UK should adopt design excellence to improve campus
We are grateful for President Eli Capilouto's and the UK Board of Trustees service to the commonwealth but we are also concerned about the astounding damage being done to the UK campus by the dormitories being constructed.
These buildings are more than objects on the campus — they are major space makers, defining places that comprise the campus.
At the heart of our concern is the appearance and configuration of the buildings. They are devoid of poetic, artistic or historic integrity. Several manifest the cheapest, most disposable sort of designs being built in our era. The buildings fail to respond to and improve the campus spatial experience, and any untrained eye will see that their appearance was an afterthought.
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We understand that the dorms are being built in part to make the university more competitive. Unfortunately, the university's failure to engage a serious design process will diminish their effectiveness.
Other universities are building carefully designed dormitories having profound relationships with their surrounding campuses. Leading universities are also committed to achieving LEED certifications for all new buildings, a smart investment in the health of their students, community and bottom line.
UK should be one of these leaders, particularly in the development of the campus. These are works with which we must live for generations. Please take action now to ensure a built legacy of which we can be proud by insisting upon design excellence for all new work on campus.
Graham Pohl, Krisia Rosa, Clive Pohl
Rand Paul's courage
I was excited to see Sen. Rand Paul speak at Howard University against perpetual war, drug war and mandatory sentencing.
I would think these issues would resonate with Herald-Leader columnist Merlene Davis, but she chose to criticize Paul for the GOP policies of the 1950s and 1960s.
I'm hoping for less partisan and stereotypical debate so we can move forward in this country.
I'm happy that Paul has the courage to open dialogue with all parts of America.
Sen. Rand Paul's latest op-ed concluded with the following statement: "I would think Kentucky media, like the Herald-Leader, would know more about my overall efforts than simply the big headlines reported by national papers."
This is nonsensical because most of what Paul does is to ensure that he gets big attention-grabbing headlines. For example, he told Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that if he had been president, he would have asked for her resignation because of the Benghazi attacks.
Well the Republicans have hollered and screamed about this attack where four Americans were killed, but does anyone remember them making an issue out of the attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983 under Reagan, when 241 American soldiers were killed?
No, and I don't either.
I would like to predict that, while Clinton may one day be president, Paul will never be more than an eccentric back-bencher. And as far as the ruinous awful debt that Paul refers to, you would think that he doesn't know the majority of the debt was run up under Republicans.
President Bill Clinton was the last to balance the budget, three times. Then Bush gave away the store to the top one percent and the budget hasn't been balanced since.
And when Paul talks about "bankrupt entitlements" he refuses to acknowledge there is $2.7 trillion in the Social Security trust fund. The Republicans would like to cut benefits rather than pay the money back to the trust fund.
Our fallen hero
Richie, Richie our hero. One of the Unforgettables. Unfortunately one of the unforgivables, too.
Richie, I will never understand why Kentucky is viewed as good-ole boys backwards politics. Let's have a big bourbon and Cuban stogie while we discuss it at the Hyatt over steak and lobster, shall we?
Toyota's very good deal
Pop quiz: What activity is, depending on how you look at it, one of the best investments you can make or one of the best paying jobs you can get?
Answer: Getting an economic development grant from the Kentucky Economic Development Authority.
Toyota was recently given $146.5 million in tax breaks to add another vehicle model to the Georgetown plant. In exchange, Toyota has to invest $531 million in the plant and hire 570 workers.
Take your pick: that's either a guaranteed 28 percent return on investment or $257,000 per job. If each job pays $50,000, that's almost 86 years worth of state income tax from those new jobs.
Does that sound excessive to anyone else? Do you think maybe — just maybe — Toyota might have put that new line here anyway? And how is this fair to other companies who don't get this get-out-of-jail-free card on their state taxes?
I have nothing against Toyota, and my hat is off to it for making cars that people want and earning a profit doing so. But wouldn't it be more fair if everyone in the state got a similar tax break? If lowering Toyota's tax bill prompts them to invest more in Kentucky, wouldn't it work the same for other companies?
We'd have a lot more economic growth, but Frankfort bureaucrats and politicians wouldn't get to be in the news. I guess we know which outcome they really want.
Goodbye to a storyteller
The world of Appalachia lost an accomplished author and advocate on April 17. A no-nonsense, down-to-earth storyteller proud to be an Appalachian descendant living off the land of his ancestors in the foothills of Morehead.
I liken Bob Sloan's storytelling to that of a spider spinning a web. Beginning with a solid idea at the core, he slowly expanded, adding precise and intricate details. As the story grew, so did his hypnotic effect, drawing you ever closer, ever inward until you found yourself smack dab in the middle of his tale.
Unlike the spider's prey struggling to escape, Bob's listeners settled in deeper, leaned in closer, held on tighter pleading, "Tell us more."
I'll forever remember him convincing me to do something with my writing other than journaling. He then proceeded to prod and push until I had my first piece published in Birds and Blooms magazine. I still have the email he sent me afterwards filled with only three words — "told ya so" — typed over and over and over.
Bob Sloan, you will be missed.
Linda Lacy Thompson
Moms for gun control
Nearly four months after the tragedy that took 20 first-graders' lives in Connecticut, the mothers of Kentucky and all across America are sickened by our elected leaders' inability to enact bipartisan, common-sense gun reforms supported by 90 percent of the American people.
Instead, more than 40 senators do the bidding of the gun lobby, including our own senators, Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul.
Our state should be ashamed of the leadership role these two played in leading the filibuster attempt against this gun legislation, and the amendment's defeat.
But we are not defeated. Moms vote, and we will not forget these actions in the upcoming election cycle. If these senators will not protect our children and families, we will find some that will.
We will look to our state legislature to take up the mantle of common sense and pass new and stronger gun laws. We will work to elect leaders who are responsive to the best interests of Kentuckians, and not special interests.
While we are appalled by the cowardice of the senators who opposed this bipartisan bill, we are buoyed by the energy and determination of our members, and the leaders who voted with courage.
This Senate vote only strengthens the resolve of Kentucky mothers and all those across America who are rising up to fight the influence and power of the gun lobby.
For Kentucky mothers, this is not the end. It is just the beginning.
Moms Demand Action, Kentucky Chapter
Pray for compassion
The outpouring of support gor the victims of the bombing in Boston is evidence of our humanity.
However, I am reminded of two instances during my teaching career at Eastern Kentucky University that completely baffled me.
After the Pan American airliner bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland on Dec. 21, 1988, which killed 270, the ladies of that community did something amazing and reverential. After the personal effects had been decontaminated, they lovingly cleaned clothing that could be identified to send to grieving families.
A clutch of three or four female students responded incredulously: Why would anyone want to do that? The majority of the class scolded them with silence, as I did.
A few days after the Oklahoma City bombing April 19, 1995, in which 168 died, a male student on the back row made a startling statement. "Sometimes such things are necessary," he said. Immediately, every head in the class turned toward him. I asked him to clarify but he only repeated his statement.
Some individuals, I suppose, are predisposed toward a lack of compassion. Since 1995, every time I see a yellow moving van on the interstate I pray for those impacted by the Oklahoma City bombing.
I also pray for the people of Boston and all those who have suffered because of acts of terrorism, foreign and domestic.
Maybe it is also time to pray for the terrorists to realize that what they are about to do is take human lives without the compassion that all cultures and religions teach and revere.
William E. Ellis
As April comes to a close, so does Parkinson's Awareness Month. Nearly 1 million Americans live with Parkinson's and many of them, including myself, are living right here in Lexington.
Imagine being a healthy outdoorsman just 58 years old who could out-walk just about anybody when a neurologist explains that the reason your movement is restricted, muscles experience terrible pain, walking appears intoxicated, sleep is elusive and your occasionally "freeze" while doing simple tasks is because you have a degenerative disease called Parkinson's.
Through awareness and support of a loving church, family and the Lexington area Parkinson's support group, my wife, LuAnn, and I are conquering this illness through the power of prayer, positive attitude and exercise.
With constant activity and connection with caring experts in movement disorders, we have come to manage what was a devastating diagnosis. We are learning to live one day at a time by counting God's blessings.
For more information, contact the Lexington area Parkinson's support group at (859) 277-1040 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
My journey continues.
A message for Mitch
Tried to contact Sen. Mitch McConnell lately about an issue of importance to you?
Over the past two weeks, my attempts to contact him in Washington during business hours about critical legislative issues have yielded only an answering machine informing me that the office is either closed or experiencing a high volume of calls, after which my calls were perfunctorily disconnected.
Just one more example of McConnell's complete disconnect from his constituency and the lack of value he places on voter input.
Perhaps he will get the message sent from the voting booth.
The story about John Dacci and Ray's Barber Shop brought back a lot of memories.
Ray's original barber shop, Ray and Davidson Barber and Beauty, was across Main Street where Long John Silver's parking lot is now. Ray Tuttle was very nice and an excellent barber. He was the best fisherman in Central Kentucky and could tell you the best spot, even to the depth, to fish on Herrington Lake.
A one-eyed barber in the shop was mean as hell, especially to us kids. He later moved to a tiny shop on North Lime Street. And when he lost his driver's license in his later years, he became a traffic hazard on his motorized tricycle.
To the east of Ray's was Hill's Confectionary. which later became Clay's Restaurant. To the east was Coles & Reed Service Station, a large round two-story building where I spent a lot of time and nickels playing pinball.
Further west was Ashland Florist, Saloshin Drugs and L.F. Rue grocery across the street from Henry Clay High School. Across Clay Avenue was Jimmy Butts service state, Velvet Ice Cream and Kroger, where Magee's Bakery is now. Across Main Street from Donato's was another service station, which has become several restaurants. My art teacher painted a large mural around the upper wall.
I also remember in 1945 when our scout troop from Park Methodist Church went camping where the zipline controversy is now. We encountered a mountaineer guarding his moonshine still. We were advised at rifle-point to just keep hiking. And we did.