Smoking a health issue, not about business rights
I heard that a recent poll indicated that 65 percent of Kentuckians desired a statewide ban on smoking in public places.
The article further reported that the House of Representatives was leaning favorably toward the smoking ban, but that the Kentucky Senate was not.
A quote from Senate President Robert Stivers indicated that he felt that business owners had a right to operate their businesses as they pleased, and that such a ban would interfere with their rights.
I thought that this was an odd stance to take since statistics show that the leading causes of death in Kentucky are heart disease, stroke and chronic respiratory disease — all caused in part by smoking and secondhand smoke.
Smoking and the issue of second-hand smoke is a public health issue for our sommonwealth, not a business-rights issue.
If rights are at the center of this debate, let's debate the rights of Kentuckians to live in a smoke-free environment.
I was shocked to read that over half of Congress members are millionaires. I'm shocked only half of them had achieved this status.
According to statistics, 268 of the current 534 members of Congress are millionaires.
I'm not sure why the other lawmakers failed to accomplish this feat. Maybe bad management. It just doesn't seem fair to them.
I do see a possible silver lining for the unfortunates. A substantial amount of money could be saved if they succeed in halting extended unemployment benefits.
I also learned recently that Kentucky lawmakers, Rep. Hal Rogers and Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, were invited to the White House to pat President Barack Obama on the back for Kentucky's Promise Zone designation.
Who says you can't buy friends?
Rogers stated, "I'm glad the administration has finally awakened to the economic problems that are facing Southern and Eastern Kentucky due to the coal job losses."
From what I've read, the money going to the Promise Zone is actually going to one of Rogers' own projects, the Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation. This alone makes me very skeptical. I truly hope and pray the money is sent to the ones that really need it and not into another "pork roast party."
Window dressing President Barack Obama has created a Promise Zone to help certain counties in the Eastern Kentucky coalfield.
Should he be praised for doing this? Let us not forget that, for the last five years, he and the Environmental Protection Agency waged his so-called "war on coal" and severely damaged the economy of that region. Unbelievable. Only a career politician would claim to be helping these people. What fools they think we are.
James B. Todd
Blind to inequity
I was very disappointed with comments by Senate President Robert Stivers in the Jan. 5 article on the differences in classroom funding for poor and wealthy kids.
The comparison given was Barbourville Independent (a district he represents) and Anchorage in Jefferson County. He disputed that schools need all the money they ask for and said that throwing money at something does not equate to success.
This school is in need of basic educational tools, such as textbooks and computers, and an adequate space to have lunch. These are not luxury items.
Stivers said he had heard of no complaints about careers or studies at Barbourville Independent. Has he spoken with the dedicated teachers or principal, especially after this information was brought to his attention? I'm sure they are busy making do with what they have, with no time or energy to complain.
Education is a key factor in the ability to rise out of poverty. It is an essential investment for the future.
Poor children are already at a disadvantage with no resources outside the classroom. School may be the only place they have an equal opportunity to better themselves and the community.
As their representative, he is in a powerful position to make a difference in their lives. Hopefully he will care enough to do so.
If statistics and numbers are the facts that are used to justify need for services, how can he ignore the comparison presented?
Would he allow his children to attend this school?
Not much gun safety State Rep. Leslie Combs' comments after inadvertently firing a handgun in her Capitol Annex office were unintentionally ironic.
This is someone who had obtained a concealed-carry permit "for safety reasons," and presumably completed the training required for that permit. Further, she was following "standard safety procedures when the accident occurred."
Yet, she could not prevent the gun from going off unintentionally.
Considering this, we might venture to wonder what kind of safety is gained by allowing people to carry guns in public places.
Here's a real aplogy
Just once, I'd like to hear a politician give an honest apology speech. I recommend something like this:
"I sincerely apologize for violating the trust of my constituents and abusing the authority given to me by them. It was never my intent to get caught or to jeopardize my political career or aspirations. It was always my plan to pretend that I had no involvement in, or knowledge of, the deed.
"My tremendous ego made me believe that I could get away with what I had done, and I am truly angered that the emails were leaked to the press. The people who aided me in the commission of the bad deed will be fake-fired and rehired into other high-paying jobs. Others who are less important to me shall serve as sacrificial lambs and may face criminal charges.
"I was under the impression that there was no way this could be linked back to me. Once again, I am truly sorry that I got caught."
Restore Lexington's History Museum
A few months ago, I read a series of articles about how a surplus provided city politicians an opportunity to fund special projects. Unmentioned was the resurrection of the Lexington History Museum. Consigned to the old courthouse, it was the victim of an ancient building that succumbed to time and decay.
In 2006, I was surprised and gratified to see how extensively the history of my hometown, and that of my ancestors stretching back to the early 1800s, was archived there. Several displays featured members of my family, including my paternal great-grandfather Mike Crawley and maternal grandfather John Clancy, both policemen in the early 1900s.
I shared with museum volunteer Officer Robert Terry how my grandfather was shot by a rioter at the courthouse and subsequently had his wounded arm amputated at the shoulder. The city was so grateful for his service and sacrifice that it paid the balance owed on his home on Fifth Street. The newspaper account of the event was prominently displayed for us to review.
Terry persuaded me to lend for display my great-grandfather's police badge. It was No. 29. You can imagine how surprised and saddened I was when he emailed to tell me all the memorabilia was in storage and there was no more museum.
So my question to Lexington and its governing body: Why not take some of that surplus and find someplace where one of the oldest and heritage-rich cities in America can proudly display its history?
John C. Bricken
Minimum Wage Increase
Rage against the wage
House Speaker Greg Stumbo says he wants a wage increase to $10.10 an hour to help the middle class and keep workers from moving to Ohio. What would a minimum wage of $10 do for middle class workers in Kentucky? It would hurt them.
Skilled jobs already pay more than $7.25. The jobs that pay minimum wage are unskilled and require little or no training. If the pay for these unskilled workers is increased to $10 then look for your fast food and all other products using unskilled workers to increase. That's inflation that affects every income level. How does that help skilled and middle class workers? Employers won't hire as many workers and unemployment among the unskilled will increase. Better to work for $7.25 an hour and have a job than not work at all.
If these people don't work then it's the middle class who pays for it. If Stumbo wants to help working families who only qualify for those minimum wage jobs, then he should help turn those unskilled workers into skilled workers.
There is a great need in Kentucky for skilled workers. I have spoken to many employers who can't get certain skilled workers at any price. Better yet, let Stumbo lower the tax load on working families. Middle- and lower-income households in Kentucky pay a higher percentage of their income for taxes than those in Ohio.
Kentucky legislators should take the opportunity to be a forward-thinking group and pass legislation to increase the minimum wage.
Anyone who would argue against a minimum wage increase has flawed thinking. They belong to the group that argues that creating jobs is the only solution to building the economy. They also adhere to trickle-down economics as a way to benefit the poorer society. How can anyone earning a minimum wage raise their standard of living?
Pass a minimum wage law; Kentucky's future, not to mention 60,000 Kentuckians working minimum wage jobs, depends on it.
Your editorial on the minimum wage missed a point overlooked by many. The greater amount proposed by Rep. Greg Stumbo is so small that it will not qualify anybody earning that much for Social Security credit. The minimum amount to earn credit for Social Security is now about $22,000 a year. So even if earners made the $10 an hour, they will not be able to qualify for retirement even though they pay the tax for Social Security.
Why don't the Democrats set a standard and pay employees that work in their businesses more than $10 an hour? If they paid people working for them this much, the Republicans would have to pay that much in order to keep workers. We wouldn't have to waste time with Congress fighting over this. Democrats, practice what you preach, set the standard and raise the pay of everyone working for you.