Loss of public servant
Kentucky legislative leaders did not renew Legislative Research Commission Director David Byerman’s contract.
I first met Byerman as a student working to redirect millions of diverted lottery funds to college scholarships for low-income students. Our ragtag team of middle- and high-school students pored over the LRC’s website trying to figure out Kentucky’s budgetary process. We quickly discovered that it was nothing like “Schoolhouse Rock.”
It was Byerman’s commitment to transparency, citizen engagement and youth empowerment that quickly affirmed him as one of our greatest allies. Always careful to remain politically neutral, he was committed to the belief that every citizen must hold our government accountable. Our resulting #PowerballPromise campaign led to the reinvestment of millions in youth struggling to afford college.
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In the wake of the Marshall County and Parkland high school tragedies, Byerman provided guidance to the Prichard Committee Student Voice Team organizing a statewide teach-in on school climate and safety. He sent the message that young people should feel welcome and respected in the heart of state government.
Citizens are losing faith in our government and in each other. If there is any antidote to this poison, it looks something like Byerman. Kentucky loses an inspirational public servant.
Student Activist, former Student Director
Prichard Committee Student Voice Team
Conn victims suffer
The Social Security Administration continues to put thousands of former clients of Eric Conn through hearings. Conn and others involved in his scheme have either pleaded or been found guilty. No former client has been charged.
When the history of this ongoing humanitarian crisis is written, special recognition should be given to former Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn who, without a shred of evidence, declared ...“The claimants in this case were not innocent. They knew a scam was going on. …”
After five years of investigation there continues to be zero evidence of any client involvement. On three different occasions I have been in federal court and heard three different federal judges ask the the lawyers for the Department of Justice whether they knew of any former client wrongdoing. In each instance, they said “no.”
The mere suggestion that Conn would have confided in his former clients that he was bribing the judge is preposterous. He didn't need to meet with the clients because the judge was fixed and there were no hearings to prepare for.
Innocent individuals can so easily be branded as criminals as long as the likes of Coburn have a microphone in front of them.
Miners’ pensions crucial
The whole of society is benefited by miners’ pensions. Like wages, pensions are earned compensation for retirees who performed a lifetime of work while contributing to society. Pensions allow retirement with dignity. They inject money into a local economy and help to open up job opportunities for the unemployed and younger workers. Pensions ensure that parents do not become a financial burden on their children.
What does life without miners’ pension looks like in coal communities? It is an income extractive that will shutter many businesses. If they can manage, miners will be stuck with lives of endless work. Widows and widowers will struggle to make ends meet.
The miners’ pension crisis is due to coal company bankruptcies and the 2008 stock market crisis. The Joint Select Committee on the Solvency of Multi-employer Pension Plans, created by Congress in 2017, is tasked with finding a solution by this November.
Don’t blame the guns
Time after time, I’ve seen anti-rights lobbying groups immediately try to shift blame to the National Rifle Association, the Second Amendment, the firearms industry or some mythical loophole in the law. But they never seem to point their fingers at the culprit, and I think it’s time for the American public to ask why.
By diverting public attention away from killers and toward law-abiding citizens who had nothing to do with the crime, these lobbying groups have created a very strong impression that they’re not really interested in punishing criminals but only in penalizing honest firearm owners for crimes they didn’t commit.
They are so preoccupied with demonizing gun owners and eroding the Second Amendment that they have lost sight of the goal of taking dangerous or deranged criminals off the street. These groups cannot tell the difference between the bad guys and the good guys.
John M. Stone