Sunday, March 29, 2009

Advice for Conway & Mongiardo

I'm always amazed how seemingly educated people can be as dumb as a box of rocks when it comes to politics in Kentucky. The issues that are important to Kentuckians cover a wide range. It is rare that your going to find anyone in Rural Kentucky agreeing on issues with Louisville, Lexington and Northern Kentucky. I have seen polling data for years that would argue against my position but the polling data doesn't vote and is usually wrong. Polling data is framed and spun usually to get the desired result for anybody but the candidate. When it comes to voting people in Rural Kentucky know what's important to them and it ain't going to be what some polling data conjured up.

It was brought to my attention that a person who is very interested in being a U.S. Senator had a private meeting with some potential supporters this past week in Western Kentucky. When it came time to discuss issues important to the area like agriculture, this candidate offered up and tried to convince the folks that one of best things farmers could do would be to support the thoroughbred and racing industry. No really it was the topic. Some where in this delusion there is supposed to a nexus between the agriculture industry and racing horses. This is brilliant. Why didn't we see this? How did all of us from the hinterland miss this?

I'm going to make this real simple for Jack and Daniel. It's not real hard to understand or to keep up. Here we go- There are not any farmers in Western Kentucky who give a damn about the thoroughbred industry, the racing industry, Keeneland, Churchill Downs or the Kentucky Derby Festival Week. With me so far. Ok, lets move on.

Farmers are Rural peeeople and tend to be very CONSERVATIVE. They don't go to the track they go to CHURCH. They don't GAMBLE they Tithe. Very few people down here know, understand or care about Derby Week. We don't celebrate those kind of weeks. Just so you know we take time out for the weeks of deer season, Easter Week, and the week of the County Fair. You know, that stuff that goes on in that big barn at the State Fair where Ritchie Farmer hangs out. Yep, that's the place.

If your going to come down to Western Kentucky and score some points you might want to consider what people want from a U.S. Senator. Agriculture, the Farm Bill and Ethanol would be a good issues to brush up on. Now keep in mind the farmers down here are all about corn and ethanol. Farmers are not interested in having a discussion about it they just want to know that your for it and will keep pumping millions of dollars into it. Corn equals dollars. We know that ethanol has driven the price of corn up and in turn raised the cost of feeding pigs and cattle. We know the cost of feeding a hog as gone up almost 100% in the last couple of years. We know that ethanol has driven food prices up and is effecting poor hungry people around the world. We know it's not energy efficient. We know what the gasoline equivalent is to raise the crop. We know-We just don't care and if your smart you won't care either.

Coal. Real simple here. Your motto is our motto. "Dig it, haul it, burn it". Were not interested in clean coal technology, mountain top removal and any of that global warming crap. We got it and we want to sell it now!! You just have to figure out how to help us do it.

Veterans and Military. Lots of these folk in Western Kentucky. They want to hear about the benefits they earned and providing for a well trained, well equipped military. You might keep in mind that Fort Campbell alone writes over 5 Billion dollars a year in checks. That's Billion with a "B". Pretty big industry for which you might want to brush up on. You might even come up with a plan to see if we can get a lot more of the 5 Billion since most of it is going else where.

Guns: Your for them. You hate people who are against them. You will fight like hell to keep the Liberal Democrats away from our guns and ammunition. You would gladly give up your life defending a Kentuckians right to own as many machine guns as they please. What ever you do don't mention Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid. We despise them.

God and Jesus- It's ok to talk about how much you love Jesus because you won't offend anyone down here. Just make sure that none of your ancestors were part of the mob that murdered Jesus. That issue did not play out so well for someone I know in Frankfort. Your going to need a few Baptist Ministers so make sure you have a few on the payroll.

Abortion- Simple. Your against it.

Well that should get you two started. Don't let some consultant or DNC hack try to convince you that anyone down here wants the Federal Government to solve the heath care issues. Stay away from taxes and from the environment unless it concerns the LBL or habitat for Ducks and Wild Turkeys. Keep in mind that no one down here cares about what the rest of Nation thinks or for that matter Lexington, Louisville or Northern Kentucky. I wish you both the best of luck.

A Democrat Primary for Senate or Not

I find the race for U.S. Senate some what interesting as of late although nothing has really occurred that has surprised me or anybody else. In one sense I feel some what sorry for Lt. Gov. Daniel Monjiardo because here is a guy who almost won the Senate seat and then stepped up to the plate for Steve Beshear so he could have a running mate. I feel pretty sure that Mongiardo was smart enough to get a commitment in blood regarding an endorsement in this race in return for having agreed to run with him.

With all that said I also raised my eyebrows at the lack luster endorsement Mongiardo received from Governor Beshear. Granted Beshear is in a precarious position since most believe that every big gun in the State is for Jack Conway. While I don't have a dog in the fight I can say that Conway is the better candidate in my humble opinion. Conway impressed me in the General election by rebounding from a very poor primary campaign in West Kentucky. In the First Congressional District- Conway carried 11 counties by 70% of the vote. Led the Ticket in 19 counties and was the second biggest vote getter in 4 counties. As I have previously mentioned, Conway tailored his media for Rural Kentucky and reached everyone by hitting the radio hard. Yes, I think Conway gets it when it comes to winning in Rural Kentucky at a time when most don't or don't care to.

Monjiardo as well as Beshear have failed to live up to expectations not to mention living up to promises that were made to folks in Western Kentucky. This will hurt Monjiardo and for Beshear, well we will just have to wait and see. As I try to look at this objectivly I guess I'm a little disappointed that Gov. Beshear is not all out for Monjiardo because I value loyalty and standing behind your friends. The majority of Beshear organization is already with Conway but that should not matter. If Governor Beshear wants a second term and re-build a Democrat Party then he should be putting the full weight of his office behind Lt. Governor Daniel Mongiardo. It's called loyalty even if it is in a losing effort.

As I spent thousands of dollars & at my own expense campaigned for the Democrat Ticket in 2007 which provided me many opportunities to listen to Gov. Beshears favorite stump speech. Gov. Beshear was fond of telling the story about his father being a minister and an undertaker and how his father always said "He had you coming and going". Well as they say the fruit don't fall to far from the tree and for Mongiardo's sake I hope Beshear does not have everyone "coming and going". For the record I did not vote for Mongiardo for Senate. I voted for Bunning.

I found myself wondering this weekend if there was really even going to be a Senate race for the Democrats. It would make sense to me that since the prevailing belief is that Chandler and Yarmuth are for Conway along with many others, is all this just theatrics?

Could Chandler and Yarmuth both be prodding President Obama to appoint Mongiardo to some nice position in Washington so Conway and the Democrats can avoid a costly Primary? I'm sure President Obama would like to pick up another Senate Seat and most think this is the one to get.

Umh-interesting scenario I think.

Monday, March 9, 2009

HB 383 & the KHSAA

First, as someone who has been involved and coached high school football in Kentucky for over 20 years let me say that this is an important issue but it has been addressed in the wrong way by the wrong folks. I can understand and appreciate Legislators wanting to step up to the plate after the death of a football player. One should not just jump to conclusions as everyone across the Commonwealth has done. The Courier Journal has finally given another side of story in which they had pretty near convicted Coach Stinson without a trial. I'm sure if the CJ had their way we would all be picking daisies and playing soccer. I will make a few points then I will editorialize.

HB-383 -Nothing really wrong with this bill except that it assumes that coaches are stupid and there are no procedures or knowledge regarding heat stroke in place. Most schools have a whirl pool or access to ice to cool a player down. Some schools have defibrillators, we have one at Hopkinsville High and CPR covers how to use one. They are expensive and even having one on site may mean taking up to 10 minutes to get it. Our practice fields and facilities are spread out. Point being a coach is better off dialing 911.

Having been a volunteer and a para-professional for many years I will tell you what other coaches will not. Were not Doctors or trainers. If coaches are honest they will tell you if a situation goes south they are going to dial 911. Once again let me say it, when in doubt dial 911. Its what they do. A couple hours of CPR are not going to get the job done and no coach regardless of mandatory training is going to do something that could maybe worsen an athletes medical situation. If a coach does not have an ATC on the field dial 911.

This is not an issue with some schools. We are lucky enough in the Pennyrile to have ATC's working at our schools to handle situations. Dr. David Bealle and Western Kentucky Sports Medicine along with Trover Clinic provide certified trainers to our schools. Many of these trainers have extensive backgrounds ranging from experience with Division 1 schools to professional and minor league organizations. We have whirl pools and ice machines so that is not an issue.

The responsibility for being prepared is two fold. It has been my experience that athletes tend to have more trouble with the heat now days as to say 20 years ago. Why is that? I have no formal study to present but common sense tells me that fewer kid work outside than they used to. Kids are told over and over not to come from the air conditioner at home straight to football practice. I think more kids are on the computer these days and playing video games and are less acclimated to the heat. Athletes are told over and over to hydrate them self during the day. We provide sports drinks before practice to help hydrate them. Every athlete is different when it comes to the heat and every athlete has a personal responsibility to make sure he or she is hydrated.

The old philosophy which I grew up in of withholding water went out the window 15 years ago. If kids are tired and dehydrated then they don't listen, learn or execute. Coaches have practice for purpose!! Now, the end of practice is the time to push athletes and keep them in shape as well as build on stamina. Coaches intentionally push kids during the sprints for good reason. Coaches intentionally push and say harsh things to get a desired result. It's not meant to sound nice or be fun. Football coaches are not soccer coaches. A player who is not in good physical condition is also more likely to get injured. (The fact that soccer parents heard the coach say mean things, give me a break. If I had a dollar for every time I told a player that I was going to kill him before they got off the's coach talk people.) The reality is that it is hot in August and September and you can't walk off the field or stop the game because its hot. Granted referees do call water breaks at their discretion in the early season.

Most of these preventative measures are common sense and used by any coach that I know. Why this issue just came up and why everyone decided to jump on the band wagon makes me wonder. I don't remember all this happening when a Henderson Co. football player died a couple of years ago.

These are tragic situations and there is never anything wrong with looking at what we might do better to prevent situations like this from occurring again.

What we should do first is to look at what is already in place.

Although I have not heard one single word in the media about what that is and while I'm no big fan of the KHSAA; I can say that this is one time they have been doing the right things and have the proper precautions in place but yet we have not heard them say anything in their defense or the defense of football coaches. So, I will do their work for them.

KHSAA requires that the heat index be taken each day,documented and kept on file for periodic review by them. KHSAA has policy and requirements for doing this as well as written policy as to the level of activity that can be conducted when the heat index is at a certain level.


KHSAA provides links and brochures regarding heat illness on their website. They also provide links to educational material on the issue. I down loaded one called PLAYING HOT QUIZ QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS.

KHSAA provides at their web site all the up to date research concerning heat illness and fluid replacement. One such paper I read at the site:NATIONAL ATHLETIC TRAINERS' ASSOCIATION POSITION STATEMENT: FLUID REPLACEMENT FOR ATHLETES.

I won't argue that it never hurts to have more training for coaches on this issue. As coaches like to say its all about the reps. Yes, it would be nice for all football teams to have their own whirl pool, ice machine and heat index gauge but it is probably not practical every where. What is practical is good common sense and most coaches have that. I would suggest that we use what the KHSAA association has provided and require every school to show as part of continuing education like CPR one of the many videos out there on Heat illness and fluid replacement.

I believe the KHSAA has the proper procedures in place and believe coaches are trained adequately. The KHSAA might consider offering up some continued education on fluid replacement and heat illness just as a constant reminder during the rules clinics. I'm not sure there is a lesson to be learned here other than sometimes tragic things occur on and off the playing fields. Jumping to conclusions and trying to make criminals out of football coaches is just plain crazy.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Page in the Kentucky House

(I'm pictured above with other pages in front of Capitol Annex. I'm far left.)
One is never too old to re-live and experience the excitement of one's youth. I can't tell you how excited that I was to learn that my State Representative John Tilley had chosen me, that's right me, to serve as a page in the Kentucky House of Representatives.

It has been a number of years since I visited the glorious halls of the Capitol Annex and almost 35 years since I first received the honor and privilege of serving as a page. I must admit that I had some reservations regarding the attire that I would have to wear, but Rep. Tilley said that many changes had occurred in the House since I was last present and boy was he right.

Some of these changes appeared to be good ones while some not so good. I can put to rest all those rumors going around that folks from West Kentucky are not welcome in Frankfort anymore. I found that everyone was really nice and it was obvious that many accommodations have been made for us folks in the Rural areas. I would have never believed it had I not seen it for myself. On every single floor in the Annex they had big spittoon boxes. That's right. I was so excited. When Rep. Tilley was busy I would just go floor to floor spitting in all those spittoon boxes. I just couldn't believe it. They said the Liberals had taken over Frankfort and I'm here to tell you it just ain't so. I will say that there must be a few Liberals up there because they obviously did not approve of all those spittoon boxes caused I noticed that some of those liberals were putting empty soda cans in the boxes. I believe in compromise, so I guess it's only fair that they have an opportunity to protest the boxes. If those Liberals had any sense they be saving those soda cans and redeeming them for cash back home. With the cost of tobacco products these days they should know every little bit helps.

Rep. Tilley took me around and I got to meet many people and also got to see some friends from back home. Rep. Tilley took me into the Leadership offices where he wanted me to meet with Majority Whip John Will Stacy. Rep. Stacy had a position open on his staff and Rep. Tilley thought it might be a good fit for me but apparently the position had been offered to someone else. Rep. Tilley told me not to take it personally and offered up that Rep. Stacy was probably concerned about my weight possibly being a burden on the State's health care system. I'm still not sure the outfit Rep. Tilley made me wear helped my case any.

With that behind me I told Rep. Tilley that I was hungry and he explained to me that times were tough in Frankfort also and that I would have to be on my own for meals during my trip. He did take me into a room and show me that the only thing legislators had to eat was peanut butter and crackers and that I was welcome to have some if I wanted.

I got to meet Brian Wilkerson and Brian McIntyre who work in the Speakers office. They knew I was a disciple of Jim Bruce and took the opportunity to share their treasured memories of Rep. Bruce. I appreciated their stories and will surely be including them in my book on the life of Jim Bruce.

I got to meet a lobbyist named Sean Cutter. Rep. Tilley is Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and he wanted me to experience what it is like being a Chairman. This man Cutter came to meet with Chairman Tilley about an issue important to the crushed stone industry. I don't pretend to understand it all but the best I can figure from the conversation they had was that this man Cutter wanted Chairman Tilley to make it so employees of the crushed stone industry did not get sick any more. Mr. Cutter explained that when people got sick it hurt the industry. I was shocked because I had not realized that once you became Chairman you had the power to make people not get sick anymore. After the meeting when it was just me and Rep. Tilley I cracked a joke about it and Rep. Tilley turned to me and said, "get behind me Satan." That scared me into thinking maybe Chairman have these powers now. I did not speak of these things again to the Chairman.

Whereas I was hungry again, Rep. Tilley said we could go eat. I pulled the coupons that I had brought from home but Rep. Tilley said they did not except coupons in the cafeteria and but we had to eat there anyway. We got to eat lunch with Myron Dossett who is another Rep. from Christian Co. We had a short lunch and then it was back to work. I could not be with the Chairman everywhere so it gave me some more time to rome.

I always knew that there was a lot liquor flowing around Frankfort but apparently there is so much of it they had to start pouring it out on the street in front of the Capitol. Honestly, I overheard legislators talking about it.

I got see Eddie Ballard from Madisonville and spend some time with Rep. Gooch from Webster Co. Representative Gooch is very well respected in Western Kentucky and is a fine Christian. We agreed to meet and have lunch sometime in Providence. I thanked him for his service to Western Kentucky and told him to keep up the good work.

I got to see Speaker Stumbo and he had some really nice cowboy boots. He must be a smart man because with all that manure up there he was the only one smart enough to be wearing boots. I had always heard that East Kentucky folks were kinda of clannish and I think that is probably true cause they all got real nice offices all together on the third floor. One right after another. I reckon there's safety in numbers.

By 7pm I was sure hungry again and Rep. Tilley said that I was going to get to go to supper with him and some other legislators at a place downtown. He said this place did not except coupons either and would be kinda expensive. I was forced to take out the emergency money I had hidden in my shoe. You know with all the rumors about West Kentuckians being run out of town on the rail I did not want to be left high and dry.

We had a nice dinner. I got to sit beside Rocky Adkins who is the House Majority Leader. Johnny Bell, John Will Stacy and Arnold Simpson also sat at the table. The Governor's Chief of Staff, Adam Edelen, joined us also. I got see my old buddy and client former Senate Majority Leader Greg Higdon from Fancy Farm.

I guess the high moment of the trip was when Rep. Tilley delivered on his promise to introduce me to Rep. Sannie Overly. Wow. I got to shake hands and have my picture taken with her. I have included our picture together below. I'm still not sure about the outfit Rep. Tilley made me wear. I don't think I looked very good in shorts and knee socks at least John Will Stacy was not impressed. (I'm pictured second from the right & Rep. Sannie Overly far Right)