Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:
The State Journal on getting a flu vaccine:
Some health experts are predicting a double whammy this fall as COVID-19 continues to spread and speeds toward the intersection of cold and flu season.
Influenza, which claims the lives of 12,000-61,000 Americans each year, combined with an expected resurgence of coronavirus infections as the weather gets colder, could equal a “twindemic” and has the potential to stress the health care system.
Last flu season, 27,408 Kentuckians were diagnosed with the flu, and 162 — including six children under the age of 18 — died. Influenza hit Franklin County especially hard with a total of 775 cases — 155 more than our six neighboring counties combined. In fact, Franklin had 26 more flu cases than the much larger Fayette County.
However, the flu season, which generally runs from October to May, was cut short in the spring compliments of stay-at-home orders due to the coronavirus pandemic, which, in turn, helped contain the spread of influenza.
While a COVID-19 vaccine has yet to be released to the public, annual flu shots, which can help reduce the overall impact of respiratory illnesses on the population and lessen the burden on the health care system, are available, and the beginning of fall — before flu season kicks into high gear — is the time to get vaccinated.
“During this time of uncertainty, there’s one thing we know for sure: Vaccines work,” said Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, who along with other state leaders rolled up her sleeves for a flu shot at the Capitol last week.
“We’ve all had to become more flexible about a lot of things during this pandemic, but protecting our families from preventable diseases means contacting a provider about getting back on schedule with our immunizations.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seasonal flu vaccines are recommended for everyone 6 months and older. This year manufacturers will provide 194 million-198 million doses of the flu shot — nearly 20 million more than the record set last year.
Locally, the Franklin County Health Department is offering free drive-thru flu shot clinics on Fridays at 100 Glenns Creek Road. There will also be a free community-wide drive-thru event from 3-7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 1, at FCHD’s Public Health Center, 851 East-West Connector. Registration is required and can be done online at http://fchd.org/ For more information, call the health department at 502-564-7647.
Getting vaccinated against seasonal influenza is more important this year than ever before and is one small way we can prevent the flu from spreading in our community.
The Daily News on the legal fees of a Bowling Green city commissioner who was found to have violated the city's code of ethics:
When you are an elected official, whether it be local, state or federal, you are held to a higher standard than the citizens you represent.
You are always expected to follow the code of ethics given to you upon entering office, whether you’re in a public voting forum or out in public amongst your constituents.
We have watched through the years as most elected officials follow those rules and codes of ethics. We’ve also watched as some simply haven’t, which is very unfortunate because by not following the codes they not only let themselves down they also let their constituents down because of the higher standards to which they are held.
Bowling Green City Commissioner Brian Nash is someone who didn’t abide by the code of ethics by his own choosing in May 2019 when he was arrested on public intoxication charges after he attended a concert at the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center. Many in the community argued that Nash should’ve been given a DUI since he did operate a motor vehicle that evening, but the arresting officer chose not to charge him with that.
Nash later pleaded guilty and paid a $25 fine, plus court costs.
Afterward, the city hired an attorney to lead an ethics probe of Nash. In October, the city ethics board ruled Nash violated the city’s code of ethics. A settlement agreement between Nash and the ethics board called for a four-week leave of absence from his official duties, for Nash to donate his salary (roughly $1,200) from that time to a local substance abuse recovery center and for Nash to undergo counseling.
An open records act filing from the Daily News revealed the city’s bill for the ethics probe was $20,062.30. In November, city commissioners expressed a desire to investigate ways to not incur such costs in the future, and ethics board Chairman Barry Pruitt said the board would make some proposals.
We argued in an earlier editorial that we believed Nash should be responsible for paying every penny for those legal fees because his misguided actions and his alone were the cause of those incurred fees, not the taxpayers who paid the legal fees for something that they didn’t have anything to do with.
We stand by that editorial and argued that if this were to happen in the future that any elected officials who is found to have violated the city or county’s code of ethics should pay out of their own pocket for any legal expenses incurred because of their wrongdoing if they are indeed found by the ethics board to have violated the code of ethics.
At Tuesday’s city commission meeting, Pruitt said the effort to come up with proposed changes was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. He said the changes aim to “honor fairness and promote trust” in city government.
While there were many smaller changes to the ethics ordinance, the primary one was adding a provision that a city employee found to have violated the code of ethics could be required by the ethics board to “pay a portion or all the legal costs incurred ... which may be recovered by the City in a civil action in the nature of debt if the offender fails to pay the penalty within a prescribed period of time.”
Pruitt said “it’s all about accountability,” adding that the solution to avoid the legal fees is to not violate the code of ethics.
Pruitt couldn’t be more on target on the need for the proposal to be approved by the city commission and that if you follow the code of ethics as all elected officials should, it shouldn’t be an issue to begin with.
We believe that most would agree with us and Pruitt that it is about accountability and taking responsibility for your actions, not only in words, but also paying any and all legal bills brought because of an elected officials’ misguided actions.
But Nash feels differently, as do fellow city commissioners Dana Beasley-Brown and Joe Denning.
Beasley-Brown said she was concerned about anonymous, politically motivated complaints leading to thousands of dollars in legal fees. A provision of a possible $1,000 fine for ethics code violators remained in the proposed revised ordinance. Beasley Brown said she therefore supported keeping the $1,000 cap without adding legal fees.
Commissioner Sue Parrigin questioned whether the city would ever accept an anonymous complaint. Bowling Green Mayor Bruce Wilkerson clarified that the city does accept anonymous complaints.
Denning questioned the fairness of assessing legal fees on a lower-wage, entry-level employee.
While we believe Brown and Denning make some valid arguments against the ethics board proposal, it still goes back to if you are a city employee you are expected to be held to a higher standard at work and off work and if you violate the code of ethics and a lawyer is retained and you’re found guilty of doing so, then that elected official or city employee should be responsible for legal bills, not the taxpayers.
Nash wasn’t called out by an anonymous source on May 2019. He was witnessed by Warren County sheriff’s deputies staggering away from the performing arts center and was followed by them and ultimately arrested.
Nash’s vote Tuesday was a very odd one for a man seeking reelection. Nash had the opportunity to possibly win over quite a few voters after taking responsibility and being found guilty of violating the code of ethics that of course a city commissioner should pay any and all legal expenses incurred because of an elected officials’ wrongdoing.
But unfortunately he didn’t.
In regard to anonymous sources seeing an elected official intoxicated in public or an elected official driving impaired, we believe that citizen has a duty and an obligation to call the authorities to inform them of this. Some may want to be anonymous because they feel there will be retribution against them or their family, if they’re found out by an elected official. We don’t see how it could be political as Brown states if an anonymous person sees an elected official staggering down the street or behind the wheel of a vehicle driving impaired and calls the authorities about it.
We would view them as someone who doesn’t want that elected official to harm him/herself or others on the road.
A second and binding reading of the changes is slated for the next commission meeting Oct. 20.
We sincerely hope that in the weeks leading up to this that those who voted for the $1,000 cap will strongly reconsider the message they are sending to taxpayers.
If they choose to stick to their votes, we believe the message they would be sending to the taxpayers is if we break the code of ethics it’s on you all and not us and in doing so also indirectly saying the rules don’t apply to us because we are elected officials, but if citizens break the law you’re on your own financially.
We believe that would be a very bad message for them to send to taxpayers who pay their salaries.
The Daily Independent on working together:
Dig into the archives of your mind — or your parents’ or grandparents’ minds — and think about the song “Let’s Work Together” by Canned Heat.
Some might consider the 1969 release message music. If so, it’s clear the Ashland area got the message.
“Together we stand, divided we fall. Come on now people, let’s get on the ball and work together,” the lyrics say.
Time and time again, those in the area pull together to help others. The latest case of our working together is Peyton Suttles obtaining an Amtryke, a three-wheeled “bicycle” designed for use by those with mobility issues. The boy’s new ride comes from AMBUCS, a nonprofit that aims to design and distribute adaptive three-wheelers to children, each custom-made for the needs of the rider.
By working together, the Ashland Breakfast Kiwanis Club, Foundation for the Tri-State Community the Continuing the Legacy Foundation has provided the bike for Peyton Suttles. It’s the third bike the Kiwanis Club has provided to children in the area and there are plans to continue to provide bikes to others. Club member Kevin Smith said at least 20 children in the area could use an Amtryke.
Of course, helping children with whatever needs they have is easy. We all want to help children have what they need and want. We want to see children happy, healthy, safe and headed toward a better future.
Still, those who worked together to provide Peyton’s bike are to be commended. Their efforts are an example of what we can do when we’re united in improving life in the Tri-State.
As we muddle through the pandemic, remember we haven’t been disabled by the coronavirus. People continue to give to one another and accomplish things, including helping others in whatever way they can. That’s what it means to work together, and, as the song says, “Make someone happy, make someone smile. Let’s all work together and make life worthwhile.”