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August 12, 2016

August 12, 2016

Journalists from around the state discuss news of the day with host Bill Bryant. Scheduled guests: Linda Blackford, enterprise reporter, Lexington Herald-Leader; Tom Loftus, Frankfort bureau chief, Louisville Courier-Journal; and Lawrence Smith, reporter, WDRB-TV in Louisville.
S42 E41 Length 26:32 Premiere: 8.12.16

News of the Week: August 12, 2016

The dog days of August have provided no relief from the heat or the political news. The panel on this week’s Comment on Kentucky recapped the 2016 Fancy Farm picnic, reviewed new university board appointments, and detailed the restructuring of three state commissions.

Senate Race Headlines Fancy Farm
Tom Loftus of the Courier-Journal and Lawrence Smith of WDRB-TV in Louisville agree that U.S. Senate candidate Jim Gray survived his Fancy Farm debut despite getting no backup from Democratic office-holders. Gray and two other down-ballot Democrats faced the Republican-heavy roster of speakers after Attorney General Andy Beshear, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, and state House Speaker Greg Stumbo declined to appear at the political picnic this year.

With fewer Democrats holding statewide office, some are concerned that Fancy Farm could lose its bipartisan spirit and crowds. Smith says attendance for the Aug. 6 picnic was down because fewer Democrats showed up. The event had huge success in 2014 thanks to interest in the Mitch McConnell-Alison Grimes Senate race, and in 2015 with the gubernatorial campaign. Loftus says Fancy Farm organizers should have low expectations for the 2017 picnic because there are no major elections in the state next year.

The contest between Gray and Republican incumbent Rand Paul was the marquee race at this year’s Fancy Farm. Smith says Gray successfully plowed through his speech, which focused on Paul’s presidential aspirations. Gray argued that Paul is more committed to running for higher office than to serving Kentuckians. Paul devoted most his remarks to attacking President Obama and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, according to Smith.

As the Senate race moves into full swing, Smith says Gray is eager to debate Paul. The senator has agreed to appear with Gray this fall, but Smith says Paul has yet to commit to how many debates he’s willing to do. He adds that Paul seems to prefer town hall meetings where he can interact directly with voters. Smith says the Republican has conducted 80 such forums across the commonwealth since dropping out of the presidential race in February.

Higher Education Issues
On Friday Gov. Matt Bevin announced 17 appointments to the governing boards of the state’s public universities and community college system. Linda Blackford of the Lexington Herald-Leader says Bevin’s selections will fill expired terms or open seats on those boards.

The most prominent name on the list, according to Blackford, is Kelly Knight Craft, who will join the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees. Craft is a leading GOP fundraiser who was appointed by President George W. Bush to the American delegation of the United Nations General Assembly session in 2007. Blackford says Craft is the state fundraising chair for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, and she is the wife of coal magnate Joe Craft, who has donated significant moneys to UK Athletics over the years.

Friday’s board appointments did not include the University of Louisville, where a legal battle continues about that school’s governance. A judge recently placed a temporary hold on a new board of trustees that Gov. Matt Bevin created in June. But critics of UofL’s previous board contend that group wasn’t legal either because it lacked the mandated political composition and racial diversity. Lawrence Smith says Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd wants the two factions to come to an interim agreement so that the old board can meet until the lawsuit challenging Bevin’s authority to re-create the UofL board can be resolved.

The University of Kentucky is facing its own legal fights. Blackford says UK will appeal two recent decisions by the Kentucky attorney general’s office that the school violated the state’s Open Records and Open Meetings Acts. The records action pertains to the Kentucky Kernel’s request for information about a professor accused of sexual harassment. Blackford says the open meetings case involves a UK Board of Trustees dinner where business was discussed but no minutes were recorded.

Blackford says access to public university records and meetings is becoming problematic. She says as higher education becomes corporatized, governing boards want more discussions held behind closed doors so decisions can be made without much public input.

Frankfort News
On Tuesday, Aug. 9, Gov. Bevin consolidated three state boards into one new body. Tom Loftus says Bevin abolished the Kentucky Board of Claims, Board of Tax Appeals, and the Crime Victims Compensation Board and replaced them with a new Kentucky Claims Commission. The move reduces eight board positions down to three and is expected to save the state $350,000 a year.

Loftus says the new commission will hear the claims that would previously have been brought to the separate boards. He says appointments to the old boards were plum jobs because they were among the few state board positions that received pay and benefits. Loftus says that in addition to reducing the overall number of board members, Bevin also lowered the salaries for those serving on the new panel.

The state Legislative Ethics Commission unanimously dismissed a complaint against Sen. Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown). Loftus says Thayer had been accused of improperly securing free tickets to a hospitality tent at the annual Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event at the Kentucky Horse Park. Loftus says the ethics panel found no violation by Thayer since the hospitality tent was operated by the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation, an independent, non-profit entity that does not lobby the legislature.

Loftus says current ethics guidelines allow non-profits that don’t employ lobbyists to give meals and entertainment to lawmakers. Thayer argued the charges were politically motivated since a former Democratic Party chairman in Scott County filed the compliant.

The opinions expressed on Comment on Kentucky and in this program synopsis are the responsibility of the participants and do not necessarily reflect those of KET.

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Comment on Kentucky

About Comment on Kentucky

KET's longest-running public affairs program has been assembling journalists to offer perspectives on the week's news and newsmakers since 1974. The program is hosted by Bill Bryant.

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Season 42 Episodes

October 28, 2016

S42 E52 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 10.28.16

October 21, 2016

S42 E51 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 10.21.16

October 14, 2016

S42 E50 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 10.14.16

October 7, 2016

S42 E49 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 10.7.16

September 30, 2016

S42 E48 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 9.30.16

September 23, 2016

S42 E47 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 9.23.16

September 16, 2016

S42 E46 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 9.15.16

September 9, 2016

S42 E45 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 9.9.16

September 2, 2016

S42 E44 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 9.2.16

August 26, 2016

S42 E43 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 8.26.16

August 19, 2016

S42 E42 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 8.19.16

August 12, 2016

S42 E41 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 8.12.16

August 5, 2016

S42 E40 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 8.5.16

July 29, 2016

S42 E39 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 7.29.16

July 22, 2016

S42 E38 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 7.22.16

July 15, 2016

S42 E37 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 7.15.16

July 8, 2016

S42 E36 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 7.7.16

July 1, 2016

S42 E35 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 7.1.16

June 24, 2016

S42 E34 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 6.24.16

June 17, 2016

S42 E33 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 6.17.16

June 10, 2016

S42 E32 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 6.10.16

June 3, 2016

S42 E31 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 6.3.16

May 27, 2016

S42 E30 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 5.27.16

May 20, 2016

S42 E29 Length 26:53 Premiere Date 5.20.16

May 13, 2016

S42 E28 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 5.13.16

May 6, 2016

S42 E27 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 5.6.16

April 29, 2016

S42 E26 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 4.29.16

April 22, 2016

S42 E25 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 4.22.16

April 15, 2016

S42 E24 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 4.15.16

April 8, 2016

S42 E23 Length 26:39 Premiere Date 4.7.16

April 1, 2016

S42 E22 Length 26:36 Premiere Date 3.31.16

March 25, 2016

S42 E21 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 3.25.16

March 18, 2016

S42 E20 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 3.18.16

March 11, 2016

S42 E19 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 3.11.16

March 4, 2016

S42 E18 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 3.4.16

February 26, 2016

S42 E17 Length 26:34 Premiere Date 2.26.16

February 19, 2016

S42 E16 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 2.19.16

February 12, 2016

S42 E15 Length 26:36 Premiere Date 2.12.16

February 5, 2016

S42 E14 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 2.5.16

January 29, 2016

S42 E13 Length 26:35 Premiere Date 1.29.16

January 22, 2016

S42 E12 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 1.22.16

January 15, 2016

S42 E11 Length 26:34 Premiere Date 1.15.16

January 8, 2016

S42 E10 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 1.8.16

January 1, 2016

S42 E9 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 1.1.16

December 18, 2015

S42 E7 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 12.18.15

December 11, 2015

S42 E6 Length 26:35 Premiere Date 12.11.15

December 4, 2015

S42 E5 Length 24:51 Premiere Date 12.4.15

November 27, 2015

S42 E4 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 11.27.15

November 20, 2015

S42 E3 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 11.20.15

November 13, 2015

S42 E2 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 11.13.15

November 6, 2015

S42 E1 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 11.6.15

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