The economic meeting held at KCTCS by our politicians was less than smoke and mirrors, it was just more smoke. Governor Steve Beshear was there with Hal Rogers, Greg Stumbo, and Robert Stivers, and the only thing they could have done any better was keep their mouths shut, but they didn’t.
No, they brought their road show to the faithful to show how much they care about the mountain folk who have been devastated by the war on coal. A war Beshear’s Division of Water helped sponsor while pointing the finger at the EPA, an agency that did not need DOW assistance.
At any rate, the conference at the college announced yet another initiative, SOAR, for Shaping Our Appalachian Region. There will be meetings, consultants, and all kinds of good stuff, but you would have to stretch your imagination like a rubber band to think these shape-shifting politicians are going to make a significant number of jobs appear.
If you think the 1,500 jobs put in London were done so because of its proximity to I-75 you would be wrong. These jobs are not producing anything that needs parts or ships out finished products. The jobs were put in London to gain favor for the Democrats in an area with a strong Republican presence. The Republicans didn’t go against the location as it will benefit many of their people, and the Democrats consider the mountains as their own no matter what they do.
Were those jobs to have been put where they were needed the most they would have been in the coalfields. Jobs that, due to their nature, could have been split up and located in different towns. They are telecommunication jobs that perhaps could have been divided between Harlan and Hazard.
These are good-paying jobs, and there is nothing that would stand in the way of having 750 of them in either town except the political advantage.
In the past we were told there was nothing our legislators could do in Frankfort because they were so outnumbered by the folks from the larger metropolitan areas of the state. Now we have Robert Stivers from Clay County as the President of the Kentucky Senate, Brandon Smith of Hazard is the Senate Majority Whip, and Greg Stumbo from Prestonsburg is Speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives.
The Kentucky Legislature is controlled by Coalfield Legislators, but the coalfields are worse off now than in the past. Perhaps we could do with fewer initiatives and more real representation. Eventually the smoke level from all the initiatives is going to violate EPA Regulations.