Unlimited cash, restricted voting hurts people power
Let's see if I have this straight. Mitch McConnell and other Republicans are trying to get all campaign finance restrictions removed, arguing that those contributions are actually free speech and are protected by the First Amendment.
A lot of ordinary folks can't contribute millions of dollars in order to have a voice in the political arena. They have only their votes to speak for them. So they contribute $5 to $10 to a candidate, say "Yes, we can," and try to get to the polls in large enough numbers.
But five states governed by Republicans have eliminated early voting, making it harder for the elderly and people with disabilities to vote. Republican states have also rearranged voting districts to stifle the voices of ordinary citizens likely to vote for a Democrat.
These states have also come up with new voting restrictions designed to disenfranchise minorities. These new rules are the equivalent of a poll tax masquerading as a plan to eliminate voter fraud, even though there doesn't seem to be any voter fraud.
Now it appears that conservatives on the Supreme Court may agree with McConnell, so the billionaires will soon be pouring plenty of free speech (money) into elections.
Chances are, they'll want something in return. I wish somebody could help me understand why billionaires' free speech is entitled to First Amendment protection while ordinary folks' free speech gets silenced.
I guess I'm just one of those liberals who Rand Paul says have big hearts and small brains.
OK downtown district
The overall success of our community and region depends on a successful downtown Lexington. My family has always believed this.
Whether you like them or not, the changes to downtown over the last 40 years have been significant. Most recently, substantial positive momentum has been generated and there are many projects on the horizon that will make our downtown even better.
When I travel to other cities, I always observe the center city. Downtowns are the heartbeat of any city and a good indicator of the health and vitality of the surrounding community. I can't help but notice that many cities around the U.S. and world are taking advantage of an economic development tool known as a management district.
Management districts allow for a dedicated assessment that is used to make enhancements to the downtown area. These types of assessments are commonplace in most cities, with proven track records of success. Now is the time for Lexington to make a similar commitment and create our first management district.
As a downtown property owner and longtime proponent of making downtown Lexington the best it can be, I view the assessment as an investment in our community. This tool is a proven model for taking downtowns to the next level and one that I have witnessed at work many times. I fully support the formation of the management district and encourage other downtown property owners to support the petition to create the Downtown Lexington Management District.
The Webb Companies
Return legislative pay
Let me offer my thanks to Louisville state Rep. Jim Wayne for returning to the state treasury the salary he received for his attendance at the August special session of the General Assembly.
That leaves 137 other members who did not follow his leadership footsteps. Grrrr.
Just deal with the birds
Every night UK sets off whining rockets for about two hours to scare away roosting birds, starting around 6:30 p.m.
For those of us living on Columbia Avenue and surrounding streets it sounds like a war zone.
Whilst appreciating UK probably doesn't wish to deal with the issues that come with large numbers of roosting birds, what makes them think that the surrounding neighborhoods are any more inclined to be hospitable?
As I sit here listening to the rockets going off, disturbing the peace of my autumnal evening, I am struck by the irony of how symbolic this is of UK's entire attitude to the campus surrounds.
Dump everything into the neighborhoods. Student housing inadequacies, monstrous electrical pylons, unaddressed parking problems, campus alcohol ban, off-campus fraternities (aka party houses) and now foisting on us the roosting birds they don't want to accommodate.
Just what gives UK the right to excuse themselves not only from their responsibilities, but the right to inflict the consequences of their irresponsibilities on those who live close by?
Come on, at least accept your fair share of roosting birds.
High cost of gun rights
On Sept. 18, my wife and I stopped at a rest area on I-65. My wife wondered why the U.S. flag was at half mast. I told her we were celebrating the payment we had just made on our freedoms and liberty.
She didn't understand.
I explained to her that the freedom and liberty we enjoy in this country are not really free. They come at a cost.
In this instance, the ability for anyone to buy as many guns and as much ammunition as they want comes at the cost of many of those guns falling into the hands of mentally unstable people.
The deaths of many innocent people at the hands of these mentally unstable people are just a part of the price we pay for this freedom.
My wife didn't understand. Frankly, neither do I.
It seems that these payments are becoming more and more frequent.
No back pay for workers
My understanding is the 800,000 people furloughed during the government shutdown are on vacation.
When they return to work they likely will be paid retroactively for the time they were off. I think they should not be paid, but be able to collect unemployment, under the unemployment rules including the waiting period and proof that they looked for another job.
Just like private industry they may be called back to work at a later time — maybe with less pay and for less hours for the non-essential workers.
The grand experiment of electing people to Congress who don't want government to work is playing out to the detriment of our country.
Surely electing people who want government to work is a better idea.
With all the movie theaters that Lexington has, it's time someone built an IMAX theater.
In the Sept. 22 editorial about the food-stamp vote in Congress, I counted three uses of the word "outraged" and one use of the word "stunning."
Does no one any longer become "upset"? Maybe even "mad"? Are we no longer "surprised"? Or, in the context of this particular editorial, even "saddened"?
Now don't get me wrong, I get upset just as often as the next person. I sometimes even get mad. But I can't remember the last time I was outraged. And, the last time I was stunned was the 9/11 attack in New York.
Maybe you were stunned by Katrina and New Orleans? I was saddened. I mean, how stunned can you be when a storm/flood destroys a city some idiots built at the bottom of a bowl right on the coast.
Maybe you were stunned by Hurricane Sandy? Again, I was saddened. Same thought process. Build homes and businesses within one hundred feet of the ocean and then act stunned when they get destroyed by a hurricane?
This particular editorial was about the food stamp vote so, probably, the editorial board was outraged and stunned. But a truly stunning event? Whenever a Herald-Leader editorial that has over 20 percent of its readers agreeing.
Kenya attack expected
Al-Shabaab's recent attack on a shopping mall in Kenya is truly shocking, but comes as little surprise. Kenya has long feared attacks by militant groups based in Somalia.
Any attacks — either against Kenya's generally internationalist outlook, or in direct response to Kenya's military actions against al-Shabaab since 2011 — could easily be carried out across the border, which consists of nothing more than a dirt road.
The softest and highest-profile targets were always Nairobi shopping malls.
After living for a few months in a desert in Kenya as a Peace Corps volunteer, I made my first visit to the Westgate shopping mall in the spring of 2009. I was stunned to see such first-world plenty: everything from moisturizing shampoos to roller blinds to lobsters to your choice of French and South African wines.
And yet it was creepy. I would read in the local newspaper about al-Shabaab's threats to attack a major Nairobi shopping mall (there are only three), and Western diplomats' discreet, but urgent, warnings of the risk. Whenever I made forays to those malls, it was remarkable to see how light the security was, given the earnestness of the threat.
When the attack happened, the confused Kenyan government response betrayed an extraordinary failure of contingency planning. But the level of individualized brutality of the attack was new. Few were expecting something quite like this.
Al-Shabaab may be feeling a need to appear relevant, and has become, as the journalist Jeffrey Gettleman put it, "a cornered animal."
Stay green and different
I can't think of any other USA city where a polo match could be played outdoors in the heart of downtown.
Lexington is constantly calling out to be perceived as unique, and one of the very things that makes it so is in the process of being replaced by yet more buildings and upscale shops, which hardly seem to be in much demand here, when you get right down to it.
Once that beautiful patch of green known as the CentrePointe lot is bulldozed for construction, the city will sorely miss what has turned out to be a great venue for all sorts of civic events.
In addition to the events held there, the spot provides us with wonderful, airy space downtown.
Why look this gift horse in the mouth? We've got a unique attraction. Keep it that way.