Energy secretary finds excuses for not doing job
Wow, Leonard Peters, secretary of the Energy and Environment Cabinet, sure makes you think.
His Jan. 23 commentary talks about the millions of environmental data points Kentucky has to look at each year and the unfunded mandates from the Office of Surface Mining and the Environmental Protection Agency.
OSM and EPA are enforcing federal laws. If Peters doesn't like the laws, he should work to repeal them. Let's go back to the good ol' days, to mining practices Kentucky is still cleaning up. Kentucky has used more than $500 million of federal Abandoned Mine Lands reclamation funds to clean up old mine messes.
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Peters says Kentucky's data analysis staff would have to review a data point every 10 to 15 seconds. Maybe OSM and EPA can help. They have freeware that can be used to automatically review data.
Maybe, if that software had been used, the recent $660,000 fine against two coal companies for water-monitoring report issues wouldn't have been necessary. Instead, Kentucky only took action after the threat of a lawsuit by environmental groups.
Peters says that "well-meaning environmental groups" have burdened the legal division. Seems to me that the environmental groups are doing what Peters' cabinet should be doing.
Peters says that Kentucky is moving aggressively to ensure compliance with the regulations related to storm-system and sanitary sewer overflows. I guess Lexington didn't get the memo. Instead, Lexington was fined $425,000 by EPA and will have to spend up to $300 million to correct its storm-water problems.
Ombudsman didn't help
I cannot for the life of me understand why any of the Civil Monetary Penalty Fund, financed by nursing homes, would go to the ombudsman program when it is part of the problem.
I reported to the ombudsman program that my mother was battered and had a large bruise on her head. That bruise was covered with zinc oxide. The bruise became evident when they washed her hair at the hospital. This was one of many bruises on her body.
I reported this and many other abuses by this home to the ombudsman. It was totally ignored. I also reported the fact that the food at the nursing home was terrible. It served bologna sandwiches on Sunday nights. The home kept my mother's room at 50 degrees, winter and summer.
None of this was addressed. The ombudsman glossed over it, as did the nursing home administrator. My sister and I tried many times to get help. All of our reports fell on deaf, uncaring ears.
Until the ombudsman program becomes truly committed to protecting residents from abuse, it should not get one penny.
Elizabeth J. Kikuchi
Businesses add benefits
Columnist Larry Dale Keeling informs us that the state loses $8.4 billion in taxes not collected due to exemptions, incentives, credits, etc.
Why didn't he also inform us of how many jobs those same businesses provide?
Those jobs help people stay in Kentucky and pay taxes. Those jobs keep Kentucky from becoming a depressed state like Michigan. Those jobs allow people to care for their families. Jobs lessen the cost of welfare.
Why do readers keep getting only one side of this story? Please help us to become better informed rather than constantly providing biased material.
Joanne P. Smith
Illness reporting bill OK
I can find no duplication of reporting of hospital-acquired infections between Senate Bill 72 submitted by Sen. Denise Harper-Angel and what is required by the federal government. They both use the same reporting system, the National Healthcare Safety Network. Thus, patients reported to the federal government will not be reported again.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services only requires the reporting of central line bloodstream infections in intensive care units, and next year deep surgical site infections.
This is very limited and does not even have required reporting of some of the common, yet potentially lethal, bacteria infections.
A major benefit of this bill is that it will encourage the reporting to the Centers for Disease Control of all hospital-acquired infections instead of a few. It would collect data from all types of health care facilities, including nursing homes.And it will better enable the Kentucky health department to obtain complete, standardized and accurate data to address this epidemic.
Kevin Kavanagh, M.D.
Chairman, Health Watch USA
Mills great hire for city
Merlene Davis should be commended for her thoughtful and well-written column clarifying the controversy surrounding the nomination of Beth Mills for Lexington's commissioner of social services.
In talking with folks around town from all backgrounds who know Mills, I have yet to run across a single person who believes that she is anything but a tireless advocate for the vulnerable and underserved in our community.
It may be that the 2006 e-mail in question wasn't entirely tasteful, but anyone who knows Mills knows full well that it was not intended to hurt anyone's feelings or appear as racist.
While she may not be Mother Teresa, she is the best person for this job, and those in need of social services in Lexington will greatly benefit from her service.
I find the incident interesting, as the person who went public with this e-mail clearly saved it for a long time.
Perhaps he or she doesn't want the people of Lexington to have such a stellar social worker as commissioner. However, I sorely disagree with that person.
Cap payday loan fees
Now is the time for state legislators to pass a bill setting a 36 percent cap on payday loan interest rates and fees. The Consumer Advisory Council of the Kentucky Attorney General's Office has recommended the 36 percent cap.
The council found data from the state Department of Financial Institutions showing that 83 percent of payday loan customers took out a renewal loan at an interest rate of 391 percent.
The average customer renews the loan every two weeks, creating a debt trap. The wealth drawn from Fayette County alone exceeded $8.5 million for 2010. This is money that could have been spent on food, medicine, etc. The time is now for a 36-percent cap.
Dwight Eisenhower famously warned against the rise of a "military-industrial complex" in his last speech as president, but I find this quote even more prophetic: That we must "avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow."
Half a century on, it's hard to imagine a better description of how modern Washington operates.
While the national debt has grown significantly under every administration since President Lyndon Johnson, it has exploded under the last two. Our politicians shamelessly perpetuate unaffordable entitlements and unaffordable foreign wars, sending much of the bill to future taxpayers.
Imposing huge financial burdens on citizens who won't have the vote until today's leaders have long since finished congratulating themselves for their courage and compassion has proved very convenient indeed.