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Friday News and Notes

MANY stories today, from across the political and governance world.

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VP Harris, Sen. McConnell tout success after KY army depot destroys chemical weapons

Following years of work from the Blue Grass Army Depot in Richmond, several high-profile state and federal officials celebrated the complete destruction of the U.S. chemical weapons stockpile Wednesday. Both Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Gov. Andy Beshear (D) were in attendance for the event and gave speeches, expressing their gratitude for the work done at the plant.

Vice President Kamala Harris also wrote a letter to the bluegrass community celebrating the weapons destruction, which was read by Deborah Rosenblum, assistant secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs. “I extend my most sincere congratulations to all of you for helping the United States achieve a critical milestone—the verified destruction of the last declared chemical weapons stockpile in the world,” Harris wrote in her letter. “Since 2019, your team has shown the utmost care for the safety of each other, your neighbors in Kentucky, and the environment as you completed this noble mission.” (Herald-Leader)

FACT CHECK: Misinformation about Israel-Hamas war is flooding social media. Here are the facts.

In the days since Hamas militants stormed into Israel on Saturday morning, a flood of videos and photos purporting to show the conflict have filled social media, making it difficult for onlookers from around the world to sort fact from fiction.

While plenty of real imagery and accounts of the ensuing carnage have emerged, they have been intermingled with users pushing false claims and misrepresenting videos from other events.

Among the fabrications, users have shared false claims that a top Israeli commander had been kidnapped, circulated a doctored White House memo purporting to show President Joe Biden announcing billions in aid for Israel, and pushed old and unrelated videos of Russian President Vladimir Putin with inaccurate English captions.

Here is a closer look at the misinformation spreading online – and the facts.

(Editor’s note: This is an excellent fact check story. Read it and share it so we can make a dent in the misinformation.) (WKLY)

Ethics complaint against NKY Rep. Banta dismissed

An ethics complaint filed as a controversial bill funding a charter school pilot program moved through the legislature in 2022 against Rep. Kim Banta (R-Fort Wright) has been dismissed.

Banta served on the House education committee where the bill initially passed, and her vote proved crucial to the bill moving through the committee, then the House.

Banta’s husband, Tom, is the chief real estate officer for Ovation developer Corporex. He is also a board member for the Butler Foundation, a nonprofit built by Corporex Chairman Bill Butler that lobbied the legislature for the pilot charter bill, called House Bill 9. (More at LINK nky)

Covington seeks reimbursement for Roebling Bridge protest

The Covington Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to seek restitution for the time police spent removing a large banner, which environmental protesters had hung on the outside of the Roebling Bridge last week, at their meeting on Tuesday night.

Commissioner Ron Washington pitched the motion to the rest of the board, who asked the city attorney’s office to draft a letter after some discussion to the Kenton County Commonwealth Attorney’s office, requesting reimbursement from the state as restitution. (More at LINK nky)

RFK Jr. is officially running as an Independent – prompting siblings to once again disavow him

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the prominent conspiracy theorist and anti-vaxxer, is officially running as an independent. On Monday, the Kennedy scion, who has been politically disowned by much of his family, announced that he was ditching his longshot efforts to defeat Joe Biden in the Democratic primary.

The announcement prompted more family disavowal. Kennedy’s sister, Kerry Kennedy, posted a message to social media. (More at Mother Jones)

Rep. Hal Rogers, citing 10-fold increase in treatment beds, says Eastern Ky. is becoming nation’s drug-recovery capital

Amanda Peters of the Northern Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy said that as the region gained more treatment beds, it built a “long-term recovery pipeline” with employers and community organizations. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers of the 5th District recalled a 2003 Lexington Herald-Leader headline that said Eastern Kentucky was the “nation’s painkiller capital,” and then said, “After all the great strides that we’ve made from ground zero, and seeing the volume of treatment beds increase ten-fold over the last 20 years, I think it’s time for a new headline: Eastern Kentucky is now becoming the nation’s recovery capital, and it’s time to spread the message of hope in our commonwealth.” (KY Health News)

Op-Ed: Report shows need for minimum starting salary for teachers

Most of our universities can still remember when teacher training programs were filled with bright-eyed young professionals eager for training and, ultimately, a degree that would one day give them their own classroom.

Today, universities report a dramatic decrease in student enrollment in teacher training programs. College students no longer see careers in education as safe havens for fostering creativity and growth, even though that’s still what they are. Instead, they see teaching as a low-paying and disrespected career. They see educators accused of teaching far-left or far-right ideologies even though they represent the goals and values of their communities and are devoted to educating children, along with all the other duties bestowed upon them.

At the same time, fewer teachers are entering the profession; veteran teachers are exiting. (More at The Lane Report)

General and Road Fund receipts rise in September

The Office of State Budget Director reported that General Fund receipts rose 6.1% in September with revenues of $1.57 billion. Collections for the month exceeded last September’s total by $90.4 million. It is the 13th consecutive month of General Fund receipts over $1 billion.

So far this fiscal year (FY24), the General Fund has grown 6.9%. Based on September’s results, General Fund revenues can decline 2.4% for the remainder of the fiscal year and still meet the official estimate. The Consensus Forecasting process began in September with preliminary estimates and will issue final, official revenue estimates for Fiscal Years 2024-2026 in December. (Lane Report)

Ryan Quarles contract, salary as KCTCS president confirmed

The new president of Kentucky’s largest provider of postsecondary education will earn $380,000 annually, according to his contract, which the Lantern received Thursday through an open records request.

Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles is a former state lawmaker who ran, unsuccessfully, as a Republican candidate for governor this year. He was appointed president of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, which has 16 colleges in the commonwealth, in September. (More at the Kentucky Lantern)

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Bruce Maples

Bruce Maples has been involved in politics and activism since 2004, when he became active in the Kerry Kentucky movement. (Read the rest of his bio on the Bruce Maples Bio page in the bottom nav bar.)

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