Evening Update on the Felner Situation

Nancy IS doing some investigative work. It’s about damn time! And no, I don’t take back anything I said. It’s been THREE weeks. It took three weeks to come up with a major story? Give me a break.

Anyway, here’s part of Nancy’s story:

A $694,000 project grant managed by former University of Louisville education dean Robert Felner is part of a criminal investigation into whether federal funds were mishandled.

Documents obtained from U of L in an open-records request show that the grant’s purpose was to create a center that would be a “unique collaborative effort” with the Kentucky Education Department and Jefferson County Public Schools, among others, and would help schools meet testing goals of the federal No Child Left Behind law.

Yet no one with the Jefferson County Public Schools or the state Education Department know about the grant, or that such a center was created, according to interviews with state and district officials.

-SNIP-

The largest portion of that money — $452,533 — was paid to subcontracted groups, many of whom had ties to Felner.

Got that? $694,000 grant potentially flushed away by Robert Felner. $450K+ went to subcontracted groups with ties to Felner. But the school district the grant was for had no clue of its existence? Make sure you read the rest of the story.

In the mean time, WHAS11’s Mark Hebert got an interview with University of Louisville President Jim Ramsey who praised Robert Felner on-camera. Go here to watch it.

Here’s what Ramsey had to say:

“He did a, uh, really good job in moving the University of Louisville forward. I can’t comment on, you know, whether anything was done that’s criminal or inappropriate. We’ll let the process determine that.”

He went on to say:

“Mistakes happen in any organization, uh, but, uh, we’ll, and if there are ways we can strengthen our internal controls, we’ll, we’ll always be, uh, committed to doing that.”

When asked if he’d found anything in the Felner case that stuck out like a sore thumb, Ramsey responded:

“Well, no, not yet, because the investigation’s not done.”

Oh, and Ramsey told Hebert that it wasn’t an internal UofL audit that got the investigation going.

Courier-Journal: Dropping the Ball on Felner Scandal in the Most Obvious Manner Possible

We cannot in good conscience hold back any longer. We have waited more than three weeks. The time to wake up is now.

Where is the Courier-Journal on the Robert Felner scandal at the University of Louisville? Why is the newspaper of record and the largest publication in the Commonwealth of Kentucky ignoring this huge, multi-million dollar scandal? I mean, we’ve literally been hand-feeding the paper. Doing the leg work for the C-J day in and day out. And nothing. Nothing, nothing, nothing. Deadening, suspicious silence.

After yesterday’s revelation by WHAS11’s Adam Walser, Kenosha News’ Gary Kunich and this website the Courier-Journal’s education reporter is still silent on the issue. We have no reason to believe the C-J is in collusion with UofL on this matter and we have no reason to believe the paper has been silenced.

But it’s a good idea to mention this: After the CW Louisville was afraid to let us discuss the Felner scandal on television because the station management had gotten its feathers ruffled, we called every news room and reporter in Louisville (except WAVE3– the news director has way too much of an attitude with us) to find out if Felner’s attorney (now attorneys, plural) or anyone else had attempted to silence the story.

Everyone we spoke with assured us they had not been pressured and no one had expressed concern to them about reporting on or investigating the Felner scandal. The only red flag was Nancy Rodriguez of the C-J, who did, it must be noted, tell us that she had not been pressured. But she was very nervous about receiving a call re: Felner. It could have been because Rick is a big, bad, terrifying media critic but let’s get real. It’s likely because she didn’t want to put her tight relationships with UofL’s administration at risk and it doesn’t take much for people from all walks of life to assume as much. Nancy’s a good person and a great journalist, but enough is enough.

What’s Nancy writing about that keeps her too busy to focus on Felner? Why, writing fluff pieces about President Jim Ramsey’s decision to turn down his $113,000+ bonus for the year. It’s mighty admirable of Ramsey to turn down the giant bonus (Lee Todd at UK certainly didn’t), but he’s already making a $331,918 base salary in addition to at least $124,213 he receives from the university foundation. So we’re pretty sure a paltry $100K is chump change to him.

From Nancy’s story today:

At his own request, University of Louisville President James Ramsey won’t receive a raise or a bonus this year under a recommendation expected to be approved today by the university’s Board of Trustees.

Ramsey — who asked trustees not to give him additional money in light of tight budget constraints at the state and university level — will instead receive a lump-sum payment of $700, which other full-time faculty and staff members are receiving under this year’s university budget.

-SNIP-

“I don’t want this to be about me,” Ramsey added. “I don’t want this to be about what I get paid. I want this to be about the Univer- sity of Louisville and being what people expect it to be.”

We’re becoming more and more disappointed in the Courier-Journal each and every day. And there’s no reason to believe the same thing isn’t happening with the general public because subscriber rates are dropping like crazy and staff cuts are happening all over the place.

Where is the journalism our major newspaper is supposed to produce? Where is the investigation? Where is the openness and honesty about what is happening right before our very eyes? What is with this complacency?

Felner Funneling Money to Fake Company?

Robert Felner set up a $200,000 contract with his organization, National Center on Public Education and Prevention, located in Rock Island, IL a year after it was dissolved.

Take a look at that document:


Along with a $60,000 contract with the National Center on Public Education and Social Policy at the University of Rhode Island, years after Felner’s employment with the school ended:


Why did this happen? Because a fraudulent tax document was given to the University of Louisville and no one batted an eye lash:


The document is for an organization that doesn’t exist in any state and has no registration with the IRS.

This revelation has prompted colleges and universities Felner has been affiliated with over the past 20 years to re-examine programs and accounting with which he was involved.

This weirdly woven blanket is beginning to fall apart. Take a look at WHAS11’s story from last night for details:




UPDATE: See an update from the Kenosha News after the jump.

Non-YouTube version after the jump for you folks who can’t watch it at work…

Read moreFelner Funneling Money to Fake Company?

UofL Could Be Hurt Financially By Felner

That’s right. WHAS11’s Adam Walser has finally put the story we’ve been digging through for weeks on the teevee. And through him we discover that Felner never produced final accounting for two huge Carnegie Corporation grants worth more than $1.5 million. That forever prevents the College of Education at the University of Louisville from receiving Carnegie funds. UPDATE: Carnegie tells us that it’s URI that is impacted, not UofL. We were merely repeating what Adam Walser reported in his story. But we wanted to get this corrected.

After re-watching his attorney’s comments about being one of the most well-regarded people in his field, we can’t help but shake our head. The past week has certainly made that statement seem less than solid. We actually feel sympathy for Felner’s attorney at this point.

There’s a bunch more.

Just watch the video after the jump…

Read moreUofL Could Be Hurt Financially By Felner

Felner Responsible for UofL Grievance Increase?

Many individuals have left comments on this site since we broke the story of Robert Felner and the federal investigation focusing on him at the University of Louisville. Most of those comments suggest that Felner was the focus of more grievances filed at the school than anyone else. And some merely suggest that the College of Education and Human Development (Felner was the Dean) was the center of more complaints than all other schools combined.

So we filed an open records request with UofL to obtain the Faculty Grievance Officer’s annual reports for the past five years. So far we’ve received reports for the past three years and expect to receive additional reports later in the week. A report for 2008 will not be available until September.

In 2005 (PDF link) the College of Education and Human Development was responsible for 42% (13) of faculty grievance consultations. That’s six more than the School of Medicine at 23%.

Fine and dandy, right? Maybe. Until one examines the 2006 (PDF link) report from the Faculty Grievance Officer. That year 15 (56%) of the 27 grievance consultations that took place were within the CEHD. Quite a number. So many, in fact, that that grievance officer Suzanne Meeks had this to add:

Read Meeks’ comments along with the rest after the jump…

Read moreFelner Responsible for UofL Grievance Increase?

Felner Investigation Expanded In Rhode Island and Feds Now Examining Felner’s Non-Profit Org

The latest from Kenosha News’ Gary Kunich reveals new information in the ongoing saga of the federal investigation involving Robert Felner at the University of Louisville. And it affirms much of what this website has reported for weeks.

Kunich’s latest story (which was published in the Kenosha News last Friday but is not available online– contact me if you’re interested in the full story) reveals that Federal agents returned to the University of Rhode Island for the second time to conduct interviews and review paperwork:

Lavalle said agents returned Thursday to the University of Rhode Island for more interviews, but declined to say if they took any paperwork with them.

And then reveals that federal investigators have begun to examine Felner’s non-profit organization and similarly-named program at the University of Rhode Island:

While working as the director of the school of education at Rhode Island, Felner also created and oversaw the National Center on Education and Social Policy at the university, which also brought in millions in grant money while studying education reform. Although Felner left the university in 2003, he remained as director of the center until 2006 in what Lavalle said was a non-paid position.

Felner is still listed as the director of the center on the Web site at http://www.ncpe.uri.edu. When the Kenosha News called the center, a person answered the phone by saying, “Hello?” but declined to speak about Felner. All calls were referred to the university’s communications office.

One page of the Web site has a 2008 copyright attributed to Felner and the National Center on Public Education and Prevention out of Rock Island, a similar sounding but different organization. An official familiar with the investigation said law enforcement officials are looking into that connection.

-SNIP-

The National Center on Public Education and Prevention in Rock Island was a non-profit organization that was involuntarily dissolved in 2006 because it didn’t file an annual report a year earlier, according to an official at the Illinois Secretary of State, which registers all corporations. There is no known Web site for the organization and it’s not known what that organization did, but the address is for a business called The Law Centre, which rents space and administrative services to lawyers.

Read the rest after the jump…

Read moreFelner Investigation Expanded In Rhode Island and Feds Now Examining Felner’s Non-Profit Org