Selling Out For An Industry Pays Really Well

Every month we discuss lobbyist spending in Frankfort and every month you dry heave after you read about it. It’s that time again.

From May 1 to August 31, employers spent mega bucks lobbying in Frankfort:

  • Altria spent $90,818 on tobacco-related issues
  • Kentucky Chamber of Commerce spent $77,343
  • University Health Care, Inc., operating as Passport Health Plan (managed care Medicaid) spent $61,412
  • AmeriHealth Mercy, the company managing Passport, spent $10,773
  • Calgon Carbon Corp., which manufactures coal baked into activated carbon, spent $46,913
  • Keeneland Association spent $46,232 on instant racing
  • Houchens Industries spent $44,000 on grocery stores, road contracting, insurance and other business
  • ResCare, Inc. spent $40,289
  • Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation, which recently paid Todd Eklof a settlement, spent $31,789
  • Home Builders Association of Kentucky spent $31,348
  • Tantus Tobacco spent $29,130
  • Kentucky Association of Counties (KACo) spent $29,018
  • Swedish Match North America, Inc. (Red Man chewing tobacco) spent $28,743
  • Kentucky Beer Wholesalers Association spent $28,000
  • Kentucky Hospital Association spent $27,317
  • Norton Healthcare, Inc. spent $26,694
  • Buffalo Trace Distillery spent $24,096
  • Brown-Forman Corp. spent $24,000
  • Chesapeake Appalachia, LLC spent $24,000
  • Green Rock Energy spent $22,839
  • LifePoint Hospitals, Inc. spent $21,794

Jeeeeeeez. I should leave this behind and become a lobbyist ASAP. Right? We all should.

Peep the rest after the jump…

Read moreSelling Out For An Industry Pays Really Well

University of Kentucky Board of Trustees Update

You know you love hearing from University of Kentucky Trustee Joe Peek.

So here are some excerpts from his latest email blast.

On outgoing President Lee Todd’s massive salary boost:

It’s said the quitters never prosper. Wrong again! At the recent (ro)BOT meeting, the trustees voted 17-2 in favor of a salary “reclassification” for outgoing UK President Todd. (The lone dissenters were me and Sheila Brothers, the staff trustee.) Even though I pointed out (more than once) that this reclassification had real implications for the UK budget, it had no impact on the “discussion.” For the record: Base salary, but not bonus, carries with it a 15% retirement contribution by UK, and the change is retroactive to this past year as well. (I know, only the chosen few at the top get UK to make their 5% contribution for them.) Second, President Todd’s retention incentive bonus that will be paid on his last day at UK is equal to his base, not total, compensation. So the cost to UK is at least several hundred thousand dollars. And, silly me, I thought UK was in a budget crisis and could not afford raises at this time. The fact that some of Todd’s “reclassification” was done in arrears is at least consistent with the way UK has been treating faculty and staff (who have been getting it in arrears for a long time).

The good news is that faculty and staff had a say in President Todd’s evaluation. Specifically, our 2000+ faculty had the opportunity to collectively provide a grand total of 1/22 of the input, the same as any one of the 20 individual trustees (and similarly for the staff).

But, just so you know, I am not going to just sit here quietly and take it. Actually, I would take it if it were offered, but, in any case, at the next (ro)BOT meeting, I am going to propose a motion that I receive a substantial raise because that will make it easier to hire my replacement when I resign or retire.

See what Peek had to say about Todd’s U.S. News & World Report hypocrisy after the jump…

Read moreUniversity of Kentucky Board of Trustees Update

UK Board Chair Makes Curious Statement

Interim University of Kentucky Board Chairman, Billy Joe Miles, made an interesting statement to the Herald-Leader’s Cheryl Truman yesterday.

Take a look:

Miles said he encouraged Todd to renew his contract. He said Todd “rated in the high 90s” on his job performance, which a trustees executive committee was to discuss Thursday.

Maybe we’re hyper-sensitive to reading between the lines, but, uh, isn’t that a little questionable? The Chairman of the Board of Trustees disclosing a performance rating that hadn’t so much has been discussed or assigned? Or, if the performance rating has already been assigned by the Chairman, does this mean the rest of the Board is made up of useless rubber stamps?

Inquiring minds want to know. Because announcing the outcome of a Board meeting that hasn’t taken place is amazing.

Anyone wondering why performance evaluations for Todd from faculty and staff haven’t been discussed? I hear they’re less than stellar, to say the least. I also hear faculty & staff evaluations were, as a whole, treated as a single trustee evaluation. Meaning the entirety of UK’s faculty & staff only carries the weight of 5% of the trustee power. Thought you folks would like to chew on that in light of the news that Todd’s bonus is essentially being shifted to his base pay.

Those UK Rumors? They're True

Rumors are swirling all over concerning University of Kentucky president Lee Todd’s 3:00 P.M. presser today.

He says he’s set to announce changes in UK’s administration.

Those changes? He’s stepping down/retiring.

I hear the Board of Trustees sees this as a solid move for avoiding problems just under the surface, which we’ve hinted at in the past.

UK Trustee On The Latest USNWR Ranking

I’ve been hollering about college rankings a good deal lately. I think a lot of rankings/ratings are bunk because every student and educational situation is unique.

But here’s another take on things from University of Kentucky trustee Joe Peek. From a recent email blast:

Admit nothing, deny everything, and make counter-accusations

Another irritation concerns the US News & World Report college rankings that came out this week. Certainly, we are all disappointed in our ranking of 129, placing us in the bottom tier of SEC schools. But the most irritating aspect for me is that we are making no measurable progress. Instead, our ranking has drifted steadily downward in recent years. Yes, we are underfunded, but so are our competitors.

But even more aggravating was a memo to members of the BOT from President Todd (I get lots of interesting memos now!) trying to explain away our ranking. Yes, the USN&WR rankings are flawed; but every ranking of anything is flawed to some degree. How can many dimensions be precisely compressed into a single number? Still, the USN&WR rankings are the most respected and widely known college rankings; and other external, respectable rankings paint much the same picture. Is UK really number 129? Perhaps we are 119 or 139; but in any case, even with the lack of precision of the rankings, we can be pretty sure we are not 49 or 69, or even 89. But the comment in President Todd’s memo that got to me the most was:

“It is important to emphasize that these rankings systems focus on undergraduate education. As a result, significant aspects of our University’s mission – graduate education, research, and public service – are not addressed in either set of rankings. The exclusive attention given to undergraduate education offers an advantage to many of the independent institutions.”

Perhaps I am totally out of touch (not to mention totally out of my mind), but I had always thought that undergraduate education was at the core of a land-grant institution’s mission. And our competitors similarly emphasize graduate education, research, and public service, each an important component of what we should be doing. So forget the “Top 20” for a moment. Instead, let’s look at the 11 SEC public universities. Here are the USN&WR 2011 rankings:

  • Florida: 53
  • Georgia: 56
  • Alabama: 79
  • Auburn: 85
  • Tennessee: 104
  • S. Carolina: 111
  • LSU: 124
  • UK: 129
  • Arkansas: 132
  • Ole Miss: 143
  • Miss. State: 151

It’s pretty clear who our peers are. And we can’t wave off the much better rankings of schools like Alabama, Auburn, and Georgia because of their “exclusive attention to undergraduate education.” Facts don’t cease to exist because UK administrators choose to ignore them. My personal view is that we could, and should, be doing much better. We are supposed to be Kentucky’s flagship university; it is about time we start acting like it.

Interesting take, no?

Peek had some good advice about financials at UK in that same blast. Read that after the jump…

Read moreUK Trustee On The Latest USNWR Ranking

Fancy Newspaper Lady Is Really Mad, Kids

Gail Collins, of The New York Times, is just an expert on Kentucky who knows everything, forever, amen, but she has a you-know-what for Rand Paul.

From her latest:

But some of the current charges are trivial in the extreme. In Kentucky, Rand Paul has been attacked for failing to correct an interviewer who said Paul had graduated from Baylor University when, in fact, he got early admittance at Duke medical school that made it unnecessary for him to complete his undergraduate requirements. Get a life, Rand Paul critics.

Meanwhile, GQ published an article about Paul’s college days that suggested he got out of Baylor not a minute too soon. It quoted one unnamed woman as saying that he and his friends had tied her up, blindfolded her and told her to smoke pot and give homage to an idol named Aqua Buddha. On Wednesday, the woman reappeared and clarified the whole saga for Greg Sargent of The Washington Post.

“The whole thing has been blown out of proportion,” she said. It simply involved a kind of hazing, in a room filled with pot smoke, followed by a trip where Paul and his pals “took me out to this creek and made me worship Aqua Buddha.”

I hope this is entirely clear now, Kentucky. Stop all this loose talk about Rand Paul kidnapping a coed and making her take drugs. It isn’t true! Calm down and focus on the bigger issues, like jobs and taxes and which candidate for the Senate has the longest history of forcing people to bow down before idols.

I love it when people like Gail, a Kentucky political genius and anger bear who doesn’t even need a map when visiting the Bluegrass, write things like this. And when they wholly ignore the fact that the play-kidnappy lady still says the incident took place and that it was such a horrible experience she 100% cut ties with her pal, Randy, forever.