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The State Journal encourages readers to submit letters to the editor for publication by noon Wednesday for the following Sunday’s paper. All letters must contain the writer’s full name, mailing address and telephone number for purposes of verification. The State Journal will not withhold the name of a writer. Any letter received without a mailing address and phone number will not be published. The State Journal will not publish thank-you letters, obvious form letters or letters addressed to third parties or to the public at large. Any letter may be rejected at editors’ discretion. All letters submitted for publication are subject to editing for length, form and content. Letters may be no more than 500 words long. Letters may be mailed to Letters to the Editor, The State Journal, 1216 Wilkinson Blvd., Frankfort, KY 40601; or e-mailed to

Band director’s

ouster smells

To the editor:

Not unlike many other Franklin County citizens – taxpaying citizens – I have followed the Franklin County High School band director story from its inception through its now apparent would-be conclusion, and I am nauseated at what has occurred. There are so many acts of political treachery encased in this debacle, one hardly knows where to begin the assorting process. Of the myriad of contentions associated with this travesty, the most pronounced component is a near total lack of transparency, vis-à-vis informing the folks who ultimately pay these people their salaries, of the truth. To allow this circus of unmitigated gall to pass without review by the people would be a total mise-en-scene of unsound civic duty.

The firing of – and let us not kid ourselves, this guy – FCHS Director of Bands Dave Shelton, was canned for no probable cause; at least not for anything which has been made public. And there be the rub. The head-in-shell pronouncement from FCHS Principal Sharon Collett, according to this publication, is that though she is in charge, she can’t (or won’t) make any comment on an education decision that is a matter of public record. It is she who fired – oh, excuse me, let go – Mr. Shelton who is by any measure well-liked and respected by student musicians, parents, and staff. The record indicates that he carried out his education duties with competence and spirit. He was but a single year from tenure. Replacing a veteran high school director with an untested middle school director is tenuous at best. As a former director of bands myself, I know that middle school directors can frequently afford valuable assistance to the high school director; but that said, I also know that there is a world of difference between assisting and being the head coach. There are plenty of proven high school directors available for hire every year. Was there any attempt to look outside the box?

Again we see the product of our local dysfunctional education management consortium. A board of education and superintendent incapable or unwilling to take matters in hand; a so-called school council populated by folks who – at least in this case – are totally incompetent decision advisers; and a principal who is – well, just in fact what is she, a music education expert? Methinks not. And who are the ultimate losers in this political mayhem? The kids, of course.

So, what to do? 

I call upon our newspaper of legal record – The State Journal – to launch a full investigation of this matter. No more printing what they said; start printing what they did. Yes, in another of my former lives, I was an award-winning newspaper publisher specializing in printing the truths that the newspaper of legal record would not.  It is time that The State Journal start investigating and printing as though it had such a carnivorous competitor snapping at its heels every step of the way. Wertfreiheit.

Brian John Gonnelly


KRS audit


To the Editor:

Why didn’t the former state auditor ask for a subpoena for Adam Tosh, former CIO of Kentucky Retirement Systems, and placement agent Glenn Sergeon from New York? The auditor has the power to ask for a court order to have both men appear and testify. However, in this case chose not to do so.

The auditor sent the information gathered from the audit to the Securities and Exchange Commission. If a felony or SEC law had been broken, would the auditor want to know more, even if testimony had to be subpoenaed? Any information gathered from the auditor’s subpoena power would be forwarded to the SEC for the federal investigation.

There are questionable aspects to the lack of subpoena powers by the auditor. No answer as to why the June audit did not follow up with a commonwealth investigation using the power of subpoena. Attorney General Jack Conway did not begin an investigation following the audit. Still there is no action from the attorney general.

Why did the KRS decide to do business with Arrowhead, a startup investment company in Connecticut? Arrowhead is now out of business.

Why were certain disclosures withheld from the KRS board?

Tosh now works for an investment firm in Connecticut. He would probably be available to testify at the request of the SEC.

He’d better. There are no local politicos in the SEC, at least no Kentucky politicians. The results of their investigation may very well cause some real problems for the management style of the KRS. Someone made a bad decision. No former employee has the courage or wants to take the risk to take the hit or get possible immunity from prosecution over not coming forward when they learned placement agents were being used. Why was Chris Tobe the only member/adviser to sound the deficit alarm and then cite illegal use of placement agents? There are significant losses at KRS. In a few short years the state may have to structure a bond issue to pay for the benefits. The huge lack of funding will take years if the General Assembly decides to provide more funding. At present, the retirement system is only around 30 percent funded. With payments going to retirees and future retirees it won’t take long for the money to be used up.

Resignations were the preferred way of outing, and without testimony. However, Gov. Beshear did not renew Christopher Tobe’s appointment as an adviser to the KRS. Tobe was the first one to raise the question about internal email and the placement agent decision.

Jim Anderson Stivers



coup d’état

To the Editor:

In any other country in the world, if a prime minister refused to execute the law in order to allow a foreign population to remain on the country’s soil just to alter the demographic and future voting balance… it would be a coup d’état.

Robert E. Salyer



from God

To the Editor:

My hummingbird feeder is on the deck in front of my kitchen window. It brings me such pleasure to see those beautiful little birds. In the past month, however, two little red-headed woodpeckers have visited several times a day.

I did not know they would use a hummingbird feeder. I think this must be unusual.

Whenever I see a beautiful flower, a full moon, a cool breeze after a very hot day, wild geese flying on a crisp fall night, a smile from a stranger, I know God is in his heaven.

Joy Tinker


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  • Sorry I don't agree with contrarytopopular belief but agree with notfromhere. My apologies.

  • First I would like to say I have lived in Frankfort all my life and was a band member under Tom Brawner and I continued with my music through out college. I have/had children in the band programs. Next not all bands receive ones and distinguished ratings that is the only thing I disagree with the comment from contraryto popular belief. I also need to point out that this Brian John Gonnelley has written several letters to the editor please google and read. Everyone has the right to their opinion however he has no idea who Josh Toppass is or what kind of person or director he is. Also comparing him to an assistant coach, well both Rick Pitino and John Calipari where assistant along with numerous others. Mr Toppass is someone who devotes his life to being a band director and his students. He gives of his time to help all kids improve. Mr Shelton is a great musian and even teacher but his ability to get along with others is extremely minimal. What hasn't been said enough is he doesn't have tenure! They can pink slip someone for very little if not tenured. the number of students has dramatically declined due to Mr Shelton for various reasons (ie not being flexible with kids involved in other activites, yelling, breaking items). Most of all there is no reason to bring Mr Toppass into this discussion. He is also a veteran band teacher and has done wonders for the BMS/WHHS band. Ask anyone who knows him or has a child in his or WHHS band what a great loss it is to the program. He has a tough job ahead without someone bashing him that doesn't know him or has given him a chance.

  • "notfromhere" running down the accomplishments of these kids to enhance the credibility of your assertions, well, you've crossed the line there. That needs to stop.

  • To the person supporting the band director: You do not know the whole story. The band director has broken windows and doors in fits of temper, he has run off many good band students, he has made enemies of the FCHS staff and coaches, I could go on and on. He is rude to students, parents and staff. He threatens to have parents who want to conference with him, arrested for trespassing. And the band accomplishments are overblown. Every band gets "Distinguished" awards and "1's" in competition.