Auditors see board 'riding roughshod' over staff at Cincy-N.Ky. airport, Edelen says

01/24/2014 09:48 AM

Kentucky Auditor Adam Edelen’s office is in the middle of three major reviews with early returns indicating that in at least two of the cases, lessons weren’t learned from recent cases of out-of-control spending.

Edelen’s auditors are reviewing the Bluegrass Area Development District after reporting by the Lexington Herald-Leader raised questions and is looking at the board of the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport after the Cincinnati Enquirer reported on its spending on travel and meals.

Both are like echoes of past spending sagas of the Bluegrass Airport, Kentucky League of Cities and Kentucky Association Counties, which also were first reported by the Herald-Leader and then picked up by then-Auditor Crit Luallen.

While lessons weren’t learned, Edelen said, the Cincinnati Northern Kentucky airport board had put a new twist on the excessive spending storyline.

“Normally what we see are administrations that are able to get away with bloody murder because the board is weak and not paying attention. What we may have in Northern Kentucky is a board that rides rough-shod over the professional staff which is really a man bites dog challenge in the world of public auditing,” Edelen said (at 4:45 of the interview).

The special audits of the airport, the area development district and the Jefferson County School District has stretched Edelen’s staff thin, leaving few personnel available to take on another review, such as the Yum! Center in Louisville, which just saw its bond rating downgraded to junk status last year.

But Edelen also said he doesn’t know what an audit could reveal.

“What I want people to understand is that an audit doesn’t change math,” Edelen said (at 7:30). “And what appears to be the issue at the YUM Center is that the financial assumptions on which that agreement was built have not materialized because of the great recession.”

Edelen also weighed in on a bill moving through the legislature to prevent lawmakers from super-sizing their pensions if they move to a higher paying job in state government. That bill

Edelen said the sentencing of former Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer after abusing state funds is a good example of the state needing to add more accountability to state officials.

“I think we need to demonstrate that there is a real consequence for abusing the public trust,” Edelen said (at 3:00). “I think a lot more options need to be on the table and I think Sen. McDaniel has got a good idea here and I look forward to reading it.”


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