Marcus Woodward And The Duct Tape Bandit

Fayette County school board member Doug Barnett should recuse himself from the superintendent selection in the wake of comments he made on Facebook last month, a parent said during Monday’s board meeting. [H-L]

In a rare show of defiance of the National Rifle Association, the Senate on Monday confirmed Dr. Vivek Murthy to serve as surgeon general of the United States. Murthy’s nomination had been stalled for nearly a year due to comments he made in support of stricter gun laws. [HuffPo]

Jefferson County Public Schools wants its board to stop funding small class sizes at some of its district schools, saying the size limit caps create logistical issues and don’t have proven effectiveness. [C-J/AKN]

The U.S. economic recovery took a major step forward in 2014, achieving a number of important milestones. [White House]

Kasey Kazee, aka “The Duct Tape Bandit,” will be back in court on Christmas Eve along with his alleged partner, Jeffrey Driver, in connection with a recent high-profile mugging incident in a downtown Ashland alley. [Ashland Independent]

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has hired a federal budget expert to join his leadership staff as a policy adviser next year. Jon Burks, who currently works as the House Budget Committee’s policy director, will be responsible for budget and appropriations issues in McConnell’s office. [The Hill]

Kentucky’s financially troubled state employee retirement plan will be all right if — and it’s a big if — all goes according to plan. [Ronnie Ellis]

European Union foreign ministers threw their weight behind a U.N. plan for a truce in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on Monday, saying it offered a glimmer of hope for a political solution to the three-and-a-half year old civil war. [Reuters]

When Matt Sparks takes office as the new Rowan County sheriff on Jan. 5 he will vacate an important position at Morehead State University. Sparks currently serves as the MSU police chief. A search is underway to find his replacement. [The Morehead News]

Despite warnings about abuse, Medicare covered more prescriptions for potent controlled substances in 2012 than it did in 2011. The program’s top prescribers often have faced disciplinary action or criminal charges related to their medical practices. [ProPublica]

When you get caught doing something horrible in Louisville, Greg Fischer gives you a sweet promotion. [The ‘Ville Voice]

China is the world’s biggest producer, consumer, and importer of coal. While the health effects associated with air pollution from coal-fired power plants have been well documented due to their high visibility throughout China’s urban hubs, the even more acute hazards of working in the mines have grabbed less attention. [Think Progress]

A coin toss Monday broke the tie for the parent position on the Fayette County schools superintendent screening committee. [H-L]

Remember when Sen. Rand Paul suggested that you could get Ebola at a cocktail party? [HuffPo]

Joshua Powell Helped Devise A Public Disinformation Ad Campaign After Multiple Investigations Launched

This is PART TWO of a series. Click here for: Part One.

Now that you’re caught up on everything and know that there are multiple ongoing investigations in Montgomery County, you’ll want to read on to discover just how deep this mess goes.

Here’s the first response from Hughes to Powell:


Not gonna transcribe everything but you can see how Hughes responds. He made a couple great points — like this one:

Even if everything Alicia alleges about Phil is false and based on false information–why in the world would Phil not welcome a face to face meeting with her of the kind I sought with Robert Brown and Dr. Holliday? She admits Phil has had a strong career in Montgomery; I know that is true. She implies he is a credible man who serves as a deacon in his Church, is highly respected in the community and is not malicious in his actions. I know these facts to be true.

The best form of human communication is one-on-one! Why in the world would this credible man not “seek her face” and with humility, truthfulness and genuineness tell her how the land lays, how she has this all wrong, and why. He ought to be in a better position than your Attorneys Priest and Owsley to convince her of his and your innocence. She might have said that he could about his case only , but with the door closed and no tape recorders going, he could have told her that his and your cases are inextricably linked; and asked her to allow him to explain why. In doing so he could have represented both of you.

I think Phil, or Mr. Priest who advised him, missed out on a golden opportunity here. If it is not too late, I would recommend that Phil try to talk with her. If she is now NOT amenable to this, I would have him put in writing and send to her those facts relating to his case–and yours–that are mitigating and exculpatory. Even if she did not ask him to address your case, by writing it along with his, I am confident she would read it; and that it would make an impression on her mind going forward.

There’s your first clue that Hughes has been intervening on behalf of Powell.

Now things begin to get good. Shortly after Hughes sent that message to Powell, he (Powell) responded. In his response, he reveals that he’s launched an attack on the EPSB and… just read it for yourself:



I wholeheartedly believe that you are wrong and can offer several other examples to support my belief. Additionally, I began a campaign today with, or against, Robert Brown and the EPSB. He failed to respond to my requests and , frankly, I was quite disappointed with his forced responses. In my view, she/they must be exposed and brought to justice. On the other hand, I am smart enough to recognize your wisdom and realize that you have surpassed me on every important level. Even though I struggle with some of your advice and insight (struggle to follow it, that is) I want what you have–on the spiritual, physical, and emotional level. Admittedly, I am failing on all fronts but you have given me a target.

I hope that you are not disappointed in my decision but I have much less hope than you do in terms of my expectations for Alicia Sneed. Maybe I am actually more developed in seeing the worst of people… or maybe fooling myself into thinking so. Surprisingly, although my hope continues to diminish, my faith has actually increased and that is because of you. I’m not saying that I’ve accomplished the assigned readings or invested time listening to the provided CDs (yet)…I’m saying that the fatherly advice and care that you provide ( with absolutely no incentive other than saving a lost soul) is the best I have had in my life and I hope that you continue to do it. I recognize my faults as a person–faults that can be significantly diminished with some effort.

You are a great man and I hope to become half of what you are. Seriously, I feel very fortunate to call you my mentor and am honored that you associate yourself with me.

Thank you for trying to help me,


All that led to this from Hughes:


Now we have a pretty clear picture of why Powell has allowed an extremist church to have so much access inside the school system.

Hughes continued:




To further highlight the kind of mindsets you’re wading into, check out this message Hughes forwarded to Powell the following day. It’s a screed he sent to Bill O’Reilly of Fox News:


The attachment:


Here we begin to see where Powell got his business talking points:


Attached to that message was a bunch of scripture to assist Powell with his persecution complex:


Hughes continued to send Powell bible verse after bible verse:


Until — finally — the truth came about.

It was all part of their scheme to launch a public disinformation campaign. The first part of which was that full-page ad buy made by Hughes on Powell’s behalf.

Feast your eyes:


Here’s the original letter Hughes wrote, titled, Saving Dr. Powell Instead of Priv. Ryan:


Hughes immediately sent this follow-up:


To which Powell responded:



I am more than fine with it, as well as quite honored, but I do not want to cause you any hardship. The “crazies” will most certainly attack and create lies (out of thin air) about you. I absolutely do not want to cause you harm.

Sent from my iPhone

Yep, the “crazies” have created everything out of thin air. Countless legal documents, police files, video, audio tapes and all the court cases. Totally fabricated, pulled from the ether.

But it gets better. Powell followed up with this shortly after:



The website does not allow individuals to post positive information. Many have tried. The author even reports that he does not allow 99% of information to be posted.

He is anti- religion, pro gay and a real piece of crap.

Sent from my iPhone

Pee alert?

How dare anyone work to uncover the years worth of corruption that coincidentally makes Joshua Powell appear to be corrupt, manipulative, vindictive and outright nasty. Ha.

Hughes then sent the following back-to-back messages to Powell:


If that’s not enough to indicate Powell was involved in the creation of that huge advertising campaign, I don’t know what is.

Okay, okay, so we definitely know what is. And we’ll be sharing it tomorrow.


CLICK HERE for Part Three.

JCPS: What People With Sense Call A Disaster

Thank goodness it was only coal. A train wreck Monday morning in downtown Paris apparently occurred when a hillside under the tracks gave way, authorities said. [H-L]

As tens of thousands of people rallied in the nation’s capitol and demonstrated through the streets of New York on Saturday, protesters in other cities across the nation also held events of their own to denounce racial injustice. [HuffPo]

When the Jefferson County Board of Education passed a rule last year raising the dropout age from 16 to 18, school officials and community members alike applauded the move. However, JCPS administrators are predicting a surge of about 2,800 more students who will be labeled as habitually truant next school year thanks to the change. And the district is expecting to have to find and bring back about 350 students who’ve dropped out but will suddenly be under-age next school year — although those numbers are just projections, officials stressed. [C-J/AKN]

A month after President Obama’s decision to defer deportation and offer work authorization to millions of undocumented immigrants, his action not only looks like a winner, but it also seems to be a fairly promising sign for Democrats after the disastrous midterm elections last month. [NY Times]

Kentucky is the 47th healthiest state in the U.S., according to a United Health Foundation report released Thursday. [WFPL]

The spending bill in Congress is not just about money. Tucked inside the bill are provisions to change regulations affecting everything from banking to the environment. One regulatory rollback has those concerned about truck safety especially upset. [NPR]

A small crowd of Democrats and Republicans showed up to James Comer’s meet and greet event to hear the agriculture commissioner’s plans for the governor’s office, should he be elected in November. [Ashland Independent]

Thousands of people have marched through the US capital, Washington DC, to protest against the recent killings of unarmed black people by police. [BBC]

No Kentucky lawmaker opposes better methods to combat a rising tide of heroin addiction, but the specifics of how to do it — and politics — get complicated. [Ronnie Ellis]

The Wall Street takeover of charity. Donor-advised funds run by huge money management firms are exploding. [ProPublica]

Monday marked the end of an era as David Perkins dropped his gavel at a City Council meeting for the last time, symbolically ending his nine-year tenure as mayor of Morehead. [The Morehead News]

The fine print of a massive $1.1 trillion spending bill before the United States Congress includes a passage considered a “high priority” by lawmakers that could resolve a burning issue among the country’s 40 million anglers: does the federal government need to regulate fishing tackle? [Reuters]

Laurel County is back to being absolutely awful. Kentucky State Police are investigating two mobile home fires as arsons in Laurel County. [H-L]

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is using his last days at the helm of Congress’ upper chamber to push through some of President Barack Obama’s most contested nominees. [HuffPo]

Montgomery County Schools Corruption Uncovered: A Multi-Part Look At Collusion, Spin And Coordinated Attacks On Investigators

This is PART ONE of a series.

For those of you who think Montgomery County Schools superintendent Joshua Powell hasn’t assisted Richard Hughes (this guy) in his PR scheme and with his advertising campaign, you’ll probably want to go ahead and take the rest of the week off.

Because I’m about to give you a glimpse at what we have obtained via open records requests from various government agencies in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Emails that Powell forwarded to Hughes. Proof that Hughes coordinated everything he’s said WITH Powell. Proof that Powell has launched a coordinated attack against the EPSB (et al — including Jake!) for trying to hold him accountable. And more. Waaay more.

Hold on to your wigs, ladies.

Let’s dig in…

In this first email, you’ll see that assistant superintendent Phil Rison is being represented before the Education Professional Standards Board (yep, he’s under investigation) by Powell’s personal law firm. Paid for, of course, by Montgomery County Schools. Conflicts of interest on all fronts.

What’s scandalous is that these are communications that typically would be private. But these folks used government email systems that are subject to sunshine laws in order to communicate. So let’s tear everything apart.

From attorney Cravens Priest to Phil Rison:


Here’s the text:


Attached is a 9-10-14 e-mail and 9-11-14 correspondence I received (on 9-15- 14) from Alicia Sneed regarding an offer to meet with you. The correspondence sets forth numerous allegations against you and mentions the hiring of your daughter and brother as employees in the District. We were not aware of the hiring of your daughter and brother. Mike Owsley has reviewed the correspondence and we would like to discuss it with you. Let us know when you are available to discuss the correspondence after you have had a chance to review.


Rison forwarded the documents to Jacqui Johnston (Powell’s “Chief Administrative Officer”) and Joshua Powell, who then forwarded them to Hughes.

Want to read the attachments?

From Alicia Sneed of the EPSB to Cravens Priest regarding Rison:




I am working on a letter to you outlying a potential avenue for negotiating Phil Rison’s case; however, I am afraid that Rison’s interests may be directly adverse to another of your client’s interests. Although I don’t necessarily have an issue with the same counsel representing co-respondents in EPSB matters, Mr. Rison, as a subordinate of his co-respondent, may feel that he has to go to along with what is in his co-respondent’s best interest in order to keep his position.

I wanted to give you a head’s up before I send a letter that may cause a conflict of interest. I know from representing individuals in criminal matters and agencies in civil matters that whenever a conflict arises among clients that it is not pleasant for the attorney of record who has to figure out what to do, sometimes on the fly. In criminal law, I was often blindsided by a conflict, and usually at the most inopportune time, like the day of the trial.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Thank you,

Alicia Sneed

See that part about conflicts of interest? The EPSB didn’t have to do them the courtesy of bringing that up.

Here’s the letter Sneed mentioned:



Dear Mr. Preist:

Recently, we discussed Mr. Rison’s case during a telephone call. You asked if I was going to dismiss the case against Mr. Rison now that his co-respondent was set for a hearing. I cannot dismiss Mr. Rison’s case because I have strong evidence that he was involved in violations of the Professional Code of Ethics. I am confident that I can prove that Mr. Rison, as head of the interview committee, recommended the hire of Anna Powell because it was what his superintendent wanted, and that in exchange for the hiring committee’s recommendation, Mr. Rison’s daughter and brother were hired by Montgomery County Schools.

Although you may argue that I have merely a circumstantial case against Mr. Rison and that he acted in the best interest of students of Montgomery County Schools, I believe that the evidence will be clear. Mr. Rison’s family and Mr. Rison benefitted from him carrying out his co-respondent’s wishes. Mr. Rison interviewed Anna Powell for a position she legally could not take. When he recommended her for the position, the position description had to be modified so she could even take the position and I intend to present testimony that hiring a person for $90,000+ salary who cannot supervise either certified or classified staff is a misuse of funds.
Mr. Rison knew that Anna Powell was the superintendent’s spouse, and therefore could not legally take a position that required her to supervise others, but he recommended her anyway. If there was not collusion between himself and the superintendent in this matter, then Mr. Rison was purposefully trying to get his co-respondent removed as superintendent. If that is true, that would also be a violation of the Professional Code of Ethics. I anticipate that his co-respondent might make this argument in his defense, especially since it known in the community that Mr. Rison was in the running for the superintendent’s position prior to the hire of his co-respondent.

After Anna Powell was hired by the district, Mr. Rison’s daughter was hired in an Occupational Therapy Position for which she had to be issued a temporary license pursuant to KRS 319A.100 and pursuant to that statute she could only practice under the supervision of a licensed occupational therapist. Mr. Rison’s brother was also recently hired, even though he has retired from education. The position for which he was hired, high school athletic director, has plenty of individuals who are qualified for the role currently available for hire, and therefore his hiring is questionable under KRS 161.605(3).

Furthermore, I have information that Mr. Rison may have conspired to have Amanda Reffitt pink-slipped due to her affair with another staff member, Chris Barrier. Mr. Barrier was married to an educator in the district that Mr. Rison mentored. I intend to argue that Mr. Rison’s co-respondent handled a problem for Mr. Rison and Mr. Rison owed the co-respondent. Also, the co-respondent has made remarks that he was trying to create a dynasty in Montgomery County Schools. It seems by hiring Mr. Rison’s daughter and brother and by Mr. Rison assisting in hiring the co-respondent’s wife that the co-respondent is indeed trying to create some sort of “powerful group or family that maintains its position for a considerable time.”

Mr. Rison was also aware that his co-respondent blamed Kelly Wallace for filing a Title IX complaint with United States Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. Mr. Rison may deny that he was aware of his co-respondent’s belief or that Ms. Wallace was pink-slipped from the district first and foremost because his co-respondent wanted her gone, but I have credible witnesses who will testify that Mr. Rison was aware of his co-respondent’s determination to retaliate against Wallace for her “betrayal.”

Although I am convinced I do not need Mr. Rison’s testimony against his co-respondent to successfully prosecute the case against him, I am interested to hear what he has to say regarding this matter. Therefore, I am extending an offer to meet with Mr. Rison. During this meeting, I will not use anything he says to me against him at a later date and he may use this meeting to convince me of his innocence or to provide me with information he believes will clear his name.

Please assure Mr. Rison that regardless of my current conviction that he was co-conspirator with his supervisor/co-respondent, I am willing to listen to what he has to say with an open mind. My understanding is that prior to the hire of his co-respondent that Mr. Rison was highly responded in the community and I know that he is a deacon in his church, so I do not believe that his conduct was malicious. I want to use this meeting to give Mr. Rison the opportunity to present a defense or offer information that he believes will be mitigating or exculpatory. I cannot promise him that what he tells me will result in an offer of dismissal, but I am willing to allow him to convince me that he deserves lenience or a dismissal.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Thank you,

Alicia A. Sneed

There you have it. Powell and Rison can no longer deny what we all know to have occurred. There is absolutely an investigation. And now we know what it involves.

No, this doesn’t mean the investigation can be stopped by them now. Because Powell’s crew, apparently in collusion, made the decision to open these documents up to random individuals.

But it gets better. Powell forwarded additional emails to Hughes. The first is a response from Priest to Sneed, followed by Sneed’s reply and another response from Priest:




As discussed in our call today, Phil Rison has reviewed and considered your 9-11-14 correspondence, but can not agree to meet with you under the terms of the correspondence.




I will proceed with making an offer based on the evidence I have then. I hope to give you something next week.

Please explain to Mr. Rison that I do not offer anyone a dismissal until I have good cause to dismiss the case, as I have to ultimately convince the EPSB to accept that resolution. My offer to meet with Mr. Rison was a favor to him since you asked that I dismiss his case. If Mr. Rison would like to provide me with information that is exculpatory or mitigating in writing, I will gladly review it, but since he is declining the offer to meet under the terms of my 9/11/14 correspondence, that offer is officially rescinded.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Thank you,

Alicia A. Sneed


Your 9-11-14 letter was not only less than amenable, but it also included false allegations

Yep. That’s how Priest responded. Rison forwarded it to Powell and Johnston. Powell then forwarded it to Hughes.

The question you’re probably asking yourself is why on earth Powell would be sending this material that would typically be protected by attorney-client privilege to some random guy at Morehead State. It’s going to take a bit to give you an answer but it’s worth the wait. Stick with us.

There’s more tomorrow…


CLICK HERE for Part Two.

Hunger Is Very Much Alive And Well Today

Bring it, butt cramps! The Ark Park lunatics are going to maybe sue the state because they want a free tax ride. [H-L]

Initially, Henry Hargreaves and Caitlin Levin were interested in investigating how history’s most notorious dictators ate and used food deprivation as a weapon to punish insubordinates. But soon after starting the project, the photographers realized hunger — and the vast pain it causes — is still very much a pervasive issue worldwide. [HuffPo]

Don’t miss Comment on Kentucky tonight at 8:00 P.M. Eastern on KET. Scheduled guests: Lawrence Smith, Laura Ungar, Sam Youngman. [KET]

Last October, a Pennsylvania state senator successfully added a potential windfall for the National Rifle Association and other gun groups to a bill intended to protect against certain forms of metal theft. [ThinkProgress]

A new comprehensive plan is expected to help officials determine how the city can grow. Cave City Council members adopted a resolution Monday night approving the plan, which must be updated every five years. [Glasgow Daily Times]

Kentucky has pulled its offer on tax breaks for a theme park that would feature a 500-foot-long replica of Noah’s Ark called the ‘Ark Encounter’. Yes, you’re already aware. But let’s take a moment to enjoy the schadenfreude. [FOX19]

Wagging tails and cheerful barks was a sign of a good turnout at the first “A Night of Dog Games,” hosted by the Morehead State University Service Dog Association. The event, held last week at MSU farm classrooms, was to help raise money for the organization and educate the public about service dogs. [Ashland Independent]

Answering a ProPublica records request, the Federal Reserve acknowledged a leak Federal Open Market Committee information but declined to release the committee’s transcripts on the matter. [ProPublica]

Madison County Health Department revenues were down by about $800,000 in the fiscal year ended June 30, but its management reduced expenses by more than $1 million. [Richmond Register]

Warren County Fiscal Court became the first county government in the state to grant preliminary approval to a county right-to-work ordinance, but county officials anticipate that the ordinance will face legal challenges if it is approved on final reading. [BGDN]

Last month, a joint project by NPR and Mine Safety and Health News revealed that many of the nation’s mines—coal and otherwise—operate despite owing large sums of money to the federal government for health and safety violations. [WFPL]

The U.S. Department of Justice has signaled it would not stand in the way of Native American tribes who may seek to legalize marijuana use or cultivation. [Reuters]

Who will take on U.S. Sen. Rand Paul when he runs for re-election in 2016? Given the party’s history of holding primary elections that look like a cattle call, how is it possible that Attorney General Jack Conway is the only announced Democratic candidate for governor six months before the May primary? How long can Democrats hold on to the state House? [Sam Youngman]

Video footage of another pastor’s vehemently anti-gay sermon is going viral. [HuffPo]

Terry Holliday Has No Business Doing Anything

UKHealthCare will announce Tuesday that it is opening a 12-bed unit in University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital that is intended to help to reduce overcrowding in the emergency room and the number of patient readmissions. [H-L]

Democrats rebelled against the government funding bill Thursday, joining with a handful of Republicans to nearly vote down a measure that would keep federal offices running but was also packed with policy riders walking back financial reform. [HuffPo]

The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce is calling for a comprehensive audit of the state’s troubled pension system to examine concerns over investment policies. But State Auditor Adam Edelen has not made a decision yet. [C-J/AKN]

Man, the Red Cross is on some really wacky backy these days. [ProPublica]

The city of Richmond got this year’s financial audit completed two months earlier than a year before, and assets were up by $7 million while liabilities are down by $2 million. [Richmond Register]

The former president of the company that contaminated drinking water for 300,000 West Virginians this past January has been arrested on criminal fraud charges, according to a Federal Bureau of Investigation complaint unsealed Monday.[ThinkProgress]

Kentuckians are still being arrested for possession of marijuana. [Ashland Independent]

A global scientific research programme has been launched in China to examine the unintended consequences of urban policies on human health and wellbeing. [BBC]

James “Jamie” Comer said his No. 1 priority if he becomes Kentucky’s next governor is to create jobs. [Glasgow Daily Times]

The U.S. Supreme Court’s surprise announcement on November 7 that it would hear King v. Burwell struck fear in the hearts of supporters of the Affordable Care Act. [NEJM]

The Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority Wednesday approved incentives for a 105-room hotel development in Somerset. Somerset Center Hotel plans to develop a Courtyard by Marriott adjacent to the Center for Rural Development. The $11.5 million project qualifies for an incentive of $2.55 million in the form of a tax rebate over10 years. [Press Release]

Chicago city council members have proposed a ban on the use of chokeholds by police officers working within city limits in an expansive proposal coming in the wake of the chokehold death of an unarmed black man being arrested in New York. [Reuters]

Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday plans to push for legislation in the 2015 General Assembly that would allow Fayette County and other school districts to intervene at schools with achievement gaps. [H-L]

Nearly a year after Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-N.Y.) military sexual assault reform legislation fell five votes short of passing the Senate, she asked for unanimous consent on Thursday to bring her bill to the floor for another vote. But a group of senators blocked Gillibrand’s effort, accusing her of taking her cause too far. [HuffPo]