Category: In The News..

A Conversation with Centerpointe Developer, Dudley Webb

The Lexington Forum will host a “Charlie Rose” style interview featuring CentrePointe Developer Dudley Webb. Mr. Webb will be interviewed by former Lexington Herald-Leader reporter Beverly Fortune.

Seating is limited and available on a first come, first serve basis. Please note that RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED! We will not be accepting walk-ins the day of the event so take a moment and reserve your seat now. Your Forum Membership does not guarantee you a seat. You MUST complete the reservation below.

This will also serve at the Forum’s Annual Meeting. Newly elected members of the Board and President Elect will be announced.

Our time is limited. We ask that all attendees arrive early and be in their seats no later than 7:25.

Thursday, May 5, 2016
Hilary J. Boone Center
University of Kentucky Campus
7:00 Coffee and Networking
7:30 Breakfast and Program

Free to Members / Guest Fee $20

Please RSVP by noon on Tuesday, May 3, 2016


Free parking is available in the lot behind the Hilary J. Boone Center.

Treasurer Allison Ball and Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles

One to One with Treasurer Allison Ball and Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles

By John Gregory | KET


They are two of the youngest statewide elected officials in the country and they have big plans for how they want to improve their offices and life in the commonwealth.

Kentucky Treasurer Allison Ball and Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles appeared on KET’s One to One to discuss what they’ve learned since they started work in January and their goals for the future.

Kentucky Treasurer Allison Ball and Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles – Photo Credit: KET


A Watchdog for the State’s Finances
Although some have questioned the need for a state treasurer, Allison Ball says the importance of the office has been affirmed for her after just three months on the job. She says the treasurer is responsible for timely and accurate payments to the Internal Revenue Service, which if handled incorrectly could result in steep fines for the commonwealth. And she says state retirees and other beneficiaries depend on getting their benefit checks on time. As an example, Ball says she asked staff to work during the January snowstorm when all other government offices were closed so that pension payments to 50,000 retired teachers would still be delivered.

“As I’ve been doing the job, I’ve come to see more and more about how important it is,” says Ball. “You need somebody who’s actually making sure the money is being spent the way it’s supposed to and, as an attorney, I care very deeply about, ‘Is it constitutional [and] is it statutory?’”

Ball says she’s pleased with how well the merit employees in the treasurer’s office have embraced her watchdog philosophy. She relates how one long-time staffer discovered and corrected a printing problem that had occasionally caused duplicate checks to be cut.

In addition to overseeing the state’s checkbook, Ball serves on boards for the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System, the Kentucky Lottery, and the state investment commission. Given her background as a bankruptcy attorney in Prestonsburg, Ball says she’s also eager to help Kentuckians improve their personal finances. Since the treasurer’s office has no budget for such an effort, Ball wants to partner with private and civic organizations to promote financial literacy training.

Ball’s other goals for her office include pushing for tax reform to help the state’s economy, and advocating for more transparency in government. She supported two Senate bills during the legislative session that would give the public more access to information about how the state pension funds are invested and what retirement benefits legislators receive.

“Good government is transparent government,” Ball says. “If we’re going to make the right decisions when it comes to our money, we need to know what we’re spending it on.”

Ag Commissioner Hits the Ground Running
The immediate demands of the job left Ryan Quarles little time to settle in to his work as Kentucky’s Commissioner of Agriculture. He traveled the state to attend various winter livestock and commodity meetings, and his office helped address a bird flu threat to the state’s chicken industry, as well as the aftermath of the fire that destroyed the Bluegrass Stockyards in Lexington.

The Scott County native and former state representative has been able to work with his former legislative colleagues on several agriculture-related bills. He notes water resource management legislation backed by the Kentucky Farm Bureau, as well as bills regarding grain inspections, tax exemptions for agricultural activities, restructuring the state fair board, and regulating zipline attractions.

In addition to his regulatory responsibilities (the agency calibrates weights, measures, and gas pumps around the state), Quarles says he wants to build on the success of the Kentucky Proud food products marketing program and the various educational functions of the department. The commissioner is also eager to promote crop diversity in the commonwealth, ranging from hops to supply local craft beer brewers to hemp for the state’s burgeoning fiber industry.

Hemp used to be a cash crop in Kentucky until it was restricted under anti-marijuana laws. Recent legislation has allowed test plots of hemp to be grown, and Quarles says the fibrous plant can be financially viable once again if federal authorities allow it.

“It’s a crop that connects Kentucky’s past to its future,” Quarles says. “So it’s important for us to continue to research the growing methods and also create a business environment to attract processors here and treat them no different than a manufacturer who wants to come to Kentucky to expand or relocate.”

Going forward the commissioner says he wants to promote more international trade for the state’s farm products and fight what he sees as federal regulatory overreach. Quarles also hopes to launch Kentucky’s first-ever commission on hunger.

“I believe the department of ag is the best facilitator to talk about an issue that affects far too many Kentuckians,” Quarles says. “One in six people go to bed hungry … and I believe the Department of Agriculture, which is focused on food, can have that discussion.”

A New Generation of Political Leadership
At 32 years old, Commissioner Quarles is the youngest statewide elected official currently serving in the United States, while Treasurer Ball, age 34, is the nation’s youngest female statewide official. As such, the two say their generation brings a fresh approach to governing that is less partisan and more open to accountability and transparency.

Ball says she hasn’t had time to follow the presidential campaign so far, but she has applied to be a delegate to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July.

Quarles says he’s been disturbed by some of the rhetoric coming from the presidential candidates. Whoever wins in November, Quarles says he hopes the new president will address issues that concern millennials, such as the soaring student loan debts.

One to One airs:

Sundays at 1:00/12:00 pm CT on KET

Mondays at 12:30 am ET on KET

Sundays at 11:30 pm CT on KET

Tuesdays at 7:30/6:30 pm CT on KET2

Candidates in the 6th District Democratic Primary

Candidates in the 6th District Democratic Primary

By John Gregory | 04/12/16 9:39 AM

Candidates running in the Democratic primary for the U.S. House of Representatives in the state’s 6th Congressional district appeared on Monday’s edition of Kentucky Tonight on KET. The program featured Nancy Jo Kemper and Geoff Young.


The 6th Congressional district comprises all or parts of 19 central and eastern Kentucky counties including Anderson, Bath, Bourbon, Clark, Estill, Fayette, Fleming, Franklin, Harrison, Jessamine, Madison, Menifee, Montgomery, Nicholas, Powell, Robertson, Scott, Wolfe, and Woodford. The district is currently served by Republican incumbent Andy Barr.

A native of Lexington, Nancy Jo Kemper graduated from Transylvania University and Yale University Divinity School. She has served as a congregational minister and was executive director of the Kentucky Council of Churches for 18 years. She says having been a single mother who had to make ends meet every month, she understands the challenges that many in the district face. Kemper wants to focus on issues affecting families, income inequality, minority and women’s rights, and getting America out of “international quagmires.”

“I’m a fresh voice, I have a broad, understanding mind and a caring heart,” Kemper says. “I’ve stood up for civil liberties… and I’ve never met a problem that I couldn’t master quickly.”

Geoff Young moved to Lexington 34 years ago. He has degrees in economics and engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. Young worked for more than a decade on renewable energy and energy efficiency issues as assistant director of the Kentucky Energy Office. He has previously run for the state House, governor, and Congress. He says his key interests are defense spending and international affairs.

“I am the anti-war candidate,” Young says. “Since 9/11, our country’s foreign policies have gone off the rails. We have used military force first rather than as a last resort and that has to stop.”

Federal Budget and National Debt
Young says the federal budget is “completely out of whack” because of spending on weapons and what he calls unjust wars. He contends America’s defense and intelligence budgets could be cut by 50 percent, which he argues would improve national security, not hurt it. Young also says the U.S. financial system is run like a casino by Wall Street interests when it should be focused on investing in constructive projects.

Kemper says the escalating national debt must be addressed. She says she would do that by increasing incomes for all Americans, which would generate more tax revenues, and by giving the Internal Revenue Service the staffing needed to collect all taxes actually owed.

The Economy and Poverty
To help poor and working-class families, Kemper says she supports job creation through infrastructure projects, tax relief for small businesses and towns, parenting programs, workforce retraining, and educational opportunities.

“To raise a generation out of poverty, we really need to start our education system at the early childhood level, Kemper says. “That’s when their brains are forming and that’s when they need the nutrition… and the educational stimulation that will enable them to continue to learn and grow.”

Young says the state and nation need comprehensive tax reform to ensure that tax laws don’t penalize low- and middle-class individuals. He says he also sees tremendous potential in engaging the state’s entrepreneurs to create a thriving local economy based on sustainable energy.

“Kentucky, including eastern Kentucky could become a center of innovation in energy efficiency and renewable energy,” Young says. “That would also improve the environment and slow down climate disruption.”

Drug Policy
As the district struggles with opioid and prescription drug addiction as well as overdose deaths, the candidates offer very different strategies for dealing with substance abuse.

Young says the war on drugs has failed and that a new policy approach that jails fewer drug users is needed. He also advocates for legalizing marijuana, which he claims can be used to get people off a heroin addiction.

Kemper opposes recreational marijuana but says she does support tightly regulated use of medicinal marijuana. She advocates for addiction treatment and would encourage doctors and patients to find new ways to address chronic pain.

Education Issues
Both candidates agree that the federal government should address disparities in school funding so that children in poor and wealthy communities have the same educational opportunities.

Kemper adds that she believes federal education officials should also protect the civil rights of minority students as well as those with different gender identities and physical or learning disabilities.

Presidential Politics
Kemper says she agrees with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on many issues and values former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s pragmatism. She says she will wholeheartedly support whoever gets the Democratic nomination.

Young describes himself as a “Bernie Sanders Democrat.” He contends that Clinton is “war-like” and he criticizes her for pushing to bomb Libya in 2011 when she was secretary of state.

Kentucky Tonight airs weekly on KET:

Mondays at 8:00/7:00 PM CT

Wednesdays at 2:00/1:00 AM CT

Highlights from Drug Summit

Highlights from Drug Summit

By John Gregory | KET


In 2014, more than 28,000 Americans died from opioid-related overdoses. Nearly 1,100 of those individuals were Kentuckians.

“How do we save lives once people are addicted so that they have a chance to recover?” President Barack Obama asked a recent summit on heroin and prescription drug abuse. “It doesn’t do us much good to talk about recovery after folks are dead.”

Yet addiction specialists contend a number of challenges ranging from health care practices to criminal justice policies are hampering an effective response to the growing drug crisis. They joined the president and other government officials as well as health professionals to discuss those issues at the March summit presented by Operation UNITE, a Kentucky-based non-profit that works to eliminate illegal drug use.

KET’s One to One presented highlights of a March 29 panel discussion from the event that featured President Obama and Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen.

Highlights from Drug Summit – KET Content


Changing Minds on Addiction Treatment
The president says one of his goals for the Affordable Care Act was to create parity in how health insurance companies and providers treat those with an addiction or mental health problem. He says those cases should receive the same approach to treatment that any other medical conditions would. Obama adds that parity is good for business because it will lead to a more productive workforce and lower health insurance costs for employers.

But during her time as an emergency room physician, Commissioner Wen says parity was hard to find. She recounts the story of a patient who became addicted to pain pills following a back injury. After several visits to the ER to plead for help, Wen says her staff was finally able to get the patient into treatment, but the first available appointment wasn’t for two weeks. Wen says the woman returned to the ER later that same day with a drug overdose and doctors were unable to revive her.

“What so many of our patients need is addiction treatment at the time that they’re requesting it,” says Wen. “To someone who has a heart attack, we never say, ‘Go home and if you haven’t died in three weeks, come back and get treated.’”

Even if someone has overdosed on an opioid, their death can still be prevented if the overdose is caught in time. Overdose reversal drugs like Naloxone are now more widely available to first responders and even the general public as a result of recently enacted laws. Yet some doctors, law enforcement officials, and policymakers oppose the use of Naloxone because they contend it will simply allow more people to use drugs without the fear of overdosing.

Wen challenges that assumption by saying that doctors don’t refuse to give patients with a peanut allergy an epinephrine auto-injector on the assumption that denying the medicine will allow the person to eat more peanuts.

Similar criticisms have been made against needle-exchange programs. Proponents say such initiatives help get people into treatment and decrease the exchange of blood-borne diseases among intravenous drug users. Opponents argue that needle exchanges promote substance abuse. Obama says he hope federal efforts can help change those misconceptions.

“The good news is that we base our guidance and our policy on science,” Obama says. “When you look at the science, there’s no evidence that because of a syringe-exchange program or Naloxone, that that is thereby an incentive for people to get addicted to drugs. That’s not the dynamic that’s taking place.”

Improving Access to Services
Access to addiction treatment programs and mental health services is also an issue. Obama says patients who can’t easily get to a clinic may begin to feel isolated and resort to self-medicating as a way of dealing with their problem.

“You’ve got to have a relationship with a wellness system, and the problem is there’s still a lot of gaps, especially in rural communities where that does not exist,” Obama says.

The president applauds the work of faith-based groups and non-profit organizations to provide drug addiction treatment programs, but he says the government must play a part as well. He says he wants every county in America to have resources to provide a basic level of treatment for those who need it.

The president and Commissioner Wen also argue for new approaches in the criminal justice system.

“We need to recognize that addiction is a disease,” Wen says. “If we treat addiction like a crime, then we’re doing something that’s not scientific, that’s inhuman, and it’s frankly ineffective.”

Wen and Obama advocate for providing more prison-based treatment options for people with addiction who are incarcerated, as well as greater life-skills training and support services once those individuals are released. The president says without more of those opportunities, those with addiction are more likely to re-offend. With those programs, he says recidivism rates will be lower and states will save on prison costs.

“It is so much more expensive for us not to make these front-end investments because we end up with jails full of folks who can’t function when they get out,” Obama says. “It’s just smarter for us to do the right thing on the front end.”

One to One airs:

Sundays at 1:00/12:00 pm CT on KET

Mondays at 12:30 am ET on KET

Sundays at 11:30 pm CT on KET

Tuesdays at 7:30/6:30 pm CT on KET2

foundation_logo2013This video is a KET production, funded in part by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

Kentucky’s Farmland Preservation Tax Break – Who Should Qualify?

Should land developers and owners of suburban 10-acre estates receive Kentucky’s significant farmland preservation tax break? The question was raised in a recent Lexington Herald-Leader investigative series. Now, with many competing interests at stake, the state legislature is considering putting an end to the practice.

The Lexington Forum will host a panel discussion on the issue at its annual Keeneland breakfast on April 7, 2016.

Our panel, to be moderated by Tom Martin will include:

David O’Neill, Fayette Co. PVA
David Gordon, Executive Dir., Kentucky Office of Property Valuation
David Beck, KY Farm Bureau Exec. VP

Thursday, April 7, 2016
Kentucky Room – Keeneland Clubhouse
7:15 Coffee and Networking
7:30 Breakfast and Program

Free to Members / Guest Fee $20
Please RSVP by noon on Monday, April 4, 2016


To ensure the maximum amount of time for our panelists and attendee discussion we will begin promptly at 7:30. Please be prepared to take your seat before the program begins.


Tour guests will learn about the history of Keeneland and get an insider view of operations for both racing and sales. Keeneland’s experienced Tour Guides allow guests to stroll through the Keeneland Paddock and Grandstand, all while enjoying the morning workouts.


The Quality of Our Education System and Workforce Development Initiatives

Our region must create, attract and sustain a globally skilled workforce in order to meet the needs of the region’s existing and target industries. This is achieved through working with the education community, local workforce partners, community-based organizations and area businesses. A workforce with 21st century skills is critical for individual and metropolitan prosperity as well as business success. Therefore, the quality of our education system and workforce development initiatives is of the utmost importance.

On Thursday, March 3rd, The Lexington Forum has invited panelists Danette Wilder, President & CEO of SealingLife Technology, and Dr. Robert King, Kentucky Council for Postsecondary Education, to discuss current issues that our region faces when it comes to training our workforce.  Wilder and King will talk about challenges and highlight training programs and educational initiatives that are working to ensure prosperity for our region’s future.

This panel will be moderated by Mark Green of The Lane Report.

Thursday, March 3, 2016
Hilary J. Boone Center – UK’s Campus
7:15 Coffee and Networking
7:30 Breakfast and Program

Free to Members / Guest Fee $20
Please RSVP by noon on Tuesday March 1, 2016


To ensure the maximum amount of time for our panelists and attendee discussion we will begin promptly at 7:30. Please be prepared to take your seat before the program begins.