Kentucky editorial roundup
Summary of recent Kentucky newspaper editorials:
The State Journal on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s call for civility:
Ironically, it’s the self-proclaimed “Grim Reaper,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — a man whose political strategy for the past several years has been to shroud House Democrats’ legislative priorities in the Republican-led Senate — who is calling for the country to “learn how to behave better and be able to disagree without anger.”
Elected in 1984, McConnell, who is the longest-serving GOP U.S. Senate leader in history, made the remark Monday after receiving the 2019 Distinguished Rural Kentuckian award at the annual meeting of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives in Louisville.
In his speech, the 77-year-old senator, who is also the top-ranking Republican in Congress, pointed to a lack of civility as the number one problem with the country today.
“We have a behavioral problem. People are acting out and it’s not, I don’t think, limited to one ideological place or another. You’ve got a lot of people engaging in bad behavior,” he said, vowing to steer political discourse away from angry tones.
While we agree with his assessment of the modern political scene, we call “foul” on McConnell, who is a practitioner of the politics he decries.
His remarks are akin to the pot calling the kettle black, and his reputation as a bare-knuckled politician precedes him.
“If that’s what he believes,” countered Marisa McNee, Kentucky Democratic Party spokeswoman, “that it is such a stain on our politics, the lack of civility, does he regret the way he has allowed his own campaign to behave?”
McConnell steered clear of hot-button topics such as the House impeachment inquiry but left the door open when asked whether President Trump was partially to blame for stoking tensions with his combative tweets.
“I think we have a civility problem and I didn’t confine it to just liberals,” he added. “ I think it’s across the board.”
The Lexington Herald-Leader on former governor Matt Bevin’s decision to concede after losing the gubernatorial election:
He kept the state in suspense for more than a week, but in the end, Gov. Matt Bevin conceded the governor’s race to Attorney General Andy Beshear, rightfully concluding “we’re going to have a change in the governorship based on the vote of the people.”
A race with less than 1 percent between candidates deserved to be recanvassed, and it was, showing, as expected, nearly the same results as last week. Spurious accusations about voter fraud by Bevin and his supporters were quickly debunked.
Still, the governor deserves our thanks, both for his willingness to serve his adopted state of Kentucky, and for his willingness to step aside when it was clear he had lost his bid to be governor a second time.
Thursday’s (Nov. 14) recanvass put to rest the spurious rumors brought up by Bevin and others that the results were sullied, or the voting machines didn’t work. Bevin understands nail biter elections; after all, he got into office via an 83-vote win over his 2015 primary opponent, James Comer. He is to be thanked for avoiding a long, costly constitutional crisis at a time when Kentucky lawmakers need to focus on how to pay for schools, healthcare and prisons.
Bevin often spoke his mind to drastic effect; just how drastic became clear when he became the only Republican on the ticket to lose last week. His attacks on teachers and public education created well-deserved enemies across the state; his attempts to roll back the Medicaid expansion could have grievously wounded one of this state’s greatest success stories.
But Bevin also used his bully pulpit to condemn Frankfort’s worst excesses — a culture of shame and secrecy that covered up a heinous ring of sexual harassment among legislators. He made two changes that Democrats never would — he stopped raiding lottery funds, and devoted all of that money to education as was originally promised, and he forced the state to face a looming budget crisis that had been ignored for years.
In his press conference, Bevin rightly called out one of the jewels of American democracy: “We’re blessed to live in a country where things do transition,” he noted. “There’s a natural exchange in leadership.” Let’s hope people around the country remember this next year as a bitter presidential election draws near.
Politics has become increasingly bitter and polarized, and Bevin has contributed mightily to that while in office. We need politicians who are more willing to compromise, listen to opponents and admit when they are wrong.
In his final act in office, Matt Bevin did the right thing.
The Daily Independent on the closure of a steel mill in Kentucky:
Brian Boggs perhaps said it best just hours after he signed the final coil that came across the AK Steel Ashland Works coating line.
The 32-year electronics technician said, for decades, all anyone had to say was “the mill,” and everyone knew exactly to what place that person was referring.
Armco, which became AK Steel in 1994, raised families. It was full of tough, dirty jobs that made for comfortable living.
Steelworker was a no-brainer occupation destination for generations.
When it all began in 1921, Armco was capable of producing 40,000 tons of steel per month. It made history by becoming the first continuous rolling mill. Yep, right here in little bitty Ashland.
Local steelworkers witnessed changes, and rolled with them. Both the 6th Street and Norton furnaces shut down, but Bellefonte and Amanda were erected. Bellefonte went up in 1942, during World War II. Part of the furnace’s initial purpose was to assist in war defense.
Amanda was constructed in 1963.
On site are plaques marking the inception of each blast furnace.
For Bellefonte, it reads: “To future Americans: Today, in the midst of the most tragic war the world has ever suffered, this blast furnace, christened Bellefonte, was dedicated to the preservation of the Christian principles and human freedom by Wm. S. Knudsen, Lieut. General, USA and Geo. M. Verity, found of Armco. August 24, 1942 AD.”
For Amanda: “To the people of northeastern Kentucky: This blast furnace, christened Amanda in honor of its historic ancestor, was today dedicated to you in the sincere hope that it will contribute to your progress and well being as long as it may stand by Lynn Johnston, granddaughter of Logan T. Johnston, president of the Armco Steel Corporation. October 21, 1963.”
In the early 1990s, changes start to become more ominous. The glory days were numbered.
Bellefonte went cold on Pearl Harbor Day in 1991 — three years after workers relined the brick inside the furnace.
Armco purchased the Ashland Coke Plant in 1980. It closed in 2011.
Amanda went idle on Dec. 15, 2015.
Those are dates we’ll never forget.
The coating line was the last operating portion of AK Steel, nearly 100 years after Ashland Works’ birth.
Nov. 11, 2019, isn’t just another date to etch in the history book. It’s the last notable one. That’s when the final coil received its concluding coat.