Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire…?

Thought it’d be a good idea to share a comment left on a story about Adam Edelen’s review of Fairview Independent Schools:

“Eyes rolling back in your head?

Meanwhile, in Montgomery County…”

Yeah, as a matter of fact they are. The similarities to Montgomery County are shocking, aren’t they?

Phil Rison submits $342,000 in “booster spending” for ONE YEAR on NONEXISTENT FACILITIES that the board knew nothing about. And the documentation shows that there hadn’t been any booster spending on facilities for the three previous years. The documentation also proves that boosters did NOT raise anywhere NEAR $342,000. The documentation acquired by Page One proves that report to be FRAUDULENT…….

Where is Edelen?!

Proof of Conspiracy To Commit Fraud is the term EDELEN’S OWN PEOPLE used to describe text messages between Kristi Carter, daycare director, and Mary Smith, her secretary. This is in itself something that could be prosecuted. ACCORDING TO EDELEN’S OWN PEOPLE. Not to mention an independent school auditor and CPA who was shown the messages. Those messages were the sort of things that would seem to make a state auditor really dig in, being as it was they were directly handed to them. But, nope.

Edelen turned a blind eye, made excuses, whatever. This is the tip of the iceberg. On a positive note, he did nail Powell for hiring his wife. Now he should go after the Powell’s for the illegally paid salary.

Yes, it’s more than enough to make one’s eyes roll back in their head. Practically with an audible “snap”.

Some of the stories referenced in that comment:

  • Edelen Ignoring Messes In Montgomery Co., Too? [October 23, 2013]
  • More Montgomery County Teasers For Edelen [October 25, 2013]
  • Auditor: Joshua Powell Illegally Hired His Wife [December 17, 2013]
  • Investigation Uncovers Massive Spending Scandal In Montgomery Co Schools Involving Phil Rison, Others [May 11, 2015]
  • Montgomery County Funds STILL Unreported In Title IX Documentation [June 1, 2015]
  • Eyebrow-Raising MoCo Title IX Data [June 2, 2015]
  • Records Don’t Support Montgomery County Schools’ Title IX Booster Spending For Facilities Claims [June 15, 2015]
  • On Bookkeeping & Secrecy In MoCo [June 30, 2015]

Nothing to see here, move along, attack the messenger, scream defamation, act as if there’s no reason for concern…

Edelen on Fairview Independent Schools

Check this out from Adam Edelen’s office:

Auditor Adam Edelen today released a special examination of the Fairview Independent School District, finding that $360,000 of general fund money was transferred to school activity funds over three years with little to no school board knowledge.

The 63-page report, which will be referred to law enforcement and the Education Professional Standards Board, describes a tiny district in far northeastern Kentucky that allowed its athletics and other activities to deficit spend with no oversight, and then plugged any holes with money that could’ve been used for instructional purposes at the end of the year. The excessive spending on the football program also likely resulted in the District violating Title IX requirements by spending more on boy’s sports than on girls’ sports.

“I appreciate school pride and share the insatiable enthusiasm Kentuckians have for their high school sports, but these were not responsible, grown-up decisions that were being made,” Auditor Edelen said.

The District has less than 900 students, of which 70 percent qualify for free or reduced-cost lunch. Teacher salaries and benefits as a percentage of total spending are the lowest among Kentucky’s 173 public school districts.

“Do these kids deserve to take a fun senior trip and have well-supported sports programs that can compete with those in bigger districts? Absolutely,” Auditor Edelen said. “But that doesn’t trump our responsibility to provide them with a solid education and pay teachers a decent wage.”

The excessive spending on activities identified by auditors happened as the District faced a $373,700 deficit and enacted a Utility Gross Receipts Tax to generate an additional $1.2 million in revenue.

“The same year the District raised taxes, it transferred $162,000 from the general fund into school activity funds,” Auditor Edelen said. “Excessive spending on activities isn’t the primary reason the District raised taxes, but it certainly wasn’t prudent or responsible either.”

Auditors found that the unchecked spending on activities extended to the renovation of the high school weight room with $32,000 in donations from an elementary school activity account. The money was intended to address nonacademic barriers.

The report detailed how excessive spending on the football program likely resulted in the District violating Title IX requirements. Title IX is a comprehensive federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity. The District demonstrated a disregard for this law by under-reporting football expenditures by at least $148,260 and reporting inaccurate amounts for other sports. Because the former high school Principal/Athletic Director did not request actual athletic expenditures from the Finance Officer to complete the required Title IX Annual Report, he likely knew that inaccurate expenditure information was reported for school year 2012-13 and potentially for previous years not reviewed.

“I’m troubled by the lack of seriousness with which administrators treated Title IX compliance,” Auditor Edelen said.

Auditors identified findings that indicate a lack of appropriate board oversight. The superintendent circumvented board oversight, used the District credit card to pay for personal expenses and authorized a 32 percent pay raise for one employee. A sporting-goods contract was entered into without board approval and the board did not consistently perform superintendent evaluations required by state law.

Throughout the audit, several District staff reported that the superintendent, who is retiring this month, used intimidation tactics so that staff wouldn’t question his decisions or discuss his actions.

“I hope the school board heeds the recommendations in this report and strengthens controls to better protect taxpayers,” Auditor Edelen said.

Eyes rolling back in your head?

Meanwhile, in Montgomery County…

Edelen To Sniff Around UofL Foundation

Yesterday, State Auditor of Public Accounts Adam Edelen announced that he will examine the University of Louisville Foundation.

Here’s his statement:

Auditor Adam Edelen on Thursday announced his office would conduct an examination into the governance and oversight of the University of Louisville Foundation, an organization that manages the school’s $1.1 billion endowment.

The Auditor’s office also will examine the existing governance structure of the University of Louisville Board of Trustees, and the actions of the Foundation.

“The importance of the University of Louisville in regards to education and workforce development cannot be overstated,” Auditor Edelen said. “Dr. Ramsey has presided over a period of significant growth and achievement. I have heard from dozens of business and community leaders who believe that a review by my office will be a constructive exercise, resulting in easing tensions and a fact-based path for moving forward.”

The University of Louisville Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that holds, invests and allocates donations for the University. It is directed by a 15-member board of directors, the majority of whom are not members of the University’s Board of Trustees.

Under state law, University trustees are required to oversee the compensation of the school’s president, faculty and staff. The Foundation independently awarded compensation packages to the University president and other top officials during the 2012-13 fiscal year. The University itself has begun a Foundation board level review of those deferred compensation awards.

“The Foundation is critically important to the University, but it must be fully transparent,” Auditor Edelen said. “In addition, the Board of Trustees must have primacy in its governance and oversight roles in relation to University activities funded by the Foundation.”

Given the dramatic growth of the University and enhanced academic reputation in recent years, Auditor Edelen said it is important the review be conducted to ensure the Board of Trustees is in a position to meet its statutory and fiduciary obligations as the governing body of the institution.

Auditor Edelen said the process represents a significant undertaking by his office, and he expects it will take months to complete.

“We anticipate full cooperation from the boards of the University and its Foundation, as well as the University administration,” Auditor Edelen said. “At the end of the day, the number one priority for both organizations is to do what is best for the University and greater community of Louisville. I’m optimistic that a review by my office will provide a constructive, fact-based path for moving forward.”

What Edelen’s office didn’t clear up is concern about a potential conflict of interest. That being that he was at one point invited to become a member of that very foundation’s board of directors.

While that doesn’t mean there’s a real conflict, the appearance is pretty high and it’s something he should clear up to avoid any unease or confusion as foundation members keep talking about it. If only because the people who work so hard within the APA don’t have to deal with questions.

Also — it’s about dang time! The UofL Foundation has been a monster for a long time. This milquetoast review will finally open the doors a bit so the public can peek inside.

Interested In School District Audits?

Then here’s a statement released by Adam Edelen’s office earlier today:

State Auditor Adam Edelen announces, in accordance with Kentucky’s Open Meetings Law (KRS 61.820), the regular meeting schedule of the State Committee for School District Audits. The Committee is chaired by the state Auditor.

The regular quarterly meetings and an additional regular meeting of the Committee for 2015-16 are scheduled for Sept. 17, 2015, Oct. 22, 2015, March 10, 2016, March 17, 2016, and June 16, 2016. The meetings will be held at the Office of the Auditor of Public Accounts, 209 St. Clair St., Frankfort, Ky. 40601. Each meeting is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Eastern Time.

The Committee, formed by the Kentucky General Assembly, is in charge of ensuring that each school district board of education is audited once every fiscal year. In addition to the state Auditor, members of the Committee include representatives of the Governor, Attorney General, Legislative Research Commission’s Office of Educational Accountability and the Commissioner of Education.

Now you know.

Your Audit Race Slap Fight Has Begun

A judge ruled Thursday that the estranged wife of former state Rep. W. Keith Hall cannot testify about their marital conversations at his bribery trial, set to begin June 22 in Pikeville. Although Stephanie Hall was willing to waive her spousal privilege to testify against her husband, Keith Hall was not willing to waive his. If the case goes to trial, the jury will not hear Stephanie Hall testify about a 2010 conversation in which she said that Keith Hall — who owns coal mines — told her that he was paying money to the state mine inspector assigned to his operations, U.S. District Chief Judge Karen Caldwell said. [John Cheves]

State Rep. Mike Harmon, the Republican nominee in this year’s race for state auditor, challenged his opponent, Democratic incumbent Adam Edelen, on Wednesday to conduct a full audit of the financially strapped Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System. Edelen still wins. Even though he’s purposefully ignored corruption, washed his hands of Montgomery County (blaming inaction on Jack Conway) and talked out of both sides of his mouth for years. [More H-L]

A majority of Democratic members in the House and Senate have now signed on to letters rebuking the Obama administration for expanding the practice of detaining immigrant women and children. [HuffPo]

Following complaints about the compensation for President James Ramsey and other executives, the University of Louisville board of trustees has hired a Chicago consulting firm to produce a “competitive market review” of his pay and that of five other administrators. [C-J/AKN]

The extremists surrounding the Paul Family sure are… extreme. [RWW]

Jack Conway, the Democratic candidate for governor, said Wednesday efforts by his Republican opponent Matt Bevin and the Republican Governors Association to tie him to President Barack Obama won’t work. But highlighting everything else will work. [Ronnie Ellis]

Nearly six months into his tenure as Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell is finding it’s not easy to keep his party’s presidential candidates in line. [The Hill]

Most considered the 2015 General Assembly session successful, primarily because it passed a bill to attack the growing incidence of heroin abuse. [Ronnie Ellis]

A majority of early-state insiders believe it’s helpful for Rand Paul to differentiate himself from the Republican field through his views on foreign policy and national security. But over the course of the campaign, many say, those same positions will prove to be a serious liability. [Politico]

The Glasgow City Council infrastructure committee learned this week it costs the city about $340,000 annually to operate street lights. [Glasgow Daily Times]

Those who weren’t accusing him of endangering US national security blasted him for what they saw as grandstanding in the interest of advancing his presidential interests. [BBC]

An activist and a University of Louisville doctor are shining light on gun violence in the city. [WLKY]

College admissions take a crucial factor into account that could be creating enormous racial bias, but it’s not grades or extracurricular activities or even SAT scores. It’s a student’s disciplinary record. [ThinkProgress]

The Fayette County Schools superintendent screening committee issued a statement Wednesday night saying it had finished its work and would give the school board a list of candidates in closed session. [H-L]

America’s middle class may be in trouble — but what it means to be in the middle class depends on who you’re talking to. [HuffPo]

Post-Holiday Hangover? Read This Crap

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul led a successful effort to block renewal of the Patriot Act early Saturday morning, followed by a deeply divided Senate leaving Washington without taking action on the National Security Agency’s soon-to-expire power to collect Americans’ phone records. [H-L]

Some electronic cigarette companies say that their products help people quit smoking, but the evidence to back up this claim is lacking, a new study finds. [HuffPo]

Republican state Sen. Brandon Smith has been acquitted of driving under the influence of alcohol. [C-J/AKN]

A federal judge on Thursday reaffirmed her earlier ruling that same-sex couples in Alabama have a right to wed under the Constitution, but she put the ruling on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court issues a landmark decision on gay marriage. [Reuters]

Roughly 17 months since the enterprise’s first summit started the conversation and began asking the tough questions, Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) returned to Pikeville for another summit, this time to provide insight and answers. [Hazard Herald]

The voicemail message was like so many others from my mom. “Hi, it’s mom,” she began, then chatted on, full Jewish mother in her distinctive gravelly timbre. “There’s a storm coming your way…Please drive very carefully….Love you. Bye.” [ProPublica]

It’s time for a reminder about Adam Edelen and educational audits. An audit is NOT a forensic accounting investigation. It’s typically a random sampling that gets reviewed unless specific concerns are brought to light. Or, in the case of Montgomery County, not. Because specific concerns were deliberately ignored by Edelen’s team. When he says there was no fraud discovered? Remember: not a forensic accounting, not an in-depth investigation of every nook and cranny. [Business First]

Arizona’s legislature has decided to try to plug a $1 billion budget deficit in part by kicking people off of welfare after just 12 months, the strictest time limit in the country. Sounds like something Frankfort would try. [Think Progress]

More than 50 community members gathered Wednesday to formulate an action plan to improve the health of Madison County residents in three areas – mental health and healthy lifestyle choices as well as alcohol, tobacco and other drug dependency. [Richmond Register]

The sleepy United States senators thought they were done voting. But then, around 1 a.m. on the Saturday before Memorial Day, Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky and presidential candidate, marched spryly to the Senate floor to let it be known that, no, he would not agree to extend the federal government’s bulk collection of phone records program. Not even for one day. [NY Times]

Bradley Lewis has resigned as a sergeant at the Glasgow Police Department, according to information released Friday by interim GPD Chief James Duff. [Glasgow Daily Times]

Mitch McConnell stood at his desk on the Senate floor after 1 a.m. Saturday, the eyes of his colleagues trained on him. He seemed bewildered. [WaPo]

We’ll miss the voice of Merlene Davis and wish her the best! It has been suggested that with this farewell column I should burn bridges and drop the mic. A couple of years ago, I might have done just that. But I’m a bit tired now, weakened by the weight of mirrors I’ve tried to hold up to politicians, school administrators, conservatives, liberals, Democrats and Republicans, neighbors and friends. I’m running out of ways to say the same thing. [Merlene Davis]

A revealing conversation on the Senate floor Thursday showed precisely how secretive President Barack Obama’s pending trade deals are, and the absurdity of arguments to the contrary. [HuffPo]

The Downfall Of Jamie Comer Continues

Jamie Comer is lying again. He absolutely knew the effects of the bill. Quite a few people spelled it out for him. P.S. Yes, Rogers, McConnell & crew are now supporting Heiner. [H-L]

In the years since “Mission Accomplished,” some 149,053 civilians have been killed, compared to about 7,412 prior to the speech, according to the website Iraq Body Count. Since the speech, 4,637 military members in the Iraq War coalition led by the U.S. have lost their lives, versus 172 prior, according to the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count. As of September 2014, total U.S. expenditures on the war in Iraq totaled $815.8 billion, about 93 percent of which was spent after 2003. That cost is more than 16 times the Bush administration’s original projection. [HuffPo]

Truth is generally a casualty in political battles and there’s not an issue that’s suffered more wounds in this year’s Kentucky governor’s race than the Common Core academic standards that Kentucky adopted in 2010. [C-J/AKN]

Will the Supreme Court look behind the curtain of lethal injection? [The Intercept]

Adam Edelen needs to recuse himself immediately. Here’s why: he’s been asked to join the UofL Foundation board and once asked me for my opinion about it. I told him to run quickly away. But that means he’s got a conflict of interest. [WDRB]

When a member of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s security detail left his Glock and magazine stuffed in the toilet seat cover holder of a Capitol Visitor Center bathroom stall, a CVC worker found the gun, according to a source familiar with the Jan. 29 incident and two other disturbing instances when Capitol Police left loaded firearms in problematic places. A 7- or 8-year-old child visiting the Capitol with his parents found the next loaded Glock lost by a dignitary protection officer, according to the source. A member of the security detail for John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, allegedly left the firearm in the bathroom of the Speaker’s Suite on March 24. [Roll Call]

It was a record-breaking 141st running of the $1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) at Churchill Downs Racetrack which culminated as 123,763 fans, the highest attendance of all time, watched a memorable win by Lovely Maria. The prior attendance record was 116,046, set in 2010, during the 136th running of the Kentucky Oaks. [Press Release]

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell faces a tough choice this week on how to move forward with a controversial bill that would allow Congress to review and vote on a nuclear deal with Iran. [The Hill]

Most eyes were fixed on the Kentucky Derby this weekend, but the Republican gubernatorial primary began last week to look as if it might be headed for its own photo finish. [Ronnie Ellis]

Her campaign barely three weeks old, Hillary Clinton already has been attacked by Republicans on everything from donations to her family’s charitable foundation, to her tenure as secretary of state and her ties to Wall Street. But her rivals, and the political action committees that support them, are treading more carefully on one incendiary subject: her age. [Reuters]

While previous media reports led to the return – or at least the documentation – of several military surplus items missing from the Glasgow Police Department, more than 100 such items remain unaccounted for, and fingers seem to be pointing at a former member of the GPD. [Glasgow Daily Times]

What the Kentucky Derby owes to China. If it weren’t for KFC’s giant Asian consumer base, the annual classic would be a much poorer event. [Politico]

The Fayette County Public Schools board voted Sunday to terminate its contract with superintendent search firm PROACT Search Inc. The board went into closed session shortly before 9 a.m. Sunday to discuss possible litigation against the search firm. [H-L]

The Tata group, one of India’s largest conglomerates, promised to be a good neighbor when it took on the job of building the nation’s first “ultra mega” coal-fired power plant. [HuffPo]