Jonathan Meador

Frankfort Bureau Chief

Jonathan is the Frankfort bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.

Meador worked previously as a staff writer for the Nashville Scene and LEO Weekly. Recently, he co-authored, along with R.G. Dunlop of the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, an investigation into sexual harassment complaints against State Rep. John Arnold which led to Arnold’s resignation. His work has been honored with several awards from the Louisville Society of Professional Journalists.

Pages

Politics
9:54 pm
Sat August 2, 2014

James Comer Announces He's Running for Kentucky Governor in '15

James Comer announced his bid for Kentucky Governor Saturday at Fancy Farm.
Credit Joseph Lord, Kentucky Public Radio

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer officially announced his bid for governor at the 134th annual Fancy Farm political picnic, becoming the third candidate to do so in the 2015 race and setting the stage for a Republican primary battle against a former Louisville Metro councilman in the process.

"It's been my dream come true to be your commissioner of agriculture. And I view the people of Western Kentucky as our family. So T.J. and I have chosen this time, and this place, to say to all of you, I will be a candidate for governor in 2015," Comer said.

The anticipated announcement now pits Comer, a Republican who succeeded Richie Farmer in 2012, against Hal Heiner, a Republican who narrowly lost to Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer in a 2010 election.

Comer says he’s yet to select a running mate, but will do so once he officially files his candidacy papers on Sept. 9.

Fancy Farm
1:01 pm
Fri August 1, 2014

On the Eve of Fancy Farm, Remembering Gatewood Galbraith and an Old Kentucky Oratory Tradition

Gatewood Galbraith and Dea Riley during their campaign for governor and lieutenant governor.

Originally published on Fri August 1, 2014 11:00 am

It’s Fancy Farm, 2011. Gatewood Galbraith, clad in his trademark fedora, takes the stage. 

“Thank you very much folks," he tells the applauding crowd. "Gatewood Galbraith here. First of all, I’m gonna go away from my regular speech for just a second and tell you Gov. Beshear, that was the worst darn speech I ever heard anybody give!”

The audience cheers.

Dubbed by many Kentucky political observers as one of the best stump speakers in recent history, Galbraith’s populist oratory style and steely resolve was a perfect match for the event.

Read more
Politics
4:36 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Waide Attorney: Indictment Against Lawmaker is 'Politically Motivated'

Rep. Ben Waide, R-Madisonville
Credit Twitter

The lawyer for embattled State Representative Ben Waide is dismissing charges that his client misused his company’s money to illegally fund his election campaign.

Hopkinsville attorney Bill Deatherage tells Kentucky Public Radio that charges of campaign finance violations against Waide, a Republican from Madisonville, are without merit.

“Ben Waide strongly maintains his innocence, and he intends to aggressively defend himself against these charges, and he believes they are politically motivated," said Deatherage.

The Kentucky Attorney General’s Office announced Tuesday that a Franklin County grand jury had indicted Waide on two counts of felony campaign finance violations for allegedly using money from Liberty Rehabilitation, where he is a partner, to bankroll his 2010 election campaign.

Waide could face up to 10 years in prison and up to $20,000 in fines, if convicted.

Politics
4:09 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

New Poll Shows No Clear Frontrunner for 2015 Kentucky Governor's Race

Kentucky voters will choose a successor to Gov. Steve Beshear in 2015.

A new poll suggests the race to decide Kentucky’s next governor, it’s still very much up for grabs.

Data from a recent Bluegrass poll shows a plurality of Kentucky voters have either “no opinion” or are neutral toward three gubernatorial candidates, including Attorney General Jack Conway; former Louisville Metro Councilman Hal Heiner; and Agriculture Secretary James Comer, whom is expected to announce his candidacy this weekend at the Fancy Farm political picnic in West Kentucky.

Notably, the poll suggests Conway is trailing Heiner and Comer among African Americans, with a negative favorability rating of eight points.

The poll surveyed 714 registered voters, and reported a margin of error just under 4 percent.

Regional
2:23 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

Noah's Ark Theme Park in Kentucky Passes First Hurdle for Tax Incentives

A 510-foot replica of "Noah's Ark" is planned for the Ark Encounter attraction in Clark County.
Credit ArkEncounter.com

The Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Board has approved $18 million in tax breaks for a controversial Christian theme park in Northern Kentucky.

The board voted unanimously Tuesday to approve sales tax incentives for the Ark Encounter, a religious theme park to be built in Williamstown, Ky., by a company controlled by Answers in Genesis, a conservative Christian non-profit that also operates the Creation Museum.

The project is slated to include a facsimile of Noah’s Ark and the Tower of Babel, and will proselytize Christian evangelicalism to patrons, according to an Answers in Genesis spokesman.

Finance board chairman Keith Williams said the project was evaluated like any other that comes before the panel, and a preliminary analysis of its economic impact bodes well for the state.

“They could produce a good amount of tourism for the state of Kentucky. It could help the hotel industry, the restaurant industry in that entire area. So if that is the case, and it does boost tourism, then they, yeah, they meet that criteria," Williams said.

The project will be eligible for $18 million in sales tax breaks over ten years if its attendance generates sufficient economic activity in and around the park.

Read more
Politics
9:35 am
Tue July 29, 2014

Dainty: A Democratic Pit Stop In Louisville on the Road to Fancy Farm

Attorney General Jack Conway played Dainty on Monday.

Originally published on Tue July 29, 2014 7:24 am

On the road to this weekend's Fancy Farm political picnic, there are detours.

One is the Dainty contest, a unique annual sports event in Louisville’s Schnitzelburg neighborhood that draws local and statewide politicians.

In the run up to Fancy Farm, the Dainty has served as a kind of roadside attraction. Candidates rub elbows with prospective voters in an attempt to energize the base in one of Kentucky's most solidly working-class Democratic strongholds.

Read more
Politics
1:19 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

Fancy Farm Chairman Thinks 2014 Edition Could See Largest Crowd Ever

Will Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer announce a run for the governor's office at Fancy Farm?
Credit Kentucky Dept. of Agriculture

This Saturday the 134th annual Fancy Farm political picnic will feature thousands of pounds of barbecue, and even spicier political rhetoric. In addition, the event’s chairman anticipates this year’s political gathering to be the largest ever.

Mark Wilson and his wife, Lori, have directed the political happenings at the Fancy Farm picnic for the past eight years. Mark anticipates this year’s crowd will be the largest since 1992, when Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate Al Gore spoke at the event. 

“It’s a ballpark, 15 to 20,000. And that’s what we anticipate this year, the same type of crowd. 

A lifelong congregant of the stump speech mecca’s St. Jerome Catholic parish, where the event is held alongside raffles and bingo, Wilson says local and state officeholders, as well as both of Kentucky’s U.S. Senators, will be present at Fancy Farm.

He says he anticipates Kentucky Agricultural Commissioner James Comer to keep with a tried and true Fancy Farm tradition and announce his rumored gubernatorial candidacy. 

“There’s speculation that he’s going to announce his intentions to run for governor on the Republican side of the aisle, and we think there’s a very good possibility he will make that announcement on our political platform on Saturday.”

Wilson says the event will also feature its other signature offering: Several thousand pounds of barbeque mutton, chicken, and pork to aid the digestion of what could be the biggest Fancy Farm ever.

Regional
7:26 pm
Sun July 27, 2014

General Burnside Island State Park to Lead Way For Park Privatization in Kentucky

General Burnside Island State Park
Credit Commonwealth of Kentucky

The Kentucky Department of Parks is poised to allow private corporations to develop at, or even operate aspects of, state parks, and expansion of previous efforts permitting commercial activity.

Parks Commissioner Elaine Walker suggested to a state legislative committee Thursday that General Burnside State Park, a 400-acre park 10 miles south of Somerset, could serve "as a potential pilot" for the effort.

Walker briefed the committee on the park system's fiscal outlook amid efforts to control growing operating costs—which have prompted some lawmakers to consider privatization efforts on their own—and offered a broad outline of the department's plans.

"I'm not sure I'm a big fan of the term 'privatization,'" Walker said. "What we're looking at is public-private partnership."

Walker said that the department is in the process of drafting a request for proposals from private companies to build and operate commercial facilities, including a new lodge. The requests could potentially include permitting a company to take over Burnside Island's 18-hole golf course and to perform maintenance duties, Walker said.

Read more
Politics
3:56 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Beshear Says Mountain Parkway Expansion Still Possible, Despite Highway Trust Fund Problems

The Mountain Parkway runs from I-64, east of Winchester, southeast to a junction with U.S. Route 460 near Salyersville.
Credit Kentucky Transportation Cabinet

Gov. Steve Beshear says that despite a lagging federal response to fixing the insolvent Federal Highway Trust Fund, the state will still pursue an expansion of Eastern Kentucky’s Mountain Parkway.

The governor says he hopes that the U.S. Senate will pass legislation passed by the House that will patch up the rapidly depleting fund through March.

“The Mountain Parkway project will continue as originally passed by the legislature in our transportation budget, and at least at this point, it’s not going to be affected adversely by any action or lack of action," Beshear said.

But the Mountain Parkway is slated to be largely paid for with federal highway reimbursement funds, and is a key component of the “Shaping Our Appalachian Region,” or SOAR, initiative championed by Beshear to revitalize the Eastern Kentucky economy.

The highway trust fund has been used to help states pay for road projects since the 1950s by collecting a gas tax, but it has spent more than it has taken in for nearly 20 years.

Regional
5:23 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

$1.3 Billion In State Contracts Not Unusual, Says Lawmaker

State Sen. Sara Beth Gregory of Monticello
Credit Kentucky LRC

Amid a $91 million state revenue shortfall, the Kentucky legislature’s Government Contract  Review Committee approved $1.3 billion worth of contracts this month. Outgoing Republican Sen. Sara Beth Gregory is a co-chair of the committee. She says the high dollar figure comes at the beginning of a new fiscal year, when  large numbers of contracts are typically renewed -- about 1,700 contracts in July alone.

But Gregory says that there are still contracts that creep into the committee that warrant more scrutiny from the public and the media.

 “It is somewhat surprising how much is overseen by this committee and how much comes before this committee or has the potential to come before this committee with relatively little press coverage,” said Gregory.

Gregory  says  the committee’s decisions can be overruled by the secretary of the finance cabinet, and that the best they can do is try to draw attention to contracts that award more money than they should.

The Legislative Ethics Commission reports that despite a reduction in contracts for the 2013-2014 fiscal year, the amount swelled to $3.4 billion from 2007 to 2011.

Pages