This Is Why Louisville Media Can’t Have Nice Things: JCPS Scandal/Non-Scandal Edition

Ready for another disjointed rant about Louisville media?

Hold on to your wigs because what you think you know about the Jefferson County Public Schools’ Every 1 Reads mess is… messy.

Turns out, Linda Duncan and Hal Heiner stirred the pot before they knew what they were talking about. Or Duncan knew and is lying about it or forgot. Heiner’s just taking this opportunity to dismiss public education.

And it appears that WDRB’s coverage was either intentionally misleading or its reporters overlooked significant details contained in documents in their possession.

From WLKY (WARNING! RIDICULOUS AUTOPLAY VIDEO WILL EAT YOUR DATA UP!):

Who knew what? That’s the question being asked in Jefferson County Public Schools, the Kentucky Department of Education and the Governor’s Office. WLKY followed the paper trail to get the answers.

-SNIP-

In the 2009-2010 school year, then Superintendent Sheldon Berman, proposed something called Every 1 Reads More. The idea was to pay for about a dozen school nurses at struggling elementary schools.

-SNIP-

Berman originally pitched the program with the hopes of gaining private funding, but that never happened. Eventually the district began using state funds, about $5.7 million in total, to pay for what it labeled the Every 1 Reads Nurse Initiative.

-SNIP-

Early this week, Board Member Linda Duncan told the Superintendent Donna Hargens that she didn’t realize that state money was being used to fund an nursing initiative. That raised the question whether JCPS was, indeed, misappropriating funds, or at least wasn’t transparent.

However, WLKY found JCBE meeting documents used to educate board members for a vote on the matter – approved by Duncan – to accept funding from the Kentucky Governor’s Office for the Every 1 Reads Nurses Initiative. That state money is funneled through the Kentucky Department of Education to JCPS.

Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt, responding to media requests earlier this week, said KDE couldn’t find any documentation that JCPS communicated to KDE about the nursing program.

However, WLKY obtained an email from JCPS dated Aug. 27, 2012 – between JCPS Grants & Awards Accounting Coordinator Denise Dewitt and Kristin Burton from the Kentucky Department of Education – where Burton asks Dewitt, “Your invoice has Munis 11G9-Every1Reads/Nurse Initiative?” MUNIS is a state database that is updated by school districts quarterly. Recent reports submitted by JCPS read ” Every 1 Reads Nurse Initiative.”

Duncan knew what was going on.

Heiner bought into the hype.

And WDRB had the state reports that say, essentially, “Every 1 Reads Nursing“, along with the board of education agenda items that specifically outlined the program… but chose not to reveal such a significant piece of the puzzle.

Rather than address huge discrepancies, here’s how WDRB’s education reporter reacted to WLKY’s coverage:

Passive-aggressive attacks, which seem to be the norm for Louisville media. Rather than having a friendly and professional dialogue, people resort to shady dismissals and bitter subtweets. Instead of beating around the bush when something as important as education is at stake, it makes more sense to be direct. Makes way more sense not to treat lapses in reporting as insignificant.

To dismiss WLKY’s coverage in such a manner, without taking the opportunity to add more to her story, Toni Konz is allowing her personal opinion and perception (dare I say deliberate spin?) to get in the way of great reporting. Bitterness is something that should be left to assholes like me.

At least she didn’t personally attack anyone, which also seems to be the norm for Louisville media these days.

Let’s look at the original Konz story:

Officials at the Kentucky Department of Education, as well as several Louisville-area lawmakers have told WDRB News they were surprised to learn that the Every 1 Reads funds were diverted by JCPS to nurses in 2008.

Kentucky Secretary of Education and Workforce Development Hal Heiner also says he has “serious concerns” and has spoken with Kentucky Auditor Mike Harmon about it.

-SNIP-

Duncan said the MUNIS report might have said nurses and that while the JCPS board knew the money had been diverted, the state did not because the budget line simply states Every 1 Reads.

Duncan also mentioned she thought it was odd for the district to announce a re-launch of the Every 1 Reads program in 2013, under Hargens, but that there was no mention of nurses.

That just seems poorly reported after learning what WLKY has revealed. Facts that were in the possession of Konz. Facts that deeply impact the community’s understanding of what did and didn’t go wrong.

Then there’s this:

When asked for a comment after the meeting, Hargens walked by a WDRB reporter and Martin said no.

“We’ve already talked to you about this,” Martin said.

Another attempt by a reporter to ask Hargens if she thought there was a transparency problem in the district was unsuccessful.

I hear Konz was able to corner Hargens during an event recently where she also got to ask several questions. Bizarre for that not to be mentioned. Especially when WDRB advertises itself as the king of journalistic integrity.

It’s worth pointing out that WLKY didn’t steal this story from WDRB. No nefarious acts took place allowing documents to fall into the hands of WLKY’s folks. They’re certainly familiar with how the open records process works.

Unlike some lazy reporters in Louisville who are prone to swiping material and running it as their own? WLKY took the story a step further to reveal additional, significant information in documentation that is publicly available. Information that WDRB failed to report.

That’d be like me failing to report major information that I’ve uncovered about Louisville Metro Animal Services over the last decade.

This doesn’t change the reality that it’s probably insane for JCPS to use literacy funds for nurses and insane for Frankfort to allow it to occur. Doesn’t change the reality that David Jones apparently believes it’s unimportant to examine what went wrong with the previous superintendent. Doesn’t change the reality that Donna Hargens and her team are neck-deep in spin and secrecy.

You should be upset about literacy funds being redirected to fund a nursing program.

You should also be upset that such a staple of education reporting in this city appears to have deliberately ignored the facts. As WLKY’s reporting uncovered, the documentation Konz possessed proves JCPS didn’t hide anything from the Kentucky Department of Education. It also makes Linda Duncan look like a fool and proves the KDE was aware.

At a time when all eyes are on Donna Hargens and her myriad failures, Louisville deserves better.

The Latest JCPS Spin Blows Minds

When Donna Hargens and Allison Martin realized that WDRB’s Toni Konz was set to unleash a damning report on the JCPS misappropriate of Every 1 Reads funds, the two sent out this fear-mongering call for help:

Oh, you thought something would change with a new communicatiosn team? Haha, right.

The Konz piece will hit tomorrow morning.

ZIKA IS COMING OH NO GET SCARED

Kentucky and Indiana officials have missed self-imposed goals for finalizing details that will govern RiverLink, the toll network on three Ohio River bridges set to start this year. [WDRB]

Remember that Jefferson County Public Schools story we covered that everyone else ignored? The Office of the Attorney General said JCPS broke the law. Who could have known??? [C-J/AKN]

An employee with the Kentucky Juvenile Justice center tells WHAS 11 that Commissioner Bob Hayter is no longer with the department. [WHAS11]

Any business person knows that when costs are rising faster than revenue, you should raise revenue and not just cut costs. [Tom Eblen]

OH GOD WE’RE ALL GONNA GET THE ZIKA! [WLKY]

Hillary Clinton is concerned for the future of women’s reproductive rights. [HuffPo]

Kentucky’s new Governor Matt Bevin nixed a request to restore the $420,000 per year contribution in his bare-bones FY 2017 and 2018 budget proposal. [WAVE3]

President Obama will release his final budget proposal on Tuesday, in which he’ll call for $11 billion in funding over the next decade to address homelessness among families. [ThinkProgress]

Way to go go, Metro Council, for leading the way to suck town. A Louisville Metro Council committee is considering a multi-year effort aimed at reworking the city’s 800-page land development code, but one of the big issues before it — affordable housing — will not be examined until at least this spring. [WFPL]

The billionaire former mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, has confirmed he is considering running as an independent candidate for the US presidency. [BBC]

The Louisville division of Computershare Inc. is looking to hire lots of new employees in a variety of roles. [Business First]

Jeffersonville High School freshman Johnathan Woodward laughed at the prospect of becoming a firefighter one day, but admitted he was imagining what it would be like. [News & Tribune]

If GLI Backs It, It’s Bad News Bears

More than 600 well-paying jobs could be coming to Louisville as an out-of-state company partners with a local non-profit to form a Medicaid Center of Excellence. [WDRB]

David Keith thought the fight to save his neighborhood was over. [C-J/AKN]

If GLI backs something, you know it’s the worst thing on earth. [WHAS11]

Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt says that if Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposed budget is approved by the General Assembly, the Department of Education will face $72 million in reductions over the next two years. [H-L]

WARNING! RIDICULOUS AUTOPLAY VIDEO! Louisville-based Passport Health Plan is partnering with Virginia-based Evolent Health to create the Medicaid Center of Excellence. [WLKY]

The FBI is joining a U.S. investigation into Flint, Michigan’s water contamination crisis, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit said on Tuesday. [HuffPo]

The Falls of the Ohio, a state park covered in fossils, is a perfect place to take pictures – expect for one thing. [WAVE3]

Legislation that would prohibit the General Assembly from diverting state lottery funds away from Kentucky’s need- and merit-based scholarship programs has cleared a House committee. [Press Release]

Jerome Perry doesn’t have many white neighbors. There are so few, in fact, that Perry can list the houses around him where white families live. Even the homes that are blocks away from his tidy yellow brick home on 45th Street in Louisville’s Westover neighborhood. [WFPL]

The United States is still lagging the world in the rollout of broadband. Look at the map and you’ll hate people like Brett Guthrie, Jim Waters and anyone associated with them even more than you already do. You’ll rage against just about any telecom-tied lobbyist you can think of after seeing it. Disgusting. [The Register]

Get ready to roll your eyes really hard at all the hype over this Omni hotel mess… [Business First]

After a little more than an hour of discussion Wednesday, the committee tasked with finding a possible compromise to the current weapons ban at the town’s municipal building came to some amicable starting points. [News & Tribune]

Need cheap mobile phone service? Maybe even for a backup cell phone? I’m talking $6/mo cheap? Use our Ting referral code and we’ll all get a sweet credit. You get $25 — enough for a couple months of service to determine whether you like it. Both CDMA and GSM options. For worriers: no, you don’t get identified to us if you use our link… so please consider letting us know if you do! [Ting]

All This Snow Makes Day Drinking OK

WDRB is apparently still freaking out over kids misbehaving on school buses. [WDRB]

Brown-Forman Corporation has received an initial go-ahead from city regulators to start major work on its Old Forester Distillery and visitors experience project at 117-119 W. Main St. [C-J/AKN]

We’d tell you what WHAS11 was freaking out about but their website was down all day. And their crotchety old twitter people have us blocked, unlike every other media outlet in town, because they probably can’t take jokes. Even WDRB knows how to take a joke. Eric Flack can take a joke. Can you imagine? It’s the most hilarious thing since A Kentucky Newspaper started blocking our websites due to criticism of its atrocious Felner coverage. [Deep WHAS11 Funtimes]

Preliminary estimates from a consulting firm hired by the city show the cost will be $175 to $200 million to build a fiber-optic network to increase sluggish Internet speeds and expand Internet access in Fayette County. [H-L]

SNOOOOOOOOOWWWWWPOOOOOOCALYYYYYYYYYPSEEEEEEEEE! [WLKY]

Rand Paul (R-Cookie Tree), still disappointed at being left off the main stage at last week’s GOP presidential debate, expressed disapproval of polling criteria during a campaign stop at a barbershop on Monday afternoon. [HuffPo]

Louisville Metro Police confirmed Wednesday that remains found in Oldham County were those of a UPS pilot missing since May. [WAVE3]

Just a reminder of what Julie Raque Adams has been doing to poor women in Kentucky. While she flits about Frankfort talking about how great she is for wealthy, Republican women? Poor people are suffering as a direct consequense of her imposing her antiquated religious beliefs on the Commonwealth. [Page One]

Police departments across Kentucky began outfitting officers with body cameras last year, but don’t expect state troopers to join their ranks anytime soon. [WFPL]

For years there have been calls for more transparency in Kentucky’s retirement systems, especially the system for lawmakers. [Ronnie Ellis]

Republic Bancorp Inc. CEO Steve Trager has just gained control of an additional 671,808 shares of the bank-holding company’s stock, according to a Jan. 8 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. [Business First]

Cheaper cigarettes are the lure for people in Illinois who cross the Wabash River to visit the Smoker Friendly tobacco outlets in Indiana. [News & Tribune]

Ramsey Continues To Muck Things Up

In November, the University of Louisville Board of Trustees filed a motion in Franklin Circuit Court to dismiss a lawsuit by the Kentucky Justice Resource Center contending the board has too few minority members in violation of state law. [WDRB]

The city must pay former Jefferson County Constable David Whitlock about $33,000 in wages for more than five years of unpaid work, a Jefferson Circuit Court judge has ruled, and may owe other peace officers similar back salaries. [C-J/AKN]

A man whose drone was shot down over a Bullitt County home is now suing that shooter in federal court. [WHAS11]

Really, there aren’t more pressing educational issues to tackle instead of pandering in an election year? A Kentucky Republican state senator from London has introduced a bill that he said could have prevented biblical references from being cut from a presentation of A Charlie Brown Christmas at a Johnson County elementary school. [H-L]

WARNING! RIDICULOUS AUTOPLAY VIDEO! Some southern Indiana families face an uncertain future after city officials in Charlestown revived controversial plans that could lead to tearing down a neighborhood. [WLKY]

The nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, Human Rights Campaign, endorsed Hillary Clinton for president on Tuesday. [HuffPo]

A routine appointment vote this month for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Merit Board was anything but routine after a Louisville Metro councilman asked to table or postpone a vote to reappoint two people to that board. [WAVE3]

A federal judge on Tuesday ruled President Obama cannot use executive privilege to keep records on the “fast and furious” gun-tracking program from Congress. [The Hill]

Superintendent Donna Hargens says Jefferson County Public Schools is working to ensure that Louisville families are aware of its offerings in anticipation of a new push for state charter school legislation. [WFPL]

One European country can’t seem to stop breaking records when it comes to wind power. [ThinkProgress]

Is your favorite Louisville restaurant making the grade? [Business First]

The Clark County Clerk’s office was granted an $10,800 additional appropriation this week in part to help with transferring the influx of Jeffersonville city court cases that are coming in. [News & Tribune]

Who Is Worse? Tom Wine Or Jim Ramsey? Possibility City!

Their homes were bombed, lives threatened, and they nearly starved to death. Now the newest Syrian refugee families have found a safe-haven right here in Louisville. [WDRB]

Tom Wine. MLK parade. Shenanigans. Read all about it. [C-J/AKN]

This is what local media has become. An “exclusive” interview in the “crime” section with the kid who crashed a drone in Lexington. [WHAS11]

The Kentucky Housing Corp. is looking for volunteers to help count Kentucky’s homeless population. The count will begin at sunrise on Jan. 27 and continue for 24 hours. The point-in-time count is known as the K-Count. [H-L]

WARNING! RIDICULOUS AUTOPLAY VIDEO! Members of The Stand Up Louisville Coalition began planning a protest in recent days, after learning that Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine would be a grand marshal in the 44th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Motorcade. Now Wine has withdrawn his name from the list of grand marshals. [WLKY]

General Electric Co agreed to sell its appliances business to China’s Qingdao Haier Co Ltd for $5.4 billion in cash, the companies said on Friday. The move comes weeks after GE abandoned a $3.3 billion deal with Sweden’s Electrolux following months of opposition from U.S. antitrust regulators. [HuffPo]

Didn’t this happen just a couple years ago? Late November 2013, maybe? [WAVE3]

The nation’s cities are at the frontlines of a food system that sickens and impoverishes millions of Americans every year. Local communities where people live, shop, work, and receive healthcare bear the brunt of this system’s unhealthy, unjust outcomes, which disproportionately affect communities of color and low-income Americans. The five cities chosen—Oakland, Memphis, Louisville, Baltimore, and Minneapolis—all have populations between 400,000 and 700,000, and in all of them, the percentage of residents living below the federal poverty line is higher than the national average. [Click the Clicky]

Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky is launching a new program to provide a long-acting, reversible contraceptive arm implant to women in Louisville. [WFPL]

The Obama administration on Friday said it would announce the next steps in its planned overhaul of how the United States manages coal development on federal land, which sources have said includes freezing new leases. [Reuters]

The Kentucky Senate passed a measure Thursday that’s aimed at allowing the state’s bourbon tourism industry to reach its full potential. [Business First]

Even though he won a recount, Jeffersonville City Councilman Steve Webb is challenging the lawfulness of November’s general election, requesting a trial that could result in a special election. [News & Tribune]