Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor: Sept. 4

Rod Strickland
Rod Strickland

Nicholasville to I-75 connector a waste of taxpayer money

It looks like the vampire road is still alive. This is the Nicholasville bypass that the trucking industry and some merchants and developers have wanted almost since the days that the leaders of Central Kentucky made the wise decision in the 1950s to keep the interstate highways from destroying Lexington and Fayette County.

Now Jessamine County leaders who have destroyed U.S. 27, aka Nicholasville Road, say they need a connector from Nicholasville to Interstate-75 in Madison County, crossing the Kentucky River, at a mere cost of $100 million, which will surely double before the bulldozers arrive.

This is a complete waste of taxpayers' money and will ultimately destroy Central Kentucky.

Can you imagine thousands of cars and semis pouring onto Nicholasville Road every day?

Of course, once the truckers see that quagmire they will then divert to the newly four-laned Harrodsburg Road. Then once that is clogged up the move will be to finish the vampire road through Woodford County to the Bluegrass Parkway and then to I-64 and back to I-75 through Scott County.

I think the public needs to tell the Jessamine County group to just take U.S. 27 South to Stanford and across the remodeled U.S. 150 to I-75, which I use all the time, and it's finished. Cost for that solution is nothing.

George Kopser

Jessamine County

Insult to Christians

I read the scathing commentary by Slate's Laura Helmuth (Aug. 21) on Rep. Todd Akin's views, and all I can say is, wow.

What a long, insulting, prejudicial and blasphemous article directed toward God, the Bible (the inerrant word of God to many) and Christians. Helmuth's article started out as a criticism of Rep. Akin and ended in a rant of intolerance toward others with beliefs that are different from hers.

We still have religious freedom in this country, right?

Angela Vittos


Check hospice charges

I read with sadness the report in the Herald-Leader about incorrect charges by hospice and a refund of over half a million dollars to Medicare.

The sadness comes from my experience with hospice and my belief that, like many other medical services providers, the drive to create lots of billing has become at least as important as providing the excellent end-of-life service they have always been known for.

My experience involved a family member who we were told was losing weight and that it was time to call in hospice. I immediately started going at dinnertime and was surprised to find, on many days, he was wheeled to his room to get ready for bed at 5:10 p.m. (dinner was served beginning at 5 p.m.). He simply wasn't being fed properly.

Our family member was an Alzheimer's patient and, at his stage, just needed a little more time and assistance. We began taking care of the feeding operation, and after 2½ months his weight returned and hospice was no longer needed.

The problem came in the billing. The bill for the first complete month was $5,353.32, including a strange charge of $4,313.32 for hospice. When asked about the charge, the answer was, "We bill the maximum allowed from the start to compensate for the more intense services later."

It's easy to simply ignore charges when they are covered by Medicare, and not out of pocket. That's why abuses surface regularly. Make sure hospice is delivering appropriate service for an appropriate price.

Russ Lay


Give up Olympics, NBC

Re: "Rich Copley: NBC has work to do before 2016 Rio Olympics" (Kentucky.com, Aug. 13.) Where there are huge successes there are also controversy and failure.

That NBC had decided to postpone The Who for an hour to air a tasteless comedy about animals is obviously disappointing. The Who should also be displeased.

NBC has covered the Olympics for a long time, and this kind of flap is now a flop.

I also do think that after 2020 NBC should surrender coverage of the Olympics to another network that obviously deserves it better.

John Huerta

Warren, Ark.

Suspicious traffic stop

University of Kentucky men's assistant basketball coach Rod Strickland was arrested several weeks ago for operating a motor vehicle on a suspended driver's license.

I strongly believe that Strickland was pulled over for driving while black (DWB), a practice commonly used by law enforcement to profile black motorists. Most law enforcement agencies assume blacks who drive nice cars are drug dealers.

Motorists pulled over for DUI generally go through a series of sobriety tests. Generally, these tests are conducted by one or two officers, and if they pass the legal drinking limit they go home and if they are above the legal drinking limit they go to jail.

However, the DWB motorists go through an investigation and their car is thoroughly searched by a squadron of officers, and even a police dog may assist in the search.

Once the officers conclude their investigation, they may taunt the black motorist, which may lead to a violent event. Nationwide, this profiling practice has led to serious injuries and even death to some black motorists.

Alvin T. Brown


Evolution is a fact

At this point, whether evolution should be taught as a scientific theory or a hypothesis is immaterial. The real concern in the science classroom comes from the apparent lack of teaching about the difference between a scientific theory and a scientific hypothesis.

Sen. David Givens complained that evolution was being taught as a fact and not a theory. However, teaching it as a fact is teaching it as a theory. A theory, according to the Random House College Dictionary, is "a more or less verified or established explanation, accounting for known phenomena." In fewer words, a theory is a fact.

Our colloquialisms have brought us to believe that the term theory is interchangeable with the word hypothesis instead of the word fact. The theory of evolution is not untested, as a hypothesis would be. It has a vaster body of research and knowledge to back it than the theory of gravity. Curiously, I don't see politicians jumping to teach non-scientifically based alternatives (i.e., creationism) for gravity.

Saying "it's only a theory" is the same understatement as saying "it's only a fact."

Anita Shanker


Democracy in flux

We are a nation of 300 million-plus people, a very large political body understanding itself as a democracy. Nations of 5 million or 10 million operating as a democracy are indeed small change.

For perspective, Mexico is 110 million and Canada is slightly smaller in population than California.

We have no detailed "operating manual." There is no definitive "book." In the broadest sense we have a constitution with 4,400 words. These are more guidelines than a complete manual of procedures.

There is no constitutional operating manual to do this fantastic thing: operate a gigantic democracy in a changing world full of conflict for which there is no exact blueprint. The United States code is 200,000 pages long. Now that is an "operating manual" for you.

Thus, we are ignoring or forgetting what a huge challenge for any set of politicians or group of citizens it is to manage such a nation. And we are one-third the size of the two largest nations. We can only wish them well. Neither do they have perfect blueprints. Their "might" may be greater than their understanding. So, too, with us.

And yet some of us actually believe the U.S. Constitution, written at a time when the horse was the main method of transportation, is an absolute map.

As my neighbor says, the circumstances are vastly different from when the Constitution was written. Can we put aside the clichés and simplest political nostrums that hustlers and drummers offer?

Complexity and rancor may be our undoing.

Proctor Burres Jr.


Clarify reverse mortgages

The Los Angeles Times article published on Kentucky.com on Aug. 8 was obviously written by someone with little knowledge of reverse mortgages. The author stated "origination fees can range from 2.1 percent to 8.3 percent."

In reality, HUD/FHA, which back these loans, limit a lender's origination fee to 2 percent of the first $200,000 and 1 percent above that. In Kentucky, our laws are even more restrictive than HUD's.

The author refers to three types of reverse mortgages, some of which "restrict" how the funds may be used. Since 2008, the only reverse mortgage in the market has been the FHA Home Equity Conversion Mortgage. This loan has no restrictions on the use of funds.

A common misconception is that reverse mortgages charge "hefty fees" at closing. Several years ago that was true, but since HUD has introduced "the saver" loan and the market pricing has stabilized, in many cases the fees are less than on a conventional or FHA mortgage.

Jack Guttentag, who was quoted in the article, suggested if a person is going to take out a reverse mortgage that they use the "line of credit" option so they only pay interest on the money they actually draw.

I think most of the industry would agree this is a good option, however Guttentag failed to mention the most important point. Any money sitting unused in this line of credit is growing tax free at a rate 4.3314 percent (as of Aug. 8).

Wayne Thompson


Vanishing middle class

Greed is in control. Our government is out of control, out of touch, and has stopped doing what is in the best interest of "we the people" and our great country. Our leaders are for sale to lobbyists, PACs and special-interest groups. The rich are taking care of the rich as the middle class is being left behind.

Greed is color-blind and does not discriminate. What is happening to the middle class is happening to all of us, to every middle-class Democrat and Republican.

It is happening to every color of every race and every person of all religious affiliations. If ever there was a time in history for us to set aside our petty differences and fight the good fight for the survival of the middle class, now is that time.

Why is it so hard for the educated in Washington and corporate America to understand that a prosperous, healthy and growing middle class equates to a prosperous, healthy and growing economy, a win-win situation for all? Could it be that they are so consumed and addicted to greed that they simply cannot help themselves?

David Riggs


More than buzzwords

All too often, we hear about lives snuffed out in tragic and violent ways — recently, in epic proportions. When we fail to hold all people as sacred, we risk extinguishing those whom we perceive to be worth less and, in tremendously faulty thinking, worthless.

Guns destroy mortal life, but our lack of civility in conversation and behavior destroys the human spirit and is no less murder, evidenced so clearly by our teens who spoke eloquently about the effects of intolerance and disrespect.

Until the day we begin to understand and grasp the wonder and grace of our diversity, we will read about ugly, toxic and malignant actions that are a tragic consequence of a communal erosion of the dignity of self and, subsequently, the capacity to recognize the dignity of others.

Any and every title that signals uniqueness also gives recognition to our common humanity from which all uniqueness flows and which must be valued inherently. Only because of and from our common humanity can we celebrate the facets of our lives that make us each unique.

We need more than buzzwords and lofty rhetoric if we are to survive; indeed, we need respect, tolerance, reverence and a renewed horror when we see, hear or witness anything less.

J.R. Zerkowski


Freedom from slaughter

An article by Shannon Cobb in Kentucky Voices on July 28 referred to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, organized as MADD 30 years ago. She made a strong point in asking mothers to stand up again to demand bans on assault weapons.

One of the horrible aspects of the Aurora, Colo., and other domestic massacres is that the weapons and ammunition were bought legally. Those innocent victims were people's loved ones and could be our own children, husbands or neighbors. The 1994 ban on assault weapons should not have been allowed to expire.

I have nothing against responsible gun ownership for hunters, marksmen, collectors or home defense. Assault weapons have no role in those pursuits. The Second Amendment was ratified in 1791 and assures the right to bear arms in order to maintain a militia because this nation had no standing army at that time.

This amendment clearly provides the right to own a blunderbuss, a flintlock musket or whatever firearm existed then. It is unlikely that our Founding Fathers could have envisioned assault weapons or that this bill would be defined for that purpose.

Furthermore, the Ninth Amendment states: "The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." This Ninth Amendment should override the Second one when it intrudes upon the rights of the people to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Shannon Cobb said it. "Mothers say no because we said so."

Jacquelyn Robinson


Learn about U.S. debt

During my formative years, my father served as chief financial officer for one of Kentucky's largest counties.

During his tenure, the county regularly ran budget surpluses and he sometimes had to go to extraordinary lengths to curtail spending increases sought by his fellow local government officials.

Two lessons he taught me were to vote Democratic and to be fiscally responsible. After several decades of observation, I have concluded that these two are no longer reconcilable.

The addition of Rep. Paul Ryan to the Republican ticket is a game-changer for those of us who have desired an adult discussion about how to address our country's precarious financial condition.

This is not to say Republicans (or Ryan) have it all right. But Ryan will ensure that America's obscene level of debt will become part of the discourse.

If we listen carefully, we may hear the ugly truth, not just pandering promises from those who claim they would extend us ever more government benefits while taxing someone else to pay them.

Any plan that does not require sacrifice by one and all is probably not worth considering.

Whether voters get it right on election day only time will tell, but thanks to Ryan we won't be able to say we didn't understand the issue.

When the candidates come around claiming we can continue to have it all without paying for it, that will be the time, as my father's hero Harry Truman used to say, "to go home and lock your smokehouse."

Alan Owens