LouisvilleKY’s THE WEEK: In Which Things Get Real

photo by Bill Brymer

Kentucky Republicans are wasting no time in the first week of the legislative session in Frankfort. With the new power gained by winning control of the House and Senate, the senators and representatives jumped on the pressing social issues that all Kentuckians consider priorities — passing laws restricting abortion.

That was a bit of sarcasm.

For as long as I’ve been following state government, the old white guys in office around the state have sent annual abortion bills to committees, where Democrats concerned for women’s rights promptly voted them down. This week, a bill outlawing abortions after 20 weeks is on the fast track, and another requiring doctors to show ultrasounds to women seeking abortions is moving forward.

There’s also a proposal to enact a version of the “bathroom bill” that sent organizations and events scurrying out of North Carolina, costing that state millions in revenue.

We may be moving backward on the social front, but the GOP has moved forward to join other states with “Right-to-Work” legislation, despite strong union opposition and a media campaign against it. I’ve never agreed with the law that required employees to join a union, and pay dues, to get a job.

Kentucky will become the 27th state with right-to-work laws, joining neighboring Indiana and Tennessee. Republicans say the legislation, opposed by Democrats for decades, will help Kentucky attract more employers and projects. Democrats, of course, who typically get union support, predict a lowering of wages.


Chris Thieneman
Chris Thieneman

Here’s another issue I can get behind. Chris Thieneman has mounted a social media campaign to support a bill that would raise the pay of jurors. If you’ve ever been on jury duty, you know you get $12.50 a day to go downtown and spend most of your time waiting around to be called. That’s not enough for parking and lunch. Chris is also calling attention to the lack of diversity in courtrooms. Check out his video here on Facebook.


On Thursday in Louisville, hundreds, maybe thousands, of parents didn’t show up at their jobs. No, they were home with young children who didn’t go to school because the local school system panicked. Not for the first time, JCPS administrators made the call to close school Thursday morning before the first snowflake fell. What followed was a snowfall measured in many parts of Louisville at 1 inch.

There were no streets that a bus couldn’t drive on safely. No roads were blocked or impassable. The temperature was moderate. Yet JCPS administrators operate in fear that children will find themselves buried in a snow avalanche every time the forecast calls for snow.

Some blame must go to TV weather talking heads, who NEVER ever predict that a snow event will be minor. Most folks I know take the TV predictions for snow, cut them in half, and set their expectations that we won’t see that much.

This cancellation of school has become so commonplace around here that most people who have something to lose when school is cancelled have given up on complaining about it. JCPS always comes back with the argument that they’re putting safety first, but there’s no justification for their over-reactions.

JCPS Operations Director Michael Raisor made the point on Wednesday, with this odd reference to something that happened two years ago in Atlanta, which rarely sees snow. From WDRB:

“The safety of our kids is always our primary concern and as difficult as it is to make a recommendation on a dry ground morning, if we get a prediction that there’s going to be an inch, inch-and-a-half or 2 inches of snow, during the afternoon commute, we all know what that can do here and we don’t want to have our kids stuck on buses similar to what happened in Atlanta a few years ago, thinking they could make it home.”

You read that right. He said he was worried that a potential 2 inches of snow could result in kids being unable to get home from school all night.

This isn’t about how tough we were back in the day, trudging through the snow to get to classes. This is about JCPS administrators panicking, based on snow forecasts that are over-hyped by TV, and wasting precious days when kids should be in class. I’m not sure that there are statistics showing what the cost is to the community when JCPS calls off school, but it has be significant.

Podcast Excellence

screen-shot-2017-01-05-at-9-59-23-am screen-shot-2017-01-04-at-9-09-29-amEnough of my ranting about politics and weather. We produced a couple of great podcasts for your listening pleasure this week. First, on EatDrinkTalk, Steve and I welcome in some great guests. Mike Wajda is the executive chef at one of the best restaurants in the city — Proof on Main, and gives Steve a peak into the entire 21C Hotel operation. I spent some time down at Gordon Biersch at Fourth Street Live learning what it takes to become a brewmaster from Nicholas Landers. Listen to that here:

On the Rusty Satellite Show, we’re talking movie-making with two of the area’s most prominent and successful producers — Stu Pollard and Archie Borders. Listen in and find out how state tax incentives adopted in 2015 resulted in 56 productions applying for incentives last year. Plus you’ll hear about Stu’s new project – Rust Creek – shot late last year in Louisville. Listen in here:

On Stage at Actors. On the entertainment front, last night I saw the amazing Actors Theatre production called “Lady Day at the Emerson Bar & Grill.” The show features a fantastic musical performance by Deidrie Henry as Billie Holiday, performing at a Philadelphia bar, circa 1959.  Holiday, whose troubles included a dependence on alcohol and heroin, plus an attraction to the wrong kind of man, nonetheless was a powerful performer.  Go see it, on stage at Actors through the 29th.

Next week, I’ll have a couple of the talented individuals behind “The Tens” production at Actors as guests on the Rusty Satellite Show. Tune in.

Deidrie Henry in Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill at Actors Theatre, 2017. Photo by Bill Brymer.
Deidrie Henry in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill at Actors Theatre, 2017. Photo by Bill Brymer.