Life should be better in Mr. Rogers' E. Ky. neighborhood
I read with interest Rep. Hal Rogers' Oct. 14 Feedback because I live in "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood" in the little coal camp of Lynch in Harlan County.
Rogers wrote, "I'm for the health and safety of Eastern Kentuckians." Why, then, I wondered, if this is true, does our 5th District rank dead last among 435 congressional districts in so many measures of well-being, including life expectancy and physical and emotional health?
Rogers pats himself on the back for building roads, bridges, floodwalls, tunnels and prisons; he boasts of creating over 11,000 jobs. He gloats about the Center for Rural Development, which he brought to his hometown, and the education opportunities he sponsors in 17 universities and colleges across southeastern Kentucky.
Sounds good, but why does our district still have the highest unemployment (12.1 percent) of any in Kentucky? I realize we've lost many coal jobs, but coal has been in a downward spiral for decades. Did Rogers not see this coming and prepare our district? He did not.
I won't get into Rogers' "war on coal" claims because, like so many in Southeast Kentucky, I'm tired of hearing about this war. I'm tired of politicians yelling that we'll defeat the EPA. I wonder, why are we losing in our district while Western Kentucky is really "winning?"
Our 5th District's median household income of $29,627 puts it thousands of dollars behind other Kentucky districts and makes us one of the nation's poorest.
We are dead last in percent of high school and college graduates in Kentucky.
For 33 years, Rogers' priorities should have been the many "dead lasts" that still plague our 5th District. His efforts put pork on his table, but hardly ever put the pork on the tables of our 5th District folks. Rogers has failed the people of his district miserably.
Congressman Hal Rogers recently said his fight for Eastern Kentucky has spanned decades. While that is true, there are decades of work remaining. Rogers should take the following much- needed steps to help our region:
■ Introduce the Prescription Drug Abuse Act into Congress. This act would make it illegal for doctors in Florida, Georgia, etc. to prescribe painkillers like Oxycontin to residents of Kentucky. It would give federal law enforcement agencies the authority to shutter pill mills across the country and end the epidemic of abuse in Eastern Kentucky.
■ Introduce the Coal Fairness Act. It would require any regulation of the coal industry to have congressional approval, curbing the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to arbitrarily regulate Eastern Kentucky's biggest industry. Coal alone can't meet our economic needs, but it is still a vital part of our economy.
■ Work with the Department of Justice to establish a federal task force on political corruption. Blatant vote-buying, kickbacks and other illegal schemes are widespread in Eastern Kentucky; they are hurting our region's reputation which is keeping new businesses away and costing us jobs. It's time to squash corruption.
■ Restructure the Appalachian Regional Commission. Today the ARC only invests 50 percent of its funds in distressed counties. Congress should require the ARC to dedicate 100 percent of its funds to economically distressed counties; nearly every county in Eastern Kentucky is classified as distressed.
Monument to failure
I didn't think Rep. Hal Rogers would mention Martin in his list of accomplishments in the Oct. 14 Feedback.
The Martin redevelopment project in Floyd County is a federal flood control project sponsored by Rogers that began in 1999 as a 10-year project that would level then fill, raise and rebuild Martin's downtown out of the flood zone.
This project has been nothing but a complete and utter failure.
After 24 years and $440 million spent, downtown is now an eyesore of vacant and abandoned buildings with scattered leveled lots. There is no end in sight to this catastrophe that was presented so glowingly 14 years ago and has now become a monument to the failure of Hal Rogers.
Quite a trick
The GOP, with elected enablers like Mitch McConnell, Hal Rogers and Garland "Andy" Barr have done something that would make even the most ardent supporter of modern day propaganda proud. They have convinced poor people that they aren't poor enough, and that the wealthy deserve more tax breaks because they aren't wealthy enough.
Norman E. Goldie, Jr.