Late Capitolism: GOP fires sex harassment whistleblower, Unemployment rises in 76 counties

House GOP Fires Sexual Harassment Whistleblower — “Daisy Olivo was the communications director for the House Republican caucus. Nearly a year ago she filed a lawsuit alleging she had been punished for sounding the alarm on an inappropriate relationship between then-House Speaker Jeff Hoover and a staffer. Olivo’s attorney, Shane Sidebottom, said that she wasn’t given an explanation for her dismissal on Friday. ‘Nothing was said. The security showed up at her office and they walked her out of the door today.'” [KRP]

(…Meanwhile…)

KY Lawmakers Honored for Protecting Survivors of Violence — The three-day Ending Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Conference wraps up today with special awards for people who have gone above and beyond to help victims. Executive Director of the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs Eileen Recktenwald says that includes kudos for state Sen. Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville, and Sen. Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville. [Public Service News]

Kentucky Healthcare Sign-Ups Lag — Open enrollment ends soon: December 15. And “the latest available data show fewer Kentuckians have purchased plans so far this year compared to the same time last year. During open enrollment this time last year, 27,979 Kentuckians had signed up for coverage, compared to 22,565 people so far this year.” [WFPL]

Hit me baby, one more time — Confederate statue once again vandalized, this time with a message to house the homeless and remove borders. Louisville “officials announced in August that the Castleman statue and another Confederate statue would be relocated by the end of the year. The removal announcement happened around the same time as the city of Charlottesville, Virginia, marked that a year had passed since a white nationalist rally that left a woman dead.” [AP]

Unemployment rates rise in 76 Kentucky counties — Per Kentucky Center for Statistics, from October 2017 to October 2018. Jobless rates fell in 34 counties, stayed the same in 10 counties. Counties with highest rates: Magoffin at 11.3 percent, Elliott at 7.4 percent, Harlan at 7.3 percent, Carter and Leslie at 7.2 percent, Clay and Owsley  at 7.1 percent, Knott and Wolfe at 6.9 percent. Counties with lowest rates: Woodford at 3.2 percent, then Campbell, Fayette, Oldham and Scott at 3.3 percent. Kenton, Shelby and Spencer at 3.4 percent. [AP]

Volunteers sought for foster care review boards — The Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts says it needs more volunteers to review cases of children in foster care. [AP]

Hep A confirmed in Winchester — The Clark County Health Department was notified Friday and is investigating a case involving a diagnosis of Hepatitis A in a food service worker at the Applebee’s, located at 1525 W. Lexington Ave. in Winchester. Customers who ate at the restaurant Nov. 14-25 are advised to get a hepatitis A vaccination. [Winchester Sun]

Educators to Lewis: Slow down on Kentucky grad req’s — “Despite pleas on Thursday from concerned educators, parents and business owners, Kentucky Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis is moving full-steam ahead on adopting Kentucky’s new high school graduation requirements. ‘I have had other people ask me what is taking so long,’ Lewis told reporters after Thursday’s public hearing on the issue.” [C-J]

Kentucky ranks fifth for overdose deaths in 2017. More than 70,000 died nationwide. — “A record 70,237 people died from drug overdoses in the United States in 2017, a 10 percent rise from the year before, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control. Kentucky’s death rate was ranked fifth in the nation behind West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. Twenty states, mostly in the upper Midwest, had death rates above the national average.” [H-L]

Need more needle exchange? — “Northern Kentucky Health also has people on hand should patients come in looking for help with their addiction. Northern Kentucky Health says about a quarter of the people they see have come back in looking for help with treatment.” [Pure Politics]

Massie still voting ‘no’ on everything… except maybe the Wall —  “I think the money that the President is asking for, for the wall, is going to eventually prove to be small in comparison to the welfare and the other issues we will have if we don’t do something about illegal immigration,” Massie told Spectrum. But “libertarian leaning Cato Institute say undocumented immigrants don’t impose much of a fiscal cost and that though they consume some public services, they are ineligible for almost all welfare benefits and entitlement programs” [Pure Politics]

Late Capitolism: KSU must hand over harassment docs, Another water wait in Letcher Co

AG to KSU: Give Kernal the docs – Well done, watch-pups. The Kentucky Attorney General ruled that Kentucky State University must give investigative documents pertaining to alleged sexual misconduct by a university employee over to the Kernel. [Kentucky Kernal]

Work on getting water to prison faces year delay –  “Design work is moving ahead for a water treatment plant to serve the new federal prison project at Roxana, but construction will have to wait for up to a year. In an engineering report to the Letcher County Water and Sewer District, Alan Bowman of Bell Engineering told the board guidelines were established Oct. 26 to move the design phase.” [Mountain Eagle]

Radcliff opposes clerk’s closure – Characterizing its residents and businesses as being “appalled, shocked and dismayed at the arbitrary decision,” Radcliff City Council unanimously endorsed a resolution Tuesday critical of the closure of the county clerk’s annex. [News-Enterprise]

Groups continue challenging Medicaid work rules – “Three advocacy groups say they will continue their legal challenge to new rules requiring Kentucky’s Medicaid recipients to get a job, go to school or volunteer to keep their benefits. The federal government first approved the new rules in January. The National Health Law Program, Kentucky Equal Justice Center and Southern Poverty Law Center sued to block the rules. In June, a judge agreed with them, ordering the Trump administration to reconsider the proposal.” [AP]

Late Capitolism: Trump re-approves KY Medicaid rules, Adkins stumps westward

Trump admin: Medicaid rules re-approved – Work requirements (or a suitable alternative) for Kentucky’s Medicaid population got another green light from the Trump administration after a judge blocked the state’s first attempt earlier this year. The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services said the new rules can begin as soon as April 1, will be phased in regionally over several months. [AP]

AG: PSC should ‘seriously consider’ merger – The Kentucky Attorney General’s Office of Rate Intervention told the Kentucky Public Service Commission recently that it should “seriously consider” a merger between the Southern Water & Sewer District and the Prestonsburg City Utilities Commission. [Floyd County Chronicle]

Adkins stumping – House Minority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, and running mate Stephanie Horne hosted a meet and greet in Bowling Green Tuesday, Nov. 20, to tout reform measures he would implement as governor. Also attending: Retired Simpson County judge Bill Harris, Reps. Wilson Stone, Jody Richards, and Patti Minter [WKU Herald]

Gun issues:

  • Guns at school – A former Betsy Layne High School student accused of bringing a gun on school property has been charged as an adult. [Floyd County Chronicle]
  • Mass shooting thwarted – Police believe a Lebanon man, armed with multiple weapons, planned to carry out a mass shooting before he was arrested Monday afternoon at a factory in Springfield. [News-Enterprise]
  • KET gun convo – Kentucky Tonight explored gun violence and mass shootings with guests Mark Bryant, executive director of the Gun Violence Archive; Rev. Nancy Jo Kemper of New Union Christian Church in Versailles; Kentucky Concealed Carry Coalition Vice-President Stephen McBride; and Ken Pagano, a National Rifle Association-certified firearm instructor and former Louisville pastor. [KET]

Farm cash receipts, 2015-2017 – Kentucky’s 75,800 farms produced nearly $5.7 billion in crops and livestock products in 2017 from their 12.8 million acres. [Lane Report]

Rural economy falls behind – A new report from the Brookings Institution shows how the rural-urban economic divide developed and offers ideas for closing it. [Rural Blog]

Wrastlin’ a wildcat  – In Old Kentucky Tales S4, Ep5: “My Teacher ‘Wrastled’ a Wildcat” Jason and Brent look at John “Wildcat” McKinney, an early teacher in Lexington, KY, who became a hero and legend for having fought off a ferocious bobcat who entered his classroom in 1793. I mean… Day made, right? [WKMS]

Late Capitolism: EPA regional head resigns, Beshear sues 9th opioid manu

KYGA19 prefiles roll in – Restoring voting rights to felons, repealing parts of workers’ comp law, and a bill allowing discrimination to smokers are all among new bills to be prefiled. [Pure Politics]

WKU enrollment still dropping – Reported a four percent decrease in total enrollment, according to the Fall 2018 Enrollment Report provided by the Office of Institutional Research. Even international student enrollment is down. [WKU Herald]

Ed Weeks take on Wayne Lewis – The Kentucky education chief has appealed to teachers across the state to stop sending him “incredibly nasty and disrespectful messages” over his proposal on charter schools. ICYMI: One email, obtained by the Louisville Courier-Journal, included a homophobic comment and said Lewis would “answer to the Lord one day and you know what’s going to happen if you don’t change your ways.” [Ed Week]

Beshear sues Insys – Maybe aggressively marketing a fentanyl-based, cancer-treatment mouth spray as a general painkiller isn’t a great idea to begin with, but it’s especially stupid when you push the product hard enough to prompt a U.S. Senate investigation and a federal $150 million settlement. So it shouldn’t be a surprise when Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear drags you into court, saying your company fueled the state’s drug epidemic (least-ways not when he’s already done the same thing to eight other opioid manufacturers). Barton’s got audio of the Beshear presser here: [WKMS]

Yarmuth pledges early allegiance – Maybe he’s angling for a chairmanship, maybe it’s Maybelline. Either way, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth says Nancy Pelosi is the only Democrat able to “hit the ground running” in leading the new Democratic-run House during a time when Democrats have a chance to show the country they can govern effectively. [AP]

Farm revenue could take a hit – Kentucky soybean farmers are expected to harvest a slightly larger yield than last year, but less than initially predicted. Excessive rain to make a dent in the returns on 2 million acres. [KPR]

EPA regional head resigns – The Environmental Protection Agency’s top regional official for the Southeast has resigned after a grand jury indicted him on ethics violations last week. Southeast Regional Administrator Onis “Trey” Glenn, who oversaw EPA enforcement for eight states including Kentucky, was indicted for multiple violations of Alabama’s Ethics Act, according to AL.com. Acting Administrator is now Andrew Wheeler. Free advice: Maybe don’t work with a coal company to stall the cleanup of a neighborhood where cancer-causing levels of arsenic were found.  [WFPL]

Trial arguments conclude for Kentucky’s controversial abortion law – A decision is still months away, but lawyers for Kentucky and EMW Surgical Center have finished their arguments for the trial of the new abortion law. [Pure Politics]

Battle ground to common ground: Louisville vet works to bridge communities a world apart

When Aaron Spalding arrived at the downtown branch of the Louisville Public Library on Thursday, he didn’t expect to be called a neo-Nazi. But that’s exactly what happened when the medically retired U.S. Army Staff Sergeant arrived with his buddy Ilya Chernyavskia to a meeting of the Louisville chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice, the mainly-white auxiliary arm of people in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Within minutes of his arrival, a social media sandstorm blasted across Facebook featuring the two with their openly-carried handguns in hip holsters, under a caption declaring their invasion.

T-Shirts

Aaron, left, and Ilya attend Thursday’s SURJ meeting to hear about racial justice activism in Louisville. Photo Credit: Meg Stern

But it wasn’t just the guns. It was also the tattoos.

Public speculation jumped to visions of swastikas, despite one supreme irony: Aaron’s ink is actually a tribute to his service in the 82nd Airborne Division–the same division whose legacy includes driving the Nazis out of the Netherlands, shoulder-to-shoulder with the famed 101st Band of Brothers.

Aaron describes himself as a staunch advocate for gun-ownership rights, and serves on the board of Kentucky Cards for Concealed Carry. Ilya is the president and director of all the group’s chapters in Kentucky.

“Honestly, I was shocked at how pleasant people were last night,” Aaron said on Friday. “Typically, pro-gun activists get less-than-friendly responses from groups like SURJ. However, I feel it is the gun groups who need to speak out more for cases like Philando Castile.”

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