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July 29, 2009

Inbox — July 29, 2009

Letters to the Editor

Corrections

Regarding last week’s preview on The Wailers: Time magazine voted Exodus Album of the Century in 1998, and Exodus is the fifth album credited to Bob Marley and the Wailers. Also, regarding the July 15 preview of the Jane Austen Fest, Bonny Wise was the creator of the event, not speaker Margaret Sullivan. LEO regrets the errors.

A City Conflict

In response to the Editor’s Note “A new development” in the July 15 LEO Weekly, I’d like to address the issue of the conflict between the Irish Hill Neighborhood Association and the developer of the industrial land at the end of Lexington Road.

I have lived a short distance from the site for the last 10 years on the east side of downtown, and we are still waiting for basic services. It is perhaps the biggest complaint from people who have moved to new residential developments downtown. I sympathize with the concerns of the Irish Hill residents and am glad to hear of the urban design competition they have initiated. However, it’s my understanding that the developer in question was willing to work with the neighborhood on the design of the project, and, just as importantly, he was willing to invest in downtown. I am concerned that neighborhood associations could stand in the way of a more livable downtown. Despite its remarkable and unique beauty, Old Louisville has never reached its full potential after decades of painstaking restoration by its residents in part because the neighborhood associations have put up a successful fight against many of the commercial developers who have tried to invest in the neighborhood, despite the developers’ willingness to cooperate with design standards.

Smaller-scaled “big-box” stores can be integrated effectively and attractively into an urban environment — I’ve seen it accomplished in many cities. Services are essential to attracting more people to live and work downtown, and that will be the only thing that brings it back to life in my opinion, not the expansion of Fourth Street Live.

I do not object to Irish Hill putting up the good fight necessarily. We don’t need a Home Depot and certainly not a Walmart downtown, but I hope they keep these concerns in mind as they look to the future of downtown and the adjacent neighborhoods. Rather than working to defeat a project by objecting to rerouting a sewage-filled stream like Beargrass Creek, it might be better to focus on the important details. With the downturn in the economy and with a city government with misplaced priorities, wasting hundreds of millions of dollars on a new stadium, that land could sit vacant for many more years as downtown continues to lose development dollars to the suburbs that are spreading out of control.

Michael Lenhart, Downtown

Not So Commending

In response to Inbox letter Commending Commitment in the July 22 LEO Weekly: While I appreciated the writer’s observations regarding the marriage of the Southern Baptist Convention and the GOP as being a distraction from the Gospel, he faults Joe Phelps and Highland Baptist Church for engaging in “picking and choosing texts” while engaged in the very same enterprise. Though the author is certainly entitled to his opinion, he does engage in character assassination without knowing the character of the person and church of which he speaks.

The Rev. Phelps can defend himself quite ably, but as a member of Highland Baptist Church, I found myself unable to see my church in the writer’s description. Since I don’t know the writer, I will refrain from attacking his character or motives. But I can say that his description of Highland Baptist as a church with “a history made tragic by the slow erosion of conviction by time, cultural pressure and darker forces” is not the Highland Baptist I know. The writer accuses Highland Baptist of forsaking the Gospel, a serious charge for one Christian to level against another group of Christians. This is apparently because, in the writer’s opinion, Highland Baptist picks and chooses which biblical texts to follow.

I would observe that most all Christians pick and choose, and perhaps some fruitful discussion might be had regarding what we believe to be the priorities of Scriptures. While I don’t speak for Highland Baptist, as a member I can state that it is a church that loves God and believes that people need to experience God’s love in their lives, and we have formed a community that attempts in a multitude of ways to do just that.

We offer services for and with those addicted to alcohol and drugs, we feed the hungry, and we offer comfort and support to members and non-members alike. Most importantly, we believe in the transforming power of the Gospel to change lives. Yes, we are a different kind of Baptist church, and we certainly have our differences with Southern Baptists, but as fellow Christians, we are called to not bear false witness. So can we agree, let’s not attack what we don’t know?

Roy Fuller, Clifton 

The Real McConnell

Do we know the real Mitch McConnell? Is he really as mean as Jesse Helms, Phil Graham, Jim Bunning and Tom Delay? Or, is this just his public persona? Molly Ivins used to say that Texas voters like their politicians mean. Maybe Kentuckians do, too.

This thought came to mind as I read John David Dyche’s comment in the July 8 LEO Weekly that McConnell had actually supported campaign finance reform in the years immediately following Watergate. That was a big surprise to me. Of course, we’ve all heard many times of McConnell’s conversion to right-wing politics during the Reagan years. It’s said he started out in the moderate wing of the GOP, then shifted right when it became politically expedient. His early years had been formed by his apprenticeship to U.S. Sen. John Sherman Cooper.

Whenever I’ve complained about McConnell’s performance, I’ve always felt as though we were up against an institution instead of a flesh-and-blood person. Remember Louisville Magazine’s story back in the ’90s about “Mitch and the Machine”? Actually, that story was much friendlier than the caption implies. The word “machine” fits, though. The way I see it, McConnell built his machine on big money, negative attack ads, the power of his office, earmarks and pandering to the knee-jerk reactions to emotional issues.

The older I get, the more I reflect on one of President Reagan’s favorite sayings: “Love the sinner and hate the sin.” Someday I’d like to know more about the human being behind the machine, but I sort of suspect McConnell does not have a personal life. Politics is his life.

Tom Louderback, Highlands