Beshear Leaves Tainted EPSB Legacy

Remember Laura Lee Schneider of the Education Professional Standards Board?


Read all about her by clicking here.

Steve Beshear, as he leaves office, has reappointed her to serve a term that lasts until September 18, 2019.

So if you ever thought the man cared about educational accountability? Now you know you were sorely mistaken. Because she’s one of the folks who has consistently worked to drag EPSB into the pits of bureaucratic oblivion. As have all members of the EPSB the past few years.

He also appointed three new members of the board. From a release from the governor’s office:

  • Sarah Marie Thompson, of Paducah, representing elementary school teachers. She replaces Brandy L. Beardsley, whose term has expired. Thompson shall serve for a term expiring Sept. 18, 2019.
  • Esther K. Fatsy, of Cincinnati, representing secondary school teachers. She replaces Marie R. McMillen, whose term has expired. Fatsy shall serve for a term expiring Sept. 18, 2019.
  • Ann Marie Morgan, of Owenton, represents elementary school teachers. She replaces Barbara Ann Boyd, who resigned. Morgan shall serve for the remainder of the unexpired term ending June 7, 2016.

So that should be fun.

If Matt Bevin is worth the air he breathes, he’ll have his team figure out a way to wipe everyone out and start over.

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]

Transparency For UMG/MWG Coming?

Could transparency be coming to agencies like Mountain Water Group/Utility Management Group?

You’ve read all about it since 2007. You already know what a mess Pike County has on its hands. You already know that mess is why Chris Harris is now a State Representative and W. Keith Hall faces a potential prison sentence.

So it’s only fitting that Harris has pre-filed legislation to increase transparency for private corporations operating public utilities.

From a release:

State Representative Chris Harris has prefiled legislation for the 2016 Regular Session of the Kentucky General Assembly, which seeks to expand Kentucky’s Open Records Act to include private entities that operate public utilities. If passed, private corporations under contract with state or local government authorities must comply with commonsense transparency and accountability requirements set forth in Kentucky’s Open Records Act.

“In recent years we have started to see state and local governments contracting with private corporations to perform basic public services like operating public utilities. When those utilities are operated directly by the government, they are subject to Kentucky’s Open Records Act. However, once bid and contracted out to a private corporation, the public gets placed in the dark. The public’s right to know how its money is being spent shouldn’t weaken just because a public utility decides to privatize its operations; it’s still taxpayer money,” Rep. Harris said.

In 2012 the Kentucky Open Records Act was amended by HB 496 which redefined the meaning of a “public agency” to exclude private companies contracting with the government for goods and services when the company is awarded a contract through competitive bidding. While that makes sense for providers of products or limited construction contracts, the change applied equally to public utilities, which have a monopoly on providing that service to the public. This loophole was most likely an unintended consequence of that legislation, which Rep. Harris seeks to correct.

This new legislation keeps the 2012 reform in place while creating a simple exception to bring public utilities operated by private corporations under the Open Records Act. Specifically, it will apply to those corporations that provide water and wastewater services, fire protection, corrections and incarceration, law enforcement, tax assessment and collection, or waste management.

“I’ve spoken with many stakeholders in this effort. We believe this bill increases accountability and transparency without overly burdening companies that provide vital services to people across Kentucky,” Rep. Harris said. “Taxpayers have a fundamental right to know how their tax dollars are being spent. It’s what I believe. It’s what many legislators believe and it’s what the vast majority of Kentuckians believe. If the current law isn’t changed and remains as-is, the public will lose forever its right to know. We will be without the ability to hold government accountable for the millions of dollars that pass annually through public entities to private corporations operating our own public utilities.”

“We support open and transparent government for all Kentuckians,” said Richard Beliles, chairman of Kentucky Common Cause. “The public deserves to have that transparency and level of accountability when the public interest is in question, regardless of whether the public or private sector is the primary source of action.”

David Thompson, Executive Director of the Kentucky Press Association, whose organization is in support of this legislation, commented, “We appreciate the efforts of Representative Harris who has witnessed firsthand the unintended consequences that are resulting from the change in the Open Records law three years ago. The change has not been interpreted as intended, and that has resulted in questions about the public’s access to financial records involving taxpayer money. This change, which KPA will support and work to pass in the 2016 legislature, will clarify when private businesses that receive public money are subject to releasing information about the use of that taxpayer money.”

Here’s BR 164:


Or, if you prefer, right-click here to save a PDF copy.

Let’s Allow The Pension Systems Die

Because that would be more worthwhile than trying to protect them from middlemen and thieves.

Remember Robert Klausner?

We mentioned him quite a bit when we were relentlessly covering Kentucky Retirement Systems.


We hear KRS general counsel Eric Wampler has moved to the KTRS and he’s hired… wait for it… Robert Klausner.

Fascinating how those incestuous systems work.

This is why Kentucky can’t have nice things.

Schools, Money & Trump Racism Fun

The Fayette County school board voted Monday to hire national auditors to review school district operations at the request of Superintendent Manny Caulk. [H-L]

Here’s one more indication that American teachers work really, really hard — and don’t make nearly enough. An analysis released Tuesday by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development looks at the state of education around the world, examining everything from intergenerational mobility in education to graduation rates to teacher pay. [HuffPo]

While Kentucky’s two U.S. senators are trying to throw a political wrench into a major world summit on climate change, at least several of the state’s residents plan to carry messages of cooperation and environmental protection to the gathering in France. [C-J/AKN]

Allegations are mounting that senior intelligence officials at Central Command not only skewed findings on the ISIS war to please D.C., but tried to hide what they did. [TDB]

The waiting game continues after four full days of deliberation, as jurors have yet to reach a verdict in the criminal trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship. [Richmond Register]

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump is not backing down from his claim that “thousands of people” in Arab communities in New Jersey were cheering on 9/11. Trump defended himself by telling an NBC News reporter that he has “the world’s greatest memory” and everybody knows that. [The Hill]

Rand Paul, R-Cookie Tree, said after a town hall at the Highlands Museum and Discovery Center he is in conversations with the CEO of AK Steel about how to keep hundreds of jobs at Ashland Works afloat. [Ashland Independent]

PEE ALERT! Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump’s campaign warned the party on Tuesday about donors pooling funds for attack ads, saying the party must treat him fairly to keep him from launching an independent bid. [Reuters]

Keeping public money in public schools is one of five priorities of Kentucky school district superintendents, according to a report C.D. Morton presented Thursday during a meeting of the Harlan Independent Board of Education. [Harlan Daily Enterprise]

Current and former government officials have been pointing to the terror attacks in Paris as justification for mass surveillance programs. CIA Director John Brennan accused privacy advocates of “hand-wringing” that has made “our ability collectively internationally to find these terrorists much more challenging.” Former National Security Agency and CIA director Michael Hayden said, “In the wake of Paris, a big stack of metadata doesn’t seem to be the scariest thing in the room.” [ProPublica]

A chair commemorating military service members who have been prisoners of war, missing in action or killed in action was officially dedicated to become part of Glasgow City Council’s chambers in Glasgow City Hall on Monday evening. [Glasgow Daily Times]

America has just lived through another presidential campaign week dominated by Donald Trump’s racist lies. Here’s a partial list of false statements: The United States is about to take in 250,000 Syrian refugees; African-Americans are responsible for most white homicides; and during the 9/11 attacks, “thousands and thousands” of people in an unnamed “Arab” community in New Jersey “were cheering as that building was coming down.” [NY Times]

A federal judge has denied a request to block hearings on whether hundreds of Eastern Kentucky residents will keep federal disability benefits. [H-L]

Triatomine bugs, known more commonly as “kissing bugs,” have been found in North Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The bug is native to the southern United States, South America, Central America and Mexico, and can carry a parasite called Trypanosoma cruzi that causes the potentially deadly Chagas disease. [HuffPo]

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) [Ting]

More MoCo/Powell/EPSB Update Stuff

An update on this issue:

The Education Professional Standards Board, which plans to make a decision about whether to take Joshua Powell’s certifications in early February, is fighting its first subpoena in ages (maybe ever). Specifically, the new EPSB leadership is fighting to keep a transcript of Powell’s 22-day hearing secret. Never mind that Joshua Powell has repeatedly said under oath that he made recordings of the proceedings and can’t guarantee that others haven’t heard them. You know he’s shared them with his attorneys. Their contents have already been used in public court filings and hearings involving school board members.

Back story: Michelle Goins-Henry, who testified during the EPSB hearing and who is suing Powell and the Montgomery County Board of Education, obtained a subpoena to receive the transcript. The EPSB’s executive director agreed to comply and went so far as to tell her attorney it was ready to be picked up (I have the emails, so… kinda can’t deny it). Then, bam, they’re fighting in court to keep it secret. Despite promises from Goins-Henry that she’d sign documents agreeing to keep it confidential.

There’s a hearing on the 24th to discuss it.

Spoiler alert for EPSB: that transcript has already been leaked. It was spread around after October 15, the date the finished document allegedly arrived at your office. Your claim that it could cause public uproar, potentially influencing EPSB members is dead in the water. All the claims and evidence raised during the hearing? Already public. Already written about here on Page One. And the hearing would have been open to the public had Powell not asked for it to be closed.

Earlier this morning a judge ruled in EPSB’s favor — the transcript of Joshua Powell’s transcript will not have to be turned over.

He bought into EPSB’s argument that everything gets leaked to the media, with EPSB citing emails that have been turned over. But here’s another spoiler alert: WE COULD OBTAIN THEM VIA OPEN RECORDS REQUEST! Because… wait for it… emails at EPSB are subject to open records laws.

But that’s no big deal. No one should panic.

Here’s why: The judge ordered EPSB to hand over the entire Powell transcript by February 26 and he set a date to make sure it happens.

What that means: EPSB likely plans to hold Powell accountable or it wouldn’t have agreed to hand everything over. That 22-day hearing will not remain secret, as Powell desires. Every last bit of those scandals discussed during the hearing will ultimately be public.

There are all kinds of things about the EPSB case that are interesting. Here’s one: the hearing officer, during testimony, discovered additional alleged law-breaking on Powell’s part and brought it up.

There’s a hearing in Powell’s case against the board scheduled for December 15.

A hearing in Amanda Reffit’s case against Powell and the board on January 22.

Michelle Henry’s case has a status hearing for April 22, pretrial conference on August 26 and jury trial on September 26.

Jennifer Hall’s case has a status hearing scheduled for March 25.

An EPSB staffer just sent us a file that’s several hundred megabytes in size. And nearly a month ago someone gave us two large boxes of paper.

Can you guess what both are?

4 In EKY Indicted On Vote-Buying Charges

TL;DR: A guy named Rooster got indicted for alleged vote-buying in the 2014 election.

Four Eastern Kentuckians were indicted late last week on charges of vote-buying. It’s exactly how you imagine it because you’ve lived through dozens (hundreds?) of these cases.

The specifics: Gary “Rooster” Risner, Tami Jo Risner, Mason Daniels and Scott Lynn McCarty are alleged to have agreed to pay people to vote in the 2014 U.S. Senate race.


  • COUNT 1
    From on or about a date in October 2014, and continuing until on or about November 4, 2014, in Magoffin County, in the Eastern District of Kentucky, GARY “ROOSTER” RISNER, TAMI JO RISNER, AND MASON DANIELS did knowingly and willfully conspire and agree with each other, and with others, known and unknown, to violate a law of the United States … in that they agreed to pay and offer to pay persons for voting in an election held in part to elect a Member of the United States Senate, and in furtherance of the conspiracy members of the conspiracy committed the overt acts of paying persons for voting…
  • COUNT 2
    TAMI JO RISNER paid and offered to pay H.H. for voting in an election held in part to elect a Member of the United States Senate…
  • COUNT 3
    TAMI JO RISNER paid and offered to pay C.H. for voting in an election held in part to elect a Member of the United States Senate…
  • COUNT 4
    TAMI JO RISNER paid and offered to pay W.K. for voting in an election held in part to elect a Member of the United States Senate…
  • COUNT 5
    TAMI JO RISNER paid and offered to pay D.B. for voting in an election held in part to elect a Member of the United States Senate…
  • COUNT 6
    TAMI JO RISNER paid and offered to pay T.L.N. for voting in an election held in part to elect a Member of the United States Senate…
  • COUNT 7
    TAMI JO RISNER paid and offered to pay K.N. for voting in an election held in part to elect a Member of the United States Senate…
  • COUNT 8
    MASON DANIELS paid and offered to pay D.J. for voting in an election held in part to elect a Member of the United States Senate…
  • COUNT 9
    MASON DANIELS paid and offered to pay T.N. for voting in an election held in part to elect a Member of the United States Senate…
  • COUNT 10
    GARY RISNER paid and offered to pay M.S. for voting in an election held in part to elect a Member of the United States Senate…
  • COUNT 11
    GARY RISNER paid and offered to pay A.F. for voting in an election held in part to elect a Member of the United States Senate…
  • COUNT 12
    GARY RISNER paid and offered to pay R.R. for voting in an election held in part to elect a Member of the United States Senate…
  • COUNT 13
    GARY RISNER paid and offered to pay D.M. for voting in an election held in part to elect a Member of the United States Senate…
  • COUNT 14
    GARY RISNER and SCOTT LYNN MCCARTY, aided and abetted by one another, paid and offered to pay A.F. for voting in an election held in part to elect a Member of the United States Senate…
  • COUNT 15
    GARY RISNER and SCOTT LYNN MCCARTY, aided and abetted by one another, paid and offered to pay M.S. for voting in an election held in part to elect a Member of the United States Senate…
  • COUNT 16
    GARY RISNER and SCOTT LYNN MCCARTY, aided and betted by one another, paid and offered to pay J.G. for voting in an election held in part to elect a Member of the United States Senate…
  • COUNT 17
    GARY RISNER, aided and abetted by another, paid and offered top ay J.D.G. for voting in an election held in part to elect a Member of the United States Senate…


  • COUNT 1: Not more than 5 years, $250,000 fine, and 3 years supervised release.
  • COUNTS 2-17: Not more than 5 years, $250,000 fine, and 3 years supervised release.
  • PLUS: Mandatory special assessment of $100 per count.

Here’s the indictment:


According to folks we’ve spoken to in the area, the races votes were allegedly bought were for judge-executive, county clerk and fiscal court. Rooster won election to the fiscal court.

So get your popcorn ready. More Eastern Kentucky corruption is coming.