Judge wrong to inject religion in sentencing
I am dismayed at Circuit Judge Pamela Goodwine's recent comments when sentencing former Blue Grass Airport executive John Rhodes.
While the ACLU defends the right of all to freely exercise their chosen religious beliefs, government officials such as Goodwine must avoid using their office to improperly convey a message of governmental preference for one religion over another (or of religion over non-religion).
The purpose for this is evident in the context in which Goodwine made her comments. Not only did the comments give the appearance that Rhodes' Christian beliefs contributed to the judge's decision to grant him probation, they also sent an implicit message to non-Christians that they might not receive the same treatment under similar circumstances. The Herald-Leader's editorial staff correctly noted that the comments, even if innocuously voiced, raised doubts about the fairness of her decision.
Unfortunately, this is not the first instance in which a Kentucky judge has improperly injected religion into the courtroom. Just last year, the ACLU of Kentucky successfully requested the immediate end to Jackson County Family Court Judge Gene Clark's practice of leading his courtroom in prayer at the beginning of court sessions.
All Kentuckians, regardless of religious faith (or of no faith), should demand that our judges respect individual religious freedom and uphold, by their own official actions, those constitutional guarantees they are sworn to protect.
Failure to do so jeopardizes the integrity of our judicial system and undermines our religious freedoms.
Executive director, ACLU of Kentucky
I'm shocked and outraged that Blue Grass Airport financial director John S. Rhodes, who engaged in a scheme of systematic theft over a period of years, was sentenced only to a conditional discharge with unsupervised probation.
However, I'm more outraged by the comments of Circuit Judge Pamela Goodwine. It's apparent her lenient sentencing was based on her feelings that Rhodes had been punished enough due to the embarrassment and humiliation he's undergone since being revealed as a thief. Aren't most criminals embarrassed and humiliated when finally caught?
Also, the judge sympathized with Rhodes, stating he had lost the thing he was passionate about: his job in aviation. He did not lose his job; he threw it away in pursuit of his true passions: greed, deception and theft. To consider that Rhodes is a deacon and Sunday School teacher in determining his sentence was also outrageous. After all, was he not both while he was stealing?
Once again, this is an example of how professing to be a Christian is given more value than acting Christ-like. And because of this, Goodwine granted Rhodes a literal "get out of jail free" card. I wonder if the sentence would have been different if Rhodes had not played the Christian card. I also wonder why Goodwine did not recuse herself, as she had been a member of the Citizens Advisory Board for the airport while Rhodes was employed there.
I hope voters remember this case when Goodwine is up for re-election.
Second chance deserved
John Rhodes made restitution for the money taken. He has been forgiven by his Lord and his fellow church members. Judge Goodwine has taken everything in consideration in deciding whether or not to accept the plea deal that John Rhodes entered into.
My Lord said that the one who is without sin is to cast the first stone. Rhodes did wrong, but even Christians go along with the others sometimes and end up in situations like this. He now has a job with a company that was willing to allow him to start over.
So, allowing Rhodes to make restitution and go before a judge to accept whatever punishment the court deems necessary is following the laws of this state.
Set them all free
John Rhodes, being a deacon and a Sunday School teacher, should have remembered the commandment "Thou shalt not steal."
Circuit Judge Goodwine should remember "separation of church and state." If former Blue Grass Airport director Michael Gobb and the others who pleaded guilty are Christians, they should go free, too. Fair is fair.
'The other white guy'
First, I'd like to thank you for the great article on the Lexington Hustlers on June 17. This is the second story in the past couple of years I've seen in the Herald-Leader mentioning the history of this team.
I just wanted to point out that "the other white player" on the Hustlers (team photo on page A2), is my dad, the late Jack Crowe. Jack, along with Bobby Flynn, were original members of the 1947 team.
They were brothers-in-law, very good ballplayers and just wanted to play ball. My dad pitched and was a utility infielder. We grew up knowing that Daddy played on the Hustlers and were always fascinated with the team photos and loved hearing the stories.
Thank you for letting me point out who "that other white guy" is in the photo. My dad was a native Lexingtonian and I'm proud that he was a charter member of the "team of democracy."
Webster's odd ramblings
Does anyone agree with me that it is very difficult to understand what Larry Webster is saying in his columns and what points he is trying to make? He is supposed to be funny, but I am not sure.
But from his June 13 column, it seems clear he admires and agrees with columnist Helen Thomas about Israel. She stated that Jews in Israel should all leave and return to Poland and Germany. Webster also seems to be down on fundamentalist Christians because they support Israel.
He says Senate candidate Rand Paul is a thinker who would agree with Thomas about Israel and they should discuss this in private. But as the campaign proceeds, Paul — like all candidates — will stop thinking. Apparently, Webster is the No. 1 thinker.
Paul would condemn Webster for associating him with Thomas, but I am not sure it is necessary to reply to Webster's ramblings.
Martin P. Kaplan
Webster on target
Congratulations to Larry Webster on his column concerning the way columnist Helen Thomas was treated. The White House condemned Thomas for saying what the United Nations Security Council has been saying for 40 years. But the council was afraid to condemn Israeli commandos who forcibly boarded ships headed for Gaza and killed several civilians aboard.
To test the rightness of U.S. policy, just reverse the roles. Each country was formed by U.N. Resolution 181, November 1947. Suppose the Arab-Muslim country had a powerful secret army and moved into the territory six months before the resolution was to take effect and grabbed 20 percent additional territory. A truce was entered so a permanent treaty could be negotiated.
Now suppose the Palestinian state was admitted to the U.N., but China vetoed admission of Israel. And suppose Palestine limited the movement of Israelis, seized their homes and businesses, bulldozed their ancient olive groves and subjected them to various indignities. The U.N. orders the Muslims to return to the truce line, but they refuse. When the U.N. threatened sanctions, China vetoed them.
After 20 years of futility, the Israelis organize a resistance and began firing homemade rockets at Palestine. Resisters were declared terrorists and sanctions were placed on Israel. When resisters were elected in Israel, the country was declared a terrorist territory.
By now you get the point. The United States would have done just what we did to Iraq and Afghanistan. These decisions are not matters of principle but of money.
Stanley A. Statford
Challenge to Paul
After reading about Rand Paul's suggestion that people just need to accept lower-paying jobs instead of extending their unemployment, I have a suggestion for him and top CEOs. How about meeting the American public halfway? Why don't they all take a pay cut to help the people who cannot find employment?
BP reports record earnings, most of the financial institutions we helped save are now recording record profits. People who have been laid off from such places are not being hired back.
I don't know of anyone in any job who deserves to be paid millions of dollars a year all the while they keep laying off people. Paul should try coming down to earth and thinking before he opens his mouth.
Once again, it is time for congress to vote on another extension in benefits. In a conversation with my local unemployment office, I was told the House has voted for the extension. Once again, the Senate seems to be dragging its feet.
When are senators going to forget about organizing the $1,000-a-plate fund-raisers and do something for their constituents?