Jay McChord

Reverse Domino Jujitsu

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March 2, 2011
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Heckuva job, Scottie!

Also, did anyone else catch Lexington Councilman Jay McChord trying to play Scott Walker at the work session yesterday? Funny stuff…

An even closer look at Lexington election results by council district (i.e., This is Gray Country)

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November 16, 2010
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We’ve done two posts in the past 5 days looking at the election results by precinct in Lexington. Last Friday, we looked at Jim Gray’s incredible rise after the primary, as he was able to dominate not just on the north side, but south of New Circle Road, as well. Yesterday, we found that Jim Gray dominated precincts that voted for either Jack Conway or Ben Chandler, and only narrowly lost precincts that went for both Rand Paul and Andy Barr.

Today, we’re going to look at the results from two weeks ago by each council district in Lexington. We’ll look at Gray’s triumph in what was thought to be hostile territory, as well as look forward to 2012 council races.

The first 4 districts that we’ll look at are the ones that are home to Jim Gray’s biggest adversaries on the council: the 6th (Kevin Stinnett), the 10th (Doug Martin), the 9th (Jay McChord), and the 12th (Ed Lane).

Here are the results, for the 6th District in the races for Mayor, Senate and House:

Gray- 50.4%
Newberry- 49.6%

Conway- 49%
Paul- 51%

Chandler- 51%
Barr- 49%

This one initially looks like a real shocker. Jim Gray beat Newberry on the home turf of one his most conservative adversaries? Yes he did, and that’s remarkable. But even in a terribly down year for Democrats, this district was basically split even on the federal races, as this diverse and widely spread district stretches from African-American neighborhoods in the north to Hamburg gated communities in the southeast. The real question I have when looking at this district is how has someone as conservative as Kevin Stinnett represented this district virtually unopposed since 2004? Considering Jim Gray’s performance in this district, one would think that a more moderate/progressive candidate could finally give him a real run for his money in 2012. Then again, if Kevin Stinnett sees these numbers and moderates himself a bit over the next two years, he may wind up cutting that challenge off at the pass.

Here are the results in the 10th District, home of the Southside Screamer:

Gray- 52%
Newberry- 48%

Conway- 45%
Paul- 55%

Chandler- 48%
Barr- 52%

Jim Gray went into this conservative district of one of his adversaries where both Conway and Chandler lost… and won by 4 points. This is incredible stuff. Looking ahead to 2012, I think it’s safe to say that Doug Martin will have to look over his shoulder for a candidate that turns out to be better financed or more viable than Kevin Williams turned out to be. Sandy Shafer’s late entry into the race drew an amazing 9% of the vote, far more than I would have thought a write-in candidate could garner in a council race. If Shafer’s health continues to improve, one would think that she would be an odds on favorite to take back her seat that she held for many years. Or, there could be a viable moderate Republican in the vein of Linda Gorton or KC Crosbie that could take on Doug Martin in this district. One things for sure… this Gray Country, as Gray had 600 more votes than Martin in this district.

Here are the results from the 9th District:

Gray- 49%
Newberry- 51%

Conway- 40%
Paul- 60%

Chandler- 43%
Barr- 57%

This is one of the two most conservative districts in Lexington, home to perhaps Gray’s biggest adversary on the council and blowout losses for Conway and Chandler… yet Jim Gray almost pulls even with Newberry. This is another jaw-dropper.

McChord won by 6% in 2006, and has been unopposed the last two years. McChord would be a tough candidate to beat, but the viable moderate Republican avenue could be a winner. Or, previously term-limited and currently-awesome Jennifer Mossotti could come back and take her old seat. (and in my opinion, she would have Alice Forgy Kerr’s seat right now if the KDP hadn’t chosen Don Blevins to run over her).

Here are the results in the 12th District:

Gray- 47%
Newberry- 53%

Conway- 38%
Paul- 62%

Chandler- 40%
Barr- 60%

Easily the most conservative district Lexington, the home of Newberry’s biggest ally on the council… and Jim Gray only loses by 6 points and manages to steal away 12 precincts from Newberry. Remarkable stuff.

The results from these 4 council districts show that Jim Gray was able to go into what could have been hostile conservative territory and not only compete, but in the case of the 6th and 10th, win. I’m not sure what message Stinnett, Martin, McChord and Lane take from this, but they’d be rather dim to ignore it.

*****

Alright, now for the rest of Lexington’s council districts, starting with the most conservative and going to the most liberal.

7th District (KC Crosbie):

Gray- 51%
Newberry- 49%

Conway- 48%
Paul- 52%

Chandler- 50%
Barr- 50%
(Barr won by 20 votes)

Another conservative-ish district that Paul and Barr won… another district that Jim Gray won anyway. I’m sure a good deal of this victory is due to help that both Scott and KC Crosbie provided in the district. Crosbie won her election easily, and it’s doubtful that she’s going to be flanked anytime soon from the right, as the close federal races show that this district isn’t exactly right-wing.

5th District (now Bill Farmer Jr.’s):

Gray- 56%
Newberry- 44%

Conway- 52%
Paul- 48%

Chandler- 51%
Barr- 49%

Here’s a slightly Democrat-leaning district… and Gray just cold blows out Newberry. Bill Farmer is a Republican and kind of a loose canon, but I assume that he won’t be too adversarial with Mayor Gray. At least he won’t be if he looks at his constituents.

4th District (Julian Beard)

Gray- 56%
Newberry- 44%

Conway- 52%
Paul- 48%

Chandler- 54%
Barr- 46%

Again, the 4th leans Democrat, but Gray wins in a blowout. Beard will likely sit here safely as long as he wants, because no one eff’s with Julian.

8th District (George Myers)

Gray- 55%
Newberry- 45%

Conway- 54%
Paul- 46%

Chandler- 56%
Barr- 44%

A solidly Democratic district that went solidly for Gray. No alarms and no surprises. As for 2012, I’m sure Ed Lane would like nothing more than to find a challenger to run against Myers, but anyone acceptable to Lane would not be acceptable to this not-conservative district.

11th District (Peggy Henson)

Gray- 56%
Newberry- 44%

Conway- 57%
Paul- 43%

Chandler- 59%
Barr- 41%

No alarms and no surprises. As we get into more heavily Democratic districts like this one, we begin to see Gray’s margin dip lower than Conway and Chandler, as some Democrats obviously go towards Newberry, though certainly not most.

2nd District (Tom Blues)

Gray- 55%
Newberry- 45%

Conway- 66%
Paul- 34%

Chandler- 67%
Barr- 33%

Those observing closely noted that Blues started to cozy up to Newberry in 2010. Time to start cozying of to Gray, me thinks.

3rd District (Diane Lawless)

Gray- 68%
Newberry- 32%

Conway- 69%
Paul- 31%

Chandler- 70%
Barr- 30%

This was easily Jim Gray’s best district, as the heart of Lexington’s downtown helped him double up Newberry. A source tells me that when Diane Lawless was asked how she feels about working with Gray instead of Newberry next year that she proceeded to do the cabbage patch. Developing…

1st District (now Chris Ford)

Gray- 67%
Newberry- 33%

Conway- 78%
Paul- 22%

Chandler- 79%
Barr- 21%

Shocking that Lexington’s African-American community forcefully rejected the guy against the Civil Rights Act and the guy at the all-white country club. Shocking. Chris Ford is kind of a mystery, we’ll see what we get out of him soon, I guess.

*****

So there’s our 3rd edition of Fun With Lexington Election Results and Numbers. Until next time…

Lexington’s city government is looking… pretty good

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November 4, 2010
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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.

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.

Cheerleading takes practice

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September 2, 2010
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If you’ve been following the Lexington special investigation committee meetings looking into our whistle blower extravaganza, you know that LFUCG Councilman Jay McChord’s been showing off some impressive skills. The ability to stay dutifully on message, delivering choreographed moves when he’s told, and staying in the background when he’s needed to. And most of all, cheering on team Newberry shamelessly no matter what the score is, or how badly he’s getting embarrassed by the away team and their pesky facts.

Why is he so good at this? Well, he’s been practicing for years:

Sahli Spirit!

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.

August 9th LFUCG special investigation committee meeting

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August 10, 2010
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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….

At the circus, with Doug Martin

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July 2, 2010
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Well, not since a red-faced Ben Chandler angrily poked me in the chest in 2007 have I been confronted with such a case of blogger-induced hysteria from an elected official. Well, actually Doug Martin was never elected (as he was appointed by Mayor Jim Newberry for his seat), but you know what I mean.

As the Herald Leader and I told you last night, LFUCG 10th District Councilman Doug Martin completely flipped out and dropped about 15 F-bombs on me in front of several onlookers after yesterday’s special investigation committee. Vapors and fainting couches, all around.

Since all of the major work of the committee was done in closed session while all non-committee folks waited in the hallway for 90 minutes, there’s almost nothing for me to report on in terms of progress with the committee’s work.

What I can report on, however, is Doug Martin humiliating himself both during and after the meeting. So let’s just get into that, shall we?

After the closed session was over and we were invited back into the conference room, Doug Martin was suddenly sitting at the table with the committee members. Which was odd of course, since he first eagerly volunteered to be on the committee when it formed, then made a public spectacle about leaving the committee in order to discredit it, and hasn’t shown any interest in their work since. But there he was, sitting quietly while the members went over a discussion of what constitutes “work papers” of Mounjoy.

But after they moved past this, George Myers let Doug Martin speak. And he opened up a ginormous can of Whine. He was crying about the fact that they didn’t let him into the committee members-only closed session. Even though he isn’t on the committee, and dramatically left the committee, he now suddenly wanted to be privy to it’s closed session. Myers then had to inform him that this is what the council voted on unanimously, also noting that Doug Martin’s amendment to have all council members be committee members was defeated when Martin was the only person to vote for it. It was one of the most sad and pathetic displays of whining I’ve ever seen by a grown man.

But he wasn’t done there. He also made a strange and incoherent complaint that the committee didn’t set a closing date for itself, and therefore they would be acting illegally if they continued. Myers calmly read back to him what the council had voted on for the committee’s duties, how the July 6th report of the committee was explicitly described as “interim”, not final, and how they were given the task of investigating this until they could come to a conclusion about what happened. This did not deter Martin, as he kept saying the same thing over and over again about the committee breaking the law. Myers continued to calmly restate what the council voted for, and continually had to repeat to Martin that if he wanted to change what the committee’s duties were, he was free to bring it up in the council meeting that night or at another time.

The most humiliating part about this for Martin is that nobody had his back. Judge Crittenden put him in his place a bit at one point, which elicited nods of approval from even Jay McChord. And this was noticeable, because throughout most of the time Martin was whining, McChord had his head in his hands with his eyes closed, wincing. Martin continually reached out to Feigel to back him up, but she was having no part of it. KC Crosbie just looked like she was in awe of what she was witnessing. And Beard, of course, wasn’t taking any of this shit. As I was live-tweeting it, I explained all of this as the train wreck was happening in front of me. I called him a clown, because he was acting like, well, a clown.

After Martin had enough with the members ignoring his grand wisdom, he grabbed his papers and stormed out in a huff, with everyone else staying in the room as the members ironed out a few details before they adjourned. Right before they officially adjourned, Martin showed back up in the door frame, where he was giving me a death stare from across the room. He had apparently gone back to his office that was 20 feet away to read what I had written about his “performance” before the committee. Yes, it looks like somebody’s bruised ego was out for blood.

They adjourned, and the red-faced Martin made a beeline to me, beginning his tirade with this:

“Fuck off. Fuck you. Who the fuck are you? What the fuck is wrong with you? Fuck off. Fuck you.”

Oh, but that was only the beginning of the fucks, I assure you. He then went on to mock my state of poverty, explain to me how he was the only one in the room that cared about the law (think Walter “mark it zero!” in Lebowski), and say “fuck you” about 8 more times. Those last 8 were probably because I was laughing uncontrollably at him the entire time. By the end, I just told him to look at himself in the mirror and stop humiliating himself, he’s had enough of it for one day and was completely out of control. He gave me the “I’m the only one who cares about the law and standing up to it” routine, to which I had to reply “you’re just one man who is fighting the system. You’re like Rand Paul!”. To which he gave me his final “fuck you” and stormed out for good.

So… when I call him a clown, maybe you can see why. After all, there are happy clowns, and there are angry clowns:

June 29th LFUCG special investigation committee meeting

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June 29, 2010
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Lexington’s special investigation committee met this morning at 8:00 and plotted their next course of action to obtain the oh-so-elusive Patrick Johnston fraud assessment reports.

As was reported last Friday, the fraud reports were not turned over by the external auditors at Mountjoy, claiming that Johnston wouldn’t sign their waiver as the excuse (even though Newberry is technically their client and all they needed… plus Johnston’s attorney was concerned that doing so would open him up to liability/retribution). Johnston’s attorney let George Myers know that they were still evaluating whether Johnston would sign off, and would let them know by June 30th. Myers seemed confident that Johnston would in fact do so by tomorrow, but not 100% sure.

Most of the meeting this morning discussed the subpoena power of the committee, specifically how they could use it if Mountjoy doesn’t turn them over tomorrow. Outside counsel Judge Crittenden researched and found that the committee does in fact have subpoena power, countering the view of Newberry’s Team of Sharks. The council’s committee does have this authority, and there is no statute that prohibits them from subpoenaing documents.

The committee unanimously agreed to a motion on how to use their subpoena power in the short term. They are giving Mountjoy/Johnston until 5:00 tomorrow to let them know if they’ve come to an agreement to turn over the documents that day. If not, the committee is filing a subpoena to both Mountjoy and Johnston to turn over the fraud reports by 2:00 on Thursday.

This raises a couple of interesting points. Will the subpoena of Johnston give him enough legal breathing room to give Mountjoy the requested waiver without fear of retribution? Certainly might. But there is also the question of what is kept confidential within the committee. If Mountjoy voluntarily turns over the documents, they’ll be kept confidential within the committee, but if they are turned over through a subpoena, will they be public record? Myers says they will keep them confidential, but that might be difficult to do in a legal sense.

Anyway, they cancelled their meeting tomorrow (since they don’t have the docs to go over), but are meeting at 3:00 on Thursday to hopefully go over the elusive fraud reports. Unless Mounjoy holds onto them. Which I still wouldn’t rule out, as there’s a decent chance they’ll challenge the subpoena power of the committee.

One more note on the committee members. Remember Jay McChord’s threat in the first meeting, and reiteration of the threat in the second meeting? Well, McChord literally hasn’t said one word in the meetings since then. And Kevin Stinnett? He hasn’t even attended a single meeting since the first organizational one. Looks like he’s just going to boycott the committee until they come to a vote on their final findings. Interesting…

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

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June 15, 2010
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(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.

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