State Senate President David Williams and his fellow Republican, Sen. Dan Seum, went into full pander mode last week, thereby removing any doubts election season has arrived in Kentucky.
Williams and Seum pre-filed legislation that would guarantee K-12 students the right to attend the public school nearest to their home.
Because the bill would open the way to resegregating the state's schools, this was a rather blatant playing of the race card by two men who hope it will improve their chances in upcoming elections.
Seum faces a challenge in November in his Jefferson County district, where public unrest with the local busing plan flared anew after schools reopened last month. Williams has all but declared his entry in the 2011 gubernatorial field, and no doubt hopes to reap statewide benefit from his variation on former Republican President Richard Nixon's infamous "Southern strategy."
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This is a cynical political ploy for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the hypocrisy of Republicans who preach against "Big Brother" government while auditioning for the role of Big Brother themselves.
We elect local school boards in this state to make precisely the kind of decisions Williams and Seum now propose to take away from them. If members of those boards get it wrong, they will answer to local voters. What they don't need, though, are state legislators playing partisan politics with what should be local busing plans.
This is also a cynical ploy because the bill has minimal chances of passing the House, and Williams and Seum couldn't care less if it does.
All Seum cares about is successfully putting November behind him. And Williams would be happy if the issue remains available for him to exploit in the governor's race in an appeal to voters who would like to return Kentucky schools to the days of Jim Crow.