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Governor Andy Beshear
The site of the mass shooting in Louisville

A late morning conversation with a friend shocked me into personal awareness of the senseless tragedy of yet another mass shooting in the United States -- this one in Louisville.

The friend expressed concern that an individual we knew was a high ranking official at Old National Bank -- the scene of this morning's tragedy -- and might even be a victim. 

I first became familiar with his name as an assistant attorney general mediating open records and open meetings disputes. In May, 2016, I received a phone call. The caller had attended a May 19 Kentucky Retirement System's board of trustees' meeting. There, he witnessed events that might have occurred under a ruthless authoritarian regime worlds away but instead occurred under an admittedly hostile and controlling former Kentucky governor and his minions in the state's Capital. 

The caller described the arrival of Kentucky State Police troopers -- by order of that former governor and his sycophants -- at what should have been an uneventful KRS board meeting. 

They were detached to arrest the chairman, a man appointed to that position by former Governor Steve Beshear in 2011, should the chairman attempt to take his seat or otherwise participate in the regular meeting.

That chairman was Tommy Elliott. He was murdered in Louisville today in the 146th mass shooting in the United States in 2023.

Nothing else really matters. 

But for those who are interested, the caller with whom I spoke in May 2016 filed a complaint with KRS for its alleged open meetings violation. KRS -- more the victim of the former governor's wrongful conduct than the agency responsible for that conduct -- acknowledged violations of the open meetings laws (largely beyond its control) and agreed to implement remedies to ensure the incident did not recur. 

Dissatisfied, the caller/open meetings complainant appealed to then Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear. He received a favorable ruling which I did not write and with which I (and others) did not agree. The former governor appealed the Attorney General's open meetings decision and the matter was settled out of court.… 

Fast forward to 2023. Disputes that were formerly resolved through reasoned discussion or in the courts are now settled, all too often, with guns. 

Friend or foe, Tommy Elliott was a "victim" of a hostile gubernatorial assault and an abuse of legal authority. 

In 2016, he survived. Today, he did not. 

Elliott, along with four others, were murdered by a disgruntled bank employee -- an otherwise anonymous face in the crowd. 

And the incontestable difference? A gun in the hands of a man who was oblivious to the pain he inflicted and the suffering of the victims and their families. A gun in the hands of a man who might have addressed his grievances through reasoned discussion or legal process. A gun in the hands of a man who was desensitized to violence and utterly indifferent to the consequences of his actions. 

In a word, a gun.


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