Adam Edelen’s The New Jonathan Miller

No wonder Valarie Honeycutt Spears’ reporting on Montgomery County is permitted and excused – with me personally attacked – for daring to criticize her glaring, ahem, errors. It’s because the paper still has no clue how the educational system works, no clue that accrued leave and vacation days are always paid out, that many administration folks end up as borderline millionaires in a short period of time. Even in small town school districts. This is just a juicy, quick-hit scandal for them to grab onto and it’ll be forgotten in a matter of days. If they ever once – truly – cared about this issue? You’d have read about the horrors in education that I’ve reported for the past decade in the papers of that paper. [H-L]

Donald Trump’s policy agenda would quickly push the national debt to its highest level in history, according to a new report. [HuffPo]

PEE ALERT! Carly Fiorina is campaigning for Rand Paul in Kentucky, reuniting the two one-time presidential candidates as part of the Kentucky senator’s slow but steady re-election campaign. [C-J/AKN]

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Monday called on the Senate to take immediate action this week to address Puerto Rico’s $70 billion debt crisis before the critical July 1 deadline for the island territory’s next debt payments. [Reuters]

More than two years of work by Cave City officials and others culminated Thursday in a groundbreaking for the Chapatcha Industrial Park off of Mammoth Cave Street within the city’s limits. [Glasgow Daily Times]

Last June, a gunman opened fire at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church – a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina. [ProPublica]

A second reading of the City of Wurtland’s 2016-17 budget for the new fiscal year was approved at a special meeting held by the city commission Thursday afternoon. The voting was followed by a discussion about raising water rates. [Ashland Independent]

Many avoided mentioning that LGBT people were the victims — at least until a few days later, when they began reminding everybody what they truly think about gay people. [ThinkProgress]

A $5,000 budget amendment to support a project of Downtown Morehead Inc., triggered comments from Rowan County Fiscal Court members about how such changes should be handled in the future. [The Morehead News]

Transgender people are banned from serving in the US armed forces, yet an estimated 12,800 do, the vast majority in secret. Jane, a master sergeant in the Air Force, has hidden her gender identity from the military for 25 years. She hopes a policy review announced last year will allow her finally to be herself. [BBC]

WARNING! RIDICULOUS AUTOPLAY VIDEO! It’s tough to take Adam Edelen seriously because he wanted to be on the Foundation board. [WLKY]

As investigators probe the background of Omar Mateen, whose attack on Pulse nightclub in Orlando left 49 people dead, they say he bore few warning signs of radicalization. [NPR]

State lawmakers from across the South will be in Lexington July 9-13 for a conference that will include speeches by University of Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari and the dynamic political duo of Mary Matalin and James Carville. Reminder: When Stumbo & Stivers raise funds from private donors, those donors are going to expect something in return. [H-L]

At least seven people were injured in stabbings Sunday when neo-Nazi demonstrators and counter-protesters clashed outside the capitol building in Sacramento, California. [HuffPo]

Everything Is Still A Giant Dumpster Fire

Income inequality in Kentucky has grown significantly since 1979 and Fayette County is among the counties with the greatest inequality, says a study released last week by the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy. [H-L]

A top official in the George W. Bush administration has become the most prominent Republican to endorse Hillary Clinton for president. [HuffPo]

In an attempt to address concerns raised by Franklin Circuit Court last week, Gov. Matt Bevin on Monday reorganized for the second time the state board that nominates candidates for him to appoint as workers’ compensation judges. [C-J/AKN]

In the days following the slayings of 49 people at a gay nightclub, members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community pulled together in prayer vigils and benefit drag shows and basked in a broad showing of support many said they had never experienced. [Reuters]

Louisville media is essentially a dumpster fire of awful. Maybe one of the most disgusting bits of hype we’ve seen in years. [The ‘Ville Voice]

Campaigns always say the candidate is driving the strategy. For the first time in modern presidential politics, it might be true with Donald Trump. [Politico]

No, it’s not just your imagination — the rich are getting richer, in Kentucky and across the United States. [Ronnie Ellis]

People in Orlando have dressed as guardian angels to protect the funeral of one of the Orlando shooting victims from homophobic protesters. [BBC]

Overdose-related fatalities in Boyd County nearly doubled in the last year, jumping from 13 to 24. [Ashland Independent]

Today I write with a heavy heart arising from the tragedy that occurred in the early morning hours of Sunday at a gay nightclub in Orlando, the neighbor to the east of my Diocese of St. Petersburg. [WaPo]

Here’s your chance to make sure someone like Joshua Powell or Terry Holliday don’t screw up your school district! The search for a new superintendent of Glasgow Independent Schools will continue with the help of a district parent. The GIS Board of Education is seeking a parent to serve on its superintendent screening committee. [Glasgow Daily Times]

The charade of silence used to work for House Republicans. As the death toll from mass shootings rose, and rose, and rose, the feudal serfs of the NRA would engage in a moment of silence. [The Nation]

Just in case you needed another reason to avoid Frankfort. At least this time it doesn’t appear to have anything to do with corrupt law enforcement. [H-L]

A lot is said publicly about the challenges that new technologies – particularly the Internet – can create for people, in terms of the spread of extremism, invasions into our privacy, and the security of our data. Social media has also been the subject of scrutiny, for the way in which it can create a platform for trolling and other vicious behaviour. But while new technology can of course create new problems, it is my belief that innovation in technology is a force for good, and that these advancements can do a lot more good than the harm that is often talked about. [Prince William]

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People Are Probably Less Excited For The McConnell Book Than They Are About Louisville’s Murder Rate

The U.S Department of Labor has funded a grant worth $3.4 million to help retrain out-of-work coal miners in Kentucky. [H-L]

Donald Trump scorns traditional presidential candidate standards. The Donald doesn’t do what’s expected. And he certainly doesn’t do what he tells other candidates they must do. [HuffPo]

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who learned an early lesson about the value of patience and persistence during a childhood bout with polio, has some advice for Republicans alarmed about the prospect of having presidential candidate Donald Trump at the top of the ticket and in the White House. [C-J/AKN]

After a rampage that left 14 people dead in San Bernardino, key U.S. lawmakers pledged to seek a law requiring technology companies to give law enforcement agencies a “back door” to encrypted communications and electronic devices, such as the iPhone used by one of the shooters. [Reuters]

The more than 400,000 people who received health insurance from Kentucky’s expanded Medicaid program will likely not have to pay monthly premiums under Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s reforms, but they could have reduced benefits, the state’s Medicaid commissioner said Friday. [Richmond Register]

It turns out that a big chunk of Trump’s speaking fees revolve around ACN, a controversial multilevel marketing company that’s been accused of bilking people out of millions of dollars. If presented in proper context by the press, Trump’s long-running and lucrative relationship with ACN would essentially eliminate questions about Clinton’s speeches. And if queries persisted, the press would have to demand Trump also release nearly a decade worth of transcripts. [MMFA]

Most schools in Kentucky have bully prevention programs, but not all top school administrators have received training in prevention of bullying, according to a study by the Kentucky Center for School Safety. [Ashland Independent]

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says Edward Snowden performed a “public service” by triggering a debate over surveillance techniques, but still must pay a penalty for illegally leaking a trove of classified intelligence documents. [CNN]

Jobs, jobs, jobs – listen to Kentucky politicians from either party and you quickly learn his or her “top priority is good jobs and more good jobs.” [Ronnie Ellis]

For years, Zofran was the most popular morning-sickness medication in the U.S. Now it’s being accused of causing birth defects. The larger issue is a drug-safety system that excludes women from clinical trials, potentially putting them and their babies at risk. [ProPublica]

Way to go, Morehead. A man is behind bars after police say he stabbed another during a confrontation at the Community Soup Kitchen. [The Morehead News]

Donald Trump could have taken a victory lap last week. Instead, he went on a grudge tour. [WaPo]

Hotel and motel stays in Fayette County will cost more this fall. On Thursday, the Urban County Council voted unanimously to increase the Fayette County hotel and motel tax by 2.5 percentage points to pay for a nearly $250 million overhaul and expansion of the Lexington Convention Center. That means hotel taxes will rise to 9.5 percent. [H-L]

As the nation once again honors American war dead on Memorial Day, instead of spouting the usual nationalistic platitudes that that U.S. soldiers fought to keep the country “safe and free,” perhaps we should analyze whether that is really true. [HuffPo]

Your Long Primary Nightmare’s Almost Over

How to be a terrible education reporter part ten thousand: give transphobic, homophobic bigots the freedom to spew nonsense. Way to go for screwing up something important up again. [H-L]

President Barack Obama says his economic legacy is a lot better than he gets credit for. “I actually compare our economic performance to how, historically, countries that have wrenching financial crises perform,” he told The New York Times recently. “By that measure, we probably managed this better than any large economy on Earth in modern history.” [HuffPo]

The tip arrived in a phone call from a West Virginia bureaucrat to a staffer in the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services – radioactive oil-and-gas drilling waste was headed our way. [C-J/AKN]

If it were up to Republicans, the entire earth would be plundered before the end of the decade. Democrats and American Indian tribes are ramping up their pressure on President Obama to bypass Congress and unilaterally designate a new national monument to protect 1.7 million acres near the Grand Canyon. [The Hill]

The elimination process of faculty positions at Morehead State University could begin as early as next week, according to President Wayne Andrews. [Ashland Independent]

A U.S. Senate committee has approved legislation that would require American women to register for the military draft, setting the stage for a fight in Congress over the historic shift in policy later this year. [Reuters]

C. Wesley Morgan of Richmond is making his second attempt to win election to the state House of Representative’s 81st District. He is one of two candiates seeking the Republican nomination in Tuesday’s primary. [Richmond Register]

A group of researchers at Harvard Medical School has found that medical industry payments to physicians in Massachusetts are associated with higher rates of prescribing brand-name drugs that treat high cholesterol. [ProPublica]

Almost a year after a major flood ripped through parts of Rowan County last July, Virgil and Bonnie Cornett say they are still waiting for state highway officials to keep their word and finish cleaning their property. [The Morehead News]

Nearly half a century after the saga of “Mountain Jane Doe” began, local authorities in the small mining town of Harlan, Kentucky, say they are one step closer to identifying the murder victim first recovered from a remote trail outside of town in 1969. [Reveal]

Four candidates are seeking to represent the Kentucky House of Representative’s 23rd District, and on Tuesday Barren County voters will choose who will get to advance to the general election in November. [Glasgow Daily Times]

It has emerged that the largest US pharmaceutical company, Pfizer, recently took steps to prevent its drugs being used in lethal injections. [BBC]

In May 1998, seven Democrats battled for Central Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District seat, including two state senators, two future mayors of Lexington, a former aide to President Bill Clinton and the Madison County attorney. That was then. [John Cheves]

In the modern era of Congress, it’s a rare day when lawmakers vote on legislation actually intended to go to the president’s desk. It’s an even rarer occasion when that legislation is meant to help individuals battling opioid addiction — as is the case with the bills the House passed on Wednesday and the raft of legislation it’s expected to pass in the next few days. [HuffPo]

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Is Ray Jones Just Bad Or Is He The Worst?

It’s cute how Ray Jones hits poor people for having difficulty paying property taxes. It’s even cuter that he had to trot his wife out to sling the mud, as he doesn’t have the balls to stand up without some creepy-ass guy like John Will Stacy standing beside him. Gag a maggot. [H-L]

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) won Tuesday’s Democratic presidential primary in West Virginia, edging out rival Hillary Clinton for a majority of the state’s 29 delegates. [HuffPo]

Former State Rep. Don Pasley resigned as an executive adviser to Attorney General Andy Beshear Monday afternoon shortly after The Courier-Journal informed Beshear’s office that Pasley was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol nearly six weeks ago. [C-J/AKN]

Hillary Clinton is nearing the end of a long Democratic primary that will almost certainly leave her as the party’s presidential nominee. [The Hill]

The Ashland Board of City Commissioners is mulling over a proposed budget for next fiscal year that would decrease expenses to the city utility fund by 7.3 percent. [Ashland Independent]

Hundreds of climate change activists in Washington state and New York mobilized on Saturday as part of a global protest against fossil fuels, event organizers said. [Reuters]

Buzz Carloftis said he was elected Rockcastle County judge/executive five times without the help of political insiders. He promises to take that independent attitude to Frankfort if elected to represent the 71st District in the House of Representatives. [Richmond Register]

A dream for 100 years, the National Museum of African American History and Culture promises to become an instant favorite when it opens Sept. 24, its soaring spaces and magical views of the Mall a fitting setting for its tale of African American history and achievement. [WaPo]

State election officials expect a low turnout in the Tuesday primary election, but the ballot features important contests for the Democratic presidential nomination, U.S. senator, U.S. congressional districts and key state house races. [Ronnie Ellis]

Donald Trump’s racist campaign corresponded with its white nationalist delegate long after the alleged database error. [Mother Jones]

Members of the Cave City Tourism and Convention Commission met in a special meeting Friday morning, during which they continued their closed session from Monday regarding a personnel matter. [Glasgow Daily Times]

While it’s impolite and politically counterproductive, if we want to accurately identify the analytic error that caused so many of us to dismiss Trump, we must return to the idiocy question. The particular idiocy involves both the party’s elites and its voters. [NY Magazine]

Here’s YET ANOTHER instance of Valarie Honeycutt Spears dropping the ball. How can you write about Richard Hughes, who wants badly to get on the Fayette County Board of Education, and not mention his shenanigans? It’s clear that Spears is intentionally misreporting nearly everything she’s touched recently. There’s no way this isn’t intentional. [H-L]

Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland may give off the vibe that he’s an unassuming, middle-of-the-road candidate waiting patiently on Senate action regarding his confirmation. [HuffPo]

Spears: Why Kentucky Can’t Have Nice Things

The Herald-Leader finally weighed in on the Montgomery County Schools-Joshua Powell scandal and its reporter, Valarie Honeycutt Spears, produced quite possibly some of the worst educational journalism this decade. From half-assed reporting to giving Powell the final word, it’s a shitshow of awful. (That may be an understatement, I admit.)

Some excerpts:

Former Montgomery County Superintendent Joshua Powell said Friday he is appealing the revocation of his superintendent and principal certificates by the Education Professional Standards Board.


Powell, 41, said in an interview he didn’t think his certificates should be eligible for revocation until after his appeal, which under Kentucky law is heard by a circuit court.


“It is important to note that I adhered to every law and regulation and did so in an obsessive manner,” Powell said in his statement to the Herald-Leader. “I often had multiple attorneys preview and approve actions, just as in every allegation against me. The findings were based entirely on hearsay from disgruntled employees. The 2,000 pages of exhibits, including corrective action plans and supportive documentation, far exceeded the norm, yet (were) deemed irrelevant. Likewise, the countless witnesses who supported my actions were ignored. And, the supportive witnesses were harassed, sanctioned and demoted or fired from the district for their support.”

Powell said the agencies that took action against him “have performed a variety of unethical and illegal activities in the attempt to retaliate against me. Their actions have harmed numerous, fine educators in the process as well as placed a death sentence on public education in the Commonwealth. Believe me when I say that this is something that I will not forgive,” the statement said.

“ … I will maintain my ethics and hold them accountable in an appropriate manner,” the statement said. “Those people are the antithesis of leadership and are the very last people who should be governing the Commonwealth education system.

“For now, I am trying to improve my health and, more importantly, take care of my family that I have neglected during my pursuit to improve Kentucky’s public education system for the last nine years,” he said. “I expect to never be employed in public education again and very much look forward to the future, especially in regards to never again dealing with governmental rejects. I sincerely hope that the Commonwealth will improve and I always wanted it to be among the elite in the nation,” his statement said.

See what I mean? Missed opportunity at literally every turn.

Spears has allowed this story to slip through her fingertips for years. It’s like she wants to do worse than Nancy Rodriguez did for the Courier-Journal when repeatedly dropping the ball with the Robert Felner scandal. She’s done jack shit on the reporting front when it comes to this mess beyond glossing over the EPSB’s recommended order. It’s a real shame and a dereliction of her duty as a journalist with a focus on education. I’ve bitten my tongue for a couple years but enough is enough – she’s really fucking bad at her job and the H-L needs to bring in someone more capable and reliable. They had a solid reporter on the education beat when Ryan Alessi was around but it’s been an afterthought for several years.

Valarie Honeycutt Spears may work for the most important newspaper in the Commonwealth but she’s worse than Nancy Rodriguez when it comes to ability to produce. Drive-by “journalism” like this is intentional. You can’t tell me she’s unaware. Even her colleagues have taken to expressing their frustration with her coverage of this matter with me privately. It’s as mind-boggling as it was watching Rodriquez lie about Felner for months on end.

When you find yourself wondering why education is screwed in Kentucky? Look to people like her for consistently dropping the ball. From the current messes in Jefferson County Public Schools to the problems in Menifee County to Joshua Powell, it’s like folks like Spears are intentionally oblivious to reality.

A little less Twitter hype:

And a lot more focus on actually doing what she claims:

Would go a long way.

I just flipping can’t.

Harsh? Yes. But I’m not going to sugarcoat this. The education of your children is more important than some pat-a-cake reporter’s hurt feelings. Kentucky deserves better.

Check back at 12:30 for the latest installment of the scandalous Powell transcript. Spears can play dumb but we won’t.

Kentucky’s Educational System Rewards Incompetence And Corruption Like The Rest Of Its Good Old Boy Agencies

Longtime readers will be familiar with the name Nancy Rodriguez. She’s the former Courier-Journal education reporter who intentionally (if it was unintentional, then she’s not fit to hold a job, no bones about it) misled readers, withheld information, sat on her hands and actually attempted to disparage my reporting on UofL/Robert Felner in 2008-2009. Only to end up with egg on her face when Felner went to federal prison. But she scored a sweet job as a spokesperson with the Kentucky Department of Education shortly after she played the church mouse game with scandal coverage.

I’ve mentioned her a bit recently in reporting on the Education Professional Standards Board case against Joshua Powell. Primarily because I see similar patterns emerging in the (lack of) coverage of the EPSB-Powell scandal(s) at the Herald-Leader, which I believe to be Kentucky’s most important media outlet. (Translation: Never surprises me to see this kind of behavior at the C-J but it is beyond bizarre for the H-L to screw up this badly.)

So check out this press release from Rodriguez at KDE. It’s all about “accountability” and the most recent Kentucky Department of Education/Kentucky Board of Education meeting.

Just read it all:


Now that you’ve had a chance to digest it for a few minutes, you’ll probably walk away with the sense that there is no real accountability in education in Kentucky. Not unless there’s someone putting up a fight to make sure something happens.

I wanted to share the release above to give readers a feel for what Rodriguez does on a daily basis. She went from sitting on her hands and effectively half-assing coverage of one of the most insane, multi-pronged education scandals in recent Kentucky history… to scoring a high-paying job with an agency that benefited in part from her half-assery. (Is that a thing? I’m making half-assery a thing.)

That’s what happens in Kentucky. You get rewarded for being terrible at your job. Be it media or government or both. This is just another sad example. Perpetuate ignorance and corruption, reap a big pay day. The good old boy system.

As a bonus, check out the Education Professional Standards Board’s report (from Executive Director of Secrecy and Open Meetings Violations, Jimmy Adams):


Just serves to further illustrate the well-manicured puppies and rainbows storyline that these folks so desperately want to become mainstream. You’d think there’s never anything going wrong, that there are no major scandals, no nothing. Utopia. Everything is golden and getting better by the day.

It’s bullshit and more people need to stand up and start calling it out.

This is why Kentucky can’t have nice things.

No, Rodriguez isn’t the only former C-J staffer to get a high-paying job with a state government agency she covered. There are several others. She’s just the only one who played her violin while Rome burned. She may be a nice person but that doesn’t change a thing. I mean, Tim Longmeyer is a super-nice person.

Spare me your butthurt. I have no time for sugarcoating.