- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:

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May 6

The Courier-Journal on House Speaker Greg Stumbo:

House Speaker Greg Stumbo is grandstanding. Plain and simple. And it’s time to bring an end to it.

Like a schoolyard brawler, the Democrat wants to shove back against Republican Gov. Matt Bevin seemingly just to make a point. Stumbo has said he may file a lawsuit to challenge some of the vetoes Bevin issued after the recent General Assembly session. At issue is whether Bevin’s signature is valid and whether the failure to give reasons for some vetoes meets the requirements of the Kentucky Constitution. But in this case, something more is at risk that making his point.

We’ll admit it: The Courier-Journal and newspapers across the commonwealth have a vested interest in a pair of line-item vetoes among those being questioned by Stumbo, but so should every citizen interested in transparency in government.

With the stroke of his pen (or auto-pen, as the case may be), Bevin took a stand for openness that we wholeheartedly applaud and would hate to see trumped by Stumbo’s pettiness. Among his vetoes, Bevin struck from the budget bill two sections that would have allowed local governments and school districts to keep their financial statements from the brightest light of day. Instead of publishing the financials in their local newspaper, local governments and school districts could merely post them online or place a copy in a public library under the language inserted in the budget bill but removed by Bevin.

In addition to reducing public access to the information, an end to the practice of print publication of financials could have severely crippled many smaller newspapers, resulting in fewer journalists and even the loss of a few newspapers — the very watchdogs needed to keep an eye on those local governments and school districts.

And Bevin’s line-item veto wasn’t just a stand for transparency, it also was a stand against tricky behind-closed-doors maneuvering among legislators — in this case one from his own party. You see, the language on local government financials was snuck into the budget bill while it was being hammered out by a conference committee before the massive legislation was presented to the House and Senate for a last-second vote. The language on school board financials has a similar history of sneaky dealing dating back 12 years.

We’re not sure Bevin should even have to explain why openness in government is worthy of exercising his veto power. But perhaps entrenched politicians like Stumbo need to hear an explanation. So, we’ve given him one. Now, let it lie.

Online:

http://www.courier-journal.com/

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The Bowling Green Daily News on federal probe of the Bowling Green Police Department’s hiring practices:

Last summer, the U.S. Department of Justice launched an investigation into the Bowling Green Police Department because it found the BGPD had a lower than would be expected percentage of African-Americans in uniform.

The DOJ expressed concern that, given the city’s African-American population is 14 percent, the police force was only 5 percent African-American.

It appeared then and now that the DOJ had a valid complaint.

In response to the DOJ’s investigation, the city was proactive and formed a Workforce Recruitment and Outreach Committee in September to help review hiring practices and to help recruit more minorities to the city’s police force as well as other departments.

In February, the city commission voted to hire 10 police officers, including three African-Americans and one Hispanic. The pool of 173 applicants the city drew from for that hire was more diverse than the previous pools after the city reached out to previous minority candidates encouraging them to apply again. Of the total applicants, 27 percent were minorities; in the last seven hiring cycles from 2012 to 2014, 9 percent of the applicants were minorities.

Some serious accomplishments have obviously been made with the recruitment effort of minorities by the police department as these numbers indicate. A lot of this was due to the city being proactive and establishing this commission and reaching out for more minorities to apply to be police officers.

The city also ceased to use a specific national test after the city’s analysis showed the test was a disqualifying a disproportionately high number of minority candidates.

This was also a wise move by the city as it appeared the test was potentially disqualifying a high number of minority candidates who wanted to become BGPD police officers.

We have no reason at all to believe that there was any ill-advised intent to keep minorities off the police force in years past, but we are glad that more minorities are now joining the force.

We are also glad that the DOJ has notified the city and advised them that it has ended its investigation into the BGPD.

Although the DOJ didn’t indicate why it ended the investigation, we know the city is glad that it did.

Bowling Green is a diverse city and our police department should reflect that diversity. Through much time and hard work by many we believe the city and our police force have made progress to achieve the goal of reflecting that diversity within their ranks.

Online:

http://www.bgdailynews.com/

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May 5

The Glasgow Daily Times on a new bullying law:

Gov. Matt Bevin signed into law Thursday a bill that clearly defines bullying as it pertains to K-12 education.

This is a great move by our government, as bullying should never be tolerated. Unfortunately, kids don’t have to look any further than this year’s presidential election to see evidence of bullying, as presumptive GOP candidate Donald Trump has risen to the top of the Republican ticket in part by running an intimidating campaign.

But as adults, we can often escape bullies. Children and teenagers don’t always have that luxury.

Last month, a Barren County High School Trojan Academy student was criminally charged after he posted what were deemed as threatening messages on social media. The Glasgow Daily Times obtained a copy of what the student allegedly posted, and without a doubt, his actions were unacceptable even if he didn’t plan on causing any physical harm to his peers.

But what also stood out in his post were his claims that other classmates were picking on him. It appears that this student had been the victim of bullying. Thankfully, administrators and police stepped in before this situation got out of hand, but many times, nothing happens until it’s too late.

There are numerous examples of violent consequences that have stemmed from bullying. Last year, in Bardstown, a 12-year-old girl, Reagan Carter, took her life after being bullied by classmates. A young lady’s life was lost before she was even a teenager because she wanted the pain caused by being bullied to end.

Other victims of bullying have reacted violently toward their classmates. According to the website www.stopbullying.gov, school shooters in 12 of 15 cases in the 1990s had a history of being bullied.

Efforts to curb and punish bullying in schools have certainly improved since the 1990s, but more needs to be done to end the problem. And it can’t just be about school administrators and teachers. Parents need to teach their kids that bullying is cowardly and wrong, and they should punish their children if they take part in such actions.

In terms of school discipline, students who are proven to be guilty of bullying should face stiff consequences. In our country, you are required to attend school or be home schooled. Students should not have to tolerate bullying to simply get an education.

In the case of the BCHS student, if it’s proven that the teenager was the victim of bullying, than those who bullied him should be punished, both at home and at school. In cases of extreme bullying, criminal charges should be brought against the offenders.

Lastly, while we can’t expect juveniles to solve all the world’s problems, they really have the most power when it comes to this topic. Peers must realize the seriousness of their actions, and be leaders and not sheep. Treat people how you would like to be treated, and don’t think for a second that you can’t be the victim of bullying.

The action of our state legislature and Bevin is a stepping stone for Kentucky. Now it’s up to us to end bullying.

Online:

http://www.glasgowdailytimes.com/

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