Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:
The Independent, Ashland, Kentucky, on probe uncovers problems in fish and wildlife agency:
The findings of a months-long investigation of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources by the state Office of Inspector General should anger everyone who purchases a Kentucky hunting and fishing license. Why? Because revenue from the sale of those licenses provide most of the support for fish and wildlife resources and the inspector general found some of that money was being misused
The inspector general uncovered instances in which Fish and Wildlife managers used their influence to have free fish delivered to private ponds, a perk that isn't available to the general public and a service for which commercial fishing ponds pay.
Former Wildlife Commissioner Jonathan Gassett resigned in September while the investigation was underway. Perhaps he realized the probe would reveal misuse of revenue under his watch.
Gassett has declined to make any comments regarding inspector general's report until he has had time to review the findings with his lawyer and take "any necessary action."
Bill Haycraft, former president of the League of Kentucky Sportsmen and a longtime critic of the Fish and Wildlife agency, said he wasn't surprised by the findings. "We knew that this sort of thing was going on, but you couldn't prove it," Haycraft said.
For the record, Gassett said in September he was leaving the agency to take a job with the Wildlife Management Institute, a nonprofit organization based in Washington.
The inspector general said rank-and-file employees of the agency also worked at Gassett's house, using agency pumps and fans to remove water from a flooded crawlspace.
The inspector general's office called for "appropriate disciplinary action" to be considered against people found to have violated agency regulations or state laws and called for steps to be taken to protect employees who cooperated in the investigation against retaliation.
From those findings, we can only conclude Gasset's departure was good riddance. It now is imperative that the Fish and Wildlife Commission take steps to discipline those who violated laws and regulations and to make the necessary changes to assure they never happen again.
The State Journal, Frankfort, Kentucky, on Kentucky State University salaries aren't out of line:
Earlier this year, in separate stories, The State Journal examined the salaries and benefits of those working for the city of Frankfort and Franklin County as well as the Frankfort Plant Board.
Sunday, reporter Ryan Quinn added another chapter to that series, looking at the pay rates and benefits afforded those employed by Kentucky State University.
Just like with the other three reports, Quinn's research indicates to us that the salaries at Kentucky State are in line with what administrative personnel at a school its size should be paid.
As with all of the stories, most of the attention is paid to the top positions and their corresponding salaries. The president of Kentucky State, Mary Sias, receives an annual salary of $244,800.
Sias receives an amount less than the presidents of the other five public, non-research universities in the state, but KSU's 2,500-student enrollment is considerably less than those other schools: Murray State, Morehead State, Eastern Kentucky, Western Kentucky and Northern Kentucky.
The KSU Board of Regents appears pleased with Sias' job performance because she received a retention bonus earlier this year of $100,000 and will receive another $400,000 in 2016.
Of the next four highest-paid administrators at KSU, perhaps the most interesting is Joel Thierstein, who was hired this summer as provost and vice president for academic affairs. The provost is the chief academic officer at a university.
Kentucky State is a HBCU — Historically Black College or University — but Thierstein is white, which not only demonstrates the best person was hired for the position regardless of race, but that the school is committed to diversity.
In addition to Sias and Thierstein, 17 others at KSU have six-figure salaries, again a number not out of whack at a university.
That being said, the salaries of those individuals — as well as the other employees at KSU — are only appropriate if the mission of educating the students at the school is being met.
Courier-Journal, Louisville, Kentucky, on no state accountability for child abuse:
Kentucky is ready to start digging into cases of child abuse deaths to decide what went wrong and who's to blame. A panel to investigate such deaths is just getting organized in Frankfort.
It is a welcome and much-needed development.
But what about cases where the victim doesn't die but endures unimaginable abuse as one official after another misses opportunities to intervene? Who investigates when a child comes to the attention of authorities over and over but no one with the power to do so ever steps in to save her from a life of depredation, violence and sexual assault?
This is the case of Emily Ball, 18, of Covington, who so deserved the protection of adult officials she never got before an explosion of violence culminated in a gruesome murder in her home.
Who investigates the role of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services in this case, which had been involved with the girl nearly all of her life, once had a judge remove her temporarily from the home and had three open cases of neglect and abuse on the family at the time of the 2009 murder that shocked Covington?
As best we can tell, no one. The cabinet has nothing to say, hiding behind its familiar claim of confidentiality.
Now, Emily has turned 18, considered an adult under the law, and the current focus on the case is whether a judge should send her on to a women's prison for her role in the violent death of a 17-year-old acquaintance.
Emily was 14 when two unrelated adult men staying in her home committed the murder that ensnared her although she never delivered a single blow.
Her offense was that she brought the victim to the home and failed to seek help after the two men began beating and eventually killed Travis White.
It is a trail of repeated, botched opportunities for officials to help Emily and her brother living in the home with a single mother who allegedly offered her adolescent daughter to men in exchange for money to pay utility bills.
It represents a failure of school officials, who suspected problems; the police, who had visited the home; and the Covington juvenile court system — which at the time of the murder was supposed to have Emily under supervision for truancy but apparently had no clue she was living in execrable conditions with no parent and with two men using her for sex.
But above all, it is a shocking failure of cabinet social workers — who had received at least 15 reports of alleged abuse and neglect involving Emily and her brother — but failed utterly to provide them the care and protection they deserved.