Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Columns

February 8, 2013

RONNIE ELLIS: Oh the things people say now ...

FRANKFORT —

By RONNIE ELLIS

CNHI News Writer

FRANKFORT There were some great lines this week in the world of Kentucky politics, most uttered in Frankfort but at least one from a Washington pol.

It reminds me of the old Joe South song: “Oh the games people play now/Every night and every day now/Never meaning what they say now/Never saying what they mean.”

Gov. Steve Beshear told reporters from The Courier-Journal and Lexington Herald-Leader that he saw little chance of passing a gambling amendment in the 2013 session. He didn’t even mention gambling in his State of the Commonwealth speech.

But by Thursday, some lawmakers were whispering Beshear is privately seeking votes for an amendment among state senators. The governor must think the odds of passing the measure in the Senate are better if nosy reporters aren’t asking and writing about it. (Sorry, governor.)

Still, it makes me feel better about something I wrote the week before the legislature returned to town: “He wouldn’t be Steve Beshear and this wouldn’t be Frankfort if we don’t have some sort of expanded gambling proposal.”

While what Beshear said about gambling’s prospects may have disguised what he meant, others meant what they said even if others found it puzzling.

Sen. Rand Paul told the Heritage Foundation during a rambling foreign policy speech, “I see the world as it is.” Wonder if the just-departed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saw that line?

Freshman Republican state Rep. Brian Linder of Dry Ridge asked Auditor Adam Edelen if his proposal to assess fees on special taxing districts — in order to provide the public more transparency and accountability for how those districts spend tax dollars — “is growing government?”

Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, is Beshear’s most reliable Republican ally on gambling. So maybe he knew what he was saying when he questioned something Beshear said in his State of the Commonwealth address Wednesday night.

Thayer said Beshear’s talk of “reinvestment makes me nervous,” that the governor wants to “grow government again.”

Of course, Linder and Thayer neglected to note the state budget has been cut $1.6 billion – “that’s billion with a B” as they like to say in Frankfort — during Beshear’s first five years.

Friday House Speaker Greg Stumbo urged passage of the bill on taxing districts, a reaction to Edelen’s review which, in November, described the districts as “a ghost government, byzantine” and a “scandal.”

Now?

“This is not a bill in response to bad conduct,” said Stumbo. “This bill is really a tribute to the honesty and dedication of all those . . . who have done their jobs efficiently and in a trustworthy manner.”

Now not everything uttered in Frankfort was cynical or hypocritical. There were some funny lines, too; some were even intentionally funny (not always the case with Frankfort politicians).

During the Senate roll call vote on pension reform, Sen. Kathy Stein, D-Lexington, quoted Yogi Berra, the Hall of Fame catcher known for “Yogi-isms:”

“If we don’t change direction, we’re going to end up where we’re going.”

But the newest and youngest Democrat in the Senate topped that one.

Morgan McGarvey, the “gentlemen from Jefferson 19,” holds the seat previously occupied by Tim Shaughnessy. Shaughnessy was notorious for outraged floor speeches, often simply to annoy former Republican Senate President David Williams.

McGarvey, 33, is smart and quick-witted.

As he rose to explain his vote on the pension bill, McGarvey smiled puckishly and said: “I figure the senator from Jefferson 19 should at least say something.”

Everyone, including Republicans, laughed — and a few applauded.

Oh the things people say now. They just don’t always mean what they say now.

RONNIE ELLIS writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.

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