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April 18, 2008

Public isn't happy with things in Frankfort

Many blame both leaders of both parties and branches

FRANKFORT, Ky. — After little more than four hours of sleep Wednesday morning following the midnight crash of this year’s General Assembly, my phone rang – at 6 a.m.



“Wake up! I want to know what happened up there last night!” said the exasperated Democrat. “Can’t you people up there do anything right?”



“Hey now, don’t blame me. I don’t have a vote – I just write about it.”



“Well, you know what’s going to happen now, don’t you?” he continued. “Beshear and Richards and Williams will blame each other. And you know what? They’re ALL right! They better wake up. People are getting tired of this crap!”



It was a one-way conversation. He talked – at least when he wasn’t yelling. I listened. Turns out he was right on target about the finger-pointing between Gov. Steve Beshear, House Speaker Jody Richards, and Senate President David Williams.



My friend isn’t happy, and neither are a number of others with whom I’ve talked, Democrats and Republicans. But what struck me was their equal disdain for Beshear, Richards, and Williams – and both parties. Democrats are frustrated with their governor and the Democrats in the House. Republicans are too, but some of them are also annoyed with Williams and the Republican Senate. And it’s not just people out in the state. Several rank and file lawmakers of both parties are grousing about their leaders and their inability to work together.



They all have the same questions about Beshear they had about his predecessor, Ernie Fletcher.



“Who’s advising him? Can’t they do anything right? What’s the plan? IS there a plan?”



A lot of them see Richards as feckless, unable to manage the fractious House and its leadership. Democrats especially – but surprisingly some Republicans too – see Williams as obstructionist and arrogant, more interested in thwarting Beshear and prevailing in negotiations with the House than in dealing with Kentucky’s problems. A few Republicans worry out loud that a public perception of Williams as arrogant creates a negative image for their party and its candidates.

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