vice presidential debate, you know I think it’s good. And I think the connection with two vice presidents of the United States having gone to school here is a good connection and I think this is about the right size,” says state Senate President David Williams.Centre has applied to host a presidential debate in the past, but has been chosen for vice presidential contests instead.
Here is the rundown for today's edition of Byline:At the top - The world is talking about the vice presidential debate last evening in Danville, and WFPL was represented by Phillip Bailey and Kenny Colston, who discuss the media circus, the atmosphere in Danville, and of course the debate itself.13:30 - Earlier this week, WFPL hosted a public debate between third congressional candidates Brooks Wicker and incumbent John Yarmuth. Phillip Bailey and Kenny Colston review and contrast some of the more interesting points of disagreement between the two.19:30 - The Courier-Journal recently brought attention to the struggling financial picture at the Kentucky Center for African-American Heritage. WFPL's Rick Howlett sat down with Board Chairman Raymond Burse, and Board member Sue McNally, to discuss the history of the organization, how things are going, and future plans to address the finances there.27:40 - Matthew Sleeth is a medical doctor and Christian thinker who has written extensively about the Bible's connection to protecting the environment. He argues that Christian morals are deeply aligned with conservation and environmentalism. Sleeth speaks Saturday at the “Healthy Foods, Local Farms” Conference in Louisville. He discusses his work with WFPL's Jonathan Bastian.32:00 - Kentucky Public Radio's Kenny Colston discusses Kentucky's underfunded pension system. Various proposals to address the problem are on the table, but lawmakers may not have much time to come to a compromise.36:30 - Arts segment with WFPL's arts and humanities reporter, Erin Keane. A few local arts events are highlighted for this weekend, then Erin speaks with Sarah Ioannides, guest conductor for the Louisville Orchestra concert this evening.