Northern Kentucky Returning Citizens Forum

Posted by: Joe Gallenstein on March 23, 2015

The Northern Kentucky chapter of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth held a forum on March 15th raising awareness about the challenges facing former felons upon returning to their community. Member Rick Traud opened the event by welcoming the 40 people who attended, and talking about his personal expreience dealing with former felons trapped in a cycle of poverty as the result of mistakes in their past while working as a volunteer with Saint Vincent De Paul in Northern Kentucky.

The panel consisted of four individuals deeply invested in the work of helping former felons turn their lives around, and to make sure that communities provided a way to help all of its citizens become a vital part in the places where they lived. This included two former felons sharing their stories, and two people actively work to help former felons prepare for life after they are out of the court system.

Missy Roberts shared her story of working in a corporate office making over $16 an hour before her felony. After her felony she lost the house that raised her kids in, and the only place that has been willing to hire her is a local McDonalds - where she makes minimum wage.  

Rickey Curry is the Program Director for Transitions, INC,., an organization that has been instrumental in the work of People Advocating Recovery, especially their work in northern Kentucky. Working with the male population in Transitions housing, he stressed to folks the need to mainstream people as they reenter society. This includes stressing the importance to young men the need to engage in pro-social behaviors like voting, and ensuring that they have their right to vote.

Richard Young, another member of the panel, talked about how Rickey Curry was one of the counselors who helped him become clean and sober for the past 8 years. Richard also stressed how lucky he was to be able to find a place that was willing to employ a forklift driver with a record almost right after his time in prison. Meanwhile, he pointed to folks like Missy, who have served their time, are working full-time on minimum wage, and trying to pay off court costs, fines, fees charged from living in jail, fees for soap/shampoo, extra for doctor visits, etc. while incarcerated. Richard told those in attendance that former felons are set up for failure when they return.

The final member of the panel, David Phillips, shared his experiences working with the Northern Kentucky Reentry team and with Catholic Charities helpling former felons find work and housing. He also mentioned the difficulty people in certain counties have getting their voting rights restored through the current process because of the outsized say that Commonwealth Attorney's have in the restoratioin process, and spoke of the need for an amendment to make restoration a simple process.

Those in attendance asked about updates on campaigns around voting rights and ban the box, both for what is happening locally and nationally. Were pleased to hear that regional leaders like Louisville and Cincinnati have banned the box, and moves from some national stores to ban the box. Many were disappointed to learn that voting rights looks likely to not pass again this year, and expressed support for working on practical local solutions to challenges for former felons like Ban the Box.

John Fischer of the Covington Human Rights Commission spoke about Kentucky's history to the crowd, about how for years we were ahead of other states in the south on civil rights, and how the persistence of those working on these issues is what will bring about the change our community needs. David Phillips followed up his response by mentioning his past experience as a police officer in North Carolina, and highlighting the importance of thinking about these issues through a civil rights lens, especially because of the disparate impact on non-whites in charging and sentencing.

Member Serena Owen closed out the event by asking those in attendance to get involved with organizations Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, the Human Rights Commission, visiting City Council, and meeting with their elected officials. People leaving the event were excited about it, and looked forward to more events focused on these issues. Sister Mary Joyce described the event as necessary, and especially enjoyed hearing from people like Richard Young and Missy Roberts. Remarking on how these issues are often played out in the public, Sister Joyce felt that," More people need to realize that these laws impact living, breathing human beings."

The chapter is looking forward to doing a follow up event in October.

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Growing Appalachia on WMMT’s Mountain Talk

Posted by: Jessie Skaggs on March 19, 2015

Growing Appalachia on WMMT's Mountain TalkLast week, members of the Growing Appalachia planning committee were guests on WMMT's Mountain Talk, which is a weekly program that covers a wide range of topics pertaining to life in the mountains. Floyd County’s Sister Kathy Curtis and Letcher County’s Valerie Horn were in the studio to talk with host Elizabeth Sanders about the history of the conference, how they got involved, and what people can expect at Saturday’s conference. They were joined in the studio by Jonathan Hootman and Hillary Neff and then joined over the phone by Mark Walden.

SOKY members work toward statewide renters’ rights bill

Posted by: KFTC Staff on March 12, 2015

KFTC Southern Kentucky chapter members used the 2015 General Assembly to give their local work on renters’ rights a statewide platform.

The Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act (URLTA) is a set of codified best practices to clarify the terms of agreements between tenants and landlords.

It simply clarifies and standardizes the terms of a lease and protects renters from retaliatory evictions for reporting housing that is not up to code.

Based on best practices from the rental industry, URLTA is called a “win-win” for renters and landlords. Several states have adopted URLTA statewide. Kentucky’s state law, however, only allows individual communities to opt in to URLTA; it falls short of adopting it statewide.

Members speak out for economic justice and fairness

Posted by: KFTC Staff on March 12, 2015

Jesus Gonzalez was in the Capitol Annex basement working on the testimony that he was preparing to offer in support of House Bill 374, which would close a few corporate tax loopholes to fund a state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

“My family is straight from Cuba. That makes me appreciate the fact that I can come here today to try to influence our government by telling my story,” said Gonzalez. “It also makes me want to stand up and change the things that aren’t fair.”

How$martKY offers money-saving energy efficiency improvements

Posted by: Chris Woolery on March 12, 2015

Many KFTC members who are interested in making their homes more comfortable and energy efficient are now able to make it happen!  

How$martKY is an on-bill energy efficiency financing program that doesn’t require a credit check. This means that rural electric cooperative members with high utility bills can often get energy upgrades with no down payment, add the financed payment to their electric bill, and still save money every month.  

Jefferson chapter stands with adjuncts for economic justice

Posted by: KFTC Staff on March 12, 2015

Linda Stettenbenz, a Jefferson County member who serves on KFTC’s Economic Justice Committee, reached out to Jefferson Community and Technical College professors who are involved in an international movement to demand fair treatment for adjunct professors – professors who don’t have tenure and who often work for near-poverty wages with no job security from one semester to the next. Adjuncts at several colleges and universities opted for walk-outs; JCTC organizers opted for a teach-in.

Jefferson County co-hosts grassroots lobby training

Posted by: KFTC staff on March 10, 2015

The Jefferson County Chapter of KFTC (JCKFTC) partnered with eight local allies to host a Grassroots Lobby Training on January 27.

March Jefferson County Chapter Meeting reportback

McElroy explains the need for more affordable housing.
Posted by: Ryan Fenwick on March 10, 2015

Last night's JCKFTC meeting brought out twelve members of the chapter to deliberate, discuss, and take action on affordable housing, an LG&E rate change, the local air quality and economic jus

Kentuckians call on Senate committee to hear HB 70, dragged from room

Posted by: Lisa Abbott on March 6, 2015

Wearing buttons that read "Let Us Vote," about two dozen voting rights supporters attended the last regularly scheduled meeting of the Senate State and Local Government Committee on Wedneday to bear witness as Senate Republicans yet again refused to act on HB 70, a proposed constitutional amendment to restore voting rights to nearly a quarter million Kentuckians. As expected, they did not see senators take action on the bill. But there was plenty of other action in committee room that day.

Members speak out for economic justice legislation

Posted by: Kentuckians For The Commonwealth on March 4, 2015

KFTC members have been active in Frankfort this week, supporting several economic justice bills as the session draws to a close. House Bill 374, which closes corporate tax loopholes to fund a state Earned Income Tax Credit, received a hearing in committee yesterday, and CKY member Jesus Gonzalez testified in support of the EITC. Here is Jesus's testimony:

Shelby Co. chapter, NAACP settle down to soul food and celebrate Black History Month

Posted by: Shane Ashford on March 4, 2015

Shelby County chapter members enjoyed a night of soul food and fellowship this past Friday. The spread ran the gamut: cornbread, corn chowder, breaded and fried catfish, fried chicken, barbecue ribs, coleslaw, beans, kale, peach cobbler, you name it! It was as down-home as you could get. The Shelby County chapter of the NAACP provided the tasty provisions while the KFTC chapter provided the entertainment. It came in the form of a very enthusiastic and knowledgeable presentation by local historian Diane Perrin Coon. 

Ms. Coon gave a talk entitled "Slavery, Anti-Slavery and the Underground Railroad in Shelby County." The talk was well-received, highlighting demographic trends as well as personal stories from history. Ms. Coon, a gifted storyteller, laid bare Shelby County’s complicities in the institution of slavery as well as its hand in the abolition of that institution. 


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