Good deal for little work
Writer Mark Twain said "... there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress."
This would seem to indicate that Twain had not had the chance to observe the Kentucky Senate. As reported March 10 in the Herald-Leader: "After the Senate reached a quorum, the first order of business was to excuse the absent members, who still will get paid."
Maybe the 18 missing members were in New Orleans with the so-called leader of the Senate attending the SEC basketball tournament. I guess the 60-inch, taxpayer-provided television that used to be in Senate President David Williams' office was not large enough to properly view the games.
What a sweet deal. The Senate is only in session 60 days this year and its members do not even have to show up for work to get paid. If they did show up, they might actually pass a budget within the 60-day session and not have to resort to a special session. Sorry, I forgot that during the special session they would receive additional pay. Silly me.
William F. Maloney
Reform death penalty
It is heartening to read the March 7 commentary signed by the group of prosecutors asking that the state suspend executions until needed reforms are made to the way our state administers the death penalty. Many prosecutors have reacted with the knee-jerk response that the American Bar Association has some hidden agenda to abolish the death penalty.
The ABA report was compiled by a couple of retired Kentucky Supreme Court justices, a former House Judiciary chair, a few distinguished law professors and bar leaders. Many on the team had direct experience in the administration of capital cases. This team did not go into the assessment process with a position about whether the death penalty should be abolished; the team's intent was to study whether its administration was fair and accurate.
The ABA assessment recommendations should make sense to anyone who reads the report. To help get these recommendations implemented, I encourage each citizen to call his/her representative and urge the General Assembly to pass House Bill 145, and SCR 190, a resolution for a study of the costs of the death penalty, and HCR 173, a resolution to establish a task force to implement the reforms recommended by the report.
Rep. John Tilley, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, especially needs to hear from you. Tell him to fix the 60 percent error rate in administering the death penalty and pass HB 145.
Call 1-800-372-7181 and leave your message. Your call can make a difference.
Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation
Shameful vote on bullying bill
As a citizen of Kentucky and as a pastor of a church, I am extremely disappointed by the House Education Committee's rejection of the anti-bullying bill, and angered by comments that I read.
In 2008, our state lawmakers approved a broad anti-bullying law. Kudos. Yet the continued harassment of children who are gay and lesbian — bullying that can be documented, that has led to suicide — clearly shows that stronger legislation is needed. Rep. Ben Waide said that the measure is "about gay rights in our schools." No, the measure is about gay and lesbian children having the right to be who they are without fear of being bullied.
Waide also asked what would happen when Christian students questioned gay students about their lifestyle. Does he mean "question" as in ask them about, have conversation with, walk in their shoes, learn about? Or does he mean "question" as in outwardly condemn, mock, criticize?
The first is an authentic Christian response. The second is not.
But let's take this anti-bullying campaign one step further. I call on all leaders of faith who stand in the pulpit to stop the judgmental rhetoric that fuels and supports bullying.
Shame on those of you Christians who use scripture and faith to support your homophobic biases.
Shame on we Christians who affirm those who are gay, lesbian, transgendered or bisexual but who remain silent because it may hurt our church budgets. Kids are dying.
The Rev. Dalene Vasbinder
Woodland Christian Church
Put money into child welfare
Recently we've been made aware how broken our Kentucky child welfare system is. There were 11,305 substantiated child abuse calls last year with over 5,000 kids removed from their homes. Legislation before the House and Senate seeks to address this problem.
House Bill 364 and Senate Billl 193 call upon our state to meet its existing statutory requirements of guaranteeing the best possible placement for children by developing appropriate plans for each and reviewing how well these are working. This legislation also requires the state to fully fund the cost of residential services for children who need them.
In a budget of some $19.5 billion with our governor proposing $8 million in new spending, these children need to be a priority. Unfortunately, the children themselves are not in a position to advocate for these measures.
Please join me and others in calling upon our legislators to support, fund and pass HB 364 and SB 193. Messages for our legislators can be left at 1-800-372-7181. Better still, contact them in person if you can.
Howard O. Reynolds
Urgent need for new leadership
I have always been very proud of being born and raised in Kentucky. It is a great state with great people, and in many ways that greatness is demonstrated on a daily basis.
However, Kentucky has been saddled with a very significant problem for too many years that has stood in the way of progress in almost every area in this state.
That is the total and complete absence of enlightened, ethical and progressive leadership in the Kentucky General Assembly.
It is time to remove both House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Senate President David Williams from their leadership positions. It is time for General Assembly members from both political parties to find the fortitude and backbone to stand and deliver new leadership and stop being afraid of Stumbo and Williams.
Stop feeding the vanities and egos of two individuals who have no reason to be vain. We deserve much, much better and we must demand it.