Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Fowler Park


The City of West Buechel paid $135,000 for this empty lot a few years ago, when the Mayor Fowler Crew was running the show in City Hall. There are a few legal problems relating to this real estate purchase and one big practical problem. This empty lot is not worth more than about $35,000, tops.

I call it "Fowler Park" because it is less offensive than calling it "Big-fuking-waste-of-money Park."

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

If you don't understand this photo

It's an inside joke.


The first bearded iris bloom of 2015

Pretty. Lots more on the way.

There's loads of good dirt here in West Buechel.


Prevailing legal mythology

Members of the West Buechel City Council believe that any four of them (a quorum) cannot come together at the same time and in the same place without first giving proper notice, or it would be a violation of Kentucky Open Meetings laws.

This is exactly wrong.

The whole City Council, or any subset, can gather for beer and pizza at any time without giving notice or making the party open to the general public. It's sort of a Constitutional right to do that. Freedom of Association.

It's just not an official City Council meeting.

Additional elaboration and clarification:

KRS 61.810(1)," All meetings of a quorum of the members of any public agency at which any public business is discussed or at which any action is taken by the agency, shall be public meetings, open to the public at all times . . . ."
   

Hidden tax bites

Local governments in Kentucky can collect an insurance premium tax on nearly every type of insurance. Health insurance, life insurance, car insurance homeowner's insurance, boat insurance and everything else.. You name the insurance and it can be taxed.

The insurance companies collect the tax as part of the insurance bill you pay. KRS 91A.080 even allows the insurance company to receive a percentage as payment for handling the collection. The tax is not itemized on your insurance bill. The tax is built in and it is totally invisible.

Louisville Metro collects 5% of your insurance premiums as tax. The insurance companies send the money directly to the local government.

The City of West Buechel charges 10% on every allowed type of insurance.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Where no mouse has gone before

In an old-time general store the owner installed a shallow 4 x 4 foot open top box covered with chicken wire.  The bottom of the box had a dozen three-inch round holes with Mason jars screwed in from the back side. Each of the holes were marked 5%, 10%, 15% or 25%. Most of the holes were labeled 5%, with a few 10% or 15%, and only one was marked 25%.

The last Wednesday of every month was "Discount Wednesday" for any purchase that totaled more than $10. A mouse was released into the box, and whatever hole the mouse went down, that was the percentage discount the customer received.

Before the store opened on Discount Wednesday, the owner placed a few mouse turds in each of the 5% jars. Mice generally tend to go only where other mice have already been.

Thus, the game was rigged.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Too much stuff

The City of West Buechel is returning all of Mayor Fowler's personal possessions that she had stored in the TEM building, but I was told she is running out of residential space to put all that stuff. It seems she is a hoarder with an unfavorable stuff to storage space ratio. Thus the need to store her excess stuff on City property.

Elections have consequences, as has been said before.

Compulsive hoarding is "a pattern of behavior that is characterized by the excessive acquisition of and inability or unwillingness to discard large quantities of objects that cover the living areas of the home and cause significant distress or impairment. Compulsive hoarding behavior has been associated with health risks, impaired functioning, economic burden, and adverse effects on friends and family members." Wikipedia.

2014's official West Buechel monster bug

This baby clocked-in at six inches, at least. West Buechel grows some of the fiercest predators I've ever seen. She would have been scary, except she was only a bug. She prays for her prey.

When a Praying Mantis prays, does she pray to a god that looks like a big green bug with claws? 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Cash receipts at City Hall

It looks like a standard cash receipt book lasts about seven week, down at City Hall, before it is all used up. That would be seven or eight cash receipt books per year for several years.

Where the hell are they?

Four out of five ain't bad

Last November I wrote The great West Buechel Snipe hunt and I asked five questions:
  1. Does the City of West Buechel Economic Development Commission even exist?
  2. Who are or have been the Members of this Economic Development Commission?
  3. When were Mayor Fowler's Letters of Appointment submitted to the City Council?
  4. Where are the minutes of the meetings of the Economic Development Commission?  
  5. Where did the money go?
Answers
  1. Nope. 
  2. Nobody
  3. Never
  4. Nowhere, and
  5. Not known yet. Be patient.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A Sunday morning conversation

A reader of this blog emailed me this morning. This is the exchange.

Reader: "Maybe everyone should take a step back and let this administration work thru  their problems instead of constantly stirring the pot and making the city look worse than it is everyday."

My reply: "Maybe. Maybe things need to change right now before somebody else gets into serious trouble."

Reader's response: "Wonder why , if no one was bonded in the previous administration , all of a sudden it is such a big deal now. Certain members of the council had knowledge and did nothing but now they want to bang the drums. Wonder who is driving the train? Joe and Charlie brought it up to the council and nothing was done. Guess it depends on who you are and how much power you have."

My answer: "The previous administration violated the law repeatedly and habitually. Allowing illegality to continue during the Richards administration is not going to happen."

The negative value of precident

If you don't like the way it was done before, dare to do it differently now.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Are city code enforcement officers city "officers"?

KRS 83A.080(3) states that all non-elected city officers must be approved by the City Council.

KRS 83A.010(10) defines "officer" as follows:

"Officer" means any person elected to a position by the voters or any person appointed to a position which 
(a) is created by the Constitution, the General Assembly, or a city;
(b) possesses a delegation of a portion of the sovereign power of government;
(c) has powers and duties to be discharged which are conferred directly or by implication by the city;
(d) has duties performed independently and without control of a superior power other than law;
(e) has some permanency;
(f) requires an official oath;
(g) is assigned by a commission or other written authority; and 
(h) provides for an official bond if required by proper authority.
Code enforcement officers do not operate independently and without control of a supervisor.
Code enforcement officers do not routinely handle cash as a part of the job, so they need not be bonded.
Code enforcement officers do not meet each criterion for this definition.

If Code enforcement officers require Council approval, then so do basic police officers but they don't.

Code enforcement officer R. N. did not receive Council approval in 2011, when he started on the job.

So, I say nope, a West Buechel code enforcement officer does not need Council approval as long as his or her additional pay stays within budget. The city's Personnel Policy Handbook (which needs to be updated) establishes basic city job positions, but it does not specify how many slots of each position there are.

What is good for the gander, as they say, is also good for the goose. 

Waiting until the last minute is not manditory

City Council meeting minutes - when drafted and when made available to the public.

The best practice is to draft minutes for meetings while the meeting is actually happening or immediately afterwards. Not later than the next day.

The best practice is to circulate draft minutes well before the next Council meeting while memories are still fresh and corrections can be offered in advance.

KRS 61.835 Minutes to be recorded -- Open to public.
The minutes of action taken at every meeting of any such public agency, setting forth an accurate record of votes and actions at such meetings, shall be promptly recorded and such records shall be open to public inspection at reasonable times no later than immediately following the next meeting of the body.
"No later than" does not preclude "well ahead of time."

Too much money

The City of West Buechel has, at any point in time these days, about $1.5 million in the bank. Generally, it seems, the city has more income than it knows what to do with in addition to sitting on a big wad of it. The city's money is under the joint control of the Mayor and the Clerk-Treasurer.

Somebody has to be bonded for $1.5 million, or the system must be changed. This is the way it was under Sharon Fowler (ha, ha, ha) and this is the way it is now.

Trust has nothing to do with it.

Liking or disliking the Mayor, whomever that is from time to time, has nothing to do with it.


Theo Keith has West Buechel covered.

Theo Keith, political reporter for WAVE News, has been covering West Buechel City Hall for as long as I remember. That's since last year.  Here is this Wednesday's edition of the Theo Report.

LINK : WAVE News article.

1. Kentucky State Police have launched an investigation. 

This is a big bag of nothing.

2. Kim Richards' criminal past.

KRS 520.03 Escape in the second degree.
(1) A person is guilty of escape in the second degree when he escapes from a
detention facility or, being charged with or convicted of a felony, he escapes
from custody.
 
(2) Escape in the second degree is a Class D felony.
This is not nothing.

Ms. Richards said, ""I don't deserve to be persecuted for my past. People change."

3. Kim Richards' bond application denied by Kentucky League of Cities.

Big problem.

4. New hire for Code Enforcement position without Council approval.

I have no idea if Council approval is needed for this.

5. Fowler loaned money to herself.

Loaned? Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

This is old news.

6. Fowler shopped online at Home Shopping Network (HSN) and QVC with City credit card.

Wow. There's a lot more than just that.


Friday, April 17, 2015

AP progress report April 17, 2015


Getting Back to Business
AP Progress Report
Friday, April 17


GE Appliances employees’ source to stay up-to-date on our progress to resume full operations at Appliance Park following the AP6 fire. Email us at communications@ge.com with questions. Going forward, these messages will be issued on an as-needed basis to share new information.

Returning to Work on Monday
All hourly employees in buildings 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 10, as well as all salaried employees, should report to work at Appliance Park on Monday.


Change to AP Services for Mon., 4/20
Xerox Copy Center – Closed. Employees may use FedEx Office as a temporary replacement. Pcards may be used temporarily due to the circumstances. Please use GEA account number 0647126081. Learn more.


Connecting with our Customers
As you have heard on multiple occasions, the business has worked very hard to minimize the impact of the fire on our customers. The Sales team has delivered several, specific communications to customers over the past two weeks, providing them updates on our production status and progress. Overall the feedback has been very supportive, with sincere concern about our people and our products.
                     
The Commercial teams continue to execute our April Great American Kitchen Event and have communicated adjustments to our Memorial Day promotional plan to best serve all of our customers.
                     
The execution by the numerous teams working on the production recovery has provided strong confidence in our direction and ability to serve all customers going forward. Orders remain strong and our good momentum continues.

                 
A New Normal
Employees who previously worked in the AP6 offices are settling into their new work locations. Thanks to everyone who has supported these moves, and those who have welcomed new neighbors into their office areas. The AP6 Alumni are receiving regular updates on the status of their former offices and came together Thursday, April 16 for an AP6 Alumni meeting in Monogram Hall.

Mark Shirkness, GM-Distribution & Services and Integration Planning Leader with 100 team members that had offices in AP6, had this to say following the meeting: “The morale of the AP6 Alumni remains strong. We are all grateful for the support and inquiries from colleagues. We ask that those across the business with whom we work remain patient and mindful that we don’t have all of the files and materials from our former offices. We are doing our best without them and appreciate the understanding.”

Meanwhile, employees temporarily displaced from AP35 have been notified that the building will reopen on Monday. Telephones will remain out of service until new infrastructure may be completed so please contact employees by email or cell phone in the interim. Additionally, labs within AP35 will remain down temporarily until all power loads are confirmed.


A Message from a Neighbor
The following note was received from a neighbor in response to the letter GE Appliances mailed last week to residences and businesses within a two-mile radius of Appliance Park.



Appliance Park Benefits Sessions Next Week for GEA employees

The GE Benefits sessions for GE Appliances employees will be held next week for Appliance Park salaried and hourly employees. Hourly employees have received the dates and times of their sessions in the plants. Salaried employees are asked to please review the schedule below and attend the session that meets their specific situation. All sessions will be held in Monogram Hall.  Given the parking constraints around Monogram Hall, salaried employees should park in their normal building lot and walk to Monogram Hall.

Choosing the benefits session that’s right for you
Employees will be divided into three categories based on age and service with GE as of June 1, 2015 (the current Integration team planning date), and asked to attend the appropriate meeting. The categories are:

Retirement Eligible
An employee who is age 60 or over on the date of June 1, 2015.

Special Benefits Protection (SBP) Eligible
An employee who is under the age of 60 on the date of June 1, 2015, and who has 25 years of Pension Qualification Service (or 25 years of Continuous Service for benefit protection other than pension).

Transfer Eligible
An employee who is not Retirement Eligible or Special Benefits Protection eligible on the date of June 1, 2015.


The sessions will last approximately 90 minutes depending on the amount of questions and answers.  Click on the appropriate link to download a meeting request to your calendar.





Reminders
At the request of authorities and to ensure your safety, employees are reminded that they should not approach the newly constructed AP6 fence line. 

Inspectors and claims adjustors will be on site to continue investigations and assess the damage. If employees are asked questions by the adjustors, they should refrain from comment and refer the adjustors to Marc.Charnas@ge.com or Mary.Shown@ge.com.
                                    
Employees are asked to refer any media inquiries to Kim_Freeman@ge.com.

Nearby residents experiencing debris or property damage as a result of the fire at GE Appliance Park should call Electric Insurance to obtain information at (888) 456-7445. Call-takers are on duty daily from 8 am-2 pm; a voice mailbox will record calls during off hours.



Quarterly budget reports

KRS 91A.030(11) requires the Mayor's office to produce budget reports at least quarterly. With computers and a little diligence, monthly budget reports are fairly easy to produce. City Council members should insist these required budget reports be issued. Council members may be held personally liable for any expenditures they authorize in excess of budgeted amounts. Citizens are entitled to know that someone is driving the bus. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The importance of city budgets

KRS 91A.030 Annual budget.

(1) Each city shall operate under an annual budget ordinance adopted and administered in accordance with the provisions of this section. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no city shall expend any moneys from any governmental or proprietary fund, except in accordance with a budget ordinance adopted pursuant to this section.
(2)* * *
(3)* * *
(4)* * *
(5)* * *
(6)* * *
(7)* * *
(8)* * *
(9)* * *
(10)* * *
(11) Administration and implementation of an adopted budget ordinance shall be the responsibility of the executive authority of the city. That responsibility shall include the preparation and submission to the legislative body of operating statements which shall include budgetary comparisons of each governmental fund for which an annual budget has been adopted. These reports shall be submitted not less than once every three (3) months in each fiscal year.
(12)* * *
(13) "No city agency, or member, director, officer, or employee of a city agency, may bind the city in any way to any extent beyond the amount of money at that time appropriated for the purpose of the agency. All contracts, agreements, and obligations, express or implied, beyond existing appropriations are void; nor shall any city officer issue any bond, certificate, or warrant for the payment of money by the city in any way to any extent beyond the unexpended balance of any appropriation made for the purpose."

92.340 Liability of city of home rule class for violation of KRS 92.330 or 91A.030(13) -- Remedies.
"If, in any city of the home rule class, any city tax revenue is expended for a purpose other than that for which the tax was levied or the license fee imposed, each officer, agent or employee who, by a refusal to act, could have prevented the expenditure, and the members of the city legislative body who voted for the expenditure, shall be jointly and severally liable to the city for the amount so expended. The amount may be recovered of them in an action upon their bonds, or personally. The city attorney shall prosecute to recovery all such actions. If he fails to do so for six (6) months after the money has been expended, any taxpayer may prosecute such action for the use and benefit of the city. A recovery under this subsection shall not bar a criminal prosecution. Any indebtedness contracted by a city of the home rule class in violation of this subsection or of KRS 92.330 or 91A.030(13) shall be void, the contract shall not be enforceable by the person with whom made, the city shall never assume the same, and money paid under any such contract may be recovered back by the city."

The purpose of government

If there is a purpose for government, it is to be of service to the people. If there is a moral justification for taxation, it too is exclusively for the public welfare. Government and the tax money it controls are not for the pleasure and convenience of politicians, city officials, city employees, elected officials or the consultants and council they employ.

When that is forgotten, change must happen.

Government exits only to be truly helpful.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Home damage from GE fire?

Nearby residents experiencing debris or property damage as a result of the fire at GE Appliance Park should call Electric Insurance to obtain information at (888) 456-7445.

Call-takers are on duty daily from 8 am - 2 pm.

A voice mailbox will record calls during off hours.

Appliance Park employee update


Getting Back to Business
AP Progress Report
Wednesday, April 15


GE Appliances employees’ source to stay up-to-date on our progress to resume full operations at Appliance Park following the AP6 fire. Email us at communications@ge.com with questions. The next update is planned for Friday, April 15. Following that, these messages will only be issued as needed.

Returning to Work on Thursday
All hourly employees in buildings 2, 3, 4, 5 and 10, as well as all salaried employees, should continue to report to work at Appliance Park this week.

Building 1 employees on Line 2 and all support areas of Line 2 should continue to report to work. The remaining AP1 employees will stay on LOW for the rest of this week.      


Changes to AP Services for Thur, 4/16
1.    Mail roomNormal operations. Starting this week, employees relocated from AP6 & AP35 will receive mail in their new work locations.

2.    Xerox Copy Center – Closed. Employees may use Kinko’s as a temporary replacement. Pcards may be used temporarily due to the circumstances.

Getting Back to Business
They say every dark cloud has a silver lining. In this case, the need to relocate the Derby warehouse due to the AP6 fire has given Rich Calvaruso, Lean & ERP Leader, and the Continuous Improvement (Lean) team an opportunity to rethink the parts value stream and how materials are managed from point of origin to in-plant supermarkets. Creating a plan for every part, the team immediately led the organization of the new warehouse, ensuring the layout would maximize efficiency.

The number one objective of the warehouse is to supply the plants with the right parts at the right time and to the right place. The team has addressed the challenges of a smaller footprint and travel time to Appliance Park by approaching capacity from a cubic feet perspective rather than square feet and organizing floor space by the frequency with which each part is ordered.

In just the first three days of operation, the new warehouse unloaded 47 trucks, which hauled 1,865 pallets of more than 13,000 cartons. Plants are placing orders to be filled and materials are flowing to keep the production lines operating. The team has done amazing work to not only launch the new facility, but also prevent back log at the loading docks. 

This is just the beginning. While progress has been steady, there is much more work to be done over the coming months to return parts inventory to normal levels.

A panoramic view of the new warehouse

                       
Reminders
At the request of authorities and to ensure your safety, employees are reminded that they should not approach the newly constructed AP6 fence line. 

Inspectors and claims adjustors will be on site to continue investigations and assess the damage. If employees are asked questions by the adjustors, they should refrain from comment and refer the adjustors to Marc.Charnas@ge.com or Mary.Shown@ge.com.
                                    
Media continue to cover the story are receiving daily updates from the communications team. Employees are asked to refer any media inquiries to Kim_Freeman@ge.com.

Nearby residents experiencing debris or property damage as a result of the fire at GE Appliance Park should call Electric Insurance to obtain information at (888) 456-7445. Call-takers are on duty daily from 8 am-2 pm; a voice mailbox will record calls during off hours.

Hello? Mission Control? We have an Ethics Board!

At last night's West Buechel City Council meeting, Mayor Richards nominated Zuly Delgado, Mary Campbell and Drew Allgeier to the city Ethics Board and the City Council unanimously agreed. We now have an Ethics Board!

Damn. That was easy.

I know Drew. He was a US Marine stationed on US Embassy guard duty in Moscow and Paris.

He's seen a lot of stuff happen up close.  

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Tom's Sure-fire sinus cure

Horseradish. For breakfast.

Lots of horseradish.

Vocabulary word for today: Blivit

Blivit is the name for any situation that shares the essential characteristics of stuffing a quart of pickles into a pint jar.

Monday, April 13, 2015

News for GE Appliance Park employees


Getting Back to Business
AP Progress Report
Monday, April 13
GE Appliances employees’ source to stay up-to-date on our progress to resume full operations at Appliance Park following the AP6 fire. Email us at communications@ge.com with questions.  
Returning to Work on Tuesday
Hourly employees in building 3 and stamping in building 2 will return to work on Tuesday.
Building 1 employees on Line 2 and all support areas of Line 2 should continue to report to work at Appliance Park this week. The remaining AP1 employees will stay on LOW for the rest of this week.
All hourly employees in buildings 2, 4, 5 and 10, as well as all salaried employees, should continue to report to work at Appliance Park this week.
               
Changes to AP Services for Tuesday, 4/14
1.    AP Medical/PWCC/PACNormal operations.
2.    Park Caf├ęs – Normal operations.
3.    Mail roomNormal operations. Starting this week, employees relocated from AP6 & AP35 will receive mail in their new work locations.
4.    Newbold Janitorial Services – Normal operations.
5.    Xerox Copy Center – Closed until further notice.
From the Scene
Investigators remain on the scene and focused on the southwest corner of AP6 as a potential point of origin. Contractors hired by GEA are supporting investigators by moving debris as needed.                   
                           
Getting Back to Business
The cross-functional team from Materials, Sourcing, Supplier Quality, IT, Technology, Product Management, Fulfillment, Legal and Finance continues to work around the clock to replace parts lost in the fire at a record pace. Last week, the team initiated 160 air shipments compared to a typical week which would only see a handful of air shipments. The team has also expedited approximately 120 trucks from Seattle, where some shipments arrive by sea.
               
More than 115 suppliers have been called upon and more than a dozen suppliers received on-site help from our team, to improve their capacity. Additionally, the Supplier Quality and Technology teams have worked to find more than a dozen alternate parts or suppliers to fill gaps.
                     
Finally, the team entered into a lease for a new, strategically-located facility. Twenty-eight trailers with more than 1,100 skids of material were unloaded there this past weekend. The new facility has more than five times the docks as AP6 and ten times more out-going shipment doors.
A look inside the new warehouse for production parts
                      
Reminders
At the request of authorities and to ensure your safety, employees are reminded that they should not approach the newly constructed AP6 fence line. 
Inspectors and claims adjustors will be on site to continue investigations and assess the damage. If employees are asked questions by the adjustors, they should refrain from comment and refer the adjustors to Marc.Charnas@ge.com or Mary.Shown@ge.com.
                                    
Media continue to cover the story are receiving daily updates from the communications team. Employees are asked to refer any media inquiries to Kim_Freeman@ge.com.
Anyone experiencing debris or property damage as a result of the fire at GE Appliance Park should call Electric Insurance to obtain information at (888) 456-7445. Call-takers are on duty daily from 8 am-2 pm; a voice mailbox will record calls during off hours.

Bonding requirement for city treasurers

KRS 65.067(1)
"All officers, officials, and employees of cities, counties, urban-county governments, charter county governments, a regional wastewater commission, and special districts who handle public funds in the execution of their duties shall give a good and sufficient bond to the local governing body for the faithful and honest performance of his or her duties and as security for all money coming into that person's hands or under that person's control. The bond amount shall be based upon the maximum amount of public funds the officer, official, or employee handles at any given time during a fiscal year cycle. The local governing body shall pay the cost of the bond."

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The confidential report

After 107 hours over eighteen days in hell, or "City Hall" as you call it, I am back at home again to resume working on the Confidential Report.

I'd tell you about it, except . . . it's confidential.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Appliance Park fire update

The Good Friday fire in Building 6 at GE's Appliance Park sent toxic smoke into the surrounding neighborhoods and forced many to shelter in place. A few refugees from south of the Southern RR tracks were sheltered in West Buechel's City Hall for a few hours. They were served hot chocolate and Heitzman donuts.

General Electric is updating local government officials at a briefing to be held at Appliance Park on Thursday.


Friday, April 3, 2015

Honey, I found West Buechel's drainage problem.

The City of West Buechel has more than one drainage problem. It is obvious West Buechel's biggest drainage problem is at the west end of Fountain Square Drive. Look and see for yourself how bad the drainage problem is. April 3, 2015. 4:30 PM.

This is the drainage problem that needs to be fixed first by city government, in partnership with MSD and Fountain Square Apartments. The sidewalk project in east West Buechel can wait.

You owe me a Heitzman donut. ;)