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April 4, 2012

Take Me To Your Leader

Facts, rumors and political innuendo

Negotiable silence?

Congressman Ron Paul has always had a reputation for “telling it like it is” — whether calling out his own party as warmongers, or saying in a debate that if someone is dying without health insurance, they’re on their own and the free market will work itself out.

But that reputation has been questioned in his presidential bid, with accusations that Paul is refraining from throwing any punches at the frontrunner and once “progressive” Mitt Romney, instead attacking the conservative credentials of his main opponents, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.

Though Paul’s camp denied any secret deal with Romney, his campaign manager and an unnamed adviser admitted to Time that they might be willing to throw Paul’s delegates to Romney if he selected his son, Sen. Rand Paul, to be his vice president.

Anyone with a grip on reality knows Romney will not choose Rand, but this alleged behavior — withholding fire on a so-called “RINO” in return for personal benefit — might also describe Rand Paul’s relationship with his fellow Republican senator from Kentucky, Mitch McConnell.

McConnell is exactly the type of hawkish, high-spending Republican that coaxed Rand to jump into the political sphere in 2009 and take back the Republican party. But an article in The Hill last week revealed Rand Paul attended a D.C. fundraiser for McConnell’s 2014 re-election campaign, and his spokeswoman gave this eye-opening virtual endorsement:

“It’s clear the commonwealth is best served with their combined efforts now and in the future.”

Many have wondered if McConnell will face a Tea Party primary challenge similar to the successful one Paul launched against McConnell’s hand-picked protégé Trey Grayson in 2010. But Paul’s campaign manager from that primary, Tea Party activist David Adams, sees a credible challenger as unlikely.

“There could well be somebody that files and runs against him, but whether that is someone who can actually get on the radar screen is another question,” Adams tells LEO. “I’d have to say at this point, the odds are long.”

Considering Paul and McConnell have refused to directly criticize each other by name over the last two years — despite very vocal disagreement over issues such as raising the debt ceiling — one might speculate there is an unwritten agreement between the two that involves Paul discouraging a Tea Party challenge of McConnell.

Adams doubts there is such an agreement, but notes that Paul’s deference to McConnell “is keeping with Rand’s strategy all along, going back to 2009 and 2010, as he very carefully avoided saying anything negative about Mitch directly.”

Tolls and Arks

There were some last-minute surprises in the road plan passed by the General Assembly in Frankfort last week.

In addition to bridge tolls going up to pay for the new downtown bridge in Louisville, we’ve now discovered the secret plan to fund the bridges after 2030: replacing and tolling the Sherman Minton.

Despite the objections of Rep. Jim Wayne, D-35, and Say No to Bridge Tolls, secretive backroom wheeling and dealing in Frankfort won the day.

And despite the fundraising woes of the delayed and scaled back evangelical Ark Park in Grant County, the initial $2 million for design, utilities and right-of-way for the road to the park was kept in the budget — with $9.1 million allotted for construction in 2015. Not only that, but the last-minute substitute for the bill moved these funds from the next two fiscal years to immediately in the 2012 budget.

Subcommittee chairwoman Rep. Sannie Overly, D-72, hasn’t gotten back to LEO on why this money was moved up, so we’re still unclear as to whether this was an act of God.

Fair Board shuffle

Embattled Kentucky State Fair Board CEO Harold Workman recently announced he will retire at the end of the year, continuing to collect his $249,260 salary until that time.

While there is still mystery surrounding efforts to remove him — as well as Workman’s abrupt decision to fire Yum! Center general manager Ted Nicholson a week before the NCAA Tournament came to town — Fair Board insiders tell LEO that an Arena Authority audit to be released at their upcoming board meeting will shed more light on financial troubles that initiated the moves.

Multiple employees say Workman canned Nicholson because he was too forthcoming to auditors about mismanagement at the arena, particularly people put in charge by Workman’s agency. While the Fair Board still won’t comment on Nicholson’s firing, every employee that has contacted LEO gave him glowing reviews.

The arena’s director of operations is Ted Milby, who according to his LinkedIn profile was previously a facilities coordinator for an interior design company before taking over operations of one of the largest arenas in the country. Though multiple employees tell LEO that Milby is a longtime fishing buddy of Workman, Fair Board spokeswoman Amanda Storment has ignored repeated inquiries about Milby’s qualifications and relationship with Workman.

Bust a grill

In 2009, then-Metro Councilwoman Judy Green sponsored a “Pull Up Your Pants” resolution, decrying the saggy pants fashion statement as an example of hip-hop culture destroying the youth of Louisville.

Green’s conviction in this fight against hip-hop was undermined this week by her favorite journalist, Dan Klepal, whose Courier-Journal story showed that for the right price, she’ll make your smile sparkle and shine like Lil Wayne’s … assuming you don’t mind not being able to chew your own food.

Yes, Green is being sued for allegedly botching the installation of a “grill,” where jewelry is affixed to a patient’s teeth. The procedure took place in February 2011, so one might speculate that Green was distracted by the pesky snooping of former LEO reporter Phillip M. Bailey, whose March 2011 cover story highlighted her shady dealings on Metro Council.