Darts & Laurels
A laurel to Cash Express for continuing the tradition by honoring our local first responders on September 11 with a special treat from their employees. They delivered cakes to firefighters, EMTs and law enforcement personnel in appreciation for their actions throughout the year.
A dart to drug trafficking in our area. The Grand Jury recently indicted 14 people on drug trafficking and burglary. Some of these people are repeat offenders. Maybe it’s time for local courts to issue stronger penalties to these people and get them off the streets.
A laurel to the local organizations who put in the hard work and planning each year to bring about the Apple Festival Pageants. We look forward to see the sparkling crowns and smiling faces of this year’s Apple Royalty.
A dart to political corruption in eastern Kentucky. Our area has always had to battle the “dumb hillbilly” stigma, but now it seems that elected officials are giving our area the bad name. We live in a beautiful community and we are honored to say we are from eastern Kentucky! Make us proud with your guidance elected officials, after all we did vote you in that office.
A laurel to the Kentucky Apple Board as they finalize their plans days before the 54th Kentucky Apple Festival. Each year this festival helps not-for-profit organizations raise funds that go back into these organizations to purchase sporting equipment, team travel, building ramps at handicap homes, purchase holiday food baskets that churches hand out and too much more to mention. Thank you Apple Board for keeping this tradition going. If you allowed for-profit business to set up, we are sure this money would leave the area.
UK sets poor example in records flap
By the Bowling Green Daily News
Kentucky’s open records and open meetings laws exist for a reason. They provide transparency by allowing the public to access information about how public money is spent and how public entities operate.
Minutes to a city council or school board meeting; records from colleges and universities; requests for funding amounts on local, state or federal government projects; inquiries into police or court records; information about elected officials and their staff – the public has a right to see all such documentation, since taxpayer funding is involved.
On occasion, government agencies will resist requests to obtain information that falls under open records laws. Often, those who resist are unsuccessful, as they should be, because in many cases it is clear that the information belongs to the public.
The University of Kentucky is currently embroiled in an open records dispute that has drawn national attention. UK sued its independent student newspaper, the Kentucky Kernel, after Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear issued an opinion that the university wrongly denied the newspaper’s request to access records from UK’s investigation into allegations of sexual harassment against a then-tenured professor, who has since resigned. UK also refused to supply the documents in question to the attorney general’s office for review.
UK argues that releasing the names of the apparent victims in the case would make complainants less likely to come forward in the future, because they would not feel secure in the confidentiality of their conversations. On Aug. 1, Beshear ruled that records relating to the “university’s investigation of sexual harassment allegations leveled by a student against a professor were not shown to be protected by exceptions and privileges relied upon by the university where the Attorney General was not given records to review” under Kentucky law.
Ultimately, the Kernel anonymously received copies of the records with the alleged victims’ identification redacted. In an Aug. 13 editorial, the Kernel wrote, “the ability to redact names and identifiers of victims and witnesses shows UK President Eli Capliouto’s privacy claim was wrong at best. The effort university officials put into sealing these records raises doubts about their true intentions.”
The staff of the Kernel makes a strong argument against Capliouto’s claim that privacy trumps public interest in this case.
Let us be clear: No one wants to see the names of alleged victims of sexual assault or sexual harassment be made public. In fact, this newspaper, like many media outlets, does not publish the names of sexual assault victims without their permission, except in uncommon situations when identification of the victim is in the public’s interest. Still, the UK case involves our state’s largest university, and the professor at the center of the issue was being paid on the taxpayers’ dime. The university’s attempts to prevent the release of information relating to its investigation – even if well-intentioned – creates the perception that UK is hiding something.
We stand with the Kernel in this case. These records should absolutely have been released, and Beshear, to his credit, is siding with the student newspaper and is seeking to intervene in the lawsuit.
In a meeting Thursday with the Daily News editorial board, Capilouto defended the university’s refusal to turn over the documents, saying that UK is governed by the federal Office of Civil Rights and the U.S. Department of Education as to how it can release information concerning its employees and students. He said UK receives about 2,000 open records requests and year and challenges only a few of them.
“We have trained personnel and a well-described process,” he said. “I do not even see these investigative files. It is important to me that when it comes to matters of this nature, that privacy is respected.”
We respect Capilouto’s desire to protect the identities of victims, but we believe that information about the behavior of a professor and the university’s response to allegations against him should be made available to the state’s taxpayers. The refusal to do so simply gives the impression that UK has something to hide.
That is why it is important to turn over these records in accordance with the attorney general’s opinion. UK is setting a poor example by not adhering to the open records laws of this state.
Darts and Laurels
Laurel: Welcome to Paintsville Interapt! This Louisville-based technology firm is working with Big Sandy Community and Technical College to set up coding training, paid internships and jobs at their new location on the Paintsville Mayo campus. Interapt Founder and CEO Ankur Gopel was on hand Monday for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Dart: It is a shame that no representatives from the City of Paintsville or Johnson County government had the time to attend the Interapt ribbon-cutting ceremonies to welcome new economic growth to Johnson County. However, representatives from Prestonsburg and Pikeville as well as other regional dignitaries were on hand to welcome Ankur Gopel and his business to Paintsville.
Laurel: Congratulations to the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office for the arrest of seven people as the conclusion of a year-long investigation into a West Van Lear drug ring. Everyone’s hard work has paid off and no one was hurt during the process.
Dart: Johnson County lost a part of its heart and history last Thursday with the loss of Ed Hazelett, former president of the Johnson County Historical Society and teacher for 42 years. He counted founding the Kentucky Room at the Johnson County Public Library for genealogical research as his proudest accomplishment. He will be missed.
Laurel: Congratulations to Fannin’s Plumbing, Heating and Electric Company, named the “Best Business in Johnson County/Paintsville” at the 60th annual Paintsville Chamber of Commerce dinner on Monday night.
Getting beyond Election Day
By The News-Enterprise
Eight weeks from today, the outcome of the general election will be known.
The debates will be over and the decisions made. A president-elect will be waiting for inauguration day, the U.S. Senate race resolved, the state legislature settled and local winners determined.
The question today is how will we, as a community, act during the next eight weeks.
Elections are a civilized process for determining leadership. Yet the election process itself often disintegrates into something far less than civilized.
As adults, most of us left name calling behind in the middle school lunchrooms. But politics seems to stir that juvenile approach.
Typically, in the course of daily life, we can embrace discussion without argument or anger — at least until the name of a presidential candidate enters the conversation.
Something about this process is naturally polarizing. Instead of embracing the freedom to choose, the fear of failure or a myopic worldview overtakes our better judgment.
Most Americans embrace the idea that free expression and liberty are central to this nation’s moral code. But as the calendar approaches election day, often that concept carries harshness and severe criticism or judgment.
In that environment, friendships can be harmed, a sense of community damaged and our comfort and confidence in freedom is wounded.
Here’s an idea: Over the next eight weeks, instead of focusing on Nov. 8, let’s put our attention on Nov. 9 — the day after the election.
Before allowing a discussion to become an argument or a debate to spiral out of control, consider how you want the day after the election to look. Can we get to Nov. 9 in one piece as one community and one nation?
Ask yourself, must we spend the next eight weeks stomping on each others’ beliefs and contributing to the overall national neglect of the electoral process?
If there is another way, it won’t be easy. It will require voters to act as grown-ups and people to respond with wisdom and kindness rather than wrath and indignation.
Remember that once Election Day passes — regardless of the outcomes — we still must live together.
Darts and Laurels
Laurel: The opening of the Combs Airport Boat Ramp opens up accessibility to Levisa Fork of the Big Sandy River leading to Paintsville Lake. Good fishing and a beautiful area offer access for boats, kayaks and fisherman as well as making a great break stop during the Paintsville/Prestonsburg Paddlefest!
Dart: Loretta Lynn underwent surgery last week after taking a fall in her home during the Labor Day weekend. Injuries were minor, however recovery time has caused the cancellation of four concerts this month. Get well soon Loretta!
Laurel: Paintsville’s Marlana VanHoose performed with the Beach Boys on Sunday, Sept. 11 during the Best Buddies Challenge at Hearst Castle in California. The event raised money to enhance the lives of the intellectual or developmental disabled. Way to go Marlana!
Dart: Three friendly horses roaming the mountains around Greasy were shot and killed by an unknown assailant. The incident is under investigation by Johnson County Sheriff’s Deputy Terry Tussey, but if members of the public have information on the case, they are encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at (606)789-5315.
Laurel: Congratulations to Celeste Turner and Aliya Allen for winning first place and runner up in Paintsville High School’s Big Sandy Idol competition. Both will go on to compete at the regional competition at the Mountain Arts Center in Prestonsburg this spring.