Wed, Jan 17, 2018 09:22 AM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
2003-06-20 opinion
You can't flunk this test even if you really try
Scott Perry
Okay class, time for a pop quiz.

Q: Exactly who is surprised that Paul Patton issued pardons for two of his closest aides and two other men who worked on his 1995 campaign before they were even tried or convicted of breaking state campaign laws?

A: Um, nobody?

Very good, A-pluses all 'round.

Now, for an essay test.

Explain in your own words why Patton's decision to preempt the courts and our system of justice is the second dumbest thing our lame governor has done in the past nine months.

Take your time.

Here's some clues...

First, by pardoning his chief of staff Skipper Martin, labor liaison Danny Ross and Teamsters bosses Lon Fields Sr. and Robert Winstead, Patton provides prima facie evidence of their guilt.

In other words, the Guv, saying the foursome has "suffered enough," has acknowledged their guilt by excusing them in advance.

One of the men, who said he was relieved by being "cleared" of the campaign crimes, obviously doesn't quite realize what just happened to him.

He wasn't cleared, he was pardoned. A pardon insinuates at least that a crime actually was committed.

If the four men were truly interested in proving their innocence, they would reject Patton's pardon in favor of vindication by jury.

Attorney General Ben Chandler, who has pushed the case for seven years, gains nothing by his criticism of Patton's pardons. True or not, the consensus of opinion is that Chandler let this case drag on and on and on for seven years to use it as a boost for his own gubernatorial aspirations.

It's also a pretty safe bet now that Patton, with whatever clout he may still pack among his Democratic loyalists, will not be pulling any levers beside the Chandler-Owen entry on the ballot this fall.

There is only one positive from all this, and even that is a matter of opinion.

Republican gubernatorial no-minee Ernie Fletcher and his GOP ticket this fall will be the only beneficiaries.

Add all this to the FBI's growing interest into Eastern Kentucky's politics, mostly Democratic politics, and you may feel a breeze of change that could very well grow to gale force before the leaves start turning.

Wouldn't it be ironic to find history's record of Patton's legacy to be that he almost single-handedly changed the face of Eastern Kentucky politics...for the better?

If you answered "yes, there may be new hope for democracy from all this scandal and up-heaval," give yourself another A-plus.

And move to the head of the class.

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