Summary of recent Kentucky newspaper editorials:
The Bowling Green Daily News on the removal of a Kentucky judge from a case between Gov. Matt Bevin and Attorney General Andy Beshear:
This newspaper stated last month that a Franklin County judge who voiced his political opinions by liking social media posts related to certain state candidates should be removed from a case involving two of the candidates.
Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd was set to preside over a case involving the "teacher sickout" case between Gov. Matt Bevin's administration and a legal challenge brought by Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear.
When it surfaced that Shepherd had "liked" a Facebook post by a Democratic state representative that included an endorsement of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beshear, we editorialized that Shepherd couldn't be partial and needed to recuse himself from the case. Bevin's attorneys had asked that Shepherd remove himself from the case, but Shepherd declined, saying he had also liked several Facebook posts that promoted Republican causes, including the reelection of Bevin.
That's fine if Shepherd liked posts related to the Bevin and Beshear camps, but when he had an upcoming case involving the two men, he should have known better than, as a judge, to even get involved in political matters. Judges typically are supposed to remain neutral and non-vocal in public about their political leanings.
Although Shepherd tried to stay on the case, he was removed from it last week by Kentucky Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. Minton transferred the case to Judge Thomas Wingate, the other circuit judge in Franklin County.
Minton summarized the situation very well: "This case should serve as a cautionary tale to all Kentucky judges who use social media. As the Judicial Ethics Commission wisely admonished in its 2010 opinion, these services are 'fraught with peril' for judges and should be used with extreme caution. While judges are not ethically prohibited from using social media, their use is subject to the Code of Judicial Conduct in the same manner as other extrajudicial activities."
Minton made the right call here and we are very proud of him for doing so. Based on Shepherd's likes on social media, there is no way to have known if he could've been impartial in the sickout case.
Now, through Minton's order of Sheherd's removal from the case, there should be no question of impartiality in this case with another judge.
The News-Enterprise on efforts to decrease the number of distracted drivers in Kentucky:
If you have been a driver for any significant amount of time, the sight of someone driving a vehicle with a cellphone in their hand is something you quite likely have seen.
Here's an awakening: Today, approximately nine people in the United States will be killed and more than 1,000 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It could happen here in Hardin County.
Driving is a serious responsibility that too often by many of us is taken too lightly. When the phone rings or there's a text notification ping, our eyes drift to a more-often-than-not meaningless message.
It's so easy to preach and speak of paying attention but actually doing it when your eyes stray from a roadway and to an illuminated message on a cellphone — a life line for many — is a little more difficult.
Distracted driving is considered to be driving while doing another activity that takes your attention away from driving and can increase the chance of a motor vehicle crash, according to the CDC.
A recent program at Elizabethtown High School brought the perils of distracted driving to mind again.
The program from the PEERS Foundation of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and sponsored by State Farm Insurance, provided students an opportunity to participate in an Augmented Reality Distracted Driving Education Simulator.
Students from 10th to 12th grade watched a Public Service Announcement on distracted driving and then could get into the simulator where they then were tasked to use their phone and see what could happen.
The experience showcased a possible result from distracted driving.
The program is targeted at students who are close to getting a driver's license and those who already may be in the early stages of driving.
The issue of distracted driving isn't owned by teens. Regardless of age, there are many drivers distracted by a phone, music or paying too much attention to off-the-road sights.
It's a serious and life-altering problem in the United States. Stricter laws are needed for distracted drivers and must be enforced or the habit will continue.
Kudos to EHS in hosting the program and introducing youngsters to what it means to driving without distractions. It's up to all of us to take it from here.
The State Journal on a summit aimed at reducing substance abuse:
In some way or another, substance abuse affects each and every one of us regardless of sex, race or economic status.
(Sept. 26-27) a group of community members from all walks of life gathered at the Just Say Yes: Solutions for Substance Abuse Prevention summit to discuss addiction research and ways to curb youth drug abuse.
Yes Arts, an organization whose mission is to utilize the power of the community and the arts to disrupt the cycle of addiction, brought together educators, elected leaders, parents and others stakeholders for workshops and lectures during the two-day event.
Community members had an opportunity to hear from Harvey Milkman, a professor emeritus of psychology at Metropolitan State University in Denver and expert on addiction and substance use prevention whose Iceland Model dramatically reduced teen substance abuse in that country mainly through high-quality after-school programming that focuses on arts and sports.
It's an idea Yes Arts Executive Director Amelia Berry wants to implement in Frankfort, which is why she asked Milkman to speak. As a board member of Frankfort Independent Schools and at community events, Berry said she is constantly asked why there aren't more activities for kids outside of school.
"My gut feeling that kind of gave me the audacity to invite him here for this depth of work is my feeling that our community has been crying out for this," she told a State Journal reporter.
We agree and along with the organizers realize that substance abuse is not a problem that can be solved overnight. Nor is it an issue that a select few can fix. We all have a part to play on the front lines if we truly want to put this epidemic to an end.
(The) summit was an excellent starting point. We commend all involved for taking the first step in our local fight against substance abuse.