Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

December 16, 2012

In Your View

The Independent

ASHLAND — Law gives workers right to earn keep

This is in response to the  comments by Terry Sexton in the Wednesday, Dec. 12, Independent about Michigan’s new the right to work law.

When I was 17 and living in eastern Kentucky, there were very few jobs and most young people headed north to find work. When I got to Cleveland, Ohio, I wanted the right to work. I met a personnel manager who was from this area. She hired me for a factory job. After a probationary period, I ended up in the United Mine Workers union but I worked for the Sherwin-Williams Co.

To really get ahead, I needed more education. I found out that either union or non-union employees could go to college free. This company paid tuition and books and all the employee had to do was maintain a C average. This was company policy not negotiated.

I worked for that company for 20 years and ended up as packaging manager. As I was leaving to take a management job back Kentucky, a union officer asked if I ever missed having the backing of the union. Not at all, I said. I was willing to work as an individual and prove I could make the company more money than they were paying me.

Now 73, I worked for 46 years. I always felt like I made a good living wage. In response to Terry's stack of papers being harder to tear than a single sheet, I can spot one mediocre person who needs the rest of the stack. I personally like individuals who will earn their way; so do both companies and unions.

The law that was passed gives each employee the right to get a job, earn his keep and make his own decisions. This law has nothing to do with hindering negotiations for wages and benefits.

Robert H. Williams, Cannonsburg

Libraries are far from being ghosts

There’s been a great deal written about State Auditor Adam Edelen’s report on special districts, most of it negative, or worse, conflicting. 

Libraries were referred to as “ghost governments.” This is just not the case. We’re overseen by the state librarian and Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives; we file budgets with county clerk and judge-executive offices; we submit annual budget reports to Department for Local Government; and we publish budgets in local papers. Our boards are appointed by county judge-executive and commissioners; we have annual audits; and all board meetings are open to the public.  

In fact, the state auditor’s report says as much.  “KDLA and Kentucky Public Library Association … put a great deal of effort to provide the public with as much transparency and accountability as possible. In addition, they have gone to great lengths to ensure their members have the training necessary to be able to provide these things.”

Boyd County Public Library is governed by a five-member board. Trustees are non-partisan and selected based on a commitment to providing the community with the cost-effective and useful services, staff, and programs possible.

Yes, The Library has the ability to tax, but only within strict state statutes. Yes, it has a reserve.  BCPL relies on outside entities to calculate rates, set property values and collect taxes, though revenue arrives five months into the fiscal year. There are repair, remodel and construction plans. By being fiscally responsible, BCPL has a reserve that allows these issues to be handled without borrowing money.

The library also has policies that govern operations, ethics and finances. Staff, supervisors and trustees have state certification.

BCPL’s board and staff spend our time making sure we do everything we can to be an ethical, efficient and economical part of the community.  

Debbie Cosper, Director, Boyd County Public Library

Charity should begin at home

While dining at a local Ashland chain restaurant, I was asked if I would like to give a donation to a charity to “help the children.” There were stockings hanging all over the restaurant showing that the community had been very generous. After reading the paper I was given, I decided to check it out first. Their website convinced me it is a legitimate nonprofit charity, but all the money collected would go to children in 12 West Virginia counties.

When exiting a big box store, a gentleman asked me to donate to help feed the hungry and homeless. I was curious since I belong to a local Hunger and Homeless Coalition task force. He assured me he was with a non-profit and admitted he was from Columbus and really didn’t know where the money would go.

I have no reason to doubt that these are well-meaning individuals with legitimate non-profit organizations.  I do, however, believe we have local charities that are struggling to meet the need of local children as well as hungry and homeless people.

I encourage you to give generously to local agencies to help local people. I have volunteered with United Way on review panels reviewing the requests of many of these local agencies, and I am totally convinced that “Charity should begin at home.”

Support Helping Hands, the Community Kitchen, Safe Harbor or one of many local agencies. You might also cover them all by making a generous donation to United Way of Northeast Kentucky.

R. J. “Bud” Matheny, Flatwoods

Why keep system that’s inefficient?

Why maintain a system and technology that has a known and obvious life expectancy built in? Coal is a natural resource that requires an enormous amount of energy to harvest and process. Plus, it is limited in both quantity and geographic availability.

Duke Energy’s successful operation of a “coal gas” generation plant has been touted as a “milestone for the company as well as Indiana.” Such a statement couldn’t be farther from the truth, as the process that is used to produce “coal-gas” leaves enormous questions lingering: What are we doing with the residuals of the gasification process?

Gasifying coal extracts, at best, 85 percent of the available energy from coal, but significant quantities of arsenic, lead, mercury, and other heavy metal remain in the waste. The process leaves these toxins in a form that is easily adapted for industry purposes. Traditional pulverized systems produce soot that can be filtered in various forms to capture the toxins for use across multitudes of manufacturing and research project. The remaining material can be easily mixed with ammonia to produce farm grade fertilizer.

Attempts at moving the power industry to “coal gas” have been seen before and failed for the very reason that threatens the current attempt: oil price fallout.

Our aging power system should take a page from the past to build and revitalize our infrastructure through sound planning. We should take a note of Walmart, which is in the process of installing solar panels to offset the cost of electricity on every store in the country. How about providing incentives for them to cover the store’s parking lots? 

It’s time we built an infrastructure that can adapt to advances in technology and not adapt technology to its stagnation.

 Benjamin Vaughan, Electrical engineer, Louisville


Campaign season never really ends

You thought the campaign was over, correct? But the campaign is on! The campaign is always on. The media love it. The pundits and politicians love it.

The money spent on campaigns comes from you, out of your pocket, directly or indirectly. What do you get in return? The people receive a deluge of worn out rhetoric, i.e. “jobs, taxes, education, health care ...”. Now don’t throw up. Campaign sound-good promises abound, but lack any specifics regarding implementation.

Will some one-term presidential-savior emerge and save the day? Would any term-limited executive be successful when faced with the reality of dealing with our entrenched legislators? Term limits for the executive branches is a good thing; term limits for the legislative branches must be enacted to produce a level playing field. The best argument for legislator term limits is their abhorrence of such a measure.

Our “Supremes” have ruled that money is speech. The floodgates are now wide open, draining your purses even faster. Will the Supremes be called upon to answer that last remaining “ultimate question:” Is the world round or flat?  If they rule “flat.” which we favor, then it is! 

Michael Myers, Ashland