Keep Ky. treasurer job for oversight, accountability
The Kentucky legislature has resurrected the bill to abolish the treasurer's office in a cynical attempt to appear to save taxpayers money.
Many state treasurers in other states are the only elected official with specific public accountability for state pensions.
Kentucky, with its treasurer weakened by the legislature, now has the single worst-funded state pension in the country.
Exactly 10 years ago I wrote a piece for the Kentucky Gazette entitled, "Why Kentucky needs a strong treasurer," in which I outlined how oversight from a strong treasurer could help prevent the potential for a huge pension debt to overtake the state.
Since 2004, when the pensions were close to full funding, the legislature has essentially borrowed over $32 billion from state pensions and retiree health accounts to create the impression of a balanced budget. The interest on this debt is $6.5 million a day.
Now some lawmakers want to abolish one of the few independent oversight roles in government to save $1.3 million a year, which is less than five hours of the debt cost on the pension.
Budgets over the past 10 years have also weakened the other constitutional officers, the attorney general and the auditor.
Legislators and governors do not want independent oversight and have used the budget process to essentially eliminate it in Kentucky.
Public pension consultant
I am a white grandfather and when I finished reading Kendra Farmer's Jan. 19 column, "Prisoners of our own minds, culture," I had tears in my eyes.
Farmer has said what needed to be said and it took courage for her to say it. It was well done.
She is a bright ray of hope.
Restore child care funds
We have all heard that the income gap in the United States continues to increase, making some wealthier than imaginable while many others struggle just to make ends meet.
But, we do not stop to think that many of those who have the least in our present economy are children and their families.
One-fourth of children in Kentucky now live below the poverty level and while education is the most important factor in their long-term success, what they need today is an opportunity for their parents to have reliable employment.
As anyone with children knows, employment is only possible if you have a safe place to leave your children when you are at work.
This support may be possible for many Kentucky families if money for child- and kinship-care programs, which has been slashed over the last two-year budget, can be replaced during this legislative session.
And now there is hope, with Gov. Steve Beshear stating his support for these programs at the children's advocacy day at the Capitol last week and proposing to put funds for these programs back in his budget.
I hope others will join me in thanking him for his leadership and his vision for the future of our commonwealth.
What's Thayer's problem?
Sen. Damon Thayer was quoted in a recent article saying that he could not support a proposed bill to allow nonviolent felons who have completed their sentences to regain their right to vote. He has blocked similar bills in the past.
I would very much like for him to state clearly why this is his position. This bill has passed by big margins in the House several times, and polls have shown strong public support. Kentucky is one of the only states with such stringent restrictions.
Why should one man be allowed to block an important vote?
I cannot vote against him as I do not live in his district. However, I can certainly ask him what is his problem.
John V. Payne
New Circle unwalkable
I'm all for downtown walkability. Great. However I live in the north end of Lexington and once I leave my neighborhood, walkability is hit or miss.
We have no sidewalks on this section of New Circle Road. Bus stops, businesses, supermarkets, health facilities and plenty of great deals on a loaded, late-model SUV. We even have crosswalks painted across four lanes of crazed New Circle traffic. But no sidewalks.
Using author Jeff Speck's criteria, I can attest that a walk along this portion of New Circle is certainly useful and interesting. Safe and comfortable? Not even close.
The railroad overpass at Broadway and New Circle is particularly treacherous: families must venture into oncoming traffic to gain access to services on or around New Circle Road.
They're not walking the dog or taking in the sights or monitoring their heart rate. They're just trying to get necessities like groceries and medicine.
Granted, this part of Lexington has received the short end of the grandfather stick for ages. And its needs will probably continue to be secondary to those of newer neighborhoods, revitalized downtowns, bike paths and historical walkways. Those are indeed good, viable and beneficial projects. But, please, first things first.
Because right now the only footprint that I'm concerned about is the one I'm leaving in a drainage ditch alongside New Circle Road.
Hard to find Ky. bourbon
I dropped into a local bar recently and tried my best to pick out a pure Kentucky bourbon, one owned, distilled and distribute here.
Not an easy task any longer.
With the sale of Jim Beam (including Maker's Mark, Knob Creek, Basil Hayden and others) to Japanese owned Suntory, and along with other foreign-owned bourbons such as Wild Turkey (Italian), Bulleit (London), and Four Roses (Japanese), I found myself outnumbered.
I have long considered myself somewhat of an expert on Kentucky bourbon, since I do drink my share.
When traveling the U.S. or showing guests around Lexington, I have been very proud to promote Kentucky bourbons and discuss details of all brands.
I contemplated the demise of Kentucky pride. I gathered that, no matter how deep your family roots and history are, nor how pure your limestone-filtered water runs, it is always for sale if the price is right.
So, I passed on my usual Basil Hayden and drank a couple Woodford Reserves. Several "Kentucky bourbons" are now marked off my list.
Dallas Todd Slusher
Cancer warning on Pepsi
On Jan. 23, Consumer Reports announced that some tested samples of Pepsi, Diet Pepsi and Pepsi One contain a potentially carcinogenic chemical called 4-methylimidazole (4-MeI).
This chemical is used in some artificial colors which give cola beverages their characteristic brown color.
A 2007 study conducted by the federal government found that 4-MeI caused cancer in mice. The International Agency for Research on Cancer says that 4-MeI is "possibly carcinogenic to humans."
The state of California requires any product containing more than 29 micrograms of 4-MeI to be labeled with a cancer warning.
In testing Pepsi purchased in the New York area, Consumer Reports found levels of 4-MeI at six times the California level.
This chemical is completely unnecessary and exposes consumers to an increased risk of cancer.
Pepsi needs to remove it from their products immediately, apologize to the public and create a fund to compensate for victims' future health costs.
This is an important story that should have been on the front page of the Herald-Leader.
It ran on NBC Nightly News and is reported on the websites of CBS News, CNN and Fox.
In your recent picture of the Sing-Off episode, the AcoUstiKats (three without trousers) were merely copycats (certainly not aristocrats like from Downton Abbey) by copying another group and maybe Miley Cyrus.
Did they think they looked attractive? No, it wasn't. I wish them good luck and better sense in the future.
Katherine W. Ratliff