Erosia (Letters to the Editor) for 3-05-08

LEO welcomes letters that are brief (250 words max) and thoughtful. Ad hominem attacks will be ignored, and we need your name and a daytime phone number. Send snail mail to EROSIA, 640 S. Fourth St., Louisville, Ky. 40202. Fax to 895-9779 or e-mail to [email protected] We may edit for length, grammar and clarity.

Rock and Hard Place
In response to Stephen George’s article “High on the mountaintop” (LEO, Feb. 20), there is one of two things we can say about House Natural Resources and Environment Chairman Jim Gooch. Either he doesn’t really believe what he claims to believe and just wants King Coal’s money, or he really does, in fact, believe what he says he believes and is just plain ignorant.
If it’s the former, he is an immoral politician with his hand in the cookie jar; if it’s the latter, he is incompetent and unfit to hold public office. Either way, it’s the citizens of our commonwealth who suffer. You be the judge!
Lee Lewis, Louisville

Guns Be Gone
As usually happens when someone explores the subject of gun control, a furious response erupted on the Erosia page in the Feb. 20 LEO, led by people asserting that there exists an absolute constitutional right to carry weapons and claiming, through anecdotal examples and superficially quoted statistics, that private citizens are safeguarding themselves by owning guns.
Let us pause from this over-emotional, hot-button debate, take a deep breath and consider these two facts:
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in 1939 that the Second Amendment protects only state militias from being disarmed by the federal government, not an individual’s right to gun ownership. The court, in an Oklahoma case called U.S. v. Miller, said that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” was mentioned only because in the late 1700s, the only way for militias to stay fortified was for volunteers to bring their own weapons.
Since the modern day equivalent of state militias are National Guard units and these units don’t need weapons brought by volunteers, the notion that private gun ownership is somehow a check on federal power is absurd (handguns v. nuclear weapons? Be reasonable).
Second, since almost all handguns used in crime are stolen, isn’t it obvious that law-abiding citizens keeping guns in their homes — which are then broken into — simply feeds, rather than prevents, crime?
George Morrison, New Albany, Ind.

Shoot from the Hip

After reading about Rep. Bob “Sword of Damocles” Damron’s proposal to allow concealed firearms on the state’s college campuses, I’m wondering why he just doesn’t advocate for the repeal of the 1891 Kentucky Constitution so we can make dueling legal again.
If candidates for public office were once again allowed to stage a good old-fashioned shoot-off at 20 paces over their differences, it would eliminate the need for runoff elections or any more filibusters in the Kentucky legislature.
And it would certainly encourage our elected officials to “shoot straight” with the public, and perhaps at anyone else who dared cross their path!
Mike Zanone, Louisville

Make Good, Mayor
Parkinson’s 5th Law: Delay is the cruelest form of denial.
Metro Council President Jim King’s plan to fund the Louisville Library is a perfect example of Parkinson’s 5th and a cynical move to provide political cover for Mayor Abramson.
First, the mayor makes an election promise to build Louisville new libraries without new taxes. Next he decides that we can’t have new libraries without a new $40 million tax increase that just happens to free up $16 million a year in his own budget. He then convinces library supporters to raise and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to campaign for the tax increase, only to have the voters give him a resounding “no.”
Does he relent and make good on his promise? Not our mayor.
He has Jim King, who’s posturing to become our next mayor, come up with a plan that maybe starts some funding for the library in 2011 if (1) the economy gets better; (2) if the Library Foundation can provide 20 percent of the needed funding in spite of the fact that the foundation lost almost all its money and fundraising credibility campaigning for the tax increase; and (3) if we can freeze a number of city department budgets right now so we will have operating dollars for the new libraries.
In spite of the overwhelming amount of built-in ifs and delay, Mr. King called the plan “our intellectual discussion of hope.” I guess that’s code for cruel denial. Mayor Abramson needs to step up and make good on his promise.
Norman Morton, Louisville

Casino Downtown
If Jefferson County gets a casino, it should be run by Churchill Downs, or if someone else operates it, Churchill should certainly get an appropriate cut of the proceeds. Kentucky’s signature horse industry deserves that much. But for the economic development benefit of our community, the casino should be located downtown — not at the track. A casino downtown, immediately adjacent to the multiple amenities already making our center city a showplace, will only enhance downtown’s renaissance. Beyond its location, a casino’s form, especially in an urban location, is also critical. A casino built as a complete, inwardly focused destination in and of itself, in any location, including downtown, would provide no ancillary economic development benefit. Like Caesars Indiana, patrons would drive in and drive out.
On the other hand, designing a casino with an outwardly focused layout, as many of the newer facilities do, benefits the surrounding area as well. Locating the casino in the Louisville Gardens, for example, which is owned by the city, and building additional parking on the lot just across Sixth Street to the west, which is owned by the state, and insisting that the casino not have a hotel or fancier meal offerings, would move non-gambling uses out into the downtown — literally spreading the wealth.
We all recognize the importance of Churchill Downs to our community. But it should be a two-way street. Some may have forgotten, but in 2002, the City of Louisville agreed to take ownership of the Churchill property to allow them to be more competitive. Now would be the appropriate time for the track to return the favor by supporting the casino in the location that would have the most competitive benefits for the community that bailed them out — downtown.
Ken Herndon, Director of Operations for the Louisville Downtown Management District

Dark Days
Truly Orwellian times: Last fall, endless war huckster Mitch McConnell snagged honors as our local environmentalist of the year. More recently, healthcare-for-bucks czar David Jones pitched his parks privatization scheme as a model public interest project.
Now some unions have hoisted corporatist Bruce Lunsford on their shoulders for working folks to rally around. Bad Kool-Aid. “How do we get out of this hell to see the stars again?”
Mark McKinley, Louisville