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Editorial: Short takes on affirmative action, Poca booming and prison reform

By a 6-2 vote this week, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right of the people of the state of Michigan to prohibit colleges from considering race in college applications. Some call giving preference to some races affirmative action while others call it racial discrimination.

The Supreme Court itself knows the need for diversity efforts firsthand. For decades the court has had a Jewish seat, a black seat and now a Hispanic seat as Americans try to expand the experience available on the nation’s highest court.

However, racial equality should be about equal protection under the law, and not equal outcomes.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. thundered in front of the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963.

Sadly, that remains a dream. Perhaps, his grandchildren may live in such a world as America wrestles with the desire to make up for past discrimination while avoiding discrimination today. The Michigan case is a step toward taking the training wheels off racial equality.

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For decades, Putnam County has led the state in population growth, or at least Putnam has been among the leaders, as it doubled its population over the last 40 years. Most of the growth has been concentrated between U.S. 60 and the Kanawha River as Interstate 64 provides a commuter route to Charleston.

North of the river, Putnam’s growth rate has been small if any. Slowly that is changing. This week, Poca Mayor Jim Caruthers, whose family has lived in Poca longer than West Virginia has been a state, announced Kurt Higginbotham plans to build a 66-lot, single-family subdivision dubbed Shiloh Estates. Higginbotham is CEO and president of Appalachian Railcar Services in Eleanor.

Given that the town has but 974 residents, this development will be huge if it goes through. This is the first major development in the town’s limits since the 1970s.

One attraction may be the recent renovation of Poca elementary and middle schools. Voters in Putnam have invested heavily in schools, not only paying a 100 percent excess levy for school operations but a bond levy to pay for the construction and re-construction of its schools.

However, voters voted down bond levies until school board members actually went to the four towns in the county and asked voters what they wanted for their schools. The subsequent bond levy passed easily.

Other counties may consider what Putnam has done right for more than 40 years.

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California officials released Robert L. Ranson, 30, of Susanville from prison last June because he was a “non-violent offender” as part of a prison reform.

In March, Los Angeles police arrested Ranson and charged him with kidnapping, raping and torturing a 16-year-old girl. Police detectives also believe he murdered two women and a child.

California prison officials considered Ranson “non-violent” because his most recent prison term was for possession of a firearm by a felon. But his previous convictions were for two carjackings and an assault with a firearm, KFI-AM reported.

West Virginia began a similar early-release program. Legislators need to monitor the program closely to make sure no carjackers are released, even if they are in prison for what appears to be a non-violent crime.


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