Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)


February 15, 2012

From the penthouse to the outhouse

Feb. 15, 2012 —     Please excuse the colorful language in our headline but, at this point, those appear to be the starting and ending points of the 2012 Kentucky General Assembly.

    Instead of putting public good above political gain, the backroom politicians at the Capitol convinced the House Democratic leadership and the Republican Senate leadership to take the unethical practice of gerrymandering to a new low point in our history.

    Political payback almost reached the level of an art form as boundary lines zigged and zagged and district numbers changed without rhyme or reason.

    As a result of those shameful acts, the legislative process now is seriously gridlocked as the leaders in both chambers try to untangle the redistricting mess, ruled unconstitutional and summarily discarded by a brilliant, courageous judge.

    In our view, Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd deserves the gratitude of every citizen in Kentucky for telling the lawmakers to do it right or go back to the old district boundaries.

    We wanted to applaud when the judge wrote in his ruling that the discredited redistricting bill was clearly a case of the cure being worse than the disease.

    The Kentucky Supreme Court will be the next stage for this publicly-financed theatre of the absurd. The justices likely will hear arguments next week.

    Alison Lundergan Grimes, our promising new secretary of state and chief state elections officer, is getting four years of experience in her first year in office as the court orders, candidacy papers and filing deadlines come and go.

    Virtually nothing is being accomplished in the legislature because few, if any, members are willing to vote on controversial issues until they know who will be running against them.

    And that can’t be determined until a new redistricting plan passes muster with the courts and the incumbents and challengers know when to file and where to campaign.

    All of this means there may not be enough time in the 60-day session for important issues like giving our citizens the opportunity to vote on expanded gambling or making it tougher to buy ingredients for meth labs or protecting vulnerable children with stricter accountability for the adults in their lives.

    Or raising the public school dropout age to 18, or giving tax credits to those willing to invest in more jobs in local businesses, or passing a two-year state budget that does the least possible damage to public education, social services, and public safety.

    The mess in Frankfort brings to mind a warning sounded long ago:

    “No man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the legislature is in session.”

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