Letters to editor: Oct. 31

October 31, 2013 

UK wants more green space? Look no farther

I am a master's student of ecology at the University of Kentucky and want to raise awareness about a subject very near and dear to not only my heart, but to those of many of my colleagues.

Mathew's Garden is located on South Limestone, a veritable paradise of 300-plus species of native plants that either goes completely unnoticed or is seen as a weed patch by those who do not understand plant biodiversity or native woodlands.

It is an oasis amidst the concrete chaos, a place where weary and burdened minds can escape the hum-drum of school and business and enjoy the quiet calm nature offers.

Among the native Kentucky flora (distinguished by plaques bearing the common and scientific name), one can relax on park benches or dine on picnic tables, feeling the breeze as it cascades through the leaves, and soak in the sun rays that peek through the canopy.

Yet this living haven is being threatened. Some schools on campus may have plans to expand and use the garden space. While UK is pushing for more green space (which it defines as areas with trees and mowed bluegrass) it does not see this diverse woodland garden as fitting into their definition.

I simply wish to highlight the beauty and value the Mathews Garden offers students, staff and faculty, as well as others, in order to preserve it and ensure its identity.

Alexandra Weiser

Lexington


Voucher no-brainer

Giving parents vouchers to choose the best schools for their kids is a no-brainer.

Public schools are a near monopoly run primarily to benefit its union members, not to benefit students. A monopoly rarely produces high-quality products and low costs because it doesn't have to compete for its customers.

There are some situations in which a monopoly makes sense, but education is not one of them.

There are some excellent public schools. They would survive and even thrive in a competitive school- choice environment. Most public schools are providing inferior education and would have to improve significantly or close. Great.

Our goal is not to prop up schools and teachers providing a second- or third-world education. It is to set our country on a trajectory toward world-class leadership in education again.

Where do public school teachers send their children to school? A huge percentage sends them to private schools — Cincinnati (41 percent), Chicago (39 percent), New York-New Jersey (33 percent). About 11 percent of all parents nationwide send their children to private schools.

Teachers are not among the highest-paid profession, yet many choose to pay for private education. They know about the quality of public education.

For decades, tax money spent on public education has increased sharply. At the same time objective measures of student learning show America dropping when compared with many other nations' students.

Demand that your state and federal leaders pass laws enabling vouchers and school choice.

Ray Davis

Lexington


Reach out on Halloween

Church-sponsored Trunk-or-Treat events are destroying my community. Hyperbole aside, it's striking how these well-intentioned events represent the kind of behavior that has led to neighborhoods where none of us know each other.

We have found a way to gather only with groups of people already like us in a safe environment of acquaintance instead of trekking door-to-door and exchanging pleasantries over Kit Kats and comments about what scary little monsters our kids make.

It's a subtle difference, but the impact is substantial. Drive through most neighborhoods this Halloween and you'll see a Hallow's Eve Humbug of darkened porch lights and streets with half the trick-or-treaters of 10 or 20 years ago.

As a guy who attends a suburban mega-church (albeit one without a trunk-or-treat event) I don't have much room to talk. Still, I'd urge you to avoid the temptation of spending another night with the same people you'll see Sunday morning and take an evening to get to know your neighbors this Halloween.

Buy a bag of little Nestle Crunch bars and take your message of sharing and caring to the little ones who come by for a treat. You just might find a new community of friends and neighbors right next door with whom you can share your life and your message of faith. You get new friends and the kids get free candy while also learning the value of community. Everybody wins.

Charlie Lanter

Lexington


Shame on media

I have gotten sick and tired of hearing the term "Obamacare."

It is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and like it or not, it was voted on and passed through government process. It has done some good and some bad; I hope it will shake out to be more of a positive than negative.

The media should be ashamed of themselves for not calling it by its correct name.

Sally Bowman

Versailles


Mitch broke bad

When did Sen. Mitch McConnell break bad?

Did it begin when he first opposed the Affordable Care Act and deftly snubbed and fooled thousands of Kentuckians who voted for him and who desperately need a chance to be healthy?

Did it begin when he, perhaps for the first time, began to feel politically vulnerable and found the need to sell his political wares to the Tea Party crowd?

Or was it when he must have recently been tasked, by those with piles of money and in search of the same power he desperately seeks, to find a way to turn those millions into "clean" and unlimited political campaign contributions which would, if enacted, forever change the face of our great nation?

He has become so frantic in his desire to keep "his precious" power that he has lost sight of reality and clearly no longer represents the heartbeat of our commonwealth.

He should just admit that he doesn't do these things for the good of the citizens of Kentucky but for himself, because he likes it.

D. A. Foster

Lexington


Save burr oak

In her recent commentary, Dr. Vicki H. Holmberg spoke of present-day views from the mighty burr oak standing on the cliff above South Elkhorn Creek. Here is a little back story about the tree:

The overlook of the creek is why the Native Americans planted the tree hundreds of years ago. Burr oaks can be found at strategic hunting locations throughout our country.

If you look at the branches of a burr oak, you notice there are seldom lower limbs, just ones from which a lookout could shinny up and wait to view below the game or enemies afoot. This Bluegrass vantage point at South Elkhorn gave historic peoples a hunting edge.

But now a pitch for the present.

Holmberg's opinion mentioned a park for appreciation of the unique vista the burr oak overlooks.

The contractors could, probably with a boost from some public money, secure their subdivision plans by coming in off Higbee Mill Road.

With a picturesque bridge over South Elkhorn Creek, this alternative would give access for development and lessen the impact of additional traffic at Harrodsburg Road and Military Pike. Saying nothing of cleaning up the floodplain along Higbee Mill for a park with trails.

The South Elkhorn Creek is such a pristine waterway, though game is not an objective of present-day natives, encounters along its banks may just be as full of life-enriching sustenance as in days of yore.

Let the tree stand.

Julia A. Teuschler

Lexington

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