Editorial Roundup: Kentucky

Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:

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July 23

The State-Journal on the announcement of a $50 million upgrade to the Kentucky Capitol:

A week after announcing that a 4- to 5-foot fence will be installed around the Governor’s Mansion, the Capital Planning Advisory Board discussed a nearly $50 million upgrade to the Capitol on July 22.

Count us among those who look forward to seeing the end result of the project, which is divided into three phases — exterior renovations; mechanical, electrical and plumbing; and rewiring, according to Sam Ruth, commissioner of the Finance and Administration Cabinet’s Department for Facilities and Support Service.

With an estimated cost of $7 million, exterior renovations include cleaning and painting the Capitol dome, roof maintenance, masonry repairs and window restoration. Ruth said the 200 windows in the Capitol are in various states of disrepair, including some that will need to be totally replaced.

More than $40 million will need to be devoted to mechanical, electrical and plumbing issues in the building, which was completed in 1910 and turned 110 years old last month.

“We’re splitting this into what we think we can fund right now and what we think we’ll have to come back later and ask for additional funds,” Ruth explained.

In the 2021 fiscal year budget, which began July 1, the state set aside $22 million for the project. A total of $4.5 million was included in the 2019-20 budget.

Renovations will likely take four years to complete. Once work begins, occupants will need to be rotated out of their offices. Workers will start in the basement, which is expected to take a year to fix, before moving on to the first through fourth floors, which may take up to three years.

Rewiring, which will cost about $2 million, needs to be done on the building’s phones, data, video, security access controls, fire alarms and automation system because the current low voltage doesn’t meet code, Ruth added.

“Over the years as things have been added, none of the old wiring was removed; they just added new,” he said.

The board is also looking at great hall plastering, a terrace renovation, tuck-pointing and cleaning, although those projects likely won’t have a cost involved.

As for the fence around the Governor’s Mansion, the Kentucky Executive Mansion Foundation, a private organization, will reimburse the state for the costs.

A call for bids on the project has not gone out, but during the July 22 meeting, Rep. John Blanton, R-Salyersville, asked whether the state could give preference to Kentucky firms — given the high unemployment rate.

Finance and Administration Secretary Holly Johnson said she would look into whether that complies with state law on project bids. If so, that could be a win-win for Kentucky.

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

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July 22

The Daily Independent on the detainment of protestors by law enforcement:

With so many disturbing events in the country, it would be easy to be overwhelmed and not shine a light on everything that needs light shined on it.

Not only is this country dealing with a worsening pandemic, but civil unrest the likes of which haven’t been seen since the 1960s has polarized our citizens.

Protests in Portland, Oregon, became especially concerning when federal agents entered the picture in unmarked vehicles, seizing protesters off the streets.

Mark Pettibone, a 29-year-old demonstrator, told The Washington Post he was seized while walking home from a peaceful protest, taken to the federal courthouse and placed in a holding cell. The vehicles and the nondescript uniforms worn by the agents did not link them to a specific agency or government. He was read his Miranda rights. Shortly, he was released. He was never told why he was detained or whether he was charged with a crime. Pettibone also said he did not know who had detained him.

While legal experts challenge whether the arrests during protests were legal, we have other questions.

Was Pettibone the only detainee or are there others we don’t know about?

If he wasn’t the only one, who were the others? Where are they now? Did they have a similar experience or a more trying one?

If Pettibone was the only detainee, why was he singled out?

Who, in fact, were the agents sent to snatch protesters off the street? Why were they sent? Why did they not properly identify themselves?

Whether you’re left or right, liberal or conservative or middle of the road, everyone should be concerned. As Americans, we have the right to peacefully assemble; it is guaranteed in the First Amendment.

By all counts, these protesters were peaceful. Mayors in Portland and Chicago, where agents could be deployed in the near future, have said they won’t stand for such treatment of protesters.

It’s scary to think our leaders could be at odds in a potentially violent situation such as this.

It’s also scary to think exercising your rights could get you detained, even if briefly. A short but frightening detention is unacceptable and could lead to appalling conclusions. It’s a threat to our freedoms that no one should condone. The fact that so many questions linger only supports the idea that we have something to fear.

Online: https://www.dailyindependent.com

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