In disability fraud, also punish those who filed claims
As a resident of Eastern Kentucky, I found nothing surprising in your story about Social Security fraud. It merely placed names and faces on a process most residents in this area are well aware of. Attorney Eric Conn is not the only attorney in the area with such a practice. He is just the most blatant.
I think everyone would agree, that Conn, retired Social Security judge David Daugherty and their medical accomplices should suffer civil or criminal penalties if the allegations prove true.
However, one part of the bigger picture that you did not address are the more than 3,000 persons who knowingly filed false claims for disability. Each of these should have their disability payments suspended, their cases reviewed and then be made to repay any benefits received to which they were not entitled, plus a penalty.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Lexington Herald-Leader
Stealing is stealing and people should be held personally responsible, whether they use a weapon or an attorney to commit their crime.
Punishing Conn may provide a deterrence for other attorneys, but punishing illegal claimants would provide a deterrence to the true root of this problem.
For now, the accepted level of behavior for many in Eastern Kentucky is "get all you can from the government by any means possible ... lie, cheat or steal because even if you eventually get caught, there will be no penalty."
And last, for those who do not realize the true measure of this conspiracy: If each of these claimants receives only $2,000 per month in cash and medical benefits, the total cost to taxpayers exceeds $70 million per year and will continue every year for the lifetime of these claimants. It is not inconceivable that the total cost of Conn's actions may eventually exceed $1 billion.
Denied medicine by law
I spent all of my working years employed in Louisville, working for a 501(c)3 federal- and state-funded primary care center, I retired after 27 years. I continue to see my doctor at my previous employer for a number of maladies, including peripheral neuropathy, interstitial cystitis, fibromyalgia, restless legs syndrome, insomnia, migraines etc.
These diseases cause a great deal of pain and discomfort for which I was prescribed a small amount of narcotic pain medication as well as a sleeping aid.
When House Bill 1, the "pill mill bill" was passed in Kentucky, my doctor informed me the entire seven-site facility would no longer be treating any of their patients with narcotics. I would also not be given the sleep aid. He explained the I would be humanely weaned off the medication and I might even feel better once I was off of it. This proved to not be factual.
I have sent several comments to Attorney General Jack Conway' s official Facebook page explaining how this legislation has effected me. The comments are not derogatory or profane in any way. They are removed from the site every time. Now it appears I have been blocked.
Please let others know that if you have a contradictory comment to post on the official government Facebook page for the attorney general, your point of view is so unimportant, not only is there no response, it gets deleted.
Legalize medical pot
I am a wife, mother, pre-school teacher, and an active member of my church. I also support the legalization of medical marijuana in Kentucky.
I am not some pothead. I have a son with regressive autism and epilepsy. Anticonvulsants only partially control his seizures. On a bad day my boy is unable to attend school or function outside his home. Only steroids completely stop his fits but long term use risks diabetes, osteoporosis, and Cushing's Syndrome. Medicinal marijuana is a safer option and it works. It's as simple as that.
News segments glow with reports of children like mine who now thrive thanks to this wonder plant. Cannabis oil is used with kids because it does not contain the high-producing properties of other strains, so let's ditch the stereotype that this is about giving kids joints.
I see those news reports and wonder why my son must be denied his best chance just because we live in the wrong state. This can change. We should pass this bill in the upcoming session so that all people who require the medical benefits of marijuana can access it legally.
Suzanne De Gregorio
Secession could work
I recently signed the online petition for Texas to secede from the Union. I'm all for it. Do you realize how many steps up the U.S. would move in education, health and environmental standing without Texas?
And if we don't want to go to the big expense of removing a star from our flags, I speak for many in Central Kentucky in saying that we'd be happy to make the sacrifice of seceding from the rest of our state, purely in the name of financial responsibility.
As for Texas: Happy trails.
Jailer jobs thankless
I want to commend Herald-Leader staff writer Jim Warren for his two Oct.. 13 stories on jails. I have toured various jails nationwide and spoken to jail employees at the American Jail Association, American Corrections Association, and National Sheriffs' Association. Jails and their missions are often misunderstood by the general public.
Jail employees have thankless jobs, often receive pay of less than $25,000 a year, work in understaffed conditions and must deal with clients who can be dangerous and have a variety of problems.
While jails house approximately 735,000 people a year, they have over 11.6 million bookings a year. While some detainees will be in jail overnight others will spend more than a year there. Jails house misdemeanants, felons, those awaiting trial, those serving out a sentence, people waiting to be transported to prison, federal prisoners, and people waiting to be evaluated for admission to a state hospital.
Jail employees receive detainees who are drunk, high, emotionally distressed and combative. They must deal with a disproportionately high amount of mental illnesses and suicide. Jails rarely have the ability to refuse anyone brought to them and they are too often underfunded and understaffed.
All jails need skilled workers to deal with the variety of clients seen in jails. Training and pay needs to reflect that skill. The public needs to remember that more than 90% of all people who enter jails will come back out to live in the community.
What about a pre-game handshake?
Kentucky State High School Athletic Association recently issued a directive to schools to avoid organized postgame handshakes, because over two dozen fights have occurred during this ceremony in the past three years.
As someone who is involved with youth soccer as a parent, referee and coach, I sympathize with the decision.
Some coaches, and many parents, model terrible behavior towards referees, opponents and other fans, and often the kids follow suit. Sportsmanship is on the decline, but is the KHSAA directive the right way to respond?
Perhaps we should follow the example of soccer at the highest level, where there is a pregame handshake with opponents and referees. Then, after the match, it is up to the players if they want to do this again or not.
In this way, we hold onto the value of sportsmanship but don't create situations in which emotions are still running high and players or coaches are more likely to get into a heated argument or fight.
In the long term, my hope is that there will be a revival of sportsmanship at all levels of sport. Perhaps organizations like the Positive Coaching Alliance will continue to grow and their influence will spread, so that we can engage in postgame handshakes without the likelihood of physical conflict. Sports can be used to develop better athletes and better people. But we must be intentional about this if we are to succeed in achieving these goals.
Trend toward violence
The Oct. 9 article, "After-game handshakes turning into scuffles" is only the latest in a string of issues involving anger and violence in sports.
My dictionary says, "Sport: a source of diversion, physical activity engaged in for pleasure." It's clear that organized sport has largely drifted from the joy of competition to the satisfaction of beating the tar out of the other guy.
Much of this dark trend is due to media and fan obsession with bone-rattling hits. (At least images of helmets colliding and shattering into thousands of pieces have been discarded.)
Nor is the trend toward savagery limited to sports. Nearly every photo of a rock band shows scowling, menacing musicians attired, or barely attired, in shabby duds better suited for a street brawl than for a concert.
Video games are driven by a need to become ever more gruesome. School yearbooks that used to feature images of neatly dressed and proud graduates are now filled with seductive poses. Now I am only waiting for the football rule-makers to reward the act of helping an opponent off the ground with a 15-yard penalty for "unnecessary kindness."
Impose more discipline
Concerning the director of Kentucky High School Athletics stopping post-game handshakes. This is the worst decision I have ever heard of. If we don't allow sportsmanship after these events, what does he think he will get?
We should be encouraging more handshaking and disciplining those who don't. The commissioner has got it all wrong. Don't run from problems, correct poor behavior.
GOP wooed the wrong girl
Poor Republican Party. It reminds me of the young executive who wooed his boss' obnoxious daughter (Tea Party) in an attempt gain favor.
The courtship led to some professional rewards. After some time, and significant success in his field, he decided he no longer needed to impress his boss by being a good boyfriend to his daughter, and attempted to pursue other employment options.
But it just wasn't that easy. The boss' daughter was the possessive type and a stalker. He made several attempts to ditch her, but found out neither her nor her father was going to let him out of the relationship easily. Dad had very powerful connections, and threatened to foil any professional pursuits.
Just like this young man, the Republican Party needs to escape the toxic relationship it has with the Tea Party.
P.S.: Is anyone concerned that House Speaker John Boehner is third in line for the presidency?
Man of his word
High praise to Rep. Andy Barr for voting as he said he would on the government shutdown. It's refreshing to see a politician actually keep his word and follow through with campaign promises.
We ought to sue
The damages caused by the Tea Party (many billions of dollars to U.S. citizens and corporations) should lead to many class-action suits, requiring them to pay for these damages. Since the Constitution forbids anyone from stopping the government from borrowing the funds it needs to pay for its debts, it should also be taken to criminal court for committing treason.
Since the members of the Tea Party are some of the richest people in the country, this should lead to the loss of some huge fortunes being used for criminal purposes and some prison sentences are due as well.
That should put a stop to these criminal acts being repeated in the future.
Bad image to the world
I returned from a month in Australia in time to see the resolution of our government shutdown. Friends and relatives there were confused by the turmoil in Washington. Frustration and disillusionment were evident as I tried to answer their questions about the Tea Party, the growing divisions among Republicans, etc.
Australians revere their universal health care and cannot fathom why we don't have it and why our politicians would risk a global economic collapse over it. Confusion turned to anger as their own stock market reacted negatively to the foolery.
Frankly, it became embarrassing.
Aussies are fond of America and are happy we are a superpower. They expect a lot from us in that capacity. They see us as a force for good in the world and depend on us to do the right thing.
I saw firsthand how badly our standing on the world stage was affected by politicians whose ideologies cloud good judgment.
The 114 congressmen and 18 senators, including our own Sen. Rand Paul and Rep. Andy Barr have shown with their "no" votes to reopen our government that they do not grasp the importance of America to the rest of the free world. They do not deserve the power we have entrusted to them.
Julie H. Tooth
Barr misrepresented district
It is an unavoidable fact that Andy Barr is the single worst mistake to come out of Central Kentucky in a long time. Barr may be good enough for those areas which rank nationally near the bottom in education, and high on drug abuse and poverty. But as a representative for the Bluegrass, Barr is an absolute disgrace.
With his gleeful assistance, the Republican Party has crippled our nation's government, jeopardized our economic recovery and embraced the vilest form of political terrorism available — hostage-taking and blackmail.
The GOP assault on democracy, funded by the prison labor of the Koch brothers and instigated by their bought-and-paid-for servants in Congress, is merely the prelude to the endgame of stripping away any benefits the American worker and retiree have earned and punishing the young and old for the crime of being poor.
If any good is to come from the havoc that Barr and his Tea Party accomplices have perpetrated, let it be to serve as a wake-up call to citizens that those like Barr who profess such disdain and hatred of our American government should never be elected to public office.
Skip Van Hook
What about citizens' credit?
One concern that has not been brought up about this entire government shutdown and debt-ceiling crisis is credit ratings. Not for the country, but for the thousands of people who receive some or all of their income from the federal government, be it from paychecks for government employees, or the income from Social Security or the VA for retirement or disability.
If credit bureaus decide that this type of income is no longer certain, then the credit ratings of thousands of people could have already been damaged.
From what I've read since the resolution of this crisis, I very much fear we will have much the same brinksmanship again in January and February.
I am afraid to shop for Christmas, or to go out of town, or to do anything that costs more than $40 or $50. Many of us live from paycheck to paycheck, and any interruption is simply terrifying.
I would like to issue a challenge to lawmakers: Please do not do this again. I recommend a constitutional amendment to prevent any members from attaching demands to funding the government or increasing the debt ceiling. Think about it.