Ex-felons voting ban is a crime against democracy
What is an election? Is it a cornerstone of democracy? A pillar of freedom? Our ability to choose the leaders we believe will do us justice in Frankfort or Washington?
The answer is no. In Kentucky, because of an archaic law system, elections are simply a front for systematic class discrimination.
In Kentucky, 186,000 individuals have lost their right to vote because of a felony committed at some point in their lives.
The majority of these individuals have already paid their debt to society, yet they are still unable to regain their right to vote.
Maybe voting is a right that should be reserved only to non-criminals? If this is the case, then why are white-collar crimes not met with the same consequences as the aforementioned blue collar?
Why are coal companies, whose careless policies have harmed workers, polluted our land and poisoned our drinking water, still allowed to contribute obscene amounts of money to campaigns?
Why are the same banks that sent the middle class into foreclosure allowed to donate millions of dollars to influence the outcome of an election?
An election will never truly be an election until we destroy these discriminatory policies. As long as we penalize blue-collar crimes in this way, we are disproportionately robbing low-income communities of color of their rights. Not because they are criminals, but because they were not wealthy when they committed the crime.
Is this what democracy looks like?
In May 2011, around 12 percent of Fayette County residents showed up to the polls. This underwhelming turnout is not unusual: only 10 percent of Kentuckians statewide participated in the primary elections.
In a state where those fortunate enough to be accorded the right to vote do not exercise this power it is shocking that we continue to deny the right to former felons.
It is evident that a vast majority does not appreciate, honor or validate this institution, so why bother withholding it from our fellow citizens?
These men and women have been disenfranchised by a system that not only requires them to serve a sentence; it cruelly revokes a basic right to which all citizens of our commonwealth and our nation are entitled. "Justice system," indeed.
Voting on the issues
When voting in the upcoming November election, I urge Kentuckians to look past political party affiliation and vote according to issues that matter to you.
Discover candidates' opinions on important issues and then cast your ballot accordingly.
I know two issues that will heavily influence my voting preference are the restoration of voting rights to former felons and the status of Appalachia's waterways.
It seems Kentucky is behind the times. Only one other state (Virginia) does not automatically restore voting rights to felons who have completed their sentence.
Surrounding states have declared a ban on the purchase of coal obtained through mountaintop removal, while others are diversifying their energy portfolios to increase the usage of renewable energy sources.
I will be voting for a candidate that believes in justice for those who have legally strayed and a candidate that believes in the environmental future and health of our state.
Put pro-life first
Democrats' platform: "The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe vs. Wade and a woman's right to choose a safe and legal abortion ... and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right."
Republicans' platform: "Faithful to the first guarantee of the Declaration of Independence, we assert the inherent dignity and sanctity of all human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and we endorse legislation to make clear that the 14th Amendment's protections apply to unborn children."
No one can claim respect for human life and vote for a candidate who "strongly supports Roe vs. Wade." Abortion is killing innocent human babies; it is not health care.
Know the position of every candidate before you vote. Vote only for pro-life candidates.
Pink edition lacking
The front page of the Herald-Leader's pink edition promised information about breast cancer prevention but had disappointingly little to say about how readers could reduce their risk.
There was no mention of the American Cancer Society's recommendation that women reduce their risk of developing breast cancer by maintaining a healthy weight throughout adulthood with a healthy diet and being physically active. The National Cancer Institute reports obese women are 30 percent to 50 percent more likely to develop breast cancer than women at a healthy weight. This is particularly important in Kentucky since we have one of the highest rates of obesity in the nation.
There was one mention of food in the pink edition that stood out: a breast cancer survivor's photo was used on packaging for Totino's pizza and Pillsbury Toaster Strudel.
I hope future editions will do a better job providing information about how to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer instead of pink-washing high-fat processed food.
Great loss for the arts
The city of Lexington and the arts in particular have lost one of their most enthusiastic supporters with the recent passing of Marilyn Moosnick.
"Hi, darlin', how are ya, what's going on?" was her standard greeting, and she genuinely wanted to know what was going on.
Throughout her life, Marilyn was an articulate advocate for all the arts, whether it be music, drama, dance, literature or the visual arts. She wanted everyone to feel as passionate about the need for all the arts to be available to all schoolchildren throughout Kentucky. She felt as I do that the best and deepest part of the human soul is often reached through the arts.
She will be missed.
Fix New Circle
In a city pushing 300,000 citizens (of which that probably doesn't count the untold thousands of undocumented immigrants smart enough not to be counted in the Census), it is well past time to do something about New Circle Road.
A few years back, we spent an enormous amount of money putting up those stupid poles and wires, and I have already lost count of the number of times sections have had to be replaced (at taxpayers' expense, I am sure).
They finally got around to improving flow on part of New Circle between Boardwalk and Liberty, but what about the rest? We have needed to widen and expand the number of lanes on the entire rest of New Circle for 20 years now.
You can't get from one side of Louisville to the other without getting on a 6- to 8-lane road, so why not in Lexington, too? Every single day there are bottlenecks in several of the same points during both rush hours, without fail.
Quit messing around pointlessly redoing intersections like the double-helix-mess on Harrodsburg Road and start doing something that will increase safety and traffic flow everywhere else.