Welcome to the Bluegrass Politics Debate. Each week through the end of September, the candidates for mayor of Lexington and the 6th Congressional District will debate a topic chosen by the Lexington Herald-Leader. The candidates for U.S. Senate declined to participate in the debate.
The rules: The candidates ask and answer the questions. Questions are limited to 35 words. Answers are limited to 75 words. Rebuttals are limited to 35 words.
The candidates: Mayor Jim Newberry and Vice Mayor Jim Gray
Week 6 topic: Urban County Government Internal Audit Board
Newberry's question for Gray: I support Internal Audit board members from outside government. You say members should come from outside the Mayor's Office. In 2002, Internal Audit was taken from council, keeping politics out. You support Council political appointees?
Gray's answer: No political appointees! As the incumbent, you have utilized a system of allowing the fox to guard our hen house. Your political appointees have demonstrated that political cronies only undermine public confidence in our government. My Fresh Start Plan details my support for removing authority over Internal Audits from the Mayor's Office. This is how the LFUCG organization chart intended it. As Mayor I will welcome the scrutiny this system would ensure.
Newberry's rebuttal: I fought to keep politics out and maintain the independent Internal Audit process. Council undermined independence and wasted taxes to again confirm no fraud. To keep politics out, you must keep Council off the board.
Gray's question for Newberry: The whistleblower on the KLC Insurance situation demonstrated your Audit Board's flawed process. My Fresh Start Plan calls for restructuring the Board, protecting taxpayers from abuse and fraud. Do you support the Investigative Committee's recommendations?
Newberry's answer: Reality check: two independent auditors and expensive council probe confirmed no fraud was committed. You know an independent Board is not "mine"; Council created it in 2002. The attorney general confirmed internal audit's independence from council and mayor, keeping political agendas, witch-hunts out. I support the Committee's recommendation to take no further action on fraud since no fraud was committed and to make audit board changes. My plan requires all members come from outside government.
Gray's rebuttal: Reality indeed. The Internal Audit Board is yours, controlled by your political appointees, including your campaign treasurer and large contributors to your campaigns. Lexington deserves a fresh start, read my plan at www.jimgray.org/freshstart.
6th District debate
The candidates: U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, D-Versailles, and Republican Andy Barr, a Lexington lawyer.
Week 6 topic: National security
Barr's question for Chandler: You have voted repeatedly against explicitly preventing the transfer of terrorist detainees at Guantanamo Bay into the United States. Based on this voting record, should terrorist detainees be brought into the U.S.?
Chandler's answer: I don't think we should close Guantanamo until we know more about the detainees. We need to prosecute these people and make sure we aren't sending potential terrorists back into society. As Attorney General I prosecuted criminals and understand that our legal system is the backbone of our national security.
Barr's rebuttal: On July 22, 2010, Ben Chandler voted against an amendment that would have prevented the transfer or release of any Guantanamo detainee, including 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, into the United States.
Chandler's question for Barr: Does your opposition to directed appropriations include opposing funds for Blue Grass Army Depot and the Kentucky National Guard? If so, why do you keep pushing a position that hurts national security institutions in Kentucky?
Barr's answer: For two questions in a row you have fabricated positions for me out of thin air, just like your TV commercials that the Herald-Leader has judged to be mostly false. I do not oppose funding of national security priorities and, again, I support appropriations for worthy programs that we can afford. However, I oppose the earmark process you have abused to appropriate funds that will end up in the pockets of your campaign donors.
Chandler's rebuttal: Recently, you've peddled two positions: to "ban" and now "reform" earmarks. Just because you're now addressing a wider audience, doesn't mean you should change your positions. Kentuckians deserve to know where you stand.