The Mornin' Mail is published every weekday except major holidays
Tuesday, January 19, 2010 Volume XVIII, Number 147

did ya know?

Did Ya Know?... DAV & Auxiliary, Tuesday, January 19th at 7 pm, 2nd floor of Memorial Hall.

Did Ya Know?... American Legion & Auxiliary, Thursday, January 21st at 7 pm, 2nd floor of Memorial Hall.

Did Ya Know?...There will be a Benifit Auction for Ed Campbell Sat. Jan 30 near Chesapeake. Ed has colon cancer. To make donations or get directions, call Keri at 358-2700.

today's laugh

There were three American pilots captured by Germans in WWII. The Germans thought up a way to make the pilots crack and tell what they knew. They made them stand at attention, turn their heads from side to side and say, "Tick - Tock" over and over.

After about three hours, the first pilot cracked and started telling all he knew, signing everything they put in front of him.

An hour later, the second pilot cracked and started confessing to things that he didn’t even do.

The third pilot was fighting hard not to crack. He was about half-way cracked. He was turning his head to one side only and saying, "Tick...Tick...Tick..."

The German officer in charge went up to him and said, "You thinks you iss so schmart! But I’m telling you dot vee haf vays to make you TOCK!"

A Chronological Record of Events as they have Transpired in the City and County since our last Issue.

They are Now Motor Cars.

Car 25, formerly White line trailer Oneida, the first of the remodeled cars to into Carthage attracted considerable attention when it came on the square at 1:30 o’clock this afternoon in charge of Motorman Long and Conductor Holbrook.

The car has had the old Walker motors and trucks placed under it and an additional step placed along each side. Two of the old trailers are now finished and are ready to run. The three others will be on it in a short time. They make handsome summer cars and the appearances are that they cannot be so heavily loaded as to break them down.

Robt. F. Holt, who for several months has been in Texas working as a lineman for the Western Union Telegraph company, returned home this morning. He expects to embark in a general electrical contracting business here in Carthage.

  Today's Feature

Chamber Banquet This Friday.

The Carthage Chamber of Commerce will hold it’s annual banquet this Friday evening, January 22, in Memorial Hall. The event will begin with a social hour and silent auction at 6 p.m. Following dinner at 7, an awards ceremony is scheduled. The theme for this year’s event is Spotlight on Carthage and will be a semi-formal affair.

Various categories of recognition will include the Golden Key Awards, Artist of the Year, Athena, Small Business of the Year, and Citizen of the Year.

The Chamber Board of Directors will also recognize members who have contributed their talent to enhance the past year’s success of the Chamber.

"The success of the Chamber is determined by the volunteer time available to assist the staff with our events," says Chamber President John Bode, "so it is important to say ‘Thank you’ and recognize those people who are willing to give that time and effort."

The event will also honor retiring Board members and officers and welcome new members and officers of the Board.


When Do You Ban a Stimulus


by Michael Grabell, ProPublica


The Kentucky transportation department has awarded $24 million in stimulus contracts to companies associated with a road contractor who is accused of bribing the previous state transportation secretary, according to an audit by the federal Department of Transportation.

The DOT’s internal watchdog used the case to highlight the significant delays in the time it takes for the Federal Highway Administration to suspend or bar someone from receiving government contracts. Though the agency is supposed to make such a decision within 45 days, federal highway officials waited 10 months after the indictment to put the men accused of bribery onto the list of banned contractors.

The combination of lengthy delays in the contractor suspension process and the rapid disbursement of billions of stimulus dollars "creates a ‘perfect storm’ for contractors intent on defrauding the government," the inspector general audit said.

But the case also highlights a common tension in the contracting world that is now getting more attention with the nearly $800 billion stimulus package: What level of evidence is enough to justify suspending a company from receiving government contracts?

In the Kentucky case, at trial this week, prosecutors have alleged that longtime road contractor Leonard Lawson paid state employees for confidential engineering estimates that helped him get a leg up on bidding for contracts. Lawson’s name no longer shows up on state business records for his previous companies, but his son remains an officer or on the board of directors of some of the companies.

The Code of Federal Regulations states that persons and companies are affiliates of each other if one has direct or indirect control over the other. An agency can establish that a relationship is strong enough to justify suspension by showing interlocking management or that a company shares facilities, equipment or employees.

The inspector general’s office said DOT could have suspended the companies under federal regulations. But DOT said there wasn’t enough evidence that Lawson owned or controlled the companies any more.

In another case, ProPublica reported in October that more than $30 million in stimulus money had gone to defense contractors suspected of abusing a system to help small minority firms win government business. The criminal investigation had been going on for more than a year before the Air Force suspended them in September.

The Air Force ultimately did go after numerous companies that it believed to be tied to a Southern California businessman, even though the companies were listed under different names on official business records.

And in a third case, The Oklahoman newspaper reported last month about a highway contractor who was suspended from state road projects after pleading no contest to conspiring to use unsuitable asphalt material and intimidating a witness. Within months, his son formed a new company at the same address and received $2.7 million in stimulus contracts. The son told the newspaper that his father’s case had nothing to do with him and the only connection was that they had the same last name.

Former DOT general counsel Jeff Rosen said there is a constant tension in the federal government between the desire to prevent fraud and the danger of penalizing someone who wasn’t at fault.

"You don’t want to allow a shell game," he said. "On the other hand, there are legal requirements for what are the affiliates and how much control does one have over another. It really depends on the facts."

In an e-mail, DOT spokesman Bill Adams said, "If an individual who has received a suspension action by the Department of Transportation places another individual in charge of their company, the department would review the situation closely to make sure that the new individual in charge has independent experience, knowledge of the business and that there is no influence or control by the individual under suspension."

He added that there must be no "common financial interest" between the new management and the suspended person. Also, a company could be suspended if the individual’s conduct occurred in connection with his duties for the company or with the company’s knowledge.

In the Kentucky case, DOT investigators notified the Federal Highway Administration about the indictment in September 2008. The audit does not name the individuals or the companies that received stimulus contracts, but the dates and details match those described in the federal criminal case naming Lawson, his employee Brian Billings and former Kentucky Transportation Secretary Bill Nighbert.

According to the indictmen, Lawson paid $5,000 in cash to one of Nighbert’s subordinates on several occasions in exchange for confidential engineering estimates that gave him an advantage in bidding for state road contracts. Prosecutors allege that after Nighbert left office, Lawson hired him on a fake consulting contract, paying him $10,000 a month and providing a vehicle and health insurance.

Nighbert, Lawson and Billings have all pleaded not guilty.

DOT investigators provided the Federal Highway Administration with a draft report that listed several companies associated with the indicted men. The inspector general’s office doesn’t elaborate in the audit on what it means by "associated." But it said the DOT could have suspended the companies under federal rules.

Nevertheless, the agency chose to suspend only the individuals because, in its view, the available evidence wasn’t legally sufficient, Linda J. Washington, DOT assistant secretary for administration, wrote in a memo in response to the report.

The Federal Highway Administration "did not find any evidence that any of the suspended individuals owns or controls companies to which [stimulus] contracts were awarded," Adams said in an e-mail. "If such evidence were presented, FHWA would act expeditiously."

Chuck Knowles, deputy state highway engineer, said Lawson used to own or manage several construction firms that won state road contracts for years. But those firms that have now won stimulus contracts no longer list him as an officer.

Kentucky transportation spokeswoman Hannah Ferrell said that the state couldn’t legally bar the firms from receiving the contracts.

"If they had a low bid and they can perform the work, we can’t not award it to them," she said. "They’re not the ones that have any action against them, the companies themselves."

Calls to the companies were not returned.

At the criminal trial this week, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported, Lawson’s attorney said the case was motivated by state transportation officials who had a grudge against Lawson.

Former DOT inspector general Ken Mead said just being under investigation isn’t necessarily enough to merit suspending a company from government contracts, as sometimes a competitor will make an allegation that doesn’t pan out. At the same time, he said, agencies don’t have to award a contract if they suspect wrongdoing.

The cases often come in shades of gray, especially when management changes are involved.

"The sins of the father are not always passed to the son," Mead said.

Just Jake Talkin'

I don’t prob’ly do it often enough, but when the first of the year rolls around, I try to express gratitude to those who help us get the Mornin’ Mail out on the street ever’day.

‘Course the staff is involved in day-to-day type stuff and put it all together, but without various businesses out there allowin’ us to have counter space, it wouldn’t be possible to get it out to our readers. Next time ya pick up your copy of the Mail, take a minute to thank the owner or clerk for makin’ it available in their establishment.

Those who sponsor this endeavor with their dollars are another critical factor in puttin’ out the paper. They too would appreciate a good word about the quality of their advertisin’ budget.

Then the readers complete the circle by pickin’ it up ever’day. Keep up the effort.

This is some fact, but mostly,

Just Jake Talkin’.

Sponsored by Carthage Printing Weekly Columns

To Your Good Health

By Paul G. Donohue, M.D.

Fibromyalgia, a Baffling Illness


DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My 50-year-old daughter has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. She is in a great deal of pain, and medications have provided no relief. She has been told there is no cure. Exactly what is fibromyalgia? What causes it? -- E.F.

ANSWER: Fibromyalgia is a baffling illness whose two principal symptoms are pain and fatigue. The pain is body-wide, on both sides and above and below the waist. For diagnosis, the pain has to have been present for three or more months. The fatigue of this condition is overwhelming, so much so that the simplest of daily tasks becomes a formidable challenge. Patients also suffer from sleep that does not refresh, and they often find it difficult to concentrate.

Its cause remains a great unknown.

Specific tests for fibromyalgia don’t exist. However, tender points -- areas on the body where finger pressure elicits pain out of proportion to the pressure applied -- aid in making a diagnosis. There are 18 such points, and for a diagnosis, 11 should be present.

Other illnesses -- such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Sjogren’s syndrome and hepatitis, which have similar symptoms -- have to be excluded, so testing for those conditions becomes part of the fibromyalgia workup.

Your daughter is right. No cure has been found, but sometimes symptoms improve on their own. Exercise is important. It sounds ridiculous to ask a person who is hurting and exhausted to exercise. At the start, exercise intensity can be modest, just walking. The goal is to extend exercise to 20 or 30 minutes of daily exercise and to pick up the tempo gradually.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved three medicines to ease fibromyalgia symptoms. They are Lyrica, Cymbalta and the newest, Savella.

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