Stop giving state employees paid time off to vote
Everybody I know has told me not to rock the boat. But since I have nothing to worry about except the wrath of my friends who are employed by the state of Kentucky, I'm going to take the huge leap.
Why in the world would all state employees get one half of an hour off with pay — much less a half day or unbelievably a whole day off with pay — to vote?
Why have all of the furlough days if we are going to pay employees to vote? Seems to me to be a colossal waste of tax dollars. I have never, as a non-state employee, been given one second off work with pay to vote. I do so either before or after work. I'd wager that most state employees have adequate time before or after work to vote.
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I work 8 to 10 hours a day and manage to vote. I guess it's government waste as usual in my beloved commonwealth of Kentucky.
Elections on Mondays
School is closed in Kentucky for elections because some schools are used for voting precincts. After this election, how about Kentucky lawmakers get a bill passed to move elections to the first Monday in November from the current first Tuesday in November?
Isn't it crazy for students and faculty to return to school after a weekend for one day before having another day off on the first Tuesday in November during election years? Primaries should also be moved from a Tuesday in May to a Monday in May.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents' Day, Labor Day are all celebrated on Mondays.
Also, I would like to see all elections, from local to national, held every five years. This way, everyone would know when there is going to be an election and not have some positions that are voted on every two years and some every six years. Counties would also save money on five-year cycles, compared to four-year cycles.
I think 2015 would be a good year to start. If done then, everyone would know that a year that ends in a 5 or a 0 will be an election year.
IDs accepted for voting
After searching the readily available information on voter identification requirements at Fayette County polling places, I realized that much of what is out there is misinformation about what is actually required by state law in order to vote.
There is a widespread belief that only a driver's license or a Social Security card are acceptable forms of ID at the polls. A call to the county clerk's office provided this clarification:
Any one of the following five is acceptable ID: driver's license, Social Security card, credit card, picture and signature ID (such as passport), or acquaintance with an official poll worker who can identify you. These requirements are the same for all 120 counties.
In light of voter suppression efforts around the country, please share this important information with any people you know who are elderly, disabled or disadvantaged in any way that might keep them from the polls. An offer of transportation to their polling place also couldn't hurt.
Carol A. Mitchell
Too late, Mitch
Mitch McConnell's ready advice for Mitt Romney if he wins the election is a big clue as to what lengths he and the Republicans in Washington have gone to sabotage President Barack Obama's four years.
In a recent news story, he had the gall to say what needs to be done is to strike a bipartisan deal, like the one brokered by President Ronald Reagan and Democratic House Speaker Tip O'Neill in 1983.
Too late, Mitch. If you'd done just that instead of being a self-admitted obstructionist, maybe I and all the other folks still hurting from the weak state of our economy would be a bit better off, much better than we were four years ago.
McConnell vows that "today's Senate Republicans will do their part," as long as their part supports his personal agenda, which includes undoing anything Obama has done during his limited term.
McConnell also mentions Social Security and Medicare as entitlement programs. Excuse me, but I've worked over 40 years and paid my dues. Yes, the restructuring of these vital programs is needed in order to find a way to sustain them for future generations, and it will take a bipartisan effort to do this. If McConnell wants to actually help our country and do his best for Kentucky, he needs to take his own advice and stop trying to scare folks into voting for his political agenda.
McGovern, Dole, hope
Occasionally one encounters clear evidence that politicians deserve great respect. Bob Dole's tribute to George McGovern published Oct. 23 in the Herald-Leader is a vivid example. It would be hard to find individuals who differed more than these two did about the best way of pursuing the common good.
They were intense campaigners and ultimately losers in their quest for the presidency but, as each of them recognized, one cannot campaign forever.
When the fever of competition was over, they found common purpose in their desire to eliminate hunger both at home and abroad, and for their joint efforts over many years they eventually received the World Food Prize.
In the poisoned atmosphere of today's Congress and today's politics it is difficult to find comparable public servants, but these men give us hope that there is much more to being American than partisan conflict.
Louis J. Swift
Support unique theater
On Oct. 4, my family went to the Kentucky Theatre for the presentation of Wings, the first Academy-Award best picture, a silent film with live accompaniment performed by theater organist Clark Wilson.
What a unique experience. As we left the theater, I mentioned to my son and husband that we could be fairly sure that nowhere else on the planet was anyone else exposed to such a wonderful theater experience as we'd had that night.
Wilson produced amazing effects with his performance, and surprisingly, the film itself was an interesting view of WWI, with superb special effects for the time (1927), and an enjoyable story line.
In addition to the film experience, theatergoers were treated to the first showing of Kentucky's Mighty Wurlitzer restored organ console, a project that has been long in the works. Thanks to a small but dedicated group of enthusiasts, headed by Steve Brown, the theater may one day own the only completely restored Wurlitzer organ in the commonwealth.
There is still much to be done to complete the project, and this is the sort of community-sponsored effort that other cities would envy.
I urge citizens who appreciate the Kentucky Theatre and realize the value of preserving the past to donate funds for the restoration of the Wurlitzer, as well as to the repair and maintenance of the theater.
As the city moves toward building up downtown, it would do well to focus on the assets Lexington already has and make every effort to showcase our treasures.
Lorayne R. Burns
Life at Spindletop
The Herald-Leader's Tom Eblen had a very interesting Oct. 10 column about Spindletop Hall. The rest of the story can be found in, "Passions and Prejudice," which can be found in our local libraries.
It is hard to imagine this huge mansion once had Pansy Yount and her daughter as its only occupants. Yount's story about her life at Spindletop is fascinating reading and concludes with the real reasons she left her luxurious home in Lexington to return to her roots in Texas. A good read.
Protecting the Palisades
On the Oct. 22 Feedback page, botanist Julian Campbell noted the need for collaborative action in the Kentucky River Palisades.
The Nature Conservancy, the world's largest private land-conservation organization, has been at work for decades in this unusual, biologically diverse region near Lexington.
TNC has purchased land, helped public agencies acquire sites, worked with private landowners to create easements insuring their land remains agricultural, opened hiking trails, worked on numerous scientific efforts, and offered a wide range of public events.
As long-term members and volunteers, we are keenly aware that TNC agrees with Campbell that more needs to be done, and the organization is taking action.
Last summer it initiated a comprehensive planning effort focusing on the Palisades. It recently held a stakeholders meeting attended by representatives of organizations such as Floracliff, Kentucky River Water Trail Alliance, Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Bluegrass Pride, citizens and landowners and local officials interested in the Palisades.
From this collaboration, TNC will develop a master plan for the Palisades region by early 2014. The ideas mentioned by Campbell have been a part of the Palisades master planning effort and discussions of TNC land managers and representatives.
The Kentucky River and Palisades are a special and valuable resource. The Nature Conservancy understands this and is at work conserving and restoring this landscape so that it can be enjoyed forever by the people of Kentucky.
Kenneth W. and Vicki L. Brooks
Remembering Man o' War
Early November is known for heated elections, but it is also a time to remember the passing of a legend, who could have destroyed either of this year's candidates for president in a race — around a track or, given his popularity, maybe even a political one. On Nov. 1, 1947 Man o' War laid down in his stall at Faraway Farm in Lexington, never to get up again. Quite possibly the greatest racehorse ever to set hooves on a track was gone. He was almost larger than life, likened to a living flame, exuding energy, magnetism and an intangible brilliance. His flame still burns in my heart and the hearts of many because once something touches you like that, the wind never blows so cold again. God truly put his hands on that awesome creature.
Courage, inspiration at Civil Rights induction ceremony
On Oct. 17 at the Lyric Theatre, 14 citizens were inducted into the Civil Rights Hall of Fame by the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights.
Hosted by the Central Kentucky Council for Peace and Justice, working with other organizations, this ceremony was held in Lexington for the first time. And what a vital event it was. I was disappointed not to see a follow-up article in these pages.
After many welcomes and introductions, we learned of visionary work ongoing in our city. I was particularly moved when CKCPJ's co-chairs, Rebecca Diloreto and Bruce Mundy, described their Lexington Youth Initiative which surveyed 1,200 teens to determine what services they need in hopes of reducing violence in our community.
Before the 33 nominees were presented and the inductees named, storyteller and civil rights historian Ann Grundy gave an extraordinary presentation about spirituals which she called "the GPS" that led folks out of slavery and which "document the American history no one wants to talk about. Without this music," Grundy declared, "we would not be here."
In these days when voter intimidation and redistricting echo Jim Crow, when extremes of poverty and wealth erode democracy, and the Citizen's United court ruling deems corporations people, we are in particular need of the witness of those honored at the Lyric.
Their courage reminds us that individuals make a difference in the struggle for human rights, that they are doing it in Kentucky every day, and that we are invited to join them.
George Ella Lyon