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Kentucky editorial roundup

June 21, 2017

Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:

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June 19

The Daily Independent on Kentucky state driver’s licenses:

Kentucky still is waiting to hear if the federal Department of Homeland Security will allow the state an extension on implementing a federally compliant REAL ID driver’s license. However, we think the compromise reached in a bill approved by the 2017 Kentucky General Assembly should be agreeable to officials in Washington; it gives those who are opposed to the REAL ID driver’s licenses the opportunity to obtain a traditional Kentucky driver’s license while being fully aware of the consequences of that decision.

The General Assembly last spring approved legislation creating a new — but voluntary — driver’s license that meets new federal security requirements. Beginning in January 2019, such identification is required to board domestic flights. Beginning next month, they are required for entry onto some federal properties and facilities.

Kentucky lawmakers passed a bill in 2016 — with the support of Gov. Matt Bevin — bringing Kentucky into compliance, but Bevin surprised them by vetoing the measure, citing concerns about privacy from some conservative groups.

The compromise bill, sponsored by Rep. Jim Duplessis, R-Elizabethtown and passed this spring, makes the new license voluntary and Bevin signed it. Those who object to the REAL ID can still obtain a traditional Kentucky driver’s license, but they will need a birth certificate or passport to board flights or enter federal facilities.

Ricky Taylor, deputy commissioner of the Department of Vehicle Regulation, on Tuesday told the interim Joint Committee on Transportation he hopes to hear from the federal government by July 10 regarding the request for a waiver.

Taylor said the state will begin soliciting bids on Sept. 1 from companies who can produce the new license, with a goal of selecting a vendor by Jan. 1.

While we think opposition to the REAL ID licenses is based on unfounded fears, if someone does not want a REAL ID licenses, that should be their right, as long as they know they’ll need to have the birth certificate if they plan to board an airplane or enter a federal court house. While we do not desire such an inconvenience, to each his own.

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

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June 20

The Daily News on a needle exchange program:

No one wants to live in a city where there are used needles lying around.

Unfortunately, in cities all across this country, on any given day, people stumble across needles used by intravenous drug addicts. Stumbling across these needles is potentially very serious, as many diseases, such as hepatitis B and C and HIV, can be caught if a needle were to break someone’s skin. Used needles are a health hazard, to say the least, and it’s a shame more people using them don’t care enough to dispose of them properly. They are also a health hazard to people who share needles, which puts them at higher risk for bloodborne diseases.

Thankfully, cities across the country are doing what they can to hand out clean needles in exchange for used needles. Bowling Green is one of those cities that is trying to keep dirty needles off our streets, our sidewalks and our parks. On Aug. 25, the city launched the Anonymous Needle Exchange and Harm Reduction Program. Since beginning the program, the Warren County Health Department has served more than 100 people and has taken more than 3,000 dirty needles off of our streets. More than 4,176 clean needles have been given to participants. Three clients participating in the program have said they have either decreased their drug use or quit using altogether.

These numbers are evidence the program is working. Sure, not everyone who uses needles is going to come to the health department and get new ones and dispose of their old ones, but if a significant number, as we have seen here, participate in this program, it has the potential to make a real difference in the number of dirty needles kept off our streets.

Statistics show that people who use drugs and participate in the needle exchange program are five times more likely to recover than those who don’t. So, this program not only is helping get dirty needles off of our streets, it’s giving drug users a chance to get away from that dangerous lifestyle.

Part of the program is also about educating users about the dangers of sharing needles and telling them about area resources to get tested and help them fight addiction. In a perfect world, no one would use drugs, but we don’t live in a perfect world, so the least we can do is try to combat the problem. This is why we believe our city’s participation in this program has merit.

Our city is very fortunate to have this worthwhile program. It has proven that it is making a difference in a little under a year.

Hopefully, in the years ahead, it will continue to draw more drug users in hopes that they not only turn in used needles for clean ones, but that at least some of them stop using these dangerous drugs altogether.

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

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June 16

The Courier-Journal on the University of Louisville Foundation:

The University of Louisville Foundation, under the leadership of James Ramey, behaved like freewheeling tourists in Las Vegas, spending with reckless abandon and hoping to win big spinning the roulette wheel. That didn’t work. It rarely does.

Now the tough work begins to restore trust and to claw back millions of dollars. It is work that we fully support because the success of the foundation and university benefits Louisville and Kentucky.

Overall, the foundation must review and then refocus its core mission to benefit academic programs and enhance its standing as a high-caliber research institution. That review must include relationships with athletics.

Foundation and university leaders must scrutinize and remedy the audit’s findings related to athletics.

That must include stepping away from cozy, complicated and suspicious financial relationships with the University of Louisville Athletic Association.

The foundation’s website proudly touts its support of athletics. There’s too much attention and too many resources going there.

“The foundation overall spent $15.1 million on the athletic association’s behalf for which it received only $11.6 million in consideration,” according to the audit.

Along the way, dealmakers were asked to destroy records of conversations about transactions tied to athletics. According to the audit, Tom Jurich, vice president and director of athletics, was party to communication that urged keeping conversations from the public eye. The foundation is subject to Kentucky’s open records law.

It’s important to note the denying access to public records from the foundation is nothing new. The Courier-Journal waged a seven-year battle with the foundation for access to records. The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled in the C-J’s favor in 2008, granting access.

More than $800,000 was spent annually for the purchase of football and basketball tickets. Some tickets were resold without accounting of those transactions. That must stop.

When the tickets were used for wooing donors, there weren’t records of potential returns on investment. There must be a clear connection between potential donors, actual donations and the use of these tickets, or any other perks, for which foundation dollars are used.

The tail has been wagging the dog. The athletic association must be considered a division of the university and be required to support itself and the university, not the other way around.

From 2010 through 2016, Mark Jurich was paid $791,000 as an employee of the foundation yet was the Senior Associate Athletic Director for Development, according to the audit. The son of the athletics director was paid by one organization and worked for another.

Employees doing work for the athletics department, or any other university division outside the foundation, must not be paid from foundation coffers. Use foundation funds for advancement of the university and growing the endowment, not paying operational costs of external staff.

The foundation leaders behaved like starry-eyed Cards fans, not stewards of valuable financial resources.

The U of L’s athletic program is not cash poor. Its resources rank in the top 10 percent of big-time NCAA sports programs. They spend a lot, but they bring in even more. The athletic association must financially stand on its own.

Beyond the hocus-pocus involving the athletic association, the Attorney General and federal officials must expose the financial manipulation and zealously pursue wrongdoing that has left the foundation and ultimately, the university, hurting financially.

Now, David Grissom, the chairman of the board of trustees, Diane Medley, the chairwoman of the foundation board, and interim university president Gregory C. Postel must lead firmly. They have strong reputations in the community. They’ll need every bit to make the tough decisions and to work to restore the financial footing and public trust in these institutions.

They deserve our support and the support of the community as they work to fix and transform these institutions for the benefit of all of us.

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

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