The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 14, 1998 · Page 1
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 1

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Thursday, May 14, 1998
Page 1
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Horse sense Therapeutic Riding Center is a tonic for those with disabilities /C1 HEAI Pacers move Indiana reaches the Eastern Conference finals / D1 • YOUng drivers: Crackdown seen on young, untrained drivers / A8 l! New York cabbies stop driving over politeness campaign / C4 Low. 59 Mostly sunny with gusty south winds at 15 to 25 mph today/B3 WEATHER Classified/C4 Comics / B4 Deaths/A7 Great Plains / B1 Health /C1 Money/ A6 Sports/D1 Viewpoints / B2 INDEX 1 the Salina Journal Serving Kansas since 1871 THURSDAY MAY 14, 1998 SALINA, KANSAS 50 cents T CRIME $252,425 missing from Ellsworth city fund Fired water chief accused of setting up phony firm where money went By LINDA MOWERY-DENNING The Salina Journal ELLSWORTH — A special audit has found $252,425 missing from the city of Ellsworth's water and sewer department. No charges had been filed as of Wednesday, but an arrest was expected. At a meeting two weeks ago, members of the Ellsworth City Council fired the town's water and sewer superintendent, Robert Ashbaugh, citing "insubordination." The city also has filed a lien against real estate owned by Ashbaugh. There is no insurance to cover the theft, city officials said. City Councilman Dane Britton said Ellsworth's auditors, Clubine and Rettele Chartered of Salina, traced the missing money to K&B Municipal Supply of Great Bend, an al- legedly phony corporation established by Ashbaugh. He was hired as the town's water and sewer superintendent two months before the money started to disappear eight years ago. Auditors think the water superintendent authorized a purchase from K&B and then approved the invoice for payment. This year so far, there is a shortage of $28,300. In 1997, the embezzlement amounted to almost $88,000, according to auditors. No one answered the telephone at Ashbaugh's house Wednesday, and a message left on the answering machine was not returned., "The auditors found no collusion among any other employees of the city or any other parties at this point," Britton said. "However, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation will be tracking the funds and will be looking into that further." Both state and federal investigators are in Ellsworth. Details of the shortage were discussed in a report given by auditors late Tuesday to city council members. The council was to have heard the report Monday, but the meeting was interrupted by a tornado warning. Britton said auditors could find no violations of state law or audit procedures in the city's practices. However, the final report from Clubine and Rettele is to include recommendations to prevent the possibility of future shortages. The city also is taking steps to insure itself against such losses. Britton said he doesn't expect the city to recover all the missing money, but council members have hired Ellsworth attorney Roger Peterson to help with the recovery of as many dollars as possible. City Administrator Scott Moore, who was THE FINAL 'SEINFELD' not in his office Wednesday, is being given credit for uncovering the missing money. "He had placed some controls on purchasing and there were some issues he was seeing that he did not like and he started digging deeper and deeper," Britton said. He said the theft went unnoticed for so long because purchase orders and invoices were in place. In addition, Britton said the city was involved in major water and sewer projects, and the department's budget, which totaled $713,000 this year, reflected the extra work. Also, Ellsworth was without a city administrator for part of the time and the city clerk of 40 years retired. "We don't offer this as an excuse. But the auditors never found this during eight years of audits. It was just pretty sophisticated," Britton said. KANSAS POLITICS Lee decides against run for governor Kensington farmer says she lacks time to devote to campaign, sees Graves as too strong an opponent By LEW FERGUSON The Associated Press The Associated Press Newman (left) and Kramer (center) explain their idea for a rickshaw business to Jerry in a scene from this year's "Seinfeld," which airs its final episode tonight on NBC. Wayne Knight portrays Newman, Michael Richards Is Kramer, and Jerry Seinfeld plays himself. Fare well to nothing Salinansjoin others sad to see the last of'Seinfeld' misadventures AP file photo Sen. Janis Lee, D-Kensington, won't take on Gov. Bill Graves. By DAVID CLOUSTON The Salina Journal After tonight, television comedian Jerry Seinfeld no longer will be master of his domain — the eight o'clock time slot on NBC — and Salinan Larry Curran will be among the throngs of Americans bidding a sad farewell. But how do he and co-workers at the Mortgage Company, 645 E. Iron, think that "Seinfeld," the show about nothing, should end? Hmmmm. "That's a big question you're throwing at us," Curran said, pausing for a moment before a line from the show struck him. "Not that 4 'Seinfeld' trivia and a quiz to test your knowledge of nothing / Page C3 there's anything wrong with that," he said, chuckling. The show that made puffy shirts, Junior Mints, Fez, Timberland boots, soup, shrinkage and The Bro, er, the Manssiere, part of America's lexicon is ending with tonight's climatic episode. Seinfeld has said in interviews he wanted to end the program while it was still popular. Its demise leaves Curran and other Salinans like him with less to talk about Friday mornings at work. "Seinfeld" follows the misadven- tures of four New Yorkers — Jerry, his pal George Costanza, his pal and ex-girlfriend Elaine Benes, and his neighbor, Cosmo Kramer. The show stood at No. 1 nationally in the Nielsen TV ratings last week and is number two for the season behind NBC's E.R. The show is seen in Salina on cable television channels 3 and 13. However Thursday, instead of starting at the sitcom's usual 8 p.m. hour in Salina, the last episode will air at 7:45 p.m. A highlights show with scenes culled from past episodes will kick off the "Seinfeld" celebration at 7 p.m. The popularity of the show isn't hard to pin down in Curran's opinion. "Seinfeld's" formula is take something common to everyone's life — like picking up new license plates at the motor vehicle office — and spinning it into a theater of the absurd. Kramer gets the wrong plates — personalized plates that say "Assman" — and winds up in the end (no pun intended) at the proctologist's office after Frank Costanza's end becomes the butt of the episode's main gag. "You're the Assman!" Kramer exclaims, and the doc winks. "I think it's just, they take those See SEINFELD, Page A7 T INDIA India does more nuclear tests; Clinton orders sanctions By The Associated Press BERLIN — Worried about a dangerous arms race, President Clinton ordered harsh sanctions against an unapologetic India on Wednesday and condemned its nuclear tests as "a terrible mistake." He implored Pakistan to "resist the temptation" to explode a nuclear device. Even before Clinton invoked the first-ever penalties under a 1994 nuclear sanctions law, India announced it had conducted a second round of tests despite global criticism. "They clearly create a dangerous new instability in their region," the president said. "It's a very sad thing." Clinton announced the U.S. sanctions during a news conference with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl at the opening of a two-day visit marking the 50th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift. Besides requiring an end to U.S. aid and credit, the sanctions jeopardize billions of dollars of additional money because they oblige the United States to oppose loans for India from international development banks, where Washington has a major voice. "I think it was a fairly expensive decision for them," said Sandy Berger, Clinton's national security adviser. TOPEKA — Sen. Janis Lee has decided not to seek the Democratic nomination for governor, citing the political strength of Republican Gov. Bill Graves and the lack of time she could devote to a campaign. Lee, of Kensington in north-central Kansas, said Wednesday she was making her announcement four weeks before the June 10 filing deadline to give others time to decide whether to run in the Aug. 5 primary election. Lee's withdrawal left two other legislators to contemplate whether they should bid for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Anthony HensleyofTopeka and Rep. Jack Wempe of Little River. It is unlikely both would run. Hensley, minority leader of the state Senate, had agreed to be Lee's lieutenant governor running mate. Now, Hensley is "strongly looking at the possibility of running" himself, said his chief of staff, Joe Scranton. Hensley confirmed he is weighing a bid for the gubernatorial nomination and considering issues he might emphasize. He said Democrats must have a credible candidate in case Graves gets upset in the Republican primary by former state GOP Chairman David G. Miller, who declared his candidacy last week. "We can't leave anything to chance because of the volatile nature of the Republican primary," said Hensley, 44, a 22-year veteran of the Legislature. Wempe, 63, who had announced he would not seek a fifth two-year term in the Kansas House, said he had strongly encouraged Lee to make the race. "I've said I wouldn't think of it if Janis would do it," Wempe said. "I'm undecided, but I haven't totally ruled it out. I think I need to visit with Tony. In a statement, Lee said her major reason for not running was that she couldn't spend the time it would take. She said there are two pressing issues — privatization of social welfare functions and fluctuations in farm land values — she wants to work on the remainder of this year. But in an interview, she conceded Graves' strength was a big deterrent. "When I run a race, I run to win and this one is just too difficult," she said. "The amount of money 'the governor has and his ratings make it just too difficult." She said she has been told that Graves' internal polling "shows him doing very, very well — even against Miller." However, Lee, a 10-year veteran of the state Senate, claimed in her statement that Graves might be beaten because of the moderate-conservative split in the GOP. Lee said her withdrawal "does not preclude my being interested in future years." Lee, 52, and her husband operate a family farm near Kensington and are involved in other businesses. They have three adult children. She first was elected to the Senate in 1988 and was re-elected in 1992 and 1996.

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