News and Tribune

April 15, 2014

NEWS AND TRIBUNE LETTERS — For April 15


Reader: Stop dumping waste into the Ohio River

I am writing in regards to a recent newspaper article about the dumping of waste material by Louisville Gas & Electric into the Ohio River.

Sadly, the Kentucky environmental regulators are defending LG&E. Is the Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection there to protect Kentucky water and land or is it there to help corporations reduce their overhead by allowing shortcuts in protecting our environment?

I would be willing to bet that Mr. R. Bruce Scott, the commissioner of Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection, and Mr. William Spence, the CEO of PPL Electric Utilities, the company that owns LG&E don’t live downstream from the waste dumping site — but we residents of Louisville and Southern Indiana do.

I think most citizens would agree that we don’t want industrial waste products discharged into our ground water, our rivers or onto our land. Sure, it might cost a little more money for the corporation to provide a safe disposal of its industrial waste products, while it certainly is cheaper to just dump the stuff into the nearby river.

Thank you to the Sierra Club for initiating some action to stop this unnecessary pollution that most assuredly is hazardous to human and animal health. Any maybe we could actually get an EPA leader who really does want to protect the citizens’ environment.

— Janet Chatham, Floyds Knobs

Resident worried about political control

With the latest evisceration of the “one man, one vote” cornerstone of democracy, the five conservative Supreme Court Justices have opened the flood gates for billionaires like casino king Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers to spend hundreds of millions to buy the candidates who will support their interests.

The only way we the people can win against them is if we exercise our enormous collective power at the polls. There are many more of us than there are billionaires.

Last year, the same five justices struck down an important provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which required states to obtain federal permission before changing their election laws. The court’s ruling was based on the false notion that voting protections for minorities are no longer needed.

Immediately after the ruling, North Carolina and Texas began their campaigns of voter suppression by limiting early voting, reducing the number of polling places — specifically in minority districts — and reducing hours for voting. In Texas, a student ID is good enough to buy a gun, but not good enough to vote.

It’s obvious these tactics aren’t about stopping the “election fraud” the Republicans claim as their rationale. Statistically, there are virtually zero cases of in-person voter fraud. (An exception is Indiana’s disgraced former Secretary of State, Republican Charlie White, convicted of seven felony counts of voter fraud.)

Even Judge Richard Posner, who upheld Indiana’s strict voter ID law in 2006, admits his ruling was a “guesstimate,” since Indiana’s law was the first in the country, and there was no historical case law on which to base his ruling. He has since said that these laws are “now widely regarded as a means of voter suppression rather than of fraud prevention.”

Restriction of voting rights in several Republican-led states is not coincidental, but a strategy essentially written by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Indiana State Representative Dave Frizzell was ALEC’s national chairman. Go to alecexposed.org to see other familiar names.

Tea Party Republicans favor nullification, a doctrine dating back to John Calhoun. It allowed states the right to overturn federal law and impede majority rule, even to restrict voting rights, as was prevalent in the Jim Crow south.

If you think voting in a mid-term election is unimportant, think again. Most of the damage that is being done to voters, workers, students, women, children, seniors and the uninsured is being done intentionally at the state level.

It’s hard to believe, but billionaires have even begun funding their handpicked candidates in some city council and school board elections. It is critical that we step up and refuse to hand over our government to these oligarchs.

Floyd and Clark counties have some outstanding Democratic Party candidates who are asking for the opportunity to restore some balance to Indiana government and to actually govern in the interests of ordinary Hoosiers.

Please give them your consideration.

— Ruthanne Wolfe, New Albany