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.

Everything Is Awful. Go Back To Bed.

WTF is going on with WDRB? Has literally everyone there turned into some magnet for racist panic? They’re really running stories about Marc Murphy’s cartoon? Jesus H, Louisville, get it together. The entire city is not some awful trailer park filled with Klansmen. This shit has to end at some point. [WDRB]

Fans entering the KFC Yum! Center will experience additional security measures at events beginning January 14. And people are freaking out. [C-J/AKN]

Greg Fischer’s right – the local media hyped the Mall St. Matthews crap up. [WHAS11]

The electric bill at Lacey Griffey’s neat Harlan County home, with its yellow siding and silk-flower arrangements decorating the living room, was $582.07 in January 2013. [H-L]

More people are using their furnace as temperatures drop, leaving room for more cases of carbon monoxide poisoning. [WLKY]

If you missed it this week, there was a whole lot of Jim Gooch hilarity. [Page One]

A skyrocketing homicide rate, a budget surplus of more than $18 million, and the prospect of growing business: those are some of Louisville’s highlights in 2015. [WAVE3]

When officers take the lives of those they are sworn to protect and serve, they undermine their own legitimacy. [The Atlantic]

Registration is now open for Louisville’s Kilowatt Crackdown, a contest to reward for energy efficiency improvements in the city’s buildings. [WFPL]

And if you missed it in Louisville? Everybody is losing their damn mind over some misbehaving kids at a shopping mall. [The ‘Ville Voice]

Hepatitis C, which can damage the liver and cause cancer, affects more than 3 million people in the U.S., and new medications that have come on the market in the past few years will cure the virus in most patients. But a study has found that Medicaid in Kentucky, Indiana and more than 30 other states restrict who receive the pricey drugs. [Business First]

Some Indiana police agencies say their fight against methamphetamine production would be helped by a proposed state law change to require a doctor’s prescription for a common cold medicine that is used to make the illegal drug. [News & Tribune]

Your support is crucial if you want to see us continue. While other media outlets ignore scandals like those in Montgomery County, we’re shining the bright lights of transparency on issues that directly impact you across the Commonwealth. Love us or hate us, we’re putting in the time and effort to spend years reporting on issues from the pension crisis to government-sanctioned animal cruelty to educational corruption and we get real results. [Help Us!]

Really, WDRB? It Just Turned Racial?

Just outta the blue? Some scary black people made it all scary and racial and OH GOD THE RACE CARD?

What the actual fuck?

It’s always been about race:


CLICK FOR STORY

Really. It’s always been about race. It’s always been about wealthy white people pushing something onto the West End. And if you live in the West End? It appears to be happening because wealthy white people are behaving as if they know what’s best for the West End. Hipsters are getting up in arms, claiming the West End is shooting itself in the foot. The same upper middle class white people who tried to stall construction of a Walmart store because of a parking lot (or, really, because they hate Walmart.) A store they’ll never, ever visit, of course. Not just because it’s Walmart but because it’s beyond Ninth Street.

Let’s quit acting as if this comes as a surprise. Let’s quit acting as if there’s no racial divide in Louisville. Let’s quit acting like dumb headlines like this aren’t both a provocation and an example of white privilege in action. Particularly when the story references race once, loosely, with the term “African Americans”, insinuating that people of color are making this about something it’s not.

Wondering how it might be possible to cover something like the biodigester without ridiculous headlines? Maybe without encouraging the white flight bigots?


CLICK FOR STORY

There you go.

Lest anyone think what WDRB has done isn’t inciting bigots? Just a taste of the more tame comments they’re receiving:

The same sort of thing happened with the station’s most recent hype over JCPS.

Possumbilly City.

Some Journo Ethics Would Be Great For Louisville

Folks wonder why everyday people are distrustful of media?

Check this out from a WDRB reporter:


FROM A WDRB REPORTER

Her job is to objectively cover things like LMPD.

We all make mistakes, sure. Every day. But she snapped when asked if she’d be reimbursing the police to avoid any perception of ethics issues. Rather than seize the moment to say, “Ooh, good call, right on top of that.” Straight to defense and snapping. In addition to previous scuffles over police coverage in the past (like the time she raised red flags while covering a murder near Phoenix Hill Tavern), this is… Not that great.

WDRB should at the very least offer to reimburse LMPD to fix this. If they can’t afford to or don’t want to, surely the local journo community will chip in to help avoid the appearance of impropriety.

Everyone from Joe Gerth to the folks at my hometown newspaper in Eastern Kentucky refuse even the appearance of an ethical dilemma. I’ve seen Gerth turn down water from people he’s covering — despite water being pretty much acceptable on all journalistic fronts. Chuck Olmstead often paid for bottles of water. Francene wouldn’t even let another journalist (which she barely was) buy her coffee.

Good grief. No wonder people have given up on trust. Something that’s sorely needed today.

WDRB trolls will start attacking in 3, 2, 1 instead of doing the right thing…

But kudos to the cops for being great in this situation. Even though they wouldn’t do this for just any random person on the street unless they’re elderly or in dire straits.

Why jump on WDRB? Because WDRB sure loves attacking people like Phillip Bailey for daring to say and do what no one else in this town will. And this isn’t the first time something like this has occurred with the station’s reporters.

They spent the better part of two days attacking Bailey for daring stand up to the asshats he worked for at WFPL — going so far as to insinuate he was unethical, biased, blah blah blah.

Every week it seems like there’s someone else in Louisville media these folks want to jump. When it comes to them? We’re not allowed to ask questions or raise concerns because we get personally attacked. Even Eric Flack is better than that (he, too, turns things like this down).

Let’s Take Racism More Seriously, Louisville

Officials with Jefferson County Public Schools unveiled a plan to the school board Monday on where to place two new innovative schools that will open in time for the 2015-16 school year. [WDRB]

The National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday the crew of a UPS jet that crashed last year in Birmingham, Ala., made mistakes during the critical pre-dawn approach to the runway, adding that the fatigue of the pilot and co-pilot were factors in the accident. [C-J/AKN]

With the appliance sale of General Electric to Electrolux, many employees are wondering what it will mean for them in the future. [WHAS11]

Republican Agriculture Commissioner James Comer formally entered the 2015 race for governor on Tuesday in front of hundreds of hometown supporters in an ambitious campaign rollout more than a year before the election. [WKYT]

Will this Josh Young saga never end with local media??? [WLKY]

Atmospheric volumes of greenhouse gas hit a record in 2013 as carbon dioxide concentrations grew at the fastest rate since reliable global records began, the World Meteorological Organization said on Tuesday. [HuffPo]

Six decades ago a family’s home was attacked in a neighborhood ripped apart by racism. Now, researchers at the University of Louisville are retelling the story about two families and their fight for desegregation and need the public’s help. [WAVE3]

The Louisville ECHO program (Louisville is Engaging Children Outdoors), Louisville Metro Parks and Recreation’s signature environmental education initiative for fourth-grade students, has received significant support this year with $41,295 in grant funding from the U.S. Forest Service, and $7,500 Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. [Press Release]

Starting this week, members of the Jefferson County Board of Education are hosting community conversations across the district. [WFPL]

WDRB in Louisville, Kentucky has hired six journalists from print publications to contribute to its website during the last two years, said Barry Fulmer, the station’s news director. [Poynter]

A University of Louisville cancer researcher, Dr. Anthony Dragun, is trying to make treatment easier for breast cancer patients. [Business First]

An outside firm will investigate New Albany’s police department for possible workplace violations after a state police investigation cleared two officers accused of working on private jobs on taxpayer time. [News & Tribune]

Be Smart: Just Say No To Crappy Hipster Bourbon

What they’re not telling you is that their site was compromised and many pages were redirecting to sites that Google said were malware. We got dozens of emails about it and had to disable links for quite a while. [WDRB]

The new school year will bring a lunch price increase as well as an expanded free lunch program to Jefferson County Public Schools intended to help struggling families. [JCPS]

There is less than a week left of summer before the first day of school for Jefferson County Public Schools and the hotline for important bus questions will be open starting Sunday. [WHAS11]

Possible links between health problems and mountaintop mining in Eastern Kentucky emerged as a key concern of people attending sessions aimed at coming up with ideas to improve the economy and quality of life in the region, according to the dentist who chaired the sessions. [H-L]

This guy sounds like a real winner. A southern Indiana man is facing charges after police say he rammed a mobile home with his vehicle and then assaulted three people. [WLKY]

Aiming to sidestep a logjam in Congress, the Obama administration is looking for steps it could take on its own to prevent American companies from reincorporating overseas to shirk U.S. taxes. [HuffPo]

If they can win one more game, a dream is about to be realized for a group of New Albany kids. [WAVE3]

The racist lady who advised Alison Daddy’s Name Grimes (until this weekend) is slowly trying to erase her existence from the internet. [Page One]

If there’s a war on coal (there’s not), it started long before President Barack Obama. [WFPL]

In Cleveland, a public hospital may be succeeding at the seemingly impossible: saving money while making patients healthier. It’s doing so by giving patients personalized attention. [NPR]

You don’t have to worry about this if you’re not drinking crappy bourbon. Period. [Business First]

Tuesday night, the Floyd County Commissioners unanimously approved the request to hire a director of public works — a first for the county. [News & Tribune]

Karen Sypher Is Poking Her Head Up Again

Louisville Male High School Principal David Mike and two other school staffers could face disciplinary actions at the hands of the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board following the results of an investigation into allegations of cheating on a standardized test. [WDRB]

A Wayside Christian Mission emergency shelter has begun an $11.8 million renovation that will provide space for more beds, a multipurpose building and a new kitchen. [C-J/AKN]

A local organization is hoping safe drinking water will soon be a reality in parts of Tanzania. It’d be awesome to see this sort of effort in our, you know, own backyard in rural Kentucky. Not with water but developing life. [WHAS11]

Long story short: The Democrats are shitting their pants this year. [Sam Youngman]

How you gonna sell fake zoo passes in the parking lot of the flipping zoo?! [WLKY]

With Toni Konz bailing on the Courier-Journal and her sweet USA Today spot to go to WDRB, there must be more trouble afoot. They’ve been trying to recruit her for more than six months. [Press Release]

PEE ALERT! U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn in Louisville, Kentucky, alerted the warden at SCI Benner Township in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, that 37-year-old Jonathan Lee Riches may have used two false names to file an appeal on behalf of 54-year-old Karen Sypher without her consent. [WAVE3]

The HSUS can’t stem the trend toward no-kill, so it’s help shelters mollify critics. [Nathan Winograd]

A greater percentage of foreign-born Kentucky residents hold a college degree than Kentuckians born in the U.S.—but immigrants to Kentucky are also likelier to have not finished high school, according to a study by the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy. [WFPL]

First ladies typically avoid getting into public scraps, but Michelle Obama has jumped into perhaps her biggest battle yet. She’s fighting a House Republican effort to soften a central part of her prized anti-childhood obesity campaign and she says she’s ready “to fight until the bitter end.” [HuffPo]

Dr. Cindy Stowe, the new dean of Sullivan University’s College of Pharmacy, got started in the job last week. [Business First]

While Election Day is still four months away, some races in Floyd County have already been decided. [News & Tribune]