A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Ron Daley: Beshear is a listening governor who can revitalize Eastern Kentucky, rural areas

Gov. Andy Beshear’s ability and willingness to listen is just what Eastern Kentucky and the rural areas of the Commonwealth need to in order to advance economically. Not all political leaders have the inclination to listen to the people, but instead desire to speak and pontificate on their own agenda. Over the past four years I have had the opportunity to observe Beshear interact as a listener with...

Jim Waters: Fix state’s retirement systems; one idea: no more sick day accumulation to spike pensions

Legislators campaigning to hold on to their seats may be jittery about dealing with controversial pension reform, but the problems plaguing the state’s retirement systems don’t hibernate just because there’s an election. Despite record amounts of funding in recent years, the ailing Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) is saddled with $14.5 billion worth of liabilities, remains under 60% funded...

Whitney Westerfield: Victims of crime are still counting on you, Kentucky; we need Marsy’s Law

In 2018, the General Assembly and Kentucky voters demonstrated their strong support for crime victims when they overwhelmingly adopted the Marsy’s Law constitutional amendment. Their intent was as clear as their message: “you deserve better, we support you, and your voice matters”. Victims were able to breathe a sigh of relief knowing they would finally be afforded the same level of constitutional...

Bill Straub: The whole world is watching the ‘dive’ but that’s the way it is in McConnell’s world

America hasn’t witnessed a dive like this since Sonny Liston kissed the canvas after that infamous “phantom punch’’ from a young Muhammed Ali up in Lewison, ME, in ’65. And, just as then, the whole world is watching. Senate Republican Leader Mitch “Root-‘n-Branch’’ McConnell, of Louisville, has made it crystal clear that, regardless of whatever information comes to the fore, the...

Commentary: New generation set to lead Kentucky as torch is passed and challenges remain

By Ashli Watts and OJ Oleka Special to KyForward In 1960, as the American people entered a new year and, notably, a new decade, the electorate chose a new face to serve as its president. As the youngest president ever elected, John F. Kennedy’s historic victory signaled that a new generation of leadership was ready to serve. He would say so himself in his inaugural address: “Let the word go forth...

Constance Alexander: The local library is a refuge where all are welcome, regardless of tax bracket

Mrs. Coppage was my first librarian. I remember her as a tiny woman with silvery gray hair piled atop her head in the manner of a Gibson Girl. She conducted regular story hours for little children in my hometown, and we clustered around her like petals on a flower to hear her read. As she acted out every character, she was transformed. Stray curls escaped from her up-do. The ruffled collar of her blouse...

Rob and Lauren Hudson: Letter of Common Ground about free enterprise, freedom and hope

Letters for families based on the book “It Can Be Done” @studentsleadusa We want an economic system that features hope because hope propels us forward and it leads to perseverance in difficult circumstances. We write to make a case for promoting freedom and capitalism because they have helped provide hope to hundreds of millions of Americans. In a free market system, productive effort usually leads...

Tyler White: After witnessing great injustice, Ky. coal industry stands with hard-working miners

Over the past few months we have witnessed a great injustice occur in some of our mining communities as certain bad actors have reportedly failed to pay their hard working men and women the wages they are owed. As the president of a trade organization that represents the coal industry, I am appalled at these unethical business practices. To not pay your employees what they have earned is simply and...

Charlotte Whittaker: Big Pharma’s prices just keep going up and up — Senate needs to pass HR 3

The price of a new invention usually falls as more people adopt it, but prescription drug prices somehow defy gravity. Kentuckians, like all Americans, pay among the highest drug prices in the world, and prices keep climbing. We can’t change the laws of physics, but we can and must change federal law to bring needed relief. For prescription drugs on the market, you might expect any price increase...

Al Cross: We have waited patiently for the moment that Mitch McConnell would come to his senses . . .

More than once, this space has said Mitch McConnell would face a day of reckoning in his relationship with Donald Trump – a moment when the Senate majority leader would have to decide to maintain fealty to the president of his party or would say, at least to himself, that “enough is enough” when it comes to Trump’s use of the presidency to serve his personal interests. We thought the day might...

Bill Straub: Sanctuary Cities — now, is this really the No. 1 problem facing a state like Kentucky?

It’s no secret that Kentucky, sadly, has been a bottom feeder among the states for so long that it swims almost undistinguished from the carp and the flounder. Consider just a few items. The Commonwealth ranks 46th in per capita income, 46th in residents with a high school diploma or higher (48th with a bachelor’s degree for those keeping score at home), 43rd in child poverty, 48th in a measure...

William McCann: For long-term benefit of students, charter schools deserve a chance in Kentucky

The first application for a charter school has been rejected. The Bevin-appointed state board of education has been ‘fired’ and replaced. Wayne Lewis, the former commissioner of education, is now living and working in Tennessee. Current and retired educators are running for the state legislature. So now is the time to formally adopt a funding mechanism and move forward with charter schools...

Constance Alexander: Fahrenheit 451 sparks programs about literacy, public libraries, free speech

For a man who wrote stories that make spines tingle and raise hairs on the back of the neck, author Ray Bradbury was a just a regular guy. Sure, he had a fabulous imagination and earned worldwide renown, but his beginnings were humble, his tastes simple, his education unique. “I spent three days a week for 10 years educating myself in the public library,” he said, “and it’s better than college....

Rob and Lauren Hudson: Letter of Common Ground about other economic systems; for a fair discussion

Letters for families based on the book “It Can Be Done” @studentsleadusa Because of America’s liberties, capitalism became the natural basis for our economy, but of course, it’s not the only basis for an economy. Other systems, such as fascism, communism, socialism, or some blend of these ideas, all involve large, controlling governments. We write to explain several deficiencies in...

Melissa Martin: No eraser for 2019, but there can be redemption in 2020 — if we are ready for it

Will we be the same human beings in the new year? Will this year be different? Will humanity change? Along with 2020 comes the hope and yearning for a more peaceful human race. How do we do try to heal from the tragedies of 2019, but not forget? Old Year “Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And days o’ lang syne!” Why do people belt...

Bill Straub: ‘Spoils system’ on full display as judges with questionable qualifications get appointments

It was Sen. William L Marcy, assessing some of the questionable appointments rendered by President Andrew Jackson back in the day, who initially said, “to the victor belong the spoils,’’ thus brilliantly summing up the American form of democracy in one, deft phrase. Things have changed very little since the 1830s when Marcy, of New York, prowled the corridors of power. Despite occasional congressional...

Constance Alexander: Ideas abound for columns, as does thirst for justice, especially for accessibility

Fifty columns, averaging about 700 words each, add up to 35,000 words for “Main Street” 2019. Readers ask if coming up with topics is difficult, and the answer is no. In fact, there is too much to write about; ideas abound. In the past few years, “Main Street” has showcased examples of Accessibility, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA, one of America’s most comprehensive...

Nicole Koontz: Don’t let exercising take a back seat — get moving, at least 150 minutes a week

It’s that time of year again when we will strive to wear the perfect outfit, select a perfect gift and host the perfect holiday party. While it’s a festive time, many of us get perfectly stressed out. And the thought of exercising goes right out the window. Instead, we promise to start or restart the first day of the new year. In that instant, we surrender to mounds of food and drink, fail to get...

Amye Bensenhaver: Rep. Chris Harris will be missed in legislature as champion of open records

Personal tributes have been pouring in since Rep. Chris Harris, D-Forest Hills, announced on December 19 that he will not seek re-election as state representative for Pike and Martin Counties. Open government proponents are deeply saddened by Rep. Harris’s announcement. His advocacy for the laws securing the public’s right to know has been unwavering. As a member of the Pike County Fiscal...

Al Cross: Continuing the tradition of gifts for public officials; hoping for a 2020 in which facts matter most

The tradition of a Christmas-gifts column for public figures in Kentucky was started almost four decades ago by the late Ed Ryan, when he was the Courier Journal’s bureau chief in Frankfort. Those were the days of Gov. John Y. Brown Jr. and first lady Phyllis George Brown, who had an administration and an entourage of characters who provided plenty of grist for Ed’s sometimes snarky humor mill. Since...