Bluegrass shows its pride, or lack of, in its litter
We are blessed to live in a part of the world that is picturesque and unique. But if you have ever visited Bavaria, Austria or Switzerland you encountered another beautiful part of the world, and there's no comparison.
So what's the difference? Over there, they take pride and don't allow their highways to be trashed. Yes, some littering occasionally occurs, but it's quickly picked up by conscientious people. It's an impression one never forgets.
For those of us who value a clean environment, there are some viable options, such as the Adopt a Highway program, along with inmate and community cleanups. There's also Bluegrass Pride, an organization to which you can report littering (Bgpride.org/forms/litter.php). While these programs are all reactive and offer some help, they fail to address the real problem, which is a negative and non-caring attitude.
A sizable portion of our local economy is generated by tourists who come to see the horse farms and other related attractions. When litter mars the landscape, it severely compromises the beauty of the Bluegrass. It also says something about the lack of pride we take in our environment.
The key word to any solution is "pride," so why not develop a clean roads program patterned after the highly successful Kentucky Pride agricultural program. We also should teach young children in school the do's and don'ts of keeping our environment clean. Maybe children could be instrumental in teaching their parents good habits.
Representative government is dead. 2010: Democrats lost the House majority. 2011 forward: The House has become irrelevant. As it passes budgets and other legislation, the Senate refuses to act on bills sent from the House. Without a budget, the president becomes the appropriator of tax funds.
President Barack Obama stated, "If the Congress won't act, then I will." He now legislates from the Oval Office. In tandem with his appointed czars and the Environmental Protection Agency, he wields enormous coercive power to determine the success or failure of any enterprise.
"Green energy" interests support Obama and they get millions through the secretary of Energy rather than congressional legislation. The president blocks the massive and critically necessary production of other sources of energy through EPA regulation or simple executive order.
Obama has the executive power to reward his supporters and punish those who oppose him. The prior sentence is the short meaning of "crony capitalism." Congress has become unnecessary. Representative government dies with this unconstitutional abuse of power.
Although I am a practicing Catholic I find the opposition to expanded gaming voiced by Kentucky's Catholic bishops to be highly hypocritical and self-serving.
According to a report on charitable gaming issued by Crit Luallen, former state auditor of public accounts, 4.3 million people attended charitable gaming events in 2007 and gambled a total of $489 million. Of the charitable gaming licenses issued that year, 758 were to Catholic charities.
The opposition of the Catholic bishops to expanded gaming is no less hypocritical than Senate President David Williams' opposition thereto while frequenting the Indiana casinos and riverboats.
James L. Avritt, Sr.
GOP campaign costly
The Republican presidential primary is expected to be one of the longest and most expensive in history. When it's over, there will be more losers than just the other candidates. The real losers in this primary are we the people.
First, the longer the campaign, the more expensive, and the more that money influences the outcome. Ordinary people cannot afford to fund these expensive campaigns and so the candidates turn to wealthy donors and to corporations to fund super PACs. We still vote but the importance of our vote is diminished when the name on the ballot is essentially selected by someone else.
Second, the longer the campaign the more acrimonious its nature and the more fatigued the voter. Witness the low turnout of voters in later primaries, the nastiness of the debate, the negative advertising and ordinary people losing faith in politicians and the political process.
This seems like an ideal time to discuss reforms. Every other democracy is able to select a candidate and elect a leader in a much shorter time. Why can't we?
The process should run over six weeks with regions of the country taking turns voting first. The result would be a larger number of candidates participating, a reduced influence of money and a more engaged electorate. We all would win.
Not just about bills
Mary Beth Breckenridge's column "Common tips for saving energy debunked" took a very narrow view on the topic of energy conservation by focusing only on how much might be saved on our monthly energy bills.
While financial savings are important for most of us, Breckenridge overlooked the most critical reason for weatherizing our homes and offices. Cutting down on our electricity use reduces impacts on our air and water quality, especially in states like Kentucky where most power comes from burning coal, which is associated with high levels of carbon, mercury, and particulate pollution.
Reducing energy consumption also helps to protect our priceless Appalachian Mountains from the devastating effects of mountaintop removal. When each of us does our small part, together we can make a big difference.
We waste money daily
How many times do I hear about Lexington- Fayette Urban County Government budget woes? The money is there, but we waste it every day.
City planners and managers need to decide if their goal is "austerity-for-survival" in the coming lean years or is it for Lexington to become next year's "debutante" city?
You can't have it both ways but that seems to be the present. Lots of money can be cut if we stop wasteful spending on cosmetic maintenance repairs.
Example (but tip of the iceberg): recent $20,000 to replace 1,700 feet of school sidewalk because one slab was elevated by an inch. That money could feed a lot of people.
Money can be saved if we ditch those empty tanks we call buses and go Euro with the economy model bus where some people may actually have to stand.
Money can be saved with zero-based budgeting but only if someone with oversight is not afraid to challenge the details (where the devil lives) or the politics (same place).
Elimination of nonsense spending will help fund the deficits in more urgent areas such as homeless care, health and welfare, police protection, education, etc.
As a citizen of Lexington for 64 years, I am pleased with the level of business management I see demonstrated by Mayor Jim Gray. He seems independent and committed to rational ideals. I appreciate that.