Sarah and Gwen: the Two-Headed Monster

This blog is about everything involving Lexington, KY or anything else we feel like yapping about.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Be Afraid! Be Very Afraid!

Be Afraid! Be Very Afraid! This is the message of this year's political campaign. We have all heard enough from the federal candidates for President and Senate to be sick of their fear mongering. I leave you to your own opinions on those races. Frankly, it doesn't matter which end of the political spectrum we are nearest or which candidates we support. Our party affiliations, issue positions, and social classes don't matter at all. What matters is that we are afraid, very afraid of anything and everything outside our little corner of the world. What I dislike most about this political season is the home town fear mongering of our city council races.

Here in Lexington, we are told to be afraid of foreign ownership of the water company, but a that city buyout of the company is a socialist plot and the city will run the utility company into the ground. This is hogwash!

Don't get me wrong. I believe there are problems with foreign ownership that we cannot count on them to keep their word about Jacobson Park and the number of employees Kentucky American Water cut from their payroll has hurt service. We have billboards proclaiming how much money the city has spent trying to take over the water show plugs about how this is our tax dollars are being spent. Has anybody heard how much of our water service fee is being spent in the water company efforts to stop the buyout? Have you asked yourself if this has anything to do with those post-election hearings about raising our water rates?

Will the rates go up for us no matter which side wins? It is probably a safe bet that either side will raise our rates to pay for the battle. But candidates supporting the takeover are not socialist, nor is government control of a monopoly unusual in a democratic society.

There is truth in the opposition complaints about city management problems, and government waste. Lexington has problems. We as voters must consider that. But consider it logically, not from fear. Several localities around the country own their utilities it works well. There are also many foreign owned utilities operating in America. You must decide which you beleive is right for Lexington.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

The Christian Factor and Willful Ignorance

As a child, I was told never to discuss politics or religion because they might offend someone. Perhaps that is half-true. Discussing politics or religion will almost always offend someone, but we must discuss both. We must talk about what often call the "Christian factor" in politics. There is an element of political discourse in this country that is willfully ignorant of everything except electing "good Christians" to office. I am not sure what makes a "good Christian" except that it has very little to do with being Christ like.

Over the years I have learned to accept apathy from half of the population, but I cannot accept the willful ignorance of voters. The followers in the world o not care enough about the decision making process to participate at even the lowest level of citizenship. They are the sorts of people every power hungry despot depends upon. They often get the government they deserve. I often get the government the willfully ignorant stick me with.

The willfully ignorant ignore political news, never look at legislative web sites, and do not attend candidate forums or party conventions. These folks will hang up the phone when a campaign calls them, refuse to answer the door when precinct walkers knock, throw away the literature left by candidates. Yet they will show up on Election Day and cast their vote. There is no shortage of information available about who and what is on the ballot; but the willfully ignorant will cling to their ignorance, wrap it in the God, Christianity, and the flag.

If we are lucky they will at least look over the candidate guide passed out at church, most will not read past the names. Yet, they will walk into voting booths all across America next week, close their eyes, and cast a ballot. These people are adding their voices to those of people who have taken the time to educate themselves on the issues or the candidate’s positions.

God save America from the willfully ignorant!

Friday, October 22, 2004

Working for Change

All across the country ordinary people are working very hard for an extraordinary goal, changing the course America has taken. I am one of those people. By myself, I am not at all important; but I am not alone. There are thousands of people giving up nights and weekends, letting the housework slide and the lawn become over grown, and living off pizza and canned soda. We are knocking on doors, making phone calls, posting yard signs, attending meetings, and doing lit drops. We are pleading with our neighbors, our friends and our families to get involved in the political process.

Why? Because we know this election is not about which of the two rich white guys running for president gets the job. This election is about change. It is about the kind of change that comes when voters all across America are angry.

The anger is deep seated and scattered. It is about everything and nothing in particular. I have listened to voters angry with George Bush for the loss of jobs, and for his right wing agenda, for getting us involved in another war with Iraq. I have talked voters angry with John Kerry for protesting the war in Vietnam, for questioning the decisions of the President, and for his liberal votes. They are mad at both major parties for the failure to work together on healthcare, education, or election reform. I have spoken with voters angry at Frankfort's inability to pass a budget, angry for their passage of the "gay marriage" bill, and angry over their failure to go beyond party rhetoric and address real problems. Locally, the anger is directed at the water company buy out and the smoking ban. But I believe the anger is about more than any of those issues.

We are mad at government that is increasingly out of touch with reality. We are angry at the lack of integrity in our elected officials. We do not believe either party has the guts to stand up to big business or deep-pocketed special interest. Moreover, we do not believe that change will come from the top. It starts with me, and you, and you, and you. It begins with talking to our neighbors, our friends, our families. It spreads from one voter to another as we take back the local offices, the county offices, and the state. Change happens when each of us holds government accountable. Together we will have the government we deserve.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Confessions of an Unrepentant Liberal

I know “liberal” is a dirty word in American politics. But I can’t help myself, despite numerous twelve-step programs, and countless hours of counseling by well meaning conservatives; I am still an unrepentant liberal. My liberalness runs deeper than my fear of reticule. It laughs in the face of public humiliation. It has even been known to make me applaud the expansion of government social programs.

I am hopeless. I proudly display an American Civil Liberties Union bumper sticker on my tiny fuel-efficient car. My liberalism comes singing to the forefront when I see the American flag and cries foul every time a member of the conservative right uses fear and bullying to chip away my civil liberties. I cannot approve of government attempts to banish fear by taking away liberty or their efforts to insure justice by suspending constitutional rights.

I believe in human dignity and the inherent worth of every individual. I care about the welfare of people—not just people like me, but all the people. I believe that everyone should have healthcare, safe housing, good schools, access to higher education, jobs that pay enough to pay for these services, civil rights, civil liberties, and the chance to live a happy, productive life. I believe in the separation of church and state, that the nation’s founders knew what they were doing when they wrote the constitution and, worst of all, that morality is not dependent upon any one religious creed being posted in our schools, courtrooms, and public buildings.

At times, the conservative Republican rhetoric makes it appear that anyone left of Pat Robertson and Pat Buchanan is a “screaming liberal.” They are not. Most people have accepted the politics of fear and the given up on the idealism of the liberal cause. Liberals are the believers in the promise of America. Liberalism is the politics of hope, of faith in human potential. I cannot give up. I believe that “we the people” are better than the fear mongers. We can, we must, restore faith in ourselves to political discourse.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Judge Reeves Deals a Serious Blow to Judicial Ethics

The Family Foundation has won the first round of the legal battle to overturn the Kentucky Judicial Ethics Rules which prevent candidates in state judicial races from talking about issue positions. US District Court Judge Danny Reeves has ruled that restrictions on judicial candidates announcing their stance on a policital issue is a violation of the candidate's rights to free speech. If upheld courts which must make decisions on complex issues could be headed by judges who reduced those issues to sound bites in order to get elected. Neither judges not the legal system in Kentucky need or want this ruling. So who benefits?

Perhaps, the conservative group who brought the case before the federal court thinks they will benefit from the ruling. In the short term, they might. However, if they force judges to go on record as being for issues like posting the Ten Commandments they will also be forcing those judges to recuse themselves when a case of that sort comes before them. The only people who will actually gain by this decision are the political advertisers. Normally quiet judges races are likely to become as politically charged as the legislative races. May God help us all!

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Lamin Swann: Put hard worker in legislature

Last week, Bill Farmer was endorsed for the 88th LD by the Lexington Herald-Leader. Here is Lamin Swann's response:

Put hard worker in legislature
By Lamin Swann

If voters elect me to the General Assembly, I will not be a placeholder. In my first term, I will be involved in the process immediately and will work harder than anyone in the legislature.

Without a good education, our children will not have the tools to succeed in the future. I will fight to restore funding in all sectors of education. I won't use schools and children as sacrificial figures to supplement unnecessary agendas. I vow to fight for increased funding to compensate teachers with salaries comparable to those of neighboring states.

Kentuckians are paying excessive amounts for health care, sacrificing basic necessities to buy U.S.-produced pharmaceuticals that can be purchased more cheaply from Canada. I would introduce legislation to get the ball rolling to form a bargaining compact with Canadian pharmacies to lower prescription drug prices for all Kentuckians.

Fayette County is being shortchanged on its share of services, and I will work -- in my first term -- to acquire the county's fair share.

Although Lexington is a growing city, it is still known for its champion horses and spacious farms. To keep the state's $4 billion equine industry viable and profitable, I would work to provide economic incentives and tax reform to stimulate the industry, a jewel of Kentucky.
We need well-funded education for our children; affordable, accessible health care; and a progressive economy for all Kentuckians now. Constituents shouldn't have wait two years while their representative continues to get a feel for the House.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Gwen Mayo, May 2004

Originally uploaded by hypatiax.
Thought readers might like to know what I look like.

Yard Sign Vandalized

This weekend my "No on the Amendment" yard sign was vandalized. I find this particularly disturbing because I live on a cul-de-sac. It is likely that the vandalism was done at the hands of a neighbor. I find myself looking at the faces of my neighbors as they walk their dogs, mow their lawns, play with their children, or rake leaves. I wonder which of them could secretly hate me enough to creep onto my front lawn with criminal intent. Make no mistake. Vandalism is criminal. We reported the the destruction of our private property and trespass to the authorities. But we also regognize this act of violence as intended to frighten us.

Yes, I am scared.

No, I will not stop working against this Amendment. I have taped my sign back together and placed in back in my front lawn. I spent part of Saturday out talking to voters about why this so called "Gay Marriage Amendment" is a bad law.

This amendment doesn't just let Kentucky deny the legal benefits of marriage to same sex couples. DOMA already allows Kentucky that form of legal discrimination. This amendment is going way beyond the current legal fiction. It intended to prevent any kind of benefits similar to those given state approved marriages to _ANY_ unmarried couple. That includes you heterosexual couples! It is going to bring issues most voters haven't considered into already overtaxed Kentucky courts. What happens with emergency protective orders for unmarried couples? What about undocumented couples? How will it affect children of unmarried parents?

Let me make my position perfectly clear. This vote will not change anything real in my relationship. Kentucky's decision to pass DOMA only gives them the right to ignore the vows my wife and I took before God, our chaplain, our friends, and our family. We are as married as any other couple. All the state of Kentucky has the power to do is refuse to grant us the same benefits they give other married couples. DOMA is pure and simple discrimination. The amendment will only expand that discrimination into the heterosexual community. It is unjust. And nobody can frighten me enough to make me stop fighting for justice.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Up and Moving Again

OK, so I have slept for a week or so, that doesn't mean I have stopped caring about what is happening in the 88th. I am up and moving again. There is lots to get done and very little time left before the November election. I have just been too exhausted to continue at the pace I have kept for the past year.

I am a thyroid cancer survivor. Most of the past month has been spent preparing for the full body scans necessary to see if the cancer has returned. Thankfully, it has not. But the low iodine diet and giving up my synthroid (the synthetic thyroid hormones which make it possible for me to function without a thyroid) make preparing for the scans a long, difficult, exhausting process. I am glad to not to have to face the day-by-day energy drain again until 2006.

Even in the last week of the test cycle I did manage to accompany my wife in distributing yard signs for Ross Stinetorf. I believe it is critical to assist him in any way possible in replacing Fletcher appointee Tim Philpot as Family Court Judge in Fayette County. Unlike his opponent, Mr. Stinetorf has solid experience in family court and no interest in using the family court bench as a stepping-stone to other offices. I believe he possesses a deeper understanding of the problems presented to the family court and the good judgment to make the right decisions on the bench. With less than three weeks until the election I encourage everyone to give any time you can to helping Ross Stinetorf win a seat on the family court bench.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Candidate Forum for the 88th!

Info from guest blogger Sarah G:

The Lexington League of Women Voters, LWV of Berea and Madison County, the Lexington Urban League Young Professionals and the Lexington Young Professionals Association have banded together to host a series of public forums in which people can come see and compare the candidates running for office in their area.

Bill Farmer (R) and Lamin Swann (D) are the candidates running for the KY State House in the 88th Legislative District. They are participating in the forums so voters can be more familiar with them. I strongly urge everyone to set some time aside to attend.

Time: Tuesday, October 19th, 6:00-7:00 pm
Place: Tates Creek High School
People: Bill Farmer (Rep)/Lamin Swann (Dem)

Come see and support your candidates!

Sarah G

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Lamin Swann Needs Volunteers

Lamin Swann, Democratic candidate for State Representative sent me the following message about his campaign. I have personally distributed campaign flyers for Lamin and talked to voters about the need to replace our current representative in Frankfort. The 88th needs new leadership. Rep. Bill Farmer has, in my opinion, been next to worthless at accomplishing anything during his term. However, he does have the advantage of sharing the same name as a much more effective city councilman. Lamin needs name recognition. Please help if you can.

From Lamin Swann:

Dear Dems,

There will be a volunteer meeting Wednesday to discuss plans about the final weeks of campaign. Walk lists and phone lists will be distributed, also talking points for the Swann for State Representative campaign. Also will need volunteers to show up for events around town.

Meeting: 6pm, 1313 Amherst Dr. (off Hartland Pkwy, between Rapid Run & Kenesaw Dr.) There are campaign signs in the window.

After the meeting, we'll walk the Amherst precinct. Free pizza and drinks!!!! The campaign will be walking/phoning every day until Nov.2, we need some great volunteers!

Also all are invited to a campaign reception/fundraiser this Friday at the Radisson Plaza Hotel (Downtown) from 6-9 pm.

Please call me at 552-4352 (cell/days) ***its a new cell #*** or 271-3501 (home/nights) if you get lost or have any questions!!



Monday, October 04, 2004

You can make a Difference

For those who have forgotten their roots take the time to read the next few remarks. People willing to sacrifice, time, energy, and money gave whatever was needed to make the American experiment work. All along the way "America" was an ideal, a dream of what could be accomplished by people working together. Our country is not perfect, but for all the bad feeling we have generated abroad and all the apathy at home, the ideal remains as shining and elusive as ever. It is up to us to make the ideal a reality.

There are still homeless in our streets, children still go to bed hungry, our schools and civic organizations still need more things than I can innumerate. Your neighbor needs your help; if not the one across the street then go a block or two in any direction. Our parks and streets need your attention. Get involved in making a difference.

I hear people talk about having no interest in politics and I want to scream, "What's the matter with you!" The only thing that has ever changed the level of greed and corruption in high places is the dedicated efforts of ordinary people. All around me political campaigns are begging for volunteers. Dozens of excellent volunteer organizations are in desperate need of people to carry on the fight for change. Get involved in making a difference.

These are dangerous times. Our seniors and out children are being victimized. Drugs, guns, thieves, rapist, and child molesters are on the streets. We need more police, more neighborhood watch organizations, and more citizen involvement in every level of community building. For whoever and whatever you hold dear, get involved. You can make a difference. Dedicated citizens are the only thing that can change our nation.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Impressions of the Pesidential Debate

Last night's debate left me wondering how the national security issues would impact lives of people living in the 88th? Certainly the president's policies are having an impact on the everyday lives of families who have loved ones in harms way. The numbers of dead and wounded climb daily. Families are also suffering from the extended rotations, problems with supply lines, and lack of contact with family members serving in the Middle East. Last night the candidates laid out two very different views on war policy.

President Bush remains firm in his conviction that this war was the right thing to do despite the lack of evidence of those now infamous "weapons of mass destruction." He believes it is right to continue to develop nuclear weapons at the same time he is attempting to prevent other nations from developing nuclear capability. Senator Kerry's challenge of his military policy seemed to undermine the president's confidence. President Bush appeared unwilling to level with himself or the public that any mistakes or misjudgments should be laid at his door. While decisiveness is a fine quality, stubborn refusal to accept blame for one's actions is not.

I think that is particularly true on the issue of first responders. I cannot think of anything more necessary to the security of America than having enough police, EMTs, firefighters, and equipment available to these professionals. While I understand the president's argument for a strong offence, I do not believe we can afford to go without an equally strong defense. Our homeland, our homes, streets, and cities need the best first responders available. The cuts to the COPS program have directly impacted all of us. Lexington struggles with having underpaid, overworked, and under supported first responders. Our police and firefighters need more personnel, better equipment, and higher pay. Our lives and safety depend on it. Let us hope that whoever is elected next month understands this.