Bank settlement a small but welcome boost for pensions
Stakeholders in Kentucky Retirement Systems commend Attorney General Jack Conway for recovering $23 million from Bank of America.
The amount is a drop in the bucket, but the bucket representing assets for the pension fund covering most state employees is dangerously low.
It is important for taxpayers to understand that so-called pension reform in 2013 has not stopped the precipitous decline in assets in the KERS non-hazardous fund.
For the fiscal year that ended June 30, the fund paid out $915 million in benefits and expenses, having lost $183 million in assets.
This loss came despite excellent investment returns. The fund now holds only $2.6 billion. Market losses comparable to 2008-09 would leave the fund roughly break-even, a situation unheard of among public pension plans.
The General Assembly has finally begun to pay the full required employer contribution. But this new money may not be sufficient to stop the asset losses in the short term.
We, as stakeholders, call upon legislators to take action in the 2015 General Assembly to examine options such as pension obligation bonds to avert a calamitous insolvency that would harm all taxpayers.
Paul's public service
People are criticizing Sen. Rand Paul because he's using his public service work providing free eye-surgery in Guatemala as a campaign stunt.
Making service part of campaigning is a great idea. If just one-tenth of the time, energy and billions of dollars that are used for political campaigns got redirected to public service, imagine all the good it would do.
I disagree with Paul on nearly every issue and would never vote for him, but I applaud what he is doing and hope this idea catches on and becomes the political equivalent of the ice bucket challenge.
Whoever came up with the latest inter-city transportation plan should have their head examined.
There are three daily routes for the thousands of Lexington residents who work in Frankfort: Versailles Road/US 60, Interstate-64, and Leestown Road/US 421.
While Old Frankfort Pike might be direct, a rural two-lane road is not a viable alternative. Georgetown Road/US 460 to US 25 adds another five miles and 20 minutes to the trip.
So among the only three viable main routes between the two cities, how many have recently begun road construction which significantly impedes normal traffic flow? If you guessed all three you are likely among the countless commuters who suffer this daily journey without respite or escape.
The circumstance suggests to conspiracy theorists that starting obstructive construction work at the beginning of the school year on all three roads can't be coincidental. The road work seems to occur only during the morning and evening rush hours, with relief only during midday and night time.
Congratulations, it's a perfect plan to increase the local carbon footprint, increase the petroleum industry's profit, grind all daily traffic to a suspicious angry halt, and make inconvenienced drivers write irritated and complaining letters to the newspaper.
Thomas H. Glover
I've never thought about not having Sharon Thompson greet me in her food columns every week. I felt as though I've just had a chat with a friend, or have received a note from her when I read her columns featuring local cooks and recipes.
Also, Sharon has been so generous in posting notices of food-related fund raising events whenever asked. I know that many people read her Tidbits column because when I've given notice of an event I was involved in (such as Half-Way to St. Patrick's Day at O'Neill's Irish Pub) many of the people who attended have read about it in her column. She also supports buying local for both restaurant and home use.
Happy retirement, Sharon, and thanks for your years of being part of our lives.
Not so conservative
As we watch the battles between the public and the police in Ferguson, Mo., I want you to pay attention to which side the conservatives are on.
They are on the side of big government. They are for more police, more prisons, more courts, more arrests, more jails and more drug testing.
They are also for bigger government abroad. We have troops stationed in 130 countries. Why do we need troops in 130 countries? Because we are the policemen of the rest of the world.
Conservatives are for more troops, more weapons, more wars, more surveillance, more spying, more drone killing and more covert-kill operations.
Conservatives only oppose force by law enforcement when it is used against them.
That's why they hate the Internal Revenue Service, Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Conservatives want less regulation on the rich and more regulations on the poor and rest of the world by Taser, tear gas and billy club.
When you hear a conservative say they are for smaller government don't believe it.
We have seen police use chemical weapons on our own people and the conservatives cheer like Romans, watching gladiators fight for their entertainment.
Dark money danger
Honest Gil Fulbright announced his Senate candidacy at Fancy Farm, expounding that he wants a better future for big donors. Gil acknowledged his candid plan to sell out Kentucky voters to their face with complete transparency.
Later I met Gil on his campaign bus and gave him the People's Pledge, which is the same proposed pledge I presented to the McConnell and Grimes campaign headquarters. It would keep out-of-state money from overwhelming our Kentucky 2014 senatorial campaign.
Gil looked at me as if I were mentally unbalanced, and then tore the pledge in half.
Anticipating Gil's reaction, I pulled out another copy with Gil's forged signature thereon. One of Gil's co-comedians from his "Rich Team" took one look at my forged pledge to confirm Gil's signature was genuine and then crammed the pledge into his mouth, chewing and eating it.
The "Rich Team" reaction is symbolic of the real threat to Kentucky campaign laws from dark money sources under the Citizens United Supreme Court decision.
The projected $100 million (including out-of-state dollars) will tear, chew, eat and destroy the average citizen's opportunity for access and influence on the real candidates' public policy goals.
Dignity in labor
Labor Day, always observed since 1894 on the first Monday in September, is almost here.
For some, Labor Day has little meaning beyond a legal holiday that provides a day free from work with pay to mark the coming of the fall season.
It offers one last opportunity to enjoy some pleasurable outdoor activity before the fall season. But for others, Labor Day is more serious.
It is a time to reflect seriously upon the meaning of labor and its significance and to recognize a basic fact: All necessary labor is beneficial and honorable.
From this perspective, labor is an activity that brings dignity to human life. Regardless of one's profession, all who engage in necessary work "are partners working together."
Over 100 years ago, Booker T. Washington, principal of Tuskegee Institute, said it well: "No nation can prosper until it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem."
It has long been understood that labor is the way to earn a livelihood. Later came the idea that, regardless of the profession, "the laborer is worthy of his hire." That was followed by the principle of "a fair day's work for a fair day's wages," which places equal responsibility upon the worker and the employer.
While "idle hands (may be) the devil's workshop," all necessary labor that is well done benefits everyone, and brings dignity and worth to the laborer.
Donate to Goodwilll
Since 1894, Labor Day has been designated as a federal holiday in America to honor the economic and social contributions of the country's workers.
For nearly that long, since 1923, Goodwill Industries of Kentucky has been doing its part to bolster America's workers.
Across the country and here in Lexington, Goodwill provides skills training, support services and job placement to help people reach their full potential.
This Labor Day, you can do your part as well. Your donations to Goodwill help fund our services.
It's easy to do. Simply gather those things you no longer need or use, make sure they're in good condition, and head to your nearest Goodwill donation drive-thru. We'll take it from there. Thank you for your support.
CEO & president
Goodwill Industries of Kentucky
Smart women support McConnell
In response to Joel Pett's Aug. 10 cartoon suggesting that women do not support Sen. Mitch McConnell, there are plenty of women who do.
Who are they? Women who have lost jobs and can't find work. Women who watch their children work hard, finish college and face a bleak job market. Women who witness thousands of coal jobs disappear.
Women who are concerned about the nation's more than $17 trillion national debt and the burden it places on their children and grandchildren. Women who worry about the rising threat of terrorism and the brutal persecution of Christians. Women who watch health-care costs rise while choice and quality decrease. Smart women.
Thousands of Kentucky women support McConnell, and I'm proud to be one of them. I'm tired of journalists assuming all women vote the same way; we are entitled to our diverse opinions just like men, and we deserve respect.