State's high court blocks use of new legislative districts

Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer (KY) - Saturday, February 25, 2012
By Jack Brammer 

Lexington Herald-Leader 

FRANKFORT — The Kentucky Supreme Court has blocked implementation of the newly drawn boundaries for state legislative districts. 

In a two-page order issued a few hours after hearing oral arguments in the case Friday morning, the state's highest court upheld Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd's ruling that this year's redistricting was unconstitutional. 

"Until the General Assembly passes redistricting legislation that complies with Section 33 of the Kentucky Constitution, the terms of the injunction entered by the Franklin Circuit Court remain in place," the court said. 

That means, the court said, districts enacted in 2002 remain in place. 

The court added that because the case was expedited, a full opinion from the court will come later. 

All six justices who heard the case agreed. Justice Will T. Scott recused himself from the case earlier this month because he is seeking re-election from a district that was redrawn in House Bill 1. 

The issue has created uncertainty for state lawmakers because they do not know from which district they will run. All 100 state House seats and one-half, or 19, of the state Senate seats are up for election this year. 

Shepherd ruled Feb. 7 that Kentucky's newly drawn legislative districts are unconstitutional. Shepherd also ordered election officials to use previous district lines in this year's state legislative elections. 

Shepherd tossed out boundaries that lawmakers approved and Gov. Steve Beshear signed into law last month. 

The Supreme Court's decision to uphold Shepherd's ruling is a victory for House Republicans and Democratic state Sen. Kathy Stein of Lexington, who challenged the constitutionality of HB 1. 

Shepherd said HB 1 was unconstitutional because it allows some districts to vary by more than 5 percent from the ideal population size and divides more counties into separate legislative districts than necessary. 

Legislative leaders appealed Shepherd's ruling to the Kentucky Court of Appeals, which sent it on to the Kentucky Supreme Court. 

Sheryl Snyder, an attorney for the Legislative Research Commission, argued that the legislature used proper standards this year in redrawing district boundaries and needed flexibility in splitting counties. 

But Victor Maddox, attorney for the House Republicans, argued that the state already has flexible rules for redistricting and that the legislature this year violated them. 

If the legislature is given more flexibility in redistrict, "next time no one will know what the standards will be." Redistricting takes place every 10 years to account for population changes reported in the U.S. Census. 

Scott White, attorney for Sen. Stein, told the high court, "This is really an easy case." 

Police: Son shot father in fight 

By Benjamin Joubert 

Kentucky New Era 

HOPKINSVILLE — A Hopkinsville man was flown to the hospital Thursday morning after his son allegedly opened fire on him during an argument, according to a Kentucky State Police news release. 

John L. Pateman, 30, and his father, John C. Pateman, 64, were arguing at a home on Gospel of Peace Road around 11:15 p.m. Wednesday. 

At some point, the father left the house and got into a 1990s Dodge Dakota. Before the father could leave the driveway, the 30-year-old son came out of the house holding a handgun and fired multiple times at the Dodge, hitting the father at least twice, said Stu Recke, spokesman for KSP out of Nortonville. 

The 64-year-old then drove himself nearly 5 miles to Jennie Stuart Medical Center, said Christian County Sheriff's Deputy Tim Cooksey. 

Radio communication between Hopkinsville police and Emergency Communication Center employees stated that the man was "bleeding profusely" and that there were gunshot wounds on the man's neck and back. 

John C. Pateman was flown by helicopter to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., where he was placed in the intensive care unit. 

John L. Pateman was arrested without altercation at a nearby residence shortly after and charged with first-degree assault, according to the release. If his father dies, Pateman's charge will be upgraded to murder, Recke said. 

As of Thursday afternoon, John C. Pateman was listed in critical condition. 

Recke said he was unsure if alcohol or drugs were involved during the altercation and that it wasn't clear on Thursday what the two were arguing about. 

On Thursday evening, the son was lodged at the Christian County Jail on a $25,000 bond. 

The incident is still under investigation by KSP Detective Matt Foster, police said. 

New petition aims to preempt wet-dry vote in Murray 


Murray Ledger & Times 

The group Keep It Out of Murray is circulating a petition in opposition to the latest effort to allow a vote on package alcohol sales, according to group spokesman the Rev. Martin Severns. 

The petition is meant to oppose the group known as Grow Murray, which began circulating a petition last month to hold a vote to allow package alcohol sales in the city. Keep It Out of Murray was first formed in 2009 to oppose a similar alcohol petition, which led to both groups dropping their petitions within several weeks. 

"We're just in the process of gaining some signatures for (the Keep It Out of Murray) petition simply in response to the Grow Murray charge to solicit signatures," said Severns, who is a pastor at Memorial Baptist Church. "We've just begun to refresh some of the sources that we had back in the last (petition) a couple of years ago." 

According to an email that was forwarded to the Murray Ledger & Times, the group is "attempting to have a vote which will preempt the vote for bars and package liquor sales, thus ensuring that alcohol sales are not expanded and Murray remains a safe, family-friendly community." The Keep It Out of Murray email said that if the group could get about 700 Murray residents to sign the petition, the Grow Murray petition could not come to a vote. 

If the Keep It Out of Murray petition becomes certified, there could then be no other local option election in the city for another three years, according to KRS 242.030. The statute also states that a local option election shall be held "not earlier than 60 days nor later than 90 days after the date that the petition is filed with the county clerk." If the date of the local option election is not stated on the petition, it would be designated by the county judge-executive. 

The Keep It Out of Murray email said the petition demands that an election be held to decide if the city keeps the sale of alcoholic beverages as it currently is or eliminates alcohol sales altogether. 

"If this petition is successful, there will be a vote to determine whether we should keep alcohol in restaurants with the same rules as we have now," the email said. "If the vote is YES, alcohol sales will remain as they are in Murray. If the vote is NO, then alcohol sales in Murray will cease 60 days after the election is certified." 

The email also states that bringing bars and package liquor stores to Murray would be "devastating" and would not "bring the economic prosperity promised by the Grow Murray group." 

"The fact is that any tax dollars generated have to be used to offset the additional law enforcement and administrative costs that the city will incur. This is what is currently happening and what would have to happen if Grow Murray were successful," the email said. 

Federal funding may be available to fix Kentucky Lake bridge 

Kentucky Press News Service 

FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear has signed an executive order formally declaring a regional state of emergency in the destruction of a span of the Eggners Ferry Bridge over Kentucky Lake. 

The order is a formal step to permit the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to seek emergency funds from the Federal Highway Administration in the cabinet's ongoing work to restore traffic across Kentucky Lake. 

"We continue to explore every possible avenue in our efforts to restore traffic to this vital highway in western Kentucky," Beshear said in a statement issued by his office. "My executive order is one more step toward that objective. By working with our partners at FHWA, we hope to speed the process as much as possible." 

The two-lane Eggners Ferry Bridge carries U.S. 68/Kentucky 80 across the lake between Marshall and Trigg counties. The route was severed when a cargo vessel owned by Foss Maritime struck and ripped away a 322-foot span of the bridge on the night of Jan. 26. The following day, the Transportation Cabinet notified the Federal Highway Administration of Kentucky's intent to ask for emergency funding to help offset costs of repairs, transportation alternatives and debris removal. 

Engineers who conducted an underwater inspection reported "no significant damage" to the bridge's piers. That was a positive development in the state's ongoing assessment of options for interim and permanent solutions. 

The 80-year-old Eggners Ferry Bridge provides the western entrance to Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, one of Kentucky's most important tourism sites. 

Substantial preconstruction work has been carried out for two new bridges that will replace the Eggners Ferry Bridge and a similarly aged and obsolete bridge over Lake Barkley, on the other side of LBL. The recommended highway plan that Beshear sent to the General Assembly on Jan. 17 provides $330 million in construction funding. That funding will not be affected by cost of repairs to the old bridge.