Some Questions About the 8664-KYTC Snafu

Why did a February 11th email from Wilbur Smith Associates to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet point out that the organization “buried” the use of “8664” language?

From: Bostrom, Niels R. [rbostrom@wilbursmith.com]
Sent: Monday, February 11, 2008 11:59 AM
To: Thomson, Scott (KYTC)
Cc: Sorenson, Timothy P
Subject: Kennedy Interchange Area Study (Letter Agreement #2)
Hi’ Scott,

Thanks for the quick turn around on the paperwork associated with this study. I have changed the names of our scope and fee proposal to reflect the name: Kennedy Interchange Area Study along with the title and title blocks in the file contents. Please note that I retained the use of 8664 in the description of the actual scenario buried deeper in the description since that is vital to the understanding of the work.

Regards,

Rob Bostrom, PE
National Practice Leader for Travel Demand Modeling
Wilbur Smith Associates

And why would Wilbur Smith even bother retaining the 8664 language, albeit “buried,” if the study wasn’t all about the 8664 proposal, as the company claimed today?

8664 had claimed that the state had been studying its proposal. However, an official with engineering consultant Wilbur Smith Associates of Lexington said the analysis focused on two bridges, a redesigned Spaghetti Junction and turning Interstate 64 into a surface-level parkway downtown.

Who in their right mind believes Chuck Wolfe of the Transportation Cabinet when he spins about what went down yesterday?

“He’ll go ahead and have it done and we’ll see what it says,” Wolfe said.

8664 opposes a downtown bridge. It believes its plan would reconnect downtown to the Ohio River and lead to “enormous economic and quality of life benefits.”

Documents obtained by 8664 show that Wilbur Smith completed 93 percent of its work under a contract worth $49,922 before the state notified it to stop.

Why on earth would the Transportation Cabinet kill a project that was 93% complete? The only thing that remained at that point was getting a check cleared. What did the Transportation Cabinet have to hide?

Who really believes the study wasn’t complete eight days before the scheduled completion date? Language in the Feb 11th email above would lead anyone reading it to believe that the study was, in fact, complete and in the process of being edited.

Is it suspicious that the two men who pushed for the 8664 study would resign over something less than scandalous? Or are we reading between the lines a little too much? And if we’re reading a little too much between the lines, why did the Transportation Cabinet lie about Gilbert Newman’s statement?

So many questions, so much horse shiz to be shoveled.

Finally, Chuck Wolfe didn’t call us to freak out yesterday. KYTC must have been busy trying to come up with their spin? (Reference: He called within five minutes of a story we published about a month ago in a CYA attempt for KYTC.)

Happy Tuesday Morning With A Big Gay Cherry On Top

Don’t you love it when Republicans just make stuff up? [KY Progress]

Finally! The charges against Otis Hensley were dropped! [PolWatchers]

Readers reacted to the Courier-Journal feature on Robert Felner. Naturally, the paper published a letter praising it for its background on Felner, never noting that the paper wasn’t the first to have that information. [C-J]

Steve Beshear says he will try to convince the Obama campaign to come to Kentucky. Everyone, please, try to hold your laughter. [PolWatchers]

Forgot to mention this to you yesterday, but if you want a totally puppies & rainbows take on the DNC? E.g., all flowery, all the time? Jennifer Moore’s favorite blogger and the dude who slighted Joe Sonka is in Denver. [BlueGrassRoots]

Meanwhile, Jennifer Moore gave some bullshiz excuse for not appearing on Francene yesterday to update listeners on the DNC. Instead, Carolyn Tandy appeared in Moore’s absence. And she could do nothing but spin spin spin about how perfect the party is, how there’s no rift, how no one is being slighted. All this after being given the directive NOT TO SPIN. Haha. We love it. [Various Reports]

8664 embarrassed the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet yesterday. After the group released documents proving the KTC ended a traffic study with no explanation– and after wasting $50,000– the KTC caved and realized it was caught red-handed. How embarrassing. [C-J]

Robert Felner: Serious Problems & Serious $$$

The Courier-Journal’s Andrew Wolfson (a for real journalist at the C-J finally works the story!) has two great profiles of Robert Felner today.

Here’s an excerpt from the first piece, which is a pretty juicy read:

Trying to help the University of Louisville’s new education dean find a house in 2003, real-estate agent Judy Johnson says she spent hours showing him one in a Harrods Creek gated community.

Only later did she learn that Robert Felner had gone back and bought the house on his own, cutting her out of the deal. Yet he still had the nerve, she said, to call afterward and complain that she hadn’t told him that the house stood in the path of a proposed Ohio River bridge.

To former colleagues within U of L’s College of Education and Human Development — and some other educators around Kentucky — the story perfectly captures Felner: arrogant, outrageous, abusive and duplicitous.

-SNIP-

In a 90-minute interview last week, his first since the investigation was disclosed, Felner declined, on the advice of his attorneys, to answer any questions about his handling of grants, how he could afford to buy four homes in three states worth a combined $2.66 million, or the purchase of the house in Harrods Creek.

Instead, he spoke about growing up poor in Brooklyn and Connecticut and the improvements he made at U of L after his hiring in 2003.

You’ve gotta read the entire thing. The things he had to say in his 90-minute interview with the C-J will blow your mind. I didn’t even excerpt the juicest parts. Just ignore the part in the story where the paper once again spreads the outright mistruth that federal investigation of Felner is only re: a $694,000 No Child Left Behind grant, which is inaccurate.

Wolfson also did a story about Felner’s $2 million dollars in real estate, his expensive cars, boats and all that. It’s all information you already know about (like most of the info in the other story, just in greater detail) but is definitely worth a read.

Take a look:

They are paying a combined $1.96 million in mortgage payments, record show.

Felner also owns a black 2005 BMW and a white 2005 Lexus, according to AutotrackXP, a commercial database, and a powerboat, about a 20-footer, said Marty Bell, a Jefferson County Public Schools deputy school superintendent who said he’s gone boating with Felner.

On the advice of his attorneys, Felner declined to discuss any of his assets. Marilyn Felner did not return phone calls or e-mails sent to her in Rhode Island.

-SNIP-

Property and tax records show that the Felners bought a $318,000 split-level in Narragansett, R.I., in 2002, putting down $64,000 in cash.

In 2004, Robert Felner bought a waterfront lot and mobile home in St. James City on Florida’s Gulf Coast for $320,000, without a mortgage.

Also in 2004, he and his wife jointly purchased a home on the Ohio River in Prospect, Ky., for $580,000, putting down $18,000 in cash.

The next year, again on his own, Felner bought a waterfront home on Pine Island in Bokeelia, Fla., for $1.45 million, putting down $300,000 in cash and financing the rest through the seller.

$2 million in real estate, BMW, Lexus, big ass boat, paying $300,000 down on a home IN CASH. I think it’s safe to assume that Felner isn’t getting off scot-free.

Afternoon Tidbit On the Robert Felner Story

We hear through the newsie grapevine that Robert Felner has spoken to Courier-Journal reporters for a story that is likely to appear in the paper this weekend.

It’s quite the interesting development considering C-J’s tight relationship with the University of Louisville and its inability to get all the facts straight about the Felner story.

Can you even begin to imagine what interesting pieces of information Felner is likely to reveal or deny?

Keep your eyes peeled for the C-J story.

AG Announces Subpoenas in Gas Price Investigation

Attorney General Jack Conway has announced subpoenas in the gas price hike investigation in Louisville. He’s also asked the FTC and DOJ to review the merger of Marathon and Ashland Oil.

Check the pertinent bits from the press release:

“Our investigation has raised significant questions about the wholesale price of gasoline being charged in Louisville compared to other communities that utilize similar blends of gasoline,” said Gov. Beshear. “We intend to get answers.”

The preliminary data from the past two years shows that Louisville retailers have been paying about 10 cents more per gallon for gas when compared to prices reported in other parts of the state and region. Higher wholesale prices result in higher prices paid by consumers.

General Conway, Gov. Beshear, Rep. Yarmuth and Mayor Abramson have urged federal anti-trust authorities to review the 1997 merger of Marathon and Ashland Oil and its impact on the entire Kentucky petroleum market.

The FTC reviewed the merger in 2004 and determined it had not adversely affected consumers because retail prices were not out of line with other cities in the region.

Read the rest after the jump…

Read moreAG Announces Subpoenas in Gas Price Investigation

Is Katie King Behind Piece Attacking Her?

By now everyone knows the grand suspicion is that Denise Bentley could be involved in the homophobic mail piece that attacked Ken Herndon during the May primary.

So, we’ve got some news for ya.

Last Wednesday we ran into Katie King at the Metro Democratic Club where we asked her all kinds of questions about her 911 boyfriend drama, the race for judge, all the crazy rumors about damning photos of her and the Herndon snafu.

Katie took it upon herself at that point to tell us the following, “Just wait til next week – there is something coming out that will totally exonerate Denise Bentley from the Ken thing.” We questioned her over and over about it but she wouldn’t spill the beans.

Low and behold, this morning we found out that there is a new “mail piece” (a tri-fold piece of paper that could have been printed off of any computer with a printer) attacking Katie King from the same alleged organization that attacked Herndon.

See for yourself:


Pretty nasty, eh? Complete with a fancy butt tattoo.

Read the rest after the jump…

Read moreIs Katie King Behind Piece Attacking Her?

Who Was Felner Calling on UofL’s Dime?

WHAS11’s Adam Walser has Robert Felner’s telephone records. And they’re verrrry interesting. And questionable at the very least.

Felner was assigned a cell phone that was paid for by the University of Louisville and he made extensive use of it.  Here are some of the calls he made:

  • Jennifer Taylor – 58 times, often at night and on weekends
  • Calls Comcast in Naples, FL – in Lee Co where Felner owns two homes
  • Called his estranged wife dozens of times. At one point just minutes before calling his “hugs” buddy Tom Schroeder.
  • Once instance of 100 data transmissions on his cell phone within a 23-hour period right after he learned he would be Chancelor at UW Parkside
  • And who did Felner call more than 50 times at (502) 648-7012? Anyone have information?
  • He called a local dating hotline twice last August

Interesting, eh?

As always, we’ll add a link to Walser’s story once it’s online.

Here’s the link to Walser’s story.

UPDATE: Turns out the number 502.648.7012 belongs to Natalie Stiglitz. At some point she rolled the telephone number into a UofL-paid account with AT&T. According to sources at the university, Stiglitz has initiated a number change as a result of the public revelation of Felner’s shenanigans.

Since it’s paid for by UofL, we assume we can obtain information via open records requests.