George Myers

Jim Gray lays the hammer down on Newberry’s cheerleader

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October 13, 2010
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On the heels of Jim Newberry making completely false allegations about LFUCG council member Diane Lawless making some grand conspiracy to withhold documents in the Johnston whistleblower affair (though that is quite funny coming from you, Jim), council member/cheerleader Jay McChord tried to make more of a stink in yesterday’s council session.

He repeated his claims that somebody deserves punishment because the State Audit could not find fraud, rather finding a comedy of errors in the internal audit and purchasing practices of our city government. He says that Lawless deserves punishment because she didn’t turn over documents to the committee.

Oh really? Well, let’s take a look at what I wrote way back on June 14th, the first real meeting of the special investigation committee:

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).

Oh, I see. So she openly told the committee that she received documents related to this matter and asked what she should do, and Myers and the committee’s counsel told her that those documents shouldn’t be used, rather they will use documents obtained through the official channels of the committee.

And what did Jay McChord do? Did he stand up and object, demanding that those documents be submitted into the record for everyone to see? No, he sat there silently, like he did during 99.99% of the committee meetings, chomping furiously on his gum. So McChord is basically denouncing himself for not stepping up and allowing all of Lawless’s documents from being submitted into the record? But his cheerleading coach wants him to make a stink about it 4 months later.

But back to yesterday’s meeting. After making two minutes worth of threats and conspiratorial allegations against Diane Lawless and KC Crosbie, he turned to Vice Mayor Jim Gray and, in so many words, accused him of being in on this grand conspiracy in his mascot head.

Jim Gray, uh, responded:

Well, that certainly shut him up.

State Audit report on LFUCG whistleblower allegations is out

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October 4, 2010
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Crit Luallen released her audit report on Lexington’s KLC/insurance whistleblower extravaganza at 1:00 today. I haven’t finished reading it all, but here’s a quick rundown.

The Auditor’s office could find no evidence to support Patrick Johnston’s allegations of fraud in purchasing insurance with the Kentucky League of Cities which he made in the 2008 and 2009 fraud assessment surveys. The audit did, however, expose the complete incompetence within Newberry’s administration when it came to dealing with these allegations (spreading the confidential name), and gives recommendations for reforms that LFUCG needs to make so whistleblowers might feel comfortable enough to speak up in, oh, 100 years or so.

Also of note: the scope of this audit ended with the fraud assessment surveys and how they and the claims they made were handled. While the audit shows that Johnston’s name was carelessly thrown around and not protected, it does not go into whether the Newberry Administration took retaliatory action against Johnston by eliminating his job. This topic has yet to be investigated fully, as both the special investigation committee and the State Auditor felt that this was beyond their scope.

Here are the audit report’s findings below:

  • The Senior Advisor for Management was not required to inform an employee that he was the subject of a preliminary investigation for possible fraud allegations.
  • The external auditors released the Director of Internal Audit’s conclusion memo to a Council member without redacting the name of the LFUGC employee.
  • The Internal Audit Board was advised that closed meetings could not be conducted to discuss confidential issues.
  • The Office of Internal Audit is organizationally independent within LFUGC but the Internal Audit Board has not established operating procedures.
  • LFUGC has no established method for employees and citizens to anonymously report issues of concern.
  • The Office of Internal Audit did not establish policies or procedures regarding employee complaints or concerns unless provided in the form of a “special request.”
  • Procurement policies have no clear hierarchy of authority, occasionally conflict, and have not been approved by Council.
  • No consistent procurement method was used for purchasing broker services.
  • LFUCG does not use a quantitative scoring method for competitively bid vendor proposals.

The full report is here: (BIG PDF)

The Auditor recommended major reforms based on these findings so that no LFUCG employee’s identity will ever be so willfully compromised when blowing the whistle on something they find improper. There are also recommendations to reform the audit board so that certain members (Myers, ahem), aren’t kept completely in the dark on claims as serious as these. Luallen’s office also found complete disorganization in the administrations procurement procedure, with some fly by the seat of your pants Lords of the Flies stuff going on there.

Much more on this later.

Here’s the response by the Jim Gray campaign:

“The state auditor has done a thorough job, as she always does. It’s apparent that had this administration been transparent about potential improper conduct the taxpayers could have been spared a long and expensive process. It makes you wonder what this cat and his aides were really up to in their litter box? I am pleased that the auditor agrees with my conclusion that the internal audit process needs overhauling. (See Fresh Start Plan at http://www.jimgray.org/fsopengov.html) As the auditor recommends it is past time to implement new purchasing practices, ones that will eliminate no-bid contracts and bring efficiency to city hall.”

More later after I’ve read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Linda Blackford’s more detailed write up here, with quotes from Luallen, Newberry and Myers.

Internal Audit Board presenting to LFUCG right now (UPDATE)

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September 28, 2010
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Oh my, this should be fun.

Tune in on channel 3 in Lexington or watch online here.

UPDATE: 

Jennifer Burke (Audit Board chairperson) is presenting to the council, and reveals that both the internal audit board and Mayor Jim Newberry have a copy of Crit Luallen’s State Audit report on the Patrick Johnston/LFUCG brewhaha. George Myers wants to know why he as an audit board member is just figuring this out along with the public.

Obviously, they just like keeping Myers completely out of the loop and in the dark on everything.

Here we go…

UPDATE #2:

OMG, Bruce Sahli has come out of his hole and is showing off his shadow in the LFUCG chambers right now. KC Crosbie asked him why he didn’t redact Johnston’s name from Askew ORR, and he just read/filibustered on something totally unrelated until Crosbie’s time ran out. Newberry says your time is up, move along…

UPDATE #3:

Lawless tries to prevent Sahli from filibustering during her questioning, and Newberry says “how DARE you!”. He says that Sahli should be able to filibuster as long as he wants so meanies like Lawless and Crosbie only have time for one question. THAT’s vision.

Myers spoke up and said he had no questions but a comment. He railed against Sahli and said he’s had months to answer questions, and he’s not going to ask him anything now under these extremely constrained and contrived conditions.

UPDATE #4:

Even STINNETT is ripping into Bruce Sahli. Wow. This is something.

UPDATE #5:

Chuck Ellinger is now ripping Sahli. Stinnett AND Ellinger. This audit must have totally reemed Bruce Sahli if even Newberry allies are ripping him openly in chamber.

Under the bus with you!

Get your popcorn and watch this, folks. One of the more entertaining LFUCG sessions I’ve ever watched.

UPDATE #6:

Doug Martin makes a motion for the council to withdraw it’s subpoena against Bruce Sahli. Huuuuuuuuh?

Oh, but the motion dies, as no one seconds it. Another embarrassment for poor little Dougie.

Cue the clown music…

Councilman Ed Lane is transparent

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September 10, 2010
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At the LFUCG Council Session last night, Ed Lane thought he was going to do something clever. Before the special investigation committee final report was put into the record, he thought he would make an emergency motion to block any actions on this report until people mentioned in this report could appear before them and speak (in over two weeks). And he stated about 5 times that he was doing so “for the sake of transparency”.

You know, so people like Bruce Sahli, who declined to speak to them and sued the committee for subpoenaing him, can have his say? Or perhaps he meant Bill Hamilton at KLC? Cheerleader Jay McChord spoke up in favor of Ed Lane, saying that there were indeed people who didn’t get to speak to the committee, and that isn’t right. Even though Jay McChord is on the committee and could have asked anyone to appear. You see, Jay gets so caught up in cheerleading for others sometimes that he winds up flogging himself. Cheerin’ ain’t easy.

Here’s what George Myers had to say:

Other council members appeared baffled by Lane’s motion, which he said was drafted by the city law department. The law department has recused itself from any dealings with the investigative committee because Johnston worked for Law Commissioner Logan Askew.

“I don’t understand,” said the committee’s chairman, George Myers. “He could have asked any questions of the committee at any time.”

In addition, Myers said, any council action on the report wasn’t scheduled to happen until the week of Sept. 21.

“It wasn’t necessary to block any action,” Myers said.

But don’t you see, George? Ed Lane, the man who met in secret with the internal audit board so they could sue the council so that they would not be able to see documents relating to their investigation, is all about transparency. Gosh, what’s so hard about that to understand?

Ed Lane is perhaps the most transparent person on the council. It’s rather obvious what’s behind every single thing he says, no?

LFUCG special investigation committee’s final report

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September 9, 2010
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It’s done at last!

Here is the full report (60 page PDF), and here’s Linda Blackford’s write up of it.

No technical financial fraud was found by the committee (no surprise there), but they did manage to rip Internal Auditor Bruce Sahli a new one, as well as refer some of the shady shiz that went down to the city’s Ethics Commission. Here are the recommendations:

■ Take no further action regarding the fraud allegations and proposed restructuring until the state auditor’s report is delivered and reviewed.

■ Refer the possible violations of the council’s Ethics Act to the Ethics Commission for review.

■ Form a committee to determine the restructuring of the Internal Audit Board, its staff and the process for handling fraud allegations. Reconstitute the Internal Audit Board with a new charter and bylaws.

■ Establish a process for employees to report suspected wrongdoing that protects their identities.

Now we wait and see for the Ethics Commission fallout and Crit Luallen’s report, which is rumored to be out within two weeks.

More to come…

August 23rd LFUCG special investigation committee meeting

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August 23, 2010
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Lexington city hall’s whistle blower extravaganza continues today at 1:00, with Logan Askew set to retake the hot seat.

As always, follow along on the live at the Twitter Cyborg and #lfucg.

LFUCG special investigation committee meeting at 1:00

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August 20, 2010
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The Fun Times at Lexington’s city hall continue this afternoon at 1:00 with Linda Rumpke and Joe Kelly taking the big seat. I’ll be there again covering live on the Twitter Mechanism, follow along.

Lexington’s Internal Audit Board goes retro

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August 17, 2010
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Yes, the merry band of obstructionists has gone back and voted on their illegal move last week to sue George Myers’ committee without a public hearing.

Oh, and that not all. Here’s what they told George Myers when he wanted to say something at the meeting:

The audit board members would not let Myers speak because he had recused himself from the discussion about the subpoena at a previous audit board meeting.

“I think I have a right to ask questions about how we got here,” Myers said.

“I think the recusal would still be in play,” Rumpke said. “I thought you were recusing yourself from the issue, not just the meeting.”

Lane said that Myers’ dual role was clearly a conflict of interest.

Hilarious, no? Folks like Linda Rumpke and Ed Lane talking about “conflicts of interest”. All of Newberry’s horses and all of Newberry’s men think you are really, really stupid.

Oh, and did you catch who is getting the case on Friday?

At issue is whether the investigative committee, or by extension, the entire council, has subpoena power. Fayette Circuit Judge Ernesto Scorsone will hear the case Friday.

Fun.

August 16th LFUCG special investigation committee meeting roundup

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August 17, 2010
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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.

LFUCG special investigation committee meeting at 2:00 today

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August 16, 2010
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Lexington city hall’s fraud whistle blower retaliation cover up extravaganza continues today at 2:00. Logan Askew is scheduled to continue his questioning first. Will he show up?

As always, tune in to the Twitter Pimpbot 5000 for live updates and fireworks.

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