(Editor’s note: Brian Tucker and Terry Boyd contributed to this post.)
We’re in the midst of a very strange gubernatorial campaign in which one side – Williams/Farmer – appears in news dailies across the state as a “team” and the other side – Beshear/Abramson – simply appears as “Steve Beshear, Lone Wolf for Governor.”
Even the campaign’s website name, www.stevebeshear.com, leaves one to wonder why Abramson isn’t being fully advertised, utilized and scrutinized.
It is though Beshear is running by himself, and Democrats in Louisville are loathe to speak of it.
It’s no wonder. The worst thing that could come out of it for the Dems – and everyone else – is a David Williams governorship.
Judging from the lack of joint appearances by Beshear/Abramson, one gets the feeling Jerry is kicking it around the crib with his shirt off, eating chicken wings, waiting for Beshear to call with the good news that they’ve won the election.
Abramson’s absence last week at the Louisville/Jefferson County Democratic Party’s annual fundraiser, the Wendell Ford Dinner, was conspicuous.
So, where’s Jerry?
After two terms as agriculture commissioner, there is plenty of fodder for the GOP’s Lt. Governor nominee Richie Farmer and no one is afraid to write about it.
Farmer has gotten an almost daily media reaming as a parsimonious spouse abuser who turns into Donald Trump when spending the taxpayer’s money, shelling out $350 per night for hotel suites 25 miles from his home. THEN, he was figuratively chain-whipped in the papers over the furlough days fiasco, among dozens of other amateurish peccadilloes.
On the other hand, mention “Jerry Abramson” and “lieutenant governor” in the same sentence and you hear crickets.
It is monumentally interesting, given that Jerry is Louisville’s longest serving mayor with TONS OF BAGGAGE, that equal time hasn’t been devoted to covering some of the questionable acts and curious allegations against Beshear’s running mate.
We at Insider Louisville do not have a lot of love for Farmer or the Bully from Burksville. But, dang it, we are cursed with sense of fairness. And ol’ Richie is getting double teamed by a media double standard.
Even if you limit your search back to 2005, Abramson’s mayoral administration wrought more scandal than we can list here.
Oddly, not one ever quite connected back to Jerry.
The Courier reporters would trot out the scandal du jour, then Keith Runyon would tsk-tsk over them on the Sunday Editorial page.
Yet, no one (at the CJ, at least) ever bothered to sit down, string them all together into a web of deceit, then shout “Eureka!” (LEO’s Stephen George and Phillip Bailey did the best job of keeping Hizhonor “honest.”)
So, allow us:
- Tuesday’s CJ had the latest update on an interesting style of Abramson governance we have come to call the “driving down the street and throwing out grocery bags of money to neighborhood assistance programs.” For years, Dan Klepal reports, metro council members have been handing out thousands of dollars of city money in “gift” cards for everything from political work to Christmas parties. This comes after Councilwoman Judy Green is accused of manipulating a giant city slush fund of neighborhood grants for which, apparently, there never have been any rules. Excuse us, but who’s been running this city for the last 20 years?
- More than a year ago, an audit of Abramson’s now defunct Department of Neighborhoods found almost $400,000 worth of bogus invoices, according to the CJ. Longtime politico Melissa Mershon took the bullet for that one.
- 2010 was just an all-around bad final year for Abramson after those pesky state auditors kept finding places – Metro Corrections, Animal Control, storm clean up – where tens of thousands of dollars got sucked into black holes.
- Back in 2009, a state audit found that Kimberly Bunton, who ran Louisville’s Dept. of Housing and Family Services, let the department go to hell in a hand basket while writing her mamma $2,000 worth of checks.
Louisville is said to have a “strong mayor” form of government, only the “strong mayor” moniker seemed not to apply to Abramson during the scandals. It was always someone else’s fault.
Oddly, Greg Fischer is turning into David Williams’ best weapon as Fischer struggles to untangle a lot of odd Abramson moments that were either dumped in his lap or went completely ignored as the clock ran out on the Era of Abramson.
City firefighters were finally made whole under Mayor Fischer after having endured endless appeals by Abramson on the issue of back overtime pay, and Fischer finally ended the “take home car” saga with Louisville police that left stinging wounds in the minds and hearts of a public that just wanted it to go away.
Abramson’s relationship with public employee unions was less than cordial, leading to questions of why Jerry was picked for the Lt. Governor job in the first place.
But at least he planted all those daffodils on the sides of I-64.
Let the games – and the investigative reporting – begin.