AP NEWS

Kentucky editorial roundup

June 12, 2019

Summary of recent Kentucky newspaper editorials:

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June 9

The Paducah Sun on local government budget cuts:

Bleak. Barebones.

Dismal. Dire.

These aren’t words you’d prefer government officials use at any time, let alone to describe its budget. Nonetheless, those adjectives and others came from McCracken County Fiscal Court members this week in an interview with The Sun.

The elected leaders discussed with the newspaper information that first came to the public’s attention May 29 — that county government’s budget is roughly $900,000 light for the coming fiscal year. ...

Its fund balance — unspent, reserve money key to the county’s ability to borrow — was reduced to about $3 million in 2018, down from $7.2 million in 2012.

Deputy-Judge Executive Steve Doolittle said previous fiscal courts resorted to the fund balance to cover budgetary shortfalls, attributable to rising health insurance costs, debt service and the white whale for every government in Kentucky — the pension crisis.

The fiscal court and Doolittle, to their credit, haven’t played the blame game on past county officials — at least publicly — when talking about the budgetary troubles, preferring to address today and tomorrow rather than yesterday.

That’s commendable.

“The last couple fiscal courts have taken the approach of be frugal, nibble away at the edges, cut what you can cut, and use the fund balance to fix the budget,” Doolittle told The Sun. “It’s a fine strategy and I’m not actually critical of it, but it has run its course. It’s not sustainable.”

Again, to the fiscal court’s credit, members seem to recognize the seriousness of the money woes and the imperative to right the course, but aren’t keen on taking drastic measures.

Judge-Executive Craig Clymer said laying off employees and/or raising taxes across the board aren’t viable options. He suggested possible stopgaps such as reducing paving projects, delaying capital improvements, and instituting a hiring freeze.

“It’s time to turn this around,” Clymer told the newspaper. “It’s nothing we won’t work our way out of, but it took a while getting here and it’s going to take a little while getting back out.”

The fiscal court’s attitude and approach in fixing the finances, the editorial board believes, is measured and pragmatic.

However, we’d be remiss to say we aren’t concerned.

The budget problems come on the heels of another bit of troubling news — in 2018, McCracken County had an estimated population decline for the first time in four years. ... According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county had 65,397 residents in 2017; last year, the population estimate dropped to 65,346, a loss of 51 people.

There’s not much cause for alarm if the county decline is an anomaly rather than a trend. But look no further than the city of Paducah, which has declined in population in seven of eight years since 2011, for the red flag warning on what the county’s decrease could signal for future years.

It will be difficult enough for McCracken to adjust operations with a revenue shortfall. That task is compounded if it’s faced with less revenue and a smaller population contributing to the tax base.

One of the immediate actions for the fiscal court in light of its leaner budget should be ceasing, or at least tabling, any talks about potentially acquiring the Paducah Regional Sports Plex.

The purchase has been discussed — kudos to commissioner Eddie Jones for both raising the issue and suggesting a creative bit of problem solving — as an answer to improving area recreational opportunities.

However, given the county’s current financial state, a $3 million-$5 million expenditure at a time when basic operations are in the red is unwise.

The sports plex, as of now, is a luxury McCracken County cannot afford.

Online: https://www.paducahsun.com

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June 8

The Bowling Green Daily News on statements made by 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden:

Former vice president and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has a reputation for making comments that don’t paint him in the best light.

This could be the reason some people refer to him as “Loose Lips Biden.”

In 2006, as Biden was gearing up to seek the Democratic presidential nomination, the then-U.S. senator from Delaware was asked by a reporter how a Northeast liberal would fare against Southerners such as Mark Warner or John Edwards in states such as South Carolina. Biden responded by saying, “Better than anybody else. You don’t know my state,” he said. “My state was a slave state. My state is a border state. My state has the eighth-largest black population in the country. My state is anything from a Northeast liberal state.”

This was a very odd statement. He was bragging about his state being a slave state. We don’t believe that this is something that anyone should brag about, especially someone running for president of the United States.

Another odd and highly offensive remark that has surfaced finds Biden repeatedly saying back in 1987 while running for president that he had marched alongside civil rights marchers during the 1960s.

During that time on the campaign stump, Biden said, “When I marched in the civil rights movement, I did not march with a 12-point program” in front of a New Hampshire audience. “I marched with tens of thousands of others to change attitudes. And we changed attitudes.”

More than once, advisers had gently reminded Biden of the problem with this formulation: He had not actually marched during the civil rights movement. And more than once, Biden assured them he understood — and kept telling the story anyway.

This is very telling about the man. He knew he had not, in fact, participated in civil rights marches, but told the audiences he did in order to advance his political ambitions. This is very disingenuous, to say the least.

It’s also a slap in the face to the thousands upon thousands of people, black and white, who participated in civil rights marches in the 1960s. It’s insulting to those who were killed and to those who were injured, people like U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., who was badly beaten by Alabama state troopers when he was involved in the march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965.

Biden’s lie that he participated in the civil rights movement is similar to the lie that U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., often repeated on the stump about his service in Vietnam. It turned out Blumenthal never served in Vietnam. He knew he didn’t serve in Vietnam, but he kept telling potential voters that he did.

Lies such as these are hurtful to those who marched for civil rights and to those who fought and died in Vietnam.

Biden, who wants to be our next president, owes those who actually did participate in the civil rights movement an explanation and an immediate apology for attempting to steal their sacrifices.

Online: www.bgdailynews.com

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June 7

The Daily Independent on a new program for veterans in the Kentucky Tri-State area:

A righteous undertaking is underway in the Tri-State.

We are speaking of the Veterans Emergency Fund program — an ambitious endeavor to help veterans in need. This goal of helping veterans is being carried out by a new partnership featuring members of the local faith-based community, the Veterans Administration Outreach Center in Huntington and Shelter of Hope. The Ashland Area Ministerial Association (AAMA) detailed the program Tuesday. It was described as a program to assist with the emergency needs of low-income or fixed-income military veterans in the community.

Reporter Carly Carver detailed ... how the fund seeks to fill a void in other veterans’ assistance efforts, and “bridge the gap in services,” said Rev. Stanley McDonald of New Hope Baptist Church.

Shelter of Hope Executive Director Debbie Sivis said the nonprofit — which provides emergency shelter and transitional housing in the FIVCO area — will act as a program manager for the Veterans Emergency Fund Program.

“We’ve already been able to help one person with the little bit of money we’ve already received,” Sivis said. “He had a problem with his car, it was going to cost well over $400 and he needed to get to his medical appointments and he didn’t have that kind of money. A lot of these veterans are on fixed-income.”

We are very impressed with the establishment of this coalition and the work that has already gone in to helping our local veterans. Anne Robinson, the Homeless Outreach Specialist with the VA, is working to screen applicants as well as identify needs. Robinson said looking back over the last 12 months the VA was able to identify 100 veterans she had contact with who had some type of financial need that was not being met. Robinson said out of the 100 veterans, 50 of the needs could not be addressed with current community services available.

“A lot of resources are being cut,” Robinson said. “The VA used to have a veteran transport that used to pick veterans up from Ashland and take them to the VA. It’s not available anymore.”

What is most impressive to us is that this project will be donor driven. In other words the coalition is seeking the public’s help in making this assistance possible. Donations can be made to the AAMA, in care of Rev. Larry Sivis, Treasurer at First Christian Church, located at 1930 Winchester Ave. The members of the AAMA are New Hope Baptist, Calvary Episcopal, First Presbyterian, First Nazarene, South Ashland United Methodist, First Methodist, First Christian, Holy Family Catholic Church, Beech Street Christian Church, King’s Daughters Medical Center, and Community Presbyterian.

We encourage our readers to support this effort if they can. With the passing of the D-Day 75th anniversary on Thursday, we are all reminded of the countless sacrifices our veterans have made for our freedom and the well-being of our society. Supporting an effort to address unmet needs for veterans in the Tri-State area, in our view, is the least we can do.

Online: https://www.dailyindependent.com

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