The Richmond Register

Viewpoints

August 24, 2013

A wild week in Frankfort

RICHMOND — Some weeks there simply is too much news to cover, at least when you’re a one-person bureau in a state capitol embroiled in legislative redistricting, political intrigue and sexcapades.

I wouldn’t be in this business if I didn’t love it, and at its best, it never really feels like work. How many people get paid to talk to all the interesting, the powerful and sometimes strange people I get to talk to?

As one of my journalism professors at Western Kentucky University told me years ago, “In this job, Tuesdays are never the same as Mondays.”

He was absolutely right, but in a week like this one, I would be happy enough to see Saturday instead of any of the days that precede it.

We began the week looking forward to a relatively smooth five-day special session of the General Assembly, which appeared ready to pass constitutional and reasonably fair redistricting plans. The only real intrigue appeared to be what a handful of House members placed into the same districts would do in the 2014 elections.

(Not to worry. Most of those decisions had been pretty much worked out in advance, regardless of what the affected lawmakers said to reporters.)

Then, late Monday, I listened to an unusual telephonic court hearing during which one federal judge made it pretty obvious this wasn’t going to be all that smooth. One of the issues was how to conduct special elections after the judges threw out the existing lines and prohibited their use in any future elections.

Suddenly it looked like we might be covering re-districting in federal court long after passage of the bill on Friday.

Then things got really interesting.

WFPL Radio in Louisville on Wednesday broke a blockbuster story about allegations of sexual misconduct by 68-year-old Rep. John Arnold, D-Sturgis. The details were sordid and pathetic, but there were more to come on Thursday as WFPL revealed still another complaint against the Union County lawmaker, who won his last race by a scant five votes.

Suddenly, the question of unexpected special elections to fill vacancies was no longer just an academic one. Those judges may have to resolve that question pretty quickly.

Then the Frankfort State Journal revealed the sexual abuse complaints included allegations that a couple of other lawmakers had romantic relationships with legislative staff. They denied it of course, but some of their colleagues didn’t seem very surprised by the news.

Thursday morning at the annual Kentucky Farm Bureau breakfast various pols answered questions — well, actually they danced around them — about whether they’d run for governor in 2015. Sen. Rand Paul blew me and another reporter off when we asked about the federal deficit having fallen by half, though you wouldn’t know it by listening to Paul.

“Does anyone else have any questions?” He responded.

Feverishly trying to get multiple stories written before deadline Thursday night, the phone started ringing. In my business, you never know who is on the other end and what they may have to say, so you answer.

Guess what? There are going to be law enforcement layoffs Friday and a legislator is about to announce he’ll seek statewide office.

But I’m two stories down, it’s nearly 8 p.m., I’ve got a column due Friday morning and on top of all that, the legislature is expected to pass that redistricting bill Friday.

Sleep? That’s a luxury I can’t afford right now.

Jim Highland was right. Tuesday (and Wednesday and Thursday) wasn’t at all like Monday. Yes, I’m whining, and it’s all very stressful and tiring.

But, hey, it ain’t boring.

Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.

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Viewpoints
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    All I ever wanted to be was a journalist. Having worked on my high school and college newspapers, I knew it was the career for me.
    I love talking to people, listening to their stories, being creative every day and experiencing new things. But as you know, news happens outside the hours of 9 to 5, and my job here at the Register rarely stayed within that time frame.

    June 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • Ike Adams They don’t make strawberries as they did back in the old days

    I’m not inclined to go through my archives at the moment, but it almost feels like the column I’m about to write has almost become an annual thing over the years.
    At least I know for sure that that this is not the first time that memories of picking strawberries there on Blair Branch on hot days in June has triggered this keyboard about this time of year.
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  • Ike Adams Baby boomers have let technology rob their grandchildren of the joys of youth

    When I was growing up, it was not uncommon to see fathers and sons along creek banks fishing together or in the woods hunting squirrels or pitching horse shoes or even shooting marbles late in the afternoon in the cool hours before dark.
    Dads were teaching kids to play the games they grew up with. Little girls, learned from mothers,how to skip rope, play with jacks or play hopscotch.

    June 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg No Lincoln or Douglas in this debate

    Remember the famous slap-down in the 1988 vice presidential debate when Republican Dan Quayle compared his youth and limited government experience to those of John Kennedy’s when Kennedy ran for president?
    His Democratic opponent, Texas Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, acidly replied: “I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”

    June 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg Senate campaign already in full bloom

    Any hope for a respite in the U.S. Senate campaign following Tuesday’s primary disappeared immediately.
    Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes came out swinging in victory speeches which sounded like campaign kickoffs.
    McConnell commended Matt Bevin on “a tough (primary) race” and appealed to Bevin supporters to unite behind his re-election bid. That will be hard for Bevin and those who backed him.

    May 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Waters.JPG ‘Taxpayer-eaters’ meet ‘self-serving politician-eaters’

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    Instead, legislators with serious courage deficiencies failed to agree on reforms beyond what they believe are “politically feasible.”

    May 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ike Adams Step Out, Step up for Diabetes Association

    Six weeks ago when I wrote here announcing the 2014 Edition of Team TKO’s American Diabetes Association, Step Out Walk Team, several dozen of you readers sent generous donations to sponsor grandson Tyler Kane Ochs (TKO) and me in the walk that takes place, rain or shine, in the mud or not, at Keeneland on the morning of May 31.
    Another several dozen of you either called, emailed or dropped a card in regular mail and asked that I remind you again “after the holidays” (Easter and Mother’s Day).

    May 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg Hitting the campaign trail

    The most watched race in the country ? the battle for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Mitch McConnell ? has so far produced a bevy of charges and not much substance.
    We haven’t seen that much of McConnell or his likely Democratic opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes out on the campaign trail.
    McConnell’s primary opponent Matt Bevin has been much more active and visible, but his performance hasn’t enhanced his chances.

    May 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • The case of the scary black cat

    If Margie didn’t believe that black cats were the harbinger of bad luck, she certainly believed it when a black cat brushed against her leg while she was leaning over a large trash can burning garbage one late afternoon.
    Startled by the sudden appearance of the feline, Margie opened her mouth wide and let out a blood-curdling scream that could have awakened Count Dracula himself.

    May 10, 2014

  • Ike Adams Basking in the spring sunshine

    If you had asked me, as recently as two weeks ago, to make a list of things I expected to see on the first Monday in May of 2014, two of the things that I actually did see would not have been on the list, even if you’d required that it contain at least 500 items.
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    May 8, 2014 1 Photo

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