Difference between revisions of "Citizens for Government Accountability"

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*cfgagov@yahoo.com
 
*cfgagov@yahoo.com
  
==January 2009 Newsletter==
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==June 2009 Newsletter==
===Judge Jenkins' County Clerk Appointment===
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===County taxpayers now paying utility bills at John Arnold Arena===
Since 2007 it was rumored that county clerk Billy Steve Peak planned to retire before his term was up and County Judge Jody Jenkins would appoint his own cousin, Billy Steve’s son, Trey Peak to fill the clerk’s positionTwo other longtime courthouse employees also asked Judge Jenkins about the clerk’s position.  It is speculated that it was a done deal soon after the November 2006 elections and no one else need apply.
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In an Advocate article titled “What is [[Union County, Kentucky | Union County]] First?” (4-22-09),  [[Judge Jenkins]] was quoted as saying of the convention center/Arnold arena, “So far, it has always been self-funding in operation.”  However, our records request to the judge a week later found that the fiscal court had already been funding the utility bill at the arena for some time, allocating $16,080.22Our records request to the fair board revealed an annual utility bill that averages $1,200 to $1,400 per month.  It is not self-funding when the fiscal court/taxpayers are paying the utility bill!
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U/C FIRST:  Our records request to Union County First provided the following:  funding from fiscal court $85,000/yr.;  salary of  Director of  Community Development  Kim Humphrey  $58,000;  salary of Tourism Dir. Paul Monsour $39,714; office manager $22,048.  A week after receiving their response articles ran in both local papers highlighting their efforts in the county to increase quality of life concerning, walking paths, bike trails, etc., in order to attract tourist. We suggest cleaning up the county drug problem before inviting in tourist. 
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N.W. KY. FORWARD:  [[Union County, Kentucky | Union County]] currently pays $26,600/yr. to North West Ky. Forward, economic development for our area.  They purchased several hundred acres of land on the edge of [[Sebree, Kentucky]] earlier in the decade for an industrial park.  We already have a 300 acre industrial park outside [[Morganfield, Kentucky | Morganfield]] that we can’t fill or keep employers in.  With economic development issues of the county now in the hands of a multi-county organization, and U/C First handling community development, what does the judge-executive do?  Fiscal court only meets twice a month.  Hopefully they are working to help Sturgis with its water and sewer issues, and maybe they could help with the needs of the Sturgis Rest Home. (ref. to Scott Omer’s letter in advocate after ice storm)  Shouldn’t these be bigger priorities for quality of life than paying the utility bill at the John Arnold Arena?
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===Wall Street Buys Another President===
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If you thought Wall Street investment banking and commodity firms were going broke, think again.  In the 2008 election for president, Wall Street gave the largest financial contributions in history.  With Obama out raising his democrat and republican opponents in funding from Wall Street by nearly a 2 to 1 margin.  Wall Street banking and commodity firms gave $152million, 57% to dem.’s ($45mil. directly to Obama). Lobbyists gave $95.8mil. ($74.5mil to Obama & democrats), lawyers (whether with Wall Street firms or other) gave $232mil.(76% to Obama/dems) Others (large banks not on Wall Street) $168.2 million ($110mil. to Obama & dem.’s).<ref>[http://www.opensecrets.org Center for Responsive Politics]</ref>
  
Most [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_County,_Kentucky Union County] residents seem outraged and have asked; how could this happen?  The answer is two fold.  The county ‘leaders’ never adopted the state recommended anti-nepotism laws of 2004If they had this appointment would be illegalThe other reason is on the county voters.  The majority of whom continually elect the same two or three families to run the county over the past 25 years. And the county has been on a downhill slide ever since, in population and good job creationCitizens always get uneducated results from uneducated people.  That is the foundation for hiring people with an educationCitizens can not solely blame Trey Peak’s appointment on Billy Steve and ConnieOthers told the judge they were interested in the position should Billy Steve retireCounty Judge Jenkins has the only authority to make this appointment.
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Wall Street is about return on investment. They gave half a billion dollars in campaign donations and got bailed out at a trillion dollars and counting. Unlike the auto industry, they get to keep their million dollar jobs and bonusesNow that was a good investment, for them.
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====Clintonized====
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The Obama administration wants to blame everything on Bush. But to be fair and honest, the origins of this financial meltdown started under Bill ClintonIn 1993 Clinton signed the free trade agreement with Canada and Mexico that Wall Street and Corp. American wanted (NAFTA)It has sent 3 million good paying jobs to Mexico (source: public citizen.org/nafta facts).  Between ’95 to 2000 the top 14 oil companies merged unregulated into 5 companies. In 1996 Clinton’s re-election campaign took money from the Chinese govt. in return he signed into law (1999) Normal Trade Relations with China, sending millions more jobs there.  Also in ’99 congress passed/ Clinton signed the establishment of unregulated financial derivatives market (see C.D.S. section). This is one of the main culprits in Wall Street’s meltdown.  The sellout of the American worker/consumer should be an impeachable offense,  not Monica.
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====Bushwacked====
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In his 2000 campaign, George Bush vowed to ‘re-visit’  NAFTA and Chinese trade agreements.  Once elected, he did.  He visited Canada, Mexico, and China.  But he continued the Clinton era trade policies, as well as the lack of govt. agency regulation of Wall Street, banks, and oil companiesA war in the mid-east is no excuse for domestic in-actionIt is undeniable Bush handed off to Obama a ‘house fully engulfed in flames’But Clinton left Bush a house soaked in gas with a lit fuseIf only the corp. owned news media had reported this lack of regulation and manipulation of the facts, we would not be in this mess.
  
*'''Damage Control''':  Although the story in the Advocate regarding Trey Peak’s appointment to county clerk made no mention that Judge Jenkins had made the appointment, the story that ran in the Evansville paper covering the Jenkins appointment of the new clerk was pure political damage control.   Few said that Jenkins had done a decent job as judge until this appointment. They must have already forgotten about the two trips/vacations he and his wife took at taxpayer expense (New York ’08, Czech Republic ’07), the jail loss being swept under the rug and the corresponding occupational tax to cover it, the bonus money increase, and no apparent plan to fix any of these taxpayer burdens.  Not to mention the other issues we cover in this newsletter.  
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====Obama Factor; Wall Street and Media Darling====
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Regardless of the media hype, it didn’t take Obama long to show his true colors once he was sworn in as president; Wall Street Green.  Yet another bailout of the haves with the have not’s money.  All with the guidance of the people he said during the campaign he wouldn’t hire (lobbyists/insiders). As reported in the April 5, 2009 [[Evansville, Indiana | Evansville]] paper via the newswire, Obama’s top economic advisor, Larry Summers, was paid $5.2 mil. last year as manager of D.E. Shaw hedge funds, plus $2.7mil. for consulting fees to large investment banks. Obama’s top cabinet picks tax problems have been aptly reported in the media.  This has led many former Obama supporters, such as Bill Black, the top S&L scandal regulator, to denounce Obama’s financial policies, stating “Obama’s financial policies are bad, lack integrity, and violate the rule of law (P.C.A. law-1991). If you put in honest people they will find the financial problems. But that would expose the government and Wall Street connection.”<ref>[http://www.pbs.org]</ref>  With enough time/ taxpayer money, Wall Street will recover, and energy commodities will skyrocket with it, and the consumer will be fleeced again, because no one was held accountable, just bailed out.  
  
*'''Deflect The Blame''':  Many have said they plan to vote against Trey Peak in 2010. But if they vote Judge Jenkins back in he will probably just appoint Trey to some other positionMost Union County voters probably never think that far in advance, even on election day. That’s how the same families stay in officeThe history of the Union County voting record is probably on Jenkins’ sideUnion County voters have never been good at electing the most educated or experienced for the job, or removing them from office for mismanagement, tax increases, etc.  But then what do you really expect in a county that’s education level ranks it in the bottom 8% (u/c school system website) in a state that ranks in the bottom 3 nationallyHere’s hoping we can change that image in 2010.
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====Crisis Vs. Scandal====
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Ever notice that politicians and the corporate owned news media refer to all Wall Street and political wrongdoings as a crisis and not a scandal?  Here’s why: '''''in a crisis no one is really to blame'''''Everyone is expected to tighten their belt and tough it out. Convenient for the guiltyA scandal denotes wrongdoingThis calls for investigations and accountability (fines, jail, etc.) to make sure the culprits payUnconvenient for the politicians and their big corp. donors. Don’t be misled by the media mislabelingIf they can get us to believe political/financial misdoings are a ‘crisis’ and not a ‘scandal’, then we are less likely to demand accountability from our politicians.
  
Big Paychecks:  On December 12, 2008,  [http://citizensgovernment.com/ Citizens For Government Accountability]  Executive-Director  J.C. McElroy sent a certified open records request via the [[Kentucky Open Records Act]] to County Clerk Billy Steve Peak requesting Mr. Peak’s salary as clerk and the salary of his wife Connie. Mr. Peak signed for the letter of request but never responded, as required by law. On December 22nd  the CFGA contacted the Ky. State Attorney Generals Office  regarding this unanswered request.  The atty. generals actions were the following day to Mr. Peak’s officeThe following information was received from county clerk Billy Steve Peak on December 31, 2009,  dated  the 29th, regarding a request.
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====Prelude To Financial Disaster - Credit Default Swap Markets====
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A C.D.S. is a derivative contract in which the buyer makes a series of payments to the seller, and then receives a payoff if the credit instrument (bond, mortgage, loan) goes into default. This can be caused by a company going into a restructuring, bankruptcy, or simply having its credit downgraded. The difference between insurance and the CDS market is; the CDS market is unregulated, and the seller of the CDS is not required to maintain cash reserves to payoff the buyers. This is where the govt./taxpayers have stepped in to bail them out.  The buyer of a CDS doesn’t have to own the credit exposure, or even suffer a loss from a default event. With insurance, the insured is required to own something of value (a home,etc.)You don’t have to own any part of a company or its bonds to buy/sell against its success or failure. It is simply a bet that something might happen to a company. You can bet that without regulation or an end to the CDS markets, the recently bailed out Wall Street firms at the center of this mess are already working up CDS’s for the Obama administrations toxic asset program of bad mortgages partially caused by CDS’s in the first place.
  
**Billy Steve Peak – Union County Clerk- salary $75,143   
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====No End to Enron====
**Connie Peak – Deputy Clerk – salary $50,767.  
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Most think of Enron as a corporate ghost whose stock and accounting scandal of the late 1990’s ended with federal prosecution in this decade, leaving all its employees without a job. This was only true for the average worker.  As shown on a January 2009 segment of 60 minutes, Enron energy commodity traders were the most sought after by Wall Street commodity firms as soon as Enron collapsed. They had mastered a technique for driving up energy commodity prices by market manipulation.  Since their employment infusion into the Wall Street firms, we have all seen and felt at the pump and elsewhere, just how good they are at price manipulation, with no regulation.  With the current administration not holding Wall Street/banking accountable for this mess, the same as the previous administration, it is no wonder oil is still at $50/barrel in a global recession. Shouldn’t the president put an end to energy commodity trading for the greater good of the national economy. It has already helped destroy the economy.  Does he need a better reason to end it?
  
It is easy to see why they wanted their son to have this positionThese salaries are atrociousTo simply oversee the filing of documents, etcLike most all elected position – No education or experience requiredCompared to private sector jobs of this nature, pay would be 1/3 to ½  this amount.
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====Ole T.R. to the Rescue====
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Price gouging by big oil companies, manipulation and corruption on Wall Street and in Washington are nothing new to America.  We went through all this 100 years agoThen ole T.R. – Teddy Roosevelt became PresidentHis use of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act broke up big oil, insurance companies, and other monopolies, and sent politicians in both parties to jailHe once said, “When they call the roll in the senate, the senators don’t know whether to answer present or guilty.”  Hopefully, next election we can elect someone cut from his cloth, not from Wall Street’sWe as voters must first learn to vote for a candidate that raises the least from Wall Street, not the most.
  
*'''N.T.U. Weighs In''': The [http://www.ntu.org/ National Taxpayers Union] states that the reason state and local governments run big deficits is overpaying salaries and benefits far beyond what a regular business would pay. They state that govt. unions, better know as elected officials associations, have successfully lobbied the legislature for and gotten much greater pay and what politicians call ‘entitlement’ benefits for themselves, thus costing taxpayers millions more a year.  The N.T.U.’s  research and analysis shows in Kentucky the savings in state taxes alone would be $152 per person, or a net savings to the state govt. taxpayers of over $252 million a year.
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====Notable Quote====
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“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation then by deflation, the banks and all the corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all their property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.” Thomas Jefferson - 1802
  
'''Foot note''': school teachers are the only government employees with a union. Elected officials have ‘associations’. (i.e. County Judges’ Assc., County Atty. Assc., Jailers Assc. , Clerks Assc., etc.) They all pay an annual membership fee (if they join) of roughly $1,000/yrIn Union County elected officials have their dues paid by the county taxpayers out of their office expenses.
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===Think the ice storm broke the power companies profits? Think again.===
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Give credit to all the power company line workers, and those that came from other areas to help during the January ice storm. They all did a great job under adverse conditions.  However, most are just happy to still have a job (Ky. Utilities), as many of their former co-workers have been ‘downsized’ over the past decade for greater corporate profits. While monthly fees to the customer, nearly non-existent back when K.U. was really K.U. are now aplenty and increasing. Don’t worry about the ice storm costs breaking the power companies piggy banks. All the  major electric utilities in the area effected by the storm, Eon (K.U.&LG&E), Kenergy, and Vectren in Evansville, Indiana, are flush with net profits.   
  
===Union County School System Salaries===
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====Kenergy====
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Already had asked for a rate hike (6% request, got 4%) prior to the ice storm.  [[Kenergy]] had the largest area of damage, as it covers many miles of rural areas.  In a March 2, 2009 Henderson Gleaner article, CEO Sandy Novick stated the ice storm cost $21.3 million, but said Kenergy (being a co-op) will receive 87% re-imbursement for ice storm damage repairs from federal and state government, leaving out of pocket cost at $2.8 million.  Kenergy’s net profits for 2007 (most recent available on their website) shows a $16 million net profit pre-asset depreciation for accounting purposes, and $3.5 million net profit after depreciation (acct. purposes).  '''Kenergy CEO Sandy Novick’s 2008 salary/compensation: $274,554.'''
  
Prior to the recent school board elections, the board saw fit to raise our property taxes once againFortunately, two new board members were electedHopefully they can bring a better measure of negotiating skills and common economic sense on behalf of the taxpayers and parentsHere are some facts received by Citizen For Government Accountability via an open records request of the school system central office.
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====E.on (K.U./LG&E)====
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In 1998 [[Kentucky Utilities]] sold to LG&E (obviously for the benefit of the CEO/top stock holders, not the customers). British owned PoweGen bought LG&E in 2000 (same reasoning).  In 2002 the sale of PowerGen to German owned [[E.on]] was completed, making E.on the worlds largest investor (stock)owned utility companyE.on/K.U. had already asked the [[Kentucky Public Service Commission]] (PSC) for a rate increase and higher customer fees, pre-ice storm(Isn’t it nice to be charged to be a customer when you don’t have a choice).  A March 11, 2009 [[Louisville Courier-Journal]] article reported. E on’s net profits increased 9% in 2008 to $7.1 billion, up from $6.5 bil. In 2007.  E.on executives expected profits to decrease in 2009 back to 2008 levels, (explains why they asked for a rate hike).  E.on owns several power companies in Ky.,  K.U. & LG&E accounted for  $986.9 million of the 2008 net profits'''Chairman/ President/ CEO Victor Staffieri total compensation for 2007 (most recent full year available to us) was  $3,728,861.''' (compensation for kenergy, k.u./lg&e(eon), ceo’s received via records request of ky. psc) 
  
There are 166 full-time teachers in the [[Union County Schools | Union County School System]].   School board pay is $75 per meeting with a cap at $3,000 per calendar yearThis is the only cost to taxpayers that is not an over payment. The school board has the same taxing authority as the judge-executive and magistrates.  In contrast, the county magistrates make over $13,000/yr. each plus benefits. The fiscal court meets twice a monthAll magistrates are full-time employed elsewhere, but the judge-executive allows them to claim full-time hours as magistrates in order to receive healthcare benefits at taxpayer expenseThus making Union County magistrates some of the highest paid per capita in the state. (as reported to us via state auditors figures ’05-’06)  Salaries of note are:
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====Vectren====
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Evansville, Indiana based [[Vectren | Vectren’s]] 2008 financial report released 2-18-09 showed all of its corp. divisions earning net profitsIt’s electric utility division earned $111.1 million in net-profits, compared to $106.5 mil./2007It estimated ice storm damage at between $15 to $20 million2008 salary/compensation for its CEO Neil Ellerbrook $744,713 salary, plus other compensation, total earnings $2,996,691.  '''President/COO  Carl Chapman $431,539 salary, plus other comp., total earnings $1,215,369.''' (received via request from vectren proxy)
*'''Director of Pupil Personnel''':  $89,104
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*'''Director of Special Education''': $84,048
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*'''District Technology''': $59,138
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*'''Instructional Coordinator''': $84,048
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*'''Assistant Superintendent/Treasurer''': $87,663  
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*'''UCHS Principal''': $83,203
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*'''UCHS Assistant Principal''': $76,538 
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*'''UCMS Principal''': $84,048 
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*'''UCMS Assistant Principal''': $75,440 
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*'''Principals at''': [[Morganfield Elementary School]] $78,333 ;[[Sturgis Elementary School]] $77,174 ;[[Uniontown Elementary School]] $81,270
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===Jenkins Occupational Tax===
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====Public Service Commission====
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[[Kentucky Public Service Commission]] is a 3 member board appointed by the governor (2 attorneys and 1 CPA).  We were told they consider rate increases based on whether a utility has enough net profits  ‘going forward’ to be stable, and a complex accounting method is used to make considerations. Seldom does a utility get the entire increase they ask for.  We hope they also consider if the average person can afford the increases.
  
If the job loss wasn’t bad enough, former Rayloc employees that received severance pay found out when they received their severance checks that the county had withheld the occupational tax, making it an (un)occupational tax for those workersWill Trelleborg be next?   EZ Access laid off roughly 15 of its 20 employees back in December.
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====De-Monopolization====
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Wouldn’t it be nice to have strong regulation and de-monopolization of utility territories, thus providing the consumer a choice among electric utility providers.  We asked the PSC this question.  Their response was to try and compare it to de-regulation, which is not the same thing. Their further response was similar to the utility companies, and that of AT&T in the 1980’s when the govt. was about to de-monopolize them. (i.e. no one would have service, companies wouldn’t share lines, etc. That’s where the strong regulation comes in.) No company wants to operate in a regulated open market when they can have a territory monopoly to protect profits''Not happy with your utility bill or the new increases? Call your state legislator at 1-800-372-7181, as they control the PSC via statute.''
  
The job situation isn’t all bad.  Ameriqual Foods (Evansville) hired nearly 400 workers in SeptemberSonoco Products (Henderson) hired less than 10 new workers at years end, as well as a few others in the Evansville-Henderson area that have added a few jobsThe new coal mines is still looking for workers who can pass the pre-employment drug screenSources report that 2 out of 3 people that have applied at the mines have failed the second drug test prior to employment.
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===If you want change at local government you have to know how to vote for it===
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With an irate public over [[Judge-Executive Jenkins]] lavish taxpayer funded trips to the Czech-Republic in 2007 and to New York City in 2008, and his continued appointments of family members; most recently his cousin [[Trey Peak]] to fill his father’s county clerk position ([[CFGA January 2009 Newsletter | January 2009 newsletter]]) there should be plenty of people interested in running for the offices of judge-executive and county clerk in 2010Potential candidates and voters be ware of the political game: It is simple political strategy 101  for the political ‘power brokers’ behind the incumbents to want to keep them in office for their benefit. When they realize citizens are fed up and want change, then someone will always seek to unseat the incumbents. They always encourage as many to run as possible in the primary, even donating to some. They know that political statistics show the more people that run in a primary election always favors the incumbentIt simply splits the votes among the intelligent who want change, thus the incumbent wins the primary electionWhereas a one on one primary race pitting the incumbent against a viable candidate most often unseats the current office holder.  We hope in the next primary election that the democrats seeking to unseat these incumbents will discuss amongst themselves  who has the best chance of winning before throwing their hat in the ring, or has the sense for the common cause for change to withdraw and then support the candidate with the best chance to unseat the current office holder.  Likewise, there is no disgrace in running as an independent or republican, to ensure an even better chance of change should the democratic primary not provide it.  
  
Aside from taking the occupational tax from Rayloc workers severance pay, the current Jenkins administration has also increased the extra pay to the county treasurer and the two women in the judge’s office from $18,000 to  $22,000/yr.   All three women carry the extra title of assistant county treasurer in order to legally collect the extra pay  for doing this part of the treasurer’s jobThis makes the county treasurer an assistant to herself, in an office that does not really exist. 
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'''STOP THE NEPOTISM!'''  It was great to see a civic minded leader (Bob Henning) propose a pre-written anti-nepotism ordinance to Judge Jenkins and the magistrates. Hopefully, they will follow his leadership and adopt the ordinance. This would be a start to bringing some dignity back to the courthouseOtherwise, there will be nothing from stopping the judge from appointing more family, or Trey Peak from hiring his wife once his mother retires if he is elected in 2010
  
When the first Judge-Executive Jenkins hired the current county treasurer she was not qualified to hold office under state law.  Representative [[John Arnold]] sponsored and got passed [http://kentuckyvotes.org/Legislation.aspx?SessionID=22&ChamberLegislationTypeID=41&Number=403&op=View House Bill 403] in less than a yearH.B. 403 changed state law in order to hire someone with limited or no experience under the age of 25, provided they had an education.   
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===Drug problem creates poor education and lack of good jobs in Union County===
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Everyone believes there is no place like home; and [[Union County, Kentucky | Union County]] is no exception. Community pride is a good thing to haveYet many wonder why no company wants to locate a business hereEveryone knows that parents here don’t want their kids educated in the county’s public school system. Potential employers can easily access the county’s education statistics which ranks us in the bottom 8% of the state (u/c school system website), as well as the fact that Union County has one of the highest per capita substance abuse rates in the state (state census reports).  Not good statistics for attracting new businesses.   
  
In Comparison:  Other small counties we spoke with that also have an occupational tax to help support their jail (the other option is a countywide insurance tax) pay no extra money to the treasurer to collect or administer the computer program that handles the tax, nor have they hired extra assistants or paid any extra money to anyone.
 
  
===Bailout Country Club/John Arnold Arena===
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Having students studying for the questions on the state mandated [[CATS]] test should increase test scores, but this only teaches them how to take that test, it does not educate them.  It is unfortunate that children are getting hooked on drugs at an earlier age seemingly on a yearly basis.  This is  not just a Union County problem.  However, what does it say for your county when even the assistant county attorney  was married to a federally convicted drug dealer, before, during his incarceration, and for a brief period after his release.
  
As first reported on W.M.S.K.,  Judge Jenkins is hoping to get taxpayer funding in order for the Union County Tourism Department to buyout or take over the indebted Breckinridge Golf Course/ Country Club as well as the Arnold Arena.
 
  
If the country club members cannot financially support the golf course, then why should the taxpayer? Taxpayers already partially funded the golf course in [[Sturgis, Kentucky | Sturgis]]Kentucky State Auditors reports show government owned golf courses don’t make money anywhere in the state. They lose money, big time.   One important question to ask is: What experience does the Union County Tourism Department have at successfully running or managing a golf course and or a convention center? The same as the fiscal court, NONE!    Hopefully, a private buyer will step upTaxpayers just spent $250,000 for a club house at the Sturgis golf course.
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Union County Asst. County Attorney, Julie A. Wallace, was married to Mike Herron, son of long-time state politician Paul ‘Pie’ Herron.  Mike has several arrests over the past decades involving drugs, but never a full conviction and sentencing until the fed’s got involved. Mike’s incarceration in federal prison was from 7-31-03 to 8-30-06, for being caught trafficking drugs in a multi-year drug investigationHe was arrested in Febuary 2002, then bonded out the next day until his sentencing on July 7, 2003 (source: bop/doj/federal bureau of prisons, & u.s. marshals service). Assistant County Attorney Julie Wallace’s marriage to Mike Herron was from January 11, 2002 to September 1, 2006 (source: civil action # 06-CI-00207)Ms. Wallace  was appointed Union County’s first ever, and current assistant county attorney by  County Attorney Brucie Moore.
  
The Union County Fair & Expositions Center, (a.k.a. John Arnold Arena) is nice to have, but was overbuilt for a county this size.  Since it opened, it hasn’t been able to pay its own upkeep or operational expenses without state taxpayer assistance.  More importantly; If Union County elected leaders can’t even financially run a jail that is paid for without an occupational tax, then how can they expect us to reasonable believe they can run a golf course that is already broke, and an arena/convention center  that has been bleeding taxpayer money from day one.
 
  
Every one wants a bail outHaven’t taxpayer’s dollars been misused enough?
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We are not making accusations against Ms. Wallace, just these facts of record.  However, it should be of concern to all that our county attorney’s office would have an employee, especially an attorney, married to a convicted drug dealer.  Some may think we are just ‘airing’ their dirty laundry, and this should be kept ‘under the rug’.  However, when it concerns a county (taxpayer funded) office, it is all of our dirty laundry, and every citizen has a right to know the details.   
  
===Issues To Watch===   
 
*'''Spec Building''': The fiscal court recently authorized nearly $850,000 to finish the Spec building in order to accommodate EZ Access.  EZ Access laid off all but 5 people in December.   
 
*'''County Taxpayer Loan via Kaco to Breckinridge Services''': As reported in our July ’08 newsletter the county judge and magistrates borrowed $1 million dollars from Ky. Assc. of Counties (KACO)  to loan to the non-profit company formed by local businessman  William ‘skeezie’ Beaven.  Breckinridge Services corporate non-profit filing with the Kentucky Secretary of State’s office states it is in the nursing home and assisted living service.  We wish them the best of success in this venture.  Should the facility fail, the county (taxpayers) will be responsible for repaying this bond debt to KACO.  We would like to think that the County Judge and magistrates were smart enough to get Union County residents a cut rate at this facility, since we are footing $1million of the initial cost.  If not, most won’t be able to afford to stay there.
 
  
===Local Candidate Funding===
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If we continue with the current trend of substance abuse by adults and our youth with limited accountability, and a double standard for those in elected/appointed office, then our education system and job creation will continue to decline.  Changes can not be asked for, they must be demanded from those in office.  If we don’t stand up and demand changes for our county, then what kind of role models are we for the children of this community.  In order to attract good paying jobs and create a better learning environment in our schools we must first make changes in the way this county is run.  Simply hiring a few new people who answer to the same ole faces will only get us more of the same.  Albert Einstein said it best, “You can not solve a problem with the same mentality that created the problem to begin with.” 
Ever wonder who funds local candidates and markets them to voters as leaders?
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Several people have asked us this question. The following information was obtained by request of the Ky. Registry of Election Finance Office, (kref.ky.gov)  for the 2006 general election in Union County for the following.  Largest contributor to the Union County Democratic Executive Committee:  State [[Democratic Party]] of Ky.  $1,000 ;  Brucie Moore $1,000.  Next largest contributor was under $100. and unnamed.
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===In Closing===
Largest contributor to Judge-Executive Jody Jenkins campaign:  Brucie and Charles Moore  $1,750 ;  next largest contributor was $500 from the County Atty. from [[Fulton County, Kentucky]],  Richard Major.
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Thanks to all who have asked to receive our bi-annual newsletter via emailCurrent and past newsletters can be viewed at [http://www.freedomkentucky.org/index.php?title=Citizens_for_Government_Accountability FreedomKentucky.org] then click on our highlighted group name [[Citizens for Government Accountability]] to open our webpage.  Donations can be sent to our organization at: C.F.G.A., IncP.O. Box 4 , Morganfield, Ky. 42437.    Thanks to those that have contributed.  
 
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===In Closing===
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We would like to thank all those who have commented on our past newsletters, even the 2 or 3 negative onesThose that told us; “ we should not be reporting the facts of Judge Jenkins and his wife taking trips/vacations to N.Y. and the Czech Republic at taxpayer expense, because they felt all great leaders deserve a vacation at taxpayer expense. The average person just doesn’t need to be made aware of it.”  We strongly disagree with this line of thinking. Being friendly and popular makes you a good politician, not a great leaderA good politician is seldom much of a leader. Thanks to those that have contacted us (cfgagov@yahoo.com) and asked to receive our bi-annual newsletter via emailIt saves us time and money.
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==CFGA Newsletter Archives==
 
==CFGA Newsletter Archives==

Revision as of 07:11, 27 May 2009

Citizens For Government Accountability



CFGA is a non-profit organization that fights for accountability in Union County, Kentucky and surrounding counties. CFGA formed in the spring of 2006 around in response to public policy issues such as the county jail and occupational taxes, and how local taxpayer money is spent on a variety of public buildings. CFGA obtains its information through interviews, formal open records requests, and attention to detail. [1] The organization publishes a regular newsletter featuring the latest information about issues concerning Union County.

Personnel

  • Executive Director - J.C. McElroy
  • Director - Peter J. Van
  • Director - Elizabeth Freer

Contact

  • cfgagov@yahoo.com

June 2009 Newsletter

County taxpayers now paying utility bills at John Arnold Arena

In an Advocate article titled “What is Union County First?” (4-22-09), Judge Jenkins was quoted as saying of the convention center/Arnold arena, “So far, it has always been self-funding in operation.” However, our records request to the judge a week later found that the fiscal court had already been funding the utility bill at the arena for some time, allocating $16,080.22. Our records request to the fair board revealed an annual utility bill that averages $1,200 to $1,400 per month. It is not self-funding when the fiscal court/taxpayers are paying the utility bill! U/C FIRST: Our records request to Union County First provided the following: funding from fiscal court $85,000/yr.; salary of Director of Community Development Kim Humphrey $58,000; salary of Tourism Dir. Paul Monsour $39,714; office manager $22,048. A week after receiving their response articles ran in both local papers highlighting their efforts in the county to increase quality of life concerning, walking paths, bike trails, etc., in order to attract tourist. We suggest cleaning up the county drug problem before inviting in tourist. N.W. KY. FORWARD: Union County currently pays $26,600/yr. to North West Ky. Forward, economic development for our area. They purchased several hundred acres of land on the edge of Sebree, Kentucky earlier in the decade for an industrial park. We already have a 300 acre industrial park outside Morganfield that we can’t fill or keep employers in. With economic development issues of the county now in the hands of a multi-county organization, and U/C First handling community development, what does the judge-executive do? Fiscal court only meets twice a month. Hopefully they are working to help Sturgis with its water and sewer issues, and maybe they could help with the needs of the Sturgis Rest Home. (ref. to Scott Omer’s letter in advocate after ice storm) Shouldn’t these be bigger priorities for quality of life than paying the utility bill at the John Arnold Arena?

Wall Street Buys Another President

If you thought Wall Street investment banking and commodity firms were going broke, think again. In the 2008 election for president, Wall Street gave the largest financial contributions in history. With Obama out raising his democrat and republican opponents in funding from Wall Street by nearly a 2 to 1 margin. Wall Street banking and commodity firms gave $152million, 57% to dem.’s ($45mil. directly to Obama). Lobbyists gave $95.8mil. ($74.5mil to Obama & democrats), lawyers (whether with Wall Street firms or other) gave $232mil.(76% to Obama/dems) Others (large banks not on Wall Street) $168.2 million ($110mil. to Obama & dem.’s).[2]

Wall Street is about return on investment. They gave half a billion dollars in campaign donations and got bailed out at a trillion dollars and counting. Unlike the auto industry, they get to keep their million dollar jobs and bonuses. Now that was a good investment, for them.

Clintonized

The Obama administration wants to blame everything on Bush. But to be fair and honest, the origins of this financial meltdown started under Bill Clinton. In 1993 Clinton signed the free trade agreement with Canada and Mexico that Wall Street and Corp. American wanted (NAFTA). It has sent 3 million good paying jobs to Mexico (source: public citizen.org/nafta facts). Between ’95 to 2000 the top 14 oil companies merged unregulated into 5 companies. In 1996 Clinton’s re-election campaign took money from the Chinese govt. in return he signed into law (1999) Normal Trade Relations with China, sending millions more jobs there. Also in ’99 congress passed/ Clinton signed the establishment of unregulated financial derivatives market (see C.D.S. section). This is one of the main culprits in Wall Street’s meltdown. The sellout of the American worker/consumer should be an impeachable offense, not Monica.

Bushwacked

In his 2000 campaign, George Bush vowed to ‘re-visit’ NAFTA and Chinese trade agreements. Once elected, he did. He visited Canada, Mexico, and China. But he continued the Clinton era trade policies, as well as the lack of govt. agency regulation of Wall Street, banks, and oil companies. A war in the mid-east is no excuse for domestic in-action. It is undeniable Bush handed off to Obama a ‘house fully engulfed in flames’. But Clinton left Bush a house soaked in gas with a lit fuse. If only the corp. owned news media had reported this lack of regulation and manipulation of the facts, we would not be in this mess.

Obama Factor; Wall Street and Media Darling

Regardless of the media hype, it didn’t take Obama long to show his true colors once he was sworn in as president; Wall Street Green. Yet another bailout of the haves with the have not’s money. All with the guidance of the people he said during the campaign he wouldn’t hire (lobbyists/insiders). As reported in the April 5, 2009 Evansville paper via the newswire, Obama’s top economic advisor, Larry Summers, was paid $5.2 mil. last year as manager of D.E. Shaw hedge funds, plus $2.7mil. for consulting fees to large investment banks. Obama’s top cabinet picks tax problems have been aptly reported in the media. This has led many former Obama supporters, such as Bill Black, the top S&L scandal regulator, to denounce Obama’s financial policies, stating “Obama’s financial policies are bad, lack integrity, and violate the rule of law (P.C.A. law-1991). If you put in honest people they will find the financial problems. But that would expose the government and Wall Street connection.”[3] With enough time/ taxpayer money, Wall Street will recover, and energy commodities will skyrocket with it, and the consumer will be fleeced again, because no one was held accountable, just bailed out.

Crisis Vs. Scandal

Ever notice that politicians and the corporate owned news media refer to all Wall Street and political wrongdoings as a crisis and not a scandal? Here’s why: in a crisis no one is really to blame. Everyone is expected to tighten their belt and tough it out. Convenient for the guilty. A scandal denotes wrongdoing. This calls for investigations and accountability (fines, jail, etc.) to make sure the culprits pay. Unconvenient for the politicians and their big corp. donors. Don’t be misled by the media mislabeling. If they can get us to believe political/financial misdoings are a ‘crisis’ and not a ‘scandal’, then we are less likely to demand accountability from our politicians.

Prelude To Financial Disaster - Credit Default Swap Markets

A C.D.S. is a derivative contract in which the buyer makes a series of payments to the seller, and then receives a payoff if the credit instrument (bond, mortgage, loan) goes into default. This can be caused by a company going into a restructuring, bankruptcy, or simply having its credit downgraded. The difference between insurance and the CDS market is; the CDS market is unregulated, and the seller of the CDS is not required to maintain cash reserves to payoff the buyers. This is where the govt./taxpayers have stepped in to bail them out. The buyer of a CDS doesn’t have to own the credit exposure, or even suffer a loss from a default event. With insurance, the insured is required to own something of value (a home,etc.). You don’t have to own any part of a company or its bonds to buy/sell against its success or failure. It is simply a bet that something might happen to a company. You can bet that without regulation or an end to the CDS markets, the recently bailed out Wall Street firms at the center of this mess are already working up CDS’s for the Obama administrations toxic asset program of bad mortgages partially caused by CDS’s in the first place.

No End to Enron

Most think of Enron as a corporate ghost whose stock and accounting scandal of the late 1990’s ended with federal prosecution in this decade, leaving all its employees without a job. This was only true for the average worker. As shown on a January 2009 segment of 60 minutes, Enron energy commodity traders were the most sought after by Wall Street commodity firms as soon as Enron collapsed. They had mastered a technique for driving up energy commodity prices by market manipulation. Since their employment infusion into the Wall Street firms, we have all seen and felt at the pump and elsewhere, just how good they are at price manipulation, with no regulation. With the current administration not holding Wall Street/banking accountable for this mess, the same as the previous administration, it is no wonder oil is still at $50/barrel in a global recession. Shouldn’t the president put an end to energy commodity trading for the greater good of the national economy. It has already helped destroy the economy. Does he need a better reason to end it?

Ole T.R. to the Rescue

Price gouging by big oil companies, manipulation and corruption on Wall Street and in Washington are nothing new to America. We went through all this 100 years ago. Then ole T.R. – Teddy Roosevelt became President. His use of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act broke up big oil, insurance companies, and other monopolies, and sent politicians in both parties to jail. He once said, “When they call the roll in the senate, the senators don’t know whether to answer present or guilty.” Hopefully, next election we can elect someone cut from his cloth, not from Wall Street’s. We as voters must first learn to vote for a candidate that raises the least from Wall Street, not the most.

Notable Quote

“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation then by deflation, the banks and all the corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all their property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.” Thomas Jefferson - 1802

Think the ice storm broke the power companies profits? Think again.

Give credit to all the power company line workers, and those that came from other areas to help during the January ice storm. They all did a great job under adverse conditions. However, most are just happy to still have a job (Ky. Utilities), as many of their former co-workers have been ‘downsized’ over the past decade for greater corporate profits. While monthly fees to the customer, nearly non-existent back when K.U. was really K.U. are now aplenty and increasing. Don’t worry about the ice storm costs breaking the power companies piggy banks. All the major electric utilities in the area effected by the storm, Eon (K.U.&LG&E), Kenergy, and Vectren in Evansville, Indiana, are flush with net profits.

Kenergy

Already had asked for a rate hike (6% request, got 4%) prior to the ice storm. Kenergy had the largest area of damage, as it covers many miles of rural areas. In a March 2, 2009 Henderson Gleaner article, CEO Sandy Novick stated the ice storm cost $21.3 million, but said Kenergy (being a co-op) will receive 87% re-imbursement for ice storm damage repairs from federal and state government, leaving out of pocket cost at $2.8 million. Kenergy’s net profits for 2007 (most recent available on their website) shows a $16 million net profit pre-asset depreciation for accounting purposes, and $3.5 million net profit after depreciation (acct. purposes). Kenergy CEO Sandy Novick’s 2008 salary/compensation: $274,554.

E.on (K.U./LG&E)

In 1998 Kentucky Utilities sold to LG&E (obviously for the benefit of the CEO/top stock holders, not the customers). British owned PoweGen bought LG&E in 2000 (same reasoning). In 2002 the sale of PowerGen to German owned E.on was completed, making E.on the worlds largest investor (stock)owned utility company. E.on/K.U. had already asked the Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) for a rate increase and higher customer fees, pre-ice storm. (Isn’t it nice to be charged to be a customer when you don’t have a choice). A March 11, 2009 Louisville Courier-Journal article reported. E on’s net profits increased 9% in 2008 to $7.1 billion, up from $6.5 bil. In 2007. E.on executives expected profits to decrease in 2009 back to 2008 levels, (explains why they asked for a rate hike). E.on owns several power companies in Ky., K.U. & LG&E accounted for $986.9 million of the 2008 net profits. Chairman/ President/ CEO Victor Staffieri total compensation for 2007 (most recent full year available to us) was $3,728,861. (compensation for kenergy, k.u./lg&e(eon), ceo’s received via records request of ky. psc)

Vectren

Evansville, Indiana based Vectren’s 2008 financial report released 2-18-09 showed all of its corp. divisions earning net profits. It’s electric utility division earned $111.1 million in net-profits, compared to $106.5 mil./2007. It estimated ice storm damage at between $15 to $20 million. 2008 salary/compensation for its CEO Neil Ellerbrook $744,713 salary, plus other compensation, total earnings $2,996,691. President/COO Carl Chapman $431,539 salary, plus other comp., total earnings $1,215,369. (received via request from vectren proxy)

Public Service Commission

Kentucky Public Service Commission is a 3 member board appointed by the governor (2 attorneys and 1 CPA). We were told they consider rate increases based on whether a utility has enough net profits ‘going forward’ to be stable, and a complex accounting method is used to make considerations. Seldom does a utility get the entire increase they ask for. We hope they also consider if the average person can afford the increases.

De-Monopolization

Wouldn’t it be nice to have strong regulation and de-monopolization of utility territories, thus providing the consumer a choice among electric utility providers. We asked the PSC this question. Their response was to try and compare it to de-regulation, which is not the same thing. Their further response was similar to the utility companies, and that of AT&T in the 1980’s when the govt. was about to de-monopolize them. (i.e. no one would have service, companies wouldn’t share lines, etc. That’s where the strong regulation comes in.) No company wants to operate in a regulated open market when they can have a territory monopoly to protect profits. Not happy with your utility bill or the new increases? Call your state legislator at 1-800-372-7181, as they control the PSC via statute.

If you want change at local government you have to know how to vote for it

With an irate public over Judge-Executive Jenkins lavish taxpayer funded trips to the Czech-Republic in 2007 and to New York City in 2008, and his continued appointments of family members; most recently his cousin Trey Peak to fill his father’s county clerk position ( January 2009 newsletter) there should be plenty of people interested in running for the offices of judge-executive and county clerk in 2010. Potential candidates and voters be ware of the political game: It is simple political strategy 101 for the political ‘power brokers’ behind the incumbents to want to keep them in office for their benefit. When they realize citizens are fed up and want change, then someone will always seek to unseat the incumbents. They always encourage as many to run as possible in the primary, even donating to some. They know that political statistics show the more people that run in a primary election always favors the incumbent. It simply splits the votes among the intelligent who want change, thus the incumbent wins the primary election. Whereas a one on one primary race pitting the incumbent against a viable candidate most often unseats the current office holder. We hope in the next primary election that the democrats seeking to unseat these incumbents will discuss amongst themselves who has the best chance of winning before throwing their hat in the ring, or has the sense for the common cause for change to withdraw and then support the candidate with the best chance to unseat the current office holder. Likewise, there is no disgrace in running as an independent or republican, to ensure an even better chance of change should the democratic primary not provide it.

STOP THE NEPOTISM! It was great to see a civic minded leader (Bob Henning) propose a pre-written anti-nepotism ordinance to Judge Jenkins and the magistrates. Hopefully, they will follow his leadership and adopt the ordinance. This would be a start to bringing some dignity back to the courthouse. Otherwise, there will be nothing from stopping the judge from appointing more family, or Trey Peak from hiring his wife once his mother retires if he is elected in 2010

Drug problem creates poor education and lack of good jobs in Union County

Everyone believes there is no place like home; and Union County is no exception. Community pride is a good thing to have. Yet many wonder why no company wants to locate a business here. Everyone knows that parents here don’t want their kids educated in the county’s public school system. Potential employers can easily access the county’s education statistics which ranks us in the bottom 8% of the state (u/c school system website), as well as the fact that Union County has one of the highest per capita substance abuse rates in the state (state census reports). Not good statistics for attracting new businesses.


Having students studying for the questions on the state mandated CATS test should increase test scores, but this only teaches them how to take that test, it does not educate them. It is unfortunate that children are getting hooked on drugs at an earlier age seemingly on a yearly basis. This is not just a Union County problem. However, what does it say for your county when even the assistant county attorney was married to a federally convicted drug dealer, before, during his incarceration, and for a brief period after his release.


Union County Asst. County Attorney, Julie A. Wallace, was married to Mike Herron, son of long-time state politician Paul ‘Pie’ Herron. Mike has several arrests over the past decades involving drugs, but never a full conviction and sentencing until the fed’s got involved. Mike’s incarceration in federal prison was from 7-31-03 to 8-30-06, for being caught trafficking drugs in a multi-year drug investigation. He was arrested in Febuary 2002, then bonded out the next day until his sentencing on July 7, 2003 (source: bop/doj/federal bureau of prisons, & u.s. marshals service). Assistant County Attorney Julie Wallace’s marriage to Mike Herron was from January 11, 2002 to September 1, 2006 (source: civil action # 06-CI-00207). Ms. Wallace was appointed Union County’s first ever, and current assistant county attorney by County Attorney Brucie Moore.


We are not making accusations against Ms. Wallace, just these facts of record. However, it should be of concern to all that our county attorney’s office would have an employee, especially an attorney, married to a convicted drug dealer. Some may think we are just ‘airing’ their dirty laundry, and this should be kept ‘under the rug’. However, when it concerns a county (taxpayer funded) office, it is all of our dirty laundry, and every citizen has a right to know the details.


If we continue with the current trend of substance abuse by adults and our youth with limited accountability, and a double standard for those in elected/appointed office, then our education system and job creation will continue to decline. Changes can not be asked for, they must be demanded from those in office. If we don’t stand up and demand changes for our county, then what kind of role models are we for the children of this community. In order to attract good paying jobs and create a better learning environment in our schools we must first make changes in the way this county is run. Simply hiring a few new people who answer to the same ole faces will only get us more of the same. Albert Einstein said it best, “You can not solve a problem with the same mentality that created the problem to begin with.”


In Closing

Thanks to all who have asked to receive our bi-annual newsletter via email. Current and past newsletters can be viewed at FreedomKentucky.org then click on our highlighted group name Citizens for Government Accountability to open our webpage. Donations can be sent to our organization at: C.F.G.A., Inc. P.O. Box 4 , Morganfield, Ky. 42437. Thanks to those that have contributed.


CFGA Newsletter Archives


See Also

References

  1. Citizens For Government Accountability Website
  2. Center for Responsive Politics
  3. [1]