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In embarrassing twist, Democrats have no Iowa caucus results

DES MOINES, Iowa – Democratic Party officials in Iowa worked Tuesday to deliver the delayed results of their first-in-the-nation caucus as frustrated presidential candidates claimed momentum and plowed ahead in their quest for the White House.

Technology problems and reporting “inconsistencies” kept Iowa Democratic Party officials from releasing results from Monday’s caucus, the much-hyped kickoff to the 2020 primary. It was an embarrassing twist after months of promoting the contest as a chance for Democrats to find some clarity in a jumbled field.

Instead, caucus day ended with no winner, no official results and many fresh questions about whether Iowa can retain its coveted “first” status.

State party officials said final results would be released later Tuesday and offered assurances that the problem wasn’t a result of “a hack or an intrusion.” Officials were conducting quality checks and verifying results, the party said in a statement.

The statement came after tens of thousands of voters spent hours Monday night sorting through a field of nearly a dozen candidates who had spent much of the previous year fighting to win the opening contest of the 2020 campaign and, ultimately, the opportunity to take on President Donald Trump this fall.

The candidates didn’t wait for the party to resolve its issues before moving on to next-up New Hampshire.

“It looks like it’s going to be a long night, but we’re feeling good,” former Vice President Joe Biden said, suggesting the final results would “be close.”

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said he had “a good feeling we’re going to be doing very, very well here in Iowa” once results were posted. “Today marks the beginning of the end for Donald Trump,” he said.

“Listen, it’s too close to call,” Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said. “The road won’t be easy. But we are built for the long haul.”

And Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., claimed victory.

“So we don’t know all the results, but we know by the time it’s all said and done, Iowa, you have shocked the nation,” he said. “By all indications, we are going on to New Hampshire victorious.”

Democrats faced the possibility that any numbers they released would be questioned. And beyond 2020, critics began wondering aloud whether the Iowa caucuses, a complicated set of political meetings staged in a state that is whiter and older than the Democratic Party, are a tradition whose time had passed.

The party has tried to accommodate critics, this year by promising to report three different data points about voters’ preferences, presumably improving transparency. But the new system created new headaches.

State party spokeswoman Mandy McClure said it had “found inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of results,” forcing officials to try to verify results with “underlying data” and the paper trail.

Some of the trouble stemmed from issues with a new mobile app developed to report results to the party. Caucus organizers reported problems downloading the app and other glitches.

Des Moines County Democratic Chairman Tom Courtney said the new app created “a mess.” As a result, Courtney said precinct leaders were phoning in results to the state party headquarters, which was too busy to answer calls in some cases.

Organizers were still looking for missing results hours after voting concluded.

Shortly before 2 a.m., the state party was making plans to dispatch people to the homes of precinct captains who hadn’t reported their numbers. That’s according to a state party official in the room who was not authorized to share internal discussions publicly.

Earlier in the night, Iowa Democrats cast their votes, balancing a strong preference for fundamental change with an overwhelming desire to defeat Trump. At least four high-profile candidates vied for the lead in a contest that offered the opening test of who and what the party stands for in the age of Trump.

It’s just the first in a primary season that will span all 50 states and several U.S. territories, ending at the party’s national convention in mid-July.

For Democrats, the moment was thick with promise for a party that has seized major gains in states since Trump won the White House in 2016. But instead of clear optimism, a growing cloud of uncertainty and intraparty resentment hung over the election as the prospect of an unclear result raised fears of a long and divisive primary fight in the months ahead.

One unsurprising development: Trump faced no significant opposition and won the Republican caucus.

The president eagerly seized on the Democrats’ problems. “The Democrat Caucus is an unmitigated disaster,” Trump tweeted early Tuesday. “Nothing works, just like they ran the Country. ... The only person that can claim a very big victory in Iowa last night is ‘Trump.’ ”

Pre-caucus polls suggested Sanders entered the night with a narrow lead, but any of the top four candidates – Sanders, Biden, Warren and Buttigieg – was positioned to score a victory. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who represents neighboring Minnesota, was also claiming momentum, while outsider candidates including entrepreneur Andrew Yang, billionaire activist Tom Steyer and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard could be factors.

Upgrades to Richardsville Road could be funded
 Don Sergent  / 

Improvements to Warren County’s dangerously winding Ky. 185 (Richardsville Road) – which have been talked about, and even partially funded, in years past – might finally be a top priority for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

Gov. Andy Beshear’s 2020 Recommended Highway Plan, which was released last week, has upgrades to two sections of the road among the projects recommended for funding in the 2020-21 biennium of the six-year highway plan. KYTC documents that show two projects totaling 2.84 miles of Ky. 185 and costing a total of $14.3 million in federal funds are among the priority items to be funded over the next two years.

Like all the projects on the highway plan, the improvements to Ky. 185 could be altered or eliminated once the plan reaches the General Assembly. But for now, local elected officials are optimistic that a serpentine road that has been the site of numerous accidents over the years will get some long-awaited enhancements.

“I’m sure the residents out here will be happy,” said Mark Young, Fifth District magistrate on Warren Fiscal Court. “It’s a busy road, and there are a lot of accidents on it. Those sections will be widened and straightened. It’s certainly much needed.”

The recommended highway plan calls for improving a 1.84-mile stretch of the road from 0.24 miles south of Pruitt Road to 0.16 miles south of Ky. 1320. That stretch has $830,000 budgeted for utility relocation this year and $8.53 million for construction in 2021.

Another one-mile stretch, this one from 0.22 miles north of Austin Raymer Road to 0.08 miles south of the bridge over Ivy Creek, has $300,000 in utility relocation funding this year and $4,665,000 in construction funding in 2021.

State Rep. Michael Meredith, R-Brownsville, while cautioning that past highway plans have included more projects than funding allowed and were thus trimmed, believes the Ky. 185 upgrades are needed.

“I’m glad to see that funded,” he said. “It’s a safety hazard out there.”

That was confirmed just last month, when a motorist was killed in a single-car crash on Ky. 185. That fatality was a continuation of a trend that saw the curvy road claim two traffic deaths in 2016 and three more in 2017.

“Ky. 185 is certainly an important project,” said Wes Watt, public information officer for KYTC’s District 3 office in Bowling Green. “There have been a number of crashes and fatalities on that road. Anything we can do to address that will help.”

Young said the Ky. 185 projects included in the current biennium represent something of a compromise from past proposals.

“The first proposal was to change the whole route of the road,” he said. “It had reached the point that they had already bought some property and were doing environmental studies.

“Then this project kinda fell off the charts. Now they’re proposing to do it in phases and do the worst parts first.”

That’s in keeping with the overall emphasis of a Recommended Highway Plan that makes safety a priority. A KYTC news release said the plan features a biennium investment of $100 million to improve safety conditions on rural roads through a combination of state money and funds from the federal Highway Safety Improvement Program.

The recommended plan includes $8 million in the biennium to install more than 100 miles of guardrails across the state, and it includes $367.5 million to accelerate progress on the Mountain Parkway and Interstate 69 Ohio River Crossing projects.

“This plan delivers on our commitment to invest in long-awaited regional access projects that can open up economic opportunities in rural regions while providing a responsible approach to improving our highway infrastructure statewide,” Beshear said in a news release. “The plan also focuses on highway safety programs and projects designed to make our rural roads and school access safer for our children and families who use these roads every day.”

One such school safety project in Warren County is included in the current biennium. The recommended plan calls for $140,000 in right-of-way purchases and $260,000 for utility relocation this year and $260,000 next year for construction of a left-turn lane on Ky. 242 into Rich Pond Elementary School.

Also included in funding for the current biennium are three projects involving U.S. 31-W, including $11.69 million in 2021 for widening and improvements to a 2.6-mile stretch of U.S. 31-W from south of Ky. 242 (Rich Pond Road) to Dillard Road.

A separate 31-W project devotes $1.5 million for right-of-way purchases and $1.75 million for utility relocation in 2021 for a “minor widening” project covering 0.97 miles from Park Street to Fairview Avenue. Construction on that stretch is estimated to cost $4.5 million and is on the highway plan for 2023.

A 1.25-mile widening project on U.S. 31-W from Campbell Lane to Oaklawn Way is allocated $1.75 million in 2021 for right-of-way purchases. Utility relocation, estimated to cost $5.8 million, is on the highway plan for 2022.

Also recommended for funding in the current biennium is a $1.25 million project to address deficiencies of the Ky. 1435 bridge over the Gasper River.

A project to improve safety and mobility at the Interstate 165/U.S. 231 interchange is recommended for construction funding of $4.2 million in 2021 and the same amount in 2022.

Included in the Recommended Highway Plan but not in the current biennium’s budget are:

  • improvements to an 11.29-mile stretch of I-65 through Warren County estimated to cost $14.85 million.
  • widening of U.S. 231 (Scottsville Road) from Pascoe Boulevard to Cave Mill Road, costing an estimated $3.4 million.
  • extension of the five-lane section of Ky. 234 (Cemetery Road) from mile marker 11.9 to 12.4, possibly including a roundabout.

– More information about the 2020 Recommended Highway Plan can be found at the KYTC’s transportation. ky.gov website.

Former Black Crowes drummer Gorman, who has BG connections, to speak at WCPL
 Will Whaley  / 

Drummer Steve Gorman, a founding member of The Black Crowes, will speak this month in Bowling Green about his time with the famed rock band and the memoir he wrote about his experiences.

Gorman – who has Bowling Green connections – will speak at 6 p.m. Feb. 25 at the Warren County Public Library’s Bob Kirby Branch, 175 Iron Skillet Court, about “Hard To Handle: The Life and Death of The Black Crowes,” the book he co-authored with music writer Steven Hyden.

Published in September, the book chronicles on-stage fights to backstage run-ins with bands such as Aerosmith as Gorman shares his story of life with The Black Crowes, led by volatile brothers Chris and Rich Robinson.

“I’ve done about a dozen of these events,” he said. “Everyone of them is a little similar. It is my life for 27 years, and a lot of fans want clarification.”

Since its release, the book has received positive feedback from critics, as well as from people connected to the band, Gorman said.

“I’ve heard not just from the members of the band but the crew members, people at the record label and people from tour management,” he said. “They’ve been overwhelmingly thankful. The Black Crowes experience was a tough road for everybody, so the word closure is used a lot as well.”

Gorman’s connections to Bowling Green include his brother, Booth Fire and Safety President and CEO Doug Gorman, and Western Kentucky University, where Steve Gorman started in the fall of 1983 before moving to Atlanta to start a band.

“Bowling Green has been familiar to me since seventh grade,” he said. “I started playing drums when I got to my freshman year of college, when I was sporadically forced into a band with my older brother. That’s when it all started. I always look forward to coming to Bowling Green. It is part of me and who I am. I’m a big Hilltopper fan and even though I didn’t graduate I’m still an alumni.”

WCPL Marketing and Communications Manager Jennifer Bailey said the event is free to attend. She said Steve Gorman’s Bowling Green background was a “big help” in bringing him to town.

The Black Crowes formed in the mid-1980s in Georgia and made a splash with its multiplatinum 1990 album “Shake Your Moneymaker,” featuring hit singles “Hard to Handle,” “She Talks to Angels” and “Jealous Again.” The band’s follow-up album “The Southern Harmony and the Musical Companion” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, and 1994’s “Amorica” achieved gold status.

The band endured hiatuses and breakups until 2015, when guitarist Rich Robinson declared the band officially over due to a dispute with vocalist Chris Robinson. However, in late 2019, the Robinson brothers began performing again as The Black Crowes, but with an entirely new backing band.

Steve Gorman has since played drums in other bands and has worked as a radio host – first with the show “Steve Gorman Sports!” and currently with the show “Steve Gorman Rocks!” on Westwood One affiliates. The show can be heard locally on WDNS D93-FM from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. weeknights.

– For more information, visit warrencountypl.org.

– Follow Daily News reporter Will Whaley on Twitter @Will_Whaley_ or visit bgdailynews.com.

John Locher 

People wait for results at a caucus night campaign rally for democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Facing limited resources, schools work to meet needs of English learners
 Aaron Mudd  / 

It is well known by now that Warren County Public Schools has one of the largest and most diverse populations of English-learner students in the state: Up to 25 percent of its students have participated in its English education programs at some point.

What’s less well understood is that WCPS also has the largest Migrant Education Program in the state, with at least 423 students receiving separate support because of their parents’ status as seasonal migratory workers.

For many migrant families, just five WCPS employees are responsible for acting as the local welcome wagon. Migrant Education Program employees act as liaisons between schools and families. They monitor students’ grades and attendance, help make doctors’ appointments for families and arrange for after-school tutoring and donations of books and school supplies, among many other support services.

“They kind of acclimate them with the community,” said Dee Anna Crump, director of English learner and federal programs at WCPS.

“It’s not just about the kids. It’s also about the family,” Crump said in summing up the program’s mission to ensure that each student’s home has the resources it needs to support his or her success in the classroom.

The supplemental education program serves migrants between the ages of 3 and 21, and participants don’t necessarily have to be English learners to qualify, Crump said. Typically, participants receive support through the program for about 36 months, but that can be extended depending on exactly how a migrant student’s family moves around for work.

Crump offered a broader look at the state of the district’s English learner programs during a school board meeting last month. There are at least 2,539 students currently receiving English-learner services.

Take into account the number of students currently being monitored as they work to shed that EL label, and the number jumps even higher.

“The big thing is that our numbers are increasing” across the board, Crump said.

Crump said the steady increase isn’t solely because of activities by Bowling Green’s refugee resettlement agency, the International Center of Kentucky.

About 1,200 students in the district could be classified as refugees, a specific designation reserved for those displaced from their homelands by war and persecution. Another 965 students are immigrants, according to district data.

As many as 89 languages are represented among the district’s families, district data show.

“We’re facing the challenges and doing the best that we can with the limited resources that we have,” Crump said, noting that difficulty in finding enough qualified EL teachers and enough funding pose challenges in educating EL students.

Elisa Beth Brown, director of instructional programs for the Bowling Green Independent School District, said her district faces similar challenges.

“The state doesn’t give us an adequate amount to cover those students,” she said, adding the sheer amount of diversity among the district’s English-learner students, both in terms of different languages spoken and educational backgrounds, is also a challenge. About 700 students are currently receiving such services from the district.

“We know that one-size-fits-all will not work,” Brown said.

To tackle the issue, Brown said BGISD will be working with a consultant starting next month to explore ways it can move forward.

In the meantime, Warren County Public Schools is also leaning into its own challenge, Crump said.

“We’re embracing the challenge and providing the best education possible for all students in Warren County Public Schools,” she said.

– Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @BGDN_edbeat or visit bgdailynews.com.