Kentucky Editorial Roundup

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Updated: November 11, 2015 at 3:12 pm

Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:


Nov. 11

The Bowling Green Daily News on the influence of athletics money on colleges and universities:

The resignation this week of the University of Missouri system president appears to be more evidence of the heavy influence of athletics money on many college campuses.

Whether or not you believe President Tim Wolfe should have resigned amid student protests about racial incidents at the University of Missouri, it seems likely that he did so Monday because of the revenue at stake after 30 Missouri football players vowed to not play another game until Wolfe was gone. Later that day, R. Bowen Loftin, chancellor of the university's flagship Columbia campus, said he would resign as well.

The African-American players were showing solidarity with students who said Wolfe failed to respond to racially charged situations on campus. Canceling Missouri's game this weekend against Brigham Young University, according to media reports, would have cost the university at least $1 million in payments to BYU. That figure doesn't take into account the potential loss of money from athletic boosters who make large donations to the university, nor does it account for losses to both the university and the Southeastern Conference that might have occurred if the strike continued.

Closer to home, even amid sexually charged accusations against the University of Louisville basketball program, coach Rick Pitino - a Hall of Famer who has won national championships at both Louisville and the University of Kentucky - has not been seriously pressured to resign and maintains the public support of university administrators. Basketball at U of L is big business: For four straight years, the Cardinals have been named college basketball's "most valuable team" by, with an estimated program value of more than $38 million.

And here in Bowling Green, as Western Kentucky University's football program rose during the last decade to the highest level of collegiate competition, some professors bemoaned the fact that facility enhancements and coaches' salaries were robust, while academic faculty and staff came up short in regard to wage increases. At the same time, the lower-profile sports of swimming and men's soccer - which typically don't generate nearly as much revenue or draw comparable private donations as major sports such as football or men's basketball - were not spared from the chopping block.

WKU's swim program was suspended for five years after a former team member voiced allegations of hazing by teammates. And men's soccer was canned in 2008, a move the university attributed to state budget cuts.

The soccer decision saves the university about $300,000 annually. It is unclear how much, if any, the swim team decision saves WKU, although it might strengthen the university's position in a lawsuit filed by the accuser.

As Andy Schwarz, an economist who has been involved in lawsuits against the NCAA, described the Missouri situation to the New York Times: "The issues at Missouri are far more important than college football, but the Missouri athletes showed that the color that matters most is green."

Right or wrong, that seems to be the case on many college campuses.



Nov. 9

The Glasgow Daily Times on drug prescribers:

There's no longer room for debate, as prescription drug abuse is a huge problem in our country, including here in Barren County.

It's an issue that's not confined to a specific socioeconomic class, as prescription drug abuse has ruined the lives of the rich and poor while extracting sizable fiscal costs in terms of public safety and treatment expenses.

We can ask the users to quit, but that's not enough. Anyone who has been around a person addicted to pills knows that they are essentially talking to a brick wall when pleading for them to stop using the drugs.

Arresting people isn't really relieving the tidal wave of problems either. Addiction is too powerful to break with punishment alone.

Though we may not realize it, we all have some responsibility in combating drug abuse.

Parents must be mindful of where they store prescription drugs to ensure their kids don't steal their pills. Peers must be unafraid to confront their friends when they notice them abusing prescription pills. People, in general, need to realize the problems are real and be less judgmental when considering the addicted and their families.

But when dealing with pretty much every other drug epidemic in the history of our country, authorities have usually targeted the source of the narcotics.

Sure, street-level dealers should be prosecuted for their crimes, but when it comes to prescription drugs, pharmaceutical companies and the medical community have a tremendous amount of responsibility in this issue.

A report released in October by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested a "potential need for improved prescribing practices" based on the amount of opiate prescriptions issued in an eight-state area.

Another CDC study cited that "an increase in painkiller prescribing is a key driver of the increase in prescription overdoses."

It doesn't take a genius to realize that the prescription drug industry is a profitable endeavor in the U.S. And in order for it to remain a money-maker, the industry needs clients.

But can we conscientiously allow any industry to operate without an overhaul of its regulations when that business is offering a product that's destroying thousands of families throughout the nation?

We encourage local, state and federal lawmakers to consider stricter laws and rules regarding prescription drugs. The users should be held accountable, but so should those who prescribe these drugs without considering abuse and addiction.

Furthermore, more studies need to be administered in the medical community regarding such drugs and the amount of pills that are prescribed to patients. How many pills are really enough, and who legitimately needs them?

Sure, the baby shouldn't be thrown out with the bath water. There are people who are in serious pain or suffer from anxiety or other issues and need prescription drugs. But there are others who could do just fine with an over the counter pain-reliever as opposed to a month's supply of a powerful drug.

This problem is not going away, so it's time to take a new approach.



Nov. 10

The Lexington Herald-Leader on the governor-elect releasing his tax returns:

As Republican gubernatorial nominee, Matt Bevin refused to release his tax returns, saying he would release them if elected.

But now Gov.-elect Bevin says he won't.

Coming off a resounding win last week, he might feel he can refuse without political consequences.

Perhaps he can. There is no law that says he must release his tax returns, although under the laws governing executive branch ethics, he is required to reveal significant information about sources of income for himself and his immediate family.

Bevin certainly should release his returns — not just to keep his promise. There's a good reason why the public should know the sources of Bevin's considerable wealth.

Every governor, every powerful public servant has a lot to say about how billions of taxpayer money is spent, who gets contracts, jobs, consulting fees and funds to invest.

History is full of politicians who, with that enormous public checkbook in hand, enriched themselves and their friends.

The best protection against that is transparency: revealing where these powerful people have laid up their treasure.

Kentucky's governors and gubernatorial candidates haven't always released their tax returns. The practice began with Paul Patton, who took the office in 1995 just as the state was recovering from the shock of the BOPTROT scandal.

That federal investigation led to the conviction of more than a dozen legislators for accepting bribes and other inducements to help the horse racing industry.

Since then, governors and candidates for governor traditionally have released their tax returns, including the most recent Republican governor, Ernie Fletcher.

In fact, Fletcher made this an issue when Steve Beshear challenged him in 2007. Beshear, who had released tax returns in earlier races, initially hesitated but ultimately released his returns well before the election, and has done so each year he's served as governor.

Bevin did not answer questions about why he won't release his returns, but he should reconsider.

Bevin ran as an outsider, benefiting from a deep and broad distrust of government.

It would be a true shame if one of his first things he does only reinforces that distrust.