Monday, February 25, 2019

News Thoughts

1. Happy to see “Green Book” defy the odds and win the Oscar as Best Picture, despite carping from some that it is a “black picture for white folks.”  Any film that reminds us about how racist we were, even into the 1960s—and even in towns such as Lexington, where the locals thought otherwise, is worth an award.
BTW, when the buzz started about this flick I remembered seeing a copy of the Green book (a friend described it as “the AAA tour guide for black people”, telling them where they could sleep and eat in otherwise segregated areas) at the Lexington main public library. So I called the reference room to see if my memory was right. Maybe yes, maybe no, but they had no copy then, nor did the UK library. I find this extraordinary. Maybe now that the film has won, both libraries will see the necessity to obtain a copy.
2. Our legislature has gone from conservative to reactionary; and not just the least in arguments over abortion. It seems it can’t wait for Roe v Wade to be overturned, wanting our state to be first in line with new birth restrictions. (I do not like abortion. I like even less letting any administration have a say in whether a woman should give birth or not. It should be up to her and her religious beliefs. Remember: a government that can tell you you must have this baby is also a government that can tell you you must not have this baby, or have we forgotten, so soon, that China tried just that, and recently.)
Or the kowtowing to the utility industry which, as the CJ pointed out, spent several hundreds of thousands to get the rules changed (in the middle of the game) so they could pay homeowners less than what they promised to pay them originally.
Or keeping on spending millions on Kentucky Wired, long after the project has gone way over budget and way behind schedule, without finding out who screwed up the deal so badly that it may end up costing you and me millions.
Meanwhile it hasn’t done anything to insure our ballots can’t be hacked, or improving our elections (ex: the governor of WV changed from Dem to GOP a year after he was elected; a fraud upon Mountain State voters.) This has happened here, just not at such a high level. Why aren’t we prepared for that happening with a law that says what to do if it does? (not an easy question to answer, but one that needs to be raised.)
Meanwhile, still no constitutional amendment to let the legislature call itself into session, making it the UNequal of our 3 branches of government.
3. WKYT is the local top tv station, especially in news. A good part of the reason may be it has the only investigative reporter, Miranda Combs, and has won top regional awards for its work. That hasn’t always been the case, but LEX 18 bowed out sometime back.  Perhaps the new owners will see the light and give KYT some competition here; we would all benefit from that. Til then, channel 27 keeps on doing good work in several areas Miranda has probed.
Not so the way 27 handled its “news coverage” of the recent sport & boat show at Heritage Hall. Newscast after newscast just before and during the show carried thinly disguised promotions for it, passed off as legit news stories. They weren’t, and 27 never acknowledged its sponsorship of that show in those “reports.” This gets worse each year. Last year when I objected to this as both bad journalism and unethical. (Viewers had a right to know of the station’s sponsorship of the event,) the then manager agreed with me, and station sponsorship was acknowledged on following reports. Not so this year; wonder how bad it will be in 2020?
I'm just sayin'...

Sunday, February 17, 2019

If Timing Is Everything Our Legislature's Grade Is A D-Minus

Over 40 years in broadcasting has taught me that “Timing is everything” is a good maxim, one that works there, and seems also to work in other aspects of life, including civic activities.
So the Kentucky state senate’s passage of an NRA-sponsored bill to allow guns to be carried concealed, without a permit and without training (as now)—on the very anniversary of the Parkland, Florida high school shooting  that killed so many—seems more than just callous, it seems ignorant and unnecessary.
Kentucky parents from our own Marshall HS shooting, more on that later, had testified earlier of the anguish they felt over the loss of their children –yet the Senate seemed to ignore those same feelings by parents in another state.  More than just bad “timing.”
And it got worse. One senator, an NRA supporter and former cop, argued that to end permits and especially to end training programs for those carrying concealed weapons was bad practice and flew in the face of experience.
Before the week was out came the shooting at a factory in Aurora, Illinois. It turned out the fired worker not only had his deadly weapon illegally (another example of failed state background checks), but  this was only found out when he applied for a permit for concealed carry. Will this now happen here, if the senate/NRA bill becomes law?
All of which would seem to indicate our state senate doesn’t give a hoot about our own tragic shooting at Marshall High. Yes, a study group afterwards had come up with an omnibus school safety bill, but it had 2 major faults. One, it was brought up during the 30 day session when no funding can ordinarily be passed to implement the bill, and two, it contained nothing about guns and their crucial impact on school safety.  Bad “timing.” (and head in sand.)
Our general assembly needs to consider a constitutional amendment to allow it to call itself into session; not, as now, where only the governor can do that. (He just did, with disastrous results; nothing accomplished on pension reform, and a lot of money spent for naught.)
Some other legislative issues bear serious study. Ex-speaker Hoover’s bill to require candidates for statewide office to make public their income taxes is a good idea and should pass. Yes, it may cause some good candidates not to run, but the overall idea is excellent.
Two, the GOP’s bill to slap Democrat Grimes handling of voter data in her Sec. of State office ought to pass also. A study by the Herald-Leader shows she probably had access to data she didn’t need, and for political purposes—though she denies it. This example, coming on the heels of the Republican candidate for governor in Georgia (also their Secretary of State) being charged with using his office to purge voting roles of people most likely to vote for his opponent---and winning a very narrow race—shows safeguards are needed in these officies that control voting rules and data.
That “timing” is right, so to are (finally,) bills to protect small water districts from collapse; though woefully late. How many years has it been since news media stories have shown the dismal, unsafe state of drinking water in many areas of Kentucky. But, better late than never.
Kentucky needs either to have annual 60 day sessions –or give lawmakers the power to call special sessions—or both. An amendment can’t get on the ballot too soon.  Til then, their “timing” score is D-minus. 
I'm just sayin'...

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Once More A Rush To Judgment

In many ways, Virginia is Kentucky’s Mother Country. So many of our early settlers (and elected officials such as Henry Clay) came from there; so many of our counties were carved from Virginia land, we inherited much from that Commonwealth.
Let’s hope that does not include its rush to judgment.
Once again, accusations are being taken by the populace (and alas, by the professional media which should know better) as final judgments. They are not. (And this after the recent CovCath example.)
Let me take their Lt. Governor first. He has been charged with rape by at least one accuser. Rape is a crime, but we all know it often takes years for this crime to become public; in some cases, past the time such charges may count as a crime. Whatever the case here, judicial authorities should investigate and if the accusations prove credible, file a case against this man. If not, drop them. In the meantime, he should not resign; for in this case of “she said, he said” the way to try to discover the truth is in the courts, not the media. That’s not our job. Yes it will take time; justice usually does, but a rush to judgment, running the risk of getting it wrong, is worse.
Now to Virginia’s governor.  I don’t know what possessed him to say, first, he was one of those men either in blackface or Klan robes in his yearbook picture, but he soon took it back and said he was not either one. Who knows for sure? Not me. Maybe you can look beneath the robe or makeup and know, with 100% certainty, but I can not. In the meantime here is a man who has been a doctor, led the fight for civil rights and better health care in his state (and who is a member of a largely African-American church BTW!) and I will give him the “presumption of innocence” until I know more.
This UNAmerican rush to judgment must end. It demeans all of us, and our democratic institutions.
Would that John Dingle’s final words to his countrymen (which you need to read) might have touched on this, too.
I'm just sayin'...