Any mismanaging of KERS was done by the Assembly
I find state House Speaker Greg Stumbo's comment disingenuous that the reason for the Kentucky Employees Retirement System's unfunded liability is a matter of mismanagement by the investors at KERS ("Legislators' pensions questioned," June 18).
Every two years, by statute, KERS employs an actuary to determine the amount of funds required by KERS to fulfill 100 percent of its obligations. For more than a decade, even during some of the flush years of the 1990s, the Kentucky legislature has consistently ignored the actuary and funded a fraction of the requirement.
To continue Stumbo's "everybody got a boat" analogy, if the engine room repeatedly tells you how much water the bilge must pump to keep the ship afloat, and you as the captain ignore that advice, the sinking is your fault.
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I also hope that, in later budget negotiations, Senate President David Williams remembers that the legislature has "an inviolable contract" with state retirees.
Here's an idea: Ask the federal government for a waiver to exclude state employees, like teachers, from Social Security contributions. The state's current contribution could then be redirected to KERS to shore up the unfunded liability.
State employees would be free to take their contribution and invest in a 401(k). Since Social Security payouts are based on lifetime contributions, the trust fund should be able to handle it easily.
Just a thought.
Mike F. Donnelly
Pool food's gotten better
Hooray for Lexington parks and recreation for upping the food game with Better Bites.
This year at Southland and Woodland pools swimmers can buy grapes, apples, bananas, strawberries, yogurt and chicken salad on whole wheat at the concession stands. In years past the public pools sold only typical concession stand fare — nachos, hot dogs, candy bars and soft drinks.
Though those items are still available, Better Bites gets top billing in signage and display space at the stands. Better Bites developed as a partnership between parks and recreation and the Tweens Nutrition and Fitness Coalition.
Because the pool concession stands are like kids' refrigerators and pantries in the summer, stocking them with healthy food can affect their eating habits. Given that Kentucky has the third highest rate of childhood obesity in the country, it's important that we make healthy food the norm for our children everywhere possible.
In addition, the parks department is hosting Veggin' Out at the Pools at Southland Pool on July 8. This affordable summer dinner will feature foods from Lexington Farmers Market and will be prepared by Good Foods Market & Café chefs. It's another opportunity for children to see healthy food as an enjoyable part of summer.
Let's hope other community groups will follow parks and recreation's lead in feeding kids good food. It's true that actions speak much louder than words.
Chair, Tweens Nutrition and Fitness Coalition
Way to go
Congratulations to the University of Kentucky Percussion Ensemble for winning first place at the National Percussive Arts Society competition for the fourth time.
Under the directorship of Jim Campbell, the UK Percussion School is known internationally and is probably the best in the United States. I urge everyone to attend one of their concerts next year. It will truly be a serious musical event which will inspire you to be a regular attendee.
Mark your calendar for Nov. 6 to hear and see this extraordinary group at the Singletary Center for the Arts. You will not be disappointed.
Team up for savings
After 40 years in Chicago, now 10 years in Lexington, here's a money-saving idea for the Lexington police department: Assign two officers to each car — this also saves another speedy assistance trip for a second car.
In addition, no squad cars should be taken home to sit idle at residences. Using cars 24/7 for police business only means less need for car purchases, therefore less maintenance costs.
Also, why aren't there a variety of designer license plates available for the handicapped? We'd like a nice choice, too. And city streets' white lines are nearly impossible to see in rain, snow and at night.
Get off school property
As a new resident in Lexington I was surprised to read the letter about a private, for-profit club using a school parking lot for patrons to park and be bused to the club.
First of all, a school has a responsibility to the neighborhood in which it is built. Traffic generated from a private business is not an appropriate use of school property and is a real nuisance to the school's neighbors.
Second, who is paying for the maintenance of the lot and who is paying for the insurance in case of any accidents?
Let the Signature Club improve its own on-site parking rather than use public property for private use.
Family not irrelevant
This is the definition of irrelevant: not pertinent, not important, and obsolete.
To Joey Rose, in the June 6 article "Married couples no longer a majority in Ky.," the idea of the "nuclear family," dating back to the 1950s, is no longer relevant. "That's what we cling to right now," he said, "but reality does not reflect that now."
That is a bold statement and at the very least an insult to those families who formulate their lives around the nuclear concept of a mother, father and their children.
Ronald Werner-Wilson, chair of the family studies department at the University of Kentucky, says the reality (nuclear families being the minority) does not mean that marriage is devalued in our society. Some, like Rose, obviously think it is, because irrelevant things have no value.
The reality is not about what kind of families make up Kentucky's population, it is about who believes a way of life is right or wrong. The door swings both ways. I know that many people would tell Rose and his partner that their family unit is irrelevant.
If same-sex couples are eager to gain acceptance, why would they alienate those whose family units are based on mother, father and children by considering them irrelevant?
The statement seems like an innocent remark, but it is not. Perhaps it is just a state of mind for gay partners to feel better about the way they live. Like saying money is irrelevant to me, because I am broke.
Let me see if I have this correct. The mayor wants to close Meadowbrook Golf Course, which loses $30,000 a year, and the council wants to build a disc-golf course for $150,000.
The mayor wants to close Berryhill pool and spend $75,000 to take it out, when the pool loses around $5,000 a year when open.
The city is paying a fire chief it fired his salary even though he doesn't have to show up for work. Is it any wonder that the city has financial problems?