Kentucky Blog

Because Kentucky Is Not Called the "REDgrass State"

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Long Live The Last Sane Ralph Long

Ralph Long makes an important point in this post:

In spite of the Larry Forgy lawsuit, and other attempted diversions, making a recommendation for a state job is not the issue. Larry Forgy can recommend anyone he wants, Greg Stumbo can do the same, and even Ralph Long can make a recommendation.

The issue is what happens after, what does the person making the hiring decision do with the recommendation.

So often lately this investigation has been improperly castigated as "partisan" or the like. That's a convenient smokescreen from Fletcher and Co., but it's troubling to see that same charge raised in comments over at Bluegrass Roots (not by the editors, but commenters) or in the Op/Ed letters to the editor of any given newspaper. Official misconduct is not a partisan issue. It's one thing to defend the administration for misguided policy decisions, but it seems clear that this is an instance where smoke equals fire.

I'm not presuming that because I'm a lefty. I'm presuming that because it seems true. And partly it seems true because of the administration's response to the whole thing - Fletcher played it just right in the beginning by admitting that some corners may have been cut, or that hiring parties may not have been properly trained. It was simply idiotic to change the tune and circle wagons, putting up obstacles at every turn.

The whole argument that "this is how it's always been" or "Democrats did it too" is just nonsense. Sure, it's always been this way. And yes, Democrats did it too. But it doesn't make it right now, nor was it right then. I didn't blog during Patton's years, but if I had you would have heard more vitriol than you hear now. [As an aside, the pain that Republicans felt during Patton's years (pre-Senate majority), and the inability to investigate infractions is much how Democrats in D.C. feel now with the discovery of the Downing Street Memos.]

I'm a Democrat, but that doesn't mean I will swallow corruption and incompetence just to toe the party line. Because above all I'm a tax paying Kentuckian, and every time this crap happens it wastes my money. And it's just sad to see Republicans (the champions of small government) actually defending this crap. Oh, they don't defend it by saying "what, is that wrong?" No, they defend it by saying "I expect indictments and hope the offending parties go to jail, but let's face it - Democrats always did it, and now they want to act like saints, blah, blah, blah, blah."

Besides being an indirect defense, it just makes the speaker sound insincere and a bit ethically and morally, if not intellectually, flexible - and not in a good way.

And let's be very clear. As Ralph stated, the investigation is not about recommendations. People need to quit saying that because it just makes them sound stupid. Recommendations are part of the territory, and it's part of being in control of administrative agencies. In other words it's somewhat of a perk. Whether it's right or wrong that a Fletcher recommendation should carry more weight than a Ralph Long recommendation, is not really debatable - the standard is whether it breaks the law. A "recommendation" without an administrative nudge is just a recommendation. A "recommendation" with the Fletcher "wink, wink, nod, nod" is not just a recommendation, and becomes somewhat on par with that old relationship known as "friends with benefits." It's really not complicated to distinguish being "friends" and being "friends with benefits." And it's really not hard to distinguish between "recommendation" and "recommendation with consequences."

Given that framework, giving letters of recommendation to fill open posts which are open through naturally occurring attrition are one thing.

It's quite another to create an open post through overtly partisan adverse employee action. It doesn't much matter if the guy on the road crew is a Democrat or Republican. But when you fire a Democrat on the road crew on trumped up employment infractions, as happened to Brian Roy in the parks department, to create space for a Republican donor or activist, then "recommendation" has crossed the line to something the AG's office ought to investigate

And like Ralph says, that's what this is all about.


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