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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Lexington Herald Leader Editorial Sees "Kentucky Association Of Counties [Voting To Continue] Orgy Of Excess", And I *SIGH*.

KACo still does not get it

When a state audit finds $3 million in questionable spending by a "self-serving culture" of "board members, management and staff" at an organization funded largely with public money, taxpayers might soon expect to hear of a thorough housecleaning.

But not at KACo, which once stood for the Kentucky Association of Counties but now is becoming better known as the "Kentucky Association of Constant Outrages."

At KACo, where a Herald-Leader investigation found that five top executives racked up nearly $600,000 in travel and entertainment expenses during a two-year period, the housecleaning began and ended with former executive director Bob Arnold. He was forced out in September but continues to draw his $178,000 annual salary.

Arnold's departure opened the way for KACo to find a replacement who could bring some instant credibility to an agency desperately needing an extreme makeover of its image as the home of free-spending, wild and crazy party animals who blow $31,000 (including $10,000 in hotel cancellation fees) sending six people on a trip to Washington, spend more than $7,000 on a single dinner and put visits to strip clubs and the escort services of Campus Cuties on a KACo credit card.

A committee tasked with conducting the search for Arnold's replacement found such a candidate when it recommended that the KACo board hire Ed Hatchett, a former state auditor with an impeccable record.

But KACo board members showed no interest in cleaning up the organization's image Friday when they rejected the search committee's recommendation and chose instead to promote Denny Nunnelley, the longtime deputy director who was one of the five executives responsible for all the lavish spending on travel and entertainment in recent years.

A state audit of KACo, prompted by the Herald-Leader's investigation into the agency's spending, found some $3 million in undocumented, excessive or improper spending. The audit report said Nunnelley signed off on $70,486 of that amount.

A similar Herald-Leader investigation and subsequent state audit of the Kentucky League of Cities produced considerable hue and cry from various city officials threatening to withdraw from the league or at least withhold dues because of KLC's profligate spending habits.

But there has been precious little similar outcry from county officials upset over KACo's spending.

Friday's decision by the KACo board helps explain that.

Promoting one of the offenders in KACo's orgy of excess makes a fairly clear statement that the good old boys in county courthouses across Kentucky couldn't care less about the integrity and credibility of the agency that represents them.

They just don't want the party to end.



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