Difference between revisions of "Citizens for Government Accountability"

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*cfgagov@yahoo.com
 
*cfgagov@yahoo.com
  
==June 2009 Newsletter==
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==January 2010 Newsletter==
===County taxpayers now paying utility bills at John Arnold Arena===
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===Herald-Leader Uncovers Massive Personal Spending by KACo Leaders – Jody Jenkins on Board of Directors===
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 $16,080.22.  Our records request to the fair board revealed an annual utility bill that averages $1,200 to $1,400 per monthIt is not self-funding when the fiscal court/taxpayers are paying the utility bill!
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As first reported locally on WMSK, the [[Lexington Herald-Leader]] (LHL), via use of the [[Kentucky Open Records Act]], uncovered that the top five officials with the [[Kentucky Association of Counties]] (KACo), had charged $600,000 on KACo credit cards over the past 2 yearsThese bills are ultimately paid for by state taxpayers.  These charges were for travel, expensive meals, gifts for themselves and the other board members, and associates of KACoMost of the expenses were travel and hotel rooms, some at $450/night, but also charges at two [[Louisville, Kentucky | Louisville]] strip clubs, and a $445 bill with a [[Lexington, Kentucky | Lexington]] escort serviceIt was also reported on WMSK that [[Union County, Kentucky | Union County]] Judge-Executive Jody Jenkins is on the board of directors at KACo.  
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 $22,048A 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 parkWe 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>
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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 bonuses.  Now that was a good investment, for them.
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Some of Judge Jenkins’ lavish trips that have been reported on in previous [[CFGA]] newsletters were KACo sponsored. We wonder how could someone with no political or business experience get elected judge-executive and put on the 34 member board of directors at [[Frankfort, Kentucky | Frankfort]] based KACo at the same time, unless you were a family friend of KACo Executive-Director Bob ArnoldOf NoteBoard members are paid $100 a meeting in addition to their local salary, plus travel expenses to KACo, and other meetings, are billed back to county taxpayers. (see next news article for further details) 
====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 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.
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====Obama Factor; Wall Street and Media Darling====
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The Lexington Herald-Leader’s  June 28, 2009 article on KACo spending habits and it’s executive-director, Bob Arnold, embarrassed many elected people into long overdue actionFrom the LHL’s  own time-line of events:  July 1st.; state auditor Crit Luallen announced her office would investigate KACo, and other agencies exposed in the LHL  newspaper articlesJuly 16th;  KACo Executive-Director Bob Arnold tells several hundred local officials at the summer Kentucky Judge-Executives and magistrates conference (which Union County Judge-Executive Jody Jenkins attended)  in regards to the excessive spending at taxpayer expense at KACo; they need to; quote: “get over it.”  The LHL reported he then received a standing ovation from the county leaders.  August 16th;  The LHL details a string of firings earlier this decade by KACo’s  top executive  that cost the group/taxpayers nearly $2 million in lawsuits.   August 25th;  Bob Arnold states he is under no pressure by KACo board of directors to resign. August 26th;  Lawmakers grill KACo and Ky. League of Cities officials over spending scandals reported by the LHL. After the hearing Rep. Adam Koenig (R) Erlanger, calls for Mr. Arnold to resign. KACo board members praise Mr. Arnold for his workSeptember 4th;  Bob Arnold resigns as KACo Executive-Director, but is allowed by his contract with the board to keep his $178,000 a year salary through 2010.  (we are unsure whether he gets to keep the use of the agency car; a BMW  S.U.V.)    
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 GreenYet another bailout of the haves with the have not’s moneyAll 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 mediaThis 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.   
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====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====
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KACo is a state organization providing insurance and financing to [[Kentucky Counties | Kentucky counties]].  Purchasing insurance from KACo is not mandatory, however all counties pay a membership fee. In a Sept. 22, 2009 meeting between Union County Judge-Exe. Jody Jenkins and CFGA Exe.-Director  J.C. McElroy; Jenkins stated he had never taken bids for the insurance the county had with KACo. ( Union County paid  $196,359 to KACo in the fiscal year ending  June 30, 2009).  Of Note:  KACo is the agency  that Judge Jenkins and the magistrates of the Union County Fiscal Court  recently borrowed $1 million dollars from on behalf of Breckinridge Services, in order to help them finance their nursing home and assisted living facility.
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 outThe 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.
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====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====
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The Lexington Herald-Leader won a national journalism award from the Associated Press for its series that includes the KACo ordeal titled  “Its Your Money”. Their investigative reporting resulted in the firings and/or resignations of several heads of state/county/city agenciesYou can read the full articles by visiting their website at: [http://www.kentucky.com Kentucky.com] then click on the ‘watchdog’ link on their homepage. (It is great to see that not all newspapers are controlled by corrupt political parties and/or the local courthouse officials.)    
Price gouging by big oil companies, manipulation and corruption on Wall Street and in Washington are nothing new to AmericaWe went through all this 100 years ago. Then 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 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.
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(info. for this story received via records request of u/c judge-exe office, year end financials, and herald-leader website)
  
====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.===
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'''Notable quote: “If you don’t read the newspaper you are uninformedIf you do read your local paper, you are misinformed”Mark Twain'''
Give credit to all the power company line workers, and those that came from other areas to help during the January ice stormThey all did a great job under adverse conditions.  However, most are just happy to still have a job (Kentucky 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.  
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====Kenergy====
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===Caution Ahead:  Local Good Ole Boys at ‘Work’  With Your Tax Dollars===  
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 areasIn 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 millionKenergy’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.'''
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If you think lavish spending at taxpayer expense only happens with the ‘Good Ole Boys’ in Frankfort, think againUnion County is deep in  ‘Good Ole Boy’ tradition. However, not all Kentucky counties spend tax dollars in this mannerUnfortunately the state good ole boys always praise the local elected good ole boys here as ‘leaders’, in order to play the public as fools to be fleeced, by keeping them in office.
  
====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 PowerGen 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 [[Kentucky]],  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====
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The following information was gathered from our open records request to the Union County Judge’s Office for his county issued credit card records for the past two years, as well as the 2008-2009 fiscal year financial statements.  In all about 200 pages of county financials, credit card receipts, and travel vouchers.
Evansville, Indiana based [[Vectren | 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)
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*County Judge-Executive pay(Jody Jenkins): $72,813         
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*2006 Judge’s pay (Frank Eiter): $64,144
  
====Public Service Commission====
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This figure does not include the extra pay Jenkins receives for being on the KACo board of directors.   
[[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 forWe hope they also consider if the average person can afford the increases.
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====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===
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Current Union County magistrate pay is $15,000/yr. (to attend 2 fiscal court meetings a month, and to not ‘rock the boat’)
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 incumbent. It 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 holderLikewise, 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.  
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Judge Jenkins and Fiscal Court Traveling at your expense:  2008 out-of-county travel expenses for the county judge, magistrates, and treasurer was: $11,439.84 with Judge Jenkins accounting for $7,500 of this amount. January to August 2009 records show: $7,607.96  in out-of-county travel expenses with Judge Jenkins accounting for $4,742.81    Of Note: Joe Clements was the only magistrate to not submit out of county travel expenses for re-imbursement by taxpayers.  We spoke to him by phone to confirm this. He stated he did not believe the taxpayers should pay his hotel and meals on the road to meetings/conferences since participation is voluntary. We agree with this line of thinking.  It is why we pay a state representative to go to Frankfort(The magistrate pay at just over $15,000 is twice what other counties of this size pay.)
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Cha-Ching!:  Judge Jenkins Has Taxpayer Credit Card – Will Travel:    In past newsletters we have covered some of Judge Jenkins’ travel at taxpayer expense. The Czech Republic trip in 2007, New York City in May of 2008, and several more we have since learned of.  All trips were organized through GRADD or KACo;  organizations that Jenkins was appointed to board member status soon after being elected county judge-executive.  
  
'''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===
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Total charges on the county credit card with the judge-executives name on it were  $21,519.06 for the past fiscal yearAlthough not all the charges were travel expenses for the judge, the out-of-county charges were for hotel rooms, meals, etc.  However, local dining establishments were also on the list of food/beverage charges. Not all travel expenses/meals are by county credit card, but also by re-imbursement from paid receipts submitted.
Everyone believes there is no place like home; and [[Union County, Kentucky | Union County]] is no exceptionCommunity 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 systemPotential 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.   
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“The Great Chicken Caper”: No receipt jumped out more to us than one of the smallest ones Judge Jenkins submitted for re-imbursement.  Just under $6.50 for a chicken basket, candy bar, and soft drink, purchased in [[Eddyville, Kentucky | Eddyville, Ky]]Come on Jody!  Your paying yourself nearly $73k a year off the taxpayers, getting paid $100 a meeting to go to KACo board meetings in Frankfort, plus re-imbursement for travel, and you hit us for six dollars and change for a ‘blanking’ chicken basket meal. GIVE US A BREAK!  
  
  
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 themIt is unfortunate that children are getting hooked on drugs at an earlier age seemingly on a yearly basisThis 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.
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Questionable Expenses from the Union County Financial Report:
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*Nutri-System  $156.45   
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*Custom Biker Wear $1,050.95
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One business owner and friend of Jody Jenkins donated nearly $500 to the 2006 Jody Jenkins for Judge-Executive campaign, and went from receiving no contracts with the county to receiving nearly $96,000 in county contracts between July 2008 and June 2009.  (information taken from union county expenditures by vendors, and Jody Jenkins 2006 campaign finance reports)
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Fools Rush In: In the 2006 judge-executive election several people did political endorsements stating they were for Jody Jenkins. They neglected to say why they were for a candidate to run the county’s business, even though he had no business, management or political experience. Just a good ole boy connection to some locals with connections to some people in Frankfort, who are the problem.  With the current Judge Jenkins taking trips all over the state, country, world, at taxpayer expense via his connections to KACo, and GRADD, one would think the people who did these ads are feeling a bit foolish by now.  Surely, no-one with any common sense could consider any of this as ’leadership’ in the right direction.  The only good paying jobs that have been created here are the government jobs; two of which were appointed by the judge to do county business the judge used to do. (of note: alliance coal announce the new mine during the previous judge’s brief tenure). We should mention that the fiscal court voted to spend nearly $850,000 to renovate the spec. building to accommodate EZ-Access and their 8 or so employees. 
  
  
Union County Assistant 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 involvedMike’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.
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Re-electing people who misuse tax dollars, regardless of whether you like them or not, or are related to them, is the same as telling them it is okay to do soIf we are not intelligent enough as voters to hold local officials accountable, then how can we expect change at any level of government.      Hopefully, the 2010 local election will provide a different outcome than usual, even though Judge-Exe. Jenkins appointed his own cousin, Trey Peak, to the county clerks position, who will oversee the vote count. The CFGA directors have already contacted state and federal authorities to voice our concern on this matter.   
  
  
We are not making accusations against Ms. Wallace, just these facts of recordHowever, 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.   
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===Occupational Tax:  Who Pays, and Who Doesn’t Have To=== 
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Many have asked why coal miners don’t have to pay the occupational tax, when they are the only ones making good, stable payAlthough we can not supply an adequate answer other than to ask the county judge or your magistrate, we do agree that the local small businessman, and those working for minimum wage, or slightly above, can ill afford to have one cent more taken from them. The occupational tax brought in $910,434 to the General Fund, with $600,000 being sent to the Jail FundThe Union County General Fund had a prior year surplus of $2,261,171.  Not uncommon for this county, which has CD’s in its various operating funds which establishes a yearly surplus per account. (figures taken from u/c financial statement f.y. 08-09)  Of Note: The extra pay to the three women in the judge’s office to administer the tax is no longer paid through the fictitious office of assistant county treasurerIt is now paid through another office that doesn’t exist;  county tax administrator.
  
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===School System Budget and Info. of Interest Now On The Web===
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[[Union County Public Schools | Union County school system]] general information as well as their budget of revenue and expenses is now on line via our friends at [[Main Page | FreedomKentucky]].  Total revenue from the 2010 budget:  $21,752,215.  Use the following exact link to open the page:  www.freedomkentucky.org/index.php?title=union county public schools
  
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 declineChanges can not be asked for, they must be demanded from those in officeIf we don’t stand up and demand changes for our county, then what kind of role models are we for the children of this communityIn 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 runSimply 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.  
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===$80 A Barrel Oil In The ‘Great Recession’ ??===
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Most economists stated oil at $28 a barrel was ‘overpriced’ in 2004, when the economy appeared strongNow in the biggest recession since the great depression, oil is near $80/barrelSupply and demand figures have shown an overall glut the past two years, and oil supply keeping up or outpacing demand much of the past decade, despite what some in the industry stateSo why the run-up and continued high gas/oil prices with demand worldwide going down the tubes for nearly two years?  As covered in our June 2009 newsletter, the Wall Street talking heads have blamed everyone from OPEC to storms in the oceansThe real culprits are the Wall Street commodity trading firms themselves. Some of the very ones taxpayers recently bailed out. The same ones that were Obama’s biggest contributors (opensecrets.org/2008 campaign contributions).   
  
   
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===In Closing=== 
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Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy recently released their research stating that oil/gas commodity speculators are now 50% of the positions in the futures market, since commodity regulations were eased by the government in 2000.   Now these aforementioned campaign contributors are lobbying the Obama administration not to impose more regulations on commodity trading.   This how we got into this financial/economic mess in the first place, the people our taxes pay to regulate and hold accountable not doing their job.  Honest government regulations brings about slow, steady, dependable economic growth for all to prosper from. Without regulation we get market bubbles for a few years that burst and then the bubble blowers get bailed out by the government as repayment for all the campaign contributions.  
Special thanks to our outgoing directors. Your efforts are greatly appreciatedThanks to all who have asked to receive our bi-annual newsletter via email. Current 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, Kentucky | Morganfield, Ky]]. 42437.    Thanks to those that have contributed.  
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What once made this country a great economic nation was that the average Joe had a good job, could afford the necessities of life, and many extras, and even afford to travel. With gas between 2 and 3 dollars a gallon, he/she can’t even afford to drive past the job they used to have before the plant moved abroad. With Obama’s hands politically tied to his biggest campaign contributors (Wall Street) can he really be expected to deliver anything meaningful from his campaign promises. Maybe its not to early to start calling him Jimmy Obama, or Barack O’Carter.
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If you don’t do your part to hold politicians accountable by contacting them to voice your opinion, then how high will oil/gas be when/if the economy really does turn aroundYou can log on to www.StopOilSpeculationNow.com  to email your support for ending speculative trading of oil/gas futures.  It is a great website, lots of information, setup by the airline industry. As high gas prices are breaking them too.      
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'''Notable Quote:  “We demand that big business give the people a square deal. Teddy Roosevelt  11-15-1913'''
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==CFGA Newsletter Archives==
 
==CFGA Newsletter Archives==

Revision as of 08:06, 29 October 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

Contact

  • cfgagov@yahoo.com

January 2010 Newsletter

Herald-Leader Uncovers Massive Personal Spending by KACo Leaders – Jody Jenkins on Board of Directors

As first reported locally on WMSK, the Lexington Herald-Leader (LHL), via use of the Kentucky Open Records Act, uncovered that the top five officials with the Kentucky Association of Counties (KACo), had charged $600,000 on KACo credit cards over the past 2 years. These bills are ultimately paid for by state taxpayers. These charges were for travel, expensive meals, gifts for themselves and the other board members, and associates of KACo. Most of the expenses were travel and hotel rooms, some at $450/night, but also charges at two Louisville strip clubs, and a $445 bill with a Lexington escort service. It was also reported on WMSK that Union County Judge-Executive Jody Jenkins is on the board of directors at KACo.


Some of Judge Jenkins’ lavish trips that have been reported on in previous CFGA newsletters were KACo sponsored. We wonder how could someone with no political or business experience get elected judge-executive and put on the 34 member board of directors at Frankfort based KACo at the same time, unless you were a family friend of KACo Executive-Director Bob Arnold. Of Note: Board members are paid $100 a meeting in addition to their local salary, plus travel expenses to KACo, and other meetings, are billed back to county taxpayers. (see next news article for further details)


The Lexington Herald-Leader’s June 28, 2009 article on KACo spending habits and it’s executive-director, Bob Arnold, embarrassed many elected people into long overdue action. From the LHL’s own time-line of events: July 1st.; state auditor Crit Luallen announced her office would investigate KACo, and other agencies exposed in the LHL newspaper articles. July 16th; KACo Executive-Director Bob Arnold tells several hundred local officials at the summer Kentucky Judge-Executives and magistrates conference (which Union County Judge-Executive Jody Jenkins attended) in regards to the excessive spending at taxpayer expense at KACo; they need to; quote: “get over it.” The LHL reported he then received a standing ovation from the county leaders. August 16th; The LHL details a string of firings earlier this decade by KACo’s top executive that cost the group/taxpayers nearly $2 million in lawsuits. August 25th; Bob Arnold states he is under no pressure by KACo board of directors to resign. August 26th; Lawmakers grill KACo and Ky. League of Cities officials over spending scandals reported by the LHL. After the hearing Rep. Adam Koenig (R) Erlanger, calls for Mr. Arnold to resign. KACo board members praise Mr. Arnold for his work. September 4th; Bob Arnold resigns as KACo Executive-Director, but is allowed by his contract with the board to keep his $178,000 a year salary through 2010. (we are unsure whether he gets to keep the use of the agency car; a BMW S.U.V.)


KACo is a state organization providing insurance and financing to Kentucky counties. Purchasing insurance from KACo is not mandatory, however all counties pay a membership fee. In a Sept. 22, 2009 meeting between Union County Judge-Exe. Jody Jenkins and CFGA Exe.-Director J.C. McElroy; Jenkins stated he had never taken bids for the insurance the county had with KACo. ( Union County paid $196,359 to KACo in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2009). Of Note: KACo is the agency that Judge Jenkins and the magistrates of the Union County Fiscal Court recently borrowed $1 million dollars from on behalf of Breckinridge Services, in order to help them finance their nursing home and assisted living facility.


The Lexington Herald-Leader won a national journalism award from the Associated Press for its series that includes the KACo ordeal titled “Its Your Money”. Their investigative reporting resulted in the firings and/or resignations of several heads of state/county/city agencies. You can read the full articles by visiting their website at: Kentucky.com then click on the ‘watchdog’ link on their homepage. (It is great to see that not all newspapers are controlled by corrupt political parties and/or the local courthouse officials.) (info. for this story received via records request of u/c judge-exe office, year end financials, and herald-leader website)


Notable quote: “If you don’t read the newspaper you are uninformed. If you do read your local paper, you are misinformed”- Mark Twain

Caution Ahead: Local Good Ole Boys at ‘Work’ With Your Tax Dollars

If you think lavish spending at taxpayer expense only happens with the ‘Good Ole Boys’ in Frankfort, think again. Union County is deep in ‘Good Ole Boy’ tradition. However, not all Kentucky counties spend tax dollars in this manner. Unfortunately the state good ole boys always praise the local elected good ole boys here as ‘leaders’, in order to play the public as fools to be fleeced, by keeping them in office.


The following information was gathered from our open records request to the Union County Judge’s Office for his county issued credit card records for the past two years, as well as the 2008-2009 fiscal year financial statements. In all about 200 pages of county financials, credit card receipts, and travel vouchers.

  • County Judge-Executive pay(Jody Jenkins): $72,813
  • 2006 Judge’s pay (Frank Eiter): $64,144

This figure does not include the extra pay Jenkins receives for being on the KACo board of directors.


Current Union County magistrate pay is $15,000/yr. (to attend 2 fiscal court meetings a month, and to not ‘rock the boat’) Judge Jenkins and Fiscal Court Traveling at your expense: 2008 out-of-county travel expenses for the county judge, magistrates, and treasurer was: $11,439.84 with Judge Jenkins accounting for $7,500 of this amount. January to August 2009 records show: $7,607.96 in out-of-county travel expenses with Judge Jenkins accounting for $4,742.81 Of Note: Joe Clements was the only magistrate to not submit out of county travel expenses for re-imbursement by taxpayers. We spoke to him by phone to confirm this. He stated he did not believe the taxpayers should pay his hotel and meals on the road to meetings/conferences since participation is voluntary. We agree with this line of thinking. It is why we pay a state representative to go to Frankfort. (The magistrate pay at just over $15,000 is twice what other counties of this size pay.) Cha-Ching!: Judge Jenkins Has Taxpayer Credit Card – Will Travel: In past newsletters we have covered some of Judge Jenkins’ travel at taxpayer expense. The Czech Republic trip in 2007, New York City in May of 2008, and several more we have since learned of. All trips were organized through GRADD or KACo; organizations that Jenkins was appointed to board member status soon after being elected county judge-executive.


Total charges on the county credit card with the judge-executives name on it were $21,519.06 for the past fiscal year. Although not all the charges were travel expenses for the judge, the out-of-county charges were for hotel rooms, meals, etc. However, local dining establishments were also on the list of food/beverage charges. Not all travel expenses/meals are by county credit card, but also by re-imbursement from paid receipts submitted. “The Great Chicken Caper”: No receipt jumped out more to us than one of the smallest ones Judge Jenkins submitted for re-imbursement. Just under $6.50 for a chicken basket, candy bar, and soft drink, purchased in Eddyville, Ky. Come on Jody! Your paying yourself nearly $73k a year off the taxpayers, getting paid $100 a meeting to go to KACo board meetings in Frankfort, plus re-imbursement for travel, and you hit us for six dollars and change for a ‘blanking’ chicken basket meal. GIVE US A BREAK!


Questionable Expenses from the Union County Financial Report:

  • Nutri-System $156.45
  • Custom Biker Wear $1,050.95

One business owner and friend of Jody Jenkins donated nearly $500 to the 2006 Jody Jenkins for Judge-Executive campaign, and went from receiving no contracts with the county to receiving nearly $96,000 in county contracts between July 2008 and June 2009. (information taken from union county expenditures by vendors, and Jody Jenkins 2006 campaign finance reports) Fools Rush In: In the 2006 judge-executive election several people did political endorsements stating they were for Jody Jenkins. They neglected to say why they were for a candidate to run the county’s business, even though he had no business, management or political experience. Just a good ole boy connection to some locals with connections to some people in Frankfort, who are the problem. With the current Judge Jenkins taking trips all over the state, country, world, at taxpayer expense via his connections to KACo, and GRADD, one would think the people who did these ads are feeling a bit foolish by now. Surely, no-one with any common sense could consider any of this as ’leadership’ in the right direction. The only good paying jobs that have been created here are the government jobs; two of which were appointed by the judge to do county business the judge used to do. (of note: alliance coal announce the new mine during the previous judge’s brief tenure). We should mention that the fiscal court voted to spend nearly $850,000 to renovate the spec. building to accommodate EZ-Access and their 8 or so employees.


Re-electing people who misuse tax dollars, regardless of whether you like them or not, or are related to them, is the same as telling them it is okay to do so. If we are not intelligent enough as voters to hold local officials accountable, then how can we expect change at any level of government. Hopefully, the 2010 local election will provide a different outcome than usual, even though Judge-Exe. Jenkins appointed his own cousin, Trey Peak, to the county clerks position, who will oversee the vote count. The CFGA directors have already contacted state and federal authorities to voice our concern on this matter.


Occupational Tax: Who Pays, and Who Doesn’t Have To

Many have asked why coal miners don’t have to pay the occupational tax, when they are the only ones making good, stable pay. Although we can not supply an adequate answer other than to ask the county judge or your magistrate, we do agree that the local small businessman, and those working for minimum wage, or slightly above, can ill afford to have one cent more taken from them. The occupational tax brought in $910,434 to the General Fund, with $600,000 being sent to the Jail Fund. The Union County General Fund had a prior year surplus of $2,261,171. Not uncommon for this county, which has CD’s in its various operating funds which establishes a yearly surplus per account. (figures taken from u/c financial statement f.y. 08-09) Of Note: The extra pay to the three women in the judge’s office to administer the tax is no longer paid through the fictitious office of assistant county treasurer. It is now paid through another office that doesn’t exist; county tax administrator.

School System Budget and Info. of Interest Now On The Web

Union County school system general information as well as their budget of revenue and expenses is now on line via our friends at FreedomKentucky. Total revenue from the 2010 budget: $21,752,215. Use the following exact link to open the page: www.freedomkentucky.org/index.php?title=union county public schools

$80 A Barrel Oil In The ‘Great Recession’ ??

Most economists stated oil at $28 a barrel was ‘overpriced’ in 2004, when the economy appeared strong. Now in the biggest recession since the great depression, oil is near $80/barrel. Supply and demand figures have shown an overall glut the past two years, and oil supply keeping up or outpacing demand much of the past decade, despite what some in the industry state. So why the run-up and continued high gas/oil prices with demand worldwide going down the tubes for nearly two years? As covered in our June 2009 newsletter, the Wall Street talking heads have blamed everyone from OPEC to storms in the oceans. The real culprits are the Wall Street commodity trading firms themselves. Some of the very ones taxpayers recently bailed out. The same ones that were Obama’s biggest contributors (opensecrets.org/2008 campaign contributions).


Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy recently released their research stating that oil/gas commodity speculators are now 50% of the positions in the futures market, since commodity regulations were eased by the government in 2000. Now these aforementioned campaign contributors are lobbying the Obama administration not to impose more regulations on commodity trading. This how we got into this financial/economic mess in the first place, the people our taxes pay to regulate and hold accountable not doing their job. Honest government regulations brings about slow, steady, dependable economic growth for all to prosper from. Without regulation we get market bubbles for a few years that burst and then the bubble blowers get bailed out by the government as repayment for all the campaign contributions.


What once made this country a great economic nation was that the average Joe had a good job, could afford the necessities of life, and many extras, and even afford to travel. With gas between 2 and 3 dollars a gallon, he/she can’t even afford to drive past the job they used to have before the plant moved abroad. With Obama’s hands politically tied to his biggest campaign contributors (Wall Street) can he really be expected to deliver anything meaningful from his campaign promises. Maybe its not to early to start calling him Jimmy Obama, or Barack O’Carter.


If you don’t do your part to hold politicians accountable by contacting them to voice your opinion, then how high will oil/gas be when/if the economy really does turn around. You can log on to www.StopOilSpeculationNow.com to email your support for ending speculative trading of oil/gas futures. It is a great website, lots of information, setup by the airline industry. As high gas prices are breaking them too.

Notable Quote: “We demand that big business give the people a square deal.” Teddy Roosevelt 11-15-1913


CFGA Newsletter Archives


See Also

References

  1. Citizens For Government Accountability Website