Broken Crayons

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

 

“You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children’s children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done.”

Ronald Reagan, The 40th President of the United States

Louisville in the Slow Lane

Fiber OpticIf you’re like me, you’re still stinging from the tacit rejection of Google Fiber. Just last month Louisville was overlooked for the much coveted city wide internet solution while Kansas City, Austin, TX and Provo, NV all have existing Google Fiber projects in the works. Louisvillians had hoped to be among the cities considered for expansion. Sadly we didn’t even make the short list.

But who can blame Google for looking elsewhere when you consider our cities recent history with franchise agreements. As it stands now, Time Warner (once Insight and soon to be Comcast) is limping along on an extension of the old Insight agreement which is good until 2018 (I believe). The Mayor fought with Insight and then Time Warner to keep a customer service center here in Louisville as well as free internet for our Metro agencies/schools/etc which only amounts to a hidden tax passed on to customers by Insight/Time Warner. Just another “fee” line time with an obscure name for us to swallow.

On the brighter side, a request for proposals expired in January of this year looking for companies who might be interested in building out a fiber network for Louisville. Few details have been released about who responded or with what level of interest. But unfortunately, until the Metro Council changes our franchise agreement ordinance to allow for longer more attractive agreements, it is unlikely this RFP will bear any fruit.

Perhaps I’m bitter because of the apparent uselessness of my Councilman but I have little faith that the Council can get on the same page even for this measure that is clearly a benefit to all Louisvillians. Access to affordable gigabit fiber would open the door to new businesses as well as create opportunities for existing companies.

Add to that, a component of the RFP was a requirement to provide free or cheap access to underserved and impoverished communities within our city. It seems like a no-brainer but, like the current internet options in Louisville, this process is moving at a snails pace.

Our local government should be looking for ways to attract high tech industries and encouraging our current providers to expand and upgrade their products. But instead Louisville gets looked over again and again until we end up bring up the rear as we did with 4G/LTE.

Someone should tell the Mayor that it’s hard to be perceived as an attractive, high tech business location when you are one of the last major cities to adopt new technologies. He should show a little urgency if he wants to still be Mayor when we finally do get fiber.

If you are interested in getting fiber internet in your neighborhood, visit Louisville Fiber.

Taking Kentucky Back to our Roots

Kentucky has a long history with industrial hemp dating back to the late 1700′s. The Commonwealth led the nation in hemp production all the way up until the industry was snuffed out in the mid twentieth century. Worldwide demand for hemp is strong and growing however our great state cannot capitalize on that need because our Governor won’t stand up for Kentuckians.

Most people can’t remember a time when the cultivation of hemp was completely legal in the United States. For more than half of the 1900′s the industrious weed has been outlawed in some fashion or another. Knee jerk legislation in response to booming opiate use in the late 1800′s began the slippery slope. Then a push by powerful men in the timber industry, fearful that hemp would make a better pulp for paper products than wood, led to one of the hardiest and most useful crops being banned by the federal government.

This citizen cites this as a gross trampling of states rights by our federal government but they did not consult me in the early 1950′s (possibly because I wouldn’t be born for another 25 years) when the first mandatory sentences were enacted for cannabis (and hemp) possession/cultivation. As evidenced by current movements around the country where cannabis is now legalized or in the process of becoming legal, the American people believe the decision to outlaw or restrict substances like these is a state issue, not federal.

However as of this writing, industrial hemp, a plant proven to have a negligible amount of THC (the narcotic component of cannabis), remains a Schedule 1 substance in the eyes of the US government. Here in Kentucky, a law has passed legalizing the growing of industrial hemp however Governor Beshear says the bill (SB50) does not allow growth or sale of industrial hemp unless the federal government lifts the federal ban. Yet another example of how the Beshear administration obediently toes the party line set forth from Washington.

Isn’t it time our state leadership grew a pair and stopped cowing to the federal government on matters that are simply none of their business?

In Colorado and Washington state they have legalized cannabis, despite a federal ban. Here in Kentucky a law that would legalize the use of prescription medical cannabis is in the works, also despite a federal ban. Yet our Governor doesn’t seem interested in standing up to Washington regarding this harmless but incredibly valuable crop.

Thankfully, Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul have worked with Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer to allow a handful of state sponsored hemp projects. As many other states around the country begin ramping up their industrial hemp production, Kentucky stands to fall far behind thanks to our slow start. We have our Governor to thank for that.

I think It’s time for change in Frankfort.

Deja… something

There is probably a word for what I just experienced but I don’t know what it is.

I was flipping through some old writing after finding a new market that seemed interesting. I stumbled across a story that is clearly labeled as written by me but I have absolutely no recollection of it. It’s not terrible though so I’m shipping it off.

Truly bizarre.

A Different Kind of Madness

March Madness (NCAA Men’s Basketball postseason for the uninitiated) is one of my favorite times of year; easily tops among sporting events. Not only does it herald the onset of spring but the two local basketball programs are almost always in the mix. This year is no exception.

But I want to talk about a different, but all too familiar, sort of madness that has settled over the commonwealth: expanded gaming. Anyone who’s been paying attention for the past decade will know that Kentuckians can’t seem to make up their mind about gambling.

Opposition to expanded gaming has always been a two pronged attack. One is what I would call a protectionist movement intended to keep our equine racing industry safe from casinos who would take a bite out of track profits. We now know that that was a fruitless effort as there are now multiple casinos within driving distance of Louisville where Kentuckians hand over their disposable income, shoving much needed tax dollars right out of the state.

The other argument against casinos in the Commonwealth is rooted in the assertion that we Kentuckians can’t be trusted to make smart decisions; that we don’t know what is best for us; that we need the government to tell us what we should and should not do. I won’t bother with addressing that absurd argument.

Nowadays, with Churchill Downs scrambling to find new ways to stay afloat, equine power players are more open minded about expanded gaming opportunities. But they remain understandably reluctant to support legislation that lacks specific concessions for the horse racing industry.

Republican Senator Dan Seum of Louisville has proposed a bill that would allow a limited number of gambling sites while appropriating a portion of all proceeds to supporting the Kentucky equine industry. Senator Seum’s bill is one of three currently in committee in Frankfort. It’s the best of the three in my opinion but at this point if we can get any of the three on the ballot we’ll be ahead of the game.

This citizen is tired of seeing our tax dollars go across the Ohio river. The time has come to stop hemorrhaging gambling revenues to our neighbors and to use those revenues to balance our state budget without further burdening our citizens with higher taxes.

Time is running out. This session is nearly over. It is time for a vote.