Wednesday, May 23, 2001

Fiscal court a concern for GOP

Murgatroyd in precarious spot

        FORT WRIGHT — Is it party-building or butt-covering, campaigning or contrition when a sitting judge-executive makes an appearance at a gathering where he shouldn't have to be touting his good public deeds?

        For whatever the stated or implied reason, Kenton County Judge-executive Dick Murgatroyd dropped in Monday on the county's GOP executive committee meeting, this much remains clear:

        Top Kenton County Republican Party leaders - elected officials and executive committee members included — are deeply concerned about the performance of the all-GOP fiscal court that Mr. Murgatroyd heads and its prospects next November for holding his and the three commission seats occupied by Barb Black, Adam Koenig and Dan Humpert.

        They won't say it publicly but they're eager to chat about it privately. The comments are not full of spite but drip with worry. Most everybody in the party likes “Murg,” as he is called by those close to him.

        They just don't understand how an elected official with so much promise, a man who had a reputation as a statesman during his years in the statehouse, could be in such a precarious political situation, just a little over a year before he has to go back before the voters.

        Mr. Murgatroyd has certainly heard these concerns. If he hasn't, then he's further out of touch with the party than many of its leaders fear.

        So maybe it was a need to reassure the party faithful that motivated his Monday night appearance, in which he delivered a handout titled “Judge Dick Murgatroyd, proven leadership working for every Kenton Countian.”

        Top Republicans want — are even desperate for — some positive news about the fiscal court, which hasn't yet settled where to build a new county jail and has raised taxes.

        That's just what Mr. Murgatroyd gave them Monday.

        “The Murgatroyd Court”, as the handout states, has fixed roads, built sidewalks, planned for recreation facilities and installed a weather alert system.

        It has improved parks, increased funding for some key departments and studied the efficiency of county government.

        Really, not a bad story to tell. It's just about time somebody started telling it.

        Republicans want desperately to kick off Mr. Murgatroyd's re-election campaign, but they are waiting for the jail situation to be more definitive before doing so.

        Maybe not the best idea. Finding a site for a new jail does not appear imminent, though Covington city leaders are again working to push the county back toward the site near Interstate 275 close to 3L Highway.

        What frustrates the Republicans is that it's hard to find a more likable, friendlier and more personable pol in Northern Kentucky than Mr. Murgatroyd.

        He should be out more in the community, meeting and talking to people. Instead, even party leaders say he doesn't frequent GOP functions like he used to.

        Kenton County is still a Republican county; and even though there are issues Democrats can use against Mr. Murgatroyd, he does have some positive things to say.

        Maybe we're finally going to start hearing some.

       Patrick Crowley covers Kentucky politics for the Enquirer. He can be reached at (859) 578-5581, or at


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