Check Your White Privilege. Now.

Fishface, cokehead, dumbo, retarded, coward, and prick – Use of those words has led to the temporary suspension of a Pike County circuit judge. The Judicial Conduct Commission temporarily suspended Steven D. Combs Tuesday until the resolution of 10 charges brought against him, according to documents released by the commission. [H-L]

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has gained support in New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary polls and is now within 10 percentage points of front-runner Hillary Clinton. [HuffPo]

Sometimes you just can’t fix stupid. Although he vows to repeal the Common Core education standards if elected governor, Republican gubernatorial nominee Matt Bevin owns part of an education technology company that embraces those standards. [C-J/AKN]

The U.S. Federal Reserve is meeting with the possibility of an interest rate hike squarely on the table, but with a different issue center stage: Is the worst of 2015 over? [Reuters]

Gas prices in the Lexington and Madison County areas rose 10.9 center per gallon in the past week. [Richmond Register]

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Indian Cabinet approved increasing the country’s solar target five times to a goal of reaching 100 gigawatts, up from 20 GW, by 2022. [ThinkProgress]

The Boyd County Fiscal Court took two major steps Tuesday toward limiting trash intake at Big Run Landfill. [Ashland Independent]

A global bioenergy assessment has said biofuels could meet up to a third of the world’s transportation fuel needs by the middle of the century. [BBC]

Barren County Fiscal Court passed a revised version of its budget on Tuesday, amended to reduce the amount of funding from prior years’ surplus. [Glasgow Daily Times]

This is not a time for peace and quiet. Only scared white people want peace and quiet. [NY Times]

The Kentucky Arts Council is accepting applications from artists interested in participating in a program that helps them market their creations. [WKYT]

The FCC voted 3-2 today to expand the Lifeline program for low-income consumers to include an optional credit for broadband access. [Consumerist]

Eleven individuals and one state championship team will comprise the Woodford County Public Schools Hall of Fame’s fourth class of inductees. They will be inducted into the hall at a ceremony Aug. 22 at Woodford County Middle School. They also will be introduced during a halftime ceremony at the Aug. 21 Woodford County High School football game. [H-L]

It appears the baby recession really is over: Preliminary figures show U.S. births were up last year for the first time in seven years. [HuffPo]

It’s Mega KTRS Pee Alert Time Again

Yesterday, Steve Beshear put these people in charge of further wrecking the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System:

  • David Karem, former state senator and former chair of the Kentucky Board of Education
  • David Adkisson, CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
  • Mike Armstrong, executive director of the Kentucky School Boards Association
  • Jason Bailey, research and policy director for the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development
  • Mary Ann Blankenship, executive director of the Kentucky Education Association
  • State Budget Director Jane Driskell
  • Auditor of Public Accounts Adam Edelen, who shall serve as a nonvoting member
  • Amanda Ellis, associate commissioner, Office of Next Generation Learners in the Kentucky Department of Education
  • Secretary of the Finance and Administration Cabinet Lori Flanery
  • Gary Harbin, executive secretary of the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System
  • State Treasurer Todd Hollenbach, who is also a board member of Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System
  • Secretary of the Governor’s Executive Cabinet Mary Lassiter
  • Secretary of the Personnel Cabinet Timothy Longmeyer
  • Roger Marcum, chairman of the Kentucky Board of Education
  • Brent McKim, Jefferson County Teachers’ Association president
  • Brigitte Blom Ramsey, executive director of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence
  • Dr. Tom Shelton, executive director of the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents
  • Dr. Bob Wagoner, executive director of the Kentucky Retired Teachers Association
  • Wayne Young, executive director of the Kentucky Association of School Administrators
  • Two members of the Kentucky State Senate designated by the President of the Senate
  • Two members of the Kentucky House of Representatives designated by the Speaker of the House.

Yep, half those people are directly responsible for a good amount of the educational scandals the state has faced the past few years. They’ve been tasked with coming up with solutions to part of the state’s pension nightmare. AKA, tasked with doing nothing/making the pension mess worse.

Jeff Hoover was having none of it:

Even though I have personally led the charge the past two years to address the crisis with the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System through an outside, comprehensive review, I am extremely disappointed Governor Beshear has chosen this response to such a serious situation.

Governor Beshear had a real opportunity to create an independent, non-partisan panel to give a thorough review of KTRS in an effort to make substantive recommendations to solidify the system. Instead the Governor chose to fill this task force with self-serving special interest groups that have been part of the problem, not part of the solution. During the last session House Democrats proposed $3.3 billion in pension obligation bonds for KTRS, which would have handed taxpayers the bill and crushed Kentucky’s economy for decades to come. Meanwhile an outside group recently advised investors to exercise caution in purchasing bonds in Kentucky because of our tremendous pension debt and sluggish economy in the Commonwealth.

I once again call for an independent panel with the foremost experts in areas like investments and actuarial audits to be appointed so we can deliver on our promise to teachers that they will have a stable retirement system for years to come.

Slap fight commence!

The Current Education Professional Standards Board Chair Has A Troubled Past… With The EPSB!

Wondering what’s wrong with the Education Professional Standards Board and why people are quitting in droves?

Part of it is because of board chair Cassandra Webb.

From the EPSB’s agreed order with Webb in November 2008:

3. By letter dated March 1, 2004, Jeff May, Superintendent of Lawrence County Schools reported Webb, the principal of Lawrence County High School, for negligent supervision of the Lawrence County High School Athletic Director when in the fall of 2003, the Lawrence County High School Athletic Fund was overspent in excess of $17,556 due to fiscal mismanagement by the Athletic Director.

4. While Webb maintains her innocence with regard to all allegations, she acknowledges that the evidence regarding the reported allegations is such that, if presented at a hearing in this matter, could result in a finding that she is in violation of KRS 161.120 and 16 KAR 1:020, the Professional Code of Ethics for Kentucky School Certified Personnel.

Here’s the agreed order:


CLICK EACH TO ENLARGE

While Webb maintains she did nothing wrong, nothing illegal occurred, she didn’t know that mountains of cash at her small town school — for which she was responsible — was missing, overspent. Nothing. Nothing to see here, move along, puppies and rainbows.

The superintendent, auditor and EPSB all disagreed.

Let’s dig in…

On January 5, 2004 Superintendent Jeff May sent this letter to the EPSB and carbon copied the Office of Educational Accountability:


CLICK EACH TO ENLARGE

Highlights:

On December 8, 2003 Ms. Cassandra Webb met with me, Assistant Superintendent Joe Hewlett, and the school district’s financial auditor Dan Howard. At this time Ms. Webb informed us that she had a problem with her athletic activity account. The account, according to her, was over spent in excess of twenty thousand dollars and more invoices were likely to exist. She stated that she had attempted to address the problem but because of the amount of money involved she was and would be unable to cover the existing unpaid invoices with high school funds. Furthermore, Ms. Webb explained she knew that athletic spending was a problem and addressed the purchasing issues with Mr. Joey Cecil in August 2003. It is my understanding that she believed this would take care of the purchasing procedures that had been practiced, and evidently allowed, in the past within the athletic department at the high school. These actions were inappropriate, unsound, and against board policies which have left the activity athletic fund in debt and without a means to pay invoices. Mr. Cecil disputes the amount of invoices, that his discussion with Ms. Webb was casual, not explicit on procedures, and that he was following the process as they had used in past.

Upon conclusion of this meeting I directed Ms. Webb to gather all records pertaining to this matter and to submit them to Mr. Hewlett for review. Furthermore, she was instructed to cease any athletic spending other than paying officials at sporting events. Immediately after meeting with Ms. Webb I contacted your office to report this situation and seek assistance on the proper procedures to take for resolving it. I also contacted the KDE Division of Finance for assistance and to request a representative to review the situation for us.

-SNIP-

His examination revealed that a separate purchase order book, not the official school purchase order book, was used by the athletic department and not in coordination with the official book. Furthermore, this document was not used consistently, nor completely, as invoices were found to have fictitious purchase order numbers apparently created at random.

The following invoices were included:


CLICK TO ENLARGE — PDF

On January 31, 2004 Superintendent May sent this letter to his school district’s auditor:


CLICK EACH TO ENLARGE

And this was the audit that was produced:


CLICK TO ENLARGE — PDF

Highlights:

Compliance

CURRENT PERIOD FINDINGS

03-1.1 KRS 45A.343 to 45A.460 relating to purchases in an “aggregate amount” in excess of $20,000 must be bid out or purchased from a vendor on the approved “bid list.” Purchases were made in excess of $20,000 from vendors not on the approved “bid list.”

03-1.2 A contract to lease was entered into without the Board of Educations (sic) approval and is therefore, not valid.

Internal Control

CURRENT FINDINGS

Material weaknesses

03-1.1 There are insufficient internal controls and procedures in place to provide accurate and timely financial information for management.

03-1.2 Various purchases were made without an approved purchase order. Various purchase orders were dated after the date of the purchase invoice. Expenditures cannot be properly accounted for without properly executed purchase orders. The budget for athletics for the year was over spent by the end of this six month period.

Following the audit, May sent this to EPSB on March 1, 2004:


CLICK EACH TO ENLARGE

Highlights:

Their Activity Account Audit, however, does list two significant findings on page nine that relates to bills without purchase order numbers and a PA headphone system being a rental and not a purchase as was originally reported.

-SNIP-

Two compliance findings are of importance. First is the determination that purchases were made in excess of $20,000 from vendors not on the approved “bid list.”

-SNIP-

The second compliance concern was pertaining to an invoice from a company called Coach Comm. The original invoice for $8,823 was changed to a rental agreement for $800 … As stated in the auditor’s findings the rental was entered into without the Board of Education’s approval and is therefore, not valid. It should also be noted that this invoice has apparently been paid and not with school district funds.

Mr. Montgomery’s audit further revealed internal control problems. It was found that there were insufficient controls and procedures in place to provide accurate and timely financial information for management. His findings are also revealed various purchases were made without approved purchase orders and that some purchase orders were dated after the date of the purchase invoice. Lastly, the budget for athletics, by the end of this six month period, had already over spent the years (sic) allocation. Upon review of the Statement of Receipts, Disbursements, and Fund Balances in his report one can see that the High School’s athletic account is currently overspent in excess of $17,556. Further study of this document indicates the school will be unable to meet this deficit without assistance.

And this on April 14, 2004:


CLICK EACH TO ENLARGE

Finally, on August 12, 2004, EPSB stuck it to Webb:


CLICK EACH TO ENLARGE

The (EPSB) Board at the time voted, as you can see, to launch a full investigation. That means the Board believed Webb knew about the financial shenanigans and was at least partially responsible for the mess. She essentially admitted it by signing an agreed order.

Money went missing, a single school’s athletics budget was overspent by tens of thousands of dollars, multiple audits were required and investigations took place. Yet Webb was appointed to the EPSB and somehow managed to become chair. Of course, prior to becoming chair, her attendance record for EPSB meetings was hardly commendable. Webb missed somewhere in the neighborhood of 35% of meetings prior to October 2012.

Since ascending to the throne she’s made it her apparent mission to push the entire organization into dysfunction, driving staffers to resign. She’s even rumored among some in Frankfort and Louisa to have attempted to meddle with investigations of her friends.

But the biggest move by Webb? She’s pushed non-stop, unethical efforts to prevent the EPSB staff from complying with open records law. She and her outside attorney pals have gone so far as to suggest that employees purposefully violate the law by delaying, hiding and ignoring requests from media outlets and citizens at large.

She was *this close* to being ripped to shreds by the agency and now she’s in charge.

Nothing with education in Kentucky will change until people like this are swept off high-level boards. Nothing.

The next governor has his work cut out for him.

Still wondering why Kentucky kids can’t have nice things?

NOTES

Webb was first appointed to the EPSB via Governor Steve Beshear’s executive order on January 5, 2010. Text from that EO:

By virtue of the authority bested in me by Section 161.028 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes, I, Steven L. Beshear, Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, do hereby appoint Cassandra A. Webb … as a member of the Education Professional Standards Board, representing vocational secondary school teachers, to replace James G. Hughley, Louisville, whose term has expired. Mrs. Webb shall serve for the remainder of the unexpired term ending September 18, 2012.

Webb was re-appointed by Beshear on October 4, 2012:

Cassandra A. Webb … representing secondary school teachers, to serve for a term expiring September 18, 2016

She’s not currently a teacher and wasn’t a teacher when she was originally appointed. She’s been the “Chief Academic Officer” since 2007. She’s been an administrator the entire time she’s been on the board… but is officially referred to, by both the board and Steve Beshear’s office, as a teacher. An administrator representing teachers. You know how that works out.

When (If) You Cast Your Vote Today

Remember that Jamie Comer can’t keep his story straight:

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said in an interview on WDRB television that the woman who accused him of battering her sent him a book autographed by a Connecticut politician, directly contradicting the story he told at a press conference he and his wife held May 5 to deny abuse allegations.

At that press conference, Comer said that Marilyn Thomas was living in Connecticut in 2001 and that while he was at a legislative conference in New York, she drove to his hotel in Times Square and gave him the book in the hotel restaurant.

But Thomas, who acknowledged she gave him the book, said following that press conference that Comer was wrong and that she did not meet him to give him the book.

“I just watched the little presentation of the Lowell Weicker book,” she wrote in an email. “He took a lot of liberties with everything. First of all, it was sent to him in the mail.”

That seems to match the story he told to WDRB’s Lawrence Smith, whose interview with Comer appeared on the station’s website Sunday. Comer is one of four Republicans vying for his party’s gubernatorial nomination in Tuesday’s primary election.

-SNIP-

Edwin King, Comer’s campaign manager, said Comer’s statements are not inconsistent and that he mispoke on WDRB.

-SNIP-

At that press conference, Comer said, “We met in the little hotel, the little restaurant area, and she said I have a gift for you. Normally, I don’t keep gifts, but I collect political books and she told me that she was living with Lowell Weicker, who was then either a current United States Senator from Connecticut or a former United States senator from Connecticut … he had written a book entitled Maverick, she gave me this book and I kept it because I collect political books and I read political books.”

-SNIP-

King said Comer has no way to prove that Thomas gave him the book in a face-to-face meeting.

“He just misspoke. She brought the book to him,” King said.

It was at least the second time Comer has said that Thomas “sent” him the book. He did it at a recent debate on Kentucky Sports Radio, but quickly backtracked and said that she hand delivered it to him.

Here’s Comer just cold making things up Steve Henry-style:



Yeeeeaaaaah. Just an expression.

Here’s hoping he wins so Democrats can eat him alive.

Thinking People Hate Jamie Comer

The Herald-Leader endorsed Hal Heiner over Jamie Comer, which is likely to push Comer over the edge behind closed doors. [H-L]

Honey bees, critical agents in the pollination of key U.S. crops, disappeared at a staggering rate over the last year, according to a new government report that comes as regulators, environmentalists and agribusinesses try to reverse the losses. [HuffPo]

Rand Paul would be the clear choice of Kentucky Republicans if the presidential primary were held today but, among registered voters, would have only an even chance of defeating Democrat Hillary Clinton in a general election, according to the latest Bluegrass Poll. [C-J/AKN]

After only one hour of floor debate, and no allowed amendments, the House of Representatives passed legislation that seeks to address the NSA’s controversial surveillance of American communications. However, opponents believe it may give brand new authorization to the U.S. government to conduct domestic dragnets. [The Intercept]

Ha! Daniel Grossberg has an ad highlighting Jacob Conway’s blackmail/extortion/threat attempt. [Click the Clicky]

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) will reportedly announce on May 30 — or possibly sooner — whether he will seek the White House next year. [The Hill]

In one of the more dubious claims of the election season, three of the four Republican candidates for governor are claiming to be running a “positive campaign” amid abuse allegations and attack ads. [WAVE3]

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill on Wednesday that would ban most abortions after 20 weeks, a measure strongly opposed by the White House. [Reuters]

The Richmond City Commission named a fire chief and a codes enforcement director Tuesday night, filling positions vacated by retirements. [Richmond Register]

The US House of Representatives votes to end the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records. [BBC]

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a notice April 17 stating it plans to prepare an assessment on the environmental impacts of the Kinder Morgan natural gas pipeline repurposing project. [The Morehead News]

Here’s what would actually happen if Rand Paul eliminated the Department of Education. We wouldn’t have a federal department to administer Pell Grants to students. There wouldn’t be any oversight over states when they break civil rights laws. There wouldn’t be a department to check on rampant inequality between low-income school districts and wealthy districts. We would have inconsistent education data, as the quality of data would vary among the states. There would be more gender discrimination within schools. There would be no way to hold schools accountable for the funds they receive. [Think Progress]

Steve Beshear’s administration has spent $195,400 on private lawyers to defend Kentucky’s same-sex marriage ban in court, with more legal bills expected, according to records released Wednesday. [H-L]

Way to go, Bardstown, for your racist jackasses. It’s comments like these that can indirectly harm the bourbon industry. In a press conference Monday, Nelson County Sheriff Ed Mattingly, who is white, expressed relief — not only that the incident didn’t lead to more serious injuries, but also that Fenwick’s skin wasn’t darker. [HuffPo]

Anti-Semitic Threats From Conway

No, not that Conway.

Remember Jacob Conway?


JACOB CONWAY

Conway, according to police records, was acting as a paid escort. And while he’s no longer a member of the executive committee of Louisville’s Democratic Party – like he was in 2013, one of his alleged former clients is — and he, like Conway, is a former Republican.

Though, Conway is currently a member of the Louisville Young Democrats’ board of directors:


FROM THE LYD SITE

Now that you’re all caught up and familiar with the Conway we’re talking about? The latest flustercuck has arrived. This time it involves Democratic candidate for State Treasurer, Daniel Grossberg. It’s offensive and sad. It all started late last week when Conway reached out to us offering to make a statement regarding a story he heard I was working on. I wasn’t working on a story related to him prior to that moment but started the moment his message was received.

Just listen to this audio recording of Conway hurling insults at Grossberg, telling him he’ll destroy him, telling him he makes Jews look bad, etc:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

If you want to download the audio, right-click here to save.

Crazy, isn’t it?

Here’s the letter Grossberg’s attorney sent Conway:



CEASE & DESIST TO CONWAY

For the record, Conway was given every opportunity to review this story and provide comment. He said, “I’m not going to address anything you uncovered.”

Conway claims Grossberg has unreported debts and unreported disbursements but couldn’t provide documentation when asked to provide it. A spokesperson for Grossberg says there aren’t unreported disbursements or debts. Here’s the deal: if there were? Grossberg could just file amended KREF reports because that’s what campaigns do if something gets overlooked.

But who are you going to believe? Conway or Grossberg? The guy who hasn’t embarrassed himself in the media for several years or the guy caught on tape hurling Anti-Semitic insults in an apparent extortion attempt who got caught swindling thousands of dollars from the County Attorney’s office?

Briana Morgan, Vice President of LYD issued this statement:

The Louisville Young Democrats is an inclusive organization whose only membership requirements are that someone by a registered Democrat in Jefferson County, under the age of 40. Now that we are aware of the full scope of the issues with Jacob Conway, we disavow affiliation with him.

Conway has been known to make Anti-Semitic remarks (jokes?) for quite some time. Case in point, this public profile from several years ago:


NOTE THE HEADLINE & USERNAME

Guess things have only gotten worse since then.

Seems Conway is now attempting to reinvent himself as “J.R.” Conway. A couple interesting tweets:



TWEETS FROM JACOB CONWAY