December 5th, 2013 · 3 Comments
It’s well-established that superintendent Joshua Powell and his central office staff at Montgomery County Schools spend countless hours (during work) on gossip website Topix. We’ve covered it for several months, sharing text messages via his top staffers using district equipment. Yesterday we revealed that Powell and his crew are secretly using rumors on Topix in personnel files in order to damage their foes. You should go read that story if you haven’t already. Because it makes the latest from the Mt. Sterling Adocate look like generic toilet paper.
In the article, it’s clear that Powell conned the paper’s managing editor into believing a “hiring committee” selected and hired his wife, Anna. Which didn’t happen, as school board members tell us he hired his wife. And other board members have made clear in other media outlets.
Powell also reveals that there’s another ongoing audit. Imagine that.
Monday, Powell told the Advocate that “regrettably, the district is undergoing yet another senseless audit.”
The audit, he said, again “is based solely on disgruntled individuals’ attempts to bring harm to the district, to me and to those associated with me. While arbitrary and anonymous complaints can result in an audit and further scrutiny for the school district, I find it disturbing that there is no accountability for those that improperly use the auditor’s office, or any other state entity for malicious and vindictive purposes,” Powell said.
Seems like it was yesterday when Powell was claiming that HE requested frequent and intense auditing. And really? Using state government for malicious and vindictive purposes? About that.
Here’s a funny bit:
Despite the clean audit report, chatter continued on the Internet about the financial state of Montgomery County Schools, and even more discussion surfaced when the Advocate reported in October that Powell’s wife, Anna, had been hired as the district’s Director of Special Projects.
Nope, that discussion surfaced because of the real reporting Page One did. Not the faux follow-up the Mt. Sterling Advocate stenographed. It should send chills down their spines that a group of people can run run circles around them without ever stepping foot inside the county, thanks to an extensive network of supporters and colleagues.
Some attempted revisionist history:
Kelly Murphy, vice chair of the Montgomery County School Board, stressed Monday correct protocols, policies and procedures were followed in the hiring of Powell’s wife.
“We know that all the policies and procedures were followed,” he said. “It was done by a separate committee.”
Other board members contacted did not return messages.
Separate committee? Uh, the board and district officials have made it clear that no committee hired Anna Powell – Joshua Powell did so. The board didn’t do it. A committee didn’t do it. But they’re continuing to snow the small town paper:
Powell previously told the Advocate it is not uncommon across Kentucky for superintendents to employ their spouses. In addition, board members (who are not involved in personnel issues) previously interviewed reiterated a hiring committee made the decision, not Powell, and that the school board attorney had not mentioned an issue with the matter.
What we’re most interested in? His feigned outrage at “social media” – aka Topix.
Things get good after the jump…
[Read more →]
Tags: Corruption · Education · Investigation · Mainstream Mistake
Earlier today the White House released state-specific data about the economic benefits of extending unemployment insurance.
Here’s an excerpt from the release:
The United States economy continues to recover from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and while substantial progress has been made, more work remains to boost economic growth and speed job creation. Despite ten consecutive quarters of GDP growth and 7.8 million private sector jobs added since early 2010, the unemployment rate is unacceptably high at 7.3 percent, and far too many families are still struggling to regain the foothold they had prior to the crisis.
The Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program authorized by Congress in 2008 has provided crucial support to the economy and to millions of Americans who lost jobs through no fault of their own. Under current law, EUC will end on December 28, 2013. This report argues that allowing EUC to expire would be harmful to millions of workers and their families, counterproductive to the economic recovery, and unprecedented in the context of previous extensions to earlier unemployment insurance programs.
Now for some statistics that are Kentucky-centric:
- Number of People Who Have Received EUC Benefits from January 2008 through September 2013: 213,260
- Projected Number of Unemployed Affected in 2014 if EUC is Not Extended: 53,200
- Impact on Employment of a Failure to Extend EUC, Estimated Number of Jobs Saved by EUC Extension Through End of 2014: 3,151
- Avg weekly benefit: $292. Max weekly benefit: $415. Replacement rate: 49.2%
Click here (Warning: External PDF Link) to review the report for yourself.
Tags: Economy · Jobs · Stats
It’s been nearly two years since Steve Beshear and Jerry Abramson promised real tax reform would happen in Kentucky.
So let’s flashback to May 2012 when the tax reform “commission” went to Paducah:
Parts 3 & 4 are available after the jump…
[Read more →]
Tags: Flashback · Taxes
December 5th, 2013 · 3 Comments
An archaeological site in Hardin County uncovered during a survey for a pipeline project has been struck by looters. [H-L]
President Barack Obama turned his focus Wednesday to the pocketbook issues that Americans consistently rank as a top concern, arguing that the dream of upward economic mobility is breaking down and the growing income gap is a “defining challenge of our time.” [HuffPo]
Education officials are predicting large layoffs from Kentucky’s public school system next year if state government doesn’t restore key funding for school districts in its upcoming budget. [C-J/AKN]
More than a quarter of uninsured Americans say they are more likely to pay the fine than sign up for Obamacare before the deadline, a new poll shows. [Politico]
A Kentucky jailer has come up with an unusual way to help families in need this holiday season. The effort involves the cooperation of those who want to visit inmates in the Montgomery County Jail. [WKYT]
The nation’s libraries are backing legislation that would curb the powers of the National Security Agency. [The Hill]
The governing arm of the Kentucky General Assembly is ready to sign a contract with an attorney chosen to advise a House Select Committee looking into allegations of sexual harassment against former lawmaker John Arnold of Sturgis. [Ronnie Ellis]
A federal judge on Tuesday formally declared Detroit bankrupt, a landmark ruling that clears the way for potentially sweeping cuts to city worker pensions and retirement benefits and for steep and possibly precedent-setting losses to the cash-strapped city’s bond holders. [Reuters]
A long-time member of the Urban County Council announced Tuesday that he would seek an at-large seat on the council. [H-L]
The editor-in-chief of The Guardian, which has turned leaks from Edward Snowden into a seemingly endless series of exposes concerning U.S. electronic surveillance activities, says the newspaper has published just 1 percent of what it’s received from the former NSA contractor. [NPR]
Plans to build an inpatient drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility in Grayson have hit a snag, according to the city’s mayor. [Ashland Independent]
Congress effectively pulled money out of the hands of 47 million struggling Americans last month when it allowed massive cuts to the country’s food stamp program to go through without a hitch. [HuffPo]
Heading into the final month of the year, Kentucky’s traffic death count was lower than the same time a year ago. [WLEX18]
The re-election campaign committee of a sitting five-term U.S. Senator appears not quite up to speed on the basic campaign mechanics for their 2014 election. The campaign committee of Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has been queried by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) regarding campaign contributions that appear to be over the legal limits for political giving by individuals and political action committees. [Roll Call]
Tags: Barack Obama · Campaign Finance · Eastern Kentucky · Economy · Education · Giving Back · Health Care · Investigation · Mitch McConnell · Poverty · Stats · Wiretapping
December 4th, 2013 · 1 Comment
This is apparently newsworthy. A Kentucky woman whose van is plastered with political signs and trinkets has won a costly fight to have a $56 traffic ticket tossed in New Jersey. [H-L]
Matt Bevin stood beneath Kentucky’s Capitol dome and tore into all the things wrong with Congress, starting with the state’s U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell. [LA Times]
Curtis, a retired stockbroker, signed a plea agreement last year that would require him to serve 27 months in prison for stealing from U.S.A. Harvest. But Cox told reporters last month that Curtis now “doesn’t understand what a plea bargain is.” [C-J/AKN]
Mitch McConnell’s reelection campaign has signed up a former Mitt Romney fundraiser to lead a women’s fundraising effort for him in Kentucky. [The Hill]
What has been said to be the oldest building on Main Street is getting a new lease on life after recent renovations have attracted new businesses there, helping to preserve the past and future of downtown. [Hazard Herald]
Nearly a million fish are dying annually, and thousands of others are being deformed, by coal ash in Sutton Lake outside Wilmington, North Carolina, according to a new study. [Click the Clicky]
A number of workers and union representatives met with U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes Monday to share their worries about the impending closure of American Electric Power’s Big Sandy Power Plant and its effect on the region. [Ashland Independent]
As House-Senate talks resume Wednesday, the bad blood among rival commodity groups is becoming an embarrassment for farm bill advocates and a threat to getting legislation through Congress this winter. [Politico]
The United States Department of Justice has released more information, including a victim’s name, following an incident at a federal prison. [WYMT]
For Missouri public radio reporter Harum Helmy, the Affordable Care Act is more than just a story she covers. It is also a story she’s living. [ProPublica]
The owner of a controversial canopy tour business has filed applications for a zoning change and other permits with Lexington city planners in hopes of opening the now-shuttered operation. [H-L]
For the first time in 40 years, a majority of Americans say the US plays a less important and powerful role in the world than it did a decade ago. [BBC]
What the heck are the folks in Louisville even thinking when it comes to women in leadership roles? [The 'Ville Voice]
The U.S. trade deficit narrowed in October as exports hit a record high, pointing to a pick-up in global demand that should help to support domestic growth in the fourth quarter. [Reuters]
Yes, another mind-numbing story of outrage involving Montgomery County Schools. This one will send you into a rage. [Page One]
Illinois lawmakers have approved a sweeping plan to close a $100 billion shortfall in the state’s pension system, which would cut retirees’ benefits. But the legislation faces promised legal challenges from public employee unions. [NPR]
Tags: Alison Grimes · Corruption · Eastern Kentucky · Economy · Education · Environment · Health Care · Kentucky Business · Kentucky Tourism · Labor · Mainstream · Mitch McConnell · Polling · Senate · Wasted Money
Nah, there won’t be.
Today is the annual funtimes puppies and rainbows Meet & Greet with Governor Steve Beshear for state employees.
Wouldn’t it be interesting if the folks who organized the recent state worker rally at the capitol (Remember? On a Saturday morning when maybe 60 people showed up) would consider quickly organizing another rally?
Since many will already be lined up to shake hands with Papaw, the timing is right.
If not, we imagine quite a few people will be reminding Beshear that cost of living increases have been nonexistent for years. And that he’s playing games with the pension system. Among other things.
The fact that we have to mention this is why Kentucky can’t have nice things.
Tags: Steve Beshear
Yes, another mind-numbing story of outrage involving Montgomery County Schools.
In what will not come as a surprise to anyone, we’ve learned that the district maintains two separate personnel files for its employees. One that an employee may obtain by filing a request. Another that’s more in-depth and requires an attorney and occasionally legal proceedings to obtain. That’s not what takes the cake.
What does, you’re wondering? In one former employee’s file were printouts from Topix. Documents that were provided by a random employee – a high school attendance secretary – from 2011. That random employee conveniently forgot to remove identifiers from the pages she printed. Her user ID was at the bottom of the page and her screenname was intact. Take a look:
That’s right – salacious rumors, innuendo and hearsay used against employees with absolutely no basis in fact.
This means the district takes what is effectively trash from random employees with an ax to grind and uses it against people without their knowledge. It also appears to prove that there’s an extensive network of district employees working in tandem with superintendent Joshua Powell to defame and belittle the folks they don’t like on an anonymous public forum. Not only that – but district officials have the ability flag and have removed any comments or threads of which they disapprove. Giving them absolute control of a mess.
Back to the Topix documents in that former employee’s secret file… the discussion was about an affair she was alleged to have had with another employee – a school resource officer. She was let go and the guy, a close friend of assistant superintendent Phil Rison, got to keep his job.
Seriously. In her personnel file. You’ll lose your minds if we ever publish the comments.
We hear there’s (thankfully) a lawsuit in the works.
This one has us so outraged that it’s almost impossible to maintain objectivity.
Tags: Corruption · Education · Investigation
Really pains us to have to criticize one of the few actual news organizations in Kentucky. Even more painful to criticize one of a handful of real journalists with guts and skill.
How WFPL can run this story without disclosing the long BIPPS involvement in the religio-right-wing education movement – the push to pay for crazy religious schooling with your taxpayer dollars headed by Frank Simon – we’ll never know.
Calling the Bluegrass Institute a watchdog? Really? That’s worse than pushing Hal Heiner’s Jefferson County Public Schools hit piece that was created by his PR guy. One commenter said it best about that one:
The same can and should be said about this Bluegrass Institute story.
Surely the story’s author remembers when his former employer ditched Jim Waters, the man he is presenting as some legitimate leader and educational pioneer, refusing to allow his weekly column to be published. That employer followed our lead on cutting ties with him in late 2007.
There are tons of reasons it’s just common sense for a news organization not to promote BIPPS/Bluegrass Institute as some wonderful educational leader. Not the least of which involves its recent thin-skinned reactions to public discussion.
Nope, we’re primarily focusing on the Frank Simon crew. The bunch of religio-right-wing hatemongers. The group of people who have spent years and years spreading ill will, attacking public education, trying to kill public pensions and doing the thing fat white guys love to do: causing racial division while attempting to scare a handful of African Americans into believing in their cause(s) with Jesus. The least WFPL could have done was focus a tiny bit on what BIPPS actually is.
There’s not a snowball’s chance in hell that he doesn’t already know all of that. So this must have been a story that was assigned to him or pushed by his bosses who have something to gain (come on – that’s less crazy than the actual story). There’s no way this is a case of facts getting cut during editing. Nada.
Tags: Education · Flashback · Jim Waters · Mainstream Mistake
Here’s Congressman John Yarmuth highlighting just one of man reasons health care reform is working in Kentucky:
It’s not just about making health care affordable. It’s about making it available to people like Will Russell, to folks like us and millions of other people in this country.
Tags: Congress · Health Care · John Yarmuth
December 4th, 2013 · 2 Comments
The Urban County Council voted unanimously Tuesday to pull the plug on a new downtown taxing district, saying it needed more time and support. Imagine that. [H-L]
A majority of young Americans say student debt is a major issue facing the nation, a new poll finds, and many blame colleges for the problem. [HuffPo]
You know all the disclaimers by now: it’s very early, nobody is a declared candidate, most Americans aren’t focused on it yet. No, Rand Paul will not be president. [C-J/AKN]
If the minimum wage had grown at the same rate as the earnings of the top one percent of Americans the federal wage floor would be more than triple the current hourly minimum of $7.25. Instead, the minimum wage has been lower than a poverty wage ever since 1982. [Think Progress]
U.S. Senate candidate hopeful Alison Lundergan Grimes made a campaign sweep through northeastern Kentucky on Monday, stopping in Louisa, Ashland and Olive Hill. [Ashland Independent]
But leading one of the nation’s poorest, sickest states, Beshear has improbably overseen one of the most successful rollouts of Obama’s troubled healthcare overhaul and become, deep in his long public career, a hero to Democrats grasping to find a redeeming figure amid the political wreckage. [LA Times]
A judge sentenced a man convicted of killing a Clay County sheriff more than 40 years ago to life in prison Monday. [WLEX18]
48% of Americans now believe that the United States is in a recession. Duh? [Rasmussen Consumer Index]
Democrat Reginald Thomas leads his two opponents in campaign funds for next Tuesday’s special election in Lexington to succeed Kathy Stein in the state Senate. [H-L]
The rollout of President Obama’s health care law may have deeply disappointed its supporters, but on at least one front, the Affordable Care Act is beating expectations: its cost. [NY Times]
The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights is planning an event next year to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march in Frankfort. [WKYT]
While most Americans like the idea of drug testing for welfare recipients, they LOVE the idea of drug testing for members of Congress. [HuffPo]
We’re sitting on probably the largest McConnell research database in existence. What should we do with the data? [Page One]
While Markos Moulitsas knows a little bit about Kentucky (he’s at least been to the Commonwealth), he’s allowing his outsider brain to influence what he thinks about Kentucky politics. Because – at the moment – Alison Grimes has opposed ACA, er, rather, refused to be up front about specifically what she opposes or supports. He seems to be forgetting that Kentucky voted for Rand Paul. Meaning Democrats voted for someone they knew was a lunatic. [The Hill]
Tags: Alison Grimes · Eastern Kentucky · Economy · Education · Flashback · Health Care · Mitch McConnell · Polling · Poverty · Senate · Special Election · Stats · Steve Beshear · Taxes