bergdahl release

Letters to the editor: June 8

June 8, 2014 

Congress should resign for abandoning veterans it now tries to exploit

The resignation of the secretary of Veterans Affairs showed the nation how quickly our political parties can work together if they need to cover their own backsides.

Problems at the Veterans Administration go far beyond who holds the top post.

Every politician who called for Gen. Eric Shinseki's resignation did so despite the fact the Congress, of which they are members, provided poor oversight of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in addition to paying for those wars on credit we don't have.

After their dereliction of duty Congress owes us no less; every Congress member or senator who called for his resignation should now offer theirs as well.

Congress has contributed mightily to the plight of our veterans, and now to protect themselves from accountability politicians hurry to make the VA secretary a national whipping boy to keep a scandal from dominating headlines in an election year.

I hope voters will hold our elected officials accountable and make some changes this November.

Like most veterans, I'd rather not be used as a political talking point. But since our elected officials want to make it a political issue, fair enough, you got it: a vote for an incumbent this fall is a slap in the face to our nation's veterans.

Jason Belcher

Harold


Ask why school board childish

Merlene Davis' May 25 column regarding the Fayette County School Board meeting was disturbing. Boards rarely start acting "childish" without reason.

Board members are entrusted with the responsibility to ensure the proper use of the assets of an organization. In this case, school board members are responsible for the proper use of assets provided by local, state, and federal tax dollars; they are elected to safeguard what the public has provided.

Unfortunately, a board member's job can be affected by the strategies of the leaders of the organization. The authority of the board is bypassed when decisions are made off the record, in closed meetings or in any way outside proper channels.

A board member is placed in an untenable position when given the responsibility to safeguard an organization while being deprived of the power to do so. If that happens, it's easy to see how a board member might have little recourse but to act out in what appears to be a childish way.

Lexington has had its share of organizations gone awry, including the library, League of Cities, the airport and the Bluegrass Area Development District. School superintendents in other counties have been charged with, and at least one convicted of, abusing the position. These all resulted in the loss of public assets.

Any suspected pattern of the misuse of power to undermine the authority of a board should be evaluated.

Clarissa Spawn

Lexington


Youngman an asset

A June 2 letter gives several examples of what the writer believes is a decline in the Herald-Leader's quality of journalism.

I don't take issue with every point he raised, but I do challenge his characterization of Sam Youngman's columns as "biased."

I've found Youngman's articles and commentaries to be a balanced augmentation to Central Kentucky's political discourse since he joined the Herald-Leader last year. He offers a savvy political perspective through the propaganda smokescreens coming from all sides in the debates, much like infrared goggles provide vision in the darkness.

The letter writer specifically criticizes Youngman's focus on Sen. Rand Paul as lacking no other value than to "promote Paul." Paul's national prominence as a prospective presidential candidate and Tea Party figurehead warrants frequent scrutiny.

Likewise, I look forward to Youngman's reporting and analysis of what could be the most expensive senatorial campaign ever waged. I don't expect him to promote either candidate.

The reader also criticizes factual distortion in letters published. Truth can be an elusive concept, and facts are often distorted to conform to perceived truths.

Pablo Boczkowski, a Northwestern University professor, conducted studies and concluded, "There is lots of evidence that people don't necessarily seek the truth. They seek to have their beliefs confirmed."

In other words, to paraphrase Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, some people just can't "handle the truth."

On the negative side, the many typos, misspellings and punctuation errors detract from your newspaper's professionalism (and drive my grammarian wife bonkers).

John M. Shotwell

Lexington


Enchanted evening at the Strand

It's a shame to rain on Nick Clooney's parade, but sometimes precipitation is needed to clear the air when fact and fiction collide. Clooney and his wife were hosts to a recent re-opening ceremony of the Kentucky Theatre.

In a May 18 advance story about the event, Clooney explained that a showing of South Pacific at the Kentucky was where he and his wife had their first date in June, 1959. Clooney must have had a senior moment in his telling, because South Pacific in June, l959, played at the Strand Theater, not the Kentucky.

Perusal of Herald and Leader files of l959 reveal that the film opened at the Strand May 8, 1959, and ran for several weeks. A special Lexington premiere was held one night for the benefit of the Lexington Lions Club.

If Clooney took his bride-to-be to the Kentucky during that time, she would have been treated to such cinematic giants as The Naked Mata (starring Ava Gardner) or maybe The Life and Crimes of Al Capone.

Word on Short Street in the summer of 1958 said that the Strand was the theater of choice because it had the only screen in town compatible with Todd-A-O, the process in which South Pacific was filmed.

So despite Clooney's error, the present-day Kentucky Theatre was reopened in grand style with a showing of South Pacific. Thus, all is almost right on Lexington's entertainment scene.

Bill and Beth Hanna

Lexington


Downtown, UK matters

Right on Rupp, wrong on dorms

I finally have found an area of agreement with Eli Capilouto as regards Rupp Arena. Mayor Jim Gray and Gov. Steve Beshear are wrong on this issue. Are they being driven by a compulsion to leave some legacy monuments to themselves? Other motives?

The money is not there, and more debt is taboo. The proposed design is, shall we say, "cutting-edge ridiculous" and how much money was paid for it? And was the architect out-of-state or out of his or her mind, or both?

As regards President Capilouto, I just don't like the University of Kentucky's move to privatize student housing and dining services, committing to long-term leases, and dealing with out-of-state concerns having profit-driven objectives and questionable reputations.

Why should the university's options be limited by those 99-year leases? What are members of the UK Board of Trustees thinking?

Mike R. Myers

Lexington


More bungling of downtown arts

Rich Copley's column about Parks and Recreation taking over management of the Downtown Arts Center made me shake my head in despair.

Pardon my skepticism, but this doesn't sound any more hopeful than LexArts' bungling management. What does Parks and Recreation know about managing a theatrical arts venue?

The article reminds us that the venue has been underutilized since its original permanent tenant, Actors Guild of Lexington, left.

Let's make no mistake here. Actors Guild did not leave willingly. It was squeezed out by LexArts, which thought it could make a financial killing on the place once they made it intolerable for Actors Guild to operate there.

We see how well that worked out. The place still needs a permanent theatrical tenant to brand the place and make it a destination.

If LexArts and the city had worked with, helped and nurtured Actors Guild and had allowed it to brand the place as its home, instead of obstructing Actors Guild in every way possible, Lexington would now have a thriving professional regional theatre company and everyone would know what and where the Downtown Arts Center was.

Charles Edward Pogue

Georgetown


Focus on Town Branch, not Rupp

Thanks to columnist Tom Eblen for voicing my concerns and views regarding Rupp Arena and Town Branch Commons. Ever since I heard of the plan, it was the Town Branch Commons piece that excited me most.

It is an outstanding plan that would give Lexington a much-needed water feature. It is inviting and has the potential to be used and appreciated by all citizens, not just University of Kentucky fans, some of whom even question the Rupp renovation.

I'm glad Eblen pointed out all the good economic development that could result from focusing on the Town Branch Commons.

The piece by editorial page editor Vanessa Gallman really showed the value of investing in Town Branch Commons first. Thanks for including the scape and showing its visual appeal.

I think Rupp renovation costs are outrageous and the glass design is inappropriate for such a venue. In addition, once I heard Oscar Combs of the UK sports radio network work out in clear terms the huge cost disadvantage UK would face, I understood UK President Eli Capilouto's lack of support. I wish Combs would put his explanation in a letter here for all to see.

Janet Piechowski

Lexington


Capilouto demolishes credibility

Has anyone bothered to point out to the administration of University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto the obvious hypocrisy of adamantly opposing funding for the renovation of Rupp Arena, while at the same time presiding over the demolition of a number of historically and architecturally valuable structures on the campus?

Capilouto pays lip service to the "educational, economic, retirement and health-care needs" across the commonwealth, but it doesn't hinder his enthusiasm for spending millions to replace resources that he is determined to see eliminated.

If Capilouto truly acknowledges the need to prioritize resources to meet the state's many needs, then he would appear to be promoting a tragic double standard by facilitating a policy which will require the expenditure of a large amount of those same valuable resources on the campus, while at the same time destroying structures that are a part of the history and character of UK and the Lexington community.

David L. Day

Lexington


Outrage at prolonged war

What seems to have been forgotten in all of the uproar over the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is the fact that if President George W. Bush had not taken U.S. troops, resources and attention away from the war in Afghanistan in order to wage an unnecessary and unjust war in Iraq, America would have been out of Afghanistan long before Bergdahl had a chance to be captured.

Moreover, the lives of soldiers who may have died trying to find him, along with thousands more in both Afghanistan and Iraq, would not have been lost. Meanwhile, conservative groups and media continue to treat Bush and Dick Cheney like royalty.

Until the same folks who have expressed such self-righteous outrage over Bergdahl and the Benghazi attack express the same anger over Iraq, they have no credibility.

It is clear that their phony outrage is actually fueled by the fact that we now have a black Democrat in the White House and are likely to have a female Democrat there after the next election.

Greg Kring

Lexington


Value of American life

Why is the GOP carping about Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's release? I don't get it. We got one of our men back and the Taliban has admitted to the entire world that one American soldier is more valuable than five of their own.

Instead of complaining as usual, Sen. Ted Cruz should be repeating the tale from his own home state about the sheriff of a little college town who called in the Texas Rangers to help put down a student riot. When the helicopter arrived only one Ranger got off. Demanding to know why only one was dispatched, the sheriff was told, "You only got one riot, don'cha?"

Peter Faoro

Lexington

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