Commentary on life in Kentucky – January 2011

By wmadministrator

U.S. Senate
Retiring U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning has left Washington, D.C., after a long career in public service. Bunning served as a city council member for Fort Thomas; a Kentucky state senator; a member of the U.S. House of Representatives; and in the U.S. Senate over a three-decade period. Although not always politically popular, Sen. Bunning voted his conscience, defended his strong set of conservative values and principles, and had hard core support from many of his constituents.

Kentucky’s new junior Senator Rand Paul campaigned on conservative political issues: smaller government is better government; debt is a threat to U.S. national security; the Federal Reserve needs more supervision; and increased transparency by the government is vital. Paul was endorsed by Bunning and will continue to deliver a conservative voice for Kentuckians as their representative in Congress.

Kentucky Governor’s Race
“Mayor for Life” Jerry Abramson elected to cut short his political reign with the Louisville Metro Government to throw his hat into the ring for lieutenant governor as Gov. Steve Beshear’s running mate. The Beshear/Abramson ticket will be a very powerful entity with two proven and successful politicians teaming up. Their likely opponents will be veteran Kentucky Senate President David Williams and top statewide vote-getter Commissioner of Agriculture Richie Farmer.

A lot of factors will influence the 2012 governor’s race: voter disenchantment with incumbent politicians; the global recession and its negative impact on the state tax revenues needed to adequately fund government and education; high unemployment; the current weakness of the Democratic Party under President Obama’s leadership; the needs of Kentucky’s rural areas versus those of urban voters; and the Tea Party’s and independent voters’ influence on the primary and general election.

There are so many factors that will likely impact the 2011 governor’s race that oddsmakers are sitting on their hands. The governor’s race in 2011 will likely be long, tedious, expensive and exciting (if you like to follow the rising and falling tides of political campaigns).

New Mayors of Major Metros
Jerry Abramson is followed by newly elected Metro Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer (D). Fischer is part owner of Dant Clayton Corp., a sports stadium design, manufacturing and construction company. He ran against Council Member Hal Heiner (R), who was elected to the first Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Council in 2002. Heiner founded Capstone Realty Inc. in 1997. Both candidates were well regarded and considered high-quality candidates for mayor. The race for mayor was very close, with Fischer edging out Heiner 51.0 percent to 48.6 percent.

Incumbent Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry lost his race for re-election to Vice Mayor Jim Gray. Both candidates ran on a non-partisan ticket. Mayor Newberry inherited a number of problems at the beginning of his four-year term. Issues on his desk the first day on the job included an EPA lawsuit; failed implementation of the city’s financial accounting system; underfunding of the police/firefighter pension; and poor relations with universities, economic development entities, and state government agencies. These issues coupled with three years of declining or static general fund revenues (2009-2011); a strong, well-funded and organized campaign by millionaire Gray; and a contentious election cycle led to Newberry’s loss even though he received high marks from the business community for managing local government.

Mayor Gray is the former CEO of Gray Construction, which builds industrial and manufacturing facilities for major corporations worldwide. Gray has stepped down from his management position upon election as mayor. Gray plans to use his business experience to reduce costs and increase operational efficiencies as well as add more sizzle to marketing Lexington, promote new business and jobs creation, and provide a higher and more meaningful level of transparency for Lexington’s residents and taxpayers. Gray’s significant self-financing of his campaign and the intensity of his political initiatives should add up to a highly motivated mayor who wants to be judged a success.

2011 will be an exciting year as the two largest cities in Kentucky change leadership and gubernatorial primary campaigns and November general election select new leadership for Kentucky’s state government.
These political changes – tied to a hopefully improving local, U.S. and world economies – will likely make 2011 a bellwether year for all Kentuckians should add up to a highly motivated mayor who wants to be judged a success.

2011 will be an exciting year as the two largest cities in Kentucky change leadership and gubernatorial primary campaigns and November general election select new leadership for Kentucky’s state government.

These political changes – tied to a hopefully improving local, U.S. and world economies – will likely make 2011 a bellwether year for all Kentuckians.

Nine CEOs Inducted in First Kentucky Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame Class

Nine notable Kentucky entrepreneurs were recognized as the inaugural class of inductees for the Kentucky Entrepreneur Hall of Fame recently in downtown Lexington at the headquarters of Awesome Inc.

The 2010 inaugural class is: John Y. Brown Jr., KFC; Pearse Lyons, Alltech; the late William T. Young, W.T. Young Storage and Overbrook Farm; Warren Rosenthal, Jerry’s Restaurants/Jerrico/Long John Silver’s; John Schnatter, Papa John’s; Jim Host, Host Communications and Printing; the late Ralph G. Anderson, Belcan; Davis Marksbury, Exstream Software; and University of Kentucky President Lee Todd, Projectron Inc. and DataBeam Corp.

Inductees were selected based on a variety of attributes, including revenue and profit growth, entrepreneur activity or visibility, innovativeness of product or service offered, contributions to community-oriented projects and society, creating jobs, and contributions to their industry.

“I am humbled to be recognized alongside some of the heavyweights of Kentucky’s business world,” said Todd. “I thank all of the sponsors for this honor, and I applaud them for creating the Kentucky Entrepreneur Hall of Fame. We need more Kentuckians to realize that they can create their own jobs right here in Kentucky. I hope this hall of fame will help spark curiosity and imagination in people across the commonwealth.”

Five emerging entrepreneurs were recognized also: Randy Riggs, Advanced Cancer Therapeutics; Keith Ringer, Metro Mojo LLC; Ben Self, Blue State Digital; Randall Stevens, Mersive Technologies and ArchVision; and Audra Stinchcomb, AllTranz Inc.

Sponsors are Kentucky Small Business Development Centers, Kentucky Science and Technology Corp. and Awesome Inc.

Thorntons Gives $1M to Speed Museum

Thorntons, one of Kentucky’s largest privately held corporations, is making a $1 million contribution to The Speed Art Museum in Louisville. The Thorntons, with 165 convenience stores, car washes and travel plazas in five states beginning in 1971, have a family history of supporting the arts.

Bonnie Thornton, wife of founder James Thornton, is a former board of directors member with Speed, which is the state’s largest art museum. An ongoing Changing Speed capital campaign will fund expansion and renovation of the museum (speedmuseum.org) on the campus of the University of Louisville.

“Since our inception almost 40 years ago we have made a dedicated commitment to recognize and assist the multitude of diverse nonprofit organizations in the Louisville area,” Thorntons Inc. CEO Matt Thornton said, “and we continuously explore ways to give back to the communities that we serve.”

Arts philanthropy makes a difference. An improving quality of life is an economic development recruitment tool, but more importantly, creative stimulation is proven to nurture entrepreneurship that is vital to lifting the prospects of our state.

“Thorntons is a very important corporate citizen for the markets in which it operates,” added Todd Lowe, chairman of the Speed Board of Trustees. “Their generosity in supporting community organizations is critical to the success of many nonprofits.”

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