Barr: Holding post office accountable part of my job description
I met with postal workers in Lexington last Sunday for thoughtful discussion about the future of the United States Postal Service. This discussion is long overdue, and I wish the Herald-Leader editorial board could put aside its political agenda and join us.
It's my job to listen to constituents. Accessibility remains my core commitment to the people of the Sixth Congressional District — a promise I am keeping as I visit communities across our district every week.
The Herald-Leader's editorial not only ignores this fact, it suggests that by meeting with postal workers, I somehow compromised my principles.
In fact, the Constitution expressly gives Congress authority over the Postal Service. Consequently, Congress has a continuing duty to oversee postal operations, and an ongoing responsibility to postal employees.
That's why I made it my priority last weekend to solicit employees' ideas on increasing Postal Service efficiency, and why I immediately demanded detailed economic justification from the USPS when it reversed a 2012 decision and announced closure of the Nandino processing center.
While the USPS uses a private business model, it remains a government agency. Holding it accountable for how it spends money is not only consistent with my philosophy of limited government, it is required by it.
It is a sad commentary on the state of our politics when a congressman cannot meet with his constituents without the local paper exploiting that fact for its own political agenda. The message from my constituents remains clear: People want solutions, not more partisan politics.
U.S. Rep. Andy Barr
Downtown parking rip-off
Josh Kegley, the newest member of the city and police department PR department, glaringly omitted in the Herald-Leader's parking story last Sunday the cost to the voters of the hearing officer (a local attorney) who deals with appeals of the parking tickets. Perhaps if he had not been so fixated on the word "scofflaw," he may have actually made an objective attempt at reporting.
The story fails to state exactly how much profit Republic Parking Services (a private business) is getting by acting on behalf of the local government. Those of us who have to work downtown are aware of the numerous problems with the system, including malfunctioning kiosks in extreme cold and rainy weather. And, when you call and get a "pass," the monitors are not told and you get a ticket anyway.
The real purpose of this scheme is to force people who work downtown to buy parking from Republic at one of its lots or garages to avoid the constant hassles of this system. And guess what? There are cities which really want to have thriving downtowns and offer free parking.
When I retire, I will never go downtown again — there is no reason to, and the hassle of getting a $15 ticket for being one minute late is enough to deter me. And I will not bother reading what used to be a genuine newspaper with an investigative reporter on board.
Witch hunt at EKU
I find myself appalled at the lack of responsibility that Eastern Kentucky University has taken with regard to the Center for the Arts. The Herald-Leader's recent article was so misleading and quite frankly appears as a witch hunt to blame Debra Hoskins for all negative issues surrounding the center.
It is a miracle that there was an opening season considering that Hoskins was hired in February and managed to put together in seven short months an outstanding lineup of first-class entertainment.
The chairman of the board of the center, EKU President Doug Whitlock, insisted that the opening not be delayed although at the time of Hoskins' hiring only two events had been scheduled. To ask someone to come into a new situation, without an orientation, without a financial director, without proper computer systems available is unbelievable.
A bureaucracy that was in over its head and had no realistic idea of how these venues are managed was so fortunate to have Hoskins. Instead of trashing her reputation for being able to bring excellent and diverse entertainment to small-town America, Richmond and Danville, EKU might be better served by looking inward and inquiring just how its money is spent. Large travel expenses do not fill seats.
Won't it be interesting to see attendance for the coming years?
Keep local food at UK
The cost of higher education is increasing. I should know: I am a graduating senior in the sustainable agriculture program at the University of Kentucky. I have leveraged my future earnings to secure an interdisciplinary education in the re-emerging field of agriculture. Drawing from a broad range of disciplines, like soil science, human nutrition, agricultural ecology, managerial economics and environmental sociology, I have worked hard to realize a nuanced understanding of our local, regional, national and global food systems. This understanding evaluates food systems by their environmental stewardship, economic profitability and social responsibility.
Despite the debts I have incurred, I still feel that I owe something more.
It has been reported the board and president are considering privatizing the university's dining services to reduce the costs of education.
Dining services has been a champion of our emerging community food systems and local producers. Some believe this eagerness to support local agriculture can be enshrined in a contract with a private firm, but those I know in other institutions with privatized dining services decry such relationships as adversarial.
Also, dining services has eagerly collaborated with students and faculty so that plant and animal production curriculum can draw upon their culinary expertise. These connections among staff, students and faculty flow from the philosophical connection between members of an academic community. I have little faith that such values-based partnerships can be developed and articulated in a contract with an investor-owned firm seeking to maximize profits for remote shareholders.
In his defense of House Bill 279, Rep. Stan Lee declared that the bill's passage was necessary because religious freedom is under attack. His example? He says prayer and Bibles have been taken out of schools.
I beg to differ. The last time I was in my granddaughter's school, I am almost certain I saw a kid praying. And nobody stopped him.
And I'm only guessing, but I expect many school libraries have the Christian Bible, the Quran, perhaps the Dead Sea Scrolls, Mormon texts, the Bhagavad Gita or sacred texts of other faiths read and studied by those with or without sincerely held religious beliefs.
TSA not the sharpest
Who would have believed, prior to 9/11, that ordinary box cutters would be used to start the cascade of events that caused four airliners to crash, resulting in the death of nearly 2,700 innocent people, including approximately 400 police officers and firefighters?
For some inexplicable reason, Transportation Security Administration administrator John Pistole says small knives no longer pose a threat to aircraft security, which now emphasizes bomb detection.
Three of the nation's five biggest carriers, Delta, American and US Airways, along with the Association of Flight Attendants, and some members of Congress have spoken out against the new, more lax policy that takes effect in April. Pistole has refused to back down.
As recently as March 5, the TSA's web page listing prohibited items on planes was updated and still reads, "For the safety and security of the traveling public, TSA, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and/or airlines have prohibited certain items from being brought onto airplanes in carry-on and/or checked bags." Box cutters and knives (except plastic or round-bladed butter knives) were on the list of prohibited items.
What changed between March 5 and today? Did Al Qaeda send a memo to Pistole, saying he could wave away any concern about small knives, saying that they've moved on to explosive devices, and they promise not to use knives of any kind again? Please.
Something Osama Bin Laden said comes back to mind: "Americans are stupid." Do we have to keep proving him right?
Protect LGBT Kentuckians
I am responding to a March 6 letter that called participants in the Rally Against Discrimination "gullible." I was among those gullible students visiting Frankfort recently to lobby the General Assembly for new fairness protections.
Despite the letter writer's assertions, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Kentuckians do not have the same rights as other Kentuckians. No legal protections exist for LGBT individuals in this state as they do for African-Americans or any number of other minorities. In any Kentucky town save Lexington, Louisville, Covington and Vicco a Kentuckian can legally be fired from his or her job with their sexuality or gender identity as the reason.
LGBT students in Kentucky also have no specific protections. As a student, I am well acquainted with the sort of harassment that can occur based on a student's perceived or actual sexuality or gender identity. Giving LGBT students specific protections has been shown to decrease their risk for life-threatening harassment.
As for marriage, I am sad to say this was hardly an issue in Frankfort this past month. I only wish it had been, but it seems individuals such as the letter writer would prefer their beliefs be forced on the numerous LGBT Kentuckians.
I'm not sure why "protected minority status" is something to be feared. Would the writer prefer LGBT Kentuckians like his brother continue to suffer legal unfair treatment? I should hope not. Our government is here to protect all of us. Not just the majority.
June's cleavage not comical
I cannot be the only person who's tired of how little June frequently wears. But the March 22 Rex Morgan, M.D. comic strip in which June literally strips, foreground in the first panel, is simply too much gratuitous and adolescent focus on her removing her clothing.
I am tired of being put in the position of a peeping Tom, simply to read this comic. So, here is another voice insisting that the Herald-Leader communicate to the King Features Syndicate that artists Wilson & Nolan find other visual focus points for the comic than June's ample endowments. There are simply so many other choices to be made than the ones these artists subject us to.