Talks Continue Between University Hospital and Potential Business Partners

Officials with University of Louisville Hospital continue their work on finding a new business partner.

A new report from outside consultants says University Medical Center offers average service when compared to other academic hospitals, and the study shows a number of shortcomings in UMC’s growth strategy and business plan. But even if all that changed, the report says UMC still needs a partner.

Last year, the governor blocked University Medical Center’s attempt to merge with Jewish Hospital and St. Mary’s Healthcare and Catholic Health Initiatives. After the rejection, UMC issued a request for proposals for new partners. But they aren’t pursuing a merger, since officials feel state approval will only be granted for a partnership that keeps UMC under local control.

“We believe a merger is not allowable because of what the governor said in the message he gave when he denied the merger,” says UMC CEO James Taylor.

Taylor says he learned another lesson from the controversial merger attempt; he’ll change the way UMC presents its plans for its next business partnership.

“Once we legally can begin to talk about what happens, I think we will do that. We don’t want a repeat of what happened last time,” he says.

Taylor says public conversations about UMC’s next steps will likely begin late next month.

Beyond Pink and Blue: Rebecca Grant, Defining Fairness

Rebecca Grant was a Staff Sergeant in the Army National Guard. Twelve years into her military career, a fellow soldier found and circulated a picture of her wearing a dress. The Army took issue with the photo because she had enlisted and had been serving as male—her biological sex.

Rebecca is now the president of Sienna, a transgender social, educational and support group, and has come out as transgendered and a lesbian. But embracing her identity hasn’t been without challenges. “Right now, I’m able to still marry, let’s say, my partner, a female, legally,” she explains. “But once I have my sex change, I would not have that opportunity. And that seems completely wrong.”

Rebecca Grant told WFPL’s Phillip M. Bailey and Laura Ellis her story, starting with a different transition: from soldier to civilian.

Audio MP3

On Language
“At Sienna, we look at the ‘trans-asterisk.’ Anyone who has any kind of gender variance. There are differences between cross dressers and transsexuals and there are people who just identify as transgender now. Then you have your entertainers, which is still a gender variance. If you have someone who is biologically male performing as a female, they’re a drag queen. And it’s a performance, but it’s still types of gender expression.”

On a Binary Model of Gender
“There’s a boy who was born, and they get a blue blanket. There was a girl that was born, and they get a pink blanket. But it’s not just that simple. There are indications that there are variations, within the womb, of gender. It’s not just one or the other. It’s a very wide in-between area.”

On Growing Up
“Growing up in the ’80s, that’s when the height of the AIDS was coming around in society. It was very wrong to be LGBT. At home, my parents were really good. I was able to, to a point, dress like a girl. They didn’t care. And, to a point, even cross dressing, or wearing clothes underneath my male clothes. Those that are are considered ‘gender conforming,’ they’re able to go out to school when they’re in their teens, and be judged by public opinion. Trans kids aren’t able to do that as much. They have to hide it.”

On Acceptance Within the Gay Community
“I go to more lesbian-type events. I don’t want to say I haven’t been accepted, but it took me a little longer to be accepted into the lesbian community. When I was coming out, when I was outed, my largest support was actually in the gay community. And I think for the most part I already was accepted there. When I started feeling more confident about myself, and dressing more as a female, I was able to gain friends, and most of the time it was gay males.”

On Trans Issues Being Put on the Back Burner
“I believe that is getting better. We’re not being pushed to the back as much. There are more trans people that are having a voice towards the fight. More trans people are being able to be out of the closet, because society is getting better as a whole. And we’re able to speak more about the issues at hand, and not just hide in the closet and hope that our, usually gay, part of the organization stands up for us.”

McConnell Met With Romney

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., met with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in Washington on Wednesday, but sources are keeping the discussion quiet.

From National Journal:

A Senate Republican leadership aide confirmed the meeting, the first announced meeting this year between the two leading Republicans, but declined to comment further. Romney’s camp also declined to comment beyond confirming the meeting.

Romney met in March with Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., who is often at odds with McConnell, and House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis. Publicly, Romney has mostly steered clear of top Hill Republicans including McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, but GOP aides say GOP congressional leaders have coordinated with Romney’s campaign behind the scenes for months, and the public cooperation between the former Massachusetts governor and Hill Republicans has increased since Romney’s rivals for the GOP nomination exited the contest.

McConnell endorsed Romney in mid-April.

Racing Commission Considering Ban of Anti-Bleeding Drug

From Josh James, Kentucky Public Radio

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has set a town hall meeting to discuss a proposal that would phase out the use of an anti-bleeding drug on race days in the U.S. The drug, furosemide, also known as Lasix, is given to horses to prevent bleeding in the lungs caused by the stress of racing. Eric Mitchell, editor-in-chief for Bloodhorse magazine, says Kentucky is among the first states to debate a limited ban on the practice.    

“There’s one side that says ‘we know enough, we’ve looked at the drug, we know what it’s impacts are. There’s no reason that North America should be using this race day medication when the rest of the world isn’t.’ The pro Lasix (people) will make a point that bleeding is an important health issue, this is a medication that we’ve used a long time. It’s proven safe,” he said.

The ban would initially apply to two-year-olds, starting next January, and then to two  and three-year olds starting the following year. By 2015, the ban would be in effect for all horses entered to race in graded or listed stakes races in the state. The meeting is set for June 5 in Frankfort.

Study: Indiana Gun Deaths Outpaced Motor Vehicle Deaths in 2009

From the Associated Press:

A new study says the number of people killed by guns in Indiana in 2009 has surpassed those who died in traffic accidents.

The study released this week by the Washington, D.C.-based Violence Policy Center says Indiana is one of 10 states where there were more gun deaths than traffic deaths in 2009. The other states are Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Virginia and Washington.

In Indiana, 735 gun deaths were reported in 2009, compared with 715 people who died in motor vehicle accidents.

Nationally, there were more than 31-thousand firearm deaths and more than 36-thousand motor vehicle deaths in 2009.

The report cites data from the Centers for Disease Control.

The Violence Policy Center is a national educational and advocacy organization that says its goal is to stop gun death and injury.

Speed Museum Independence Exhibit Includes Rare Declaration Replica

Bicentennial Indian, 1975 by Fritz Scholder (American)

Visitors to the Speed Art Museum will get a bonus history lesson this summer. A rare limited edition 19th century copy of the original Declaration of Independence will go on display in an independence-themed exhibit Saturday.

By 1820, the original Declaration of Independence had already started to deteriorate. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams commissioned a copperplate engraving of the handwritten document from William J. Stone, who made about 200 copies on vellum.

Louisville Metro government owns one of 31 known surviving Stone replicas and has loaned the document to the Speed Art Museum. Continue reading “Speed Museum Independence Exhibit Includes Rare Declaration Replica”

Council Members Defend, React to Parker’s Surprise Victory

Louisville Metro Council members are having mixed reactions to Tea Party candidate Marilyn Parker defeating Republican incumbent Jon Ackerson in the District 18 primary race.

Earlier this year, a majority of GOP council members backed Parker over Ackerson after claiming the one-term city lawmaker too often sided with Democrats in key debates. On the council, Ackerson was considered a bipartisan member willing to work with both parties and was favored to win the contests.

But Parker worked the neighborhoods diligently and was able to oust Ackerson from office by a razor-thin margin of 37 votes in the east Louisville district.

Councilwoman Tina Ward-Pugh, D-9, says she doesn’t want to dismiss Parker and wants to welcome more women to the council, but that Parker’s controversial remarks over the years and Tea Party affiliation raise questions.

“Her cohorts around this town and around the country haven’t in my opinion shown their willingness to work across the aisle and not work in absolutism, in my way or no way,” she says. “So unfortunately she probably has that baggage coming in with her.”

Continue reading “Council Members Defend, React to Parker’s Surprise Victory”

Activist Says Voters Could Have Chosen “Uncommitted” Over Obama for Many Reasons

Kentucky has become the latest in a growing number of states where Democratic voters have chosen not to vote for President Obama in primary elections.

More than 40 percent of Democratic voters who went to the polls yesterday selected someone other than Mr. Obama.

Kentucky’s primary results have mirrored that of other southern, conservative states like Arkansas and West Virginia. In both of those states, other candidates have attracted a significant amount of the primary votes away from Mr. Obama. But in Kentucky, there was no other candidate on the ballot, and voters instead chose “uncommitted.” Continue reading “Activist Says Voters Could Have Chosen “Uncommitted” Over Obama for Many Reasons”

EPA Raises Concerns About LG&E Plan For Trimble County Coal Ash Landfill

The Environmental Protection Agency has concerns about the environmental impact of a 218-acre coal ash landfill in Trimble County proposed by Louisville Gas and Electric.

LG&E is asking for permission to construct the landfill near its Trimble County power plant. If it’s permitted, the site will store coal ash—the waste that’s leftover after coal is burned. The company currently stores the Trimble County plant’s ash in an impoundment pond, but the pond is getting full and the company needs to find somewhere else to store the ash.

The EPA’s Region 4 office sent a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers yesterday, outlining its opposition to the project. In the letter, the EPA raises issues with the landfill’s affect on more than 54,000 feet of ecologically-sensitive streams and an acre of wetlands.

EPA Region 4 Administrator Gwen Keyes-Fleming also suggests LG&E may have overestimated the coal ash it will need to store in the landfill. In the letter, Keyes-Fleming says LG&E officials have indicated they plan to re-use some of the coal ash, but didn’t take that into account in the calculations of the landfill’s volume. She suggests a smaller landfill would have less effect on the environment. Continue reading “EPA Raises Concerns About LG&E Plan For Trimble County Coal Ash Landfill”

Pundits Say Paul Deserves Some Credit for Massie’s Victory

Many political pundits are ready to crown U.S. Senator Rand Paul as another Kentucky kingmaker following the Congressional primary victory of Thomas Massie.

Paul endorsed tea party candidate Massie, who won the Fourth Congressional GOP primary yesterday. The endorsement was Paul’s first in his home state since becoming Kentucky’s junior senator in 2010.

And while Massie’s campaign benefited from a Super PAC that spent more than a half million dollars in the primary race, former GOP consultant Les Fugate says Paul deserves some credit too.

“To be able to help someone navigate through a seven person primary and win, when frankly across the state tea party candidates didn’t win, to be able to do that says a lot about the senator and his engagement in the race,” he says. Continue reading “Pundits Say Paul Deserves Some Credit for Massie’s Victory”