Not much bite in watchdog report on Hospice funds
Shame on the Herald-Leader and your political watchdog reporter John Cheves for the front-page attack on Hospice of the Bluegrass. What are you thinking to take on the most loved organization in Kentucky? The entire article should not have left the editor's desk.
What is the story suggesting — that business leaders with hospice dealings should not serve on its board? Also, by the numbers presented in the article, less than one half of one percent over a six year period was by his definition, "insider transactions."
Not to mention those "insider transactions" were in all likelihood, discounted costs by the provider.
The two-page spread could have been put to better use by praising the accomplishments of hospice, its managers, employees and many wonderful volunteers.
Hospice can improve
My father was in hospice for 17 days, for most of which I stayed overnight on the worst, most uncomfortable couch ever manufactured. It surprised and angered me to read of the very large salaries of the heads of this non-profit.
Why are they making so much money while forcing the loved ones of the dying — people going through the worst experiences of their lives — to deal with such uncomfortable rooms?
During this experience, I developed bursitis in my hip, which is still painful a year and a half later. Maybe Gretchen Brown and those heavily compensated employees under her could take a cut and Hospice could outfit a few rooms to be more comfortable for loved ones staying overnight. It seems to me that would be the right thing to do.
To all Kentucky non-profits funded by taxpayer dollars and charitable donations, we appreciate what you do. For instance, Hospice of the Bluegrass: Its services for the terminally ill and their families are invaluable. Some of the hands-on services are performed by volunteers.
It, therefore, is totally disgusting when the executives and board members use the performance of these valued and meaningful services to justify feeding at the public trough. From the Kentucky League of Cities to the Bluegrass Mental Health-Mental Retardation Board, and now, Hospice of the Bluegrass, a select few managed to reap profits from non-profit organizations and do it legally.
Is it really necessary to have on the books conflict of interest laws for every possible unethical relationship that could exist between non-profits and individuals? It is the actions of board members and executives that make such rules and regulations necessary.
But, hey, this is what Sen. Rand Paul and the Tea Party would prefer: fewer laws, less regulation. But just remember folks, if it doesn't pass the smell test, it's probably a conflict of interest, and all the wonderful things the hard-working men and women of your organization do won't make your questionable actions smell any better.
You do your dedicated staffs, and all the taxpayers of Kentucky, a great injustice by using your positions as a free pass to personally profit. Just because your attorney tells you it's legal doesn't mean it's ethical.
UK's story to tell
As an alumnus of the University of Kentucky, having received a Ph.D. in history in 1974, I must add my voice to those protesting the recent layoffs on the Lexington campus.
The idea of laying off people within a year of retirement and forcing them off the campus is repulsive, unprofessional and callous.
I applaud your editorial of June 20 about the final retirement of retired President Charles Wethington after he collected over $2 million of his more-than-"golden parachute." I also look forward to reading his memoirs. I will be first in line for the book signing at Joseph-Beth when that book is published.
William E. Ellis
Held in contempt
It took 255 members of the U.S. House of Representatives to cite Attorney General Eric Holder for contempt of Congress.
Many millions of Americans are guilty of the same offense.
John C. Wolff Jr.
Putting pieces together
Recently, I received three related pieces of information. The first was the article about the layoffs in the coal industry. After the usual euphemisms about "how deeply we value our people," an Arch Coal spokesman cited "a continuing decline in the demand for steam coal in the central Appalachian market" for reducing its workforce.
This was followed by the predictable sound bites from politicians of all stripes blaming layoffs on the awful, horrible Environmental Protection Agency and the Obama administration's "war on coal."
The second piece of data was a newsletter from the Markey Cancer Foundation. University of Kentucky fans are fond of yelling "We're No. 1" and indeed Kentucky is No. 1 in incidences of cancer of the lungs, colon/rectum and oral cavity/pharynx.
We are currently No. 2 in kidney cancer and No. 3 in brain cancer. But give us a few more years of blasting mountaintops into oblivion, dumping the waste into the streams and valleys thereby poisoning the water supplies, and we will be No. 1 in those categories as well.
The third piece of data was my electric bill. The slick brochures produced by the utility companies never fail to brag about the "cheap electricity" generated in Kentucky.
Well if I divide my May bill of $111.79 by my 989 KWH usage I come up with a price of $.113/KWH. That's about the same rate I paid in my last year in Chicago, which was not exactly known for low electricity costs.
What to tell the children
In a recent letter to the editor, the writer complains that President Barack Obama's youthful experimentation with marijuana and cocaine creates a challenge in regard to how he, the writer, talks with his children about drug use.
I recall similar hand wringing over the Clinton-Lewinsky sex scandal — "What do I say to my kids ... ?" And a recent national news article reported that parents in states that have adopted medical marijuana laws are finding it difficult to discuss marijuana use with their kids because of ubiquitous advertising by marijuana dispensaries.
The question I have for the writer and other parents is: When did it become the responsibility of other adults to confect a reality so palatable that it slides down your child's throat like a sugary drink?
Here's a thought: Assuming that your child is of an appropriate age for such a discussion, tell him or her the facts and your views on the subject, based on your personal values and assessment of the facts. It's not rocket science.
I often encounter letters in this paper that admonish would-be parents to forgo procreating unless they are financially equipped to provide for children. I agree, and would add, unless you are emotionally equipped to teach your child about the world — warts and all — you may not be ready for parenthood.
In case this is too general, I'll offer the writer more specific advice regarding how to discuss the president's prior experimentation with marijuana and cocaine. Handle it in the same way you dealt with discussions of President G.W. Bush's alcoholism and experimentation with cocaine.
New health care burden
It is entirely my fault. I took for granted that the American electorate was knowledgeable concerning the ramifications of "Obamacare,"
But thinking back, how could you have known? It was passed behind closed doors in the dead of night by a majority of congressmen who had never read it.
For this, I have nothing but remorse and apologetic intentions. To remedy this grave infraction, I attest the following: All rich people already have health insurance. All poor people are exempt from the individual mandate.
Who does this leave, America, to pay for this burgeoning national debt expenditure? Wrong. You thought I was going to say you, but that is naïve in an election year.
No, not you, but tell your children they need to cut a check to the president.
Faith in Obama
I don't believe Barack Obama's presidency has failed. ("Has Barack Obama's Presidency Failed?" by Cal Thomas and Bob Beckel, USA Today, June 14.) Republicans believe his presidency has failed because they want it to fail. From the start of Obama's term, Republicans made public their determination to make him a one-term president.
Obama came into office inheriting an economy in the tank and two wars. House and Senate Republicans made the decision to become an obstructionist party, making sure Obama could not get some of his policies passed.
Cal Thomas said he doesn't like to see any president fail. What have journalist Thomas, Fox News, Wall Street, Rush Limbaugh and Republicans in Congress done to see that Obama has a successful presidency that greatly benefits our country?
Despite the naysayers who keep saying over and over that Obama has been a disaster, I believe he will successfully make his case over the next five months and win a second term in a close election.
Paul Whiteley Sr.
Church no democracy
I find it ironic that the headline for the June 18 column by editorial writer Jacalyn Carfagno tagged her as a "cradle Catholic," as if that means she knows what she is talking about.
I am also a "cradle Catholic" but I can add "revert" to that also. When I felt like I could not in good conscience be Catholic, because I wanted to pick and choose, I walked away and decided to do what I wanted, when I wanted and adhere to "if it feels good do it," "what I do doesn't hurt anyone else," and "I am not going to have a bunch of old men tell me what I should believe and do!"
I will not call Carfagno a "cafeteria Catholic" because the Catholic church did not open a cafeteria. However, Carfagno — like every other Catholic who decides that they know better than 2,000 continuous years of teaching what should be held as truth — in essence, starts her own church, with her own belief system. Remember, the Catholic church is not and will never be a democracy.
I pray that if Carfargno continues to participate in the Eucharistic celebration at her parish that her mind and heart will be open to all the teachings of the church. They really are beautiful.
Cindy E. Olson
In an otherwise informative June 17 article regarding slaves of the Waveland estate there is an error that can't be overlooked.
I refer to tour guide June Madden's comment, "they would be a large part in creating the genteel, romantic, Gone With the Wind-type lifestyle that most whites would have had at that particular time."
First, most whites did not own slaves. Furthermore only a minority of slave-owners could have afforded the lifestyle depicted in the book and movie, Gone With the Wind.
In the article, Madden correctly stated that the slave quarters at Waveland were "nicer than most white people in Lexington could have hoped for in the 1840s."
Bon voyage to all
I have been extremely entertained with the high-quality political cartoons that you ran while cartoonist Joel Pett was in China. Would it be possible to schedule a similar extended trip for columnists Tom Eblen and Merlene Davis?
Robert J. Sturdivant
Great artist, lover of equine sports
Like many others, I was saddened to hear of the death of extraordinary artist LeRoy Neiman. We were pleased to have Leroy agree to be our Official Artist for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games and he could not have been easier to work with, with his equestrian images so well received.
When he came to Lexington in 2007 to help make the announcement at the Keeneland Library, he took the time to meet with a broad range of people there, including a group of Kentucky college and university presidents to whom he gave a number of personal Keeneland sketches he made on the spot. It was fascinating to see him work so quickly and with such talent.
His body of work also included the 2008 Ryder Cup at Valhalla and so many other events that they can hardly be counted. He will be missed by all those in Kentucky and elsewhere who loved the junction of sports and art.