Thursday, August 31, 2017

UNPRECEDENTED

While certainly not winning the war, the battles won by schstoobig and its supporters are unprecedented. Consider the consequences that occurred after schstoobig's efforts to educate the Scott County community regarding the shenanigans going on at Scott County Schools:

Roger Ward / Scott School Board Chair - ousted by the voters losing all 9 of his precincts;
Becky Sams / Former long time Chair - smarter than Roger and chose not to run for re-election;
Phyllis Young / School Board Chair - ousted by voters;
Luther Mason / Board Member - ousted by voters;
Patricia Putty / Superintendent - contract non-renewed;
Mike Luscher / Director of Facilities - retired one more time after losing his alliance;
Alliance Corporation / Long time SCS project construction manager with curious bid skills - victims of a change order;
Matt Thompson / ASSL (Assistant Superintendent of Student Learning) - saw the writing on the wall;
Rick Culross / ASSO - followed Matt's lead as well as his coat tails;
Roy Prince / Artistic Director of Transportation - AWOL;
Roger Kerns / Roy's Igor - fizzled after Roy went AWOL;
Mark Wickersham / Safety Director - terminated after new Super determined he had no skill set outside driving on sidewalks;
Joetta Crowe / Cardinal Academy Principal - saw the writing on the wall;
Frank Howatt / Peter Principle Human Resources Director - demoted to an Asst. of an Asst. position;
Tom "Gerrymander" McKee / State Representative and father of football coach - ousted by the very Scott County voters he gerrymandered;
Sherman, Carter, Barnhart Architects - ousted after proposing to build GCHS on a fill site;
etc, etc.

ALL HISTORY! And an ugly history it is.

Probably the most consequential battle won for the benefit of Scott County taxpayers was the school district's dis-association with Alliance Corporation. The icing on that cake was the concurrent departure of Mike Luscher from his role of Facilities Director and Alliance liason.

Probably the most consequential battle won for non-administrative district employees was the contract non-renewal of Superintendent Putty and the subsequent mass exodus of her administrative staff, although of little recompense to the many whose vocations and reputations were ruined by this malicious bunch. Most affected were the 28 transportation employees who had the gall to complain that Putty's Artistic Director of Transportation Roy Prince discussed and drew a penis for them on a flip chart during a mandatory meeting. Putty found "no violation" but soon after made working for Scott County Schools pretty miserable for the 28, and found and even fabricated reasons for some to be terminated. Yet Prince remained on the payroll (although absent from the workplace for the last year or so) until his retirement was sufficiently spiked in October 2016.  Lawsuits are pending to this day, but lawsuits will not restore the reputations of good people.

And there were other battles won, but by in large the the most consequential battle lost was Great Crossing High School (GCHS) successfully being held hostage to a tax increase. All we can say here is that it is very difficult to "fix stupid". Anyone who believes that feeding the organism that is Scott County Schools even more money as an answer for anything is simply a useful idiot. Already underway are the filling of more and more unneeded positions as well as other efforts to consume the 25% increase the recent tax increase brought to the school district's annual coffers. (see the last paragraph of GCHS on page 16 of the August 15 edition of the Georgetown News Graphic) You see, the organism must always be able to demonstrate it "needs" more, therefore it must always consume all funds provided. The extra $5 million a year now going into the bottomless pit known as the General Fund was not needed, just as the increase in bonding potential (borrowing ability) that the $5 million supports was not needed to construct GCHS.

As this blog soon retires, do not forget the "two pots of money" - the General Fund and the Construction Fund. Do not forget that the General Fund is where money is wasted and the Construction Fund is where money leaks. Both funds are ultimately the School Board's responsibility and it is here that we hope the schstoobig facebook page is wrong in its assessment that despite the battles won, it seems to be the  "same game - different players". And don't be surprised if the "second" high school becomes just a "new" high school. The News Graphic has already quietly stopped referring to GCHS as a "second" high school, preferring now to call it a "new" high school.

We thank the ten or so who in 2012 expended their time and treasure to fill the Georgetown News Graphic's abandoned role of community watchdog of its taxing entities such as the school board and the library board. We thank the anti - tax committee who successfully overcame the 2013 School Board's outrageous attempt to raise property taxes 27% and the 2017 committee, whose valiant attempt to stop this last increase failed (again - it's hard to fix stupid). We thank all those who encouraged us along the way, including the 130,000 visits to read this blog.

To Roger Ward, whose conniptions we so enjoyed each time we weren't stupid enough to acquiesce to his elitist demand that we allow ourselves to be marginalized by giving up our anonymity - just ask Tish, Rog. She knows us by our middle name - Resolve.



P.S. - The folks at the schstoobig facebook page have committed to continue alerting you to the community goings on that the News Graphic avoids. Become a friend there if not already. They will watch the two pots and have also committed to keep an eye on Scott United's tax returns to see how Toyota's gift of $2 million gets accounted for by this Chamber of Commerce look-alike. And if needed we will resurrect the blog. Just watch the facebook page,




Thursday, April 20, 2017

"PRIVATE AGENCY" - SCOTT UNITED

What is the Georgetown/Scott County Chamber of Commerce if not a "local private agency that focuses on economic development efforts that will benefit Georgetown, Scott County and the surrounding region"?

That description however was ascribed to Scott County United in the April 11, 2017 Georgetown News Graphic's coverage of Toyota's re-investment in its facility AND its generous $2 million gift to Scott United. What exactly is the role of this curious little "private agency" (as characterized by the GNG article) with zero web presence and tax returns that reflect upwards of 70% of their revenues are spent on "administrative costs" and whose stated purpose mirrors that of the local Chamber of Commerce?

It's a legitimate question, especially considering that Jack Conner, the Executive Director of the Georgetown/ Scott County Chamber of Commerce also participates as a principal of Scott United. And this quote from the same GNG article from local property appraiser and current President of Scott United, Mike Hockensmith - "From the standpoint of Scott County United, this (the $2 mil) puts us on a level to be competitive with the other communities and what kind of expenditures they have for economic development." Hmmm? This statement implies that Jack Conner and his Chamber of Commerce aren't getting the job done for Georgetown and Scott County. We don't think that is the case however.

We think if Scott County United were truly about its stated mission, it would minimally host a web site, don't you think? As of this writing it hasn't, but probably will now, lol. No, we think Scott County United serves some other purpose. Nothing else makes sense.

What could that other purpose be? Well, first consider what Scott United has contributed to the "economic development of Georgetown, Scott County and the surrounding region" all these years - other than its sponsorship of "Leadership Scott County", an effort that hardly consumes the amount of revenue that the "agency's" tax returns reflect passing through? Were this "private agency" performing any works, significant or otherwise, you can bet you would be reading about it ad nauseam in Scott United's pawn publication - the Georgetown News Graphic. But you don't. So we can only speculate, based on what little is known and what is observable from this little "private agency". Here's what we know and what we have observed.

We know that members of this group lay very low, but do show up whenever the Superintendency of Scott County Public Schools is up for grabs. Remember that the Scott County School Superintendent commands a budget ($60 million annually), second only to Toyota locally and commands almost $300 million of bonding capacity.

Recall next that the 2008 Scott Schools Superintendent search generated  applications from 26 qualified candidates, but produced as Superintendent one Patricia Putty, who did not even apply for the position. We also know that soon after her arrival, Patricia Putty served on a community committee to consider a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) arrangement that would have financed the interstate 75 interchange that was first proposed just before her appointment as Superintendent. Had the recession not derailed the TIF, Putty could well have helped the approval of the TIF.

We mention this because concurrent to the TIF effort, Superintendent Putty appointed influential Frankfort lobbyist, Scott County resident and influencer for hire John Cooper to Chair the 2010 Scott County Schools Local Planning Committee and populated the committee with Scott United principal Mike Hockensmith and other Scott United "agents". That very John Cooper chaired and Scott United populated LPC replaced the Scott School's District Facility Plan's next up second high school with an unneeded Lemons Mill Elementary, the outlandish elementary school now replete with lighted tennis courts and ball fields and commonly called "Putty Palace" (especially on Sundays). And we mention THIS because influencer for hire John Cooper was at the time representing the private developer needing an interstate exchange to develop a regional shopping center that would rival Hamburg just east of the Toyota plant. The project was contingent on the interstate exchange being provided by the TIF.

We call the whole debacle - "TIF for TAT". Tat being LME.

The same John Cooper, a long time principal (maybe founder) of Scott County United, was witnessed huddled at Logan's Restaurant in Frankfort with then Scott County Board of Education Chairman Haley Conway; Scott County United's current President Mike Hockensmith (who appraised those years ago the 100 plus acres where ECS sits and Great Crossing High is to be built at $21,000 an acre); Scott County Chamber of Commerce's Executive Director and Scott County United principal Jack Conner; and Toyota's Manager of Community and Government Relations and Scott County United principal Kim Menke. This delicious dinner with Haley Conway and Scott United's big four occurred during the period of time the Scott School Board was considering their choice to replace non-renewed Superintendent Patricia Putty. We are confident that the Scott United contingent called the meeting to "focus on economic development".

Toyota's Menke was also conspicuously witnessed in attendance at several Scott School Board meetings during the same period. Mr. Menke has not attended meetings since the appointment of tax raising Superintendent Kevin Hub nor before the School Board began its Superintendent search. Guess it all falls under his duties as Toyota's Manager of Community and Government Relations. Or whatever his duties are at Scott United.

Toyota's April 10 announcement of the $2 million gift to Scott United came shortly after the deadline for a petition effort that would have required Superintendent Kevin Hub's (or somebody's ) 11% property tax increase to be placed on a ballot had the petition effort been successful. From the same News Graphic article - "the company (Toyota) has been discussing the donations with local government leaders for some months". Hmmm? Wonder if they were waiting for the school's tax increase to pass before passing on $2 million to Scott United? Otherwise the gift may have been seen as a slap in the face to a school district claiming near destitution. Remember that the Scott County School Board was poised to begin construction of a second high school in the spring of 2016 but balked for a lack of $2 million to complete the proposed facility's library.

Where was Scott United, the Chamber of Commerce and Toyota all these years high school students have been packed like sardines in the single SCHS? Nary a word from the Chamber of Commerce or its mirror Scott United concerning a high school situation that surely negatively affected "economic development". It's hard to know where the $4 plus million per year school tax increase will filter, but its clear that all parties are now fat and happy. And it remains curious that Fayette County School's Superintendent Tom Shelton got the boot for a mere $20 million gone missing, yet no one, not even Scott County School's Director of Finance was held accountable for the suppressed $27 million that otherwise would be opening a second high school this August.

And this - in the same edition of the GNG, Georgetown Mayor Tom Prather praised the $2 million gift to Scott County United stating - "(the gift) will allow the agency to perform market research and target specific industries and companies to recruit to the county". Wonder what this leaves the local Chamber of Commerce to do, Mr. Mayor? It will be well after the fact but you can count on us to watch and report on Scott United's tax returns to see if the $2 million gift is spent as the Mayor claims it will.

If you think your elected officials are running Scott County, you are probably paying more attention to Camping World's flag than the fiscal affairs of Scott's public AND private agencies. Nonetheless, it's a legitimate question - why do we need a Chamber of Commerce when Toyota finds its money better spent with "private agency" Scott United?

Happy taxpaying!