Forward Kentucky Newsletter

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Forward Kentucky

Notes from Bruce

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As always, this newsletter includes a list of everything published this week so you can scan it to see if you missed anything, the most-read story of the week in its entirety, and a good story from the archives. If you have ideas or feedback for these weekly newsletters, just send it to I guarantee it will get read.

On to the newsletter,


This Week’s Posts

This Week’s Most-Read Post

Making bank in Muhlenberg

Did you know there is going to be a political rally at the Muhlenberg County Agricultural Center in September? (Pandemic? What pandemic?)

And did you know that speakers at the event include General Mike Flynn, Lin Wood, the MyPillow guy Mike Lindell, and many more? And that a number of musical artists are performing as well?

And that the price to just get in the door is $250?!?

And that a VIP ticket goes for the low, low price of $500?!?

The whole shebang is being put on by someone named Brad Barton. To be honest, I had never heard of Mr. Barton until I got a tip about this so-called “rally.” Apparently, he is a mid-to-big deal in certain right-wing circles. He hosts an internet talk show called “The Lil Talk Show with Brad Barton,” with about 43,000 followers. He lives in Hixson, Tennessee, which is a suburb of Chattanooga.

Here’s the flyer for the “For God & Country: a Reunion of We the People” event. (Be sure to get that Declaration of Independence font in there.)

Impressive, huh? If I was into right-wing conspiracies (Barton’s latest show was about how the vaccines talk to the internet, as best as I could tell), I would certainly be tempted to attend.

But above all, the thing that struck me about this was the ticket price. For some people, $250 would be an entire week’s paycheck. Even for a middle-class person, it’s a good-sized investment. Shoot, it’s four times as much as a ticket to go see the Rolling Stones in Nashville. 🎸

So, where’s that moolah going? The tickets are being sold by some outfit called “1776 Events LLC.” Being the good internet sleuth that I am, I immediately jumped over to Open Corporates to see what I could learn about this company.

And lo and behold, “1776 Events LLC” was incorporated just 30 days ago (July 6) by none other than Brad Barton of Hixson, Tennessee.

So let’s see – if Barton can get just, say, one thousand people from all across west Kentucky to come to his “rally,” his new company takes in $250,000. Throw in another one hundred people willing to pay $500 for the VIP ticket, and he gets an additional $50,000.

Yes, I know he has to pay all those people something, and pay for the venue, and the sound system, and so on. It’s entirely possible that he could actually lose money on this venture.

But, the Ag Center will hold about 3,500 people if you put chairs on the floor. Sell it out at just the base price ticket, and your gross is $875,000. Get some VIPs instead, and Mr. Barton could be looking at a gross of over a million dollars.

So, the audience gets to hear conspiracy theories and outright lies for two days. Muhlenberg County gets its own super-spreader event.

And possibly, Brad Barton goes back to Hixson with a wad of Benjamins in his pocket.

As they say: Good work if you can get it.

From the Archives

Are We Ready for Climate Change?

(This was originally posted on Progress Louisville, the forerunner site to Forward Kentucky. It was written in 2015, and aimed at the city of Louisville, but the questions are even more on-point today.)

Let me propose two realities to you:

  • Climate change is real, it is here, and it’s going to get worse, perhaps much worse.
  • Practically no one in Washington or Frankfort has the political will to do anything meaningful about it.

If you grant me those realities, then some critical questions obviously follow:

  • What local risks should Metro Government, and the city as a whole, be looking at with regard to climate change?
  • Are we, in fact, managing for those risks? And if not, why not, and when are we going to start?

These questions are vitally important, yet we hear too few in Louisville talking about them, including elected officials. So, Progress Louisville is going to try to advance the discussion. Let’s see where it takes us.

One of the key tasks for any organization, including government, is risk management:

… the identification, assessment, and prioritization of risks (defined in ISO 31000 as the effect of uncertainty on objectives) followed by coordinated and economical application of resources to minimize, monitor, and control the probability and/or impact of unfortunate events.

Note that the above Wikipedia definition starts with identifying the risks. Essentially, this means brainstorming around the “what if?” question. Assessment, prioritization, avoidance, and mitigation all come after the ID work.

Here, then, is a starter set of questions for Metro Government, including Metro Council, to get answers to:

  • If our average and peak summer temperatures continue to increase, should we institute summer-time white flag days at various government, non-profit, and even corporate locations, such that persons without air conditioning can get out of the heat on those days?
  • If our summer air-conditioning bills continue to increase for all government buildings, how will that affect our budgets?
  • How much more will capital and maintenance projects cost as higher temperatures demand longer breaks and cancelled work days, not unlike the way rain and snow slow productivity, reducing the productivity of crews working outdoors?
  • What other industry segments in Greater Louisville are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change?
  • More specifically, are there any particular companies that are especially vulnerable, and do we as a city need to do anything to help them deal with the changes they will have to deal with? For example, could it become too hot in the summer to work during the day at UPS? If we can’t help all local employers to adapt, how will we decide which ones to assist?
  • What impact will climate change have on our school schedules, beyond the obvious impacts on physical education and sports programs?
  • What effects could climate change have on our tourism industry?
  • Beyond heat-related illnesses, what other health effects could climate change cause? Will mosquito-borne illnesses worsen?
  • If we have a long-term drought like California’s, do we have water rationing ordinances in place? Do we have enforcement mechanisms for them, with fines sufficient to discourage scofflaws?
  • Speaking of water — what are our agreements with upstream communities on the Ohio? In the case of drought, will Kentucky and neighboring states regulate river withdrawals fairly?
  • Where does our food come from? Are there any food sources for this area that could be affected or eliminated by climate change? Which crop pests and diseases will worsen with less winter die-off?
  • If residents of surrounding counties are more affected by climate change, and decide to move to the city due to their declining economic situation, could they be absorbed readily?

As you can see, some of these are relatively easy questions to ask and answer, while others will take both more research and more thoughtful planning.

The question is, are we asking and answering these questions and others like them? If we are, where then is the public risk management plan for climate change? If we do not have one, it is past time to build one, and to share it. Mayor Fischer, Metro Council – it’s time to get ready.

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Forward Kentucky is an independent media organization focused on progressive news and issues in Kentucky. Our objectives are to provide journalism that is objective, policies that are effective, and commentary that is progressive. Our goal is to help Kentucky become all that it can be through government that works, for all. We are "the progressive voice for Kentucky politics."

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