KFTC Blog

Members reflect on Louisville Governor's Forum

Posted by: Kentuckians For The Commonwealth on July 24, 2015

Members left a gubernatorial forum in Louisville feeling like they didn’t hear much, and nothing that they’d hoped to.

The forum was hosted by non-profits that work with health and family services, a setting ripe for hearing some clear plans about policies to reform Kentucky’s tax code and generate good revenue for our schools, health systems, public protection, and a good quality of life.

Daniel Morgan, of the Jefferson County Chapter, went because as a public school teacher, he wanted to know how the candidates were planning to invest in education. “I appreciate that through our government, we have many benefits that no one individual or company could provide, like education systems and public schools, roads so people can travel places and businesses can access their markets, and first responders to provide assistance in times of emergency. Most people consider these programs worthwhile if not outright essential. They take our public dollars to sustain.”

So Morgan was interested in learning how the candidates planned to sustain them. He was disappointed. “Bevin managed to talk a lot about why state budgets should reflect a state’s values, but didn’t explain what he thought those values were nor how he would implement them.”  

Morgan continued, “People who have higher incomes have benefitted more from society’s hard work together. We know that our state government can reform our taxes in a fair way that requires them to pay in a higher percentage of their income towards making those benefits possible. Unfortunately, Kentucky’s tax system works just the opposite. People making $15,000 to $47,000 per year in Kentucky pay nearly 11% of their income in state and local taxes; meanwhile, people those making over $346,000 pay only 6% of their income on the same taxes. If Mr. Bevin wants to talk about how budgets reflect our society’s values and priorities, addressing this mismatch would be a great place to start.”

K. A. Owens, also of Jefferson County, also noted Bevin’s marked disinterest in revenue reform. “He was marketing austerity. But the people who are offering austerity are the people who can’t be hurt by austerity. They won’t miss a meal. They won’t miss a country club membership. Austerity doesn’t work to rebuild the economy. Austerity is a tool used to lower the standard of living for people who lack the political power to defend themselves, whether it’s the declining middle class, unionized employees, or the working poor.”

There were similar gaps in what members heard as Bevin’s commitment to anti-worker and anti-labor laws, and to dismantle Kynect. Morgan reflected on the impact this would have on the half-million Kentuckians who have access to health insurance through Kynect. “Before Kynect went live, I cut my finger while preparing dinner. I probably should have got to get stitches, but I knew I could not afford it. It took several weeks to heal and has left a scar and some nerve damage. If something worse had happened, it would have left me either in bad shape or with a large medical bill that would have bankrupted me. I was able to gain access to insurance when I moved, before I found work. It makes a big difference in life. I also know people who benefited from Kynect because they work for non-profits that are not large enough to be required to provide health care. But the employees can still get coverage through Kynect. When one of my friends at a non-profit became sick, their Kynect coverage made sure they got the care they needed so they could continue to do the outstanding work that benefits all of society.”

Members couldn’t gauge other candidates’ responses; Bevin was the only candidate present. But there are six scheduled debates that both Bevin and Conway have committed to. (It’s not clear if Drew Curtis, who is also running, will be present.)

Oct. 6: Centre College in Danville. This will be broadcast on television

Oct. 19: Kentucky Educational Television’s Kentucky Tonight forum for lieutenant governor candidates in Lexington. This will be broadcast on statewide television.

Oct. 25: Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond. This will be broadcast on television.

Oct. 26: KET’s Kentucky Tonight forum for gubernatorial candidates in Lexington. This will be broadcast on statewide television.

 

Morgan would like to hear more defined plans, and better plans, as the debates and forums continue. “As a Kentuckian, I do not want us to move backwards in this way. If we want to become the commonwealth we can envision for ourselves, and future generations of Kentuckians, we have to have leaders who find ways for people to work together to improve life here for everyone. Only when we look out for each other can we truly prosper.”

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Legislators asked to consider safety of pipelines

Posted by: KFTC staff on July 20, 2015

Two legislative committee hearings in July focused on pipeline safety in Kentucky.

On July 16, KFTC member Bob Pekny joined Rep. David Floyd to talk about the Pipeline Safety Bill that was introduced in the 2015 legislative session.

“Kentucky is crisscrossed with pipelines of various sorts, most of them related to energy” Rep. Floyd told the Interim Joint Committee on Economic Development and Tourism. “We believe an increase in precautions would be wise.”

Wilderness Trace hosts third successful Barn Bash

Posted by: KFTC staff on July 10, 2015

Heat and threats of storms didn’t keep about 100 people from coming out to Woodwind Farm in Junction City on June 13th for the third annual Wilderness Trace KFTC Barn Bash. The weather behaved just right for people to enjoy a great afternoon of good music, delicious food, beautiful surroundings, lake swimming, and friendly silent auction bidding, all to benefit KFTC.

Members at the Barn Bash

Thanks to event sponsor, Stuart Powell Ford Lincoln Mazda, the chapter was able to highlight locally sourced foods for the second year in a row. Folks who came hungry were delighted to enjoy sausages from Sunwatch Homestead, hot dogs from St. Catharine Farm, and burgers from Rising Sons Beef. KFTC members filled out the rest of the meal with wonderful side dishes and plenty of desserts.

While folks chowed down on food, they got to hear a little bit from member, Jim Porter, about why he is proud to be a KFTC member.

The minimum wage matters to real people

Posted by: Sarah Martin on July 3, 2015

UPDATE (July 7): The Minimum Wage Ordinance has been recalled from the Budget, Finance and Economic Development Committee and is going to the full council! There will be a council discussion session on August 20, 4 p.m. in the council chambers (200 E Main St).

Central Kentucky Chapter members are pushing forward to raise the minimum wage in Lexington, in the face of their city council members tabling the ordinance at the last Budget and Finance Committee hearing on June 23 for the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government.

So far, it has been a summer of KFTC members and our allies in the Working Families Coalition building momentum by rallying, lobbying, writing op-eds, and giving testimony at hearings, and the chapter has no intention of backing down.

CKY Members and allies are planning to gather this Tuesday evening, July 7, at 6 p.m. at the LFUCG Council meeting to push for the ordinance to be heard by the entire Council in August after a summer recess. 

Two rallies in Lexington have already been organized and carried out by chapter members and our allies this summer, the most recent on June 23 in Phoenix Park prior to the LFUCG Budget, Finance, and Economic Development Committee hearing. After the rally, supporters marched to the Budget and Finance Committee hearing. 

I'll see you on the trail

Posted by: Lisa Abbott on June 30, 2015

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Dear friends,

What a week it has been. Like most people I know, I’m over the moon with excitement about decisions by the Supreme Court on marriage, health care and racial justice. I’m grieving the killing of Clementa Pinckney and 8 parishioners at Emanuel AME church in Charleston. And I’m inspired by ongoing local struggles for justice, including the minimum wage campaign in Lexington and the Louisville community’s strong response to an awful and threatening letter from the head of the Fraternal Order of Police.

Lisa and Gihan

This has also been an emotional week for me on a deeply personal level. June 26 was my last day in my role as Organizing Director with Kentuckians For The Commonwealth. My husband, Justin, recently started a great new job as head of the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Our family is beginning to make a transition in that direction.

But first, in just a few hours I will board a plane with my 12-year old son, Hollis, and set out on a 250-mile hike starting in Yosemite National Park! Justin and Myles will join us for the second half of that journey. Once we return in August, I’ll continue to work for a time with KFTC on an exciting special project (shaping a people’s response to climate change and the EPA’s Clean Power Plan), even as our family’s home base shifts to the South this fall.

Lisa Abbott

My job transition is happening almost 23 years to the day after I was hired fresh out of college by KFTC. After my job interview, some friends asked me how it went. I answered, “I don’t think I got the job. But if I did, I think I could be there a long time.” I had a hunch that KFTC would be an extraordinary place for me to learn, contribute, and sink my roots. In the decades since, my respect for this organization and its people has only grown.

It won’t surprise any of you to know that I’m sad beyond words to be leaving Kentucky, our community in Berea, and this remarkable organization. But above all I’m left with overwhelming gratitude. Working with KFTC – and with each one of you – has been the greatest honor and blessing of my life. Thank you for all that you have taught me and shared with me. Thank you for your courage, vision, integrity and love. Individually and collectively, you mean the world to me.

Before I set out on my journey, I do have a few basic requests: 

  • Believe in yourselves and take good care of each other. KFTC’s staff and leaders are talented, dedicated and brilliant people. Everything we need is right here. If we lean on each other and support one another, we can bring out our very best.

  • Let’s go get ’em (in a loving and non-violent way). This is a critical time for Kentucky and the nation. The politics of Frankfort and Washington are as corrupt, entrenched, and destructive as ever. And yet people everywhere are in motion. People everywhere are pushing back, disrupting the status quo, and striving to create the kind of community and world we want for ourselves and our children. KFTC has such an important role to play. I know you and we will continue to be relentless, visionary, brave and strategic as we push forward.

  • Let’s continue to invest in KFTC.  Please consider becoming a Sustaining Giver to KFTC, if you aren’t one already, by clicking here. My own family has, for many years, made modest, monthly contributions to support KFTC’s work. We will happily continue to do so. That’s what it takes to sustain organizations we care about. It’s an easy, important way to help build a powerful and diverse movement for justice in Kentucky. I do hope you’ll take this moment to set up a monthly contribution of any size. And thank you.

As I’ve been preparing for our upcoming hike, I’ve found myself repeating one simple phrase: “Step forward. Step forward. Step forward.” I’ll be doing a lot of stepping on the trail during the month of July. I’ll try to remember to keep putting one foot in front of the other as we make our big move this fall. I am confident that KFTC, also, will keep boldly stepping forward as we rise to meet challenges large and small.

Thank you all for your love and support. I could not be more grateful.

I’ll see you on the trail.

 

Love,

Lisa Abbott

Rowan County chapter holds successful community forum on proposed pipeline project

Posted by: Annie Adams on June 26, 2015

The Rowan County KFTC Chapter hosted a community meeting regarding the Kinder Morgan pipeline repurposing proposal on June 23 in Morehead. 

Rowan County chapter member Ted Withrow and the director of the Kentucky Resources Council, Tom FitzGerald, explained the scope of the project and outlined its significant risks. With the help of moderator Sue Tallichet, another Rowan County chapter member, they entertained a number of questions from the sizable audience, which included the county attorney, the judge-executive and many of the property owners directly affected by the repurposing proposal. 

Elizabeth Wooten, early KFTC leader, has passed away

Posted by: KFTC staff on June 24, 2015

Elizabeth Wooten, a KFTC member who helped lead the campaign in the 1980s to do away with the broad form deed, died on Monday. She was 91.

Elizabeth and her family fought for many years to protect their land from the strip mining that was rampant in Perry County. The book Making History: The First Ten Years of KFTC, included the following description:

On December 3, 1983, dozens of KFTC members rallied near Bulan at the farm of Perry County widow Elizabeth Wooten … to express their opposition to broad form deeds and their resolve to fight as long as necessary to end their abuses. The Wooten farm lay like a near island, almost surrounded by oceans of strip-mined land. The family had been fighting in court for months to keep Marandco Coal, holder of a broad form deed, off the property, where Elizabeth’s husband was buried. “Before my husband died, he asked [the family] not to let them come on here and strip mine,” Wooten said. “And we’re going to honor that promise. What kind of people would we be if we didn’t?”

With Wooten among the movement’s leaders, KFTC members helped passed a law in the 1984 General Assembly that outlawed the abuses of the broad form deed (these were deeds signed in the late 1800s / early 1900s that severed the ownership of the minerals under the land from the ownership of the land itself; in the 1950s the Kentucky courts interpreted these deeds to allow the mineral owner to strip mine the land without the permission of the surface land owner, and with no obligation to compensate for the damages done).

Showing Up for Racial Justice calls, June 19 and June 23

Posted by: KFTC Staff on June 18, 2015

UPDATE, 6/18: SURJ IS HOSTING A CALL TO HEAR FROM PEOPLE ON THE GROUND IN CHARLESTON AND ACTIONS THAT WHITE PEOPLE CAN TAKE TO SUPPORT THEM AND BLACK COMMUNITIES RIGHT NOW. THE CALL IS FRIDAY, JUNE 19, 8:00 EASTERN. REGISTER HERE.

As our vision statement tells us, KFTC is “working for a day when Kentuckians – and all people – enjoy a better quality of life.” And for a day “when discrimination is wiped out of our laws, habits, and hearts.” Getting there requires that we commit to standing up against racism and oppression and encourage and equip our members to do the same.

With that in mind, we invite KFTC members and allies to participate in an upcoming conference call with SURJ—Showing Up for Racial Justice.

Challenge: Invite more torch bearers to join this movement

Posted by: Tanya Torp on June 16, 2015

I grew up on Air Force bases, crisscrossing this country like a new pair of shoelaces on an old pair of shoes – Tacoma, Washington; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, and Hampton, Virginia, just to name a few.

No matter where we were in the world, whenever we went somewhere on a base, my father, a Flight Line Instructor and a gregarious man who never met a stranger, would strike up a conversation with a young airman, and before you knew it the young man was coming home with us for dinner. 

It used to drive me insane. One moment I am minding my own business in the commissary, trying to convince my dad to deviate from my mom’s stringent shopping list, to avoid the sensible oatmeal in exchange for the latest sugary cereal with coveted prizes swaddled somewhere, covertly, between the middle and the bottom of the box. Salivating, I could practically imagine the decadence my deprived taste buds would experience the following morning. The next moment, Dad, with his brown eagle eyes and easy inviting smile, was adding 25 to 45 minutes to our “quick” shopping trip because some guy was homesick, and he knew my mom would make room for this stranger at our dinner table.

We Are Kentuckians member exchange

Posted by: KFTC Staff on June 15, 2015

To cultivate relationships between Jefferson County and southeast Kentucky KFTC members and facilitate a knowledge exchange around local organizing work, 15 Jefferson County KFTC members (JCKFTC) traveled to southeast Kentucky during Memorial Day weekend for the We Are Kentuckians KFTC Member Exchange. The exchange was also an opportunity for JCKFTC members to build on the momentum of the chapter’s 2nd Annual We Are Kentuckians: Celebrating Our Common Heritage. This March event honored the important but often unheard stories, culture, and heritage of Black Kentuckians through art, music, poetry, and storytelling.

Members were excited to visit the Eastern Kentucky Social club, a 45-year-old Black social club for residents and former residents of Harlan County, Kentucky. The club has chapters across the country, and the Harlan County chapter hosts other chapters every Memorial Day weekend in Lynch. During the trip Jefferson County exchanged experiences with Harlan County members about KFTC canvassing projects in Smoketown (Louisville) and Benham (Harlan County) and enjoyed a potluck dinner and dialogue with members of the Letcher County Chapter.

Lexington needs a raise! Members organize for wage increase

Posted by: KFTC staff on June 15, 2015

Raise the Wage rally

Lexington Fayette County Urban Government is considering raising the minimum wage and the Central Kentucky KFTC Chapter has been hard at work moving the campaign forward. 

The ordinance being considered would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 for hourly employees and $3.09 for tipped workers. Both rates of pay would be increased over a period of three years. 

After three years, the minimum wage rate would be tied to inflation. 

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