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Editorial Roundup: Kentucky

December 18, 2019 GMT

Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:

Dec. 17

Bowling Green Daily News on the pardons issued by former Gov. Matt Bevin just before he left office:

One of the main topics of discussions right now is how could former Gov. Matt Bevin, during his final days in office, pardon people who were convicted of horrific murders?

We, like countless others across the state, especially the victims’ families, would love to know the answer.

Few of these pardons make any sense to us. One local pardon that makes absolutely no sense was the pardon of Michael “Drew” Hardy, who was convicted of murder, operating a motor vehicle while under the influence and multiple counts of first-degree wanton endangerment in the 2014 death of Jeremy Pryor, 32, in a vehicle crash in Bowling Green.

Hardy was 20 at the time and had served a bit more than three years of a 20-year sentence when he was granted the pardon by Bevin. This was a total slap on the wrist by Bevin and sends a horrible message to others who have committed similar criminal acts that if they do the same thing Hardy did they might get pardoned as well. It’s worth mentioning that when Hardy was arrested after he killed Pryor, he was two times over the legal limit of alcohol consumption. Hardy chose to get behind the wheel highly impaired that evening and in doing so took the life of an innocent man who was on his way home after delivering food as part of his job.

Where’s the justice with this pardon for the Pryor family, who lost their loved one at the hands of a murderer and will never see him again?

No justice at all, in our view. We feel deeply sorry for the Pryor family not only for their loss, but for the pain this pardon generated. It was a slap in their face, especially right before Christmas, to know that this convicted murderer will be walking the streets free while their loved one is gone forever.

Shame on you, Gov. Bevin.

There were other pardons by our former governor that make absolutely no sense as well and add insult to injury to the victims’ families.

One of them included in Bevin’s list of more than 400 pardons was Micah Schoettle, who was sentenced to 23 years in prison after raping a 9-year-old child. Bevin’s pardon of Patrick Brian Baker, convicted of homicide during a 2014 home invasion, has drawn criticism as being a potential political favor. Baker’s family held a fundraiser for Bevin that raised $21,500 to benefit Bevin.

This is a rather large amount of money that was given to Bevin. Was it pay for play? We hope not, but we do know some lawmakers seek an investigation into whether there was or not.

Bevin also pardoned Delmar Partin, who was convicted of murdering his former lover and stuffing her headless body into a 55-gallon drum at a chemical plant in Barbourville in 1993. Bevin cited the “inability or unwillingness of the state to use existing DNA evidence to either affirm or disprove this conviction” in his pardon order.

Bevin also commuted the death sentence of Greg Wilson, who was convicted in 1987 of the kidnapping, rape and murder of Deborah Pooley in Covington. Her body was dumped in Indiana and not found for two weeks. Bevin also pardoned a woman who was convicted of throwing her newborn baby in a dumpster to be left for dead.

There is simply no reason or logic behind these pardons. Again, why would Bevin pardon these convicted criminals who committed these horrible acts?

Republicans and Democrats in the state and across the country are outraged as well. Bevin shouldn’t have rewarded criminals who raped and murdered innocent people with his pardons.

By doing so, he sadly reopened the wounds of victims’ families, most of whom are still trying to cope with the loss of their loved ones.

It was a very sad and unfortunate move by our former governor.

Online: https://www.bgdailynews.com/

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Dec. 13

Richmond Register on Gov. Andy Beshear’s vow to work with Republicans who hold super majorities in the Kentucky Senate and House:

New Governor Andy Beshear hopes Kentucky can be a national example of casting aside political divisions.

He’s said a variation of those words numerous times since winning the election.

“We can disagree without being disagreeable,” Beshear said.

With Beshear in the governor’s office, Kentucky has entered an era of divided government. The democratic governor must work with Republicans who hold super majorities in the state Senate and House.

In remarks after taking the oath this week, Beshear urged the state’s leaders to resist the trend of political rancor and to reach across party lines.

“We also have the opportunity, no I think it’s the duty, to prove to this commonwealth and this country that we can still govern,” he said. “Anger, insults, even hatred, have infiltrated the very sacred institutions of our government. And we see our neighbors viewing neighbors as the enemy. ... But right here and right now, we have a moment in time, maybe a moment in history, to get this right.”

As we all know, actions speak louder than words.

Will Beshear be able to back up his promises of civility when he actually has to work with Republicans in Frankfort to accomplish his goals?

“It’s about working with people on the issues that you agree on,” Beshear said post-election. “And yes, you may fight on the issues that you don’t, but understanding that there is always that next issue that’s out there that you’re going to have to come back together and work on.”

For now, there seems to be a willingness for both sides to work together.

House Majority Floor Leader John “Bam” Carney told the AP in November that Beshear will have an opportunity to forge a working relationship with GOP lawmakers.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer tweeted following Beshear’s victory, “I worked with his dad on issues and am sure we can find areas of common ground. Let’s get to work.”

So far, we like what we’re hearing from Beshear and Republicans in Frankfort.

We hope they all stand behind their words once the session starts this January. If Kentucky is to truly reach its potential, all sides must work together for the betterment of Kentuckians.

Online: https://www.richmondregister.com/

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Dec. 13

The State Journal on an executive order to grant nonviolent felony offenders the right to vote in Kentucky:

Like thousands of others, Frankfort’s Debra Graner braved Tuesday’s (Dec. 10) brisk December cold to witness the inauguration of Gov. Andy Beshear. And though she campaigned for him — going door-to-door and making endless phone calls — she wasn’t able to vote for him or anyone else because of a past felony.

On Thursday, Beshear signed an executive order making good on a campaign pledge to restore the rights of more than 140,000 nonviolent felony offenders who have completed their sentences and those who have served their time but still owe fines or fees.

The order does not include treason, election bribery and violent offenses such as rape, sexual abuse, homicide, fetal homicide or first- and second-degree assault.

With about 10% of Kentuckians and 25% of the state’s African American population not allowed to vote, the commonwealth has one of the highest voter disenfranchisement rates in the country.

Beshear would like to make the executive order permanent by adding the provisions to the state Constitution. However, in order to do so, the measure would need the approval of legislators and voters.

The new governor said his faith teaches forgiveness, redemption and second chances.

“I believe we have a moral responsibility to protect and extend the right to vote and to say to so may who have paid their debt that we welcome them as full members of society again,” he said.

We believe that second chances aren’t given to make things right but to prove that we could be better even after we fall. Every single person makes mistakes, but not every misstep should carry a life sentence. After all, a second chance is the hope that tomorrow will be better than yesterday — the same principle our country was founded on.

We applaud Beshear for fulfilling his promise to reinstate the voting rights of thousands of deserving Kentuckians. It was the right thing to do.

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

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