Kentucky editorial roundup
The Associated Press
Aug. 22, 2018
Summary of recent Kentucky newspaper editorials:
The Daily News of Bowling Green on handing over documents pertaining to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh:
With hearings on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh set to begin Sept. 4, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and some of his Democratic colleagues are in a tizzy over a process he contends is lacking in transparency.
Schumer's contention is flimsy when you digest the fact that more than 195,000 documents pertaining to Kavanaugh have been turned over to the Senate Judiciary Committee. This number is higher than the number of documents provided before confirmation hearings for Neil Gorsuch and Elena Kagan. Even more documents are being processed and will be forthcoming.
You would think that just the documents already provided on the more than 300 opinions Kavanaugh participated in while on the federal appeals court would tell Schumer and company nearly all they need to know about Kavanaugh's judicial philosophy and approach to the law, but apparently not.
This request for an unprecedented volume of additional documents is quite simply an attempt to delay the process and should not be taken seriously.
Here is why we say this.
President Donald Trump's address to the nation announcing Kavanaugh's nomination was barely concluded when Schumer announced that he would not support him. A number of Democratic senators followed in lockstep. In addition, many of this same group indicated they wouldn't even extend Kavanaugh the courtesy of meeting with him.
Given this display of closemindedness, does anyone really believe that the release of additional documents would change their minds? Seriously?
"With the Senate already reviewing more documents than for any other Supreme Court nominee in history, Chairman Chuck Grassley has lived up to his promise to lead an open, transparent and fair process," according to White House spokesman Raj Shah.
During the Obama administration, when then-Majority Leader Harry Reid changed Senate rules to allow a simple majority of senators to bring federal appeals court judges to the floor for a confirmation vote, Sen. Mitch McConnell warned him that Democrats could come to regret his action and made good on that warning by extending Reid's precedent to Supreme Court confirmations.
With Gorsuch on the Supreme Court and Kavanaugh likely to be confirmed, Reid is now reaping the whirlwind of his action.
The News-Enterprise on Jim Iacocca being named board chairman of the Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs:
Gov. Matt Bevin recently appointed Jim Iacocca, president of the Knox Regional Development Alliance, as the new board chairman of the Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs.
His new leadership position with the commission will complement and bolster Iacocca's influence and KRDA's value proposition for Fort Knox with the nation's defense branches and military industry contractors. A retired U.S. Army brigadier general, his four-year term on the state commission provides ideal access, insight and influence.
The commission is an independent advocacy agency tied to the governor's office.
Its mandate is pursuing projects and programs that will strengthen the positioning of Kentucky's military installations with the Department of Defense, while improving quality of life for active duty, reserve and retiree servicemen and women and their families.
These goals align with the KRDA's three-tier priorities of advocating for new missions and retaining those already at Fort Knox; attracting and retaining defense-related business; and developing more public-public and public-private partnerships to support the post's missions.
Since assuming leadership duties as Knox Regional Development Alliance's president and CEO last January, Iacocca has been working hard advocating for Fort Knox and the new and expanded mission potential the post touts.
Throughout a military career of more than 29 years, Iacocca held several leadership roles in the U.S. Army. On post at Fort Knox, he served as former deputy commanding general of U.S. Army Recruiting Command and as former commander for the Army's 3rd Recruiting Brigade. He also held key leadership assignments at multiple installations including Fort Bragg, North Carolina, with the 82nd Airborne Division, Army Special Operations Command in Afghanistan and Iraq, and on the staff for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon.
An asset to his responsibilities with KRDA, these experiences also will serve him equally well with the new state post.
Iacocca is to be congratulated as he takes on his new position of leadership. His ongoing and now expanded work to keep Fort Knox and Kentucky's other military installations at the forefront of the Army's and Department of Defense's plans is critical to Hardin County's economic viability and Kentucky's continued development.
The Lexington Herald-Leader on Gov. Matt Bevin's comments on public pension systems:
Let's take Gov. Matt Bevin's advice: Shrug off the demeaning even violent language he uses to describe public employees. Focus on the "heart" of his recent messages.
What he says is still insulting — to Kentuckians' intelligence. (Scaremongering usually is.)
Bevin insists that without changes Republicans pushed through the legislature and that he signed into law, the public pension systems can't be "saved." Yet those changes would have minimal to no effect on the pensions' underfunding, according to official analyses.
Bevin says stakeholders fear change, so it's best for "outside entities" to make "hard decisions." Yet stakeholders weren't afraid to work with lawmakers of both parties in 2013 to restructure and scale back public pensions. Cost of living increases were limited and new state and county workers moved into a cash-balance plan.
In 2014, the legislature, after a decade of underfunding pensions, returned to paying what it had promised. Over time, full funding of the system as it was restructured in 2013 will "save" it. Nothing else can.
Bevin warned a gathering of local officials on Aug. 15 that counties will be "screwed" if the Supreme Court strikes down Senate Bill 151, aka the sewer bill, reports the Associated Press.
Bevin seemed to be saying that a setback for SB 151 would spell the demise of House Bill 362. Among other benefit cuts, SB 151 moves future teachers into a 401(k)-style plan and shifts more of their retirement costs onto local districts. HB 362 relieves local governments from steep increases in pension contributions by phasing in the increases over a longer period. The same legislative process (gut a bill, substitute a new bill, pass it in a day) was used to enact both measures.
The fallacy in Bevin's scare tactic is that no one is challenging SB 362, or likely to. Lawmakers gave it near unanimous approval and soundly overrode Bevin's veto. (Yes, he vetoed a bill he now says is protecting some counties from failing.) In the unlikely event that HB 362 is in peril, lawmakers could easily re-enact it early next year.
Remember, too, that the pension board controlled by Bevin spawned this false crisis for local governments. Jason Bailey of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy says the board adopted the nation's "most conservative assumptions" about income and expenses, thus dictating the steep increases. The motive was likely to scare local officials into supporting Republican attacks on pensions. So we have a manufactured crisis that the legislature would readily ease. Maybe counties aren't as "absolutely screwed" as Bevin warned.
Bevin waited until the deadline to appeal a Franklin Circuit Court ruling striking down SB 151 on procedural grounds. His office then called for "a speedy and final resolution" and warned that our pension system is "dangerously close to collapsing," an exaggeration that is dangerously close to false. Bevin's legal team asked the Supreme Court for an expedited schedule then suggested a non-expedited schedule. The high court set oral arguments in September, a month earlier than what Bevin sought.
Bevin's water-safety facts are also shaky. He likens foes of his pension solutions to a hysterical drowning victim who must be knocked out to be saved. What lifeguards are taught is to throw a lifeline and carry a rescue buoy to keep a drowning victim afloat. The way to keep public pension systems afloat is for the state to pay what it owes — in full — every year.