- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Summary of recent Kentucky newspaper editorials:


Dec. 1

Lexington Herald-Leader on diversity of leadership at the University of Kentucky:

With all due respect to the four brave men who integrated University of Kentucky, and SEC, football, President Eli Capilouto’s recent peaen to their accomplishments would ring more heartfelt if his own top staff resembled them more.

His 10-member leadership team includes eight white men and two women, one black. The lone black person is, all too predictably, in the slot designated to promote diversity on campus.

As Linda Blackford reported recently, Capilouto’s team does not mirror the campus it oversees, where 54 percent of students are female and 14 percent are members of a minority.

Perhaps most disturbing is that none of this is new. A persistent criticism of Capilouto, even from a typically uncritical board, is lack of diversity among those who report directly to him.

“One of the top recommendations (in evaluations) was the expansion and diversification of his inner circle, and he’s never done it,” C.B. Akins, a trustee until his term expired this year, told Blackford.

The topic moved to center stage in 2013 when, two years after Capilouto came to UK, he searched for a new provost, the university’s chief academic officer. At that time, his 11-member leadership team included 10 men, one black and one Asian, and one black woman (again, occupying the role charged with promoting diversity). Capilouto did hire a woman, Christine Riordan, as UK’s first female provost but she left in under two years and was replaced by pharmacy dean Tim Tracy, a white male.

Tracy is leaving at the end of this month and Capilouto is searching internally for a new provost. The three finalists will speak at open forums on campus this week. Again, diversity in Capilouto’s cabinet is part of the discussion.

Why does it matter?

First there is simply leading by example: Can UK really convince minority or female students that they can achieve at the highest levels when it’s not happening here?

There’s also tons of research showing that greater diversity, by gender and ethnicity, produces better results. The consulting firm McKinsey & Co., for example, found that gender-diverse companies are 15 percent more likely to financially outperform their peers, while those that are ethnically diverse are 35 percent more likely to outperform.

McKinsey believes they do better, in part, because more diverse companies are able to attract better talent, creating a virtuous cycle of improvement.

That’s not happening at UK. One of the school’s 19 deans is a black man and seven, far less than half, are female. Among faculty, 40 percent are women and only 3.6 percent black.

“The problem is that we don’t have very many people in the pipeline,” said Anastasia Curwood, a history professor who directs UK’s African American and Africana Studies program. So, with Capilouto’s decision to skip a national search and look internally for a new provost, he will find a field of candidates dominated by white men. Hardly a virtuous cycle.

In his blog post about the four athletes, Capilouto recalled that when a sculpture of the four was dedicated last September, he quoted Henry David Thoreau: “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”

It’s a nice thought but Capilouto is asking a lot if he expects students to “see” themselves reflected in his inner circle. It’s past time he gives them a more diverse leadership team to look at.

Online: http://www.kentucky.com/


Dec. 3

The Independent on security at a county jail:

It is time for state and/or federal authorities to step in and take over the Boyd County Detention Center.

We said months ago the jail is in need of an intervention. It is, unfortunately, time to say it again. The community knows it. The state apparently knows it. Everyone knows it, but at this point, little has been done to take control of the detention center.

The unraveling of security and safety at the jail is, without question, a systemic crisis. It is also, without question, a very serious problem that puts public safety at risk. This complex conundrum has to be fixed with new leadership and, just as importantly, money, to protect the residents of Catlettsburg, Boyd County and the Tri-State.

Our assessment should not in any way be considered a personal attack on Jailer Joe Burchett, but the number of incidents and problems at the jail makes for overwhelming evidence of the need for state or federal authorities to step in.

How many reasons do they need? A riot at the jail that shut down the facility. Multiple overdoses, raising repeated questions about how inmates are getting drugs in and out of the facility. Multiple escapes. The most recent one, involving Phillip Tolliver, wasn’t even known about at the jail until Catlettsburg police called the jail to report it. A deputy jailer was arrested on an allegation of trafficking and possession charges. Add to this a $75,000 financial settlement from a lawsuit against the jail and it is no wonder the state decided to stop housing state prisoners there, putting an already strapped county budget some $700,000 in the hole this fiscal year.

This is yet another no-win situation for area residents. Federal authorities, when presented with such scenarios in other parts of the country, have stepped in repeatedly and quickly to protect the public. It is a surprise this hasn’t already happened here, raising questions about the federal government’s involvement in anything in eastern Kentucky. Are our federal legislators doing anything about this? Apparently not.

But there is no sugar coating the fact if the crisis continues to be neglected, the state or feds will step in and take over the Boyd County jail, and this will translate into a very sizable load of misery for county tax payers. What usually happens in these situations is the feds file complaints against the county, which enters into a consent decree with local governments mandating the problems be fixed, and the taxpayer gets out his or her checkbook.

The troubling series of episodes at the county jail is also emblematic of larger, chronic problems found in pretty much every state in America. They are problems of federal and state neglect of infrastructure, corrections, public safety and public education that go underfunded because of mismanagement combined with a void of political leadership. It is a product of our ideologically divided nation where no one compromises because of ideology.

In regard to corrections, the Kentucky system of electing local jailers makes no sense whatsoever. It is a flawed, broken system that invites these types of problems, handcuffing local leaders at the county building about what they can do. Instead of electing county jailers, local county governments should either have the ability to hire experienced corrections professionals to run their jails, or an alternative would be to put management of county jails under the jurisdictions of local sheriffs.

Boyd County needs to embark on a long-term plan to fix problems. It may include construction of a state-of-the-art regional jail. Multiple counties could benefit from this. It also involves making corrections jobs attractive financially. A huge part of the problem here and across the nation is what employees at corrections institutions are paid. Few want to work in a county jail, surrounded by accused killers, drug dealers and violent offenders for compensation levels ridiculously low considering the nature of the job. The compensation of jail employees has to be attractive enough for people to put up with the misery of working in a jail.

If the pay is not adequate for front-line staffers, we will never fix this problem because of constant turnover and vacancies.

Make no mistake about it. This is a full-fledged crisis. What will it take to prompt a long-term fix?

A public-safety catastrophe, apparently.

Online: http://www.dailyindependent.com/


Dec. 3

The State Journal on welcoming different religions as holidays approach:

Commentators on both the left and the right have praised this newspaper’s efforts to promote transparency in government - and with good reason. To paraphrase Kentuckian and former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, sunlight is the best disinfectant. With public scrutiny, policies, procedures and ideas grow stronger.

We find laughable the notion that public business should remain cloaked in secrecy for the public’s own good - whether it’s the drafting of public pension reform legislation or the selection of Frankfort’s Capital Plaza developer. Yet, when it comes to religion, some who would praise us for this stance may fall prey to a fallacy similar to the idea that darkness is a better disinfectant than light.

In our predominantly Protestant community, the fear of exposure to denominations or religions different from our own is real - if rarely articulated in mixed company. That fear is both misguided and troubling.

It is misguided because a person’s beliefs - or non-beliefs as the case may be - mature only in the crucible of exposure to differing viewpoints. (You don’t truly know what you believe until a debate has forced you to check your premises.)

It is troubling because in our relatively homogeneous community, this ignorance of others’ beliefs can potentially lead us to dehumanize our fellow man whether we realize it or not.

This holiday season, don’t just pay lip service to the importance of understanding other denominations or religions; live it. Talk with a Catholic about his or her church’s understanding of the Immaculate Conception and how that shapes Catholic views on the Virgin Mary. Brush off Maccabees and remember why it is that Jews celebrate Hanukkah. You might even be tempted to light a candle or spin a dreidel yourself.

Embrace it. Your own faith will only benefit from the experience.

Online: http://www.state-journal.com/

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