Sunday, June 04, 2000

Talent showcase: Politicians taking a lot of credit




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        Some Northern Kentucky members of the General Assembly are currently engaged in an activity that in some cases shows off their greatest talent — taking credit for something.

        The issue is about money.

        Money to build projects like community centers, parks and sidewalks. Money that can help win votes at election time.

        Seems, however, that not all of the pols ready to be patted on the back for bringing the bucks home from Frankfort deserve all the accolades.

        Back in early April, lawmakers scrambled to load the state budget up with hundreds of community projects.

        Two Northern Kentucky Republican state Senators — Katie Stine of Fort Thomas and Jack Westwood of Erlanger — did have a role getting some projects included in the budget.

        But now follow this chain of events:

        Mr. Westwood and Mrs. Stine voted against the funding mechanism that would have paid for the projects, a $178 million telecommunications tax increase.

        Fine. Sounds like they have strong convictions about taxes, so strong that they would vote against a tax increase even if it meant they would be voting against money in their districts.

        But wait. After both voted against the money, both also voted for the budget.

        Is that logical? Can you have it both ways, that is, be against the taxes but for the budget that has the projects for your district?

        I guess you can. Mr. Westwood and Mrs. Stine sure did.

        Oh, and get this — both Senators are now going around their districts trying to take credit for the projects. They can say they voted down a tax increase and still managed to bring home the projects' funding.

        Then there's Sen. Dick Roeding. Mr. Roeding was onboard with the budget and the tax hike, the latter a brave political move given the heat he is taking for doing so.

        And Mr. Roeding, the No. 2 man in the state Senate, did secure some funding for Boone County, which he represents in Frankfort.

        But almost $1 million for Kenton County improvements was put in the budget because of the support of Rep. Jon Draud, R-Crestview Hills. Mr. Roeding may have helped keep those projects in the budget, but they were put there because of Mr. Draud.

        At one time or another while in Frankfort, Mr. Roeding, Mrs. Stine and Mr. Westwood kicked and screamed when the state wanted to spend millions in Northern Kentucky on projects.

        All voted for the projects, but complained about money being spent on the projects. They groused about millions, and now they're fighting to take credit for thousands. It doesn't make sense. But neither do a lot of politicians.

        Patrick Crowley covers Kentucky politics for The Kentucky Enquirer. He can be reached at 578-5581, or by e-mail at crowleys@cinci.infi.net.

       



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