- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:


Aug. 4

Herald-Leader, Lexington, Kentucky, on university trustees and gift giving:

As often happens, when criticism, including on these pages, arose about an appointment to the University of Louisville board of trustees that left it without any black members, people argued that appointments should be made on the basis of qualification, not race.

That argument has its shortcomings but particularly in light of reporting by the Louisville Courier-Journal that indicates a principal qualification seems to be how much money a potential trustee and his or her family have given to Gov. Steve Beshear, his son or the Democratic Party.

Reporter Tom Loftus found that U of L trustees have, collectively, given $750,000 to Beshear and his causes while the soaring total for University of Kentucky trustees is $960,000.

Beshear is certainly not unique in awarding these coveted spots to political supporters.

The status, access and sports tickets that accompany these board memberships have long made them plum appointments for a favored few.

But Loftus’ reporting, combined with the inexcusable lack of diversity on the U of L board and the growing cost of attending public universities, should give us all pause.

Raoul Cunningham, president of the Louisville chapter of the NAACP, said he wasn’t surprised that contributors get spots on the boards but the amounts - from a low of $9,000 at U of L up to $220,500 - were surprising.

“Most African-Americans don’t have that kind of money,” Cunningham said.

We’ll go even farther: Most Kentuckians don’t have that kind of money.

Consider that in the last decade, per capita income in Kentucky has gone from $27,709 in 2005 to $37,654 last year, an increase of 36 percent, nowhere near matching the growing cost of attending UK and U of L.

Tuition and fees for in-state students at these universities have risen, respectively, 103 percent and 107 percent in the last 10 years.

The estimated total cost of attending UK in the coming school year - including not just tuition and fees, but also housing, books and general living expenses - is $26,700.

Future governors must try to look beyond their donors’ checkbooks to find trustees who will work to make higher education easier on the checkbooks of all Kentucky families.




July 29

Kentucky New Era on independent businesses and local communities:

Who looks at a vacant gasoline station in a tiny farming community and sees a home for a new restaurant? It might sound unlikely, but that’s what happened in Trenton, where Kentucky transplants Michael and Hannah Broyles have created the Black Sheep Bistro in the old Standard Oil station.

The building on U.S. 41 at Trenton’s main intersection sat vacant for more than 30 years. The couple saw some potential, had the building refurbished and created a business plan. Their menu is heavy on spicy, Texas-inspired barbecue but also features burgers, chicken, salads and sides like collard greens and jalapeno corn - plus pastries and biscuits for breakfast.

This is good news on several counts.

We applaud the fact that an old landmark building has a new purpose. The days of independent filling stations in small towns are likely gone for good. But every community could use a proper restaurant, and if it is housed in a building that’s got a history and some character, that’s even better.

Trenton’s population has been declining for several years and now stands at around 385, according to the last census. Many of its old institutions, such as the elementary school, have not survived modern changes. But Trenton has not lost its beauty. The old homes that line Main Street give it a Norman Rockwell charm.

A business like Black Sheep Bistro, which New Era Features Editor Melissa Larimore wrote about for Wednesday’s Food Page, could pump new life and money into Trenton. It could also serve as a place that helps preserve local culture and stories that are unique to small American towns.

If the restaurant is successful, we bet it will be because the food and atmosphere are good enough to attract a steady flow of locals and out-of-towners who are willing to drive 30 or 45 minutes for a nice meal.

Those out-of-town customers won’t come for the restaurant alone. They’ll also come because of Trenton’s allure.

We’re not in the habit of editorializing about businesses. But this one looks like a special case.

Independent businesses matter because they can help define the personality of a community.

Trenton is the kind of place that can thrive and shine if entrepreneurs like Michael and Hannah Broyles find their niche.

The restaurant and the town could be good for each other. That’s our hope.




Aug. 2

The Daily News, Bowling Green, Kentucky, on federal funding of Planned Parenthood:

Videos of Planned Parenthood officials speaking about selling tissue from aborted fetuses for research are reprehensible.

Three secret videos released by the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress show Planned Parenthood officials not just talking about selling aborted fetal tissues but also close-ups of fetal tissue in a Planned Parenthood lab. Now there are reports the organization is selling body parts such as kidneys, hearts and other organs from aborted fetuses.

The latter is not only disgusting and barbaric, it is a violation of federal law.

Republican have filed legislation - led by U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and co-sponsored by U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, and 15 other GOP senators - that would defund Planned Parenthood. Under the legislation, the organization would no longer receive federal funds. It currently receives $540 million. Instead, that money would go to federally backed community health centers across the country.

Planned Parenthood should never receive one more dollar from the U.S. taxpayer, regardless of one’s position on abortion. The selling of fetal tissue and organs is illegal, and our hard-earned money shouldn’t continue to go to a group that has allegedly committed this illegal activity.

Defunding this organization that crossed the line based on its own words in these videos is the right approach by Republicans in Congress. Several moderate House Democrats have said they would support the legislation, and at least three to four Democrat senators seemed to be lined up to vote for the legislation as well.

It is no surprise some congressional Democrats have called this an attack on women.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Republicans aren’t trying to take away a woman’s right to choose, as there are other places in this country to have an abortion besides Planned Parenthood. All the legislation says is that the organization should be defunded after its officials admitted on camera that they were selling aborted fetal tissue and organs.

No organization that receives federal funding should be involved in illegal activity, which is all the more reason to defund this organization immediately.

Even Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, a well-known pro-choice advocate, called the videos “disturbing” and said there should be a national investigation into that practice.

One would think more Democrats would be appalled at what they watched in the videos, but some are calling for an investigation into those who shot the video.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced plans to investigate the group that produced undercover videos showing the Planned Parenthood employees admitting that they sell organs and fetal tissue.

We thought the DOJ was supposed to investigate criminal activity and not in a selective way. That’s how it worked under previous administrations and worked quite well for that matter, but this DOJ is very politicalized. You would think the DOJ would care more about investigating alleged violations of federal law involving selling body parts and fetal tissue than trying to investigate those who exposed the practice.

It’s clear the DOJ cares nothing about Planned Parenthood allegedly breaking the law and is hellbent on persecuting someone or a group that simply exposed truths about the organization.

We were also glad to see two House committees conducting investigations into Planned Parenthood, and lawmakers have threatened to subpoena a Planned Parenthood doctor filmed discussing alleged fetal tissue sales.

If subpoenaed, this doctor will likely take the Fifth Amendment right and not provide any information.

This is no surprise.

A vote is now set in Congress before lawmakers return home for the August recess. We urge Democrats who find these videos reprehensible to cross party lines and vote with Republicans to end funding for this group.

This isn’t an attack on women, as some Democrats have suggested, rather it is an effort to rein an organization whose actions a majority of Americans rightly find highly disturbing.

You could argue that those who vote not to defund this organization obviously condone their behavior, which is truly sad and raises questions about their values.



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