Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Parasites make for good bedfellows; Low scores for free college

It must be Christmas time in Cherokee County. Cherokee County Bar Association members pretend to run as opposing candidates to hedge votes away from viable office seekers potentially challenging the status quo during the upcoming primaries. Local newspapers repeat the facade to keep the cronyism alive and well. According to the liars, Cherokee County voters are supposed to believe that the Assistant District and Assistant County attorneys are actually vying for their bosses' positions by running against the incumbent who employs them. (Source: Tyler Paper, Incumbents Face Opposition In Coming Cherokee County Elections, Dec. 18, 2011) That would be like Joe Biden switching to the Republican Party to challenge President Obama in the general election. So far, Cherokee County incumbents are running unchallenged again.

Meanwhile like clockwork, local attorneys make up reasons to bill the taxpayers by “settling” legal issues made up to exploit legitimate public concerns. Their job is deflecting attention away from the generational corruption and bilking the public coffers.

First, bogus legal crisis are created within the local city councils for embedded attorneys to charge hourly rates; it is the taxpayer who foots the bills. These lawyers have a blank check to solve these "issues" of public concern, that are issues that they themselves create. ‘Opposing counsel’ play both sides of made-up legal arguments that have no basis in fact, instead of addressing WHERE THE MONEY IS GOING. For decades, they stir up scenario another scenario between each other to pay their car notes, mortgages and children's college tuition. With councilmen on board for the perpetual ruse, they drag out a hodgepodge of legal filings until their agreed amount of money is allocated. All parties involved time the intended resolution of their fabricated "issue" towards the end of the fiscal year, when attorney fees are buried in city and county budget reports.

Secondly, local governments employ unaccountable members of the Cherokee County Bar Association to conceal the nepotism. Their job is to steer the community’s attention away what is really going on, by creating a rabbit trail of drawn out legal minutiae or fictitious campaigns. The local newspapers are recruited to dumb down the process and put a final spin on the cover up. They never answer the basic questions such as "Who got the money and how much do these homegrown attorneys cost the taxpayer?" Or "Why is your so-called political opponent paying for your campaign?" It is all a money game to them.

The winners are the usual small town lawyers whose entire income comes from pubic sources, and therefore without oversight. After the smoke screen settles and the law is correctly interpreted, those on opposing sides can be found “on the same page.” The same page they were on from the beginning, between the sheets and behind closed doors.

What's the deal with these guys working hand-in-hand to earn a living, even as opposing parties in lawsuits and criminal cases? Their wives work at the same shops on the Rusk, TX square and downtown Jacksonville. They are officers of the same companies for tax abatement purposes. They carpool to church together and are on each other’s Christmas card list. For some, that relationship goes beyond the amiable and into the bedroom. Exchanging pictures of each other's wives in uncompromising positions keeps them on the same page and willing accomplices of the money grab. If a member of the Good Time Association steps out of line, they can expect to be sexually blackmailed with humiliating love letters, Glamour Shots and hotel receipts to their significant other or minister of their choice.

Meanwhile they also screw the county out of tens of thousands of dollars of public funds each year.

There is little fiscal oversight in the dark crevices of Cherokee County, Texas- just an engrained buddy system designed to sponge off the economic development of the county. A recent November 5, 2011 Daily Progress article “JEDCO’s accountability for nearly $1M in funds question” pretends to tackle the need for oversight.

JACKSONVILLE— Jacksonville city officials have provided little oversight of the Jacksonville Economic Development Corporation's handling of roughly $1 million annually in taxpayer money.

JEDCO's failure to get city council approval before awarding economic development grants to local businesses appears to violate state law.
The article goes on to further state,
The seven-member board is not elected and is accountable to the city council, according to JEDCO's founding documents.

The council is responsible for appointing members to the board and has the authority to remove members as well as reorganize or dissolve the corporation.

The Jacksonville Daily Progress asked five current and former city officials why the city has not fulfilled its obligation to ensure JEDCO follows state law, but none would answer on the record. (Source: Daily Progress, Nov. 5, 2011)
It is a moot point that a handful of people call the shots of where to spend $1 million of taxpayer dollars. JEDCO “volunteers” are appointed by the Jacksonville city council who (taxpayers are to believe) ironically were demanding oversight of their appointees (i.e. lovers and kinfolk). (Source: Jacksonville Progress, JEDCO, city struggle lasted more than a year, Nov. 19, 2011)

Yet the city council and local newspapers never ask to see the attorney bills nor answer the question “WHO GOT THE MONEY???”

Furthermore, if it is within the city charter to manage a quasi-government organization such as an economic development corporation, then why do attorneys need to rehash and re-bill for the same old ground for over a year? They don't need to because the "city struggle" between JEDCO and city attorneys is only a means for these entities to milk the taxpayer. The same people have their fingers in the local school systems as well.

Another of Cherokee County’s institutions of higher learning, whose budget consists entirely of government Student Loan grants and "gifts," cannot pass the financial responsibility test of Federal Student Aid programs because they won't keep the money in reserve. (Source: Daily Progress, Dec. 9, 2011) KETK reports that Lon Morris Jr. College, located in Jacksonville, TX , delayed paying its staff for the umpteenth time this year. (Source: KETK, Lon Morris College delays paychecks again, Dec. 5, 2011)

Local newspapers con their readers by suggesting the current economy has something to do with teachers not being paid at the college. (Source: Tyler Paper, Some Lon Morris employees paid late, Dec. 6, 2011) Lon Morris continues to have its finances out of compliance, while at the same time being propped up by the local media as a viable Christian alternative to neighboring Tyler Jr. College. Since 2010, Lon Morris faculty continues to have their paychecks in limbo (Source: Tyler Paper, Dec. 6, 2011) while the school's enrollment has doubled. The school continues to run on a deficit on the books and spends the Financial Student Aid deposits into the red. Where is the money going?

Earlier this year, KETK went to the Lon Morris College grounds in Jacksonville to interview employees and faced Cherokee County's typical cult-like silence.
We found that employees and students alike are concerned about the finances at Lon Morris. When we went to the college, we were quickly informed by officials that employees were told not to say a word.

One student, Theodore Lloyd, says, "I need to know if this school is going bankrupt because I need to stop putting my money into it."

Lon Morris officials are not giving students any answers. (Source: KETK, Lon Morris College employees not getting paychecks, April 5, 2011)
Why not try asking the Lon Morris Board of Trustees to do an internal and public audit? Surely members of Cherokee County's CPA association would like a shot at billing the taxpayer for services rendered. The fact is the college's "financial obstacles," as it is spun, are not due to any bona fide economic challenge. According to the college's webpage, 88% of Lon Morris students are on scholarships and 95% are on Federal Financial Aid.

In 2010, Lon Morris awarded over $1 million in financial aid to a student body of less than 1000. (Source: Wikipedia) Despite this, the college will have to submit a letter of credit within 30 days to the DOE that it will keep at least 10% of the Financial Student Aid money in reserve and submit to administrative oversight. The Department of Education scores Lon Morris as "not financially responsible." (Source: Tyler Paper, Dec. 13, 2011)

US Department of Education crime data also shows the 2 year college to have a low student retention and graduation rate, as well as a "relatively unsafe place" to go to school. (Source: American School Search) Quite the opposite from the spin promoted by local newspapers; these Lon Morris crime stats were never mentioned: between 2007 and 2009 there were 13 on-campus burglaries, 4 robberies, 2 aggravated assaults and 4 stolen vehicles. (Source: KLTV, East Texas college struggles with gang problem, Sep. 15, 2010) 11 students were expelled from the college last year after a gang related shooting. (Source: Daily Progress, LMC shooting still being investigated, Sep. 14, 2010)

Lon Morris student housing courtesy KETK.

In May 2011, the US Department of Education also found that Lon Morris was in violation of Federal Aid distribution requirements by holding students' financial aid checks over 2 weeks after receiving them from the government. No doubt deposited in the First State Bank to draw a little interest off of. (Source: Daily Progress, LMC violates federal aid regulation, May 18, 2011) In Cherokee County there is no accountability for those holding the purse strings.

It doesn't matter if the money comes from inflated property taxes, unreported Sales Tax revenue, stealing it out of people's mail, bogus farm claims or Federal tuition assistance programs, it won't appear on the county books because it will be in these people's personal bank accounts.

To whom is the money going? In Cherokee County it goes to the families of these parasites whose spouses work together and share the same gene pool. They are business partners through and through, easily spotted divvying up gifts of insurance payouts and pretending to not only be opposing counsel, but political rivals.

As a footnote, Lon Morris College has been placed on a 12-month public sanction by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS COC) for "significant financial and accreditation noncompliance." (Source: KETK, Dec. 22, 2011)