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over the top
To the Editor:
Kyle Thompson’s self-indulgent autobiography in last Sunday’s State Journal may have been cathartic for him but served no useful purpose for your readers, presumably all potential voters in the upcoming general election. And we can only hope that his opponent Bill May has no plans for a similar tell-all account.
Once we slogged through Kyle’s personal life story, we learned that Kyle, with a flair for the dramatic, believes we’re in an “unprecedented fiscal crisis,” despite numbers to the contrary, e.g. that our unemployment rate (6.6 percent) is Kentucky’s second lowest and our average household income one of the state’s highest.
We learned that Kyle wants to eliminate some luxuries in order to afford necessities. Of course, without any specifics, we don’t know what his priorities really are. Perhaps we could follow the example of more progressive cities and adopt a participatory budgeting process whereby citizens have a direct say in allocating resources.
We learned that he believes Frankfort is a “haven for criminal activity” where “we’re struggling with rampant crime” which may come as a surprise to most of us.
And Kyle somehow managed to juxtapose an appeal for new revenue streams with a proposal for tax incentives to attract outside businesses. I didn’t know we could have it both ways but here is Kyle to show us how.
It is certainly true that our city government hasn’t always acted with intelligence and imagination. But promoting a candidacy with unnecessary and irrelevant personal details, scare tactics and naked hyperbole does not a leader make. Nor does it inspire hope for a different style of governance.
And The State Journal owes its readership an apology for giving a candidate the equivalent of a half-page ad at the expense of an honest and open discussion of the issues facing Frankfort. Seldom before has so little of substance occupied so much space.
Editor’s note: Donna Hecker was a candidate for mayor in the May primary, won by Bill May and Kyle Thompson. The Nov. 6 election will decide which of those two is the next mayor.
make a killing
To the Editor:
A very attention-getting story regarding the special retirement conditions for the General Assembly is in circulation again. The story by Lowell Reese, editor of Roll Call, makes public some very troubling facts. If you read The Kentucky Gazette story and you are not disgusted, you ought to be. With no discomfort or shame, the General Assembly in 2005 passed legislation that feathers its own nest.
Passage of House Bill 299 allowed manipulation to qualify for as much as $1.2 million for legislative retirement. It’s greed and privilege by our elected officials. Bill 299, was the focus for the revision of benefits from the legislature to enact a better retirement for its members.
House Bill 299 allowed the legislature to adjust the number of years to figure retirement from five to three. Such action embellishes the retirement system for the General Assembly and other political employees. They are the non-elected double-dippers who are drawing over $100,000 in state retirement because of their political value to the governor.
Reese says a retired member of the General Assembly and vice president of Eastern University, Harry Moberly Jr., will be able to draw $2.6 million from his state retirement. If that does not make you sick, what will?
Former Labor Secretary J.R. Gray will be eligible for lifetime benefits of $1.2 million. Gray was a member of the General Assembly before he was appointed secretary of the Labor Cabinet by Gov. Steve Beshear. House Speaker Greg Stumbo will be eligible for $1.2 million in retirement.
Republican Charlie Borders was appointed to the Public Service Commission at a higher-paying salary. Borders gained significantly from his appointment.
If you are good friends with the governor, you can sell your popularity to the commonwealth and get a higher-paying job. That is what Rep. Charlie Borders did. Three years on the PSC, at a much higher salary, qualified him for $737,516 in lifetime benefits. A full reading of the research by Reese can be found at kentuckygazette.com.
Get your towel ready. After you read it you may become ill. On the other hand, if you are one of the governor’s friends who draws the triple-digit retirement check, you’re probably grinning like a possum.
Jim Anderson Stivers
To the Editor:
Recent reports in the Kentucky Gazette as well as a Bluegrass Institute report researched and documented by Lowell Reese have provided a great deal of insight into how legislators have used their authority to pass legislation for the sole purpose of benefiting themselves. One of the most disturbing parts of Mr. Reese’s report is his conclusion that: “The story you are about to read is, on the surface, about gold-plated pensions. The most outrageous aspect but the main message of this story resides in the subsurface – the attitude of the General Assembly (and governors who once dominated it) demonstrated by flat-out greed and disrespect for the public treasury which now has put the standard of living of all Kentuckians in jeopardy.”
The greed demonstrated by the General Assembly is found in House Bill 299, often referred to as the “legislators’ greed bill,” passed in 2005. This bill significantly changed the manner in which legislators’ pensions are calculated and made their benefits even more generous. It contains a reciprocity provision which allows legislators who work for the state in another capacity to combine legislative service with service in another agency and receive greatly increased pensions and benefits through KERS. In his report, Mr. Reese provides several examples of how legislators are able to abuse the systems.
It will be interesting to see if the local media will expose local legislators and let them explain their vote on this egregious bill. Sen. Julian Carroll, who claims to be a champion for the interests of “his state workers,” not only voted for HB 299 but voted in 2010 against Senate Bill 51, which would have repealed it. SB passed in the Senate but died in the House. This is another example of how legislators have evolved from servants of the people to their masters. What is abundantly clear by this fiasco is that many legislators have degenerated to the point where they cannot feel shame.
Editor’s note: Frank Haynes is running for the state Senate seat now held by former Gov. Julian Carroll.
Phone bill aid
To the Editor:
The continual innovation in the telecommunications industry creates numerous options from which Kentucky consumers can choose to best stay connected. Despite the myriad of options available to Kentuckians, economic challenges may make it difficult for some to remain connected to family, emergency services, employers and health care providers. To help low-income Kentuckians stay connected, the Lifeline (not to be confused with a medical alert program with a similar name) may help.
You may qualify for Lifeline if you receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance for Needy Families. You may also qualify if you participate in the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program or the National Free School Lunch program or live in Federal Public Housing/Section 8.
Lifeline will provide a discount of up to $12.75 a month on the local service portion of your telephone bill. Lifeline provides discounts only for the primary telephone in a household, whether it is a landline or wireless phone. Households are limited to one phone line receiving the Lifeline subsidy.
If you think you qualify, contact your local telephone service provider to assist you in selecting a service plan that meets your needs and to receive instructions on how to apply for Lifeline support. Lifeline is funded through telephone service providers and not all providers participate in the program.
The Kentucky Public Service Commission website has further information about Lifeline at http://psc.ky.gov/agencies/psc/consumer/lifeline.pdf.
Lifeline can help those in need to stay connected. Please help us spread the word to those who may qualify.
David L. Armstrong
Chairman, Kentucky Public Service Commission
Attorney General of Kentucky
Forest M. Skaggs
Executive director, Kentucky Telecom Association
To the Editor:
How far has America fallen? Can America be saved? What message is crying out to us from almighty God?
The word appointed for America today is II Chronicles 7:14: “If my people who are called by my name (Christians) will humble themselves and pray and seek (fast) my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
“My people” refers to a nation as a whole, and to those who are truly children of God. This scripture is God calling out to a nation that once stood for God and what he said in his word, dedicated to his purposes, but that has fallen away from his will.
It’s a call for believers to return to the God of their childhood. If the righteous had been the great lights they were called to be, this nation would never have fallen as it did.
How did America fall away? George Washington stood across from the federal building in 1789 and made a covenant with God and in his prayer he dedicated this nation to God. The removal of prayer from our public life was the first step away from God.
What followed in the last 50 years – the turning away – has now brought this nation to a crisis point in its history.
If America as a whole does not face the magnitude of its moral and spiritual descent, the degrading of its culture, the multitude of its idols, its fall into ever deeper immoralities – carnality, impurity, greed, materialism, vanity, self-obsession and the altars covered with the blood of its innocent babies – there can be no change of destination. If we do not repent and do it quickly, judgment will come.
The first to repent are the believers. Why? Because they have secret sins and they’re serving other gods. Because of their apathy, their complacency, their compromises with darkness, their omissions, their withholding of life and their failure to fulfill their great commission: to be the light of the world. It’s up to you now. God’s mercy is without end. America’s future lies in three words: “If my people …”