Fayette residents deserve fair redistricting plan
I hope that everybody had the opportunity to read last Sunday's Herald-Leader editorial about the state redistricting process and the fact, that in this year's House Bill 2, Fayette County lost a House seat that was given to Jefferson County.
Fayette County's population corresponds to 6.81 seats and we got only six; Jefferson County's population corresponds to 17.08 seats and they were given 18. According to the HB 2 math, 0.08 rounds to one and 0.81 rounds to zero.
This is simply wrong and we should and will not accept it. On Aug. 19 a special session of the Kentucky General Assembly will begin to deal with redistricting; the House most likely will start from HB 2 and, unless we do something about it, we will lose our seventh seat to Jefferson County.
The House leadership went so far in HB 2 as to displace 7,003 Fayette County citizens and ship them to be represented by the Rockcastle County representative who lives 50 miles away somewhere in or around Mount Vernon.
We will not accept it and are ready to do something about it. We are ready to fight for what is right, ready to fight for our democracy, ready to fight for our proper representation, ready to fight for Fayette County. We are ready to fight to get our seventh seat.
It will not be easy but as you have heard me say before: ¡Si se puede! Yes we can!
Finally. A strong voice in support of Fayette County in the extremely important matter of redistricting. Thank you, Lexington Herald-Leader. Why aren't others speaking out? Why is Fayette County treated so badly in the redistricting proposals put forward by the House?
Both House Bill 1 in 2012 and HB 2 in 2013 provided for only six Fayette County representatives. Fayette's population has grown to 295,803 out of Kentucky's total population of 4,339,367, or 6.82 percent of Kentucky's 100 House districts. You would think Fayette would be entitled to seven state representatives. Or, at least six full districts and one other Fayette-dominant district. Once the decision is made at the top to reduce Fayette countians from seven to six House seats, simple math comes into play. The technicians drawing the districts must somehow disperse 35,583 (82 percent of 43,394) Fayette countians to districts controlled by other counties. This is what causes the slicing and dicing of Fayette County into the crazy-quilt pattern shown in the map next to last Sunday's editorial. Fayette County deserves better treatment. The decision to reduce 6.82 to 6.0 is the culprit.
I strongly agree with last Sunday's editorial regarding redistricting of the General Assembly's House of Representatives. The plan passed by the House in this year's session did not deliver a fair plan for Fayette County.
It is the duty of the Fayette County delegation to advocate a fair and balanced plan for our county. This county is eligible for and deserves seven House members where the majority of the population in the new district is from Fayette County.
Let's hope when the Senate plan is divulged, it will be fair to Fayette County as well.
Don Blevins, Sr.
Molly Ivins once critiqued a Texas legislative map as an exercise in artistic expression, in the vein of Salvador Dali. Though I'm a fan of surrealism, I find it's a paradigm poorly suited for the important task of ensuring the full representation of citizens in the democratic process. It's my hope that in the upcoming special session our elected representatives rely more on the themes learned in civics, not art history, when drawing the districts that will impact our representation for the next decade.
Drawing the boundaries of our legislative districts is not an easy undertaking. Nevertheless, I encourage members of the General Assembly to place an emphasis on developing a map that meets the standard of "compact and contiguous." With fairness in mind, the voters of Fayette County deserve to be placed in districts drawn with consideration for the shared experiences and perspectives of our community. How can an elected representative dutifully represent the needs and wants of his or her constituency when the district is an amalgamation of urban neighborhoods and rural precincts from two counties away?
Seven legislative districts can be drawn within Fayette County, based on data from the 2010 Census. This should be the goal. The folks of Fayette County, who share the same infrastructure, the same school system and the same identity as Lexingtonians, deserve representation that will not compete with the often dissimilar interests of the surrounding communities. This approach has worked in Jefferson County and it can work here.
Those dirty rats
A new slogan for the Obama administration could be: "You can't prove that." When it comes to the IRS targeting American citizens because of their political beliefs, the cover-up of the administration's ineptness in Benghazi, the spying on American journalists who dare not fall in lockstep with others in the mainstream media and the nefarious activities associated with Fast and Furious, the president and others declare that these are just "phony scandals."
When you watch those who are called before Congress plead the Fifth, claim "I do not recall" or "I do not have that information" or, worse, defiantly ask "What does it matter?" one might be reminded of the various wrongdoers in old crime movies responding to their accusers with "You can't prove that." I hope American citizens will soon be able to respond with "Yes, we can."
Follow the money
The U.S. House of Representatives recently voted against a bill to defund the National Security Agency in order to end domestic spying by the U.S. defense industry. Here are the Kentucky representatives who voted against the bill, and the campaign contributions they've received from the defense industry, which benefits largely from government contracts and employs people like Edward Snowden to spy on Kentuckians:
■ Ed Whitfield, R-1st District, $23,000;
■ Brett Guthrie, R-2nd District, $24,500;
■ Hal Rogers, R-5th District, $146,250;
■ Andy Barr, R-6th District, 6, $0.
On the other hand, two representatives voted in favor of the defunding. Here is how much money they received:
■ John Yarmuth, D-3rd District, $1,250;
■ Thomas Massie, R-4th District, $3,000.
It is good to know who has betrayed the liberties of Kentuckians in the name of security theater, who has stood up for our rights, and their motivations for doing so.
Science standards solid
As I write this letter, I see my adopted home state of Kentucky making national news. Regarding the Next Generation Science Standards, some Kentuckians are referring to them using words like "fascist" and "genocide," and these comments are rapidly spreading over social media.
I wonder if these critics have even read the standards. As a scientist who regularly publishes research in peer-reviewed science journals, I see nothing in the standards that is out of line with modern science. Scientific understandings are what they are. They are not based on ideology. They are based on physical evidence — and lots of it.
We Kentuckians have the inalienable right to worship as we wish and to teach what we wish in our homes. But in our public schools, we have no alternative but to teach the findings and concepts of present-day science.
We Americans are world leaders in doing science. Are we willing to let other countries surpass us in the teaching of science?
NextGen not grounded
Is Kentucky abandoning science education beyond the 10th grade?
As climate and evolution arguments swirl around Kentucky's adoption of the new Next Generation Science Standards, some very important, far more basic issues are being totally overlooked.
Essentially, the new standards cut off science at the 10th grade level.
While NextGen Science does include topics from high school biology, usually a 10th grade course, much material covered in standard high school chemistry and physics courses is absent.
In fact, "Front Matter" in the NextGen's own web site proclaims, "The NGSS do not define advanced work in the sciences," making it clear students who want to go into careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) will need additional coursework.
But, there is no guarantee Kentucky's students will ever get that additional instruction.
Thanks to a legal concept called fair notice, material omitted from the state's standards cannot appear on state tests. Kentuckians know what happens to coursework that schools are not held accountable for. It often vanishes.
NextGen Science has other remarkable deficiencies. For example, coverage of current flow in closed electrical circuits is very limited. Terms like "volt," "voltage" and "insulator" are totally absent. With electrical systems all around us, this omission has real consequences, even safety implications. Good luck explaining the dangers of downed power lines.
The Kentucky Board of Education has a chance to fix these deficiencies in its forthcoming August meeting. For the sake of our kids' futures, I hope they do so.
Got MBA? WKU does
This letter is in reference to the July 22 article regarding the joint MBA program being developed by the universities of Louisville and Kentucky. I am pleased to see that our colleagues are forming MBA collaborations that benefit Kentuckians.
Western Kentucky University's Gordon Ford College of Business began offering the Professional MBA, an executive MBA, in 2008. Our MBA programs have earned distinction by ranking as high as the top five percent on the standardized national test for MBA graduates, ranking as one of the most affordable MBA degrees and offering a 100 percent online MBA program at public institution rates.
Like U of L and UK, WKU has achieved joint accreditation with AACSB International for both its business and accounting programs.
WKU's Professional MBA meets on alternate Saturdays with cohorts in Bowling Green and Owensboro, and classes are being formed in Elizabethtown. The Graduate Leadership Certificate, offered through the Center for Leadership Excellence, is now part of the Professional MBA program. Our students also visit and collaborate with a French executive MBA program.
WKU has been a leader in MBA innovation for many years. The executive MBA programs offered through WKU, U of L and UK show that there are many high-quality MBA programs available in the great Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Associate Dean Graduate Programs & Research, Gordon Ford College of Business
Western Kentucky University