Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Ernie Fletcher: Republican Governor of Kentucky: Here's What Kentucky Newspaper Editorials are saying about your Pardons.
Fletcher can't lead, might as well resign
Governor's contempt for law nullifies his moral authority (Herald-Leader)
In a partisan, made-for-TV address before a hand-picked crowd Monday night, Gov. Ernie Fletcher talked away his ability to lead by force of character. While he's not likely to do so, Fletcher should resign rather than leave the state with two more years of a damaged chief executive.
Fletcher waded into the vocabulary of excuse and denial like a guilty 5-year-old: indictable offenses are "mistakes;" misdemeanors aren't really crimes; the kids just got out of hand; he didn't "knowingly" break any laws; and it's better to put this behind us.
As a crowd of supporters clapped at the applause lines, Fletcher accepted responsiblity for the assault on the merit system only to blame the law and the prosecutor and to invoke the age-old excuse of "everybody does it."
He never said he was sorry or that he would stop it.
Whatever Fletcher promised voters, his is now all about protecting himself and those who can take care of him. The man who lectured on "how to create an ethical government" at his inauguration presided over a staff that ignored the merit law and took away the livelihoods of hard-working people because they didn't support him. Now, he's trying to guarantee that no one pays the legal consequences for those actions.
Fletcher's still governor, but he's dealt a death blow to the moral authority that would allow him to lead.
Fletcher's Pardons (Courier-Journal)
The Governor insulted the intelligence of all Kentuckians and the loyalty of thousands of state employees by comparing the criminal charges resulting from merit law violations to illegal fishing.
Actually, administration records and e-mail communications show a systematic, calculated effort to ignore a law designed to ensure that state jobs are filled on the basis of qualifications, not politics.
Illegal hiring, firing, promotions and transfers undermined established efforts to increase employment of minorities and veterans. Moreover, the Governor's cavalier dismissal of the trauma of losing a job showed a gross disconnection to ordinary people's lives.
While the Governor talked the talk about taking personal responsibility, he actually dove for cover.
Fletcher Abuses Pardon Powers (Kentucky Enquirer)
Kentuckians may be at a loss to decide which was more offensive: Gov. Ernie Fletcher's pre-emptive pardon of his indicted aides, or his remarks justifying such arrogant actions.
The governor didn't just pardon nine indicted current or former aides. No, he tried to "grant amnesty to all persons who might otherwise be charged with violating the merit system laws." This, from the man who in his 2003 campaign promised merit workers he would end "good old boy politics" and maintain a strong merit system.
The Republican governor made much of not pardoning himself, but Tuesday he invoked his right not to testify against himself, calling the grand jury is a political tool of Attorney General Greg Stumbo, a Democrat.
Fletcher is wrong to turn the merit system into a partisan issue. Some aides in e-mails or notes mention the governor promising someone a merit job, although Fletcher insists as governor he has never "knowingly" violated any laws.
Other Kentucky governors have pardoned aides before trial, but that doesn't excuse Fletcher's abuse of his pardoning powers. His Fifth Amendment plea and the pardons just add to this administration's record of contempt for the merit law.
The Fifth (Glasgow Daily Times)
He also has responsibilities to those who elected him, to the people of Kentucky who looked to him to be better. He should ponder what his obligations are to Republicans who suffered in Kentucky's political wilderness for 32 years, who worked so hard for his election and who held such high hopes for his administration.
Finally, he should think of how he will be remembered: as a governor who lacked political guile and experience and made mistakes but owned up to them - or as a politician who promised to be different but wasn't and tried to hide it.
Premature Pardons (Ashland Daily-Independent)
By issuing the blanket pardons, Fletcher has told members of the special grand jury that has been meeting in Frankfort since May that their work has been an irrelevant waste of time. Indeed, he has all but called them political pawns of Stumbo and his team of investigators. But the members of that grand jury are not political hacks - just ordinary citizens chosen by lot to do a rather thankless and time-consuming job.
Call us naïve, but we thought that was the type of "politics as usual" that Ernie Fletcher, the candidate, was promising to end in Frankfort. Instead, he simply changed the system to reward Republican loyalists rather than Democrats. The word soon went out in Frankfort that if you wanted to get ahead in the state government, you had better change your registration from Democrat to Republican. It is clear that people were placed in key positions in Frankfort simply to assure that Republicans were hired over Democrats for even menial jobs.
In short, this governor has treated the Merit System as an obstacle to securing jobs for Republicans instead of an essential job protection system for rank-and-file state workers. Fletcher's efforts to undermine the Merit System continue, only this time he may try to change the law instead of just ignoring it.