Open Season on Taxpayers...Anything Goes!

The latest perfidy on the part of an elected official, at least on the national scene, is the defection of U.S. Senator Arlen Specter from the republican to the democrat party. He was upfront about his weaseling, which had nothing to do with philosophy but everything to do about being reelected next year. His polling convinced him that Pennsylvania republicans had had it with him and that, consequently, he couldn’t even make it through the Primary Election.

In the Lexington, Ky., area, the governmental perfidy is much different in that it involves not defections from parties, but STEALING on the part of government employees from the hard-earned taxes of the people. This is actually a statewide practice documented on practically a daily schedule in the media and involves elected officials and/or bureaucrats in courthouses and municipal buildings from the Mississippi River to the horn of Pike County.

The most glaring bit of embezzling this year was perpetrated by the director of Bluegrass Airport and some of his bureaucratic cronies. He, along with at least three of these cronies, is already gone but hopefully not forgotten by the law enforcement agencies. His salary of close to a quarter-million-a-year (for a small city of 280,000) and the six-figure salaries of his partners in crime were not enough, so these tinhorn crooks hit the general airport fund for over $500,000 in personal aggrandizements in just three years, including thousands spent at a strip club.

The University of Kentucky found it necessary to fire four employees and reprimand three others the other day after more than $20,000 worth of questionable expenses was discovered. One guy managed to buy $5,381 worth of alcohol purchases in just one year, while another one of the fired thieves managed to blow nearly $1,800 of the people’s money on a Christmas party. The first guy also blew more than $2,000 for booze during a three-day trip to Las Vegas in December 2007. Liquor is a prime acquisition for state employees to the extent that one wonders if many of them are ever sober.

The latest illegal windfall was perpetrated by the CEO of the local library establishment, which is financed virtually totally by property taxes. She managed to run up a bill of some $134,000 over her five-year tenure, traveling all over the world on the taxpayers’ dime. For instance, she blew nearly $6,000 in 2007 on a trip to a “library conference” in South Africa. SOUTH AFRICA? She blew almost $3,000, also in 2007 (what a year!), on a “library conference” no farther away than Washington. Her itinerary has included trips to Norway, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Canada and 15 states…all on the taxpayers’ money. Talk about wild vacations!

In addition, thousands have been spent by her on meals at the best restaurants (to discuss business with various and assorted VIPs, of course), gifts such as calendars (more than $8,000 for those goodies), and “special events.” The list goes on and on, but, after all, the lady only makes $137,035 a year (base salary) plus other “enhancements.” This is way out of line, over-the-top compared to other library CEOs, at least for cities the size of Lexington. Her base income without the bells and whistles is 10% greater than the governor’s.

How does all this go down? Three guesses and the first two don’t count…you got it – that almighty definer of governmental stupidity, the CREDIT CARD. These officials (20 in the library department alone) are given credit cards. Imagine…CREDIT CARDS! That’s like throwing away the keys to the bank and inviting a riot.

To whom or what are these finaglers responsible? Again, those three guesses…yeah, various boards made up of appointees who happen to be cronies of whoever the appointer is, such as a mayor, or a crony of a crony. Result: These boards have their meetings, get snowed by the perpetrators of financial fraud, make nice with everybody, sometimes have parties, etc. They DO virtually NOTHING. And why should they since they, at least for the most part, receive little other than the juicy appointment, a sort of social merit badge? In the cases noted here, the boards didn’t even perform sufficient oversight and certainly seemed to question nothing. How much time is a non-paid board member going to actually spend discharging his/her accepted responsibility? Not much!

This is what makes the taxpayer livid with resentment. The raid on the public treasury is never-ending by the hooligans who get these plums of employment while those who are trusted by their fellow citizens to watch the store are on perpetual vacation. Get this: The Library CEO was allowed by the library board to spend $17,405 over five years to just MOVE her belongings from Florida to Lexington. Why should that take five years and why should it take more than one trip? That works for everyone else. What is actually the explanation for this insult to one’s intelligence? Only the shadow knows, apparently. Disgusting! Just as the airport folks were axed, this library head-honcho should be fired! As for the taxpayers…they can say they’re mad as hell and won’t take it anymore…but they will.