LA Regrets Hiring A Felner Lackey

Remember John Deasy? He was at the center of some of the Robert Felner scandal several years ago. A scandal so broad the University of Louisville is still paying for it all these years later.

He’s the man Los Angeles Unified School District hired to be its superintendent. A man half the board freaked out about… because some of those board members sneakily flew to Kentucky to talk to me about the Felner mess. But he was hired anyway, despite their fears and concerns.

And hoo boy, did he ever cause drama in LA. Mess after mess. Hundreds of millions of dollars squandered. Federal investigations. Just the kind of crap you’d expect from someone who learned from and is extremely similar to Felner.

Well… He finally resigned and this is how the LA Times summarized his tenure:

After John Deasy, LAUSD faces a tough choice: Play it safe or take another risk?

When the school board chose John Deasy as superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District in 2011, it knew what it was getting: an outsized personality with a national reputation as an advocate for school reform.

And in his 31/2 turbulent years at the helm, Deasy proved to be just that. He courted wealthy donors who helped subsidize a robust travel schedule, and he spent about 200 days on the road as he attempted to raise the district’s profile and promote his agenda.


At key moments of tumult in the district, the records show, Deasy was simply not in town.


The beginning of the end came a year ago, just before the school year started. Deasy was in New York to discuss challenges threatening education reform.

Back at home, the city’s public schools were in disarray. By the time Deasy returned for the first day of classes, a malfunctioning scheduling system had forced students into gyms and auditoriums to await assignments. Some of them ended up in the wrong courses, putting their path to graduation in jeopardy.

Two months later, in October, a Superior Court judge ordered state education officials to meet with Deasy to fix the scheduling problems that he said deprived students of their right to an education. But Deasy flew to South Korea the next morning to visit schools and meet government officials. A week later, he resigned, under pressure, as head of the nation’s second-largest school system.


Deasy was a bold choice nearly five years ago, an outsider with a background in educational foundations but also earlier experience as a public school administrator. He soon surprised union leaders and school board members with his aggressive and sometimes polarizing actions.


Deasy, who was paid $350,000 a year as superintendent, took more than 100 trips, spent generously on meals as he lobbied state and national lawmakers and wooed unions, foundations and educational leaders, according to credit card receipts, calendars and emails obtained under the California Public Records Act.


Test scores and graduation rates rose incrementally, and dropout rates fell during his tenure. While total enrollment decreased at Los Angeles Unified during his term, enrollment in charter schools grew from about 70,000 students to more than 101,000.

Yet Deasy’s signature effort to provide iPads to all students failed, and the cost of untangling the troubled student records system has now topped $200 million.


[B]oard President Steve Zimmer said Deasy’s confrontational approach reached a breaking point for him when the superintendent became a star witness for the plaintiffs in Vergara vs. California.

Who could have predicted all of that???


Better Late Than Never, Huh, Newsies?

Ruh ro, the newspaper finally started to cover what we’ve been reporting for two years. And this bit about the school board seeking permission to fire Joshua Powell only comes a couple weeks late. [H-L]

Luisa Cintron, 25, is sitting up as straight as she can, perched on the edge of the neatly made bed that doubles as a couch inside her dimly lit apartment. She is wearing a sweater and slacks, talking about the government program that she says changed her life, and trying — without much success — not to get distracted by the 4-year-old talking loudly about Batman in the next room. [HuffPo]

Here’s the deal: We all know Whitney Westerfield is just upset that Jack Conway doesn’t hate gay people. Whitney, insecure in his own life, body and existence, projects his perceived failures as a man onto Jack. It’s a real shame because it makes him look dumber than he really is. Folks can hate Jack all they want but he’s not a bigot. [C-J/AKN]

President Obama’s approval ratings have reached their highest mark in almost two years, according to a new poll from CNN/ORC. [The Hill]

Looks like the Harlan County Fiscal Court has a bit of a problem on its hands in the latest audit. [External PDF Link]

Looks like the damage the Robert Felner crony caused in Los Angeles is finally beginning to be cleaned up. [Reuters]

Annual unemployment rates were lower in all 120 Kentucky counties in 2014 than in 2013, according to the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training, an agency of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet. [Press Release]

Over the past several weeks, Republicans—at least those running for president—seem to have discovered the vexing issues of income and wealth inequality. [Politico]

The man known as the Duct Tape Bandit pleaded guilty to robbery Friday under an agreement that will likely put him behind bars for close to 15 years, according to Boyd County Commonwealth’s Attorney David Justice. [Ashland Independent]

Most people can’t imagine living without smartphones or the Internet, let alone without electricity. But even today — even in the United States — there are still people who live without lights and refrigeration. [NPR]

Kentucky House of Representatives Speaker Greg Stumbo has appointed state Rep. Rita Smart, D-Richmond, as the co-chair of the General Assembly’s newly created Subcommittee on Tourism Development. [Richmond Register]

The St Louis Post-Dispatch has won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the Ferguson shooting and unrest. [BBC]

A New York financier who stole millions of dollars from the Kentucky Retirement Systems will serve two to six years in prison. [H-L]

This time, Hillary Rodham Clinton wants to be on liberals’ good side. As a presidential candidate in 2008, she opposed gay marriage, equivocated on granting driver’s licenses to people who were living in the U.S. illegally and endured heavy criticism from rival Barack Obama over her stance on campaign finance. [HuffPo]

When Will Marty Announce Against Hills?

State officials approved at or near maximum tuition increases at four state universities Friday amid a heated GOP primary for governor where the candidates have lamented the escalating cost of college. [H-L]

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) went after Hillary Clinton Thursday, accusing her of changing policy positions based on polls rather than her convictions. It’s the first time the prospective Democratic presidential candidate has attacked Clinton since she announced her presidential bid Sunday. [HuffPo]

The wounded warrior transition unit at Fort Knox is one of 10 across the U.S. that will be shut down by August 2016, the Pentagon said Friday. [C-J/AKN]

The campaign arm for House Democrats posted its best month of the year in March, boosted by a record number of online donations, according to figures first obtained by The Hill. [The Hill]

Individually, Madison County law enforcement agencies were making some strides against illicit drugs, according to Madison County Sheriff Mike Coyle. Working together, the three agencies have had increased success in the first three months of 2015, he told the fiscal court Tuesday. [Richmond Register]

The UK murder made international news. Meanwhile, Louisville murders happen every five seconds. [Reuters]

Randy Stapleton has been looking for a way to represent those living in his area. He may have found that way in a class action lawsuit filed against Big Run Landfill and other parties. [Ashland Independent]

Really, we’re fighting over a g.d. campaign logo?! [Politico]

The Barren County Schools Board of Education unanimously approved the RBS Design Group contract for the Red Cross Elementary addition project, as well as the schematic design, Thursday during a special-called board meeting at Barren County High School. [Glasgow Daily Times]

More from Felner land… The Los Angeles Unified School District is demanding that Apple Inc. refund millions of dollars for Pearson software that had been loaded onto iPads for the district’s 650,000 students. [NPR]

Heavy rainfall and flooding have caused Cave Run Lake to reach a record high. As of Friday, the lake was over 30 feet above summer pool and still rising. [The Morehead News]

African American and other civil rights leaders infuriated over the stalled confirmation vote on Loretta E. Lynch, the first black woman to be nominated for attorney general, are casting the delay as an issue with racial overtones. [WaPo]

A spontaneous floral memorial bloomed Saturday on a corner of East Maxwell and Transylvania Park in Lexington in honor of Jonathan Krueger, a University of Kentucky student who was gunned down early Friday in an apparent robbery. [H-L]

Support for the death penalty in the U.S. has reached 56 percent, the lowest point in four decades, according to a Pew study released on Thursday. [HuffPo]

More Felner Folks Are Now Under Investigation

Ready for the mainstream media to help Greg Fischer pull the wool over peoples’ eyes in Louisville? At least people with some sense know the truth. [The ‘Ville Voice]

Kentucky legislative leaders argued Wednesday about how to fix the troubled Legislative Research Commission that they oversee, but they failed to take any action. Each chamber blamed the other for the impasse. [H-L]

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday voiced support for vaccinations and spoke about the issue in personal terms. “As a victim of polio myself, I’m a big fan of vaccinations,” McConnell told reporters on Tuesday. [HuffPo]

The Kentucky Board of Education met Wednesday and one topic of discussion was the progress of priority schools throughout the state. [WDRB]

The U.S., U.K. and Canadian governments characterize hackers as a criminal menace, warn of the threats they allegedly pose to critical infrastructure, and aggressively prosecute them, but they are also secretly exploiting their information and expertise, according to top secret documents. [The Intercept]

With Kentucky often being used as a prime example of how not to live a healthy life, Perry County Schools are stepping up to the plate by offering students healthy alternatives to today’s fast-food lifestyle. [Hazard Herald]

A few months ago, we mused about whether Rand Paul’s almost-ceaseless media-seeking strategy was sustainable. After this week, we’re leaning strongly toward ‘no.’ And Paul, in large part, has himself to blame. [WaPo]

“Doing it for the kids” is Marvin Moore’s motto. He has been serving as superintendent of the Rowan County School District since 2005 but his career in education began in 1969. [The Morehead News]

People with ties to Robert Felner continue to fall at the Los Angeles Unified School District. They worked for John Deasy, which should alarm just about everybody. [Reuters]

Barren County Schools has begun what it calls a “forward thinking” initiative to devote a counselor to college- and career-readiness, and Amy Irwin will lead that push as the district’s college and career development coordinator for the district, it was announced last week. [Glasgow Daily Times]

The United States added 257,000 jobs last month and the number of jobs created in November and December was revised sharply higher. [BBC]

Local businessman Tom Wolf said he thinks the smells emanating from Big Run Landfill in Princess are negatively affecting business opportunities in eastern Kentucky. [Ashland Independent]

The Obama administration looks at climate change as a threat to national security on par with terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and disease outbreaks. [The Hill]

In 2009, coal-industry employment in Eastern Kentucky averaged 14,100 people, who were busy digging and blasting 75.3 million tons of coal from the steep hills. In 2014, employment at the region’s mines averaged 7,288, and production totaled just 37.5 million tons. [H-L]

Eighteen months after medical marijuana was legalized in Illinois, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on Monday granted dozens of permits to select businesses to cultivate and sell the drug. [HuffPo]

A Look Back At Old Shirl’s UofL Money Scandals

Sometimes there are stories in the Courier-Journal that are too good not to excerpt. Not surprisingly, they’re almost always from Wolfson. Like this one.

So feast your eyes:

Shirley Willihnganz, who dramatically increased the University of Louisville’s graduation rate during 13 years as provost — but was criticized for defending notorious Education school Dean Robert Felner — is stepping down as U of L’s second-ranking official.


U of L is tied for 161st in the U.S. News & World Report ranking of top national universities, up from 191st when Willihnganz began her tenure.

Under her watch, however, university employees have stole, misspent or mishandled at least $7.6 million in schemes at the health science campus, the law school, the business school and the athletic department’s ticket office.

Willihnganz also was criticized for approving about $1 million in buyouts for former high-ranking employees, some of which included agreements not to disparage the university or its leaders.

She also was forced to apologize to faculty in 2008 for failing to act against Felner, the education dean, despite more than 30 grievances and complaints that he had intimidated, harassed, humiliated and retaliated against faculty, staff, students and alumni.


Felner was sentenced in 2010 to 63 months in federal prison for taking $2.3 million from U of L and the University of Rhode Island.


Willihnganz said in an email Wednesday that the Felner episode was her biggest regret.

Click here to read the entire story.

Oh — UofL is right about this not being related to Connally. It’s an amalgamation of everything. From Robert Felner on.

This may be one of the biggest I-told-you-so moments in the past decade. We uncovered and reported what Shirley was up to more than seven years ago. Few people have cost taxpayers this much money and gotten away with it. No one in government can claim ignorance.

If you’re new to this? Dig in to our old Robert Felner scandal coverage and your mind will be blown. While reading it, remember that Shirley’s been there every day since, doing the same damn thing, turning a blind eye, losing (literally) millions upon millions of dollars to fraudsters.

And it all happened in Complacency City.


Check out this letter UofL president Jim Ramsey sent to everyone:


Yesterday, Dr. Shirley Willihnganz announced that effective at the end of this semester, she would step down from her role as Executive Vice President and Provost to return to the faculty. Working with Shirley over the past 13 years has been the absolute highlight over my academic career of 30+ years.

Dr. Willihnganz is a consummate professional. She cares deeply about each of you – faculty, staff and students. She has been an amazing advocate for academic excellence and ensuring that every student who came to the University of Louisville had the opportunity to be academically successful. She has worked hard on behalf of all faculty and staff at the University of Louisville and has been responsible for the many great things that have occurred during her tenure.

I will miss working with Dr. Willihnganz. But I know that you will join me in wishing her the very best as she moves to the next phase of her career. I know that each of us, in our own way, will find a way to reach out to her and express our deep gratitude and appreciation for her unrelenting commitment to our university and the many sacrifices that she has made on behalf of our university.

Jim Ramsey

It’s all feel-goody and such.

Guess he knew there was a brewing PR nightmare.


You have GOT to read this scandalous letter sent to various UofL folks about Willihnganz.

Get the popcorn ready!

Now Ed Hart Wants To Get His Money Back

Spoiler alert: Ashley Judd wasn’t really surprised that Alison Grimes lost and knew all along Grimes’ campaign was a lost cause. She would have gotten much further because she’s true to herself. Actress and Kentucky native Ashely Judd said this week that she was “shocked and disappointed” that Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes lost to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, adding that she might run for office “some day.” [Bluegrass Politics]

Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan consulted the White House before directing agency personnel to sift through a walled-off computer drive being used by the Senate Intelligence Committee to construct its investigation of the agency’s torture program, according to a recently released report by the CIA’s Office of the Inspector General. [HuffPo]

Operators of Kentucky Kingdom amusement park at the Kentucky Exposition Center are seeking state financial incentives valued at up to $3.75 million to defray the cost of around $15 million in improvements they plan to make at the park for the upcoming season. [C-J/AKN]

Here’s another good look at University of Louisville-Robert Felner lackey, John Deasy, getting caught by the U.S. Department of Education in the iPad scandal. Turns out the FBI focused on his relationship with Apple executives. Imagine that. [Click the Clicky]

Jack Conway joined a small group of locals at a meet and greet in Ashland at Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 248 on Tuesday night, just a day after officially filing his campaign paperwork in Frankfort. Conway, running for governor as a Democrat, was joined by runningmate for lieutenant governor and current state Rep. Sannie Overly of Paris to shake hands and talk about his campaign with the 30 or so who turned out. [Ashland Independent]

Oh, wait for it, here’s the sweet new gig John Deasy scored. He’s going to be training school superintendents. What a disaster. [LA Times]

Glasgow and Barren County’s new leaders were among a contingent of nine individuals who traveled to Frankfort on Monday to demonstrate that the county has a team working in a united manner to move it forward. [Glasgow Daily Times]

Rand Paul began the new year by lobbying for one of his favorite causes: criminal-justice reform [Mother Jones]

Adam Edelen found something else to be angry about in Bullitt County. [The ‘Ville Voice]

House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) circulated a long-awaited discussion draft on taxing online sales this week, lobbyists and congressional aides told The Hill. [The Hill]

Two coal companies operating in Harlan County have issued WARN Act notices of their intentions to terminate a total of 95 employees. [Harlan Daily Enterprise]

In our story last month about credit rating agencies and tobacco bonds, we detailed numerous instances in which bankers pressured Standard & Poor’s, Fitch and Moody’s to give favorable treatment to bond issues being put together on behalf of state and local governments. [ProPublica]

Jonathan Miller was of course there attempting to get some attention. Just like the last time Kennedy was in town and his people had to fight him off with a stick. [H-L]

In health insurance prices, as in the weather, Alaska and the Sun Belt are extremes. This year Alaska is the most expensive health insurance market for people who do not get coverage through their employers, while Phoenix, Albuquerque, N.M., and Tucson, Ariz., are among the very cheapest. [HuffPo]

Randy Gets A Little More Like His Racist Daddy

Education on safe sleeping practices, programs aimed at stopping abusive head injuries and better access to mental-health assessments could help prevent child-abuse deaths in Kentucky, according to a state review panel. [H-L]

Public service — should we do more to encourage people to participate in it? Absolutely, yes. America’s strength is derived from a citizenry of diverse talents, histories and backgrounds, and when they come together to place a hand on the tiller of this great enterprise, our nation can accomplish amazing things. [HuffPo]

Want even more proof your state government is a damn nightmare? The [Louisville] city’s tree advocates and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet are colliding head-on over rules for safer and easier-to-maintain state roadways. [C-J/AKN]

An epinephrine injection can be life-saving for someone with a severe allergic reaction to a bee sting, a peanut or a piece of shrimp. But just half of internal medicine doctors know that epinephrine should be the first treatment, a recent study finds. [NPR]

Anthony Bowling worked 16 years in the construction business and most recently spent seven years in the coal business until he was furloughed. At age 48, he knows he took the right career move by completing the Lineman Training Program at Hazard Community and Technical College (HCTC). [Hazard Herald]

US Attorney General Eric Holder has announced plans to “help end racial profiling once and for all”. [BBC]

During the holiday season last year Mark Ward and his family were the victims of a “bad” act. But that’s when the good guys rode in, in the form of the Kentucky State Police, Post 10 Harlan. [Harlan Daily Enterprise]

Maybe she shouldn’t have been an absolutely terrible candidate. Mary Landrieu said on Tuesday that she is “extremely disappointed” in Senate Democrats’ campaign committee, after it pulled its ad spending for her runoff election. [The Hill]

Welders, electricians, pilots and spectators held their breath Tuesday as the new Valley View Ferry towboat, named the John Craig II, was lowered into the water for the first time. [Richmond Register]

Really? Is anyone surprised that Robert Felner lackey John Deasy is in this mess? L.A. school district officials turned over 20 boxes of documents Monday in response to a federal grand jury subpoena for documents related to its troubled iPad project, officials confirmed Tuesday afternoon. [LA Times]

After a 10 week-program, 13 more citizens have completed the fourth Rowan County Sheriff’s Department Citizens Police Academy. [The Morehead News]

Really, Rand Paul? Using the Eric Garner case to go on a rant about fucking CIGARETTE TAXES?! You’re telling the world, despite your recent attempts to pretend you have black friends, that you’re a racist jackass. Just like your crackpot father. [Kentucky Deserves Better]

Maybe Rand Paul can run for the U.S. Senate in 2016 and somebody named Shmand Shmaul can run for president. [H-L]

New York City residents took to the streets on Wednesday after a grand jury said it would not bring charges in the death of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died in July after a police officer placed him in a chokehold. [HuffPo]