Diane Lawless

Maxwell bike lane extension gets axed

August 23, 2011

The Maxwell bike lane that was apparently expanded by accident across Woodland to Kentucky Ave. in Lexington’s “Woodland Triangle” is getting cut back to its original size.

After some business owners and landlords complained last week about the loss of parking spots, supporters of the bike lane gathered signatures from tenants — resident and commercial — on the block to request the bike lane remain.

This created competing petitions, one from building owners (including Ramsey’s and the Black Swan) and one from non-owners, and a bit of a logistical hang-up.

If the Council did nothing today, the mistaken bike stripe would be removed and 8 parking spots would be replaced. But was the city now required to honor the petition in support of and requesting the bike lane?

There was a lot of Council sentiment from the usual suspects speaking up for the land owners, with Doug Martin complaining about the “sacrifice” the complaining businesses were experiencing. Ed Lane said he “didn’t think it was fair” to turn a half-block of parking into a bike lane.

Representing the land owners was Nick Nicholson of Stoll Keenon and Ogden, who stated SKO’s address as if it mattered, and he made an impassioned plea on their behalf, saying the new petition was “not representative of the people.”

The Council listened to all this then debated what to do, including seeking clearer guidelines for future such petitions from the parking authority, and sorting the interests of landlords, business owners, home owners and tenants (with the prevailing sentiment seeming to fall on behalf of landlords).

Council-at-Large member Steve Kay questioned whether now that the city had an apparently valid petition before it, was the bike lane itself was now valid.

No one — especially Ed Lane — liked that idea very much but as a point of order, Kay was quite clear: If the petition was in fact valid and the city was going to spend the money replacing the bike lane with the old parking spots, were they then going to be forced to again erase the parking spots and put the bike lane back in.

Lane and Julian Beard both complained about the role of petitions in governance, with Beard insisting that “Petitions are for guidance. We make the law!”

The full council ended up voting — with only two ‘nays,’ Kay and Diane Lawless — to get rid of the bike lane. So… your dreams of a safe ride to the park (or even continuing down High Street) come to a screeching halt at the already dangerous for cars, let alone bicycles, intersection of Maxwell, High and Kentucky.

My favorite part of the whole discussion came at the end, just after the vote, when Doug Martin got up abruptly and strode over to Kevin Stinnett. As Vice Mayor Gorton wrapped up the one topic to move on to the next, Martin could be seen gesturing emphatically and speaking in a hush to Stinnett. Martin then stalked out of the room and Stinnett’s face, which remained quite still the entire time, then — after just a pause — melted into what appeared to be a miffed smile.

So that was either a Martin joke or a classic Clown attack.

CentrePointe Meeting — Today, 4-6PM — Public Input Session

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June 2, 2011

A quick reminder that today, from 4 – 6 PM at the Old Courthouse/Lexington History Museum, the Webbs and their new design firm will hold a public meeting to share initial thoughts on the re-imagining process and to listen to thoughts from the community.

As Councilmember Diane Lawless emailed out on Tuesday evening:

At this meeting, Jeanne Gang of Studio/Gang will share her initial thoughts and ideas about Downtown Lexington and the CentrePointe site and invite public input into evolving design concepts. It is anticipated that this meeting will be the first of at least two meetings to discuss the revised CentrePointe design plans, with the second meeting planned for July.

We may be live blogging it or we may not, but the meeting’s open to all and will certainly be entertaining… and hopefully that entertainment will be due to constructive conversation. It would be nice to move Kentucky forward, to borrow a phrase, with good will and good results.

So be there or be a grass covered field, because hopefully jokes like those can’t last forever.

And before you go, here’s a refresher of where we’ve been to get your mind churning toward where we’re going:





Lexington’s city government is looking… pretty good

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November 4, 2010

Lexington not only has a wonderful new mayor, but check out how good the new council looks.

If things went the wrong way Tuesday night, Lexington could have had 4 years of Newberry as mayor and Chuck Ellinger as vice mayor. *shudder*

Instead, we have Jim Gray as mayor and Linda Gorton as vice mayor (who should be great). Also, Bill Farmer Jr. replaces Cheryl Feigel in the 5th. Farmer is a bit of a wild card, but I’m pretty confident that he’ll be an improvement. Meanwhile KC Crosbie held onto her seat easily, and from all indications Chris Ford should be good in his first term in the 1st (though he’s got big shoes to fill following Andrea James). And Steve Kay on the council helps fill the void of Gray.

This means that all of a sudden the 4-person cabal of Ed Lane, Jay McChord, Kevin Stinnett and Doug Martin is looking mighty, mighty small and insignificant. Look forward to lots of impotent rage from these folks over the next 2 years, while Diane Lawless & Co. sit back and chuckle at their political misfortune.

The Southside Screamer may have won, but at least we’ll have lots of temper tantrums and pouting to look forward to…

…and that LFUCG city council that’s looking pretttty prettty pretty good.

Andrea James, Newberry slayer

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August 27, 2010

I’m still trying in vain to pull the video for you, but I have to share the amazing happenings last night in Lexington’s city hall.

At the very end of the meeting, Diane Lawless said that she had some questions for Keith Horn and Logan Askew from the law department. She asked over and over again the when/why/where of Terry Sellars switching from representing the Council to representing Bruce Sahli. Around and around went Logan Askew, as Diane had to keep repeating her questions.

Jim Newberry then stepped in and said that since she didn’t have a motion, she’d have to stop her pesky questioning.

Then Andrea James spoke up and said she just had a couple of questions. As she went into a question about any previous cases we have where they city has paid someone to sue itself, Newberry again butted in and said she would have to stop her questioning without a motion.

James immediately turned to Newberry and stated that she wanted a motion to stop paying for the services of Terry Sellars. Newberry said that was against the rules… and Andrea James laughed at him.

Mmm hmmm.

Then Andrea James brought forward a motion to change the rules so that she could file a motion to fire Terry Sellars’ ass. Which…. passed.

D’oh! Newberry looked like he was going to explode.

The motion was eventually tabled to discuss at Tuesday’s work session, so… stay tuned for that, by all means.

In other LFUCG whistle blower news, if you didn’t follow me on the Twitter Robot this week, be sure to check out Linda Backford’s write ups of Monday and Thursday’s special investigation committee meetings, which summed it up well. Letcher Sinclair’s testimony from yesterday was a bombshell, as he refused to answer if there was any fraud because he feared for his job and has faced such intimidation over the last three years from his superiors.

Anyway, I’ll have the video of James going medieval on Newberry’s ass as soon as I can. The link is here if you want to check it out (Lawless starts at 2:10:00, and James lights into Newberry at 2:34:00).

August 16th LFUCG special investigation committee meeting roundup

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August 17, 2010

The 5th floor conference room of Lexington’s city hall was jam packed again yesterday, as Johnstonpalooza continued with 4 hours of questioning for LFUCG Law Commissioner Logan Askew.

Here’s a summary of what went down at the marathon session:

Myers opened the meeting by sharing Bruce Sahli’s letter to the committee that stated he will not appear unless he is forced to by a court order. Yes, I know, shocking behavior.

Mountjoy also sent the committee a letter in response to Newberry’s letter last week, saying they will release the fraud reports if Johnston gives them a waiver. But as we will find out later in the meeting, they already have them. Back to that in a bit…

McChord made an “opening statement” of sorts, that basically mimicked Jim Newberry’s letter from last week, saying that since Johnston said he did not specifically accuse a person of fraud in his fraud reports, this somehow means that his allegations are meaningless and the committee should be dissolved immediately. Hope springs eternal…

Logan Askew then took the big chair, and Lawless asked him if the Stoll Keenan lawyers were representing him pro bono or if the city was paying for it. Askew said that he is paying for it. Lawless then asked what his lawyers are getting per hour, and David Rouse loudly objected.

This is fascinating considering the fact that Lear and Rouse charge about $400 per hour, which means that after 8.5 hours before the committee, plus the many hours compiling documents and preparing for his testimony, it is quite possible that Askew owes close to $20,000 already. That is, unless, he’s getting a discount from SKO. However, if he is getting a discount, that would violate the law, as

“No officer, employee or immediate family member of an officer or employee shall knowingly accept any valuable gift, whether in the form of service, loan, thing, or promise, from any person, firm or corporation which to his knowledge is interested directly or indirectly in any manner whatsoever in business dealings with the urban county government, agency of the urban county government, or constitutional officer by which he is employed, under circumstances in which it could reasonably be inferred that the gift was intended to influence, or could reasonably be expected to influence the officer or employee in the performance of his public duties

Considering this firm has been hired for legal work over the past few years by Logan Askew himself for eleventy thousand dollars, this certainly makes the exact rate that Lear and Rouse are charging Askew relevant. Has Askew already written them a retainer check? If so, for what amount? And are they being charged their standard rate, or at a discount?

Anyway, moving on…

Crosbie asked Askew about Johnston bringing up KLC’s conflict of interest with Collins & Co., but Askew claimed that Johnston never ever brought that up with him. Well, he didn’t recall, at least. So Askew is basically claiming that while Johnston brings up this conflict in his 2008 fraud report, he never mentioned it to Askew.

Askew then went into one of his many beefs with Marsh (insurance) during the meeting. He said he complained that Marsh did not give him a recommendation on whether to buy AIG or KLC in 2007. That’s when Linda Gorton chimed in to read from Marsh’s email that said that based on the city’s needs, AIG was the best fit. Gorton and Myers also noted that Marsh’s attachment to this email was not provided to the committee. Askew continued to say that Marsh didn’t provide a recommendation, because he disagreed with their characterization of the city’s needs. Myers and Gorton both asked for Askew’s response to this email, which (like the attachment on the aforementioned email) seemed to be missing from Askew’s packet of emails. Askew assured the Council that if it wasn’t in there, he would get it to them soon.

The discussion then went into the weeds of the insurance bidding in 2007, with Askew bringing up the following points: “We’re talking about something from 3 years ago”. “We were trying to compare apples to apples (why the numbers matrix changed)”. “We gave the Council more choices than they had ever received when it came to purchasing insurance”. “We could go back and ‘what if’, but this was the best that I can do”. His basic point was that if what was presented to the Council got changed around, he only did it to give the Council better information, not to tip the game towards KLC. There was a lot of back and forth with Lawless KLC bundling and having services added to their bid at the last second. As I said, in the weeds.

After the break, McChord went into a call and response session with Logan Askew that almost seemed scripted (but wasn’t!). McChord went into how much better Askew’s way of buying insurance and giving information to the Council was than how Johnston used to do it back in the Isaac days. McChord would say “what I’m seeing is..” and go into his opinion of how awful Marsh was and how much better Askew was than Johnston, to which Askew would pick up and elaborate on.

Then McChord asked how we know that Johnston isn’t making the story up about being offered a board seat with KLC by Bill Hamilton, after which McChord was silent, as he’d done his job for the day.

Askew was asked if he’d ever gone on a trip offered by KLC, or attended a lunch/dinner provided by them. Askew says that he went on no trips and always paid for any meals with them. He also said that Johnston never told him about the KLC board position offer.

Askew said that it was Bruce Sahli that provided him with Johnston’s fraud report after he filed the ORR in September of 2009 for it. You know, the one with Johnston’s name not redacted. Askew wouldn’t say if it was improper to leave Johnston’s name on it. Because that’s, like, totally up for debate and stuff. Askew also said that Sahli might have tipped Joe Kelly off to this info, but he wasn’t sure. He also said that he “could not recall” if Kelly told him what the investigation was about before he filed the ORR, and that Sahli never discussed the claims with him. Askew answered that he was not surprised by seeing Johnston’s name on it, just surprised by his “bogus claims”.

Then came a rather large event, as George Myers started his questioning. Earlier, he had asked if Askew had ever told anyone that he disagreed with Johnston’s priorities. Askew said that he could not recall such a conversation. Myers then asked him if he filled out a fraud questionnaire in 2008 discussing problems within an agency. Askew said that he could not recall doing so.

Myers then pulled out Askew’s 2008 fraud survey that he filled out. And handed it to him. Myers then preceded to hammer away at the McChord/Newberry argument that because Johnston didn’t directly accuse a specific person of fraud in his survey, that it was meaningless. Myers asked Askew if, on his fraud survey, he accused someone of committing fraud, or if he just listed potential allegations of fraud. He also asked if fraud was defined on this survey. Askew’s answer was basically the same as Johnston’s, as this is what fraud assessment surveys are for: giving anonymous concerns about potential fraud within a department to be investigated.

What’s also interesting is that Mountjoy apparently gave the Council false info, as they said that only one employee had submitted a fraud report (twice). Nope, I guess that makes two, no?

But Myers wasn’t done. He asked if anyone was given a copy of Johnston’s fraud assessment survey after the Spring of 2010. Askew said that he was “not aware of this”. Myers then asked if he was aware of Johnston sending an email to Linda Rumpke (Newberry’s Finance Commissioner) with his 2008 and 2009 fraud surveys attached and Askew was cc’d on. Rut roh. Myers gave him the email.

Apparently, Askew couldn’t view them on the cc. But Askew claims that Linda Rumpke had the fraud surveys right there in her email, but didn’t look at them. That’s right, didn’t look at them. Not interested!

So let’s recap. Newberry is demanding that Mountjoy release Johnston’s fraud surveys, even though all he has to do is ask his Finance Commissioner: “hey Linda, can you open up those attachments in your email and give them to me?” And this is the same Mayor who repeatedly claims that no one in his administration has seen the fraud reports. Because, you know, Linda Rumpke never opened the attachment and shared it with anyone. Or never saw it long before that, like in the fall of 2009 or anything like that, when Sahli and Kelly and Askew were buzzing about it.

If you believe this story, you’re just really really gullible.

What’s also of note about the McChord/Newberry argument: if they think Johnston’s fraud survey answer means that the committee is useless and should be shut down, have they also expressed to Crit Luallen that her state audit should be shut down as well? What’s the difference?

Anyway, that was about it for Monday’s meeting. The next episode is this Friday at 1:00, where Joe Kelly and Linda Rumpke are set to take the hot seat. Tune in on the Twitter Contraption live, as always.

August 9th LFUCG special investigation committee meeting

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August 10, 2010

Linda Blackford’s write up is here. Allow me to fill in the color.

OK, here were the big three bombshells:

1. Patrick Johnston claims that Bill Hamilton and a couple of KLC employees invited him to lunch in March of 2007. They told him that Mayor Newberry wanted to hire KLC, and spoke of placing him on the board if they were hired. Yes, this KLC and Hamilton. Ahem:

2. Patrick Johnston claims that Logan Askew asked him to modify his executive summaries on the insurance bid of KLC in a way that made their numbers look better. He claimed that the final numbers matrix given to the council was unethical. Johnston eventual stopped fighting, because it was a lost cause fighting with Askew on this matter.

3. Logan Askew revealed that Jim Newberry top adviser Joe Kelly tipped him off that he was being investigated by someone within the government in Fall 2009, which led to Askew getting Johnston’s fraud reports from Bruce Sahli by an open records request. The documents given to Askew were redacted to matters involving himself, but named Patrick Johnston as the author of the allegations. The question remains who tipped Joe Kelly off to this, but I think you can do the math here. This is especially mind-boggling because Sahli has denied these documents for so long by passionately defending the anonymity of the person who fills out the fraud assessment surveys. Yeah, not so much…

So those are the big 3 from yesterday, as Patrick Johnston finished his questioning and Logan Askew is set to continue next Monday.

Here’s all the the other drama from yesterday, from the top:

Logan Askew walked into the small 5th floor conference room flanked by two attorneys from Lexington’s most powerful law firm, Bill Lear and David Rouse. You could almost hear the Vader theme.

Patrick Johnston was up first taking questions from Crosbie about Lexington self-insurance policy, the rules set out for LFUCG in 1987 and vehicle insurance. Johnston then went into the city hiring Collins and Co. in FY 2009 to adjust property claims, which he claimed was duplication of services for the city. He also claimed that the Law Department changed how workers comp claims data was shared with Risk Management in 2008, as Collins & Co./KLC would not share financial data that RM would enter in as they used to, rather they would give simply show RM the bill long after the fact. But he did find certain claims by Collins to be abnormally high, but he was now out of the loop by this point.

He spoke of a brief meeting with himself, Bill O’Mara and LInda Rumpke on what fraud constitutes, but not the specifics of his fraud allegation that was supposedly confidential.

Also noted by Crittenden and McChord was a “2nd Mountjoy letter” in which they claim that while a bunch of Newberry’s administration was notified of Johnston’s 2nd fraud report, they did not receive the actual fraud reports themselves. Well, except for Sahli. And we know how Johnston’s name spread like wildfire after that.

Jay McChord then went into his line of questioning for the day, which consisted of “who committed fraud here” and “who have you been speaking to”? Johnston answered the first question after consulting his lawyer, saying that his fraud report spoke of fraudulent actions within government but did not specify an individual with fraud. as for the second question, Johnston said he spoke with Crosbie after his job had been eliminated, and that he had spoken with his staff in back from the time that he submitted his allegations. McChord then asked how the Herald Leader got a hold of his emails, and he said he did not give them and has asked the Herald Leader to find out who did turn those over. McChord also had a line of questioning that tried to paint Marsh as a horrible incompetent insurer, that Johnston batted away. I assume this will be a further strategy of team Newberry, painting Johnston as beholden to a big bad insurance firm, and that’s why he had it out for poor KLC.

He was then questioned about the consultant hired by LFUCG, Management Partners, which decided to break up Risk Management and eliminated his job early this year. He says he was never given the opportunity to provide any feedback on their recommendations.

Johnston also claimed that KLC would not unbundle their costs/services/numbers, even though Johnston asked them to do this repeatedly in 2007 when the bid occurred. Johnston voiced his concerns to Askew that their behavior on this was a red flag on how they might behave in the future, but Askew dismissed this. It was at this point that Johnston said he became submissive to Askew, as his concerns were being ignored and it became obvious that folks were hell bent on KLC (my words). Johnston also said that his concerns about conflicts of interests with KLC were included in his executive summary package on the bid, but were taken out.

Johnston also said that he had no meeting with Sahli in 2009 about his fraud report that was now under review by him. Johnston told him to expect it just before Mountjoy sent it to him, but Sahli never asked Johnston to provide him with information before dismissing his allegations.

Under questioning from Gorton, Johnston said that he also mentioned in his fraud report a concern of institutional fraud, as there is a lack of disclosure forms from vendors. Myers asked why he didn’t follow up after that, and Johnston said no, because he was already fearing for his job.

Finally there was talk of a June 19th 2009 memo about KLC placement and fees, and an administrative aide (Willy Fogle?) asking him about the memo on behalf of two anonymous council members. I haven’t seen or heard about this one, so I’m not entirely sure what this is all about.


Then it was time for Logan Askew, flanked on the left and right by his high priced lawyers.

Logan said he wanted time for an opening statement and went right into a voluminous sob story. He said he’s always appreciated his job and role within LFUCG, and he’s never had the impression that he wasn’t respected by certain council members until now. He said this entire investigation has brought “personal hardship” to him and his family. He told us the horror story of his 18-year old daughter getting asked by one of her friend about seeing her dad’s name in the paper, which caused at least 7 people in the room to catch the vapors and collapse onto their fainting couches. There was not a dry eye in the house. (he even brought his wife and kid to the meeting for full effect). He said that members of this committee have said disturbing things about him, and that he’s never engaged in fraud. He said that he’s here to give the facts.

Logan Askew is my Alpha Dog of the Week.

Askew opened under questioning from Crosbie about what a horror “look backs” are when it comes to insurance bids, saying it is unethical to get a lower cost for services, I guess? Not exactly sure what his logic was here.

Then Crosbie asked him if he’s ever seen the fraud report, and Askew said that he’s seen a “portion” of it. Crosbie asked “what portion”? Askew then, (as I mentioned in #3 at the top of this post), went into getting it from an open records request, as Newberry’s adviser Joe Kelly tipped him off on the investigation last fall. He got the portions that mentioned him, and also the identity of the author as Patrick Johnston. Lawless asked him how Kelly found out about that, and Askew had a long pause, eventually saying that she should ask Joe Kelly that question. Lawless said she was disturbed that this supposed confidential document got to Askew with his name on it. Askew said this was perfectly fine, since you can ORR anything that you are named in. Judge Crittenden then stepped in to say “so you’re saying that the Mountjoy papers aren’t really confidential if they name someone in government”? At which point, Askew hemmed and hawed a bit, before Lawless cut in and said “no wonder people in government are terrified to fill these forms out”, and “I wonder why he’s the only one that’s ever filled this form out”.

McChord then provided the unintentional humor, jumping in to say how this sounds like a flawed law. You see, nobody actually broke any rules, and this is one of those things that “deserves a hard look” later on so we can improve them. In other words, Newberry’s strategy for dismissing everything the auditor or committee finds here by saying we just need to tweak procedure and nobody actually broke these “flawed rules/procedures”, and such.

Askew them spoke up and asked the committee for Johnston’s first fraud report. The committee explained that they couldn’t just give him the document, and Diane Lawless jumped in with the line of the day:

“Ask Joe Kelly for it”

That’s just fun.

In between this talk of Askew getting a hold of the fraud report was some more talk of Marsh. McChord asked a line of questioning on “look backs”, then asking the oh-so loaded question of whether this constitutes “bid rigging”. Askew said golly I don’t know, but then went into a “hypothetical” example of someone helping out a “good friend” who works at an insurance company by letting them bid lower so they can get a contract. He said that doing so was not appropriate to do with taxpayer money. Irony flashing sirens went off all around the room at this point.

At one point when referring to Patrick Johnston’s concerns about KLC/Hamilton, Dawn Angarone stood up in the back of the room and wanted to speak, but she’s up for questioning later. She said she wanted “the truth to come out early”. Fascinating. We’ll hear from her eventually.

Crosbie then turned around McChord’s question of Johnston by asking Askew if he’s spoken with any committee members or about the work of this committee, or if he’s mentioned this committee in any of Newberry’s Monday morning meetings. Askew answered no. Sirens!

Under questioning from Lawless, Askew said the only contact with the outside(?) auditor during an investigation was in 2008. He answered his questions and never heard back from them. Mountjoy never contacted him in 2009, he says.

The meeting ended with all of the Joe Kelly drama, and they suspended the questioning of Askew until next Monday.

Afterwords, Askew’s lawyer Bill Lear went up to Julian Beard and tried to convince him that once he hears the full story from the staff, he will know that fraud wasn’t committed. He said that all possible information might not have been presented to Council, but this doesn’t legally constitute fraud.

Oh, and then word spread like wildfire that Bruce Sahli had just sued George Myers. Yeah. I’ll have more details/verification of that asap.

So what we have is KLC doing their sweet-talk routine to Johnston in 2007 (in which they say that Newberry is already on board), then Askew telling him to leave out information that wasn’t KLC-friendly to the council before they approved KLC.

And, of course, that certain people who having been denying documents based on “confidentiality” apparently didn’t care so much about that in the fall of 2009. And not only did they know all about Patrick Johnston blowing his whistle, they decided to get rid of him shortly thereafter.

Fun stuff. To be continued MOnday at 2:00….

August 2nd LFUCG special investigation committee meeting

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August 2, 2010

A lot of ground to cover, lets get rolling. (For starters, good to see Diane Lawless back and healthy(er) after her long illness)

George Myers started the meeting discussing what information the committee received from the subpoenas it issued. Patrick Johnston complied with the requests, giving “copies of any documents provided to Mountjoy, Internal Auditors, Commissioners & Senior Staff, which support the allegations contained in the Fraud Risk Assessment questionnaires.” So did the external auditors at Mountjoy, as they gave the “documents relied upon in determining findings regarding allegations contained” in the fraud reports, as well as their summaries and who they sent these to. Logan Askew did not provide the documents requested, but stated that he would. He claimed that there were email server issues that prevented him from handing over the requested emails on time. Bruce Sahli flatly refused to provide the requested documents, and again claimed that the committee has no subpoena authority.

Regarding Mountjoy’s response, the big eye opener was who they shared this information with in 2009. According to their letter, they sent information regarding Johnston’s fraud allegations to not only Internal Auditor Bruce Sahli, but Law Commissioner Logan Askew, Internal Audit Board Chair Dewitt Hisle, the Finance Commissioner (was Kyna Koch, then Linda Rumpke), the acting Finance Commissioner Bill O’Mara, the director of purchasing Brian Marcum, and Newberry’s Senior Adviser Joe Kelly. This is fascinating stuff considering that once KC Crosbie starting asking questions about this, everyone pleaded ignorance. Also fascinating (as Lawless would state) that everybody was getting this information except for the Council, which was later denied this information when requested because they were a “3rd party”, as stated by their “counsel” at the time, Terry Sellars. Very interesting stuff.

Logan Askew, who was asked for a large amount of correspondence on July 15th, provided a letter two days after the deadline on July 30th (last Friday) saying that he would give this information. Yet he provided a string of emails from that day stating that he could not give them because of email server/software issues, sounding confident that they would be resolved sometimes this week. Alrighty. Meanwhile Shaye Rabold was busy telling folks that after the State Audit report comes out (1-2 weeks?), the special investigation committee should be ended. Quite interesting.

Bruce Sahli’s response was what we have come to expect from him. He denied the requests and said that the council has zero subpoena power. Below is his lawyer Terry Sellars’ letter to Judge Crittenden, and Crittenden’s reply:

George Myers was not too happy, saying that Mr. Sahli “forgot who he works for, and who he serves”, calling the response “ridiculous” and saying that he is “out of touch”. Oh, and that’s not all. He gave a strong indication that he is in favor of the committee recommending a “penalty” for Sahli that they would send to the council for a vote.

Askew might be in big trouble. Sahli IS in big trouble.

The committee then made a motion to ask the following people to come before the committee and answer their questions. If they do not agree to do so by the end of tomorrow, they will subpoena them to appear before the committee.

Patrick Johnston (LFUCG Risk Management Director)
Logan Askew (LFUCG Law Commissioner)
Bruce Sahli (LFUCG Internal Auditor)
Joe Kelly (Newberry senior adviser, member of internal audit board)
Bill O’Mara (LFUCG Director of Revenue)
Kyna Koch (former LFUCG Finance Commissioner)
Mary Fister (LFUCG Director of Accounting)
Dewitt Hisle (former chair of audit board, Newberry campaign treasurer)
Tom Sweeney (LFUCG claims manager)
Dawn Angarone (LFUCG Dept. of Law)
Linda Rumpke (LFUCG Finance Commissioner)
Luther Sinclair (LFUCG risk management analyst)
Mike Skidmore (LFUCG safety and loss control manager)

The “direct conversations” will begin next week (August 9th 2:00), with the top 3 mentioned likely to be the first up (though Sahli will almost certainly refuse to do so). So stay tuned for those fireworks, for sure.

But what was certainly of note in the room today (besides the absence of a cursing Doug Martin) was the behavior of Shaye Rabold. Not only was she saying that the committee should end after the auditor’s report comes out (1-2 weeks?), but she kept mentioning over and over again to those around her how much Judge Crittenden is being paid to be there and serve as counsel for this committee.

It’s so wonderful for Mayor Newberry’s Chief of Staff to be in the room personifying the behavior of the entire administration during this whole ordeal.

Deny. Obstruct. Delay. The Newberry Way. (oh, and whine, too)

June 14th LFUCG special investigation committee meeting (2nd attempt)

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June 15, 2010

(my second attempt at this, as Blogger decided to delete my first post)

The Lexington council’s special investigation committee met today for the first time with their newly appointed outside counsel, retired Franklin County Circuit Judge Roger Crittenden. Here’s his bio from when he was inducted to the UK College of Law’s Hall of Fame back in 2007:

A highly respected judge of integrity, Roger L. Crittenden has given a lifetime of service to the Commonwealth and to the UK College of Law. After three years of service in the U.S. Army including a tour in Vietnam, Crittenden graduated with the class of 1975 and launched his career in public service at the Kentucky Cabinet for Human Resources and the Kentucky Council on Higher Education. In 1980 he was elected as Franklin County District Court Judge where he served for 12 years before being elected as Franklin County Circuit Court Judge in 1992. He retired in 2006 and is Senior Judge of the Franklin Circuit Court.

Committed to education, Judge Crittenden has served as chair of the Circuit Judges Association Education Committee and is a former board chair of PUSH Infant Pre-School. Judge Crittenden also served the UK College of Law as an adjunct writing instructor for 26 years. He completed his final semester of teaching this spring and was honored by having one of the legal writing groups – three of which are titled after figures such as Clay, Cardozzo and Marshall – named after him.

Three of his notable decisions as a judge were ruling against the University of the Cumblerlands in 2008, against the 2% tax on HMO’s in 1993, and against pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca in what I assume was one of his last cases in January of this year. From what I saw of him today, he seemed sharp and fair (for whatever that’s worth).

Diane Lawless opened the meeting by asking a question to clarify Jay McChord’s threat (and it was a threat) in the last meeting on retribution against someone if the committee finds that no fraud or wrongdoing occurred. She wanted to know who he was talking about exactly, Johnston or fellow council members. McChord didn’t bat an eye, answering that he didn’t know, then going on to say that council members have publicly mentioned the fraud allegations in chamber, and if there’s nothing there they must be held accountable. Painfully obvious that he was directing this towards KC Crosbie, just as internal auditor Bill Sahli publicly called on Crosbie to apologize for mentioning this before the council in late May.

(and on a completely unrelated but funny note, Lawless and McChord were wearing matching pink)

Gorton and Beard stepped in to say that this statement kind of unnerved them, and Crittenden added that the committee in no way has the responsibility to hand out some kind of punishment, whether fraud and wrongdoing is found or not. They moved away from the matter after that.

The committee then went on to discuss how they will handle requesting documents, confidential documents, and how and when they will use their subpoena power.

Before they went on to discuss the specific documents they were requesting, two significant matters came up. First, Myers noted that it was important that the committee look into the due process of the internal audit board, as he wanted to know why he, as a member of the board, was not notified about the original fraud claims, yet apparently others were. Crittenden noted that the rules for when something does or doesn’t go before the board was in the scope of their work.

Lawless then noted that she and other members of the committee have received an unsolicited flood of information on these allegations from people since this matter first exploded in late May. She said that due to McChord’s threat in the last meeting, she sought legal advice from a lawyer to make sure that her receiving this information in no way made her liable from some type of political/legal retribution. She wanted to openly discuss what she is supposed to do with this information, in terms of bringing it before the committee or not. Both Myers and Crittenden seemed to agree that while unsubstantiated information shouldn’t be used by the committee, members were free to share this information so that they could all officially request any relevant information though official channels (using the where/when of the information provided).

Next, the members went through the specific documents that they were requesting. The first documents requested are to be Johnston’s fraud assessment reports. They are asking the internal auditor for these documents, and gave a Wednesday deadline for them to be produced, or else they will use their subpoena powers to obtain them. They essentially concluded that the internal auditor is a separate entity from the mayor’s administration. We’ll see how that goes.

The other documents requested are the RFP’s on KLC, relevant emails to the matter, and relevant information on the process of the internal audits. They set a Monday June 21st deadline to receive this information, and will have their meeting the next day at 9:00.

If any of the information they receive is confidential, they will be housed at the county clerk, where committee members will be free to read them, but not to take away copies.

Crittenden said that if any information isn’t provided, the committee will have the power to subpoena for it. Myers said that he doesn’t imagine they’ll have this problem, then looked in the back of the room to Shaye Rabold for some sign of agreement. Shaye basically said she didn’t know anything and to leave her out of it. A little tense.

So that’s it until the next meeting 9:00 Tuesday morning June 22nd. Linda Blackford’s story on the meeting is up here, too.

Also of note is Blackford’s other story out this afternoon. Whereas George Myers publicly stated that he hoped the Newberry administration (and others) would not attempt to try this case in the media, Newberry’s press secretary has already sent little attacks on Johnston’s credibility to the Herald Leader. Shocking that Newberry would do that, I say. Shocking.

Herald-Leader: Newberry’s Dirty Politics

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June 8, 2010

Joe’s down at LFUCG following the first meeting of the special ethics investigation — be sure to follow his live-tweeting of that show… Jay McChord (aka, neo-Doug Martin) is already making veiled threats of legal retaliation if no fraud is found.

Meanwhile, The Herald-Leader editorial this morning takes sharp aim at Mayor Newberry and his claim that the special investigation is simply dirty politics aimed at ousting him from office. As you’ve read here, Newberry demanded that KC Crosbie and Diane Lawless be removed from the investigatory body.

Based on that standard, citizens might wonder about other city appointments. The chairman of the Internal Audit Board, Dewitt Hisle, for example, was Newberry’s campaign treasurer when he ran for mayor in 2006 and is treasurer of his re-election campaign.

The Internal Audit Board oversees the internal auditor who decided there was nothing to the alarms raised by the city’s director of risk management in 2007 and 2008.

Around that time, the council approved the Newberry administration’s recommendation to hire the Kentucky League of Cities as the city’s insurance broker.

Might some perceive a political conflict in one of the mayor’s campaign officials retaining so prominent a role on a panel that is supposed to be a watchdog on the administration?

They also touch on the Newberry campaign’s Mayoral Office’s use of LFUCG taxpayer-funded email to blast out campaign literature.

And then there’s the sad case of confused and lonely Doug Martin:

Council member Doug Martin pointedly asked to be appointed to the investigative committee. But after Newberry said that links to the mayoral candidates should preclude membership on the committee, Martin quickly resigned. Martin and his wife have contributed money to the Newberry campaign.

What inspired the hasty reversal? An ethical epiphany? Or could he be honoring a political request from Newberry who appointed him to the council?

LFUCG’s Special Investigative Committee named

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June 3, 2010

And away we go:

By unanimous consent, earlier this week the Lexington City Council requested that Vice-Mayor Jim Gray appoint a special investigative committee to further pursue the allegations of fraud recently brought to the Council’s attention.

The investigative committee will be comprised of a diverse group of Council members:

* George Myers, Chair, 8th District
* Linda Gorton, At-Large
* Cheryl Feigel, 5th District
* Diane Lawless, 3rd District
* Doug Martin, 10th District
* Julian Beard, 4th District
* K.C. Crosbie, 7th District

“It is essential that the recent allegations of fraud are given a thorough and complete review,” said Vice-Mayor Gray. “I am certain that, through this committee, we will continue to move towards a more ethical, transparent government for the people of Lexington.”




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