Darts and Laurels
A laurel to educational day camps that keep kids learning during summer break!
A dart to the destruction of Worldwide Equipment’s garage — a great loss.
A laurel to no lives lost in the Worldwide Equipment fire — trucks are replaceable, people are not.
A dart to Ronnie Blair’s retirement — we’ll miss him around town!
A laurel to SOAR sessions that seek public input — let your voice be heard!
Freedom of Information law is crucial
By The Georgetown News-Graphic
The public has a right to know. But sometimes it falls to the media, often newspaper reporters, to be the last line of defense to keep as much transparency in government as possible.
Don’t fool yourself. That transparency is threatened almost every day.
A couple of incidents are noteworthy because they illustrate how important it is for everyone to be diligent.
The University of Kentucky Board of Trustees held a series of less-than-quorum meetings before passing a record budget with virtually no discussion. Later a UK foundation went into executive session over the objections of a Lexington Herald-Leader reporter and an attorney. Much of UK’s funding is public dollars and so it is subject to the state’s open meetings laws.
Here at home, Georgetown officials made a seemingly benign mistake which brought the objections of News-Graphic reporter Dan Adkins.
As is procedure the city clerk sent a notice the Georgetown City Council would hold a budget workshop at 6 p.m. June 2. Two days later, a revised and updated agenda was sent along with notice of a municipal order to council members. The newspaper and some non-council members did not receive this notice.
When the agenda item was called, this newspaper raised an objection. City officials recessed to review the notice and discovered that it had not been sent to all the appropriate parties. The city attorney then informed council members this agenda item could not be considered in this meeting as it violated Kentucky’s Open Meetings laws.
One council member took offense and on his re-election Facebook page accused the newspaper of “delaying construction of the police station and failing to show the police department respect,” on a technicality.
The “technicality” is a state law and it is in place not to empower the media/newspaper, but instead to protect the public from overzealous lawmakers who may not appreciate the importance of transparency and due diligence.
If this municipal order was time sensitive, a special meeting could have been scheduled as early as 48 hours later. A special meeting wasn’t scheduled so at the next regular meeting the matter was handled appropriately. The city attorney was correct in recommending that the item be removed from the agenda because it violated a state law. Lawmakers, such as elected council members, should understand the importance of obeying the law.
Could this newspaper have looked the other way, and allowed the agenda item to proceed? Sure, but where do you draw the line between what laws should be obeyed and what laws should be ignored? And once alerted to the oversight, the council had no choice by law but to delay the action.
Keep in mind the council is seeking between $4.5 and $5 million in bonds to finance the construction of the police department. It would seem to be in everyone’s best interests that this process move along correctly and properly and in full public view.
The newspaper industry has always been at the forefront for government transparency. Among all the awards we have received, several Freedom of Information awards are our most prized because they represent victories in the fight to keep public information public. That is a fight we are proud and honored to continue.
Darts and Laurels
A laurel to living in a great small town — even our visitors return!
A dart to summer storms, lightning and power outages!
A laurel to our new county schools superintendent — congrats, Mr. Salyer!
A dart to crimes and offenses that lead to indictments — zero tolerance!
A laurel to SOAR listening sessions — change is coming, let your voice be heard!
Involvement quiets complaints
With frequent visits to the local area in past weeks, it’s quite clear that Alison Lundergan Grimes and Sen. Mitch McConnell are each very focused on their individual campaigns for office.
Grimes got down and dirty in an underground mine in Floyd County just last week and McConnell is planning a “pro-coal” event in Prestonsburg in July. Their messages are clear: they each want the votes of Eastern Kentucky coal miners.
What the winning party does with those votes will remain to be seen.
However the coin toss goes — and elections always are, after all, a coin toss of sorts — one thing is for sure, Grimes and McConnell both want to be senator of the state of Kentucky.
Locally, things are not so clear. With what we feel was a quiet primary race, we expect to see things become a little more noisy as late summer moves toward election day in November. But what of the city mayoral race? So far, only one candidate has announced his bid for office and that candidate is incumbent Mayor Bob Porter.
Seeing officeholders go unchallenged seems to be the norm this election year as Judge-Executive Tucker Daniel, Court Clerk Sallee Holbrook, County Attorney Michael Endicott and County Coroner J.R. Frisby will each retain their seats in office due to no one stepping forward in an attempt to wrest them away.
As far as we are concerned, we have no problem with either of these officeholders continuing in their public capacities as each have shown competency and trustworthiness.
But we do take pause to question why — as we are frequently the listening ears to grumbles and complaints — no one comes forward to run for office when some make it so abudantly clear they are displeased with decisions made by current officeholders.
Can we chalk it up to nothing more than public apathy, or do some honestly feel they can’t compete with what they may perceive to be the local elite?
As the “Great Recession” continues to leave workers unemployed and families struggling, it becomes ever more clear that it’s primarily the one percent that are living the American dream while dividing lines grow further and further apart for the ninety-nine.
Government begins at home, with hard earned tax dollars. Public office is what it says — “public.” Open to all who feel they can use those tax dollars to the best benefit of their neighbors and communities.
Sometimes a mouse can roar — and create change in the aftermath.
Darts and Laurels
A laurel to remembering both those who served and those who gave all.
A dart to the umpire decision that cheated JCHS softball players — wrong call, wronged players.
A laurel to those who seek to provide for the needs of our county’s children — thank you!
A dart to no federal dollars for local flooding victims — damage wasn’t widespread but it still occurred.
A laurel to continued training for local law enforcment officers — we appreciate the effort!