A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Ron Daley: J. D. Vance’s book ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ fosters negative stereotypes of Eastern Kentuckians

J. D. Vance’s 2016 book “Hillbilly Elegy” about his family’s life in Breathitt County does not reflect the people I have been neighbors with for the past 44 years. Even though this Yale Law graduate spent his life in Middletown, Ohio, with some visits to his family’s hometown in the mountains, Vance’s microscopic description of his dysfunctional family will continue to foster negative stereotypes...

Neal Moser: Congress must protect Ky. patients from surprise medical care bills — an unfair practice

Protecting patients is a critical component of my work as a physician. But sometimes, we can’t protect them when it comes to the financial fallout of the medical care they require. Far too often, my patients are hit with large medical bills that they don’t expect, especially if they receive emergency treatment from an out-of-network physician or in an out-of-network facility. When this happens,...

Mitch McConnell: Hemp legalization opens new doors for Kentucky farmers, processors, manufacturers

Kentucky’s farmers are among the best in the world. It’s no surprise agriculture leaders from around the country are looking to the Bluegrass State and our prospering hemp industry. Right now, hemp is growing in 101 of our 120 counties and $100 million worth of Kentucky grown and processed hemp products are expected to be sold this year alone. Our Commonwealth is proud of our long history with...

Bill Straub: Following the McConnell footsie game through Russia to an aluminum plant in Greenup

They don’t call him Moscow Mitch for nothing. Senate Republican Leader Mitch “Root-‘n-Branch’’ McConnell, of Louisville, has earned so many derogatory nicknames over the past few years that there are too many to list in a single column. Some, like Darth Vader and The Grim Reaper, he embraces with aplomb. But the one that gets under his skin is the aforementioned Moscow Mitch, duly earned...

Amye Bensenhaver: ‘Sunshine is a disinfectant’ and the law; reporter Yetter tells stories of child deaths

In 2016, the Kentucky Court of Appeals issued a scathing opinion to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services in an open records dispute involving access to child fatality or near fatality records maintained by the Cabinet. Reporter Debby Yetter’s devastating analysis of where Kentucky is today — three years after the court condemned the culture of secrecy in the Cabinet and nine years after the...

Constance Alexander: Exhibition celebrates mason’s gift of coaxing stones into telling their stories

Stones are a reminder of our mortality. Beneath their silence lies the possibility of continents shifting imperceptibly for eons, with the potential to reshape the universe in one dramatic eruption. You just never know. When a stone reveals its secrets, a master mason like Russ Dawson knows how to listen and observe. Scott Shupe, who served as a helper on a few of Dawson’s earlier projects, remembers...

Lauren and Rob Hudson: Postive messages for youth about our exceptionalism and marriage

Columns for families based on the book It Can Be Done @studentsleadusa Marriage is a union that many Americans consider central to their lives, with about half of American adults choosing marriage. Most people choose their partners for love, but hopefully not blind love. Several practical things about marriage, beyond love, can make a big difference. If we choose an unwise partner, there’s a good...

Gary Collins: Tired of all the noise? Tips on bridging the political divide — and decluttering your life

The 2020 U.S. presidential campaign is upon us, coming at a time when researchers and pundits deem the country polarized.  There’s a lot of shouting on both sides of the political aisle and on television media panel discussions. While debate is healthy in a democracy, citizens and social observers worry that the political atmosphere has become so toxic that too many people with different party loyalties...

Andy Beshear: Progress made in fight to stop scam calls; sophisticated methods create new challenges

As your attorney general, I have made it a top priority to protect Kentuckians from scammers and stop annoying and illegal scam phone calls. A recent opinion article published in many local newspapers called on my office to “see what can be done to get a ‘no call’ list that actually works.” While the National Do Not Call Registry effectively protects against telemarketing sales calls for...

Bill Straub: Kentucky politics with all its ins and outs comes down to two issues — abortion and guns

Once you work your way through the briars, brambles, and bushes where a rabbit couldn’t go in Kentucky politics, you’ll discover that elections often come down to just two issues – abortion and guns. Taxes are always on everyone’s mind but few, if any, have ever run a successful statewide campaign promising to raise levies, regardless of the obvious need. The economy often plays a part but...

Al Cross: We learned some meaningful things at Fancy Farm; raucous crowd tells us something too

FANCY FARM, Ky. – For all its hoopla, the political speaking at the Fancy Farm Picnic rarely has much effect on statewide elections. But it always provides a unique measurement of the candidates, their campaigns and their prospects, and this year’s version told us some meaningful things about Republican Gov. Matt Bevin and his challenger, Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear. The speaking has...

Wayne Lewis: As the workplace continues to change, education must evolve to prepare students

One of the best parts of being education commissioner is having the opportunity to travel across Kentucky, talking with and spending time with students, educators, parents and community stakeholders. There are many good things happening in schools and communities across the Commonwealth, and I am privileged to get to see and hear so much of it for myself. One of my most recent trips was to Graves County,...

Constance Alexander: Forgoing the miracle of Fancy Farm by staying close to home for some reflection

Along with the 19,500 pounds of barbecue served up at the annual Fancy Farm picnic, there is enough hot air to lift the tiny town of 500 aloft. In just one day, the local population balloons to 10,000, and St. Jerome Catholic Church raises enough money to support church projects and finance local improvements. The raucous proceedings are not exactly the kind of thing one might associate with a saint....

Lauren and Rob Hudson: Positive messages for America’s youth — exceptionalism through honesty

Columns for families based on the book “It Can Be Done” @studentsleadusa The importance of honesty as a foundation for one’s life cannot be overstated. We can’t be exceptional, effective, or truly happy without it. Honesty inspires trust. Trust affects every real relationship we will ever have – in the workplace, at home, and in the community. With trust, relationships grow closer. With...

John Schaaf: Court of Appeals refusal to rehear Schickel case sends strong pro-ethics message

Kentucky’s Legislative Ethics Commission (KLEC) recently scored several more important wins in the federal court case filed against the members of KLEC by Sen. John Schickel, whose lawsuit claims he has a constitutional right to accept meals, beverages, and campaign contributions from legislative lobbyists. First, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit denied Schickel’s request that his...

Bill Straub: ‘Moscow Mitch’ has a ring (of truth) to it, but what’s one more notch in McConnell’s belt?

One of the items on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s massive to-do list, before he left office in May, was to determine the extent of Russia’s finagling in the 2016 election that landed President Extremely Stable Genius in the White House and just how effective those efforts might have been. Mueller found that the Kremlin was, indeed, involved up to its eyeballs in the campaign. asserting in his...

Ryan Quarles: Farms to Food Banks reduces hunger, helps farmers recoup losses for produce not sold

When you and your family shop for local produce at your farmers’ market or grocery store this summer, what will you look for? A recent study found that most people look for produce without any blemishes. What happens to produce with a cosmetic blemish? At the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA), we work to steer that nutritious produce to hungry Kentuckians in need through a program called Farms...

Constance Alexander: Beloved Kentucky writer Jesse Stuart will open your eyes; just read one of his books

In 1954, beloved Kentucky writer Jesse Stuart made a presentation to a full house of teachers in Lovett Auditorium on the Murray State College campus. Afterward, as people lined to meet him and praise his works, he didn’t have time for pleasantries. He was in a hurry. His career was just starting to take off big-time, and a chartered plane was waiting to take him to another gig in Southern Illinois. Suddenly,...

Lauren and Rob Hudson: Positive messages for America’s youth — about importance of integrity

Columns for families based on the book “It Can Be Done” @studentsleadusa A person with integrity has strong moral principles and core values to help to guide their life. Independence means thinking for oneself without craving validation from others. Integrity and independence can go hand in hand, leading to an exceptional life. Integrity and independence help us to steer clear of...

Ron Daley: Reflecting on letter from Charles Manson, and his time in Ky., 50 years after gruesome murders

Charles Manson, with Eastern Kentucky roots, remains a pop culture icon phenomenon as we acknowledge the 50-year anniversary of the actress Sharon Tate and other murders on August 9, 1969. Manson’s bizarre sick life captured the mind of the nation during a tumultuous period in the United States. He was able to hang out with Dennis Wilson who was the Beach Boys’ drummer, have his song recorded by...