- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:

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Oct. 14

The Daily Independent on Amtrak’s commitment to Maysville:

When Amtrak announced this year it would invest more than $500,000 to repair and upgrade its depot in Maysville, we praised the move because we saw it as a commitment by the nation’s rail transportation system to improve the Cardinal, the only remaining passenger train in Kentucky. The train stops in downtown Ashland as it travels between Chicago and Washington.

While Amtrak initially said the Maysville project would be completed by the end of 2016, Maysville City Manager Matt Wallingford said the project has been pushed back until spring. Wallingford said city officials are disappointed by the latest development, but are hopeful to have the depot work finished by the middle of 2017.

The improvements Amtrak plans to make to the Maysville depot include an accessible path of travel from the public right of way to the station; Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant parking spaces with painted striping, signage, bollards, etc.; replacement of the walkway serving the second track; new station-based manual lift enclosure; ADA-compliant entrances to building and ADA-compliant restroom; platform city identifier signs and ADA-required signage for station and parking. All are essential to make the small depot accessible to the handicapped and more visible in the community.

In conjunction with that project, the city of Maysville also plans to contribute upgrades to the facility that may include tuck pointing the exterior, making sure the roof is in good repair and making cosmetic improvements both inside and out. The scope of the city’s work is dependent on Amtrak’s contribution, Wallingford said.

In March, Maysville officials announced the city was awarded an $800,000 federal Transportation Alternative Program grant to make improvements to sidewalks and streetscaping in the city’s West end in the area of the depot as part of a revamped Safe Routes to School program. Overseeing the project will be Strand and Associates of Lexington.

Wallingford said the city would like to wait to complete its depot work to give officials a better idea of how much will be available for the sidewalks and streetscaping portion of the project. If Amtrak makes its plans available to the city, it may still be able to begin its share of the work, Wallingford said.

In Ashland, the Cardinal stops at the Ashland Transportation Center just inside the floodwall at the end of 15th Street. While the Transportation Center usually is not open when the Cardinal is making its stops in Ashland, the number of passengers getting on and off the Cardinal here would surprise many. Passengers boarding in Ashland can ride the rails throughout the country by transferring to other Amtrak trains in in Washington and in Chicago. It is not the fastest or most dependable way to travel, but many find it an enjoyable and relaxing way to see the country.

While improving the Maysville station is encouraging for the few Kentucky cities served by Amtrak, efforts to restore daily service to the Cardinal have yet to be successful. We think that would encourage even more area residents to take the Cardinal, but the odds of it happening are long.

Online:

https://www.dailyindependent.com/

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Oct. 19

The Bowling Green Daily News on the Build a Bed program:

Bowling Green has people who are in need.

It is sad to think that there are people in our community who sometimes go to bed at night without having a meal or wake up wondering where their next meal will come from. There are also people who have no place to live or cozy place to sleep.

Make no mistake about it, this is a real problem that we shouldn’t turn a blind eye to. As citizens of this community, we have an obligation to ensure that every citizen in need has food and shelter. It’s the right and decent thing to do.

Thankfully, we have people and organizations in our community who reach out and help those in need.

On a recent Saturday, Independence Bank worked with the Housing Authority of Bowling Green and other volunteers to provide more than 40 beds, frames, box springs and bedding to people in need. The beds included 42 twin- and two queen-size mattresses.

The Build a Bed program, now in its second year, delivered more beds this year than last year, when 35 beds were delivered. More than 20 volunteers came out to help this wonderful cause.

Not only is this a very giving, compassionate program, those who receive these beds truly do appreciate them. It must be very rewarding for those involved to be a part of such a wonderful program.

One such person who knows how rewarding the program is is housing authority assistant project manager Joyce Johnson.

Johnson keeps a thank you note from a bed recipient last year that reads, “I love you so much because I never had a bed.” The child’s message is accompanied by two interlocking hearts.

Notes like this make this program all the much more rewarding.

Enough can’t be said about all of those people and businesses involved in helping getting those in need of beds. Through everyone’s selflessness more people in need will have the beds they deserve like everyone else in our community.

We want to praise all of those involved in this worthwhile program.

Your actions truly are making a difference in the lives of so many needy people in our community who have fallen on hard times.

Online:

https://www.bgdailynews.com/

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Oct. 12

The Lexington Herald-Leader on voting rights:

As both a candidate and governor, Republican Matt Bevin pledged to support restoring voting rights to non-violent felons who have paid their debts to society.

But in his 10 months in office, Bevin, who has sole authority to restore a Kentuckian’s right to vote, has done it not a single time. Not once.

And who does he blame for this broken promise? The Beshears.

Seriously.

Bevin’s press secretary told The Courier-Journal’s Tom Loftus that the governor’s general counsel and his staff are so overworked by “a multitude of frivolous lawsuits” brought by Attorney General Andy Beshear that they don’t have time to process applications from Kentuckians seeking to have their civil rights restored. Plus, Bevin inherited all these problems from the previous governor, Steve Beshear. Also, House Speaker Greg Stumbo, a Democrat, has sued the governor.

First, we must note, Bevin picked all the legal fights by making power grabs that were unprecedented and contrary to any conventional understanding of Kentucky’s statutes and constitution, giving AG Beshear little choice but to file lawsuits - three, so far - challenging the actions.

Bevin is mostly losing in the Kentucky courts that have considered the cases, including one already decided by the Supreme Court, which tells us that Beshear’s challenges have merit and are not frivolous.

Second, come on, get real. The governor’s office would find a way to get the work done if restoring voting rights were, in fact, a priority of the governor’s, which it obviously is not.

What is a priority is helping Republicans take control of the state House in the Nov. 8 election.

Suppressing the vote by disenfranchising people is a strategy straight out of the Republican playbook because higher voter turnout usually helps Democrats.

Kentucky makes it harder than almost any state to regain rights lost because of a criminal conviction. Most of Kentucky’s disenfranchised felons are white. But because sentencing has fallen disproportionately hard on blacks, Kentucky’s draconian restrictions cost minorities their voice in our government.

In 2006, the League of Women Voters of Kentucky reported that one in four black Kentuckians has lost the right to vote because of a criminal conviction - a statistic that should make all Kentuckians ashamed.

Bevin still professes to support “redemption and second chances in our justice system” but his actions (or inaction) speak louder than words.

One of his first acts as governor was to rescind a streamlined process for restoring voting rights to 180,000 Kentuckians put in place by Gov. Beshear.

At the time, Bevin said, “I agree that we ought to create a process for automatic restoration of civil rights for certain offenders” but he insisted it should be achieved not through an executive order but by voters amending the constitution.

The Republican Senate had always blocked such an amendment. This year the Senate, knowing the Democratic House would never go along, approved a meaningless amendment that would only have kicked the issue back to the legislature without restoring the rights of a single Kentuckian.

So, despite Bevin’s pledges, there was no progress on an issue he claimed to care about.

Compare Bevin’s record to that of his predecessors. Loftus reports that Beshear issued an average 1,190 restorations of civil rights a year during his two terms.

Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher, who was criticized for needlessly dragging out the process, averaged 277 restorations a year during his single term, including 317 in his first year in office when he, like Bevin, succeeded a Democrat.

It’s too late for the Nov. 8 election, but Bevin should keep his promise to support voting rights or at least come clean about where he really stands.

Online:

https://www.kentucky.com/

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