Bluegrass Institute welcomes new Vice President of Policy Initiatives

Bluegrass Institute welcomes new Vice President of Policy Initiatives  

Denis Frankenberger will lead right-to-work campaign

(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) — Louisville entrepreneur and government watchdog Denis Frankenberger has been named the Bluegrass Institute’s Vice President of Policy Initiatives.

Frankenberger is the former president and CEO of Advance Machinery Co. – one of the nation’s largest machine tool dealers and integrators of computer numerically controlled (CNC) machine tools, which was acquired by G.E. Capital.

“I admire and agree with what the Bluegrass Institute stands for and accomplishes,” Frankenberger said. “I look forward to joining the organization’s talented and dedicated team to advance free-market policies that will help turn Kentucky from being a government-dependent state to a mecca of economic growth and true prosperity.”

Bluegrass Institute President Jim Waters praised Frankenberger for his commitment to the principles of liberty and for his tenacity as a private citizen in holding local governments accountable for how taxpayer dollars get spent.

“We are very fortunate to have someone with Denis’s exceptional entrepreneurial success and extensive experience in growing companies and creating jobs in the private sector,” Waters said. “Kentucky taxpayers, businesses and entrepreneurs will benefit greatly from his efforts.”

Frankenberger will lead the institute’s efforts to bring a right-to-work policy to Kentucky.

“While the institute is currently engaged in a number of issues, I believe one of the most important for the commonwealth’s economy is to get the legislature to implement a right-to-work policy,” he said. “Having come from the manufacturing industry, I know how vital this is to major firms that so obviously bypass our state for the very reason that we do not provide right-to-work protections for Kentucky workers.”

For more information, contact Jim Waters at or 270-320-4376.

New Report: Does Kentucky’s ‘Unbridled Learning’ school accountability program leave minorities behind?

New Report: Does Kentucky’s ‘Unbridled Learning’ school accountability program leave minorities behind?
(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) — A new Bluegrass Institute report reveals evidence that Kentucky’s school accountability program provides inconsistent and sometimes unreliable assessments of school performance.

The report, “Kentucky’s ‘Unbridled Learning,’ Unrigorous School Accountability for African-American Students?,” examines math performance for whites and African-American students in all of Kentucky’s schools. Some of the findings are surprising:

  • Fayette County’s Scapa at Bluegrass’ has an African-American middle school math proficiency rate of 9.1 percent is a rate less than half of the statewide rate for this racial group, and far below the 82.1 percent proficiency rate turned in by the schools’ white students. Yet despite its dismally low African-American math proficiency rate, Scapa at Bluegrass received a superior Unbridled Learning classification of “Distinguished,” ranking the school among the top 10 percent of all schools in Kentucky.

Supposedly, even with overall high scores, Unbridled Learning will tag a school with serious achievement gap problems as a “Focus” school. However, Scapa somehow avoided “Focus” school flagging despite the poor math performance for its African-Americans. This raises concerns that the “Focus” mechanism needs work.

  • Latonia Elementary School in Covington was not only identified as a “Proficient” school, a top 30 percent classification, but it also was shown as a “High Progress School” under Unbridled Learning. That is hard to reconcile with the fact that this school’s African-American math proficiency dropped from an already dismal 8.8 percent in 2012 to 0.0 percent in 2013. Still, Latonia just got praise from Unbridled Learning. It didn’t get a “Focus” flag.
  • Danville High School got a “Proficient” rating from Unbridled Learning, supposedly placing this school’s performance among the top 30 percent in Kentucky. But Danville’s African-American students’ math proficiency tumbled from 33.3 percent last year to a depressing 0.0 percent proficiency rate in 2013. The school still dodged becoming “Focus” school, raising more concerns about what Unbridled Learning tells us about this school.
  • Overall, the report shows three elementary schools, five middle schools and three high schools had 0.0 percent math proficiency rates for their African-American students in 2013. Only five, less than half, of those 11 schools got a “Focus” flag.

“After 23 years of KERA reforms, the idea that Kentucky still has schools turning in single digit, indeed sometimes zero, math proficiency rates is incredibly disappointing,” said Richard Innes, staff education analyst at the Bluegrass Institute and author of the new report. “The fact that Unbridled Learning isn’t identifying those problems is highly problematic.”

Innes called on the Kentucky Department of Education to address such a dramatically low performance by making changes to the Unbridled Learning assessment policy before the next round of results are released after the current school-term ends.

For more information, contact Richard Innes at or 859-466-8198 or Bluegrass Institute President Jim Waters at jwaters@freedomkentucky.comor 270-320-4376

Freedom is the best legacy. #GivingTuesday

Celebrate #GivingTuesday with a charitable gift to your favorite cause —

advancing liberty and prosperity in Kentucky!

Freedom is the best legacy.

And thank you for your support all year round!

Click the image below to make an online donation to the Bluegrass Institute

and let your friends know on social media with the hashtag #GivingTuesday and referencing @BIPPS

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Join President Jim Waters on the Matt Walsh Show on WLAP at 4 p.m. today!

Join Bluegrass Institute President Jim Waters to discuss Kentucky’s public pension spending with Matt Walsh at 4 p.m. on Lexington’s NewsRadio 630 WLAP-AM.

Tune in live here as Jim discusses specific solutions to solving Kentucky’s public pension crisis.

A friendly testimonial

“…I had heard of Bluegrass Institute but really didn’t understand the impact it has had and will continue to have on Kentucky. Thanks again for all that you and others at the Bluegrass Institute do to protect our freedoms.”  ~Dry Ridge Supporter



Need a gift idea? Give the gift of a transparent and accountable government

Tis’ the season for many struggling retailers to finally move their finances from the red ink column to the black. So, after enjoying a day of food and thankfulness, many of us will be putting on the full armor of early morning shopping, to include well-worn running shoes for capturing space at the head of the sale line and a steaming cup of coffee for that jump start needed for the upcoming Christmas shopping season. It’s that time of year when we all should at least begin to think about gift giving.

I’m sure many in the liberty movement have heard or read the phrase, giving the gift of freedom.  But how are we doing? Like me, you might be asking yourself, “I’ve been giving the gift of freedom in every way I know how and what do I have to show for it?”

Regardless of your religious beliefs, Proverbs is a great place to go for quotes and there is one that I think applies to our movement today and even right here in Kentucky. Proverbs 24:10 states “Don’t give up and be helpless in times of trouble (CEV).”

Unemployment still hovers at 9.7% across Kentucky and our state’s budget gaps with regard to our public pension spending and Medicaid are only beginning to worsen. It’s easy to look at the results of our statewide elections and those in neighboring states and be discouraged. But now is not the time. In fact, now may be just the time to start giving the gift of a transparent, accountable and constitutional government.

In fact, just several weeks ago, the Bluegrass Institute celebrated with an election day blog post that you can read here.   You see, the Bluegrass Institute is fighting for transparency and accountability in government everyday–election day and even black Friday.  And it looks like people are starting to wake up to the need for real transparency and accountability.

The Wall Street Journal, on November 18th, ran an article authored by Sarah Palin all about transparency and accountability. She talked about how politicians and their crony supporters get their power from their office and access to our hard earned tax dollars. She spells out how members of congress and the federal web of department regulators and bureaucrats exempt themselves from the laws they apply to the rest of us. She writes,

“That includes laws that protect whistleblowers and Freedom of Information Act Requests. The corruption isn’t confined to one political party or just a few bad apples. It’s an endemic problem encompassing leadership on both sides of the aisle. It’s an entire system of public servants feathering their own nests.”

And we know something about Freedom of Information Act Requests. You can follow our series on tips for filing an Open Records request by clicking here. We’ve been filing them since we won the prestigious Atlas Economic Research Foundation’s Dorian & Antony Fisher Venture Grant in 2008–one of only nine think tanks in the world to win and the only one in the United States–for our efforts to build a liberty wiki dedicated to publicizing the results of our transparency and accountability efforts.

As Sarah writes in the WSJ, “We can no longer afford to be indifferent to this system of graft when our country is going bankrupt.”

Maybe it’s time to consider giving the gift of a transparent and accountable government.

November 10th – A proud day for Kentucky liberty

It’s funny what you can learn from history.

Believe it or not, the American federal government was once on the verge of growing too big and powerful. The year was 1798.  America was on the verge of war with France. If you are of a curious mindset, like me, you might think, “Hmmm, that’s interesting, I thought we had just finished allying ourselves with France to win the Revolution?”

In 1778 France signed on to help America win her independence, but by 1798, France was seizing American ships trading with Great Britain and inflicting major losses on American shipping.

History never happens in a vacuum and to those who thought our early founders never embroiled themselves in foreign affairs, I’d refer them to this period often called the Quasi-War or the Franco-American War.

The United States was trying to stay neutral in the conflict between Great Britain and France and France wasn’t too happy to see her former ally doing business with her enemy. France also wasn’t too happy that the U.S. felt no obligation to pay their war debt to the new French Republic. America argued that that debt was meant for the French Crown, who unfortunately for France, was beheaded.

In the words of Rham Emanuel, never let a good crisis go to waste.

So the American federal government didn’t. They used the crisis with France to pass the Alien and Sedition Acts, which made it a crime to be a Frenchmen in America but also to “defame” – 18th century speak for criticize — the sitting administration. A convenient piece of legislation which allowed the Adams administration to do what it wanted with regard to the Quasi War with France.

Enter Thomas Jefferson and the new state of Kentucky.

Americans should know that Thomas Jefferson wrote the “The Declaration of Independence.”  Yet most have probably never heard of The Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, which were adopted by the Kentucky General Assembly 213 years ago today – November 10th, 1798.

Jefferson drafted these resolutions in response to the Alien and Sedition Acts. He did it in secret and had it passed in Kentucky.

The Kentucky Resolutions invoked the 10th Amendment, which gave the federal government strict, limited powers – and nothing more.  Jefferson argued that by passing and enforcing the Alien and Sedition Acts, the federal government had overstepped its constitutional bounds.

Jefferson writes in 1798, “whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force.” 

Jefferson articulates that if the federal government were allowed to determine what its own powers were, there would exist no check or balance to our republican form of government.

So you might be wondering what ever happened to the Alien and Sedition Act, which declared that “any false, scandalous and malicious writing,” was punishable by fine and imprisonment.

During the life of this act, twenty-five men were arrested. One of the men was Benjamin Franklin’s own grandson, Benjamin Franklin Bache, editor of the Philadelphia Democrat-Republican Aurora. Charged with libeling President Adams, Bache’s arrest erupted in a public outcry.

Americans all over the nation questioned the constitutionality of these laws and public opposition to the Alien and Sedition Acts was so great they ushered in the election of Thomas Jefferson in 1800. By 1832, the House Judiciary Committee finally announced the Sedition Act as unconstitutional.

As we face our own decade of massive federal power, and a modern administration operating outside it’s constitutional bounds, it takes the courage of a new generation who will stand up and say, “Enough!”

Today, the Bluegrass Institute celebrates the spirit of those who spoke out against big government and salutes Thomas Jefferson’s Kentucky Resolutions of 1798. November 10th is a day when all liberty loving Kentuckians should be proud.

Government that is big enough to take everything you have.

The front page of the Wall Street Journal today (Oct. 18, 2011) leads with this headline, “Motel Is Latest Stopover In Federal Forfeiture Battle” which tells the sorry story of a property owner’s battle to fight Federal Civil Forfeiture. For those of you who might not know the term, it means that the federal government can seize properties stained by crime even if the owners of those assets or that property face no charges. In the case of Mr. Russell Caswell, owner of Motel Caswell, a property and land worth millions that has been in his family since the 1950’s, would be taken from him. The same organization that fought against eminent domain, the Institute for Justice, is stepping up to fight this battle too.

And here’s a sobering statistic from the WSJ article, “The total value of cash and other goods forfeited to the Justice Department has risen 250% since 2003.” Kentucky has forfeited $4.78 million in “crime linked” assets to the Feds in 2010 alone.

And just in case you were wondering how the civil forfeiture case against Motel Caswell originated, again from the WSJ article, “(A federal spokewoman) declined to say how the motel case originated.” Funny how there never is much government transparency in these cases. Maybe it’s time to consider financially supporting the organizations-like the Institute for Justice-who fight these battles in the courts and the Bluegrass Institute who fight for your freedom from the grassroots.

Follow Hayek’s Advice

I just added the ability to make a reoccuring donation to the Bluegrass Institute!

This is a great and easy way to support limited, common sense, constitutional government and individual liberty in Kentucky!

Fund your free market think tank today and as F.A. Hayek once wrote, “We need intellectual leaders…willing to stick to principles…(leave the) practical the politicians.”

Prof: Government didn’t invent the railroad