- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Summary of recent Kentucky newspaper editorials:

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April 12

Lexington Herald-Leader on lawmakers and sexual harassment:

Who paid and how much were the most important questions raised by a confidential sexual harassment settlement that divided Kentucky Republicans and gave the legislature a black eye.



Investigators for the Legislative Ethics Commission determined that former House Speaker Jeff Hoover, three other Republican lawmakers and Hoover’s former chief-of-staff paid $110,000 to a former staffer who had accused them of sexual harassment.

Investigators also determined that that the money did not come from sources seeking legislative favors. Nor was the staffer paid from public funds. Financial records indicated the $110,000 came from personal sources, including family and friends, and bank loans. The accuser received $66,000 and her lawyers $44,000.

Rep. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville, who filed the ethics complaint, said he was disappointed that the commission did not dig deeper into who paid, in case money was laundered. But Wayne endorsed the commission’s Tuesday decision to spare the accuser from testifying by accepting an agreement with Hoover.

Hoover agreed to pay a $1,000 fine, accepted a public reprimand and admitted that his actions violated the legislature’s ethics code.

The accuser’s lawyer told the commission that she was comfortable with that outcome.

The commission also obtained 49 pages of text messages between Hoover, R-Jamestown, and the staffer and a copy of the settlement that Hoover and three other lawmakers signed with her last year. The ethics commission last week dismissed complaints against Rep. Jim DeCesare, R-Bowling Green; Rep. Brian Linder, R-Dry Ridge; and Rep. Michael Meredith, R-Oakland.

The decision to let Hoover settle the case left unexamined behind-the-scenes machinations that still could be brought to light in two lawsuits filed by legislative staffers claiming that they were targeted for retaliation after the settlement became public. One of the staffers was fired, the other still works for the House.

The lone woman on the Legislative Ethics Commission, Pat Freibert, cast the only vote against accepting the agreement, preferring that the case go to a hearing with testimony from witnesses who were on deck. Freibert, who told us there were some questions she would have liked the accuser to answer, said she was “not comfortable with two attorneys making the decision.”

In response to the Hoover case, the House approved a bill - now stalled in the Senate - that would give legislative staffers a telephone tip line for reporting harassment and an expedited process for resolving harassment complaints. The stalled bill also would establish sexual harassment as a punishable violation of the legislative ethics code.

Even without a new law, Hoover’s disgrace - he resigned as speaker last January - surely has made legislators more aware than ever that voters did not elect them to ogle, trifle or otherwise create a hostile work environment for legislative employees.

Hoover told the commission that “for 16 years I thought the most important thing for Jeff Hoover was to be speaker of the House.” Too bad he also seemed to think that one of the perks of that powerful office was sexting a staffer in her early 20s.

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

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April 18

The Daily News of Bowling Green on Gov. Matt Bevin’s comments on the consequences of striking teachers:

For several months, Kentuckians watched as the General Assembly worked to try to fund one of the worst-funded pension systems in the country.

Many education professionals were upset with lawmakers’ plan to help fund the pension crisis.

It’s worth noting that Kentucky’s huge pension problem grew unwieldy during decades of Democratic rule in Frankfort. They never addressed the issue when they controlled the governor’s mansion and the legislature.

When Democrats lost power in 2016, it became clear that Republicans were, in fact, going to do something about the troubling pension crisis in due time. Beginning in 2018, Gov. Matt Bevin released his budget, which proposed sizable cuts to teachers’ retirement cost-of-living plans. Teachers were also angry at certain legislators who they perceived as being against them once the session began in January. For the past few weeks, we have seen teachers from across the state marching on Frankfort, protesting Bevin and legislators.

It is obviously their right to protest what they perceive as an attack on their way of life and their livelihoods. It is our understanding that the teachers who protested used sick and vacation time to go to Frankfort. We have no issue with these teachers going to our state Capitol and standing up for what they believe.

We do have an issue, however, with what Bevin said Friday in reference to these protests. Bevin was being interviewed about the protesters and his vetoes of the budget and revenue bills being overridden by legislators when he made the following comments: “I guarantee you somewhere in Kentucky today, a child was sexually assaulted that was left at home because there was nobody there to watch them. I guarantee you somewhere today, a child was physically harmed or ingested poison because they were left alone because a single parent didn’t have any money to take care of them.”

Why on Earth would Bevin make these baseless comments?

To suggest that teachers put children in harm’s way by going to Frankfort to make their voices heard is a slap in the face to them. Teachers are hard-working people who quite frankly aren’t paid enough for all the good they do.

Outrage across the state over the weekend prompted Bevin to make an apology of sorts Sunday via social media.

Bevin apologized “for those who have been hurt by the things that were said.”

“Sometimes the words that people say, the way in which they say it, or just the misunderstanding that comes from that can also have unintended consequences and I think that is what happened from the very things I said,” Bevin said.

“Clearly a tremendous number of people did not fully appreciate what I was communicating, or what it was that I was trying to say and I hurt a lot of people,” Bevin also said in the video. “I apologize for those who were hurt by the things that were said, that was not my intent whatsoever.”

It seems to us that Bevin took a sideways approach to apologizing to those he hurt. It sounds like he was trying to say in his four-minute video speech that he was only taking responsibility for not being clearer in conveying his message.

We’re glad Bevin at least attempted to own up to his hurtful words, but at the end of the day, words have consequences. As governor, Bevin should’ve known better than to say these hurtful things.

Overall, this newspaper has been supportive of Bevin and his agenda. We stand by the many editorials we have written supporting the great causes he has championed in our state, but in this case we are putting our foot down and saying the governor crossed a line. We accept his apology and believe it was sincere, but we would urge Bevin in the future to select his words more carefully and respect people’s rights to protest for their convictions.

Online: http://www.bgdailynews.com/

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April 16

The Daily Independent of Ashland on a historical marker related to the Hatfield-McCoy feud:

Credit goes out today to all of those who worked for years to get an official historical marker at the Catlettsburg Cemetery marking the graves of James and Floyd McCoy.

If you picked up our Sunday paper you likely read about the fact that James and Floyd McCoy - two men who participated in national history via the Hatfield-McCoy feud - are buried right here in Boyd County. Buried in Catlettsburg Cemetery to be exact. Thanks to the work of a lot of people the gravesites previously barely marked now have distinguished markers. More impressive, there is a state historic marker sign telling the stories of James and Floyd McCoy.

Most of the warfare between the two clans unfolded in the Pikeville area. But there is a lot of history that also connects to here.

Sue Dowdy said of Ashland-Boyd tourism said after the ceremony there is an ever growing market of Hatfield and McCoy history aficionados. The markers and sign she believes will bring many to Catlettsburg in the coming years.

“In addition to it being a lovely remembrance, we want to start a tourist destination between Catlettsburg and Pikeville, to connect the highway with all of the Hatfield and McCoys because the McCoy brothers are buried there and they married women from Catlettsburg,” she said.

Clifford Gene New from Pikeville is a Hatfield and McCoy descendant. He worked hard on the project with Dowdy, tourism staff and others. A special thanks goes out to all those involved. We couldn’t help but notice that this is a very legitimate tourism stop for those interested in this historic saga. The view from the Catlettsburg Cemetery looking down over the valley and at the Ohio River is spectacular. If you are a Hatfield-McCoy history buff, and make no mistake, there are plenty, this will be a much needed stop on a tour through the region.

Putting this all together and making it all happen was a very wise move.

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

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