Legislature must give children priority in budget
Kentucky's current financial situation is bleak. Some say there is a spending problem while others say there is a revenue problem.
If the truth be known, it's somewhere in the middle.
Somewhere in the middle of a spending and revenue problem is where 99 percent of Kentuckians live and work.
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Somewhere in the middle are real families who are affected by decisions made by elected policy- makers and it is where our youngest citizens are affected.
I have to believe our leaders want to provide opportunities for each and every child to grow and learn throughout their lives.
After all, there's a great chance that a toddler enrolled in a quality child care program today just might be a Kentucky governor in 40 to 50 years.
There's an even greater chance that there is a preschool child right now who will become Kentucky's Teacher of the Year or, even better, a National Teacher of the Year.
Maybe, just maybe, there is a middle- or high-school student who will find a cure for cancer.
What about the college student who just might be the founder of the next publicly traded company located right here in Kentucky?
Will every child want to grow up to be governor, teacher, cancer researcher or successful businessman? No. However, shouldn't every child be given an equal chance to be and do all of the above? Absolutely.
I challenge policy-makers in this legislative session to ensure that investments in education — from delivery to diploma — are a top priority.
Child Care Council of Kentucky, Inc.
Slap at prison guards
The Herald-Leader likes to pride itself on its attitude of tolerance and a distaste for judgments made against entire classes of people.
Apparently, contributing columnist Larry Webster gets a free pass.
In his Dec. 22 column, he gave tongue-in-cheek yuletide cheers to missteps he perceives were made by government officials over the past year. As an example, he chides his congressman for helping to bring prisons (and prison jobs) to his community.
He characterizes this as a "Jailers for the Nation program, by which ordinary people are turned into prison guards, which means they end up weirder than the ones on the other side of the bars."
Apparently, Webster has a higher regard for criminal offenders than for the people who risk their lives to make his community safer.
Curiously, he goes on to grieve the tragic death of "a gentle storekeeper from India" who was recently murdered in a robbery of a gas station in Lexington. Perhaps he forgets that the perpetrator is currently sitting in jail, watched over by — guess who? — prison guards.
Can we assume Webster holds the same low opinion of these correctional officers as he holds against the prison workers in his community?
If the Herald-Leader had any integrity, the editors would issue an apology on Webster's behalf to the prison workers who serve the citizens of this state.
Change school funding
In the Jan. 5 Opinions Sunday section, Richard Riordan provided a very interesting column on income inequality in the U.S.
While he does address this issue very well, he glosses over the education aspect near the end.
Instead of making philanthropic contributions toward improving education, it would be more profitable to apply more direct changes to the education system.
Rather than the current system, which relies on taxes from local areas and benefits from the state and federal governments, a new system should be established on a federal or state level which awards payments based upon population and special needs.
The current system promotes income inequality; richer communities pay more in taxes to local schools, which in turn means more funding, whereas less wealthy districts have to make do with smaller budgets and fewer teaching materials.
In a centralized system, the budget could be more effectively allocated to provide for proper education.
I have come to the conclusion that we will always be at war.
We ended the war in Iraq. We're ending the war in Afghanistan. But what about the war on drugs, the war on coal, the war on religion, the war on Christmas and the war on tooth decay.
When the word "war" is used to incite, hyperbolize or promote an agenda, it does a disservice to anyone who has fought and served.
Unless, of course, we finally declare a war on war.
Overzealous police action
As a U.S. history teacher, I am obligated to educate my students on their constitutional rights.
You can imagine my chagrin when two of "Lexington's finest" invaded, without warrant, a small gathering of 25- to 30-year old schoolteachers, sous chefs and entrepreneurs via the back door of a private home.
What should have been a simple noise complaint quickly escalated as the officers bellowed that everyone leave or be arrested — with no specific charges named.
When some who had been drinking protested that they were waiting for rides (the responsible thing to do) the officers told them to vacate the premises and head to the sidewalk.
Any adult knows that this is public intoxication, but when questioned, the cops responded with anger that they weren't going to be the ones to do anything about it.
Many who should not have been driving did so, and the rest went on foot in the rain. Such a blatant overreaction to non-criminal, of-age adults caused problems which are far more dangerous than a simple noise complaint.
I realize that with the college kids gone, overzealous officers had nothing better to do than to break up an innocent holiday party, but that does not excuse the violation of rights and protocol by an organization that is supposed to "protect and serve."
Unfair disability rules
I filed for disability in 2009, because of juvenile diabetes, depression and tendonitis in both knees. I also have developed retinopathy (which has made me blind in one eye), neuropathy in legs and feet, failing kidneys and other issues due to diabetes.
I was denied twice and then got a lawyer (which was a joke), went before a trial judge and was still denied.
I believe this is messed up because I personally know people who were approved right away due to being druggies or alcoholics.
What does it take to get what I paid into for several years given back to me? There are days I can hardly move. I have to be treated often for medical issues.
Now I have to try to hold a low-paying part-time job which will wear my body down more so I don't end up homeless because I don't qualify as disabled.
Foreigners and certain people get things handed to them, but a born and raised American who paid into the system gets shafted. Why is this?
Excited about downtown, city's rural ties
Less than six months ago, I moved to downtown Lexington from a Texas metropolis with my husband to begin a new job as a medical animator. While the job itself was the major draw, the city promised to be progressive, accessible and engaging. I love that it balances a small-town feel and proximity to nature with a large and modern city's energy.
Beyond the horses, bourbon and basketball, there's easy access to lush outdoor exploration, myriad unique restaurants, a new aquaponics facility, the Kentucky Theater, community gardens, public art projects, fitness gyms and farmers' markets.
Even in a Texas metropolis, I was unable to find an aerial silks class nearby, but here I go to one every week. And, of course, the walking lifestyle that living downtown allows has been a relief from commuting and has let me experience so much of Lexington with convenience.
I'm also looking forward to seeing how the city continues to grow, in particular the Town Branch Trail project. This walking and bike-friendly trail (two miles of which is already done) promises to connect downtown Lexington to the distillery district and out to idyllic green fields.
Downtown itself will host Town Branch Commons, an extensive park lovely in concept that would surely be a draw to live or visit in the city. It is also a smart way to keep Lexington's rural ties even as the urban population grows. A unique downtown that's intertwined and connected to nature sounds like the best of both worlds.