Stop the Frankfort bickering, go to work
By the Bowling Green Daily News
It is quite obvious that there is no love lost between Gov. Matt Bevin and the Beshear family.
Thatís a shame really, but itís a reality unfolding before our own eyes.
In the past few weeks, some serious accusations have been made by Bevin against former Gov. Steve Beshear and his administration. And some serious allegations have been made against Bevin by Beshearís son, Attorney General Andy Beshear.
Andy Beshear has asked for an ethics investigation of Bevin to find out if he fired some politically appointed state workers because they donated money to his political rivals and whether such actions violated the stateís ethics code.
Bevin accused the former governor of coercing state employees to donate to Democratic candidates, including Andy Beshearís 2015 campaign for attorney general. Bevin has called for Andy Beshear to return any questionable contributions and announced he would use public money to hire a private law firm to assist with his own investigation of Steve Beshear, including whether he violated state procurement laws.
Andy Beshear, who is also suing Bevin over his 2 percent mid-year budget cuts to most state colleges and universities, says Bevin is within his right to investigate financial mismanagement. But he said Bevin cannot investigate ethics code violations. He says that responsibility falls to the Executive Branch Ethics Commission, made up by five people who were appointed by Steve Beshear. Andy Beshear has asked the ethics commission to take over Bevinís investigation and to tell Bevin he does not have jurisdiction.
These are some very serious allegations that have been levied against Bevin and Steve Beshear. Itís quite obvious that if there is merit to these allegations then they must be investigated and answers revealed to the public in due time.
It would really be a disservice to the voters of this state though to learn that all of these allegations are over petty grievances. In suing Bevin, Andy Beshear said it wasnít personal.
Sure it is.
Andy Beshear doesnít like Matt Bevin and the feeling is very mutual. Steve Beshear is also obviously no fan of Bevin either. He gave a nearly 14-minute speech this week bashing Bevin. That is his First Amendment right, but Steve Beshear really needs to first realize that he is no longer our governor, return quietly to his law practice and let the current governor do his job.
We sincerely hope that all of this doesnít turn out to be grandstanding by Bevin and Andy Beshear. If it indeed is, then both men have failed the people of this state and should really be ashamed of themselves.
Darts and Laurels
A laurel to Casting for Kids for offering up large prize monies to anglers as they support the Big Sandy Shrine Clubís hospital transportation vans, a free service to area families with children in need of transportation to Shrinerís Hospitals in Lexington and Cincinnati.
A dart to Paintsville losing another business to the hard economic times. We will miss the Paintsville Kmart that has announced its closing in late July. The company has indicated it will close 68 stores nationwide.
A laurel to the Johnson County Health Department who coordinated the Great Beginnings Parent expo. This is an annual event for parents and families with young children. Parents had the opportunity to sign their children up for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library and to talk with other health organizations on site.
A laurel to Paintsville High Schoolís 25th best public high school in the state of Kentucky according to U.S. News and World Report. The rankings were determined using school demographics, overall student performance and state exams, performance of disadvantaged students, college readiness and participation in and performance on Advanced Placement testing.
A laurel to the Disabled American Veterans, Chapter 18 for providing a heartfelt service to our community. This chapter is actively seeking new participants to help continue their traditions. For more information about volunteer opportunities, contact Cmdr. Ballard Shepherd at (606) 889-8629 or Adjutant Robert Trador at (606) 789-6124.
Internet trolls deserve to be held accountable
By Jim Paxton
The Paducah Sun
There is a case headed for the Kentucky Supreme Court, and we think its time has come.
The question as we would frame it is this: Should people be permitted to hide behind the anonymity afforded by the Internet to make defamatory statements about people in their community without consequence?
The right answer in our view is no.
In fairness, the specific case headed to state High Court is made more complicated by the fact that the offending comments are about a public official. There is a higher legal standard for a public figure to recover for reputational injury than there is for an average person. Put another way, criticism of public officials has a higher level of protection under the First Amendment than other types of discourse.
The case involves the online discussion forum Topix. Topix is a 14-year-old company based in Palo Alto, California. The company is a so-called ďaggregatorĒ of newspaper articles. It operates hundreds of local discussion forums, including one in Paducah. Its original business model was to repurpose newspaper content it found free online to attract local comments and discussions.
However, anyone who has wandered onto the local forum in recent years knows that it has fallen prey to Internet trolls, people who use pseudonyms to post all manner of venomous comments about people ranging from local celebrities to teenage school students. Itís enough to make a decent person want to take a bath. Posts are frequently libelous per se - that is, they are so universally perceived as defamatory that an aggrieved person need not prove actual monetary damage in court; damage is assumed.
Federal law for good or ill protects operators of such forums from liability, so long as they do not actively manage or edit the posts. But there is no such protection for people who make the comments. And courts across the country are increasingly allowing aggrieved victims to use subpoenas to strip away the anonymity of people who make defamatory posts and sue them for damages.
We think thatís as it should be. We see no difference between making such posts and going around putting defamatory flyers in neighborhood mailboxes. There is no legal basis for protecting the identity of people who do the latter, if they can be found out.
The Kentucky case involves Bill Hickman, chairman of the Pikeville-Pike County Airport Board and also an attorney. People using monikers like ďObserverĒ accused Hickman of such things as manipulating land appraisals and building his own airplane hanger using airport funds.
Hickman sued, and subpoenaed the identities (actually IP information) of the people who posted the comments. Two people whose identities are being sought hired a lawyer and are resisting. They are arguing that Hickman should have to prove he will win his case before their identities are unmasked. To do otherwise, they say, will chill the right of citizens to criticize public officials.
We donít see it that way. To us this case is about cowardice. Itís about people who made scurrilous comments about a member of their community and now admit they are afraid to put their names behind what they said. We have no sympathy for that.
Lower courts have already ruled in Hickmanís favor. We hope the Kentucky Supreme Court does likewise.
Darts and Laurels
A laurel to Johnson Countyís Work Ready Program. Taking action to bring jobs to the area is so crucial to our people.
A dart to fugitives hiding out in the area. One way or another you will be caught.
A laurel to all of the people and organizations that helped with the Kids Day, Fun Day event. Having a community working together to protect children is vital to our welfare.
A dart to Larry Herald. Weíre happy to see a former city official take responsibility for their actions. Itís just sad that it took so long.
A laurel to the Special Olympics. It is wonderful that everyone has the opportunity to compete and be recognized for their talents.
Parents should watch for web drug buys
Bowling Green Daily News
For years, teenagers in Kentucky have obtained dangerous prescription drugs through their parentsí medicine cabinets.
In some cases, it has cost teenagers their lives.
Itís a problem that officials in Kentucky have worked hard to address, and they have made some progress.
According to the Save Our Kids Coalition, fewer teenagers are getting their hands on their parentsí prescription medications. The coalition conducts drug and alcohol use questionnaires of all public school sixth- through 12th-graders in both the Bowling Green and Warren County districts.
Credit for fewer teenagers obtaining and taking prescription drugs should be attributed to local efforts such as drug take-back bins at law enforcement loations. These bins provide a safe place for people to dispose of unwanted prescription medicines.
It is welcome news that fewer teenagers are getting access to prescription medications, but it is very disturbing to learn that more and more teenagers are getting these drugs from offshore internet pharmacies.
Of all of the kids who admitted to the coalition using prescription drugs for nonmedical purposes in 2014, only one child reported obtaining drugs from the internet. In 2015, that number jumped to 188, an increase of 18,700 percent.
This spike in teenagers getting prescription drugs from offshore internet pharmacies is a huge cause for concern. Apparently, it hadnít been on the radar of narcotics officers.
Not only is buying these drugs illegal, it is extremely dangerous. Pharmacies selling these pills to teenagers might not actually be delivering the pills the teens think theyíre buying. Offshore pharmacies have the capability of making pills that look like the pill a person believes he or she is ordering, but in fact is another substance entirely. Nationwide, narcotics officers are seeing fentanyl, an extremely potent painkiller, being pressed into a substance that looks like Percocet and sold as Percocet to unsuspecting buyers.
There is no quality control in the offshore pharmacies, which is all the more reason more must be done to put a stop to teenagers ordering drugs. At the end of the day, the teens have no idea what they are ingesting.
It could be something that might cost them their lives.
While we would be naive to believe we will stop all teenagers from ordering prescription medicines online, we believe parents can play a pivotal role in watching their childrenís online activity. Parents need to talk to their children about the dangers of drug use and become familiar with all of the varieties of online communication. Parents must be able to talk with their kids in a manner their kids are accustomed to, such as Facebook or Snapchat.
Parents need to be somewhat nosy in their childrenís lives. If parents do in fact suspect their children are ordering illegal medicines, they need to intervene immediately and take whatever measure they feel appropriate.
While the Drug Enforcement Agency can help somewhat in trying to shut down these illegal pharmacies, they can only do so much. Thatís why it is so important that parents get involved in watching their childrenís computer for anything related to internet drugs that might raise a red flag.
Itís a step in the right direction that has the potential to save lives.