Rosa Scott, an African American woman from Paducah who is a strong community activist, has become the new president of the Paducah chapter of the NAACP. Rosa, who I like, respect, and admire, has, in my opinion, crashed a huge barrier in assuming this important leadership position in Paducah.
The former president, who had held the position for a couple decades, J.W. Cleary, was well entrenched in the position. Cleary had done a lot for the community, but he realized, rightfully, I believe, that it was time for him to pass the torch. The fact that a younger female has taken over the position indicates a significant change.
Cleary took one what I consider to be strange position a few years ago that was in total opposition to what I was trying to do. When Kentucky was trying to close the Liquid Waste Disposal (LWD) hazardous waste incinerator in nearby Calvert City, Kristi and I, and several of our allies, showed up at the hearing the state held to get public comment on their proposal to finally deny LWD's part B operatin g permit and shut them down. The reason for the shutdown was that LWD had repeatedly missed deadlines to establish an adequate reserve fund for cleaning up the site after they closed - a permit requirement. In fact, LWD was in bankruptcy and their debtors were filing liens against the facility, which was highly polluted.
Cleary showed up at the hearing and testified against closing the facility - because, he said, a number of minority folks worked there and they needed the jobs. He insinuated that closing LWD was racially biased. I thought that was ill-advised and a stretch. LWD was an environmental disaster, and Cleary mentioned nothing about the environment. NAACP needs to be cognizant of environmental issues. But, this is just one incident in a series of very good public advocacy, and Cleary needs to be congratulated for his service.
But Paducah needs and is ready for new energy in the NAACP. And I'm sure that Rosa Scott will bring it.