Another missed opportunity for education
In an interview with the Herald-Leader shortly after learning Kentucky once again was not selected for "Race to the Top" federal funding, Education Commissioner Terry Holliday said he "... called around (to) a few folks, and it looks like we would have been in the money if we had (charter schools)."
Indeed, Kentucky finished out of the running in the second round of Race to the Top funding, getting 412 of a possible 500 points and losing to nearby states Ohio, North Carolina, Georgia and Maryland.
Those states scored 32 points on their assessment simply because they allow public charter schools. Kentucky currently doesn't allow for public charter schools, meaning our score was zero.
I've filed legislation several times, including the 2010 regular session of the General Assembly, seeking to add Kentucky to the other 40 states and Puerto Rico that have passed charter school legislation.
But, sadly, the voices of those who support charter school legislation went unheard as the House Education Committee chose not to call the bill for a hearing.
While we sit on our hands, other states that receive Race to the Top funding continue to pass us by, meaning our children and our education system ultimately suffer.
In his response to the loss of funding, Gov. Steve Beshear said he is confident the steps Kentucky is taking will significantly improve education for our students.
Until we pass public charter schools legislation, our children and our educational system will remain stuck in neutral.
Rep. Brad Montell
Unions hurt workers
The AFL-CIO is spending $88 million of union dues to influence elections. If the unions really had the best interests of their members at heart, they would sponsor retraining and job placement for millions of people who now have to go to the taxpayers for assistance.
Where were the unions when researchers of every discipline (economics, sociology, psychology, business) told Americans that the nature of work was changing?
When NAFTA was enacted and we did hear Ross Perot's sucking sound of our jobs heading overseas, the unions could have used dues to assist workers. Instead, they left it up to community colleges and universities to take up their slack.
The unions are clamoring for more government bailouts, card check and trying to force people into unions while knowing that manufacturing jobs are gone and government jobs produce no wealth and no small business jobs.
Not everyone can work for the government, which depends on taxpayers for salaries.
Consider the crushing budgets of academic institutions that were never meant to be social service agencies in the first place.
The biggest budget drain? Remedial education. Middle-aged former factory and farm workers were never meant to dally in classes such as African-American history or gender studies. Laudable disciplines that they are, the knowledge they impart is not going to get millions of displaced workers jobs that can keep them off food stamps.
Lay our current fiasco at the doorstep of unions who squandered their resources on politics and have only succeeded is making America anti-union.
Local church did it right
As a retired pastor, I commend the Vineyard Community Church for its Christian response and sensitivity to the neighborhood's opposition to its plan to purchase the elementary school property.
Although we felt the concerns expressed by the neighbors were unwarranted, the church chose not to push its way in or claim its rights.
How different is the approach by those who insist on their "right" to build a mosque on a spot that brings heartache and opened wounds to many.
After leading a church building program in recent years, I also know there is never a "right" for any house of worship to be built on any particular spot. One can only apply for the consideration to build on a particular spot.
Local planning and zoning departments ask many questions and consider many issues before issuing a right to build. The fact that many mosques are already standing in New York City testifies that Muslims are not being denied the right to build.
E. Dean Cook
Regarding Merlene Davis' Aug. 22 column: Wow, what an incredibly objective piece of journalism.
Imagine interviewing an Islamic studies expert to discuss the "negative sentiment" that seems to be "brewing" in the United States toward Muslims.
In keeping with this logic, might I suggest that her next column include two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.
Praise for coal protest
Praise be to the four entertainment groups refusing to perform at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games on a stage sponsored by Alliance Coal and in front of a banner falsely proclaiming "clean coal."
As Sue Massek of Reel World String Band, one of the groups, correctly pointed out, there is no such thing as clean coal.
While we are on this subject, a belated but equal praise is due Wendell Berry for withdrawing his personal papers from the University of Kentucky archives in protest of the Wildcat Coal Lodge debacle, another bulldoze (pun intended) job of Alliance Coal.
If we had more folks like these four groups and Berry willing to stand up to King Coal and fewer like UK officials willing to cave in to them, we might be able to put a stop to the malfeasance present coal mining practices are perpetrating on Appalachia and elsewhere.
Thanks for clearing up a long-standing problem. It seems some D-list entertainers have canceled their appearances at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games because of coal.
And here I thought all problems were George W. Bush's fault.
Fraud case reeks
I have followed closely the excellent Herald-Leader articles on the Urban County Government's fraud investigation.
It seems city employee Patrick Johnston turned in some allegations in 2008 and 2009 about city insurance procurement that did not sit well with higher-ups.
A later planned reorganization of the Risk Management Department, which Johnston headed, resulted in everyone being reassigned except Johnston, whose job was to be eliminated.
This reeks of retaliation, and a council committee and the state auditor are investigating.
The city government has been slow to respond to requests for information and one employee refuses to respond to a subpoena by the committee.
If they have nothing to hide, why be so reluctant to comply? As a taxpayer and citizen, I feel we deserve a better response from the people who are obviously in control of our city, and I hope that the council regains control soon.
I urge other citizens to take an interest in this and hold some feet to the fire.
I see the rich and powerful Southland Christian mega-church will go ahead with its $30 million purchase, and dump its rightful tax burden upon the shoulders of the honest people who pay taxes.
I worry about the number of elderly who are evicted each year through tax foreclosures. But who cares about them as long as Wal-Mart-type churches can provide weekly entertainment for their members?
In July, I was asked by friends in Lexington to write a letter opposing this disgusting tax exemption. They asked me because they were afraid to do so themselves.
One wonders how many would actively oppose such immoral church activities if they did not fear reprisals — loss of jobs, patients, business, clients, or actual reprisals against person or property.
In September, I am to give a talk on tax-exempt property in Jefferson County, but I will use this Lexington case as an example of how, through tax exemption, the poor and powerless are being robbed by the rich, powerful and unscrupulous.
Emmett F. Fields
Cartoon makes strange comparison
Joel Pett's Aug. 24 cartoon showing Uncle Sam admonishing an Iraqi about building mosques on his own land is inane, insensitive and tries to equate apples to oranges.
It seems Pett cannot distinguish between an unprovoked attack on civilians resulting in over 3,000 casualties, and deaths occurring during U.S. peacekeeping attempts in response to those attacks. Big difference.
And to all those crybabies who declare the mosque is a constitutional issue guaranteeing Muslims the freedom (that we Americans fought and died for) to build: Shut up.
If Muslims are really the peaceful understanding people they claim to be, let them show some tact, discretion and tolerance for those who died and consider it hallowed ground. No one's saying they can't build; just build somewhere else.
Erecting a mosque in the shadows and dust of so many innocent people and brave first responders screams disrespect and allows an in-your-face victory dance over their graves. Unless that is the true intent.