Benham Sims: For the Love of a Teacher

TCarrhe person who has had the most profound impact on my life was a teacher. He is now battling stage four cancer and so many students who were touched by him are reaching out.

I was terribly shy in High School, my parents marriage was breaking up, it remains an ugly and profoundly sad period of my life. I was an at risk kid, but I had a special teacher who encouraged me.

This is what I wrote on his Facebook page:

As I was driving to work, I was thinking of the many lessons I learned in your class. I finally realized that the most important gift a teacher can provide is not knowledge or even wisdom, it is confidence. In reading the many posts of former students, I was struck by the love and shared belief that you profoundly changed the course of our lives because of the confidence you instilled in each of us.

Mr Carr, I was a shy, insecure, teenager when I met you. Now at 54, I can attest that my life has been full. I graduated college and law school including winning the scholarship for outstanding oral advocate;), tried cases, saved lives, won awards, written laws, presided over, prosecuted, and defended thousands of cases, served as a Special Justice on the Kentucky Supreme Court, and attended two National Democratic Conventions. I am married to a special woman, and the father of two wonderful young men. I have great friends who I love beyond words and have work that gives my life meaning.

I may not have achieved all my dreams but if anyone would have told me when I started Riverview-this was my future-I would have laughed and then cowered in fear. From a terrified teen whose shaking hands caused the papers to rustle so loud that other kids looked away in embarrassment with my first speech to a lawyer who values inappropriate ties, cufflinks, loud socks, humor and kindness over all other human attributes.

Your teaching showed us what we could be…..if we but tried. The love flowing to you now is only surpassed by the realization of how many lives you forever altered. Ron we love you, for the most basic of reasons, you showed your love and faith in us first.

My most prized possession are his words in my yearbook….can you even imagine what kind of teacher-what kind of person he must be to write something this kind to a strYearbookuggling young man. It has been 35 years and it still chokes me up. To my beloved friend and teacher:
Ron Carr

Clive Pohl: The Living Building Challenge: Visionary from the Start

Designers and builders have long looked to rating systems for “how-to” guidance on green building. From the early days of the current environmental movement they were intended to serve as recipes for improved performance and environmental stewardship. Looking back at the earliest iterations we see a snapshot in time that describes a tension between our desire to improve and the relentless influence of market forces.

Variation in the early standards were a reflection of their author’s priorities. Some were heavily influenced by corporate interests who professed a commitment to sound environmental practices – until it impacted their bottom line. Some positioned themselves just ahead of the marketplace in a mission to gently lead economic transformation while others, in recognition of a rising carbon count, ignored economic constraints and advocated for a leap toward true sustainability. They embraced the notion that a “sustainable” marriage would never be good enough. Perceived as too expensive these standards were mostly ignored.

Though they all sought popular embrace it was, of course, impossible for one standard to provide universal satisfaction. After all, much of the construction industry held fast to the notion that a market economy is America’s only true core value.

As the aughts became the teens the plight of the polar ice caps entered mainstream consciousness, catastrophic weather patterns became increasingly commonplace, and our complicity in climate change more widely accepted. Jurisdictions around the country began to embrace legislation requiring credible compliance, building codes were rewritten to reflect increased urgency, and an army of skeptics (from architects and engineers to general contractors and their subs) had no choice but to hook up to the bandwagon. Even reluctant manufacturers began to recognize the value in environmental branding and compliant materials became increasingly affordable. The marketplace was transforming.

Rating systems, too, evolved to reflect this new economic paradigm and while consensus remains a distant target it is safe to say that they are becoming increasingly alike. They are, in fact, learning from and moving toward the most ambitious and visionary standard, the one that never allowed economic forces to dictate: the Living Building Challenge (LBC). Launched in 2006 the uncompromising principles described by the LBC attract the curiosity of the others with a gravitational pull commensurate to the ever-widening recognition that we have run out of time to simply reduce our environmental impact. In fact, the extent of our past misdeeds demand that we must, as quickly as possible, learn how to build environments that surpass sustainability by replenishing and recharging our resources. Anything less would be like approving spousal abuse as long as it is “occasional”.

Utilizing the metaphor of a flower the LBC posits that buildings should, like flowers, be rooted in place, harvest all of their energy and water on site, be entirely pollution free, and support the larger community through equity and inspiration. These are principles that were inconceivable to the earliest rating system authors and, yet, they represent a target that has been certifiably attained by 25 industry leaders with many more closing in.

Organized by seven “Petals” and 20 subset “Imperatives” the LBC standard further expands the definition of minimum requirement by going beyond the usual standards. It insists that our built environment should

  1. Give Back. Net POSITIVE water, energy and waste means that these buildings are providing energy and water for others and putting waste back into productive use.
  2. Reconnect. Biophilic design principles seek to right a long standing imbalance  by encouraging daily connection with nature. We spend 90% of our lives indoors. Even our neighbor’s access to nature cannot be impeded.
  3. Inspire. Recognizing the value of both sides of the brain the standard encourages an embrace of design elements solely for human delight – alongside the analytics that ensure efficient performance.
  4. Respect. By creating built environments that uphold the dignity of all members of society regardless of their physical or economic capacity the LBC aims to harness the power of transparency as a force for social change. Some LBC programs worthy of further exploration: the JUST Program for social justice, the DECLARE Label for chemical toxin transparency and the new Equitable Offset Program which accumulates funds to provide renewable energy infrastructure for charitable enterprises.

Beyond continued advocacy one can only give thanks to visionaries like co-creator Jason McLennan who chose to see beyond the allure of the almighty dollar and to believe that humanity can, if so informed, live in a “socially just, culturally rich and ecologically restorative” manner. While this is clearly easier said than done, the way is being paved and the rest of must simply face the right direction and place one foot in front of the other.

David Host: Kentucky’s Unnecessary Trauma

David HostKentucky county clerk Kim Davis sits in jail today because Governor Steve Beshear and his staff appear to have overlooked a 76-word statute.

I do not condone Ms. Davis’ apparently willful violation of a federal court order. Nor do I agree with her stated position that she has a constitutional right to ignore any of her duties as a public official. Nevertheless, a cursory review of KRS §402.080 – the Kentucky law which authorizes county clerks to issue marriage licenses – shows that Ms. Davis possesses no power to issue marriage licenses to anyone. Indeed, it appears reasonably clear that none of

Kentucky’s 120 county clerks have that authority until the Kentucky legislature amends the statute to contain gender-neutral language.

The text of KRS §402.080 states as follows:

“Marriage license required — Who may issue.

“No marriage shall be solemnized without a license therefor. The license shall be issued by the clerk of the county in which the

female resides at the time, unless the female is eighteen (18) years of age or over or a widow, and the license is issued on her

application in person or by writing signed by her, in which case it may be issued by any county clerk.”

Under the express terms of KRS §402.080, “the female” must apply for a marriage license before a county clerk “shall” issue a marriage license; and the statute further declares that “[n]o marriage shall be solemnized without a license therefor.” Although the U.S. Supreme Court did not strike down this statute directly two months ago, KRS §402.080 is certainly unconstitutional within the meaning of its decision. Thus, it appears that Kentucky has operated without a valid marriage statute since the date of the Court’s decision.

Although I remain a dedicated member of the “loyal opposition,” I believe that Steve Beshear is an able and honorable man who has served as one of my native state’s better governors during my lifetime. In general, he has thoughtfully put the interests of Kentuckians ahead of any other agenda – which is why I have been surprised and disappointed by his decisions following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling.

The fundamental impact of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling was to strike down as unconstitutional any state marriage law which expressly restricts marriage to opposite-sex couples. Yet, the Court does not have the authority to reach into any state and write a replacement statute. Thus, each state had an obligation to immediately review its marriage statutes to determine if action by that state’s legislature might be necessary to implement the Court’s ruling.

Some states might have already had gender-neutral marriage laws on their books prior to efforts in recent years (through additional statutes or state constitutional amendments) to expressly define marriage as between persons of the opposite sex. In those states, no legislation was necessary for the Court’s ruling to go into effect immediately. In states like Kentucky, however – where the Court’s decision invalidated the core statute which authorizes marriage – legislative action seems essential in order to preserve anyone’s right to marry. As Governor Beshear has rejected bipartisan requests to call the Kentucky legislature into special session, a serious question exists whether any person has received a legally valid marriage license in Kentucky during the last two months.

As Kentucky’s chief executive, Governor Beshear’s critical responsibility following the Court’s ruling was to assess its specific impact upon Kentucky’s marriage laws, and determine what steps were necessary to bring those laws into compliance. Instead, he immediately instructed Kentucky’s county clerks – 120 independently elected constitutional officers – that they must begin issuing marriage licenses on a gender neutral basis, even though it seems that Kentucky law no longer authorizes them to issue any marriage licenses.

I respect the fact that having engaged in a good-faith effort to defend Kentucky’s existing marriage laws (to the extent that he hired outside counsel when Kentucky’s attorney generalrefused to proceed with an appeal), Governor Beshear wants to move beyond this issue. I further understand his concerns about the cost to Kentucky taxpayers of calling a special legislative session – particularly when that special session is almost certain to feature lengthy and acrimonious debate regarding how to implement a U.S. Supreme Court decision with which a significant majority of Kentuckians appear to disagree.

Yet, I cannot perceive how Governor Beshear has any choice under the existing state of Kentucky law. Moreover, a special session would allow the legislature to formulate “conscientious objector” provisions which excuse county clerks whose religious beliefs prevent them from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Perhaps most important, this measure would end the trauma associated with Kim Davis and the stance she has felt compelled to take.

At some point, the absence of immediate corrective legislation could cost Kentuckians far more than the expenses associated with a special legislative session.

 

Eli Mitchell: Harvard Football Doesn’t Stop

eli mitchellHarvard’s football players have been challenged for over 100 years to balance not only academic excellence, but excellence on the field as well. Even during the summer, over 40 players stay in Cambridge to work out and either attend summer school or work a full-time job.

“There’s something special about the history of playing for Harvard football, it’s one of the first college football teams to ever exist, to think about the guys to come before you, who put in the same kind of hard work and dedication,” said senior defensive back Sean Ahern. “It’s nice to see the rewards of that when you win a big game and the fans are pumped up.”

Most upperclassmen are working a 9 to 5 job during the summer, while underclassmen take summer courses to help ease the load during the school year.

“You have to be better at time management during the season, because you have all this time that is technically free but it’s really not,” Ahern said.

Weekdays begin at 5:15 am with workouts run by Strength and Conditioning Coach James Frazier and the training staff, according to Ahern. These workouts include a lift, agilities, and conditioning exercises.  Head Coach Tim Murphy and all of the position coaches are not allowed to be at summer workouts due to NCAA rules.

Ahern said that he thinks “it’s a good thing; whatever we want to put in is what we are going to get out. We usually put in a lot of work.” The team’s senior leaders additionally organize workouts in the afternoon. Ahern said he believes that the work being put in now will pay off come September 19th, when Harvard will begin their season playing the University of Rhode Island.

The summer is not much different when you’re not on campus as a Harvard football player, with working and working out still a player’s top priorities. Jacob Mayes, a sophomore linebacker from Memphis, Tennessee stayed at home for the summer session. His days are spent much like they would be if he was at Harvard, working out and working a full time job.

Mayes has focused his time on recovering from a back injury, with a goal of being healthy when the players are expected to report back on August 19. Mayes looks forward to reuniting with his teammates in Cambridge. “All the times in the locker room are just the best, being around everyone,” he said.

Ahern will be looking to replicate his standout junior season, although he didn’t set any specific goals for the summer other than “getting in the best shape possible.” He was awarded first team all Ivy League for his play during Harvard’s undefeated 2014 season, along with 37 solo tackles and with two pass breakups.

“There’s nothing more special than Harvard-Yale especially last year, with college gameday, that was the pinnacle of my football career,” he said.

“There’s something special about the history of playing for Harvard football, it’s one of the first college football teams to ever exist, to think about the guys to come before you, who put in the same kind of hard work and dedication. It’s nice to see the rewards of that when you win a big game and the fans are pumped up.”

Eli Mitchell: Patrick Towles – the Key to Kentucky’s Success

eli mitchellThroughout the year, Mark Stoops has been adamant that the quarterback competition is still ongoing. The competition features redshirt freshman Drew Barker and redshirt junior Patrick Towles. Throughout UK’s fifteen spring practices both quarterbacks took reps with the first and second teams. Coach Stoops has admitted that Towles has the advantage over Barker but would still not name him the starting quarterback. If Stoops wants to see improvement in SEC play, he needs to name Patrick Towles the starting quarterback.

Patrick Towles comes from legendary Highlands High School where he started for three years and won three state championships along with Mr. Football honors his senior year. During his freshman season at Kentucky he played in five games completing 19 of 40 passes for 233 yards and a touchdown. He had some impressive moments but when Stoops arrived in Lexington the following season Towles was redshirted. Towles was devastated like most people would be, but he decided to make the most of it. The following spring he showed the staff that he had developed into an SEC caliber quarterback. He was named the starter in fall camp over Reese Phillips and Drew Barker.

Towles had some impressive moments during Kentucky’s 2014 season, he threw for 2,718 yards and 14 touchdowns. He showed his leadership in big games against South Carolina and Mississippi State. Some of his decision making against Louisville was questionable but after another year of maturing, Towles is ready for the next step. With playmakers all around him, it should be easy for Towles to put up big numbers this season. Look for Garret Johnson, Dorian Baker, and Ryan Timmons to fill bigger roles. If Coach Stoops and staff want to improve their record from last year they need to rally around Patrick Towles because of his maturity and leadership.

Eli Mitchell: Aaron Harrison: Big shot taker to undrafted

eli mitchellAaron Harrison, along with his twin brother Andrew were regarded as top 5 players in the 2013 recruiting class. `They were expected to shine at Kentucky immediately and be drafted in the lottery of the 2014 NBA draft along with fellow Kentucky signee, Julius Randle. Aaron did shine in his freshman season by averaging 13.7 PPG and hitting huge shots in the NCAA Tournament but it was overlooked by NBA scouts because of his inconsistency and body language on the floor. If Aaron would have entered his name into the draft he most likely would have been drafted in the late 1st round because of a weak draft class. After hearing that from NBA scouts Aaron decided it would be best to come back for his second season at Kentucky to compete for a National Championship.

Coming into his sophomore season Aaron was named the SEC preseason player of the year, it looked as if he was ready for a big season. On a star loaded roster, Aaron lead the team in scoring for the regular season with 12.0 PPG. Throughout the season Aaron’s draft stock moved up and down when his play became inconsistent. Heading into the NCAA tournament with an undefeated record Coach Calipari looked at Aaron for big plays down the stretch. Scouts were again impressed by his clutch shots down the stretch. After a disappointing loss to Wisconsin in the Final Four, Aaron had a decision to make. He could either bet on himself in pre-draft workouts or he could head back to Kentucky for a third season.

Aaron decided to enter his name into the 2015 NBA Draft along with 6 other Kentucky players. At the NBA Combine, Aaron struggled with his shooting and overall play, he looked to be forcing too much. His draft stock plummeted heading into workouts with individual teams. His workouts for interested teams went a bit better than the combine had. When draft night rolled around Aaron watched on patiently as his 6 teammates were drafted before he was. After the draft Aaron went on to sign with the Charlotte Hornets summer league team. Aaron has been very upfront about the chip that he has on his shoulder from being undrafted. After watching him play in the summer league it looks as if the Hornets want Aaron to make the switch from shooting guard to point guard. Aaron will do whatever it takes to make his place on an NBA roster.

David Host: The Right Result – But a Troubling Ruling

David HostI have long been hesitant to write about the marriage equality issue because of my own nuanced feelings on the issue. I have always strongly believed that our society must confer the same protections and benefits upon couples regardless of sexual orientation – and as the current debate has progressed, I have become increasingly persuaded that such benefits must include the civil contract which the law defines as “marriage.” Thus, on a basic policy level, I agree with today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

Yet, I remain fundamentally uncomfortable with this ruling for other reasons. First, I do not think that the Court’s evisceration of the democratic process was necessary or wise in this instance. The rapid growth of states which have adopted marriage equality shows a fundamental change in societal attitudes on this issue; a transformation which seems only likely to accelerate as the so-called “millennials” achieve a greater share of political power. I think that the Court could have steered a more moderate course by requiring states to recognize all marriages performed in other states, without directly overruling a particular state’s definition of marriage by judicial fiat. Instead of promoting an emerging national consensus, this ruling seems destined to exacerbate divisions on this issue.

Second, I think the Court short-circuited a vital discussion that needs to occur in our society regarding the entanglement of church and state when it comes to marriage. Given the “wall” that exists between church and state in almost every other instance, I have always thought that marriage offered an interesting display of cognitive dissonance. Many of us have gotten married in a church and divorced by a judge – and ministers who officiate a marriage ceremony frequently proclaim that they act “under the authority of God and the State of ______.”

I certainly hope that this entanglement does not become the “nose under the tent” which leads to a broader intrusion upon the free exercise of religion and the freedom of conscience in America – yet, I cannot not see how ministers who invoke the state’s authority can avoid performing same-sex marriages under the implications of today’s ruling. Perhaps the onus is now upon the churches which do not recognize same-sex marriage; they can always distinguish between “spiritual marriage” and “legal marriage,” and limit the marriage ceremonies they perform to the former. Of course, many couples would have to participate in  two wedding ceremonies – but I think that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution has always mandated that result.

My main concern is that today’s decision has steamrolled the dissent on this issue, foreclosing the natural consensus that could have otherwise emerged; a consensus that would have confirmed and strengthened the boundaries between church and state in America. Instead, I am concerned that the Supreme Court’s ruling will further blur the line between private conscience and public responsibility; an outcome which does not seem likely to enhance the long-term health of our nation.

Eli Mitchell: Where will the Cats Land?

Jeli mitchellohn Calipari has preached all season that his main goal has always been to get his players drafted. On Thursday night seven of Calipari’s players will be waiting to hear their names called. Four of those players have been projected as lottery picks and two more have heard their names mentioned in the first round. Let’s look at possible destinations for each Cat.

Karl Anthony Towns will hear his name called very early on Thursday night with Minnesota and Los Angeles as potential landing spots. Towns is recognized as the best two way player in this draft. Whether he is picked first or second on Thursday Towns will make his name known early in the NBA. The other 7 footer, Willie Cauley-Stein has been projected to go as high as 4th to the New York Knicks or as low as 11th to the Indiana Pacers. Cauley-Stein will make an immediate impact on the defensive end for whichever team he is picked by. Devin Booker and Trey Lyles are hoping to hear their names called in the lottery on Thursday night. Booker could go anywhere from 8th to 14th, the Charlotte Hornets and Oklahoma City Thunder are hoping to add his lethal shooting stroke. Lyles is a bit of a wildcard, the Knicks have shown great interest in him but it is doubtful that they will pick him at 4. He could fall out of the lottery and be picked later in the draft by Boston or Atlanta.

The 3 unknowns in the draft are Dakari Johnson, Andrew Harrison, and Aaron Harrison. NBA scouts love Dakari’s size and ability to rebound, he could go as early as 25th to Memphis. Andrew Harrison had an impressive run at the NBA combine and in private workouts with teams. He improved his stock significantly and could be picked as high as 30th to Golden State. His brother, Aaron, did not do as much to improve his stock. He doesn’t have a realistic shot at going in the first round but should be picked in the second round due to his size and shooting ability. As Thursday night comes to a close, John Calipari will be a very happy man because he helped 7 young men achieve their dream.

 

Eli Mitchell: One player away

eli mitchellAs the spring signing period passed John Calipari failed to add any additional big name recruits to the 2015-16 class. The class features big name high school players, Skal Labissiere and Isaiah Briscoe, along with Charles Matthews and JUCO transfer Mychal Mulder. ESPN rates the class second behind Duke. A number two rated class doesn’t seem like it’s missing anything but if you look further into Kentucky’s roster another piece would be huge.

Calipari has stated multiple times that he would like to add another piece to this roster. He tried but failed to add Caleb Swangian, Jaylen Brown, Malik Newman, Cheick Diallo, Brandon Ingram, etc. It was surprising to most Kentucky fans that Cal missed on these prospects to less elite basketball schools like Purdue, California, and Mississippi State. Jamal Murray and Thon Maker are prospects that Kentucky could still add this summer. It seems like Murray is going to reclassify to the 15’ class within the next month, but it is not certain that he would commit to Kentucky at that point. Maker’s recruitment is a roller coaster and no one is sure what he will do.

The 2015-16 roster is filled with elite players and could feature a 9 man rotation. The lone senior on the roster is Alex Poythress, a former 5 star recruit, is slated for a huge season after tearing his ACL just 9 games into last season. Sophomore point guard, Tyler Ulis, will look to continue his success from the NCAA tournament into next season. Marcus Lee, Dominique Hawkins, and Derek Willis will try to increase their roles next season. Calipari will play with multiple line up combinations looking for the best fit but his job will but a lot easier with one more player like Murray or Maker to work with.

Eli Mitchell: The Future of Kentucky Football

IMG_0445Mark Stoops is coming into his third full season as the head coach of Kentucky football. There have been a lot of improvements in every facet of the game since Stoops arrived to Kentucky. Stoops has showed his ability to recruit and sign top talent. Year 3 will be a very deciding year for Mark Stoops and his staff. The 2015-2016 Kentucky football roster is stacked with talent from across the country.

Let’s break down the offense and defense.

On offense, the Cats are returning playmakers Patrick Towels, Boom Williams, Garret Johnson, Blake Bone, etc. The incoming recruiting class has one stud that will likely make an immediate impact at the tight end position, CJ Conrad. The offensive line is young but talented. George Asafo Adjei is an early enrollee that has the body to become an All-SEC performer at the guard position. The offense’s success is dependent on Patrick Towles’ growth from last season as well as the hopeful emergence of Boom Williams as an elite runner.

The defense is going through a transformation year after losing two studs at defensive end, Bud Dupree and Zadarius Smith. DJ Elliot, defensive coordinator, will look to replace those two with a number of guys rather than just one player. Jason Hatcher will be a player to look out for in the SEC if he can maximize his potential. The line backing core is returning with Josh Forrest and Ryan Flannigan leading the way. The secondary is improved with another year of AJ Stamps and Marcus McWilson at the safety positions. The defense’s success will depend on the play of the cornerbacks, last year they gave up a lot of big plays that lead to touchdowns and losses. 3 seniors will start the year at corner but that may change quickly if they do not improve their play.

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