Jun 062012

By John Hennen

First, some good news. Kentucky Public Radio-Frankfort reported on May 18 that four Democratic Kentucky legislators  (Sens. Ray Jones, KY 31; Denise Harper Angel, KY 35; Tim Shaughnessy, KY 19; and Kathy Stein, KY 13) had broken with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative network of national and state legislators associated with the attacks against public sector unions in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, New Jersey, Florida, and other states.

Now, some bad news. Nearly forty additional Kentucky lawgivers from both parties are still associated with ALEC, including Representative Mike Harmon (R-54) and Senator Tom Buford (R-22), identified by ALEC as Kentucky state chairmen. And, according to a Louisville Courant blog post Kentucky Senate leader David Williams was chosen ALEC’s “Legislator of the Year” for 2011. Continue reading »

May 312012

By Don Pratt

Sit-in for the Mountains participants. Author in background holding Kentucky Proud sign. Photo courtesy Don Pratt collection.

Editor’s note: Following the February 2011 weekend occupation of the governor’s office by Kentucky Rising activists, several Frankfort women organized a Sit-in for the Mountains (sitinforthemtns@gmail.com).  Nearly every Thursday, a small dedicated group of volunteers gathered outside of the governor’s office to bear witness on behalf of the people, flora, fauna and/or land of Appalachian Kentucky. Local rabble-rouser, former grocer, amateur sign-maker and perennial candidate for local office Don Pratt began regularly attending these sit-ins. Below are sketch observations from time spent sitting outside the Governor’s office.


Many of the capitol staff were supportive, quietly or openly, from the very beginning.  Caroline Taylor Webb, who deserves most of the credit for maintaining recruitment and sharing the ongoing sit-ins for the mountains, had worked there a few years ago, so the staff mostly welcomed us. Spaulding Bakery donuts won over a few others who became first name acquaintances. I was usually able to generate some smiles when I began suggesting my state capital appearances were undertaken while on work release or lunch break from Little Caesars Pizza. Continue reading »

Sep 142011

Frankfort stinks like shit

By Danny Mayer

In 1780, the Jewish pioneer Stephen Frank left Lexington in search of salt. Part of an integrated 6-man company of Lexington and Bryan’s Station boys, Frank left west from town for Mann’s Lick, one of several such licks found in the surrounding country.  Mann’s being situated just south of the new Ohio River settlement of Falls City, the men likely followed the South Elkhorn out of Fayette until its confluence with the North Fork.

At the forks, Frank and the rest again turned sharply west and made haste toward a double-bend in the Kentucky River. Here they encamped on a shallow gravel shoal a mile up-river from Lee’s Town, a commercial hub sprung a half-a-decade earlier on the river’s north bank, and were attacked by Indians. With the rest of his party escaping into the Kentucky backwoods and canebreak, Stephen Frank, the Jewish pioneer who left Lexington in search of salt, fell dead on the gravel shoal ford that would soon carry his name. Continue reading »

Aug 242011

Science teacher Martin Mudd recently returned from a two hour stint in Governor Steve Beshear’s office as part of the ongoing Sit-In for the Mountains. Mudd spent his time there lying on the ground beneath a homemade tomstone that read, “RIP: In memory of our friends in Appalachia past present and not yet born who suffer under the sin of strip mining.” North of Center tracked down Mudd, a Lexington resident living in Kenwick, to ask him a couple questions.

NoC: Why were you in Frankfort last weekend?

Mudd: I went to Frankfort last Thursday to occupy the Governor’s office and send the message to Steve Beshear that people are dying in Appalachia and we will not be ignored. I also wanted to participate in the weekly sit-in that has been happening at the Governor’s office since the Kentucky Rising action in February. Continue reading »

Aug 242011

A paddle through Capitol City

By Danny Mayer

Photo by Troy Lyle

Oil Can and the other vessels.

“In the summer, I bathe about every two weeks. Otherwise, I just braid my hair and go go go.”

I have arrived with Josh, my partner in canoe, to a small towhead on the Kentucky River in Frankfort. Only a straight-away into our 9-bend, 2 night, 20 mile voyage through the state’s capital, down lock #4 and on to Elkhorn Creek, and we are already bringing up the rear. Our vessel, a green 17 foot Coleman canoe nicknamed “Oil Can” that I purchased off eBay upon my 2000 arrival to the Commonwealth, plies the slackwater of Kentucky like a pointy tipped log. We are no match for the much faster fleet of one-man vessels operated by the rest of our party. In 15 miles time, a distance that will include an overnight camp-out in a soybean field, we will operate Oil Can with the efficiency and tracked gait of a steam engine while chasing mid-day shade along the riverbanks. But not right now. Right now, Josh and I paddle irregularly and out of sync, my captain’s seat squeaking arrhythmically at each downstroke and the boat rolling haphazardly from starboard to port. We are more interested in drinking beer, talking rivers and waving to the locals than in coordinating strokes, and have subsequently fallen well behind the rest of our six man party. Continue reading »