Letters to the Editor

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By The Staff

Don’t request (or promise) anonymity for donation

To the editor:

I must respond to John Black’s letter in the Jan. 8 edition trashing two fine residents.

Mr. Black needs a history/civics lesson. Forty years ago, President Johnson signed the Freedom of Information Act. Kentucky followed in the 1970s with Open Meetings and Open Records acts. These laws help ensure an open and fair democracy. 

I agree with Black that Oldham County is not Chicago but his argument that this is reason enough to blindly trust our government officials is both illogical and ludicrous. Knott County is not Chicago either, yet two recent judge-executives have been convicted of corruption. Politicians lead national surveys in least trusted professions.

Once the Kentucky Supreme Court published a ruling about “anonymous” donations to public entities, Judge Murner and Mayor Carter should have immediately obeyed the law. Unfortunately, it took law suits from civic-minded people, Magistrate Scott Davis and Dewey Wotring, to flush out the donor.

No one should request or expect anonymity when donating to government; Carter and Murner should not have promised it. Even if these folks were fuzzy on the law, common sense tells you that it is wrong. All monies coming in to local government are public funds and the public is entitled to know where they come from and how they are spent.

In my opinion, Black apparently believes that politicians and the rich are above the law. It is this very notion that Americans must guard and fight against. We are better equipped to do so because of federal and state open access laws. We are a better county because of Wotring and Davis. Davis is a bright, hard-working magistrate who got elected without special interest money. Therefore, he is not beholding to developers or realtors like John Black. (Compare Murner’s donors on www.kref.ky.gov.) Wotring is an intelligent, well-informed resident whose self-professed watchdog approach to county government is a blessing. Both these men have proposed well-researched solutions to our county’s many problems. Unfortunately, they usually fall on deaf ears. 

Karen Baughman, Crestwood

Demand transparency in government

To the editor:

In my 33 years in Oldham County, I’ve never met any of the individuals involved in the controversy over whether government should accept anonymous donations. I write merely as a resident of this county and I hold no ill feelings toward those involved, including the donor. I’m thankful for the donation during an especially needy time.

Last week’s letter from John Black suggested there may have been political motives behind the controversy over the Rawlings donation. There is truth to Black’s point that our judge-executive seems to have some political enemies.

But residents need to demand transparency in their government’s dealings; doing so should not raise suggestions that they oppose Good Samaritans or, in the case of this donor, someone’s religious beliefs. As an independent observer, I was aghast when I read about the strong defense that was mounted to keep this donor anonymous. When county government began circling the wagons, the donation became all the more suspicious. It took the threat of lawsuits for us to finally find out the donor’s name. Now that we know, it seems that no one was seriously harmed.

In fact, even more money has now been donated without the cloud of anonymity.

When people donate anonymously to government, they may or may not be seeking to secretly affect the political landscape. I believe it was wrong for our local government to think that we should blindly trust that there would be no attempt by the anonymous donor to manipulate the political agenda. When it comes to government, I trust little of what I can see, much less what is hidden from me. If one wishes to – as John Black wrote – “do exactly what Jesus says . . . give in secret,” I encourage everyone to do so to one of our needy charities here in Oldham County. If, however, you want to give to the government, your intentions should rightly be questioned. This questioning should arise not out of malice, but because that’s the way the government needs to work to protect the interests of all residents.

Allen Brown, La Grange

Donor’s good deed shouldn’t be condemned, trust elected officials

To the editor:

I want to congratulate John W. Black for his excellent letter in the Jan. 8 edition of The Oldham Era. 

While I’m not as close to the facts as he is, my thoughts were very much the same when I first read about the lawsuits. Why can’t someone do something good and not be condemned for their act? Why can’t we trust our elected officials to be good stewards of our government?

I certainly applaud Mr. Rawlings’ generous gifts, and want him to know the city and county are much better off because of him and his company. Thank you, Mr. Rawlings.

Edward A. “Tony” Craver, Westport

Reader supports John Black

To the editor:

Here! Here! to John Black, he is right on target.  

I watch fiscal court proceedings regularly and find Magistrate Davis normally silent at these meetings.  It appears that any of Davis’ comments or research are usually made or done after the fact, as outlined by Mr. Black. If Magistrate Davis does make any comments, I usually find his diatribe inarticulate and wandering. I want to commend Mr. Black for his work while county judge and for the work Judge-Executive Murner is doing and also to commend Mr. Rawlings for his civic contributions.

Thomas M. Elder, Crestwood

Long live Crestwood Baptist’s Living Christmas Tree

To the editor:

Our family was quite moved by our attendance at the Crestwood Baptist Church’s presentation of the Living Christmas Tree. 

This was the 14th year of this program, but our first experience. Yes, there was a very impressive 10-layer, decorated, lighted and backlit “Living Christmas Tree” with a great chorus, live animals, a singing Santa Claus, a “Night Before Christmas” rapper and other soloists. But it was the program’s Passion Play – which completely covered the birth, life, crucifixion and resurrection of Christ in 45 minutes – that left us more thoughtful and prompted many different family and friend discussions since we left. 

I’m not certain how they did it, but most of our family felt that some part of this Passion Play spoke directly to them in emotions we haven’t felt for a while. 

We felt compelled to congratulate the church and its music and outreach programs on their deeply moving results and did so with an e-mail. Almost immediately we received multiple replies from music program members that they are as deeply moved to be part of the “Living Christmas Tree” program as we were to attend. One response mentioned 2008 could be the last year for this event if organizers don’t receive more responses like ours to validate the terrific amount of work required to produce it.

I encourage other attendees who were also deeply moved by the program to inform the congregation of their appreciation. Write to Crestwood Baptist Church at P.O. Box 70, Crestwood, Ky. 40014, or e-mail info@crestwoodbaptist.org.

Robert E. Goeddel, La Grange

Tell PSC increased utility rates aren’t welcome in Oldham

To the editor,

What if I offered each homeowner $36 to $120 plus tax in exchange for 15 minutes anytime today at his or her convenience? I’d have quite a few takers. Yet 15 minutes to send a letter of protest to the Kentucky Public Service Commission regarding LG&E’s proposed rate increase could yield this money for each to spend or save in the coming year.

Many people have already failed to recognize the May 2008 increase of 300 percent for electric and 145 percent for gas that took effect in the line item “DSM” multiplier on each bill. It says “Electric Residential or Gas Residential DSM” so look from April-May and you will see a net increase in that charge. Our bill went up $4-5 a month. So while we are sleeping, LG&E could get THREE rate increases from May 2008-2009 if storm damage is approved as well. So if you’re mad, let the PSC (respectfully) know it!

I went to the fairgrounds meeting Jan. 5 and of 330,000 customers, only about 100 showed up in protest. All TV stations were there for our anemic performance. The commissioners were obviously willing to listen, sincerely discuss and consider all issues. I can’t imagine the absence of public outcry means increased utility rates are welcome in our community. But the commissioners are not in the position of intuiting a silent citizenry. They need your hear your voice!

So e-mail psc.info@ky.gov and your letter becomes an official document in the case file. You can reference case No. 2008-00252 or indicate it regards LG&E’s rate increase and the PSC will file it with this case. There should be about 300,000 letters and I looked today online - not even close! Yet LG&E has filed many letters “in support” as you might imagine.

If you use regular mail, it’s the Ky. Public Service Commission at PO Box 615, 211 Sower Blvd., Frankfort, Ky., 40602-0615. Sorry but you will deduct $.42 from your future $36-120 plus tax reward. I think it’s worth it, do YOU?

Doreen Carlson, Goshen

His view:

In the Jan. 8 edition, La Grange resident John Black questioned the motives of two men who filed lawsuits to reveal the name of an anonymous donor who contributed  $100,000 each to the City of La Grange and Oldham County Fiscal Court.  

Your view:

Residents are adamant in defending – or discrediting – the actions of the men, La Grange resident Dewey Wotring and Magistrate Scott Davis. 

Join the debate at www.OldhamEra.com/conversation