A Look at the Mainstream Behind the Scenes

Many have written in to ask us what goes on behind the scenes with the Courier-Journal and other news outlets in the open records request process. And even more want to know what exactly the former paper of record has done so far in the research process/what they plan to do in the future with the Robert Felner story.

So we thought it’d be interesting to take a look at a few of the ORRs filed by the C-J in the recent past. It sheds light on previous coverage and may give you a glimpse of what the paper plans to do in the future on the Felner story.

07/23/2008 – Chris Kenning requested a copy of the federal search warrant –

“I am seeking a copy of the original search warrant used by the feds to search the CEHD.”

07/29/2008 – Andrew Wolfson requests copies of the Felner emails –

“I was trying to see if you could send me copies of the most recent emails released in the Felner matter. (WHAS last night mentioned there were 15 of them, but only put eight on it’s Web site.)

Never mind that we published them minutes after the WHAS story aired.

Read the rest after the jump…

Read moreA Look at the Mainstream Behind the Scenes

Jim Ramsey Tries In Vain to Cover His Rear

Get a load of this:

“While we can’t talk about personnel actions, we did take steps to improve the situation,” Ramsey said in the letter dated last Friday. “Rightfully so, we have faculty who are hurt and disappointed by events of the recent years.”

Meawhile, I have already published evidence that Ramsey did nothing to try to improve the situation. The evidence suggests he did the exact opposite.

Felner’s “references were very good,” Ramsey said. When Felner was hired, “our mandate to him was to turn things around and do it quickly. He became a change agent — a role all of our new Deans have played.”

Recall that officials in Rhode Island said no one ever bothered to check Robert Felner’s references and history.


In 2006, faculty at the college took a no-confidence vote against Felner, but Ramsey downplayed it in his letter. He said only half of the college’s 100 faculty members were present for the vote “and a large number visited the Provost afterward to say that they supported the Dean.”

But as time went on, Ramsey said the administration “realized there was an issue” with Felner’s leadership.

HAHAHA. We can’t even muster a comment. But we’ll publish a copy of the letter a bit later.

Priceless, Jim.

Juicy tidbit: We hear the State House plans to haul University of Louisville officials to Frankfort for a very public hearing as soon as the session starts.

UPDATE: As promised, here’s a copy (PDF Link) of Ramsey’s CYA letter. Read it and let us know what you think.

C-J Editorial Board Takes UofL Leaders to Task

This is one of those rare occasions where we’re alomst solidly with the editorial board of the Courier-Journal. Rare, we know.

The paper, in what we’ll call baby steps, did its best to hold University of Louisville President Jim Ramsey and Provost Shirley Willihnganz– along with Board of Trustees Chairman J. Chester Porter– accountable for their abysmal failure during the Robert Felner fiasco.

Have a look:

What’s shocking is the failure of top university administrators to look seriously enough, and early enough, at evidence that Education Dean Robert Felner was leaving academic wreckage behind…

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President James Ramsey and Provost Shirley Willihnganz should have admitted much, much sooner that Felner’s tenure was collapsing into an organizational and managerial debacle. And they should have reacted accordingly.

Instead, even in the backwash of a federal investigation into the way Mr. Felner handled a $694,000 federal grant, Dr. Ramsey was still dismissing some faculty complaints and grievances as “anonymous crap.” And, just this week, board chairman J. Chester Porter pronounced himself “satisfied” with the way the administration handled faculty criticism and charges. He did this without serious investigation of the letter’s specifics and before a proposed Faculty Senate review produced any findings. All of which calls into question the university’s good faith in dealing with allegations that people and careers were being abused.

Baby steps, people. Baby steps.

Stories You May Have Missed This Week

We have way too much on our plate this afternoon, so we probably won’t update for a few hours. Sorry. We’ll be back in a bit so don’t burn the barn down.

In the meantime, check out these stories you may have missed this week:

  • White Washing Begins at the University of Louisville [Link]
  • Kentucky’s Delegation at the DNC Roll Call [Link]
  • Video Contest: Create Anti-McConnell Ad [Link]
  • The UofL-Felner Egg Is Finally Cracking [Link]
  • A Much-Awaited Inside Look at the Communication of Robert Felner, Jim Ramsey and Shirley Willihnganz – Or How to Make the University of Louisville Look As Bad As Possible [Link]
  • Kentuckians Still Hate George Dubya [Link]
  • Some Questions About the 8664-KYTC Snafu [Link]
  • What Sorta Music Do Fancy Bloggers Listen To? [Link]

White Washing Begins at the University of Louisville

The Courier-Journal’s latest update on the Robert Felner scandal at the University of Louisville reveals that the chairman of the Board of Trustees wrote a letter saying he is satisfied with the actions taken by the university’s leadership regarding faculty complaints and the Felner investigation.

Seriously. After all of the super-negative news coverage and after all the negative facts about dozens and dozens of grievances and complaints. After UofL President Jim Ramsey called them “anonymous crap” and never apologized. After we have repeatedly published information painting a less-than-stable situation among the university’s leadership team, that is what the chairman had to say.

And Nancy Rodriguez doesn’t even bother to use the hundreds of email messages we published that proves otherwise.

You can pretty much bet that nothing is changing within the unversity. So don’t hold your breath.

The chairman of the University of Louisville board of trustees sent a letter to the full board this week saying he is “satisfied” with actions taken by the school’s administration regarding faculty complaints and a federal investigation involving former education dean Robert Felner.

“We care about our employees — they are a source of our pride,” J. Chester Porter said in the letter. “We have worked with (U of L President) Jim (Ramsey) and (Provost) Shirley (Willihnganz) long enough to know they, too, care deeply about the welfare of all the University’s employees and students.”

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He then says that during Felner’s five-year tenure, Ramsey and Willihnganz “began to understand the tensions he created in the college” and notes it was the university’s investigation that “alerted the U.S. Attorney to investigate peculiarities” in the College of Education and Human Development.

What’s interesting, really, is that the chairman would attempt to whitewash the fact that Jim Ramsey and Provost Shirley Willihnganz were more than aware of Felner’s problems. We have published evidence that proves the two tried to cover it all up for several years.

And how many times can Nancy Rodgriguez perpetuate the outright lie that the Felner investigation centers around a $694,000 grant? It’s untrue and she knows it. She’s said so in several stories.

We’re not sure what’s up with her inability to get to the bottom of this story, but we’ll be publishing several of her Open Records Requests a bit later in an attempt to examine how the paper has approached this story.

Meanwhile, some Felner devotee wrote a letter to the C-J claiming that their coverage of the Felner scandal is perverted and anti-Semitic.

The Courier spent almost no time checking what good things Felner did at U of L and the other schools — he couldn’t have been 100 percent bad.

The letter writer, Lewis “Sonny” Bass, shows his ignorance of the situation by suggesting that Felner did good at UofL. We’re pretty darn sure he hasn’t read anything about the man and his time at the university.

Heaven help our University of Louisville and this sticky mess. Goodness.

The UofL-Felner Egg Is Finally Cracking

It never stops, does it? The crack is getting bigger and bigger.

And the truth is finally rolling out about Robert Felner and the corruption that existed and still exists at the University of Louisville. That corruption is apparently rampant.

Check out latest from Christopher Hall at LEO. Turns out Robert Felner was only responsible for about a million dollars in grants, not $40 million+ as he claims.

Just another example of the unbelievable amount of drama surrounding the former Dean of the College of Education and Human Development.

When Robert Felner arrived at the University of Louisville in 2003, he brought with him a reputation as a “rainmaker.” University administrators praised the former dean as a change agent, citing him as the driving force behind a spike in grant money at the school.

In fact, even after federal prosecutors began investigating Felner for possibly mishandling hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant money, university president James Ramsey repeatedly reminded critics that under the former dean’s leadership, the College of Education and Human Development saw “an increase in grants and contracts from $4.2 million … to more than $40 million.”

But a recent review of public records obtained by LEO Weekly reveals Felner is directly responsible for only a fraction of that windfall.

And that infamous Just Solutions report that UofL Provost Shirley Willihnganz refuses to pay for? Suspicious is the only word we can come up with.

The onslaught of grievances prompted outraged faculty members to call for a no-confidence vote in March 2006… Felner was not fired, and there’s no evidence he was even reprimanded.

Instead, the university hired a mediation firm, Just Solutions, to handle the matter. (The university, by the way, still owed the firm nearly $10,000 for its work related to Felner as of press deadline.)

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Several attempts to speak with Willihnganz — to find out what changes, if any, were made as a result of the Just Solutions meetings — were unsuccessful. Late last week, she did release this cryptic (and somewhat confusing) statement: “Much as we might like to, we haven’t issued statements about why we decided not to go forward with Just Solutions. Because this would involve discussion of personnel and mediation matters, we cannot discuss it. However, just because we can’t talk openly about it doesn’t mean we did nothing.”

Click here to read the rest…

But that’s not it. Check out Rick’s breakdown of the way UofL’s administration has handled (or mishandled) the press surrounding the Felner debacle. From a media perspective it’s absolutely embarrassing.

And don’t forget the dozens upon dozens of emails we published earlier today that detail the painful past five years at the University of Louisville.

A Much-Awaited Inside Look at the Communication of Robert Felner, Jim Ramsey and Shirley Willihnganz – Or How to Make the University of Louisville Look As Bad As Possible

We told you a few months ago that the federal investigation involving Robert Felner at the University of Louisville was going to get messy. And we never disappoint when we make a declaration like that.

Over the past month we have obtained hundreds of pages of email from the university and we’re bringing many of them to you today. Some are long and drawn out so we’ll try to offer the most basic of summarizations. And we’ll break things out into category and circumstance for easier consumption.

So have at it, folks. Read, consume, digest, regurgitate. If anyone in the traditional media wants to use these records, they’re yours for the taking if you properly source this website.

Read the juicy juicy of this unbelievable lengthy story and peep the dozens upon dozens of scandalous emails after the jump…

Read moreA Much-Awaited Inside Look at the Communication of Robert Felner, Jim Ramsey and Shirley Willihnganz – Or How to Make the University of Louisville Look As Bad As Possible