Watching Kim Davis Lose Is A Relief

HELP PROTECT OUR SOURCES! Stop the Montgomery County-Joshua Powell-Phil Rison insanity! [CLICK HERE]

The Kentucky Board of Education voted Tuesday to move five candidates forward in the search for the next state education commissioner. The candidates, who have not been named, are in-state and out-of-state educators. However, the board did not preclude adding finalists when it meets Friday in Lexington, before the start of second-round interviews. [H-L]

Last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a dire report about the state of the planet: July 2015 was the earth’s warmest month on record, dating back to 1880. [HuffPo]

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has denied a request from Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis to stay a federal injunction that called on her to provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples. [C-J/AKN]

The secretly recorded videos of Planned Parenthood officials discussing how fetal tissue may be used for medical research spurred Republican governors in several states to announce a cutoff of Medicaid funds to the group’s clinics. This certainly won’t make Matt Bevin and other opportunist buttcramps happy. [LA Times]

The Madison Fiscal Court voted Tuesday to join the county school and library boards in opposing Eastern Kentucky University’s effort to exempt from property taxes the privately owned Grand Campus residential complex it leases. [Richmond Register]

A small group of county clerks in Kentucky have said that they will defy the Supreme Court’s decision on marriage equality and refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. One of them, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, recently lost her case in federal court and is likely to lose on appeal. [Right Wing Watch]

Big Run Landfill supporters made their strongest effort yet to speak up for jobs at the waste facility that has been at the center of controversy in Boyd County for more than a year. About 500 attended Tuesday’s public hearing with the Department of Environmental Protection to record comments regarding the site’s current permit renewal application being deliberated upon by the state. [Ashland Independent]

The nation’s second-most powerful court handed a victory to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Tuesday, dismissing a challenge to a five-year-old agency rule that puts restrictions on investment advisers’ contributions to political campaigns. [The Hill]

Wondering just how confused and scared people in Eastern Kentucky happen to be when it comes to the gays? The SCOTUS is taking away all their freedumbs. [The Morehead News]

Applications for U.S. home mortgages edged up last week as interest rates declined, an industry group said on Wednesday. [Reuters]

Foiled in state court, a Jefferson County Public Schools teacher filed a federal court suit Monday claiming the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System illegally raised teachers’ share of pension contributions to shore up a retirement plan that is only half-funded. They sure have shopped this story around an awful lot. [WFPL]

After the Charleston, S.C, church shootings, Kentucky banned the sale of Confederate flag merchandise at its state fair next year. Vendors are under pressure not to sell it at this year’s fair. [NPR]

A state ethics panel has filed two additional charges of misconduct against Pike Circuit Judge Steven D. Combs, who has been suspended while awaiting a hearing. The new charges allege that Combs presided over a number of cases involving EQT Production Co. but failed to properly disclose that he has a financial relationship with the company. [H-L]

How did the four planets known as gas and ice giants form in the early solar system? The latest theory on Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune just received a big boost from a new computer modeling study. [HuffPo]

What?! Tax Cuts Are Expensive?! Why…

A group that works against government endorsement of religion has renewed a complaint about prayers before Bell County High School home football games. [H-L]

If Vice President Joe Biden decides to jump into the presidential race, his decision will be driven, he has said in recent conversations, by a belief that Hillary Clinton’s background won’t allow her to be a credible messenger when it comes to income inequality, which Biden sees as a defining issue. [HuffPo]

An assistant commonwealth’s attorney resigned Monday, months after a circuit court judge dismissed one of his cases as a sanction for “deliberately” withholding evidence. [C-J/AKN]

From the Department of Things Ken Ham Wouldn’t Understand… German scientists have found an unusually long trail of footprints from a 30-tonne dinosaur in an abandoned quarry in Lower Saxony, a discovery they think could be around 145 million years old. [Reuters]

The Perry County Board of Education had a special called board meeting on August 13. The primary reason for the meeting was the consideration and approval of the of the 2015-2016 tax rates. [Hazard Herald]

A new probe that sticks to blood clots so they can be seen in a PET scan has proved successful in rats – and will be tested in humans later this year, according to researchers in the US. [BBC]

Attorneys who successfully challenged Kentucky’s ban on same-sex marriage have submitted a bill for more than $2 million in legal fees, court costs and related expenses. The state of Kentucky, as the losing party in the case, gets stuck with the tab under federal civil-rights law. [Ashland Independent]

A deal struck between drugmakers AbbVie and United Therapeutics Wednesday set a record price for a voucher that can be redeemed for a fast-track review of a new medicine by the Food and Drug Administration. [NPR]

As members of the Republican Party of Kentucky debated on Saturday whether to approve a rule change creating a presidential caucus in March — at Sen. Rand Paul’s request — one of the biggest selling points was that the caucus would help build the party. [WFPL]

The director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), who was appointed by GOP lawmakers earlier this year, said Tuesday that tax cuts don’t pay for themselves. [The Hill]

Sen. Mitch McConnell spoke to several Tuesday in Grayson County about the biggest issues in Washington right now. [WBKO]

There are signs that Jeb Bush’s fundraising juggernaut is losing some momentum, after banking a stunning $120 million for his campaign and super PAC in the first half of the year. [Politico]

Nothing but wasted time and money. The city of Somerset will drop a lawsuit challenging the state auditor’s authority to do special examinations of cities, Mayor Eddie Girdler announced Monday. [H-L]

President Barack Obama spoke candidly about his critics at a fundraising event on Monday evening. [HuffPo]

A Curious Moment In Montgomery Co

A new auditor is about to dig in at Montgomery County Schools and there’s speculation galore about where he ought to look.

We’ve reported for years (now that’s literal — more than two) about problems surrounding maintenance budgeting and spending. And today we’re sharing another tidbit that should send up red flags all over the place.

An email from Jacqui Johnston to Phil Rison pushing a man named David Walters (maintenance) out of the way:

That was right around the time Walters, et al, went to school board members and others (not confidentially) to report irregularities and alleged shenanigans they’d discovered and asked for help. Those shenanigans occurred during the period of time tons of cash was being spent on baseball field construction/renovation. Walters discovered there was all the sudden no money in his accounts but there was no explanation. Curious, eh?

After being aligned with Powell in the beginning, Walters, who sold Powell his home, did what was right. Then the Powell crew pushed Walters out.

Fascinating stuff, truly.

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Adam Edelen Takes The Gloves Off

Yesterday Auditor of Public Accounts Adam Edelen took the gloves off in Jackson and Leslie Counties.

Edelen’s office referred two audits in Jackson to the Attorney General — for the Sheriff’s Office and the Sheriff’s Tax Office. In Leslie, the Sheriff’s Office audit was referred both to the Attorney General and the Leslie County Attorney. For the first time in a long time, Edelen’s office publicly stated in a release that the referrals were made. Guessing that ad on the right-hand side of the site woke him up a bit.

Click here (Warning: External PDF Link) for the Jackson Sheriff’s Office audit release. Highlights:

  • The former Sheriff did not manage the financial activities of his office.
  • The former Sheriff did not comply with the Uniform System of Accounts.
  • The former Sheriff’s office lacked adequate segregation of duties.
  • The former Sheriff should have ensured monies collected were secured and handled properly.
  • The former Sheriff should have properly accounted for forfeiture monies and filed appropriate reports.
  • The former Sheriff should have made fee pooling payments in accordance with the fee pooling ordinance.
  • The former Sheriff should collect and remit payments as recommended in order to close out the calendar year 2013 fee account.
  • The former Sheriff should have eliminated the deficit of $112,889 in his official 2011 Fee Account.
  • The former Sheriff should have collected receivables and paid liabilities from his 2012 Fee Account as determined by prior year audit.
  • The former Sheriff should require depository institutions to pledge or provide sufficient collateral to protect deposits.
  • The former Sheriff should publish information required by KRS 91A.040.

Click here (Warning: External PDF Link) for the Jackson Sheriff’s Tax Office audit release. Highlights:

  • The former Sheriff did not manage the financial activities of his office.
  • The former Sheriff’s office lacked adequate segregation of duties over tax receipts, disbursements, and reconciliations.
  • The former Sheriff should have strengthened internal controls over daily checkout procedures and deposits should have been made intact on a daily basis.
  • Reconciliation procedures should have been performed to ensure adequate monitoring of tax receipts and tax disbursements.
  • The former Sheriff should ensure the delinquent tax list is complete and accurate before submitting to the County Clerk.
  • The former Sheriff has a known deficit of $15,421 in his 2013 official tax account.
  • The former Sheriff should resolve unsettled 2011 tax receivables and liabilities
  • The former Sheriff should ensure tax receipts are placed in an interest-bearing account.
  • The former Sheriff should resolve unsettled 2012 tax receivables and liabilities.
  • The former Sheriff should have made tax payments to the districts by the 10th of the next month.
  • The former Sheriff should improve controls and documentation procedures for waivers of tax penalties and fees.
  • The former Sheriff should have required depository institutions to pledge or provide sufficient collateral to protect deposits.
  • The former Sheriff should collect/disburse amounts due/owed based upon audit.
  • The former Sheriff’s County Revenue Bond was not adequate.

Click here (Warning: External PDF Link) for the Leslie County Sheriff’s audit release. Highlights:

  • The former Sheriff’s office lacked adequate segregation of duties.
  • The former Sheriff should have strengthened internal controls over payroll processing.
  • The former Sheriff should have improved internal controls over receipts.
  • The former Sheriff should have ensured receipts were issued for all auto inspections performed.
  • The former Sheriff should not have spent fee receipts on disallowed expenditures.
  • The former Sheriff’s expenditures exceeded revenues by $3,694 and the budget amendment was not submitted to the Fiscal Court in a timely manner.
  • The former Sheriff’s donation account should be in compliance with KRS 61.310.
  • Donated monies should not be spent on disallowed expenditures.
  • The former Sheriff has a total deficit of $21,165 in his fee account and donated funds.
  • The former Sheriff should settle 2012 fee account receivables and liabilities due per audit.
  • The former Sheriff should settle 2011 fee account receivables and liabilities due per audit
  • The former Sheriff should settle 2010 fee account receivables and liabilities due per audit.
  • The former Sheriff should settle 2008 and 2009 fee account receivables and liabilities due per audit.
  • The former Sheriff’s office received duplicate payroll reimbursement from two outside entities.
  • Telecommunication tax commissions of $1,025 are due to the Fiscal Court.

Those excerpts are pretty boring but if you dig into the audit releases and look at the actual audits, you’ll be amazed at how rampant the asshattery is for some local sheriffs.

Will Jack Conway take action?

The world may never know.

But if recent history is any indication, probably not.

UPDATE!

He’s taking the gloves off in Somerset, as well. From a release a few minutes ago:

Auditor Edelen Releases Special Examination into City of Somerset, Finds Employees Feared Retaliation, Officials Conducted City Business with Little Accountability

Report will be Referred to the Attorney General, Other State Agencies

Auditor Adam Edelen today released a special examination into the City of Somerset, finding that city employees feared retaliation, city officials generally ignored city policies and ordinances – if they existed at all – and made spending and management decisions without proper oversight or accountability.

The report describes a city management that didn’t competitively bid at least $280,000 worth of services, did not consistently contract for or have oversight of negotiated industrial natural gas rates, hires and pays personnel not established or authorized by city council and at times operated outside the confines of city policies, ordinances, and other laws.

The report will be referred to the Attorney General’s office, the Department of Revenue, the Department of Labor, the Department of Agriculture and the City Board of Ethics for further consideration.

“This exam paints a picture of a city management that ignores ordinances and policies, skirts oversight and accountability and conducts the business of taxpayers as a few people at the top see fit,” Auditor Edelen said. “What’s worse, we heard over and over again from city employees that they were afraid to share information with us because they feared being retaliated against. This is not how a city ought to be run.”

The report references several instances in which city personnel were hesitant to cooperate with auditors during the examination for fear of retaliation by the city mayor. Several city employees noted numerous times that they were at-will workers, and the mayor had the authority to terminate their employment for no cause.

You may click here (Warning: External PDF) to review the report for yourself.

Turns Out Hating People Is Expensive

HELP PROTECT OUR SOURCES! Stop the Montgomery County-Joshua Powell-Phil Rison insanity! [CLICK HERE]

The private attorneys whom Beshear hired to handle the state’s appeals have a $260,000 contract, of which $231,348 had been paid by July 20, according to state records. Total cost to taxpayers: $2,351,297. [H-L]

Fears of a China-led global economic slowdown drove Wall Street to its steepest one-day drop in nearly four years on Friday and left the Dow industrials more than 10 percent below a May record. [HuffPo]

Dozens of anti-abortion protesters Saturday called for the defunding of Planned Parenthood, waving signs decrying the organization’s “atrocities” and praying for an end to abortive practices. [C-J/AKN]

If you’ve followed the saga involving Joshua Powell and Montgomery County Schools? This episode of This American Life will send chills down your spin. [This American Life]

The state Revenue Cabinet filed a brief Tuesday with the state Board of Tax Assessment Appeals saying the Madison County Property Valuation Administrator and the county assessment appeals board failed to follow its “direction and advice” in denying tax exemption to the Grand Campus residential property leased by Eastern Kentucky University. [Richmond Register]

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Granny) is not a turtle. Ian Ziering of “90210” was in the movie “Sharknado.” And Sapphire from the movie “Almost Famous” is a “Band Aid.” [The Hill]

Glasgow’s next police chief, pending city council approval, said he believes in having a very transparent department. [Glasgow Daily Times]

President Barack Obama has been briefed on developments in global financial markets, the White House said on Monday after world stock markets plunged. [Reuters]

After heavy criticism emerged late last school year about the cleanliness of Williamsburg Independent School’s building — steps were taken to remedy the problems. [Times-Tribune]

The White House has hired its first openly transgender full-time member of staff, officials have confirmed. Raffi Freedman-Gurspan started working as an outreach and recruitment director for presidential staff on Tuesday. [BBC]

For the third time, Judge-Executive Walter Blevins proposed a longevity pay benefit for county employees. And for the third time, the motion died for a lack of second on Tuesday in Rowan Fiscal Court. [The Morehead News]

Ah, back-to-school season in America: That means it’s time for the annoyingly aggressive marketing of clothes, and for the annual warnings of a national teacher shortage. [NPR]

Kentucky Sports Radio host Matt Jones told his radio audience Monday morning that he is actively considering a run for the U.S. House of Representatives, and he will make a decision before the University of Kentucky’s basketball season starts. [H-L]

Rand Paul’s campaign is teetering on the edge, with the once-trendy presidential candidate telling fellow Kentucky Republicans that his chances of winning the 2016 GOP nomination are no better than “1 in 10.” [HuffPo]

The Gays Are Ruining Everything In KY

HELP PROTECT OUR SOURCES! Stop the Montgomery County-Joshua Powell-Phil Rison insanity! [CLICK HERE]

When the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage this summer, Kentucky and many other states tweaked their marriage license forms to give no hint of a person’s gender. [H-L]

GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee supports Paraguay’s decision to deny an abortion to a 10-year-old rape victim, he revealed in an interview Sunday. [HuffPo]

Previously sealed evidence filed in two cases related to a Central Kentucky bourbon and steroid organized crime ring has been released following a Franklin Circuit Court judge’s ruling. [C-J/AKN]

The Pentagon’s massive new Law of War Manual drew criticism from the New York Times editorial board on Monday for its section on how to treat journalists, which the Times said would “make their work more dangerous, cumbersome and subject to censorship.” [The Intercept]

More than 100 volunteers combed Boonesborough Beach on Saturday morning, picking up litter. They also picked up trash on the Clark County side of the Kentucky River. [Richmond Register]

Government employees have an obligation to follow the letter of the law despite their religious convictions—or else resign the offices they hold. [The Atlantic]

There have already been 10 suicides in Boyd County investigated by the coroner’s office, according to Coroner Mark Hammond. Four of these happened just in the month of July; two on the same day. [Ashland Independent]

With a rise nationally in fatal heroin overdoses, the White House on Monday will announce a plan pairing law enforcement officials with public health workers in an effort to emphasize treatment rather than prosecution of addicts, the Washington Post said. [Reuters]

A few times a year, Anna Lucio leaves her office and heads back to her roots. “Everybody’s got their own way of seeing it,” she said. Lucio grew up on a piece of land in Kentucky that welcomed the shade needed for Ginseng. “The first time we went in the woods- It’s that excitement that you can be able to find it, and even if you’ve seen a million, you’d be like, ‘Oh! I found one!'” [WKYT]

American Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern has long portrayed her organization as a beacon of openness, once declaring “we made a commitment that we want to lead the effort in transparency.” But when the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, opened an inquiry last year into the Red Cross’ disaster work, McGovern tried to get it killed behind the scenes. [ProPublica]

The Mayor of Shepherdsville was arraigned Tuesday morning on a prostitution charge. Shepherdsville Mayor Scott Ellis was not in court and was represented by his attorney. [WDRB]

Since last week’s indictments of three top political aides to Ron and Rand Paul, new details have emerged about the Ron Paul campaign’s scheme in 2012 to buy the endorsement of Kent Sorenson, who was then an influential Republican state senator in Iowa. [Mother Jones]

Some executives dream of retiring to a big boat on a big body of water, and that is just what James Street did. Since retiring as Eastern Kentucky University’s vice president for administration in July 2013, Street and his wife, Stacey, have spent a lot of time on their 34-foot Beneteau 331 sailboat on Kentucky Lake and their Catalina 22 on Cave Run. [H-L]

People who live in low-income urban areas tend not to have access to the green spaces that are more easily found in rural and suburban communities. But the lack of connection with nature in concrete jungles is changing, according to NPR’s Paige Pfleger. Across the country, various eco-non-profits are populating community centers and high schools with communal gardens. [HuffPo]