- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:


Oct. 21

The Daily Independent on ending panhandling:

In the interest of promoting public safety, the Ashland Board of City Commissioners has given first reading approval to a proposed amendment to the city’s solicitation ordinance that would further discourage panhandling.

While we have no objection to the proposed changes approved by a 5-0 vote, we find them a bit surprising because from our admittedly limited vantage point, Ashland does not really have a problem with panhandlers.

Oh sure, we see the beggars standing at the entrance to the Walmart shopping area on River Hill Drive and near the twin bridge intersection Winchester Avenue with their signs asking for money.

We recommend local resident not give to panhandlers. That’s the best way to discourage them. It is not that we are cold-hearted Scrooges with no compassion for others, but that we are convinced giving to beggars is likely the least reliable way to help those in need and likely your most reliable way of being scammed.

Last month, Shelter of Hope Executive Director Debbie Sivis and CAReS Director Lynn Childers told The Daily Independent the majority of panhandlers do not appear to be local. Both directors said they hadn’t recognized many of the individuals from the hundreds who seek help through the agencies.

CAReS was created more than 25 years ago by area churches that found the same individuals were going from church to church with pleas for help. Some churches were able to give help and some were not.

While it is not perfect, CAReS and the other agencies in The Neighborhood - The Dressing Room, Community Kitchen, River Cities Harvest and Clean Start - work together with churches to maximize giving in this community and to make sure it goes to meet real needs.

It you truly want to help the needy, give to CAReS, the Salvation Army, your church or any of dozens of other local entities that effectively help those in need. Any would be wiser than giving to an unknown beggar holding a sign.

City Attorney John Vincent said the proposed changes make it “more clear that an individual, for safety purposes, can’t go into streets to solicit funds from a vehicle.” By ordinance, those implying they are in need of financial help while standing near intersections cannot walk into traffic to collect donations. They would also be barred from standing on raised medians, in a further effort to prevent accidents.

The changes may make panhandling safer, but the best way to discourage panhandling is to not give - ever.




Oct. 26

The Bowling Green Daily News on charter schools in Kentucky:

There is absolutely no reason that one child in our state or our country should ever have to attend a failing school, but the sad truth is that some schools are letting too many of their students fall behind.

No option should ever be taken off the table in regard to ensuring that all of our kids are placed in good schools and receive the best education possible.

We owe our children nothing less.

This newspaper has advocated for some time now for charter schools to become a reality in this state, especially in Jefferson and Fayette counties, which have some schools that are failing miserably.

For those who don’t know what charter schools are or how they function, they are simply schools that receive public funding but operate independently of the established school system in which they are located. Charter schools are typically exempt from some state or local regulations but are required to meet academic standards outlined in agreements, or charters, with state and local jurisdictions.

Since 1991, 43 states and the District of Columbia have approved the formation of charter schools. These places have had generally good results since approving charter schools. Study after study has proven that charter schools are a viable alternative to public schools that are failing. One reason that may be is that charter schools allow teachers more freedom.

Now, it is the time for Kentucky to become the 44th state to approve charter schools.

Over the years, it’s gotten little movement in the statehouse, although legislation is introduced every year by state Sen. Mike Wilson. Because of the Jefferson County teachers’ unions influence with the Democratic Party and its leader in the House, Speaker Greg Stumbo buries the legislation in a committee where he knows it will go absolutely nowhere.

It’s a real shame these people are choosing to hold our children back in failing schools, especially in Jefferson and Fayette counties, where Stumbo and company know there is a 40 percent achievement gap in math proficiency between black students and white students and that some kids in these counties are not ready for college.

Because of the disparate impact on minority children, it can be argued that failing schools are an egregious form of racism. This is undoubtedly why so many black ministers in the aforementioned urban areas have gotten behind the push for charter schools in Kentucky.

Terry Holliday, Kentucky’s former commissioner of education, described what is happening to the children in failing schools as “academic genocide.”

This is a real crisis that we can no longer turn a blind eye to.

That is why it was welcome news that the Kentucky Board of Education is studying the concept of public charter schools in the state next month.

A committee is going to have a working session Nov. 28 to determine if the concept would work for Kentucky’s students and let lawmakers know before next year’s legislative session if they should take action on school choice.

The fact that they are meeting to discuss this is very significant to say the least.

At the end of the day, the board may not recommend that lawmakers take any action, but the fact that there is discussion about it means that the powers to be can no longer turn a blind eye to the issue of charter schools in Kentucky.

We believe the formation of this committee is a good start to hopefully one day bring charter schools to Kentucky. Inevitably charter schools will become a reality in Kentucky whether it be through this board’s recommendation or the Republicans taking over the House next month and voting it into law.

It’s all about our children and choice and about all children having the chance for a quality education.

We can no longer ill afford to leave our kids in failing schools and not have them prepared for life’s challenges.

It’s simply unacceptable.




Oct. 21

The Lexington Herald-Leader on tackling gun violence:

Lexington, like the rest of the country, is safer than it has been in decades. But, like Louisville and some other cities, Lexington also is suffering a spike in gun violence, says Police Chief Mark Barnard.

Barnard, whose 30 years of policing in Lexington include a stint as a homicide detective, is observing several other related and troubling trends:

- When shots are fired, it is increasingly a barrage of bullets, due to the prevalence of high-capacity magazines. It’s not unusual for police to recover 10 to 15 shell casings at a shooting site. An innocent bystander is more likely to be wounded or killed when so many bullets are flying.

Since 2014 at least four Lexington residents have died only because they happened to be in the wrong spot when gunfire erupted in a public place: Antonio Franklin Jr., 21, in Duncan Park in 2014; Kwame El-Amin, 42, on Father’s Day in 2015 at Douglass Park when it was crowded with fans of the Dirt Bowl basketball tournament, four others were injured in that still unsolved shooting; Maryiah Coleman, 22 and eight months pregnant, when she was walking her dog outside her Winburn Drive apartment complex last month, also unsolved; Trinity Gay, 15, when people in two separate cars fired at each other in the parking lot of a popular late-night restaurant on South Broadway near the University of Kentucky early Oct. 16.

Also shot early Oct. 16 was James Augustus Blair, 27, who was downtown, then was dropped off anonymously at a hospital and later died.

Last weekend’s bloodshed brought Lexington’s homicide count to 19 for the year, already matching the 2015 total.

- Police are encountering more people than ever who are carrying guns, including convicted felons who by law are barred from possessing a firearm, and teens as young as 14 and 15. In a country where guns outnumber people kids who are too young to legally buy cigarettes or beer easily obtain powerful handguns and settle adolescent grudges with lethal results.

Vigils and pleas by grieving families for witnesses to come forward are starting to feel almost routine in Lexington.

Last year, BUILD, the coalition of 27 Central Kentucky religious congregations, identified gun violence and open-air drug marketing in Lexington as major concerns. BUILD is urging the city to bring in the National Network for Safe Communities at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York to help develop strategies for reducing violence and making all of our neighborhoods safe for all.

In the wake of Trinity Gay’s killing, which attracted international attention because her father is Olympic runner Tyson Gay, Mayor Jim Gray last week called for a review of the city’s response to gun violence. Gray wisely wants the examination to go beyond police policy to address the roots of violence.

Gray’s review should consider partnering with the National Network, which was chosen by the U.S. Justice Department to help develop model programs and best practices for strengthening ties between law enforcement and communities. Lexington’s police force is highly qualified and committed to community involvement, so such a collaboration could yield innovative solutions here and for other places.

While it might seem futile, Lexington also should call on Kentucky lawmakers to lower state barriers to local action on gun safety and on Congress to enact common sense gun laws and close loopholes that arm criminals and kids.

Even with crime at historic lows, we still must strive to be a city where all citizens, no matter where they live or who they are, feel safe asking the police for help and reporting crime.



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