A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Letters to the Editor: Making cases for Marsy’s Law, afterschool/summer learning, no Social Security cuts

Call legislators to support Marsy’ Law

Dear Editor:

On October 21, 2000, my worst nightmare became a reality when my brother, Charlie, was beaten and left to die in my hometown’s cemetery. What followed this tragedy was an intimidating and confusing process of keeping up with four defendants and their trail dates, having no one to help my family navigate the justice system besides a local newspaper reporter.

With no prior notification, my brother’s offenders were released from custody and proceeded to threaten me and my family through phone calls and drive-bys—through personal information they obtained through police scanners. Eventually, all four offenders were sentenced, but two have since been released, causing further anxiety of what could happen next.

The pain and suffering my family endured has led me to work with families throughout the Commonwealth who have lost loved ones, helping them navigate the justice system. I formed Hope After Homicide, a resource bank and support network for homicide survivors. The organizations and initiatives I’m now a part of all stem from the pain and abandonment I felt while trying to navigate our justice system.

We are in desperate need of change. Marsy’s Law for Kentucky would provide this change by giving crime victims a voice when they feel voiceless, provide information and notice when an offender is released, and a right to be present in court proceedings.

I urge you to contact your legislators and ask them to support Senate Bill 15. Make this legislative session count. Support Marsy’s Law for Kentucky and bring constitutional rights to crime victims.

Melissa Buchanan

Afterschool and summer learning programs are essential

To the Editor:
The 33,738 children in Kentucky who rely on afterschool programs supported by federal funding got some unwelcome news last week, when the President sent his annual budget proposal to Congress and included a complete elimination of the principal federal funding stream for afterschool and summer learning programs. The 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative supports afterschool for more than 1.7 million children across the nation and, without it, countless afterschool programs will shut down or cut back severely.
From my own work in afterschool, I know that afterschool programs are essential – they offer tutoring, STEM education, mentoring activities and so such more. And I know how much parents value afterschool because it keeps kids safe, inspires learning, and provides peace of mind to working families during the otherwise perilous afternoon hours before mom or dad get home from work.
For every child now in an afterschool program, two more would be enrolled if a program were available to them. We need more programs, not fewer. That’s why children’s advocates like the Kentucky Out-of-School Alliance are pushing for a $100 million increase in 21st CCLC funding this year. Congress should reject the President’s proposal, then go a step further and provide the funding increase our kids, families and communities need.
Tom Haggard
Kentucky Out-of-School Alliance Director

No good reason to threaten to cut Social Security

To The Editor:

There is absolutely no good reason for politicians (mostly conservative-Republicans) to scare our senior citizens by threatening to cut Social Security Retirement benefits. There is no so-called  “crisis.”

Virtually every serious, non-biased study has concluded that the Social Security Trust Fund is fully solvent through 2034. After that, it will be able to provide 76%-79% of benefits for the next 60 years after 2034.

Does it need to be fixed?  Of course it does. But it does not have to be done today, and there is no need to cut anyone’s benefits.

One of the relatively simple and easy “reforms” that can be made was proposed in 2015 by Republican Presidential candidate and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. I literally sat in the same car as Democrat Presidential candidate and Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt in 1987 when he said that what we should do is to “Means-Test” Social Security benefits.  For example,  we can make Social Security fully solvent well beyond 2034 by reducing the benefits of those who have a yearly income of, say, $80,000/year and higher by a certain percentage. I can still recall Governor Babbitt saying to me “Stew, do multi-millionaires really need the same Social Security benefits as senior citizens who are living in poverty?”

I am calling upon all U.S. Senators and Congresspeople to stop scaring our senior citizens. Something that might happen in 14 years that is easily preventable and solved is NOT a so-called “crisis”, and they all know it. It is so unnecessary  and cruel for our senior citizens to be scared like this.

Stewart B. Epstein
Rochester, New York 

Epstein is a retired college professor of Sociology, Social Work, and Psychology who taught at West Virginia University, Slippery Rock University, and SUNY-Brockport.

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