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Published: Tuesday, 10/19/2004

Heads up, Ray: We only accept cash

This just in: Ray Kest owes us taxpayers a whole pile of money.

Yup, now it's official.

The long-awaited state auditor's review of our beleaguered county treasurer's very, very special tuition reimbursement plan declares what anyone with a kindergartner's share of common sense knew

m-o-n-t-h-s ago, to wit:

Public officials aren't entitled to dip their mitts into the public trough to pay for their own graduate studies.

Gee. Who knew?

On second thought, let's not be so harsh.

I suppose it's possible that Ray merely developed - oh, how shall we put this? - an unusually personal interpretation of the federal No Child Left Behind Act (which, in Ray's case, surely would give new meaning to the phrase "unfunded mandate").

Or something.

Hey, really, who knows WHAT Ray was thinking when he decided the county's delinquent tax fund was as good a source as any for funding his doctoral work at Cleveland State University?

Not even Ray's mysterious (if amusing) AM radio commercials go very far in clearing any of this up. You hear any of these yet?

Someone told me about them, so I made a point of trying to catch one on the radio and was rewarded for my efforts by having the sneaking sensation that Rod Serling was somewhere nearby.

Or at least Ashton Kutcher.

Belligerent and defensive, these radio spots are truly weird, given that Ray isn't even, um, running for re-election - perhaps the single most realistic decision he's made all year.

Still, there's Ray's voice on the airwaves, as pugilistic as a voice alone could possibly be:

"I went to Cleveland to take economic development courses from one of the finest programs in the country. I have seen the city and county hire consultant after consultant for tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars, only to file the reports with nothing accomplished. I mistakenly thought that with my financial background, having an education in economic development would be of great benefit to our area, which seems to be going nowhere," harrumphs Radio Ray on the airwaves.

So what are we to make of this ad?

Maybe a skeptic would conclude that our ever-resourceful Ray hoped to parlay his education into credentials as a, yes, governmental consultant - the better to avail himself of all those "tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars."

Hey, c'mon. The guy's a CPA, after all. Money, money, money!

He's going to have to do something, now that the special prosecutor has made it crystal-clear that having Ray leave his post as Lucas County treasurer before his term expires is, as the prosecutor put it, "on the table."

Yes, Ray owes us money - almost $17,000 - although wouldn't most elected officials be glad to pay twice that amount if it meant not having a career-ending scandal over something so silly and small?

(Although, if you think about it, a case could probably be made that the treasurer owes the cost of the state audit and special prosecutor too.)

Anyway, Ray, if it's all the same to you, we probably prefer repayment in cash.



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