Parents of kids in private school pay school taxes, too
In "Kentucky spending millions on student busing at private, religious schools" reporter John Cheves failed to mention that parents who send their children to private schools continue to pay the full measure of their taxes to also fund Kentucky's public school system.
As a parent who sends his children to Catholic schools, I'm certain I've never received a tax rebate, discount, refund, deduction or deferral for not using the public school system or its buses.
Whatever the departmental mishmash in Frankfort, parents of private school students financially sustain the public school system just as much as those who send their children to public schools.
That the reporter failed to include this relevant information in his article suggests ignorance, journalistic shoddiness or just plain ol' anti-Catholic bigotry, which seems to be on the rise these days.
To characterize the allocation of state funds to provide transportation for private school students as the state "subsidizing" private schools, rather than extending to parents who pay their taxes the same public transportation opportunities for their children that others enjoy is patently uncharitable.
Rep. Kelly Flood's contention that parents who send their children to private schools necessarily forfeit their standing to use public transportation to and from those schools is absurd. By this logic, not only would my children not be able to ride the bus, but they would be prohibited from car pooling because doing so requires use of public roads.
Saint Michael Parish
Don't subsidize church
Please tell me the article on state subsidy of private school busing is a prank joke on the readers of the Herald-Leader.
Say it ain't so that our taxes are being used for this clear violation of separation of church and state.
If these parents of private school students want their children bused, let them pay for it themselves. They clearly can afford private school tuition; they can afford private transportation.
The most egregious violation in this article is the fact that Kentucky taxpayers are paying for Catholic school transportation.
I'm assuming the Catholic Church will use these savings to pay settlements to victims of sexual abuse which they could have and should have prevented.
Not only that, it made a saint out of a pope who covered up that abuse and protected and even promoted priests he knew to be pedophiles. To subsidize anything to do with the Catholic Church is an outrage of epic proportions.
And for those politicians who vigorously defend this practice, could you please show us the lining of your pockets?
No prayers before zoning
Why must our Supreme Court demand that prayers be forced upon me prior to a public meeting?
In the interest of fairness these prayers are open to all religious sects, which are, by the way, based on similar unfounded and non-evidentiary sources. These prayers may not, according to the court, favor the Christian God over, say, the Muslim God.
So I suppose the budget committee will occasionally begin with a reading from the Quran. That will be interesting since Christians seem upset at the prospect of our president being a Muslim.
Why is this ruling even necessary? Religion is already unreasonably favored. Places of worship are tax exempt. God's name is invoked on our money and in our pledge and no presidential candidate could admit to being an atheist and still be elected.
I would never demand that you pray to, or even acknowledge the existence of, quarks or black holes or Higgs bosons, despite sound evidence for these unseen entities, compared to the lack thereof for any supreme being.
Why should you demand that I sit respectfully listening to your pleas to any unlikely intelligent designer? I only ask that you do not force me to endure your incantations before a zoning meeting.
Is that not a fair and reasonable request? Please, believe whatever you wish. Just leave me out of it. If you really want fairness, if you really want to harm no one, you should always consult an atheist.
No Benghazi secrets left
On May 2, House Speaker John Boehner announced the establishment of a Select Committee to investigate the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.
If I were a Republican, I would be embarrassed that my party was still beating this dead horse. After nearly 20 months, and hundreds of stories, everyone should be well aware of what happened.
At around 9 p.m. on Sept. 11, 2012, 125 to 150 "terrorists" attacked the compound with truck-mounted machine guns and automatic and semi-automatic small arms.
They initially killed nobody. They poured fuel oil on the furniture and floors and set fire to it. A handful of men from the CIA compound a mile away routed these terrorists. Again, nobody was killed. Imagine the shame these terrorists felt when they had to tell their peers they had killed nobody.
(Later, when they learned that two men had died of smoke inhalation, they felt somewhat better.)
A few hours later, the CIA annex was attacked, presumably by those same terrorists. Two private contractors, acting as security, were killed in the line of duty.
I believe the reason those terrorists are so difficult to find is because none of them are talking about being a member of such a slipshod operation.
Response on VenezuelaThis is in response to criticism of my April 18 commentary on the unrest in Venezuela. I never "criminalized" the protestors, but I called out those who have committed crimes during the unrest. I used articles from the Center for Economic and Policy Research for information on the people who have died during the protests.
The homicide rate in Venezuela is an urgent problem, but it is a problem throughout Latin America. Honduras, not Venezuela, actually has the highest homicide rate in the world. If removing Manuel Zelaya didn't reduce the homicide rate in Honduras, why should we think removing President Nicolas Maduro will reduce the homicide rate in Venezuela?
As far as one letter writer's claim that the Venezuelan government has "silenced the media," I would argue there are many allies of the United States who are more repressive with their critics than the Venezuelan government.
According to Reporters Without Borders' Press Freedom Index rankings, there are more media restrictions in Colombia, Honduras, Mexico, Turkey and India than in Venezuela. As for the letter writer's assertion that Venezuelans across all income groups support these protests, why are most of the protests occurring in wealthy neighborhoods? In reality, the opposition movement has had little success reaching out to poor and working-class Venezuelans.
Matthew David Penn
UK failing on diversity
During a recent visit to my hometown of Lexington, I was stunned to see the once-elegant and viable Martin Luther King Center in a shameful state of neglect.
The center was a rich part of campus and community life — an organic recruiting and retention magnet — ripe for inclusion in any diversity programming undertaken by the University of Kentucky.
Many believed that because of UK President Eli Capilouto's Jewish heritage and experiences in Alabama during the civil rights movement, he would bring a seasoned understanding of diversity to UK.
The King Center was just a speck on the diversity landscape, but Capilouto and UK Vice President for Institutional Diversity J.J. Jackson dishonored and dismantled it; and then made promises of renewal that have not been kept.
People are watching to see if Capilouto is a true leader. Will he make diversity a structural part of UK? The best interests of the campus and community are diversity programming implemented by competent UK employees who understand the historical issues and have a vested interest in overcoming the challenges necessary to change the course of history.
On my next visit, I hope not only to see a flourishing King Center but also mini-centers representative of the world across campus. Perhaps these could be located inside the dormitories being built? Can you imagine UK graduates equipped to live and work in a world chock full of diversity? Nice.
Redondo Beach, Calif.
Obama fans racial flames
As the first black president, Barack Obama had the best opportunity to date to dismiss the divisions of race in America and bring all people together as a nation.
What has he done? He continues to set and tolerate a horrendous double standard on how he responds to racially charged comments.
Obama was quick to comment about the NBA owner. Quick about his professor friend. Quick about Trayvon Martin.
Yet, where are his comments about the racial slur spewed by Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson? The Mississippi congressman was recently on CNN being questioned after calling Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas an "Uncle Tom."
Thompson has not only stood by his comments but stated that "for some it is (a racially charged term), for others it's the truth." Will Thompson be receiving a lifetime ban from the president? It only seems fair.
Millennials tired of subsidizing seniors? Vote for Mitch
Joel Pett's May 1 cartoon, implying that the Obama administration is sacrificing the future of young Americans by kicking the can down the road, is right on the money.
I'm a 33-year-old who works hard, budgets well and is tired of subsidizing seniors simply because they're a more powerful voting bloc than my generation. Millennials are subsidizing Obamacare for older, wealthier people. We're also paying into a Social Security system that may not be around when we reach retirement age — while those older, wealthier people fight tooth and nail against any reform to make the system sustainable.
Despite overwhelming support from millennials on Election Day, President Barack Obama and Democrats in the Senate have shown zero leadership on this issue. It's the primary reason I'll vote for Mitch McConnell. As long as Democrats control two-thirds of the government, millennials will continue to pay more for less.
If UK football is improving, why are fan seats reduced?
Witnessing the enthusiasm of football fans at the April 26 Blue-White football game reminds me of the peculiar and contradictory outlooks University of Kentucky officials have concerning basketball and football.
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray has said the renovation project for Rupp Arena will retain the 23,000 seating capacity assuring UK's loyal fans will not lose seats. Yet, somehow the committee making the decision for the UK football renovation reduced seating in Commonwealth Stadium from 67,700 to 61,000. Meanwhile five other SEC programs are undergoing seating-capacity increases.
That does not fit the announcement from UK when coach Joker Phillips was released after the 2012 season, that the football program would be re-energized with the hiring of a high-impact coach, staff salary increases and stadium and other facility improvements resulting in a football team competing for SEC Division and conference championships.
During the Rich Brooks era that produced several low-tier bowl games, attendance averaged 69,300 for his last three bowl years (somehow excited fans found a way to exceed the capacity). But strangely, expectations for a championship-caliber football team results in downsizing.
The average game attendance since the 1999 stadium expansion through 2009 was 65,171, which is testimony to the loyalty of fans who endured losing records and no bowl games in seven of those 11 years. To justify the downsizing because of the sad attendance record from 2010 to 2012 ignores the history of loyal fans.
Strangely, the vision is to lose fans rather than to attract more fans.
William H. Wheeler
Missing the point
I was somewhat amused to read the criticisms of Joel Pett's April 30 cartoon, as both letters appear to have somewhat missed its point.
The fact that the Republican elephant is standing in a voting booth seems to have escaped their collective attention, and presumably explains why they didn't consider that Pett was perhaps being a little subtler than simply crying "all Republicans are racists."
I understand that the Donald Sterling incident and the Cliven Bundy fiasco might have left those on the right a little sensitive (particularly after their initial love affair with the Risqué Rancher), but that doesn't mean that Pett's commentary was necessarily as facile as their interpretation of it.
It seems abundantly clear to me that Pett's intent was to remind us of the national campaign being waged (to the best of my knowledge exclusively by Republicans) to disenfranchise poor and minority voters (i.e. an awful lot of black people) under the pretext of preventing essentially non-existent voter fraud.
I suggest to both readers that they take some time to consider exactly why this cartoon appeared to hit so close to the bone and suggest that in the future, instead of over-simplistically misinterpreting legitimate satire, they consider expending their energies countering those on their side of the aisle who are working diligently to deny a basic constitutional right to their fellow Americans simply because they have the gall to vote differently from them.
For those two Republican voters who expressed such outrage about Joel Pett's elephant in the voting booth cartoon, it is indeed no laughing matter. Truly, Republicans do understand what the GOP is doing: denying voter rights in Republican-held states with the aid of the ALEC Voters Guide Game Plan, the Citizens United ruling and the Supreme Court.
Republican governors and legislators have systematically eviscerated the Civil Rights Voting Rights Act. Truly, "real estate flipping" should be the new term for gerrymandering districts to protect Republicans from being kicked out by the angry, nasty voters they have abused.
No one has done more against this country than Republicans to foster and infect race issues at election time. Truly it is rewarding to watch higher courts' denying those GOP states their latest game plan for winning elections.
Truly there is something to the joke: If you can't win an election honestly, you must be a Republican.