News Briefs 01.09.2003
Movin’ on up
The Center for Rural Strategies, an Appalachian group based in Whitesburg in eastern Kentucky, has purchased ad space in some of the country’s largest newspapers(including the New York Times) to criticize an upcoming reality TV series based on The Beverly Hillbillies for its stereotypes.
The group laid out $75,000 to place ads in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Cincinnati Enquirer.
The show, set to air on CBS, would follow the adventures of a large family when they move out of their rural home and settle into a Beverly Hills mansion, according to the network. Check the Ace archives online for an op/ed piece by Kentucky author Ronni Lundy on the subject.
Smoke ’em if you got ’em
Governor Paul Patton, in a stopgap effort to try and make up for an expected shortfall of $509 million, is considering raising taxes on cigarettes and alcohol. Patton is proposing “sin” taxes: an increase on cigarettes of 20 cents per pack, up from our current 3-cents-a-pack tax-the second-lowest in the nation.
A report from the Lung Association says people in Kentucky smoke more than any other state in the nation. The national average tax on a pack of cigarettes is 47 cents The proposed increase would generate $75 million a year. Also, Patton suggested a 6 percent sales tax on all sales of alcohol, which would generate $24 million a year.
Senate Republican leaders are not in favor of raising taxes and are pushing Gov. Paul Patton to make more budget cuts in order to deal with Kentucky’s shortfall in the next 18 months.
Next week the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council will hear from a task force that studied the impact of a smoking ban in the city’s restaurants, bars and taverns.
The task force’s report found support of such a ban by indicating the side effects of secondhand smoke and the sizable public support of smoke-free gathering places.
An alternative to council action is a public referendum. Teresa Isaac and vice mayor and restaurant businessman Mike Scanlon support a referendum. Nightclubs and bars, might probably see a drop in sales if smokers are forced to smoke outside.
The Fayette County council members Paul Brooks, Chuck Ellinger, Bill Cegelka, and Vice Mayor Mike Scanlon, are at odds on who should control your water supply. A city takeover of Kentucky American is contingent upon money.
Scanlon and Ellinger are in favor of purchasing the water company if it is fiscally responsible, with Brooks undecided, and Cegelka might opt for a ”no” vote.
In October, the previous council voted 11-4 to approve the hiring of a consultant to gather more information. The report from the consultant is expected at the end of the month. The new leaders may approve the “takeover deal” if the price is right.
Education Week, a weekly publication, which tracks K-12 education in the United States, has concluded its report, “Quality Counts 2003.” The report measured teacher quality-the certification, working conditions, qualifications, recruitment, and retention of K-12 teachers. This year, the areas of study were: Standards and Accountability; Improving Teacher Quality; School Climate; Resource Equity; and Resource Adequacy.
Kentucky received grades of A for Standards and Accountability, B for Improving Teacher Quality, C- for School Climate, C+ for Resource Equity, and a C+ for Resource Adequacy.