- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Recent editorials of statewide and national interest from New York’s newspapers:

The Post-Standard on the NCAA’s compensation limits.

May 6

In a move that would have set fire to NCAA, the University of Wisconsin very nearly boycotted its Nov. 29, 2016, game against Syracuse University in the nationally televised Big Ten/ACC Challenge to protest compensation limits for college athletes.

Former Wisconsin player Nigel Hayes proposed the boycott to draw attention to the exploitation of players. Their labor earns billions of dollars for the NCAA, athletic conferences and member schools; in return, they receive the cost of attending school and a small stipend.

Hayes, speaking May 1 at a panel discussion on athlete pay, predicted that had Wisconsin gone through with the boycott, “we’d probably be having a very different conversation right now.”

Instead, in a colossal missed opportunity, the conversation about fair compensation for college athletes has been sidelined indefinitely by the blue-ribbon group charged with “fixing” the sport.

NCAA President Mark Emmert appointed the Commission on College Basketball in response to the FBI investigation into illicit payments to athletes and their families through coaches, agents and athletic apparel executives. The commission, chaired by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, released its report on April 25. It acknowledges that college basketball is “deeply troubled,” beset by “corruption and deception,” and engaged in a fight for “its very survival.”

The commission - which we note did not include any students — acknowledges the exploitation argument made by Hayes, this Editorial Board and many others. Yet it flatly rejects any notion of paying players. Instead, the commission doubles down on the collegiate model, advising the NCAA to renew its “commitment to the college degree as the centerpiece of intercollegiate athletics.” That might have been tenable in 1920, 1950 or even 1970, but to say a college degree is compensation enough in 2018, when college sports are dripping in money, is beyond ludicrous.

Still, the commission makes sensible recommendations to encourage college athletes to complete their degrees, such as allowing undrafted players to return to school without penalty and allowing athletes who leave early to earn their diplomas cost-free. It also advocates a path to the pros for athletes who really don’t care about college.

The commission rightly rails against the “one-and-done” phenomenon, where basketball players attend college for one year and then jump to the pros. Too bad it’s not within the NCAA’s power to stop it. The NBA and its players’ union would have to agree to change the rules to allow 18-year-olds to enter the draft. There is little incentive for them to change the status quo. The college game acts as a free and effective minor league system for the NBA, and established players competing for a finite number of NBA roster spots don’t want any more youthful competition.

If the NBA won’t end one and done, the Rice commission proposes making freshmen ineligible to play, or “locking up” a student’s athletic scholarship for three or four years to punish coaches for recruiting one-and-done players. These draconian measures would harm the college game more than help it.

The commission also wants the NCAA to get more involved in certifying sports agents, running non-scholastic basketball leagues and curbing the influence of sneaker companies - activities that, paradoxically, would draw the NCAA even deeper into the business of professional sports.

The commission accepts the consensus view - even within the NCAA itself — that its investigative and enforcement process is broken. Investigations take too long, penalties are inconsistent, schools can’t be trusted to investigate themselves, and blatant rule-breaking is condoned — until federal prosecutors rush in, that is. It proposes hiring independent investigators in high-stakes cases, imposing a five-year post-season ban on programs that willfully flout NCAA rules or fail to cooperate, and a lifetime ban on cheating coaches. These are positive steps, but too little, too late to repair the NCAA’s tattered credibility.

To avoid another North Carolina embarrassment - where the NCAA was impotent to punish widespread academic fraud because sham courses were offered to the entire student body, not just athletes - the commission recommends changing the rules to allow the NCAA to “address academic fraud and cheating to the extent it is used to corrupt athletic eligibility.” Amen to that.

The Rice commission punted on the notion of compensating amateur athletes for use of their names, images and likenesses until the courts settle the matter. We support the so-called Olympic model. An endorsement from the commission would have been a small but powerful step toward ensuring equity and fairness for college athletes.

Emmert intends to implement the commission’s recommendations before the season tips off in the fall. When he appointed it in October, Emmert said, “This is not a time for half-measures or incremental change.” Unfortunately, that is mostly what the Rice commission has produced.

Online: https://bit.ly/2InbCLR


The (Middleton) Times-Herald Record on the fallout from the accusations against former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

May 8

The accusations of assault and swift resignation of New York’s attorney general would have been unimaginable a few years ago.

Other men have abused their power and hidden that from public view. Others have been outspoken and effective in championing a movement then turned out to be the kind of person that movement seeks to remove.

No, such blatant hypocrisy is not the element that raises eyebrows when it comes to the behavior and departure of Eric Schneiderman.

What is truly surprising is that a man who has been so visible and outspoken, so public and combative in legal and political matters, would have been able to get away with this for so long.

And with that recognition comes another, more intriguing one, either promising or troubling depending on your point of view.

If Schneiderman, a man with a national reputation for fighting the Trump administration and widely considered to be the most likely Democrat to one day succeed Andrew Cuomo, could escape scrutiny that long, there must be others watching with nervous anticipation.

Are any of them Republicans? Should they have to worry?

Schneiderman’s immediate resignation belies his objection that there was no proof of the allegations, that while they had nothing to do with his job, defending himself and his office would “effectively prevent me from leading the office’s work at this critical time.”

That’s similar to the explanation offered by Al Franken, the senator from Minnesota who resigned soon after allegations appeared about his inappropriate actions toward women.

And in both cases, one of the people accepting the allegations and pressing for the resignations was Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, the New York Democrat who has emerged as an outspoken leader of both her party and the growing forces in the nation that are not willing to accept either the status quo or the excuses when it comes to issues affecting women, whether that concerns abuse, health care, pay or anything else.

What was even more intriguing and illuminating about the Schneiderman story was the reaction from the Trump family.

Donald Trump Jr. posted a series of tweets as the news unfolded Monday, one of them to show that his father suspected Schneiderman of illicit behavior all along. Schneiderman also had said, “No one is above the law, and I’ll continue to remind President Trump and his administration of that fact every day” just last fall and Trump Jr. retweeted it, adding, “You were saying???”

In what we acknowledge is a partisan landscape, one in which people defend their friends and attack their enemies no matter what the facts show, that reaction to Schneiderman is revealing.

Democrats did not, as Republicans usually do these days, defend the accused and demean the attacker. They accepted the charges and demanded change.

Trump Jr. knows that his father faces even more allegations of illicit behavior with even more documented proof, something that would inspire most people to at least be quiet in hopes that nobody decides to compare the two cases.

But his reaction is both expected and typical, something that should encourage Democrats and inform those who are wondering which party deserves support in the coming elections.

Online: https://bit.ly/2KOjT9W


The Niagara Gazette on the importance of the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center.

May 4

The project has been years in the making.

Like so many other large-scale undertakings in Niagara Falls, it did not come without its share of controversies.

While many agreed almost from the start that it was a good idea to take better advantage of the community’s ties to the rich history of the Underground Railroad, the path to doing so proved challenging with questions being raised at various points about funding, stewardship and even the history itself.

Members of the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Commission, established to oversee the investment of state dollars into the endeavor, took on the tough task from the beginning and stayed with it through all the various twists and turns.

Finally, today, they can join the community in celebrating the opening of the center itself.

They are owed a debt of gratitude for keeping the project alive and bringing it to fruition.

While it’s customary for some living in the Falls to keep looking back, the long-awaited arrival of the official grand opening of the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center is most certainly a time to look forward.

The project represents the preservation and resurrection of the historic 1863 U.S. Custom House building. Now home to the heritage center, the custom house building ties in nicely with the city’s new Amtrak train station, offering residents and visitors alike a new culturally significant and educational asset to enjoy.

Beyond that, and perhaps most importantly, the center offers an authentic look at a significant aspect of our local history, documenting the life and times of freedom seekers and abolitionists who were part of the Underground Railroad in Niagara Falls.

Created in cooperation with the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area, a program of the National Park Service, the center features a permanent exhibition, “One More River to Cross,” which explores local stories about the Underground Railroad, the role played by its location and geography, and the actions of the residents - particularly African American residents - who played instrumental roles in its operation.

The center’s exhibits and interpretation align with the principles of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, whose mission is to connect the past to modern social justice issues - “to turn memory to action.” Inside, visitors will find digital media, graphics, scenic built environments and first-rate educational programming.

Included among the displays are recreations of the Cataract House - the international hotel that employed an entirely African American wait staff who helped freedom seekers make their way to Canada - as well as the International Suspension Bridge, the 1848 crossing where Harriet Tubman and others crossed the imaginary line from slavery to freedom.

In other words, the heritage center will have plenty to offer for people who live here and for the millions who visit the Falls and the surrounding area year after year.

Yes, like so many projects in this community, the heritage center seemed to take forever to complete and, at various points, appeared to be another one of those things people talk about doing but never actually complete.

We’re proud to say today that Niagara Falls has a new educational and culturally significant asset within its borders and it’s a credit to members of the commission and others who saw the value in the project from the beginning and kept working to see it through to completion.

Online: https://bit.ly/2jNRy7z


Newsday on repairing Suffolk County’s water system.

May 6

As Suffolk County wages war on nitrogen in our waters, there are important things to keep in mind:

This is a long process. The problem was created over decades, and it won’t be solved overnight.

Everyone - from elected officials and community leaders to builders, academics and homeowners - understands the urgency. We all have seen the multicolored algal blooms, the startling reductions in shellfish, and the loss and degradation of wetlands. We know that two-thirds or more of the nitrogen in most of our bays and harbors comes from homeowner septic systems.

There is an achievable solution. It involves a combination of sewers in places where they make sense, and high-tech alternative septic systems in places where sewers are not practical.

Suffolk has made steady progress on its plan. But it will not be without glitches. Some of those were detailed in a recent Newsday-News 12 Long Island report.

But here’s the important thing: These are not insurmountable obstacles. They were not unexpected. And they cannot be fodder for an argument to stop the process and undo the progress.

Making change on Long Island is rarely easy. It’s even harder when that change is expensive.

That’s the major source of controversy in Suffolk’s plan. Most of the 360,000 homes in the county served by inefficient cesspools or septic systems cannot be placed on sewers. It’s way too expensive. The individual high-tech systems the county has been testing to replace the failing systems are far cheaper but still pricey - as much as $23,000 per unit.

Finding adequate incentives to help homeowners make the switch, and determining who has to swap out their systems and when, is critical. Suffolk offers a package of grants and loans - the towns of East Hampton, Southampton and Shelter Island have similar grant programs - but the county likely will need to tweak its plan to make switching more affordable.

But the biggest issue is how to pay for such a program. It’s clear Suffolk needs a recurring source of money. The responsibility to find one falls on elected officials from local, county and state governments. They must collaborate on tough but necessary decisions. High costs are not a reason to do nothing; they’re a reason to devise a plan to reduce those costs. It’s time for real leaders to step up. Inaction is not an option.

A new report on nitrogen levels and origins in every watershed area on Long Island is due this month; that will help Suffolk prioritize areas for action. The State Assembly has passed a smart bill sponsored by Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) that would help reduce nitrogen that reaches surface waters from fertilizing lawns; the Senate should get behind it, too. Suffolk continues to test new wastewater treatment systems, technology continues to improve, and costs should come down.

Long Islanders have seen what happens to our precious waters when we put raw sewage in the ground. We all know the solution, too. Now we have to figure out how to pay for it.

Online: https://nwsdy.li/2I8b4pJ


The New York Times on the Trump administration’s changes in sex education.

May 5

The administration of Donald Trump - who had a child out of wedlock after cheating on his first wife, and is in a legal battle with a porn star who says she had sex with him not long after his third wife gave birth - is promoting abstinence with a zeal perhaps never before seen from the federal government.

Mr. Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services is quietly advancing an anti-science, ideological agenda. The department last year prematurely ended grants to some teen pregnancy prevention programs, claiming weak evidence of success. More recently, it set new funding rules that favor an abstinence-only approach. In reality, programs that use creative ways to educate teenagers about contraception are one reason teen pregnancy in the United States has plummeted in recent years.

The administration is promoting a “just say no” approach to adults as well as to teenagers. It’s poised to shift Title X family planning dollars - funds largely intended to help poor adult women around the United States get birth control - toward programs that advocate abstinence outside of marriage, as well as unreliable forms of birth control like the rhythm method (though the health agency might have to reverse course if either of the lawsuits filed against it last week by Planned Parenthood and other women’s health advocates are successful).

Nor are its sights limited to the United States. As BuzzFeed News reported, administration officials who attended recent closed-door meetings at the United Nations were preoccupied with abstinence. Bethany Kozma, a senior adviser for gender equality and women’s empowerment at the United States Agency for International Development, called America a “pro-life nation,” stunning delegates from other countries.

The administration’s approach defies all common sense. There is no good evidence that abstinence-only education prevents or delays young people from having sex, leads them to have fewer sexual partners or reduces rates of teen pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections. And given that almost all Americans engage in premarital sex, this vision of an abstinent-outside-of-marriage world is simply at odds with reality.

Abstinence-only education also spreads misinformation. A 2004 government report found that many such curriculums undersold the effectiveness of condoms and made unscientific assertions, like a claim that a 43-day-old fetus is a “thinking person.” This kind of propaganda also promotes gender stereotypes. “Women gauge their happiness and judge their success by their relationships,” one curriculum taught students. “Men’s happiness and success hinge on their accomplishments.”

Public health experts strongly recommend a comprehensive approach to sex education, one that informs young people about abstinence as well as about various forms of contraception and other aspects of sexual health.

The Trump administration has lurched rightward, not just compared to the Obama administration, which funded some abstinence-only programs, but even compared to the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush eras, when federal funding for abstinence was much more robust than under Barack Obama.

Meanwhile, officials pushing these changes - including Valerie Huber, who once ran a national organization dedicated to promoting abstinence and now leads the Title X program at the health agency - have engaged in a savvy rebranding campaign. They use innocuous sounding terms like “sexual risk avoidance” and “healthy relationships” because they know “abstinence” can sound harsh and retrograde.

Disinformation is at the center of this agenda. It makes it more difficult for women to acquire the knowledge they need to control if and when they become pregnant - a problem that is exacerbated by the administration’s hostility toward abortion rights. Beyond that, abstinence-only education keeps all people who are subjected to it in the dark about critical aspects of their health, and treats a normal part of life - sexuality, and women’s sexuality in particular - as aberrant and shameful.

Online: https://nyti.ms/2jJNwgn


Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide