Monday, November 24, 2008

Ky. Modus Operandi - Corruption/Cronyism

Kentucky citizens can take heart in the fact that state government is operating as it always does, with corruption as its defining modus operandi and the taxpayers as the patsies supporting the MO main thrust – cronyism. The Lexington Herald-Leader, as it often does, has given some recent examples. Ralph Coldiron III: $100,000 per year (job advertised with maximum salary of about $80,000) for collecting some fees, probably a job that could be handled by a smart clerk. Coldiron quit his job, beating being furloughed from a restaurant operation, and needed a job. His restaurant colleague, Adam Edelen, is Beshear's chief of staff. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

Same department: Commercial Mobile Radio Service Emergency Telecommunications Board. Aaron Horner: $70,000 per year as Coldiron's Deputy for External Affairs, whatever that is. He was a campaign worker and House aide on labor and transportation issues to U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth. Supposedly, this makes him an expert on emergency telecommunications stuff. Another job for a smart clerk…or deputy clerk! Chuck Geveden: $70,000 as chief administrative officer, making one wonder what Coldiron is supposed to do. Geveden was Beshear's driver during the campaign. Earlier, he had been school-resource officer for the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department, whatever in the world that is.

Same department: Paul “Will” Carle: $52,000 per year as staff adviser, apparently a job that involves what anyone says it does. Carle had been a fund-raiser for Attorney General Jack Conway's campaign, making him an expert at staff-advising, whatever that is. Oh well….Geveden later took another position at the public trough called the Transportation Department and Carle moved on to another spot in the trough in the governor's office.

And then there's the interesting case of Ron Bishop, director of the Lexington hoosegow. His salary: $111,793 per year. Slight catch: Bishop, though his job would seem to require a Lexington residency and on-site 24/7 responsibilities, lives in Louisville, meaning he commutes daily and presumably is never available at night. No problem: The local government provides him a car to make that commute and pays for the fuel to make it run – some $15,000 since 2004. The top jailer lives nearly a hundred miles from the jail, so who actually runs the operation? Talk about a sweetheart deal…but that's city government at its absolute worst.

And then there's the case of Michael Gobb, executive director of Lexington's Bluegrass Airport, the 117th largest in the nation. That's 117th! His salary is $219,450, up from $92,019 just ten years ago when he began his tenure – an increase of a whopping 138 percent but not quite as much as that of Joker Phillips, the offense coordinator of the UK football team. Imagine getting a raise of more then one-and-one-third-hundred percent in just ten years. The director of Louisville's Standiford Field makes less, even though his operation handles nearly four times the number of passengers as Bluegrass.

In a recent two-year period, Gobb ran up a travel/training expense account of $279,310, while the Louisville director managed for the comparable period getting by on $173,673, or 61% less. Gobb and four other Bluegrass officials managed to spend five or six days roughing it in Hawaii in January this year in attending a conference so extensive that a couple days just weren't enough. Gobb and his four directors are each furnished a car and a key to the airport gas pump. They had more than $23,000 in gas charges 2006-08. All of this...while passenger boardings were down by one percent 1999-2007. Nationally, they were up by 13%.

So...there it is, just a smattering of the rip-offs that occur in government bureaucracies. Is it any wonder that taxpayers desperately try to figure ways to cut down on the taxes when they see their hard-earned cash literally stolen by the people who do it...just because they can, also with a wink-wink-nudge-nudge from the apparatchiks who make it possible? From the governor right on down through the airport board there ought to be a massive apology. The breath is not to be held until that happens. The guv will just scream for casinos to help pay off even more of his gang, while the airport board wanders in the wilderness and scratches its head in figuring out why it didn't receive some of the gifts and liquor that Gobb charged at the Liquor Barn for a measly $6,500.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

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