Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor: Nov. 17

Kentucky should help, not jail, child offenders

I am writing on behalf of Community Action Kentucky, the state association of Community Action Agencies, which provide social services to economically disadvantaged citizens across Kentucky.

We support the Interim Joint Committee on Judiciary and Rep. Kelly Flood's attempt to reform juvenile justice for the betterment of Kentucky's children.

Kentucky's current laws, which have produced the second-highest rate of incarceration in the nation for youth status offenders, are both expensive and ineffective.

On Oct. 25 the Herald-Leader published an article about Flood's pre-filing a bill dealing with status offenders.

Status offenses are non-criminal misbehavior, such as truancy, runaways and children deemed beyond the control of their parents, and as Flood notes in the article: "The underlying causes for status offenses are usually due to problems at home and school and are often signs of not-yet identified trauma and/or mental health needs of young people." Status offenders can be as young as elementary school-age children.

Instead of incarceration, these children and their families deserve local support services to treat the cause of the misbehavior and to remedy the issues which lead to the status offenses, including basic nutrition, counseling and educational assistance.

In sum, the constructive and cost-effective approach proposed by Flood will dramatically improve the lives of our youth and her bill deserves the full backing of the General Assembly.

Rob Jones

Executive Director, Community Action Kentucky


Fair is not special

The issue of fairness ordinances for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered is not a religious issue; it is an issue of equality and justice.

The United States may be mostly Christian, but it is not totally so; even within Christianity there are many nuances. This is one of the reasons the separation of church and state is important.

Ensuring that all people have the same access to housing, employment and public accommodations is not "political correctness" or "special rights." Unfortunately, not all people are treated equally, making it necessary to pass fairness ordinances.

This in no way tramples on the rights of people who believe that a "homosexual lifestyle" is a sin. Their First Amendment rights will not be abused. They can still voice their opinions and their interpretation of the Bible and their beliefs on homosexuality. They do not have to allow homosexuals in their homes. They can speak out against homosexuality and do not have to be polite to those whom they perceive to be homosexual. This will not affect their marriages or families. It only allows others to have the same rights that they have.

Dorie Hubbard


Fuel or show?

The image of the algal photobioreactor is inspiring ("Algae a green friend of coal?," Oct. 22). But why the big mystery about what to do with the algae produced? Feed it to cows and it goes right into the atmosphere (the problem we're trying to solve).

Of course, what you should do is burn it in the power plant and make more carbon dioxide to make more algae.

If you make the phytobioreactor big enough to absorb all the carbon produced by the plant, you will make enough algae to burn to make that much carbon dioxide, and so on. That would be carbon neutral and sustainable. If not, you will not sequester all the carbon the plant produces. If you do, you will not need any coal.

So which is it? Is this intended as a technology to replace coal, or is it show biz at taxpayers' expense?

Scott Gleeson


Go coal

The recent news that the Big Sandy Power Plant near Louisa will continue to operate as a coal-burning electrical generation plant should be a cause for celebration throughout its distribution area. I applaud Kentucky Power Co. President Greg Pauley's decision to keep it coal.

It's good to see a president who appreciates coal. From day one, President Barack Obama has been against coal. He has allowed the Environmental Protection Agency to promulgate its own rules that have sent miners home due to the stalling-out effect of their rules on the industry. Further, the action by the EPA to reject 19 Kentucky surface mining permits will be a major blow to coal miners.

I am asking every Herald-Leader reader to contact their elected officials and encourage them to get the EPA off our backs.

I am also inviting Obama to come to Appalachia to talk to us. I don't necessarily need to meet him, but other people within the mining industry, in higher positions than mine, would like to sit down and talk to him about mining, the EPA and keeping coal miners working. Our miners play a big part in this country and they need his attention. They do know how to vote, too.

John F. Enyart


Room for buggies

A forensic engineer wrote that it should be illegal for Amish buggies and other vehicles operating 10 mph or more below the speed limit to use our highways. As an agricultural engineer familiar with slow-moving vehicle collisions, I am disappointed when people don't understand the issues.

Farmers have a clear and historic right to use public roads, yet such a proposal would eliminate all but the newest, highest-speed tractors. Few farmers could meet the criteria proposed by the forensic engineer. It is impractical if not unethical to eliminate all slow-moving vehicles from our roads.

The Amish, who have been in the United States since the 1700s, also have a right to the road. Tens of thousands of buggies are in use on public roads, especially in states with the largest Amish populations (Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Wisconsin). They and others have successfully dealt with this issue.

The Amish situation is also a religious freedom issue, and has reached various state supreme courts as well as the U.S. Supreme Court. Kentucky's Supreme Court needs to hear this case as other states have.

This is not some new religious group appearing out of nowhere; the Old Order Amish have practiced their beliefs for a very long time.

Kentucky's Constitution says: "No human authority shall, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience." To the Amish, this is clearly a matter of religious conscience, and for Kentucky, a complex issue.

Mark Purschwitz


Numbers game

Inspired by Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan, I have developed my own to get the economy moving.

I call it the 435-100-1 plan. It consists of replacing all 435 House members, all 100 senators and our one president.

Admittedly, it is not as catchy as Cain's, but I believe it will have enormously positive economic and political ramifications.

Tay Porter