The article saying that Morgan County paid $1.65 million for property previously valued for $315,000 contains factual inadequacy and omissions of pertinent facts to mislead readers about the character of the Frederick family.
Reporter John Cheves attacked the sale of the Rifle Coal property to Morgan County by asserting that the purchase price was unfair when compared to the tax value of the property.
Although no formal appraisal was performed due to the immediate need for county facilities, the Rifle Coal property and its improvements had been valued at $1.5 million in a purchase offer made by U.S. Coal Inc.
This figure is an actual market value, as compared to the tax value rendered by the Morgan County property valuation administrator. Had a reasonable investigation been performed and the $1.5 million purchase offer been included in the article, it would have destroyed his inferred narrative that the property transaction was unethical and unfair.
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When comparing the purchase price Morgan County paid to the offer by U.S. Coal, the reasonability of the purchase price is clear.
Additionally, the use of the tax valuation as a metric for determining the fairness of a purchase price is naïve, as tax valuations all over the state are consistently lower than market value.
These valuations are lower than fair market value because the PVA, as an elected official, tries to ensure assessed taxes are fair for constituents. A PVA value is created solely for tax purposes and not to indicate an actual market value.
Tax valuations are not appraisals and do not make detailed actuarial assessments of a property's value. The reporter has seriously misled his readership by asserting that a tax valuation is a reasonable metric for determining fair market price in a governmental acquisition, as even individuals who lose property to eminent domain are compensated with market value, not a PVA's assessment.
Cheves criticized the transaction by mentioning lack of bidding or competitive process. He failed to mention that the procurement process for government contracting was bypassed after the tornado because the governor of Kentucky and U.S. government had declared a state of emergency.
Because of the emergency status, then-judge-executive Tim Conley wasn't required to follow formal procurement process. He had full power to act quickly and on his own to acquire a building for county offices.
Another false implication in the article is that the Frederick family is a homogenous group, where actions of one benefit all. Perhaps readers might ask themselves if they benefit financially from business transactions of family members where no shared interest exists?
To use the term "Frederick family" to infer that the entire family acts together and benefits jointly in separate endeavors is journalistically lazy and false.
We would also like to address the reference to political donations given by the "Frederick family" over an expanse of several years. We deeply resent the implication that a great percentage of this was donated to Conley, as it is untrue.
We would also like to clarify the "Frederick family" that Cheves refers to amounts to at least 40 people.
The only things we believe we can say on behalf of the entire family is that we were shocked and greatly disappointed in Conley's criminal behavior and do not support or condone his actions.
The Frederick family has done nothing illegal or immoral.
Daniel Frederick and Amanda Frederick, brother and sister, are law students who live in West Liberty.