How can paper carp when it cashes in on college sports, too?
A recent editorial took public universities to task for spending too much on athletes and not enough on regular students. You do a good job of scolding them but you do a poor job of providing any context that might explain their behavior.
You say "This is a period when, as a punishing recession took hold, state funding contracted along with family resources." You fail to mention that state funding was contracting for more than five years before the recession even started.
Did you omit that very relevant fact because you forgot about it or because you were not aware of it? Decision-makers at the public universities probably do not perceive this as a short-term crisis after which one might reasonably expect state funding to rebound.
Why should they not perceive it as a permanent trend? The only other realistic way to fund these institutions is through tuition. Since there are limits placed on annual tuition increases, boosting enrollments is really the only way for them to proceed.
How does one boost enrollments in a culture which values athletics over academics? And what contributes to this cultural obsession with sports?
What are the statistics for how many times the Herald-Leader has featured University of Kentucky basketball on its front page?
Are the journalistic values which allow you to regularly place the results of a basketball game on your front page in any way similar to the misplaced priorities that you criticize in your editorial?
Pett for mouthpiece
Since Joel Pett insists on being a mouthpiece for the Obama administration, I suggest he make it official and replace Jay Carney as the president's spokesman. It's the only role I can imagine for Pett in which I could say, "he couldn't be worse."
Add jobs not taxes
Concerning the Dec. 1 editorial, "Lexington cannot ignore homeless," I would like to make the following observations.
Lexington/Fayette compared to the two benchmarks quoted — Dayton/Montgomery County and Louisville/Jefferson County — has a homeless population approximately three times greater per capita.
It is interesting that while Lexington is the smallest by far in population, it has the largest population of chronically homeless.
The other two areas have chronically homeless populations of approximately 20 homeless per 100,000 people. Lexington has, according to the article, approximately 60 homeless people per 100,000 people.
Why then is Lexington's chronically homeless population so enormous?
I hypothesize that the cause is our comparatively high poverty rate and lack of enough good, high-paying jobs, such as in the manufacturing sector.
A very recent survey by the Matrix Group reveals that our population gives Lexington barely "above average" in job opportunities. And I believe that, before instituting another tax under the guise of a fee to aid the homeless, the above question should be satisfactorily answered.
Ralph A. Ruschell
Bad logo design
It's official. Lexington is the headquarters of bad design.
Think of the attempts to fill that blank green page downtown, resulting in a poor-man's Empire State Building or consider even the W.T. Young Library.
All those years ago, when I first saw that design proposal in the paper, I actually laughed out loud. It brought to mind a 1960s-era hospital with a water tower plopped on top of it, which, albeit boring, wouldn't have been as bad as it ultimately turned out, had the water tower not been built two sizes too small for the scale.
Look up the Denver Public Library or the Denver jail or countless other examples of real architectural thought that surpass the pedestrian.
The latest insult comes in the form of the new VisitLEX logo. Someone actually paid for this? I taught art and design for 34 years. We would have told our students that this was a start. Not necessarily a good one. Go back and make at least 10 revisions. Try moving the horse off dead center. Try breaking the plane of the frame. Try changing the spacing of the text or inventing original text rather than rely on Helvetica built into your computer.
Any of those cool young low-wage workers at any Apple store could, and would, come up with a better design using the same elements — in about two minutes flat.
Now that Nelson Mandela has passed on to his heavenly reward, a deluge of well-deserved words of adulation will be showered upon him from all over the globe. Almost too good to be true, Mandela showed the world that love triumphs over hate.
Being unjustly imprisoned for 27 years, Mandela kept his sanity and persevered by refusing to hate his white oppressors. He made friends, not enemies and did not seek revenge. He demonstrated the power of forgiveness instead. What solidifies Mandela's greatness is his humility. South Africa and the world are better today because of peacemakers like Nelson Mandela. May his life inspire our young people from every nation to emulate his doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with God. What a legacy Mandela leaves us.
Paul L. Whiteley Sr.
Shame on Webster
Regarding Larry Webster's Nov. 24, "What if" column: It's amazing how he could foresee the future if Richard Nixon had been elected instead of John F. Kennedy. He must be extremely wealthy if he can so accurately predict the future.
But worse than his accusations against JFK is that he ridiculed Tom Fletcher (a coal miner from Martin County) whose only mistake was to be interviewed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964.
Webster said Fletcher didn't know squat and lived off government checks most of his life. He even brought up what his second wife had done, which Fletcher was not responsible for. Fletcher and his family did not deserve this.
Webster also ridiculed coal miners in general by saying most of them are excellent squatters and live off government checks. Shame on Webster and the Herald-Leader.
Spellbound by Mandela
I was fortunate enough to be in Washington, D.C., with Shae Hopkins, Guy Mendes and other KET staff to premiere our new documentary on John Sherman Cooper at The Kennedy Center.
The Kennedys turned out in force, since Sen. Cooper and his wife had befriended a young, newly elected John F. Kennedy and his wife when they first came to town. Ted Kennedy, Eunice Kennedy and husband Sargeant Shriver and Katherine Graham, publisher of the Washington Post, all showed up to honor their family friend. It was a wonderful occasion.
The next day, Congressman Larry Hopkins managed to get some seats to hear a recently released Nelson Mandela address Congress. He was charismatic — electric even — and we were all spellbound. It was a high point in my life.
Mandela's road was long and winding, but it ended in peace. May we honor his memory by continuing to work toward that mighty, but often elusive, goal.
CHARTING A NEW DAY special report
No more dependency
The thing that stands out in professor Ron Eller's vacuous essay about Appalachian problems and cures is its slavish devotion to political correctness and tired old social democratic panaceas. Central planning, land redistribution, regionalism and more public dollars are once again showcased as magic bullets aimed at the ailments that bedevil the area.
Eller also decries the "political and economic self interest" of the indigenous leadership of "powerful white men." Like all righteous liberal saviors, Eller determines to throw out the "old guard."
Alien savants have been inflicting fixes on Eastern Kentucky my entire life. The net positive effect of these economic and social experiments has been nil. In fact by creating a culture of dependency, well-meaning busybodies have only exacerbated the problems they discovered 60 years ago.
Eller is a fine historian but one blinkered by ideology. Were he to critically consider the history of Eastern Kentucky he would surely conclude that the last thing the mountains need more of are political, economic and social programs begotten by experts in conferences.
Hills are our home
News flash to Jim Parks of Central Kentucky. We in Eastern Kentucky don't want to leave the area to find prosperity as suggested in his Dec. 1 column. We hill folk are a different sort, we love our home here in the mountains and don't think we should have to move away to make a decent living.
Of all those 160,000 people who did move away, I am sure most of them would tell him that the hills are their home and they wish they could have stayed here.
We don't want government to step in and fix the problem, either. We do know that we would be better off if we had gotten our fair share of the coal severance taxes. Instead they were spent toward the good of other regions in the state.
The column about the coal industry's impact by Stephanie McSpirit and Shaunna Scott was right on the money.
Green plan for E. Ky.
If I could have my way, I would turn Eastern Kentucky into the world leader in green energy, green economy and green transportation. Artisan crafts, bakers, metal smithing, agriculture and livestock, to name only a few of the many industry-based crafts and resources that could be utilized.
Trains that once carried coal would carry people and goods to outlying towns. There could be bed and breakfast inns, music, art, culture and bicycle paths — a whole economy built on the idea that smaller is better. Intrinsic, beautifully crafted homes that satisfy the heart, as opposed to the ego.
I see a place that people would flock to, a tourism industry that teaches others how to create sustainable, economically sound communities that thrive on their own and are enhanced by their connectivity.
I've lived in towns that banned fast food, where you parked your car and rode a trolley in. Once there, you walked. I've seen and worked in upscale restaurants, cafes, bed and breakfasts and wineries. All have jobs galore and a healthy economy. It can be done.
A recent letter suggested that those of us in Eastern Kentucky should capitalize on "drug tourism" as an economic possibility for our region.
The writer even went on to suggest changing current laws and "marketing" our area for this purpose.
My first thought was, in this season of goodwill toward men, how mean and spiteful this man must be. After calming down, I realized that again, the flatlander doesn't get it.
He doesn't realize that good, honest, hardworking, drug-free individuals live in Eastern Kentucky. He doesn't realize that the horrors of drug addiction are not limited to our area.
He doesn't realize that our economic dollars have kept his flatland prosperous with coal severance taxes, and that many state and Central Kentucky leaders were originally from my area. He doesn't realize his words hurt and just create additional resentment.
Sheila B. Holbrook
Eastern Kentucky could be helped if just a couple of distribution centers would locate there. This would bring in trucking jobs, running equipment, forklifts, and a tremendous amount of clerical and administrative jobs.
War on coal insulting
With all the information available concerning the feasibility of continuing to mine coal in Appalachia as opposed to other parts of the country, and the ever-increasing production of gas and oil in this country, if I were a politician I would be embarrassed to still be running for office on the issue of "Obama's war on coal."
If I was a constituent of that politician, I would hope to be intelligent enough to be insulted.