Letters to the editor: Dec. 22

December 22, 2013 

Self-sufficiency extinguished as props kicked away from struggling young families

In the spring of 2012, my daughter relocated back to Bluegrass country. To be gainfully employed, my daughter sought child care assistance — a humbling but necessary step. The department worker entered her information into a database. All was transposed correctly with the exception of her city of residence. The form was printed and a harried mother who had kept two children at bay during the hour-long process quickly scanned and signed the form.

This April, when picking her children up at her child-care provider, my daughter was informed that she was no longer receiving benefits and that she must pay $800 a month to bring her children back. In March, the department sent a reevaluation notice but to the wrong city. The department apologized for the error but services were dropped. A kind gentleman at the ombudsman office informed her of the appeal process and a hearing was held in August. As of today, no decision has been made.

Until now, my daughter has survived. She saved every penny of her income tax check, curbed spending and has paid $800 monthly until now. Her emergency funds are depleted and hope is ebbing away. Her goal was to re-enroll this fall and finish her college degree.

Most of us owe our comfortable status to the presence and strength of a support system. As the props are kicked out from under young families, hope for self-sufficiency is extinguished. In time, the doors open for a host of more expensive social-service issues.

Ned Hess

Winchester


Free money = generational poverty

Community Action Council's Charlie Lanter's attempt to spin the horrific failures of the war on poverty falls flat on its progressive face.

Magical thinkers desperate to believe in liberalism never face reality. Throwing huge sums of other peoples' money at poverty has never worked. It sounds good. But that pesky thing called human nature keeps getting in the way.

Give people enough money to live on and they will live on it. Their children will see them living off "free" government money and they will grow up expecting the same. Hence, generational poverty.

Government taking money from some to give to others is never a good thing. Those from whom the money is taken don't have the satisfaction of knowing the individuals to whom it is being given.

Those to whom it is given do not know their benefactors and are not appreciative. In fact, they want more,

Now consider charity: one individual or church helping someone in their community. The benefactor gets a good feeling from helping someone they can see and know. The receiver feels appreciation and likely wants to put the gift to good use.

Not so with faceless, nameless, massive transfers of wealth by government.

Kirk McLendon

Weaverville, N.C.


Great planning, now for good design

I read with great interest the article describing the purchase of land along Winchester Road for the construction of Lexington's newest high school.

The school board is to be commended for being proactive in developing this plan to relieve overcrowding and to provide for additional educational space as the community grows.

I once served as a school board member in Missouri and, as a retired engineer who worked for more than 40 years for architectural/engineering firms, I can appreciate the issues facing the board and the need to retain a design consultant of the highest caliber.

I can only hope that for this project the board does not retain the designer used for the Wellington Elementary School.

That building looks either like the front of a strip mall with no continuity of design or a building that was erected by the students themselves using material salvaged from a landfill that was painted by each class with their favorite color.

It is a real eyesore and should have never been approved. I hope the board hires a firm that can design a school that looks more like a school.

Peter F. Johnson

Lexington


Court should uphold library taxation

Millions of Kentuckians who support their local libraries will, I hope, hear soon an affirmation from the state Supreme Court that library trustees have followed the law in setting their tax rates.

The laws governing library funding can be confusing, but there has been little doubt for decades that libraries are special districts as defined by House Bill 44 and subject to special district tax rules.

Indeed, the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, the state attorney general and library boards statewide have all operated under this approach without ambiguity for many years.

Now, however, library opponents are challenging what has been standard practice by filing lawsuits claiming that libraries — governed by HB 44 since 1978 — are also regulated under antiquated library financing rules adopted 50 years ago.

An adverse ruling by the court would devastate libraries, resulting in layoffs, branch closings, parked bookmobiles and sharply curtailed operating hours.

Small-town libraries have been a shining example of public service, efficiency and fiscal prudence. Hundreds of thousands of people use them monthly, including children seeking age-appropriate books, young adults expanding their knowledge of the world and workers who need to hone job skills, access information or communicate with colleagues.

Library organizations were cited by state Auditor Adam Edelen as a "best practices" case study for transparency, accountability and oversight in his groundbreaking 2012 report on special districts.

Kentucky needs educated citizens, competent workers and support for its rich cultural heritage. That's what libraries are for.

Barry Tonning

Mount Sterling


Lindsay's reviews engage, educate

Lexington is lucky to have Tedrin Blair Lindsay's concert reviews. His responses to Central Kentucky's several performances of The Messiah educate as they engage the community in a conversation.

His criticism is incisive yet generous, delivered with clarity and grace. The writing is so palpable that I cannot help but read sentence after sentence aloud to my spouse.

Most important, Lindsay's contributions remind us of art's ability to move us like nothing else can.

Gaby Bedetti

Lexington


What is Webster anyway?

My question to the Herald-Leader: Is Larry Webster a comic or an idiot?

If he is a comic, put him on the comics page just below Hagar. If he is a complete idiot, find some place to put him before he gets his hands on a gun.

Better yet, see if Fox News will hire him. They hired Sarah Palin.

Willard Ashworth Jr.

Happy


Charting a new day (letters)

Thanks Beshear, Rogers

I drove two hours to Pikeville with four friends to attend the SOAR meeting. On the drive up, we were certain that this was another attempt to convince us that coal is our only hope,

It didn't turn out that way. We watched in awe while two old warriors, one a staunch Democrat and the other a staunch Republican, slowly walked up the steps of the podium, almost hand in hand.

I am a 70-year-old man and I know that their old knees were probably hurting on their slow climb up those steps.

And in front of 1,700 concerned mountain people, we witnessed these two handsome, white-headed warriors lay down their swords, clasp each other's hands and declare a new day for the region: "The studying of us is over. The mountain people are now in charge."

You know what? I believe them and those 1,700 people believed them, too. The rest of the mountain people will soon believe.

Eastern Kentucky, with its connotations of poverty and ignorance, is history. Kentucky East is a place of learning, guts, strong will and creativity. It is our present and our future.

Thanks to Congressman Hal Rogers and Gov. Steve Beshear. We will follow their lead.

Joe Bowen

Stanton


No government networks

Mimi Pickering in her Dec. 8 op-ed ("Private sector falling short on providing Internet access") argues lack of competition has resulted in few choices for some Kentucky residents and advocates making it easier for government to operate broadband networks.

That's a curious — and also very economically naïve — prescription.

When government gets into the telecom market, competition fades. Government networks get tax and regulatory advantages unavailable to private companies. The unfair playing field scares competitors away.

When local governments push their way into the game taxpayers pay dearly. At least two municipal systems — in Utah and Connecticut — were sold for $1 after taxpayers invested $36 million in them.

Pickering is right that broadband is vital in today's economy and should be available to all. But there are smart and unwise ways to pursue this goal.

Pickering and like-minded policymakers are living in la-la land if they think that more government is the way to get more competition in the telecom sector.

Rather, as a recent New York University Law School report suggests, the expertise of the private marketplace has "proven to be the best vehicle for reducing investment risk, enhancing returns on investments and delivering broadband services ... in a timely and cost-efficient manner."

Direct government ownership of broadband is not only fiscally foolish, it won't enhance competition.

Jim Waters

President. Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions

Lexington


Fabric for flourishing

As we imagine the future shape and direction of Eastern Kentucky, I recall the work of Elinor Ostrum. In 2009 she received the Nobel Prize in Economics. She had studied communities that for a thousand years have governed themselves and the natural resource base that supports them, their "commons."

I think her insights apply broadly to the creating of flourishing and economically stable communities.

Here, paraphrased, are her design principles, seven strong community consensus commitments:

■ To terms of access, "Who gets the stuff?"

■ To terms of provisioning, "Who does the work; who pays?"

■ To terms of resolution, "What is a fair fight, how to enforce the rules; who be da judge?"

■ To a process for monitoring, "How do we know how well our ways are working?"

■ To a process for adaptation, "How do we decide to change; who changes the rules?"

■ To enough autonomy to be able to do it this way, "Stop outside meddlers."

■ To valuing the future as much as the present, "Our great grandchildren's great grandchildren must enjoy this resource as we are."

These apply to any community; the life of a community is a commons. Communities that forge strong agreement on how to share, how to care, how to listen and how to keep one's word, can last for a thousand years. Those that don't, won't.

Richard E. Shore

Lexington


Make Kentucky green

I suggest that we make Kentucky the most environmentally friendly place on the planet. (Essentially the opposite of our previous course, and we're all seeing what an unsustainable blunder that has become.)

We begin by letting the forests grow unfettered, providing all types of outdoor recreation.

We add miles and miles of hiking, equestrian, and mountain biking trails. Think Moab, Utah. Bringing our current trails up to snuff would make sense, too.

Let's have the cleanest streams and rivers on the planet, with chemical-free fish and water safe enough to drink without treatment.

Let's fine people $10,000 for littering, and much more for chemically polluting our environment. Those who cannot pay the fines can be put to work picking up the countless plastic bottles and other disgusting trash that line our highways and pollute our waterways. Being a slob is not a job skill and trash is not a tourist attraction.

Let's create all sorts of signed bicycle routes (think Switzerland and France) to showcase our "green" state. We'll have the largest concentration of recreation trails in the world. Let's make all of our farms organic and environmentally friendly so that any Kentucky farm product is known around the world as the healthiest to eat and the safest for the people in the state. All sane people will want to live here.

Jerrell Goodpaster

Owingsville

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