City policies force police, fire to retire under disability
The main reason Lexington police and fire departments have higher disabilities than other retirement systems is the city has a one-year policy. An injured employee has one year to come back at 100 percent.
At the end of that year, if the employee is at 99 percent, he has three options. The first is to resign. The second is to be fired. The third is to apply for a pension.
He has no choice other than to apply for a pension. Even if the employee can perform most of the jobs in the department, the city will not let him have a job he could perform.
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This has been brought to the attention of the mayor, the director of personnel, the police chief, the fire chief and most council members, including Councilman Doug Martin.
The Lexington Police and Fire Retirement Board has recognized this problem for years, but is powerless to change the policy. The city has refused to change this policy. Until it does we will continue to have high disabilities. The pension board has a subcommittee working on the problem. No other body is working on the issue. All they do is complain.
The board is trying, but until the city changes the one-year policy I don't see that much will change. I would like to point out that anyone who has 20 years or more of service and retires on a disability retirement is not costing the pension system any more than if they had just retired.
Lexington Police and Fire Retirement Board
Blame city on pensions
The Aug. 21 article on the police and fire pension laments the number of disability pensions while failing to analyze how many of the disability pensions could have been service pensions.
It ignores that a disability pension for a 20-year employee has little to no impact on the pension, while giving the wrong impression that health care and educational benefits are paid by the pension system.
More importantly, police officers and firefighters contribute 11 percent of their salaries every paycheck. Unlike the city, the employees do not get to decide if or how much they want to contribute. Unlike the city, the employees have met their full obligations for pension contributions.
Not only does your article fail to recognize that employees have paid their share, it overlooks that the 11 percent rate is nearly twice what others pay into Social Security and that pensioners can lose up to 60 percent of any Social Security benefits they may earn.
Yes, the pension system needs repairs to survive, but it is patently unfair to suggest the genesis of the unfunded liabilities lies anywhere but in the city's chronic underfunding.
Respect equine diversity
The Aug. 21 editorial about the Thoroughbred foal crop makes several excellent points. A thriving Thoroughbred industry benefits all of us living here through the revenue generated by direct and indirect dollars.
However, those same characteristics that make Kentucky Thoroughbreds desirable — world-class soil made rich by our natural limestone karst and temperate climate — have also attracted a growing and diverse horse industry.
Of 320,000 horses in Kentucky, fewer than 30 percent are race horses.
In 2010, when Lexington hosted the first World Equestrian Games outside Europe, the economic impact on Central Kentucky was tremendous. Many who visited are now returning to purchase farms and horses.
Kentucky Horse Park will, for the first time, host the National Horse Show, bringing a 121-year history of success and 400 of the best show jumpers to the Alltech Arena. The Lexington Junior League Horse Show just completed its 75th successful year. U.S. Pony Club finals were held at the Horse Park for the 10th time in 30 years.
The editorial asks: "What infrastructure, financing, educational and other resources will support a diversified agricultural sector?" Education that there is a diverse horse industry here would be a good start.
Development and maintenance of horse trails within our state park system will bring riders from all over. Development of multi-use show facilities will ensure young riders safe venues. And of utmost importance is community participation at equestrian events.
Let's celebrate who and what we are without limiting that to simply one aspect of an overall identity.
Madelyn H. Millard
Rand Paul is wrong. Debt is not our No. 1 problem right now. On this issue, the markets know more than the politicians.
United States treasury bonds are trading near all-time low interest rates. If our debt levels were really unsustainable compared with the size of our economy, the U.S. government would not be able to borrow money so cheaply.
In countries with real debt problems, the bond markets have always reflected the problem first. Washington needs to take care of real problems, like the 14 million unemployed Americans and tens of millions more without any health insurance, instead of continuing the Chicken Little act on debt.
No school tax increase
I am writing because of the recent decision by the Fayette school board to raise the school tax rate. What will it take for the House and Senate members to amend this law?
Board members raise taxes almost yearly that affect the property taxes I pay, even though my home value depreciates. There needs to be an amendment to this law that keeps them from being able to do this every year.
I understand that educating the children is important, but they are obviously not looking at other solutions to their financial situation. There are government grants that help counties with underachieving schools. We all know Fayette County has a few.
What about the people who don't own homes, why aren't they paying to help the school system? There needs to be a fairer way.
Just because people own homes doesn't mean they have any more money than the people who don't. I know this is a law the state has not looked at for years, but it needs to be looked at now.
The economy is bad enough, people are more broke than ever and this is the last thing homeowners in Fayette County need.
Mormons not Christian
In an Aug. 14 commentary from The Washington Post, writer Joanna Brooks inferred that Mormons are Christians. She is mistaken and demonstrates this in her column. She may celebrate Christmas and read the New Testament, but so do many of my atheist and agnostic friends.
These actions, however, do not make a person a Christian. I respect and care about Mormons and could support a Mormon for president. Mormons are, as a group, very kind, moral and family-oriented people.
I am sorry that she was ostracized by some Christians while she was a young student. If these people were actually Christians, then they were not living up to their calling to love everyone, even their enemies.
Even though some Mormons care to identify themselves as Christians they are not. In her column Brooks states, "But our concept of God is not exclusively male: We believe in a Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother."
The essential and distinguishing belief in Christianity versus virtually all other belief systems is belief in the Trinity, which consists of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Orthodox Christians do not believe in a Heavenly Mother.
Evangelical Christians do not see Mormons as Christians because of some anti-Mormon prejudice, but because Mormons reject the Trinity and other major tenets of orthodox Christian belief.
Mormons are people created and loved by God, they are just not Christians in the classic and orthodox sense.
Center aids the troubled
I was very distressed to read the article that was so negative about the Catholic Action Center and all the wonderful work done there to help the most needy and forgotten members of our society.
I can understand there might be problems associated with some of the people being helped, but I also know the staff is eager to work with neighbors and government agencies to solve any problems.
My husband and I, and our five children, have worked at the center since its beginning. We have never felt threatened or endangered. My children have learned how to turn their faith and beliefs into action.
Many of these people have psychiatric issues, especially addiction. If our society knew how to treat these conditions, there wouldn't be much of a problem.
Until then, these people need care and support. There are also many who hold jobs but simply do not make enough money to afford housing. They need and deserve a place to bathe, wash their clothes and sleep that is safe, warm and dry.
Without the center, a lot of these people would wind up in jail. The city budget is already strained. Can you see how the city can spend more money to care for these people who are now being served from private donations?
Spend time at the center, God's Net and The Inn to get to know the people on the streets and the staff that helps give them dignity and hope before deciding to speak against these facilities.
New Harrodsburg Road-New Circle Road Interchange
Will it be worth it?
I haven't seen any comments on the performance of the new Harrodsburg Road "double crossover diamond" intersection.
Much of the discussion revolves around crash-reduction statistics in Missouri, the reduced number of conflict points and the belief the design is safer than conventional interchanges.
First, we don't hear whether the design changed the severity of crashes. Those who accidentally run red lights now will be engaging traffic nearly head-on.
Analyzing the traffic volume would be useful to determine if crash reduction was due to drivers avoiding the intersection altogether.
Second, the diamond does not appear to reduce the number of conflict points as well as a cloverleaf design would.
In Herald-Leader articles and DOT videos there is no mention of the benefits or consequences of a cloverleaf (like Newtown Pike/New Circle Road intersection), which would eliminate most conflict points on that section of Harrodsburg Road.
Third, safety statistics for the diamond have not mentioned its performance versus the cloverleaf in any of the videos I have seen.
The cloverleaf design may be more costly, although adding one section of the cloverleaf at a time would upgrade existing infrastructure, maximize crash reduction, eliminate two stoplights and maximize traffic flow while minimizing long-run cost and traffic congestion.
The narrow scope of the statistics we have seen from Missouri suggests the new design helps, but it is counterintuitive to think that incorporating radically different traffic models will reduce driver confusion and accidents.
Spending $5.5 million to only slightly improve traffic congestion seems a tad expensive.
Barry A. Saturday
Bad drivers the real flaw
Regarding the new double diamond on Harrodsburg Road: Right now, it's a total mess. Not from a design standpoint but rather an implementation standpoint. It's way too early to gauge the success or failure because all of the kinks haven't been worked out.
Sometimes you just have to let things run for a while and tweak as the problems arise. It will soon smooth out, although for some it never will be a good thing. The success or failure of this new interchange depends not only on the city's ability to resolve issues but mostly the drivers themselves.
There are still those who refuse to yield at the intersections lights, which in turn block them when the lights change. That's when the backups start, not allowing traffic to move, creating gridlock.
If everyone would be aware of what's in front of them and stop being in such a big hurry, things would run much smoother.
If you see traffic coming to a stop on the other side of the intersection don't try to beat the light so you can get through. Be courteous and stay back from the intersection until there is room enough for you to proceed through without blocking the intersection.
It's not rocket science. Of course, there will always be those who think they are the only ones who matter. Unless people are more aware while driving, these problems will continue, no matter what the design of the roads.