Once again, Pike County Judge-Executive Ray Jones is cleaning up a mess. Jones inherited a disaster and everywhere he turns, it seems like another debacle is discovered. Fortunately, he has followed through on his promise to clean up the mess.
In Eastern Kentucky political corruption has been rampant and as I’m discovering, it has been a part of life for many years. Political favors have been done and the big wigs in the area call the bigger wigs in Frankfort to cover up any inequities.
Occasionally, politicians get caught and pay the price. “W” is doing time in the Big House for his crimes. But for the most part, they get away with the shenanigans at the expense of the taxpayers. The worst part is that the political corruption often furthers private businesses that often know they are getting political favors but turn a blind eye. It’s all about the money.
The corrupt politicians are to blame as well as all others who allow the corruption to happen.
A few years ago, a retired former elected official told me how much good he did for the county. Come to find out he was the epitome of corruption. Not only did he allow illegal activity, he also protected the people who were committing illegal acts with kickbacks on the side. After my first conversation, I knew I was dealing with a fraud.
Jones continues to be challenged with a task that he probably was not expecting. He has cleaned up a lot of crap that he was handed, and a lot of people were not too happy with him. But for the good of the county and for the good of being good, he made tough decisions that were right and saved the county money. He and his newly formed commission have a lot more tough decisions to make.
He inherited a workforce that was used to not working. Now he has county employees who are accountable and do a great job. He inherited a landfill that was on the brink of failure, but he instituted a plan to fix it. The county’s bond rating was lower than most third-world countries, but he is fixing that. The accounting system was basically non-existent, but thanks to Frankie Stacey, Jones has that under control.
Just last week Jones received a letter from Kentucky Energy Management stating the county will not get reimbursed for services performed by Summit Engineering back in 2011, because, according to the letter, proper procurement was not followed in hiring Summit Engineering as a contractor. Essentially, Summit was awarded a contract to do work that did not follow the proper bidding process.
Being the good boy from Virgie that he is, Jones said he does not want to point fingers; I understand, but I’m not from Virgie, so I will. Shame on the magistrates, the then-judge-executive and every person who was involved. They are all culpable and should be held accountable. You may ask how I get away with telling it the way I see it. It ain’t no luck; I learned to duck!
Was there some political favor to contractors that then Judge Executive Rutherford and the sitting magistrates owed for not bidding out projects that they knew by law were supposed to be bid out? We may never know. What we do know is that this lack of procurement in just this instance has cost the taxpayers money to the tune of almost $150,000, which in the scope of things is not a lot of money. But in the shape that Jones inherited this mess, every penny counts. This is just another example of how inefficient the previous administrations were.
I’m not buying that this flew under the radar. I’m not buying that people were not advised that the process was illegal. Political favors have lined the politicians’ pockets for many years and this criminal activity needs to brought to the forefront and stopped.
Thanks to Jones for sticking to his guns and being relentless in making things right.
Thanks for reading the News-Express.