Sep 18, 2007 at 7:05 pm

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.

’Nuff Said

I was hoping to see some reaction to my letter regarding bicycling, but … wow! As I (naively and blithely) read the collection entitled “Don’t Tread On Me?” (LEO, Sept. 12), I began preparing some responses to various points made. But by the time I reached the end, I realized that everything I wanted to say was already covered by other letter writers. So let me just say thanks to everyone for a great dialogue.
Jay R. Lillie, Louisville

Waters Under the Bridge
For weeks I have read Jim Waters’ Bluegrass Beacon columns and, whereas I don’t at all recoil at conservative views (my favorite book of political discourse is Barry Goldwater’s “The Conscience of a Conservative”), I find Waters’ pronouncements on the glories of the “free market” a bit glassy-eyed and removed from the real world, which is never as simple as a think-tank.

He juxtaposes government with the initiative shown by restaurant chain entrepreneurs Col. Harland Sanders and Bob Evans, portraying the two as polar opposites, with nothing beneficial for business ever coming out of what he generalizes as “some government program.”

I ask Waters to try telling a manager of a Bob Evans or a KFC that the interstate highway system hasn’t helped them or that Social Security is a big government monster that overtaxes them and destroys their initiative.
In fact, restaurants cling to interstate exits like gravy to mashed potatoes, and their owners count the days till those Social Security checks come out, then hustle to recoup as much of that FICA money as they can from elderly or disabled customers.

So how ’bout Head Start? There’s “some government program” that couldn’t possibly affect chain restaurants in any way other than causing them to pay more in taxes — except that it makes them less likely to be robbed. Yes, many state police chief associations have lobbied for more funding for Head Start because, they have concluded, it is proven to reduce crime (for details, see the Web site of the group Fight Crime: Invest in Kids at

Then, there’s the more than 20 surveys done monthly, annually or every few years by the U.S. Census Bureau or other federal agencies collecting a gold mine of figures about business, labor, education and disposable income that are made available to all businesses.

And let’s not forget one long obscure combined government-private sector service started in 1969: that’s the Internet. Yes, it has greatly reduced businesses’ costs and helped boost the entrepreneurial spirit Waters admires.

As Waters wrote, Evans made his sausage better by using the best hog parts, rather than scraps. Surely, a think-tank should admit that so many of the much demonized “government programs” qualify as the best parts of a recipe for success.
George Morrison, New Albany, Ind.

Left-Handed Endorsement?

Jim Waters’s op-ed, “Beauty and the gambling beast” (LEO, Sept. 5), sounded too much like a left-handed endorsement of Fletcher. Most incumbents have to run on their records — makes sense, doesn’t it? Waters mentions nothing about Fletcher’s record, which is smart, if you’re for the guy. The biggest thing Steve Beshear has going for him is that he is not Ernie Fletcher. While Beshear obviously supports expanded gaming, he is willing to let the people decide by voting on the issue. Fletcher started off saying he would let the people vote, but he changed his mind and decided that he would impose his will — for our own sake, of course. This on top of the fact that Fletcher’s campaign took money from gambling interests. Was he for it before he was against it?

Who can blame Fletcher for avoiding his record? Let’s see: indictments, taking the Fifth, guilty pleas and pardons — a fine record indeed! Fletcher is doing exactly what U.S. Sen. Larry Craig is trying to do: pleading guilty and then acting like they did nothing wrong. It’s a “witch hunt,” all right, and come Nov. 7, the people will be sending one son-of-witch packing!
David Fitts, Lexington

Deeper Issues

Your recent article “Eating ourselves to death” (LEO, Aug. 22) was an amazing mixture of parochialism and naiveté. Having adequate, decent food in the present and future is indeed a problem for Louisville but an absolute nightmare for the much of the world. Presently, up to 35,000 children worldwide (estimated by several authorities — there are no hard figures kept by any agency) die from starvation each day, at a time when the world actually has adequate food — we merely have distribution and finance difficulties. Imagine the death rate at the end of the next decade — a mere 10-12 years away — when the world population growth has out-stripped our food production growth. And we think we have international problems now. So much for parochialism.

 The naiveté of the article was also disheartening: “Transitioning from a tobacco economy to a food economy, advocates have a vision of a cooperative partnership between urban communities that are food insecure and rural communities that desperately seek a new market to save Kentucky’s declining agricultural system.” Great sentence! Great concept!  But your article also quotes Wendell Berry, who lives in Henry County. So what is Wendell’s Henry County doing to prepare for this oncoming “cooperation”? The county government is in the process of destroying more than 100 acres of excellent farmland for its park system and its industrial park. And who is the driving force behind this? County Judge John Logan Brent, a former Community Farm Alliance leader!
So please be a little more sophisticated and understanding of our collective food future. You are faced not only with a world-based food crisis but also with local-based stupidity.
Steven D. White, Henry County, Ky.

Fat Kentucks
I want to applaud LEO for its recent article regarding the unavailability of nutritious food to certain parts of our community, particularly West Louisville. As a local orthopaedic surgeon, I have been increasingly alarmed at the numbers of morbidly obese patients who are seeking care in my office. I have many patients who are in excess of 100 pounds of their ideal body weight. Obesity is often the primary cause of arthritic back, knee, ankle or foot pain. As part of their treatment, I counsel my patients to start an exercise program and to decrease their intake of caloric dense fast food and to increase consumption of fresh fruits, vegetables and lean meat. Availability of fresh produce is a first step in encouraging healthy eating.

Unfortunately, obesity in Louisville is a problem that cuts across all class lines. I have many East End patients who are overweight and choose to either eat the wrong foods or simply eat too much. Having lived in Europe for three years and lived throughout the United States, I know that obesity is not the norm. According to a new report by Trust for America’s Health, the obesity rate in Kentucky is 26.7 percent, making it the fifth heaviest state in the nation. Diabetes is directly linked to obesity; therefore Kentucky’s diabetes rate is 8.3 percent, eighth in the nation.

I remain skeptical that by simply making nutritious food available, obesity rates will decrease. People eat fast food because it tastes good, is convenient and is inexpensive. Some fast food chains have made nutritious food available and have met little success in improving the general public’s eating habits. Calories be damned, a Big Mac and super-sized fries taste better than a McSalad. We should all be responsible for our own health.

The government cannot mandate that we eat intelligently, nor can it force us to exercise. Parents and schools need to educate our children about the importance of healthy eating and exercise. Parents, teachers and physicians should teach by example. Until the average Kentuckian practices some personal responsibility and self-restraint, we will continue to be perceived as a bunch of undisciplined hicks who are wallowing in our own excess.
R. Todd Hockenbury, M.D., Advanced Orthopaedics of Louisville

Listen Up, Mitch
As a participant in many of the Iraq Summer operations these past few months, I was thrilled to read Stephen George’s well written and balanced story on the group’s efforts to raise Sen. Mitch McConnell’s awareness about the war in Iraq (LEO, Sept. 5). Unfortunately, the senator, as usual, refuses to speak to anyone he suspects did not vote for him, so I will have to address my comments to his chief of staff, Billy Piper.

Billy: I and everyone who feels passionately about ending the reckless war in Iraq are offended by your flippant comment stating “… the effort to mess with Sen. McConnell is about more than just the Iraq war.” This remark demonstrates how truly out of touch you and your boss are with the people of Kentucky. I can assure you that not one of the 800 people at the Take a Stand event, not one person assembled in front of the townhouse at “Protest Point,” not a single veteran, soldier’s mother or peace activist was there because they were upset about McConnell’s efforts to block the “Employee Free Choice Act.” The Iraq Summer campaign has been upfront from the outset about the coalition partners that are providing funding. This is more than can be said about your boss, Billy. If you and Sen. McConnell continue to deny the will of the citizens of the commonwealth, if you choose to belittle the efforts of dedicated individuals who are working to end this generation’s Vietnam, if you stoop to questioning the motives of the soldiers and their families who have courageously opposed this war, then you will truly earn the political extinction you face in 2008.
Brian Smith, Louisville

Go West, Young Man

Reading Stephen George’s recent article about the Ditch Mitch campaign and its allies (LEO, Sept. 5), I get the feeling these folks are putting too much stock in the local antiwar movement. Yes, indeed, Congressman John Yarmuth’s victory last year indicates McConnell is vulnerable on this issue in Jefferson County. That much is pretty obvious. But, I’d bet that most of Kentucky outside of Jefferson and Fayette counties still believes we should have won the Vietnam war.

My point? Nowadays, McConnell’s base appears to be West Kentucky; not his hometown. This probably means his challenger would need to take in issues that’ll entice a sizeable number of these former yellow-dog Democrats to return to the fold. Blending their favorite issues into an urban-oriented antiwar platform won’t be easy.
Tom Louderback, Louisville

Give a Damn
Jim Welp should vote his principles and against Steve Beshear. Jim and other local media types (Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara wannabes) seem to be more interested in protecting Kentucky’s “ante-bellum” image from extinction. Make no mistake about it, Kentuckians are being “pimped” by the horse breeders and racetrack industry, and the media are active participants in Kentuckians being “bitchslapped,” as Jim would put it.
Considering Churchill Downs’ “smoking allowed” special privilege, one would think Jim would avoid the track altogether also. Jim’s description of casinos — “the stink of stale cigarette smoke … crowds of money-drunk patrons wearing garish university-athletics attire” — the same can be said of racetracks, with the smell of horseshit added.

The Aug. 31 Courier-Journal front page read, “Woman blames gambling on casinos.” The woman alleges the casino “freebies” led her to a life of embezzling money from her employer. And yet she never took responsibility for her own actions. Local media has never been interested in a “fair and balanced” debate about casinos in Kentucky. They would prefer the subject go away because it would ruin their delicate balance of personal importance. Besides, they are too busy getting over their Derby hangover while hobnobbing with the rich and famous during Derby week.
Keith E. Lewis, Louisville

Stagnant Blossom

Regarding the article on the Poe Company development of the River Metals property in Irish Hill (LEO, Aug. 29), the Irish Hill Neighborhood Association has not “fought to keep the property out of developers’ hands. Quite the opposite.

When IHNA was informed by River Metals in the 1990s of their intent to vacate, we embarked on a unique plan to define what our community would like to see blossom there. As in many neighborhood-developer relationships, we wanted to avoid a protracted and contentious battle. With encouragement from Metro Development Authority, we did not idly wait for anyone to approach us with a plan. IHNA conducted resident surveys, designed uses and actively marketed the area to potential future owners. This work culminated in our 2002 Neighborhood Plan and continues to this day.

We did not stop there. We participated with Metro Planning and Design to create the Traditional Workplace Zoning District to guide the inevitable development of the M-1 and M-2 properties in Irish Hill. The final piece to this puzzle would be to work hand-in-hand with a developer to bring the TWZD to fruition. Since this development has been presented, the TWZD has been passed as a district, but we haven’t a developer willing to participate in implementing it in Irish Hill.

So, maybe our pie-in-the-sky dreams of making this the most progressive negotiation ever witnessed at MPD was highhanded. But, we assure you, our heart was in the right place.
Lisa Santos, co-chair, Irish Hill Neighborhood Association

Ready for New Life

I am writing in response to the article on The Crossings at Irish Hill development (LEO, Aug. 29). As a resident of the Irish Hill community, I look forward to seeing new life on a property that is currently an eyesore. The Irish Hill Neighborhood Association is speaking on behalf of our entire community, but this is not an accurate depiction of everyone involved, more like a very vocal minority. More than 50 neighborhood residents have signed a petition of support for this project. The project developers have spent countless hours over the past two years working with the Neighborhood Association on a project that will benefit the entire community. At the neighborhood meeting on Aug. 20, one resident stood up and gave Poe Companies a big pat on the back for all of the work that has gone into this project, a very bold move in that hostile environment. I agree wholeheartedly and am very excited about The Crossings at Irish Hill and what it will do for my community.
W. Patrick Klapheke, Louisville

Yeah, What He Said
The article on the Poe development in Irish Hill refers to the stream relocation as meandering and rehabilitated. In reality, the relocated stream is being channelized.

The developers’ constraints on the flood-prone width and stream length does not allow for the sinuosity of a meandering stream.

Our government is spending billions of dollars to restore streams that have been channelized in the past. Channelizing streams has caused flooding and loss of habitat. Straightening a stream increases channel slope and flow velocities. The increased velocity on the banks causes erosion as the stream tries to regain its meandering geometry and slope. Low sinuosity limits the number and size of pools and riffles that create a variety of habitats and opportunity for large numbers of species to thrive.

Channelizing a stream and reducing flood plain access adjacent to the stream will increase the shear stress on the channel bottom, removing sediment and habitat even during small flood events. The sediment that gets deposited downstream can increase flooding upstream. This increases the future cost of maintaining the proposed design. A successful natural channel design can create a zero-maintenance situation regarding dredging, bank armoring and mosquito control.

The only thing the word rehabilitated would refer to at this site would be the changes regarding the contamination from the previous land use. In stream restoration, a rehabilitated stream refers to a design that would be geomorphically and biologically stable after being reconstructed.
Nick Uhl, Louisville

Let’s Clean It Up

Regarding the Bob Edwards mural: Many want to build. Who wants to maintain? In 2004, the Greater Louisville Pride Foundation attached a mural of Bob Edwards to the side of a building near the 600 block of Baxter Avenue. Soon thereafter, someone vandalized it. From that day till now, nothing has been done in the way of repair or replacement.

I urge the Foundation to take appropriate action.
Scott Varland, Louisville