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December 5, 2012

Inbox — Dec. 5, 2012

Letters to the Editor

Correction
The Nov. 21 story “Six Months Later” about the shooting death of Makeba Lee inaccurately stated the victim was a Central High School graduate. Lee’s immediate family members also contacted LEO to say it was a funeral home employee who stood by Lee’s casket inside the funeral home, not a police officer. LEO regrets the errors.

Loving ‘Love’
Thanks for getting “Savage Love.” It is one of the most helpful and inspiring things I read, and it’s great to see it in our community.
Britt Walford, Highlands

Pardon a Turkey
President Obama pardoned a turkey a few weeks ago and returned the bird to its happy life in a nature preserve. That gave me an idea. Today, I’m thinking our Metro Council would do well to follow the president’s example by pardoning an albatross they have nurtured and indulged. Stay with me. I think you’ll see my point momentarily.

The Barbara Shanklin case demonstrates once again that the biggest problem is not the personal behavior of an individual council member. It’s the Metro Council discretionary accounts. What kind of problem? Metro Council members who want to keep these accounts imply the problem is the potential for fraud and abuse. They propose to get that problem under control by improving the bookkeeping procedures.

But, I’d bet most taxpayers are more concerned about government waste. Some of that is caused by intentional fraudulent acts, sure enough. And the rest? The larger part is probably caused by carelessness, incompetence and bad decisions that are not pre-meditated.

The Metro Council has opened the door to waste by exempting their discretionary accounts from the standard budgetary control procedures. The textbook method begins with the specification goals and objectives in the annual budget document. Clearly defined budget line items and spending authorizations come after that. So, budgets require government officials to justify their intentions before they spend our money.

I think it would serve the taxpayers and our pocketbooks better to abolish the Metro Council’s discretionary accounts and drop the costly proceedings against Shanklin. We’ve been there, done that.
Tom Louderback, Highlands

A Time to Compromise
Because of his position as minority leader in the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell has the power to prevent the passage of a budget that would avoid a “fiscal cliff.” The people of Kentucky need to let McConnell know it is time for a compromise.

Specifically, a compromise should include the end of the Bush era tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of the population. In this economic climate (a $13 trillion budget debt), it is fair to ask those who are making $250,000 or more a year to pay more. An article entitled “The Lost Decade of the Middle Class,” published by the Pew Research Center, documents a shrinking middle class. “In 2011, this middle-income tier included 51% of all adults; back in 1971, using the same income boundaries, it had included 61%. Over the same period, only the upper-income tier increased its share in the nation’s household income pie. It now takes in 46%, up from 29% four decades ago. The middle tier now takes in 45%, down from 62% four decades ago. The lower tier takes in 9%, down from 10% four decades ago.”

It is also time for cuts in the defense budget. A chart published by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, supported by data from the “Stockholm International Peace Research Institute,” in the Oct. 23 issue of the Los Angeles Times shows our country now spends more on its military than the next 13 countries combined. Total defense spending for fiscal year 2011 was $711 billion compared to the $695 billion spent by the combined military budgets of the 13 countries. In an economic climate that measures federal budget deficits in the trillions, we can afford to make reasonable cuts in our bloated military budget. We no longer need a military outlay designed to fight two conventional wars simultaneously. Even the Pentagon agrees that strategy is outdated and cuts can be made. Please let McConnell know it is time for a compromise.
Jim Johnson, Highview 

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