Editorial Roundup: Kentucky

Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:

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June 22

The State Journal on the impact of recent funding cuts made by a local fiscal court:

Recent Franklin County Fiscal Court decisions regarding economic growth and development have left us scratching our heads as to the court’s intent.

The list of anti-business decisions and rhetoric keeps growing.

At a special meeting on June 19, county leaders approved the fiscal year 2020-21 budget, which includes a reduction in funding for the Kentucky Capital Development Corp. and an elimination of funding for Downtown Frankfort Inc. — two groups whose mission is to promote the area to prospective businesses and residents.

KCDC, which gets half its funding from the city and the other half from the county, received $15,000 less than the previous year. County leaders eliminated $8,000 in funding for DFI, which historically has been funded by the city and county, as well as corporate and other private donors.

While we can’t be fully certain what the final decision will be, judging by magistrates’ questions and comments during a seven-hour public hearing on the rezoning of property at 690 Duncan Road, it looks as though the court is leaning toward ignoring the advice of the Frankfort-Franklin County Planning Commission and denying an application to convert the land from agricultural to industrial.

Calling it a “miscommunication” between the city and county, earlier this year the fiscal court reached a stalemate in a vote to decide whether to hire a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) expert to guide the local governments through financing public infrastructure on Parcels B and C, the former Capital Plaza land whose redevelopment is seen as the catalyst for downtown revitalization. The court has since agreed to pay its half of the $25,000 fee for Jim Parsons, a TIF consultant with KMK Law in Cincinnati, but the original vote still leaves a bad taste in our mouths.

Singularly, any one of these actions might be defensible, but in totality — and absent any vision from county government for the community’s long-range economic vitality — the court seems to be sending an anti-growth message to prospective investors in as perilous an economy as the community has faced in nearly a century.

Since no current and recent efforts by people and organizations working hard on behalf of Frankfort’s economy have been to the court’s satisfaction, we believe Franklin County’s elected leaders owe it to the taxpayers to communicate a new strategy for economic development, and we challenge them to do so.

Online: https://www.state-journal.com/opinion

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June 20

The Daily Independent on the statewide recognition of the Juneteenth holiday:

We’re proud of Gov. Andy Beshear for signing a proclamation on June 18 recognizing Juneteenth, a day that commemorates when the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free 155 years ago.

His action sends the signal across the country that Kentucky hears the calls to examine racial inequality and make changes needed to make life better for African Americans.

“During these times when again we have heard voices and we have seen the frustration of hundreds of years of ramifications of slavery, discriminations, Jim Crow, of segregation, I think it’s more and more important that we remind everybody of this dark chapter in our history and that its impacts continue to linger,” Beshear said. “We should celebrate the dates that at least portions of that dark chapter ended.”

Juneteenth became a state holiday in Texas in 1980, and a number of other states subsequently followed suit. The day is also celebrated outside the United States, with organizations in a number of countries using the day to recognize the end of slavery and to celebrate the culture and achievements of African Americans.

Unfortunately, Juneteenth has remained a holiday that dwelled in obscurity among white Americans, even though it was established 40 years ago. This year was different. Awareness was high and the day was filled with protest as well as celebration.

The end of slavery is an event all humanity should celebrate. Not only does it mark the rights of a people being restored and an end to institutional cruelty, it marks a time of enlightenment for others and a time that indicates hope that society is on the road to betterment.

Again, unfortunately, it took a pandemic that highlighted health-care inequity, along with unnecessary death after unnecessary death of black Americans by police officers and worldwide protests to cause mainstream America to reach its tipping point on racism and, eventually, learn about Juneteenth.

Beshear’s proclamation recognizing Juneteenth doesn’t make it a state holiday, but the governor said he plans to encourage lawmakers to pass a bill next year making it so. That should be one issue both parties can easily come together on.

Online: https://www.dailyindependent.com