Editorial: Searching for positive news amid the muck of campaign season
photo by: Journal-World Photo Illustration
Although there has been talk of a drained swamp, it still seems awful muddy as we wade through presidential election season. We are just 23 days away from election day, which means it is hard to find many pieces of truly pleasing news among the campaign commercials and rabid debates. But, we ought to try. Here’s an effort to highlight a few pieces of news that large majorities likely would agree are positive.
— It has been an excellent month on the economic development front in Douglas County. Officials from both Lawrence, Eudora and within county government deserve both credit and thanks for their efforts to attract new employers to the community. Eudora started the good news with an announcement that Modern Manufacturing — a Canadian-based railroad supplier — has chosen Eudora for a new plant that will employ about 40 people. More recently, Pretzels Inc. has whetted Lawrence’s appetite for more jobs. The Indiana-based company plans to build a nearly 150,000 square-foot plant in VenturePark. Job totals haven’t yet been announced, but expect more good news when they are.
In between those announcements, Plastikon announced its was adding about 40 jobs to its existing Lawrence plant in the East Hills Business Park. Those employees will be working on products for testing kits for COVID-19. Talk about a well-positioned company that is easy to get excited about. Chamber officials, state officials and local government officials have done much work on those projects. Two of the three likely will involve tax abatements. We should always be ready to welcome good businesses to our community, but is critically important during these times. It is universally positive that local leaders are showing that commitment.
• The president’s improved health is universally positive news as well. No matter how much you may dislike President Trump, we all should be glad that he did not succumb to this terrible disease. It is fine to be a Democrat, but not a hypocrite. For months, the president’s opponents have correctly talked about the terrible human toll COVID-19 has taken. Yet, some of his political opponents made cruel and crass remarks about the president’s diagnosis. But, so many more of his opponents wished him well and offered their prayers. There were signs of a pause in partisanship, and any day where that rarity occurs is a positive one.
• The Lawrence Lions football team is 5-0 and the No. 1 ranked team in Kansas’ class 6A division. The wins are great, but even greater is high school students across the area are getting to compete. That was far from certain at the beginning of the season. While it has not been without its challenges, area school districts have worked hard to give their students as many opportunities as feasible. District officials still have tough decisions to make, but some of the success districts have had in keeping their athletes safe should provide encouragement for a further return to classrooms.
• It is not positive that the University of Kansas has added a great many COVID cases to our community. But it is positive the seriousness in which KU has embraced testing. Sure, you could always do more testing, but it should not be forgotten that KU has implemented a testing program that is far more aggressive than any other entity in the county. While the environment on Mt. Oread is far from ideal, KU has succeeded in preventing a collapse in its fall enrollment numbers. Anyone who cares about the Lawrence economy should be very thankful for that. While there has been a price to pay in terms of case numbers, those cases have not overwhelmed our local medical system. That is an under-appreciated, positive piece of news in our community.
• Both Facebook and Twitter have announced new restrictions on advertising and users in the days leading up to the election. It is uncertain whether the new rules will significantly alter the spread of disinformation in these crucial days, but it is positive that the social media networks are taking steps. It is positive news when anyone joins the fight to protect our elections from bad actors who seek to sow disruption.
See, you really can find some positive news, if you look for it. You have 23 days where it really would behoove you to do so.