It’s Frankfort Tidbit Update Time

Adam Edelen should take the KDP chairmanship.

Stop asking people, Adam, and just do it.

Unless you’re in another nervous sweat over talking out of both sides of your mouth about members of the executive committee? I can assure you no one outside of that bunch of elderly good old boys cares. Just like no one will care that you’ve publicly praised a racist fearmonger (John David Dyche).

If you don’t take the job, you can’t expect to have much of a political career. Gonna need to leave some of your drunk friends behind, though.

The Dale Emmons/Alison Daddy’s Name Grimes/Jerry Lundergan/Jonathan Hurst crew involved in Jim Gray’s race are already alienating people. It’ll be like 2014 all over again. MIA candidate, bitter asshole staffers, a lot of money and a lot more disappointment.

Unless something changes quickly. (Spoiler alert: nothing will change)

State Rep. Chris Harris, a man many credit with taking down W. Keith Hall’s regime, got his open records bill (HB 80) unanimously released from committee this week.

Because he’s pro-transparency and anti-corruption, he’s being primaried by a Ray Ray Jones/UMG-supported guy. And on the Republican side? UMG has a candidate alleged to be funded by Leonard Lawson set to take Harris on.

This is why Eastern Kentucky can’t have nice things.

Hearing from Frankfort insiders that Jamie Comer’s hemp efforts may end up being soured… by Jamie Comer.

The hot gossip (it’s not really gossip) is that Democrats have been denied hemp approval left and right, while Republicans aligned with Comer sailed through the approval process. Not sure that’s a big deal, really. Probably much more good old boy back scratching than partisanship. Because at least one longtime Democrat with ties to illegal cultivation and alleged drug smuggling from the Julian Carroll era was granted a permit. His name’s prominently displayed on state government websites even though he should be nowhere near hemp. Comer knew it at the time but turned a blind eye because of the guy’s ties to Woody Harrelson. Allegedly. Cough.

Flash back to this October 22 story:

The Shell Farm and Greenhouses in Lancaster is turning its fields away from tobacco, growing 157,000 hemp plants on 40 acres outdoors and 3,500 plants in a greenhouse.

“And we’ll be growing it indoors all winter,” Giles Shell said. Shell’s greenhouses once raised flowers; now he’s working on hemp genetics.

“There’s no seed crop, so we have to take cuttings to get the plants in the field. So I’m selecting genetics, for a hardier plant — bigger, fuller,” Shell said. “We’ve got a problem with variegation or chimera, so I trying to select away from it.”

Next year, Shell intends to grow even more hemp.

“We’re going to quit raising our tobacco crop, and if we do any flowers, it will be downsized,” Shell said.

-SNIP-

The Shell family, which has a three-year contract with GenCanna, certainly is now.

“We were very leery — I was the most reserved in my family of starting to do this,” Giles Shell said. “But … I felt like we were the best route to help commercialize this crop. Demand is really high, and supply isn’t there. Basic economics will tell you that’s profit.

“We’ve got a year ahead of everybody else that’s going to get into the game.”

One of the big partners of GenCanna? State Rep. Jonathan Shell’s relative.

Why does that matter? Shell sits on the Tobacco Settlement Agreement Fund Oversight Committee.

Consider these minutes from July 1, 2015. That’s a lot of money to be throwing around to hemp. Particularly while Shell’s relatives are knee-deep in it. Smells a lot like a CBD monopoly in the works.

Meanwhile, Comer’s telling people who have been shut out that he has no idea what’s going on, blaming Ryan Quarles left and right. Reality? Comer started this mess. And he controlled the secretive hemp committee that no one knows anything about – the group of people doling out permits.

Comer’s crew ought to back up a taste before they ruin it for everybody.

P.S. Hearing there’s a freshman state senator (R) about to be (already?) permitted despite never having farmed a day in his life. Andy Beshear’s office is gonna have its work cut out for it.

Adam Edelen: Calm Down, Beyonce!

Will Jim Gray beat Rand Paul? Probably not with his current team that consists almost entirely of Conway people. Stranger things have happened, though. [H-L]

When Diana Andino first started researching medical school — something she had been working toward for years — she hit a brick wall. [HuffPo]

A religious group building a massive Noah’s Ark tourist attraction in Kentucky has won a legal battle over the state’s withdrawal of a potential tax incentive worth millions. [C-J/AKN]

Of all things for Adam Edelen to attack, he chose to hit Rand Paul on foreign policy. That may be the only thing most Democrats can stomach from Paul. He’s also wrong about sexual orientation. Anti-gay discrimination is alive and well in Kentucky. Hell, the Kentucky Democratic Party runs so quickly away from the gays that it’s alarming. We can all agree that Rand Paul (R-Cookie Tree) is a delusional troll. But Adam Edelen needs to check his straight, white, male privilege once in a while before spouting off in another sweaty rant. [Roll Call]

State Veterinarian Robert C. Stout has re-enacted restrictions on bird sales and movement in Kentucky to protect Kentucky’s poultry industry and bird population from the avian influenza outbreak in southern Indiana that federal officials announced on Friday. [Richmond Register]

For a variety of reasons, the nomination of Donald Trump would probably not be in the best interest of the Republican Party. [Nate Silver]

SURPRISE! Johnny Bell, sexual harasser extraordinaire, has finally gotten the hint. [Ronnie Ellis]

A federal appeals court upheld the government’s new coal dust exposure rule for coal miners Monday, rejecting industry challenges to it. [The Hill]

As if people in Eastern Kentucky aren’t taxed enough. Rowan Fiscal Court could be looking at raising the occupational tax by a half percent to help pay for the new Rowan County Detention Center. [The Morehead News]

Wall Street edged higher on Tuesday morning, driven by strong earnings reports and recovering oil prices, ahead of the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting and Apple’s results. [Reuters]

Glasgow City Attorney Rich Alexander, in a letter responding to a complaint from the Glasgow Daily Times, said he incorrectly relied upon an exemption of the Open Records Act as grounds for closing a portion of a police sergeant’s disciplinary hearing last Monday. [Glasgow Daily Times]

The Supreme Court rescued an administration-supported rule that promotes electricity conservation, handing a big victory to environmentalists and President Barack Obama. [Politico]

Barbara Kleine, director of Kentucky Refugee Ministries’ office, points to a to-do list on the wall of her office: It’s a couple of feet long and takes a minimum of 18 months to accomplish. Printed on it is every permit, form and check that refugees must pass on their way to becoming settled in a new home. [H-L]

Six years ago, the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Citizens United vs. FEC. It is not a happy anniversary. I remember waiting for the ruling and opening it up on my computer: when I finally read it, I didn’t want to believe that the Court had gone as far as it had and been so careless with our democracy. [HuffPo]

Your Evening Dept Of Awful Wingnuts

It wasn’t where he was supposed to be Monday morning. He was supposed to be in Frankfort, being sworn in to a second term as the state auditor and a few weeks into his campaign against U.S. Sen. Rand Paul. [H-L]

Just in case you needed yet another reason to roll your eyes at those Oregon wingnut racists. [HuffPo]

Everything is so corrupt in West Buechel that they’ve started some kind of watchdog organization. [C-J/AKN]

At 14, Deshaun Becton’s life is a roadmap to California’s faltering efforts to care for its most troubled children. [ProPublica]

Typically the first day of a General Assembly is marked by expressions of goodwill and ceremony. But the 2016 session is like no other in recent years. [Ronnie Ellis]

On September 5, 2013, The Guardian, The New York Times and ProPublica jointly reported – based on documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden – that the National Security Agency (NSA) had compromised some of the encryption that is most commonly used to secure internet transactions. [The Intercept]

A foreclosure case involving Land of Tomorrow Productions LLC, the company that owns the Funtown Mountain property in Cave City, is moving forward, according to action taken during Barren Circuit Court on Monday morning. [Glasgow Daily Times]

China, the largest coal producer in the world, won’t be approving new mines for the next three years as it grapples with alarming pollution and pursues other energy sources, including nuclear plants. [ThinkProgress]

If you are a high school sophomore student seeking to develop your leadership and entrepreneurial skills or an eighth-grade middle school student interested in math, science and technology, The Center for Rural Development wants to hear from you. [Harlan Daily Independent]

The Paris agreement to curb climate change calls for a dramatic shift away from fossil fuels and the greenhouse gasses they emit, especially carbon dioxide. [NPR]

Kentuckians’ views on a statewide smoking ban have remained virtually unchanged since 2013, with the vast majority of residents supporting the measure, a new poll shows. [WFPL]

Need cheap mobile phone service? Maybe even for a backup cell phone? I’m talking $6/mo cheap? Use our Ting referral code and we’ll all get a sweet credit. You get $25 — enough for a couple months of service to determine whether you like it. Both CDMA and GSM options. [Ting]

Betting on Thoroughbred racing rose 1.18 percent in 2015, amounting to a $125 million increase to almost $10.7 billion in wagering in the U.S. for the year. [H-L]

President Barack Obama issued another impassioned plea on Tuesday for Congress to take action to curb gun violence, shedding tears as he recalled the 2012 Newtown school massacre. And wingnuts mocked him for showing emotion. [HuffPo]

Maybe The Dumbest Sheriff Audit Yet

Finally, an audit of a small town sheriff that seems dumb.

The latest in Morgan County (Warning: External PDF Link) is the one we’re talking about.

Here’s where the former sheriff got hit by audit staff:

  • The former Sheriff did not receive 1/12 of his salary each month.
  • Former Sheriff’s response: The Sheriff receives a smaller amount monthly to help allow the office to have more funds to operate on throughout the year.

Yep, you read that right.

  • The former Sheriff was underpaid by $1,400 for calendar year 2014.
  • Former Sheriff’s Response: No response.

Because it’s illegal to be underpaid.

  • The former Sheriff did not submit his quarterly reports to the Department for Local Government.
  • Former Sheriff’s response: All reports were done by our office and will be submitted to DLG

Okay. Maybe that’s a good hit by auditors.

  • The former Sheriff’s office lacked adequate segregation of duties.
  • Former Sheriff’s response: Our office initially segregates the required duties between our staff and feels that all duties are being done adequately

Can you imagine?

Trying to deal with a non-existent budget after the county was robbed blind by imprisoned former Judge-Executive Tim Conley. Giving up your pay in order to make the bills. Then getting hit by auditors for doing the right thing.

This is why Kentucky can’t have nice things.

Owsley & Powell Counties Are A Mess

Holy wow, Owsley and Powell Counties are a disaster.

Adam Edelen yesterday released the latest audits for those counties and… ugh.

Let’s start with Powell:

  • The General, Jail, and Ambulance funds have deficits totaling $587,957.
  • The County did not provide an accurate financial report to State Local Finance Officer.
  • The County lacks adequate segregation of duties over receipts, disbursements, and recordkeeping functions.
  • The County should ensure receipts are accounted for properly.
  • Internal controls over transfer station receipts should be improved.
  • The Treasurer should comply with uniform system of accounts.
  • The Jail Fund disbursements should not exceed budgeted appropriations.
  • The County should ensure all disbursements are accounted for properly.
  • The Treasurer should use more care when posting debt payments and ensure debt balances on financial report are accurate.
  • The Fiscal court is not paying all invoices within 30 days of receipts as required by Kentucky statute and finance charges were incurred on late payments.
  • Encumbrances are not reported on the Treasurer’s quarterly report or the financial statement.
  • The Fiscal Court should approve all invoices prior to payment. The Fiscal Court did not approve all disbursements prior to payment.
  • The County should maintain evidence for all disbursements.
  • The County lacks adequate segregation of duties over the payroll function.
  • The payroll revolving account was not reconciled to zero on a monthly basis.
  • Employees should not receive additional pay for performance of regular job duties.
  • Part-time employees should not receive full-time benefits.
  • Leave balances are not maintained properly.
  • Employee insurance premiums were not accounted for properly.
  • The Fiscal Court should pay overtime properly.
  • The County should ensure all eligible employees participate in retirement.
  • The County should approve a salary schedule.
  • The County should maintain complete and accurate capital asset schedules.
  • The Fiscal Court minutes should be complete, adequately maintained, and filed in the proper location.
  • The County should annually review the Administrative Code and make any changes or revisions they deem necessary.
  • The Detention Center lacks adequate segregation of duties.
  • The Jailer should maintain accurate accounting records for the Jail Commissary Fund.
  • The Jailer did not submit an annual canteen report to the County Treasurer.
  • The Jailer is not maintaining proper inventory logs on e-cigarettes.
  • The Jailer should maintain detailed invoices for all purchases.
  • The Jailer should improve controls over inmate refunds.
  • The County did not properly manage the activity of $2,921,538 of CSEPP funds.
  • The County should improve controls relating to the single audit compliance requirements of allowable costs for the CSEPP.
  • The County should improve controls relating to the single audit compliance requirements of cash management for the CSEPP.
  • The County should improve controls and comply with requirements of procurement, suspension, and debarment for the CSEPP and should comply with KRS 424.260 and bid all expenditures over $20,000.
  • The County should improve controls and comply with requirements of Davis Bacon Act.
  • The County should improve controls and comply with requirements of equipment and real property management.

Click here (Warning: External PDF Link) to review the complete audit.

But Owsley? Worse.

Look…

Poor financial management practices have resulted in a disclaimed opinion on the financial statement. Management overrode established control procedures and failed to adhere to sufficient financial management procedures, resulting in numerous and pervasive audit comments:

  • The county does not have adequate internal controls.
  • The county lacks adequate segregation of duties for receipts and payroll.
  • Management overrode internal controls regarding dual signatures on checks.
  • The former Treasurer did not record and deposit receipts timely.
  • The former Treasurer failed to submit timely, complete, and accurate quarterly reports.
  • The county did not follow proper procedures for disbursements.
  • The county incurred late fees, penalties, and overdraft fees.
  • The county did not follow proper procedures for payroll.
  • The former treasurer did not prepare, publish, or present an annual settlement.
  • The county did not prepare a Schedule of Expenditures of Federal Awards.
  • The county did not maintain adequate documentation of fiscal court meetings.

The county does not have adequate internal controls over cash, receipts, disbursements,payroll, capital assets, and federal grants. The following control issues were noted which inhibits the county’s ability to properly record, classify, and report transactions for cash, receipts, disbursements, payroll, capital assets, and federal grants:

  • Cash balances are not adequately monitored and are not accurately reported.
  • Bank reconciliations were not completed timely for all accounts.
  • Receipts were not recorded and deposited timely.
  • Adequate supporting documentation is not maintained for all disbursement transactions.
  • Proper procedures are not in place to ensure proper calculation and documentation of payroll items.
  • Adequate schedules are not maintained for capital assets.
  • Proper procedures are not in place to ensure proper recording of certain disbursements.
  • Proper approval is not obtained for certain transactions.
  • Several items are not paid timely.
  • Federal grants are not adequately monitored, tracked, and reported on a Federal Monies Worksheet or SEFA schedule.

Other highlights:

  • The county lacks adequate segregation of duties for receipts and payroll.
  • Management overrides internal controls regarding dual signatures on checks.
  • The county did not record and deposit receipts timely.
  • The county failed to submit timely, complete, and accurate quarterly reports to the Department for Local Government.
  • The county incurred late fees, penalties, and overdraft fees.
  • Improper payments totaling $7,000 were made from the Road Fund.
  • The county did not comply with regulations for Local Government Economic Assistance coal producing funds.
  • The county did not follow proper procedures for payroll.
  • The county did not calculate FICA and Medicare withholdings correctly or file 941 Forms.
  • The county did not properly account for the revolving payroll account.
  • The county did not prepare, publish, or present an annual settlement.
  • The county did not prepare a Schedule of Expenditures of Federal Awards.
  • The Jailer is still owed $889 in salary from prior year.
  • The county did not maintain adequate documentation of Fiscal Court meetings.
  • The county has not corrected a prior audit comment regarding LGEA funds expended for prohibited purposes.
  • The county did not maintain capital asset schedules in accordance with regulatory requirements.

Here’s the kicker…

The county did not follow proper procedures for disbursements. Numerous deficiencies were noted in the county’s internal control structure as it relates to disbursements. Procedures regarding the documentation, preparation, and authorization of disbursements were not adequate for the 73 transactions tested and resulted in the following findings:

  • 29 instances, totaling $241,663, were noted in which proper documentation (i.e. invoices) for disbursements could not be located.
  • 22 instances, totaling $308,066 were noted in which the county did not properly approve the transaction as documented on the claims list.
  • 3 instances, totaling $22,220, were noted in which the county did not pay the vendor within 30 days of receipt of invoice.
  • 26 instances were noted in which the disbursement was not recorded in the proper account code.
  • Auditors were not provided with any information or documentation related to proper bidding procedures.

You should read it all (Warning: External PDF Link) because WHAT A MESS!

This is why rural Kentucky can’t have nice things.

Edelen Tucks Tail, Runs Quickly Away

Carolyn Bouchard, a diabetic with a slowly healing shoulder fracture, hurried to see her doctor after Matt Bevin was elected governor this month. Bouchard, 60, said she was sick of politics and had not bothered voting. But she knew enough about Bevin, a conservative Republican who rails against the Affordable Care Act, to be nervous about the Medicaid coverage she gained under the law last year. [H-L]

Authorities are investigating an hourslong standoff and shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs that left three dead, including an officer, as the community planned to hold vigils Saturday to honor the victims. [HuffPo]

Adam Edelen could challenge Rand Paul but he’s apparently still a political coward. If he doesn’t have the guts to pick himself up after losing, he doesn’t have what it takes to hold political office and he should permanently retire. [C-J/AKN]

In recent remarks Robert E. Murray, the chief executive officer of Murray Energy, the largest privately-held coal mining company in America, enthusiastically praised Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Tex., the chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, for leading an investigation into prominent climate scientists and environmental officials. [The Intercept]

Steve Beshear took 33 out-of-state trips during his eight-year term for a total cost to taxpayers of nearly $500,000. The costs do not include Beshear’s security details. [AP/WTVQ]

Vowing to crack down on the nation’s pharmaceutical industry while expanding coverage to 95 percent of all people, Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley on Tuesday laid out his healthcare plan. [The Hill]

Hoo boy, you’re gonna love the latest episode of Al Mohler’s gay panic meltdown. Bill Goodman sure knows how to let buttcramps be buttcramps. [KET]

U.S. presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s support among Republicans has dropped 12 points in less than a week, marking the real estate mogul’s biggest decline since he vaulted to the top of the field in July, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll. [Reuters]

State Rep. Tanya Pullin, D-South Shore, is one of three nominees for an Administrative Law Judge position in the Department of Workers’ Claims, and her potential appointment poses yet one more risk to the already teetering Democratic majority in the state House of Representatives. [Ronnie Ellis]

When you go to the hospital for an operation, did you know your surgeon might also be performing a procedure on another patient, in a different operating room, over the same scheduled time period? [ProPublica]

A comprehensive government drug study concludes Middle America’s drug problem will get worse before it gets better. Mexican drug cartels are rapidly expanding operations to meet the demand for heroin, according to a report issued by the Drug Enforcement Administration. [Ashland Independent]

Of COURSE Mitch McConnell has sneakily attached a campaign finance rider to the spending bill! He wants to expand the amount of cash political parties can spend in coordination with candidates. [Politico]

William Sisson, president of Baptist Health Lexington, has waited for this hospital expansion for a long time, more than 20 years. Now, the finishing touches are being put on the Baptist Health Lexington expansion, otherwise known as the North tower, for which ground was broken in 2010. [H-L]

Colorado Springs, the town where three people were killed and nine injured in an attack on a Planned Parenthood facility on Friday, is a hub for Christian evangelicals who are opposed to abortion. [HuffPo]

Harmon Likely To Buckle Under The Pressure?

The 66 percent of Owsley County that gets health coverage through Medicaid now must reconcile itself with the 70 percent that voted for Republican Governor-elect Matt Bevin, who pledged to cut the state’s Medicaid program and close the state-run Kynect health insurance exchange. The community’s largest-circulation newspaper, the Three Forks Tradition in Beattyville, did not say much about Kynect ahead of the election. Instead, its editorials roasted Obama and Hillary Clinton, gay marriage, Islam, “liberal race peddlers,” “liberal media,” black criminals and “the radical Black Lives Matter movement.” [John Cheves]

Rand Paul (R-Cookie Tree) has consistently voiced his disapproval of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy decisions, but on Thursday his criticism went a step further, implying the president is an “idiot” for how he’s handled U.S. involvement in the Syrian conflict during an Iowa campaign stop. [HuffPo]

Auditor-elect Mike Harmon said he will continue to push on the issue of untested rape kits, adopting a priority of outgoing state Auditor Adam Edelen, when he is sworn in in January. [C-J/AKN]

Global stocks are set for a short-term sell-off on Monday after Islamist militants launched coordinated attacks across Paris that killed 129 people, but few strategists expect a prolonged economic impact or change in prevailing market directions. [Reuters]

Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President Dave Adkisson says he’s at odds with Governor-elect Matt Bevin over dismantling Kentucky’s health care exchange. [WFPL]

Maybe Democrats avoiding saying “Islam” because they’re not backward-ass bigots? [Politico]

It may have come a little late, but outgoing Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear on Friday made a passionate defense of his decision to expand Medicaid and offer a state-run health exchange, programs Republican Gov.-elect Matt Bevin promised on the campaign trail to dismantle. [Ronnie Ellis]

For the first time, doctors have breached the human brain’s protective layer to deliver cancer-fighting drugs. [BBC]

The process of getting an interim judge appointed to fill the seat of District Judge John T. Alexander, who is moving to circuit court effective Dec. 2, is on hold until a member of the nominating commission can be replaced. The delay is due to the discovery that one of the nominating commission members is ineligible to serve. [Glasgow Daily Times]

The U.S. Supreme Court is once again entering the debate over abortion. The court said Friday that it will hear arguments later this term testing the constitutionality of a sweeping Texas abortion law that, if upheld, would allow the kind of major abortion restrictions not permitted in more than 40 years. [NPR]

During a Madison County School Board of Education meeting Thursday evening, Chair John Lackey announced that he would like to see the district “phase out” middle school contact sports. [Richmond Register]

Maybe Republican Matt Bevin isn’t going to burn down Frankfort after all. Nah, he’ll be just another Republican cut from the cloth of Ernie Fletcher. Rather, cut from the cloth of the Ernie Fletcher staffers who ended up getting half of Fletcher’s administration INDICTED! [Roll Call]

Nope, Matt Bevin isn’t going to care about conservation any time soon. You can put lipstick on a pig bug it’s still a pig. [H-L]

About three-quarters of the Earth’s surface is covered with water. But how did it get there? While some scientists believe water was delivered by icy space rocks smashing into the planet after it was formed, others have argued that water has been on Earth since its formation — and new research indicates they might be right. [HuffPo]

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