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balancing the scales Volume 27 Number 3

April 28, 2008

Kentucky families struggle as legislature fails to act and income inequality grows

“All I want to do is sock away a few bucks for tough times, make sure I save a little money for my kids’ college educations, pay for the essential services and durable good that we actually need, and see a doctor when we need care,” said Perry County member Leslie Craft. Most people would say that’s not too much to ask. But the Crafts will be unable to do all of these things, at least this year. They are just one of many families who face costs that are outpacing their wages, exacerbated by policies that keep lower-income working

families struggling while asking less from those who are already well off. And the Kentucky General Assembly failed to act on several proposals that would have aided poor and lower-income working families in its recently concluded session.

Trends worsening The Crafts’ situation is becoming more common, according to a new report by the Center for Budget and Public Priorities. CBPP studied changes in average income between the late 1980s and mid-2000s. They concluded that even though

Vo I te d

Bonny McDonald performed “Listen,” a poem urging people in Bowling Green to learn about the housing problems. Photo by WKU Herald photographer Luke Sharret

the costs of daily living like food, gas, fuel, health care, and childcare have steadily increased, the average income of the poorest Kentucky families stayed about the same, leaving them less and less able to meet even the most basic needs. Evidence of this is all over the state, as food banks and shelters consistently report higher needs. At the same time, income inequality is on a sharp rise in Kentucky. CBPP found that the income gap between Ken(Continued on page 6)

KFTC friends, led by UK Greenthumb, hoisted a mock wind turbine over a giant pile of coal next to the University of Kentucky’s coal power plant. The action, staged as a photoop for local media like was a part of the national Fossil Fools Day, a push to raise awareness around the destruction cause by the use of coal and oil.

Finding success in the General Assembly

KFTC members began the year with an ambitious legislative agenda. After a steady and visible presence in the halls of the Capitol Annex, testimony on six bills, and thousands of phone calls and faxes, KFTC’s presence had a noticeably positive influence but resulted in little legislation getting through the political process (HB 2 and SB 83). The session started with positive expectations. Several KFTC bills were in play early in the session. The state’s budget crisis made the revenue growth provided for in House Bill 262 catch the attention of

legislators. Broad public support for stopping mountaintop removal made it seem like House Bill 164 would get some attention. The restoration of voting rights for former felons, House Bill 70, passed the House last year and was rapidly picking up new cosponsors. “Our expectations were raised and a lot of people were quite hopeful,” said KFTC Chairperson Doug Doerrfeld. “There was a sense of optimism that these bill were re-

ally going to move.” KFTC provided it’s first testimony on January 22, helping the Special Task Force on Gaming understand how HB 262 would add a measure of fairness to our tax system while raising much-needed new revenue. On February 5, a House committee sent the restoration bill to the House floor. On Valentine’s Day, more than 1,200 citizens rallied to demand protections for the

Change Service Requested Kentuckians For The Commonwealth P.O. Box 1450 London, Ky. 40743

(Continued on page 4) Non-Profit U.S. Postage PAID LONDON, Ky. Permit No. 43


Table of Contents 3


Voter Empowerment Update •Kentucky primary election just around the corner; May 20

General Assembly Update •Restoration of voting rights clears the house; no action in Senate •General assembly analysis continued from page 1

6 Grass Roots Fundraising Update

•”Each One Reach One Campaign” to shape recruitment goals


Economic Justice Update •Income inequality on the rise in Kentucky •Members’ thoughts on the Economic Stimulus Checks

8 Local Updates

•Rowan County members continue work on local campaigns •UK KFTC closes the year strong with student government election •Members in Long Branch battle WhyMore Coal Company •KFTC members work with ally organizations in Bowling Green

11 High Road Initiative Update

•High Road Initiative builds momentum during session but has long road ahead to create policy change in state


Canary Project Update

•Members travel to DC to lobby in support of the federal Clean Water Protect Act •Busy bees in eastern Kentucky •Coalfield residents travel to Columbia to share stories

KFTC News 14

•Floyd County chapter inspires steering committee members •KFTC staff expands with three new hires and open position •Keep current with the KFTC blog •Calendar of Events

Write for balancing the scales balancing the scales is always looking for articles, photos, letters to the editor and art work from KFTC members. Copy Deadlines for 2008 are May 28 • July 16 • August 27 • October 8 • November 26 If you are interested contact Tim Buckingham at or call 859.276.0563

balancing the scales, April 28, 2008

Kentuckians For The Commonwealth is a statewide citizens social justice orga­­ni­ zation working for a new balance of power and a just society. KFTC uses direct-action organiz­ ing to accomplish the following goals: • foster democratic values • change unjust institutions • empower individuals • overcome racism and other discrimination • communicate a message of what is possible • build the organization • help people participate • win issues that affect the common welfare • have fun KFTC membership dues are $15 to $50 per year, based on ability to pay. No one is denied membership because of inability to pay. Membership is open to anyone who is committed to equality, democracy and nonviolent change.

KFTC Steering Committee Doug Doerrfeld, Chairperson K.A. Owens, Vice-Chairperson Steve Boyce, Secretary-Treasurer Janet Tucker, Immediate Past Chair Pam Maggard, At-Large Member

Chapter Representatives Susan Williams (Central Ky.) Rick Handshoe (Floyd) Ann Schertz (Harlan) Becki Winchel (Jefferson) Cari Moore (Knott) Jeff Chapman-Crane (Letcher) Toby Wilcher (Madison) Lyle Snider (Perry) Erica Urias (Pike County) Sue Tallichet (Rowan) Alternates: Jen Flinchum, Bev May, Carl Shoupe, Mary Dan Easley, Bobby Hicks, Duane Beachy, Laura Heller, Truman Hurt, Barry Bowersock, Liz Frazier Kentuckians For The Commonwealth P.O. Box 1450 London, Kentucky 40743-1450 606-878-2161 Fax: 606-878-5714 balancing the scales is published by Kentuckians For The Commonwealth and mailed third class from London, Kentucky. Reader contri­butions and letters to the editor should be sent to 274 Southland Drive Suite 101, Lexington, KY. 40503 or Subscriptions are $20 per year.

balancing the scales, April 28, 2008


Voter Empowerment Update

Kentucky primary election just around the corner: May 20

KFTC members are once again participating in a lively election cycle with the non-partisan Voter Empowerment Campaign to register, educate, and mobilize voters, particularly in under-represented communities. Closer to the primary election, information will be available on candidate stances on a range of issues for many different offices, both published in the KFTC Voter Guide by mail and at Additionally, KFTC members will call 10,000 voters to remind them to vote. Members are encouraged to contact their chapter organizer or the local KFTC office to find out how to

help out with these important phone banks that will take place between May 10 and 20. Additionally, KFTC members will provide rides to the polls for individuals who do not have adequate transportation on Election Day. Voters who will not be in the county where they

are registered to vote on election day can vote early (times and dates vary depending on county). Contact your local county clerk to learn more. Alternately, the deadline to request an absentee ballot from your local county clerk in order to vote by mail is Tuesday, May 13.

KFTC Offices and Staff MAIN OFFICE Robin Daugherty, Jason Howard, and Burt Lauderdale P.O. Box 1450 London, Kentucky 40743 606-878-2161 Fax: 606-878-5714

FIELD OFFICES Jessica George & Jerry Hardt 901 Franklin Street Louisville, Kentucky 40206 502-589-3188 Lisa Abbott, Amy Hogg, Kevin Pentz, and Martin Richards 435-R Chestnut Street, Suite 2 Berea, Kentucky 40403 859-986-1277 Tim Buckingham, Jessica Hays, Erik Hungerbuhler, Heather Roe Mahoney and Dave Newton 250 Plaza Drive, Suite #4 Lexington, Kentucky 40503 859-276-0563 Colleen Unroe, Lora Smith, and Patty Tarquino P.O. Box 463 Whitesburg, Kentucky 41858 606-632-0051 Teri Blanton 118 Baugh Street Berea, Ky. 40403 859-986-1648 e-mail any staff member at except for Jessica Hays use

Central Kentucky KFTC members and allies gathered to talk about the upcoming elections and what we can do as nonprofit progressive groups to have an impact.

Become a KFTC Sustaining Giver Name:


City, State, Zip:



Step one: Select the amount you would like to donate! □ One-time Gift: Amount $_______________ □ Sustaining giver! I will contribute $ _____ every (check one): □ Month □ 6 Months □ Quarterly □ Annually Step two: Select what organization you would like to donate to: □ KFTC: Membership dues and donations are not tax deductible. □ Kentucky Coalition: Tax deductible gifts are accepted

Step three: Select the issues that concern you and the activities in which you would like to participate in as a KFTC member: Issues: □ Economic Justice □ Racial Justice □ Environmental Justice □ Other _______________ ___________ (Coal, Mountaintop Removal, etc) Activities: □ Lobbying in Frankfort □ Chapter Activities □ Voter Empowerment □ Fundraising □ Letter Writing □ Communication □ Other ________________________


balancing the scales, April 28, 2008

General Assembly Update

Restoration of voting rights clears the House but Senate takes no action in the final days of the 2008 session

A broad coalition of civic and religious groups pushed for legislation to place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would, if approved by voters, automatically restore voting rights to former felons once they completed their sentences. In 2007, the bill passed the House with 70 votes but died in the Senate. This year members started the session with the expectation (or at least hope) that the House would act quickly on House Bill 70 to allow time to build support in the Senate. HB 70 cosponsor Rep. Darryl Owens brought the bill before his Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee on February 5. It was approved that day on a 7-1 vote. But then House leaders, several of whom were cosponsors, did not call the bill for a floor vote until almost the very last possible day. On April 1, HB 70 passed the House 80-14. The Senate did not act on HB 70 in the three remaining legislative days.

One analysis of the sometimes open and sometimes behind-the-scenes political maneuvering around constitutional amendments places the blame on Governor Beshear. Since he did not want other constitutional amendments competing with his casino gambling proposal, he pushed to delay consideration of HB 70. Early in the session, the governor also said he wanted a constitutional amendment to prohibit governors from pardoning anyone not yet convicted. That legislation never seemed to be a priority for lawmakers. In the end, there were no constitutional amendments approved for the November ballot. Constitutional amendments can only be on the ballot in even numbered years, so it will be 2010 before restoration can be on the ballot. But supporters will push legislators to take action in the 2009 legislative session to secure the amendment’s place on the ballot for the following year.

General Assembly analysis

(Continued on page 1) state’s water from the pollution and loss of streams associated with coal mining valley fills. Two weeks later, hundreds more were there from KFTC and ally groups to push for passage of HB 70. More quietly, KFTC and Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED) were talking about economic development reforms with legislators that ultimately resulted in the introduction of three bills and one resolution. Members also lent their support for several positive energy bills that focused on renewables and energy efficiency, testifying in favor of House Bill 92 on January 24, the day it passed a House committee. In the end, the 2008 General Assembly was dominated by the governor’s

unsuccessful push for casino gambling, anguish over the budget and inaction on a wide variety of other bills. Though some of the bills KFTC pushed started their way through the legislative process in the House, none got through the Senate. “It was an exceptional year for participation [and] our lobby days had exceptional turnouts,” Doerrfeld added. “In that respect, it was a very special year getting a large number of members to Frankfort. “We broke new ground with the Stream Saver Bill — it got a fair hearing. It was exceptional that in a committee as powerful as A&R [House Appropriations and Revenue] we were able to get testimony from two experts in the field. But in the end there were some major disappointments.”

To track the final progress of a specific bill or resolution on KFTC legislative platform visit

How they voted on HB 70 Voting YES on HB 70: Reps. Royce Adams, Rocky Adkins, John Arnold, Eddie Ballard, Sheldon Baugh, Larry Belcher, Johnny Bell, Tom Burch, Dwight Butler, Mike Cherry, Larry Clark, Hubert Collins, Leslie Combs, Tim Couch, Will Coursey, Jesse Crenshaw, Ron Crimm, Robert Damron, Milward Dedman, Mitchel Denham, Bob DeWeese, Bill Farmer, Tim Firkins, David Floyd, Danny Ford, Jim Glenn, Jim Gooch, Derrick Graham, Jeff Greer, Keith Hall, Richard Henderson, Melvin Henley, Charlie Hoffman, Jeffrey Hoover, Dennis Horlander, Joni Jenkins, Dennis Keene, Thomas Kerr, Jimmie Lee, Mary Lou Marzian, Thomas McKee, Reginald Meeks, Charles Miller, Harry Moberly, Russ Mobley, Lonnie Napier, Fred Nesler, Sannie Overly, Darryl Owens, Ruth Ann Palumbo, Don Pasley, Tanya Pullin, Marie Rader, Rick Rand, Frank Rasche, Jody Richards, Steven Riggs, Tom Riner, Carl Rollins, Steven Rudy, Sal Santoro, Charles Siler, Arnold Simpson, Dottie Sims, Ancel Smith, John Will Stacy, Kathy Stein, Jim Stewart, Greg Stumbo, Tommy Thompson, John Tilley, Tommy Turner, Ken Upchurch, John Vincent, Jim Wayne, David Watkins, Robin Webb, Ron Weston, Susan Westrom, Rob Wilkey, Addia Kathryn Wuchner, Brent Yonts Voting NO on HB 70: Reps. Kevin Bratcher, James Comer, Jim DeCesare, Myron Dossett, C.B. Embry, Joseph Fischer, Mike Harmon, Adam Koenig, Stan Lee, Brad Montell, Tim Moore, Rick Nelson, David Osborne, Alecia Webb-Edgington Not Voting: Reps. Scott Alexander, Scott Brinkman, Ted Edmonds, Jimmy Higdon, Marie Rader, John Vincent

balancing the scales, April 28, 2008


Grass Roots Fundraising Update

“Each One Reach One Campaign” to shape membership recruitment and fundraising growth efforts for 2008

Over the last three years, KFTC has experienced explosive growth by nearly tripling grassroots fundraising, more than doubling membership and expanding campaigns around economic justice, mountaintop removal,

Becki Winchel, Jefferson County steering committee representative knows that KFTC’s success needs her volunteer and financial support. “ I will be forever grateful for the first time I was invited to join a group of

“My membership to KFTC assures that my voice will be heard.” Becki Winchel, Jefferson County

and the restoration of voting rights for former felons. In each of the last three years, KFTC did much more than set fundraising and membership recruitment goals and just “meet them.” Members exceeded the set goals by significant amounts. Strengthening this foundation is directly related to KFTC’s expanding campaigns and the ability to be effective in this work. The movement KFTC experienced on bills during the just-completed General Assembly, for example, is unprecedented. But it also brings into sharp focus the need to be exponentially bigger. This is why KFTC is launching the “Each One Reach One Campaign.” The goal is to have at least 1,000 KFTC members each recruit at least one new member to KFTC. Why is this an effective way to organize?

like-minded people in Frankfort. Even when I don’t get to go, I know that my financial contribution allows others to go and my voice to be heard.” If 1,000 KFTC members recruited just one member to join KFTC, the membership base would spread even further through the state. This opportunity gives the organization the potential to reach people that would normally never reach otherwise. Currently people might join KFTC at an event, through the web site or someone in the organization asks them to join. What would it look like if 1,000 of the current 5,000 members talked to just one person about why they belong to KFTC? Membership would grow in all corners of Kentucky. KFTC would reach more people in Marion, Floyd and Franklin counties, the neighborhoods of Lexington and Louisville, and congregations of faith from all over the commonwealth.

Members know the strength of an organization that is built as a grassroots movement by its own membership. Many expressed this understanding and excitement after being a part of the 1,200 person rally at I Love Mountains Day. It is essential to each campaign that members continue to reach out and bring new people into the fold of this work.

How do I recruit a member? Everyone can think of at least one person who should be a member of KFTC. Even if someone cannot attend meetings or travel to Frankfort, their membership is still an important way to participate in the organization. The majority of KFTC members are part of KFTC in addition to their participation with other organizations, schools, committees and activities. Their movement in other circles builds KFTC’s capacity to have a broader analysis of the interconnections of issues. No one leads a single-issue life, but the strength of KFTC’s work comes from bringing people together at the intersections of their lives. Winchel understands this through her work at the Coalition for the Homeless, volunteer roles at the Fairness Campaign,

Braden Center, Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression and the ACLU. “People appreciate knowing that there is a group where we understand that you have multiple passions.”

How do I sign up? KFTC kicked off the “Each One Reach One Campaign” at the April 5 Steering Committee meeting where KFTC’s leaders became the first to commit to recruit at least one new member. They are looking for members to step up and help meet and exceed this goal. Is there someone you know who is in line with the values of KFTC, but not yet a member? If you are interested in participating in this campaign let your organizer know, call Development Director Jessica George at 502-589-3188 or send her an email at In return, KFTC will set you up with materials and give you a pep talk. You can continue tracking the progress on the internet at and in balancing the scales. If this sounds like fun, but won’t possibly satisfy your burning interest in recruiting and renewing members, get in touch with Jessica George to plan house parties, events and other ways to reach out to folks in your region.

How do you see this budget affecting your community? Several KFTC members have been sharing their stories of increased class sizes, layoffs, compromised programs, and struggles to afford a college education as a result of the state’s inadequate budget. Sharing these stories helps KFTC’s work to build a case for a stronger and better budget. Share how the budget cuts are affecting your community, your family, and your commonwealth. If you’d like to share your story and your concerns, you can contact Jessica Hays at 859.275.0563 or, or you can look for an entry form on, on the economic justice page.


balancing the scales, April 28, 2008

Economic Justice Update

Kentucky families struggle as legislature fails to act and inequality grows

Legislature failures Despite Kentucky’s rising poverty

rates, legislators failed to pass a state Earned Income Tax Credit (House Bill 566), a provision that helps lower-income working families in 24 other states. Despite severe revenue shortfalls, legislators failed to raise new revenue (House Bill 262) and as a result higher education will be less accessible, services for families and children in need will be reduced, and programs such as environmental protection that help keep Kentuckians healthy will be less effective. Despite the fact that lower-income working families pay as much as 65 percent more of their income in state and local taxes than do the very wealthy, legislators failed to restore Kentucky’s estate tax and failed to make income tax rates more progressive (HB 262). All these ideas were proposed, all could have seen broad support, but the legislature failed to act. Similar trends on the federal level — the phase out of the estate tax and tax reductions that disproportionately favor the wealthy, for example, are policies that adversely affects Kentucky’s revenue as well. The result is that families like the Crafts are not given the same opportunities to succeed, and instead often see

eroding of the resources they need and that they’ve worked hard to maintain. “My family is poised to spend more than a fifth of our gross income on medical expenses this year,” said Craft. “This will keep us all insured, make sure John is not sick, and make sure our baby gets to have a hospital birth. If you add in our regular out-of-pocket expenditures of $2,000 annually, health care will eat up over 20 percent of our projected, combined incomes.” With 20 percent of the Craft’s incomes devoted to health care, a chunk for childcare, a bit to keep themselves clothed and fed, there isn’t a lot left over, despite their middle-income status. After additional expenses such as gasoline the Crafts are left with little room for error. “I spend $250 or more monthly on gas now than I did two years ago, even though our overall fuel consumption has actually been reduced by purchasing very fuel efficient cars. We pay $5,700 yearly, if gas stays at $3 per gallon. It’s more than our mortgage, but as good as can be expected in a rural area.” After all these basic expenses, the Craft’s are left relying on savings and hope that nothing goes wrong.

“If the car doesn’t break down, and we don’t indulge at all, and we pottytrain our baby immediately, we will still need more money,” said Craft. “This is what I call ‘feeling the pinch.’” Craft is quick to point out, though, that her family isn’t as affected by the income divide as lower-income families, the families who are barely making more money than they were in the mid-1980s. Craft works with lower-income families on budgeting and said that the budgets they create together are “not very useful lately because they are constantly in flux. Incomes have remained constant but the cost of food, gasoline, medical care, heating fuel and other basic expenses have increased dramatically over the last couple of years. “People previously able to make ends meet sometimes find themselves taking turn-about each month with utility payments, canceling auto or health insurance policies, buying the cheapest low quality food available — and worse — just to keep a roof over their family,” Craft continued. “This group actually has far less income, limited opportunity to participate in helping programs, and the same basic living expenses as everyone in that middle-income bracket.”

As the income and wealth divides widen across the nation, causing more and more families to lose ground, elected officials are pointing to the “economy” as the culprit for the hardship. Many experts disagree. Chuck Collins, a scholar for the Institute of Policy Studies, chairs the Working Group on Extreme Inequality, a coalition of religious, business, labor and civic groups concerned about the wealth gap. In a recent article for Alternet, Collins wrote, “Underlying our economic crisis is a polarization of income and wealth. Real wages for working people have been stagnant for decades, a horrific fact that has been masked only by increased work hours and vast amounts of private consumer debt in the form of credit cards and second mortgages. On the other end of the wealth spectrum, the superrich have so much money that they are engaging

in speculative investments in search of maximum returns.” These speculative investments, Collins argues, fueled the U.S.’s economic instability. Similar fault is found with the principle behind the economic stimulus checks that are supposed to reverse the downward economic trend. The economic stimulus checks of $300 to $600 per qualifying person are supposed to spur on the economy by making it possible for people to shop the U.S. out of a recession. The payments will help many Kentuckians — hit hard by low wages, rising costs, unattainable health care — make ends meet during these very hard times. These checks are going to people from the federal government with the hope that they will shop the U.S. into better and brighter times. There is no doubt that for many

families, this money will be put to good use. However, KFTC members say that while these checks will help families out, more consumption isn’t what is needed. Trudi Lewis from Morehead has an 8-year history of working with lowincome earners. She said, “People are going to be using it for food and medication, with maybe a little left over to pay down their debt. This might help some of the symptoms, but a one-time shot of money doesn’t do away with the disease.” “These checks will help people pay off debts, and that’s something, but this isn’t really going to help things,” said Washington County KFTC member Albert Bauman. “It’s not going to really help the people who need help the most right now because it’s not going to address fundamental problems and causes of inequity.”

KFTC members have offered better solutions than this broken logic that suggests shopping sprees are not what need to be nurtured to make the country work better. Instead, Kentuckians should be supporting economic equality and fairness. If you fall into this category, you can still use your money for good. You can use the money to economically stimulate KFTC’s social justice work to make Kentucky a better place. Or consider making a contribution to any of the ally organizations in the state that are doing important and good work. You can use your money for good without buying into consumerism. Think it over, and if you decide to stimulate the good work happening in Kentucky, let KFTC know! KFTC would like to share your thoughts with others as these checks keep rolling out.

(Continued on page 1) tucky’s richest and poorest families is the 10th largest in the nation. The rate of growth of that gap is the 6th largest. Kentucky has shown signs of another trend reflected — the erosion of Kentucky’s middle class. The average income of Kentucky’s middle class, the middle-fifth income bracket, increased about $346 a year. Meanwhile, the average income of the richest fifth of families increased by about $1,900 a year. These trends don’t reflect how hard people are working. Trudi Lewis from Morehead said, for example, her sister, a newspaper delivery person, has had to take on two additional routes just to maintain her income. “She’s working three times as hard for the same amount of money.” The culprit isn’t Kentucky’s people; it’s Kentucky’s policies. From a lackluster minimum wage increase that does not raise a full-time worker out of poverty, to tax policies that allow the wealthy to contribute less than their share, Kentucky’s legislature has done very little to correct the trend.

Members’ thoughts on the economic stimulus checks: Help is needed, but can Kentuckians consume to a better day?

balancing the scales, April 28, 2008


Economic Justice Update

Budget will mean more pain, fewer jobs for Kentuckians KFTC members are frustrated with the process and the product. KFTC Vice Chair and Jefferson County member K. A. Owens called this budget "the sad result of a completely failed process." "When Rep. Moberly calls it 'a diabolical deal,' he’s on the right track. The budget is a tragedy,” said Central Kentucky member Janet Tucker. “What we’re dealing with now is very, very sad.” Many lawmakers point to the national economic downturn to explain the lack of revenue. "I heard one of the legislators saying that … this budget is the best we can do, blaming the economy for the entirety of our revenue problem. That’s a cop-out,” said Madison County member Steve Boyce. “This budget isn’t just hard times. Kentucky’s structural imbalance is well documented. We’ve been aware, and many legislators have been aware, that this is the result of a long-term structural deficit and the legislature’s lack of will to fix the problem. At some point, that structural deficit has to be dealt with.” Boyce added that the budget sends a message about the legislature, and about the direction that lawmakers are taking the state. " Wi t h t h i s budget, the legislature is saying, 'We can’t get ourselves together enough to say that education, the quality of life, and health care are priorities,'" said Boyce. This budget steals the potential of what Kentucky could be, if the state made investments that were even close to adequate. Boyce uses higher education as one example. “There are so many studies that say that investments in education are the most effective economic investments that a state can make, advancing the kind of economic development that leads to a good quality of life and good, quality jobs.”

“The cuts will lead to tuition increases that will shut out many students from higher education,” Boyce continued. “This isn’t a wise direction for Kentucky. These cuts seem to be saying that, for Kentucky, these investments are just not that important.” The budget not only fails to invest in education, it also fails to protect the state from some deeply felt pain. The cuts to human services have already begun to impact the state, with the closing of a mental health facility in Louisville and with employee layoffs. Trudi Lewis, a Rowan County member, was laid off from her mental health center job on April 4, two days after the budget was announced. “My supervisor asked me if I’d been reading the papers and he said that because of the budget cuts, I’d be laid off for at least the next two years,” said Lewis. “My clients are people who are already vulnerable. They’re now seeing other therapists, who were already just as swamped as I was.” Lewis has worked at this community mental health center for eight years, and is concerned about the impact that her absence will have on her clients. Lewis states that people will do their best to compensate for the cuts, just as they’ve done their best to compensate for the chronic lack of funding, but even best efforts will fall short of what is needed. “They’re talking about trimming away the fat,” continued Lewis. “There is none, not from where we stand.” Boyce also pointed to the how the budget cuts target Kentucky’s most vulnerable citizens. “We had to make a choice between more revenue and less spending and less investing. When people like [Senate President David] Williams say that no taxes are on the table, that a bare

"With this budget, the legislature is saying, 'We can’t get ourselves together enough to say that education, the quality of life, and health care are priorities.'" Steve Boyce, Madison County Chapter

bones budget is necessary, the people who wind up getting hurt the most are invariably the people who are poor,” said Boyce. “They’re the same ones who are hurt by our state taxes now, because of the percentage of their income that they’re asked to contribute. They’re the ones that it’s easiest for the legislature to go ahead and hurt, then say that they didn’t have a choice. They most certainly did have a choice.” Kentuckians will have choices, too,

in the upcoming election cycles. Owens is looking ahead, “Now is the time for us to plan, rebuild, and reorganize. We need to get better legislators. “The fact that some legislators worked hard to support a budget that would have been effective in putting the state on a sound footing gives us hope for the future. We need to get more legislators willing to do that. KFTC and allies have more work to do.”

Budget Cuts KFTC members are speaking out against the state’s two-year budget, which is a sad display of pain and thwarted opportunities. Statewide newspapers have reported the effects of the budget cuts since early April. Below is a list of some of the major cuts. However, not all budget cuts are listed. • A $1 million budget cut to the already under-funded Legal Aid. Legal Aid provides emergency legal help to the poor and this budget cut will mean cuts to services and staff. • The cuts to Legal Aid are in addition to the cuts to the already under-funded Department of Public Advocacy, which houses public defenders. Due to the cuts, 54 positions will be lost, further compromising Kentucky’s ability to fulfill everyone’s right to an attorney. • $40 million in cuts to human services. This has already led to the closing of Seven Counties, a mental health facility in Louisville, and to employee lay-offs. These cuts will severely impact Kentucky’s ability to care for its ill, elderly, and poor. • Funding cuts for higher education have already caused the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville to increase tuition 9 percent for next year, and a 13 percent increase for community and technical colleges. At UK, this means that Kentucky students will pay $717 more in tuition. Students have lobbied against this increase for months, and this increase comes after consistent tuition hikes that have made college educations less accessible to Kentuckians. • Flat-lined base funding for K-12 education, budget cuts to after school programs, and to the professional development programs for teachers will continue to penalize Kentucky’s children. The flat-lined base funding means schools will have the same money to work with as the current year. However, costs of bus fuel, heat, and other operating expenses will continue to rise. Individual school districts are looking at teacher lay-offs, 4-day weeks, and class size increases. • State employees will receive a 1 percent raise for the next two years. • An 11 percent cut to Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet, which oversees sectors from wrestling and boxing to water air quality and water safety. Within this cabinet, the Natural Resources Department suffered 22 percent cuts.


balancing the scales, April 28, 2008

Local Updates

Rowan County members continue to work on local campaigns

The Rowan County chapter continues to work within the community to make positive change in numerous areas. With some definite hits and misses over the past few months chapter members are energized about the upcoming summer months and the opportunity to inform community members about the important work the chapter is doing. Recently members met with LaJaunda Haight-Maybriar who is the coordinator for the Licking River in the Kentucky Division of Water Basin Management. Haight-Maybriar visited the chapter meeting and delivered a presentation to members about water quality that included sources of pollution from both urban and rural areas. Haight-Maybriar explained the 2006 Integrated Report to Congress, which included data on water bodies assessed in Rowan County. Additionally, Haight-Maybriar discussed designated uses and limits of impairments for those, such as aquatic

life, swimming, boating, and drinking water sources. Rowan County has good water quality in relation to much of the rest of the state, largely due to almost half of the county being a part of the Daniel Boone National Forest. Chapter members were excited to hear this news since many of the members participate in water sampling for the Licking River Watershed Watch. It also validates the chapter’s efforts with the restoration of Laurel Creek. Doug Doerrfeld will make an Open Records Request from the Division of Water for the engineered drawings and the Consent Order for Laurel Creek so the chapter can monitor the restoration work as it happens this spring and summer. Most recently the Rowan County chapter received a letter from Robert Daniell, the manager of the Underground Storage Tank Branch of the Environmental Protection Cabinet,

thanking the chapter for its concern and pledging to work with the chapter. Shortly thereafter, 55-gallon drums of contaminated soil were picked up across Rowan County with reports that more drums are being collected across the state. The chapter’s long-standing work with Morehead State University (MSU) has been only partially victorious in recent months. Members met with university officials to discuss the use of alternative energy on campus while ending use the coal-fired boiler system. It appears that MSU will receive $5.7 million from the state legislature to repair a downed boiler. Because of the chapter’s efforts, MSU was forced to shut down the old boilers because of illegal pollution. MSU was forced to do the repairs in order to run the coal boilers legally. The chapter requested MSU to convert all, or at least 20 percent, of their energy to wood-waste. However, MSU did not

to ask for funding from the state legislature to make these changes. While the system will pollute less it will still be 100 percent dependent on coal. Additionally, the funds appropriated for the power plant do not appear to be significant enough to completely overhaul the system. Instead, they can only repair and replace parts and add a new bag-house. Members of a chapter subcommittee anticipate continuing their conversations with MSU President Wayne Andrews in a collaborative effort to protect the environment.

Rowan County is located in northeastern Kentucky. Currently KFTC has 65 active members in the Rowan County chapter.

UK KFTC closes the year strong with student government election

The University of Kentucky KFTC group wrapped up its first academic year together. Highlights for the year included, massive student voter registration drives resulting in more than 700 registrations, several large Restoration of Voting Rights for Former Felons events, great leadership development,

a smashing Concert for the Commonwealth last fall, and great ally work to build connections both inside and outside the campus community. With enough time left in the spring semester, UK KFTC members applied KFTC’s voter empowerment techniques and principles on campus to im-

pact the Student Government elections in April. “We wanted people to be able to actually vote based on where candidates stand on the issues,” said Katie Goldey, a UK KFTC member and a primary organizer of the voter empowerment work around the election. Of the 44 student government candidates, 40 responded to a detailed candidate survey concerning issues important to students. The voter guide was published on giving students the opportunity to compare candidate’s positions of various issues. Students from across campus had

input on the candidate survey questions asked, which touched on a broad range of issues from environmental justice to tuition to racial justice and diversity. Students organized campus tablings, presentations, chalkings, massemails, and other methods to drive students to the web site. At the close of the polls, Student Government election web site had received more than 4,600 page views. Methods such as these have been applied by KFTC members in past to state and local elections but this was the first time they had been tested on a university campus.

KFTC is in need of digital cameras to continue to document our work across the state. If you have an old digital camera that is in working condition that you would like to donate contact Tim Buckingham at 859-276-0563 or UK KFTC members celebrate after their last spring semester meeting. The group will reconvene at the beginning of the academic fall semester.

balancing the scales, April 28, 2008


Local Updates

Members in Long Branch battle Whymore Coal Company

An ongoing struggle over illegal mining in Leslie County has a former KFTC chairperson fighting to save her land. “The old days are not over! These things are still going on,” reported Mary Jane Adams of Long Branch in Leslie County. Mary Jane and her husband, Raleigh, are entangled in a legal battle with Whymore Coal Company over a broken lease agreement and charges of trespassing while ongoing illegal mining on their property is destroying their forest and mountain. In December 2007, Whymore Coal Company of London broke a lease agreement and contract with the Adams family when they stopped paying the couple wheelage, a fee to use the couple’s road to haul coal across. Since that time, the company has continued to use the family’s road and is actively mining on a piece of property the couple said they own but a neighbor is also claiming the rights to. Previously, the Adams had leased a portion of their property to the coal company to be mined, but this lease became void after the corporation broke the terms of their agreement. In December when the contract was first

violated, Raleigh sent the company a letter acknowledging that the contract was now void and demanded that Whymore Coal immediately stop trespassing on his property and leave. The company had 15 days to respond, but the Adams report that they only received one phone call and that since that time and the company has never attempted to remedy the breach. The situation quickly escalated to become more serious. Whymore Coal moved heavy equipment onto portions of the Adams’s private property in March of this year and began actively and illegally clearing their land without payment or notification to the Adams. The retired couple also reported threats have been made to their safety by employees of Whymore Coal. As of the Adams’s last court date in April, the company had all of the property on Long Branch cleared of all trees on one side of the creek. Residents thought they were disregarding property boundaries and trespassing on neighbor Leonard Joseph’s property, but later found that the company had gotten access to one heir in an undivided tract. Joseph and his three sisters are against the mining. Because of Kentucky’s convoluted

Coalfield residents traveled to Cape Cod, Massachuetts in late April in support of the Cape Wind Project. While there members participated in demonstrations and shared their stories of living in the coalfields. As global warming becomes a larger national issue, different groups are taking notice of the stronghold King Coal has on the Appalachian Mountains.

Raleigh Adams and his neighbors continue to monitor the coal operators at a distance to document if they continue to trespass on his land. laws, Whymore was not harvesting the logs as it scalped the hillside because state law does not allow one heir with a minority ownership interest to allow logging. But the law does allow one minority heir to allow the property to be mined. Scalping the hillside of trees is considered part of the mining process, so it is permitted. Whymore Coal now is mining coal on a piece of land that is currently being disputed in court between the Adams family and a neighbor. The Adams’s claim the property as their own, but there is a dispute with a neighbor over property lines. The next hearing where the property lines and the legitimacy of the lease will be argued is May 7. In the meantime, the judge has allowed the company to continue mining on the disputed property. For the Adams family, this means that even if the judge rules in their favor and grants them the ownership over the disputed property, the couple will retain a piece of property already destroyed by Whymore Coal Company. “There is no right, rhyme or reason for the lease, and it just astounds me that the judge ruled in favor of the company. We’re now in a waiting game. Nothing I have experienced has

ever been so stressful, not even cancer,” said Mary Jane Adams who is currently battling ovarian cancer. If the judge grants ownership to the Adams, the couple might at least be paid some money for the coal illegally mined from their property. But it’s likely this sum would be small in comparison to the damage done. The couple insists that money is not the point and does nothing for them if their land is destroyed. “We don’t want money. I would live in poverty if it meant this company would see some justice,” said Mary Jane. Despite these set backs, the Adams are determined to stand their ground. The couple will continue to organize with the support of KFTC. “We’re going to do everything we can to stop them,” said a determined Raleigh Adams. Mary Jane Adams is a former vice chairperson of KFTC and served as the chairperson of the organization during the Broad Form Deed Campaign in KFTC’s early history. The couple are long-time supporters of the organization. KFTC members in the region are continuing to support Mary Jane and Raleigh Adams in their fight to keep illegal mining off their land.

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Local Updates

KFTC members work with ally organizations to advance fair housing goals in local Bowling Green elections

Bowling Green members and KFTC allies are gearing up for the primary election season by continuing to place fair housing on Bowling Green’s political agenda. In recent months attention has been drawn to fair housing in Bowling Green primarily by Kaleidoscope, an organization that connects youth to social activism through the arts. One of Kaleidoscope’s programs, Voices 4 Justice, holds an annual event in support of an issue of injustice. Ben Kickert, Kaleidoscope’s Community Youth Development Coordinator, said that over the last two years Voices 4 Justice has highlighted global issues of injustice, and that this year the students wanted to

work closer to home. “Housing discrimination and unfair landlord practices are among the most pressing issues in the neighborhood that Kaleidoscope serves,” said Kickert. Another event Kaleidoscope hosted called unCOMMon UNITY brought attention to the lack of renters’ right and other fair housing provisions in Bowling Green. Students brought their own experiences — stories from their own families and friends — to the workshop, using them to create songs, poetry, hung art, and performance art to describe the problems of renters in Bowling Green. Much of the art on display showed the veneer of happiness and harmony that is presented at first glance, trying to whitewash over what is the real-

Below is an excerpt from “LISTEN” Syleethia Holesome and KFTC member Bonny McDonald wrote and performed the poem “Listen” below at the Voices 4 Justice event on March 4

Oppression it’s mutated and transformed Like a virus Infecting homes Of the nameless The so-called ‘Aliens’

Hold your opinion until you’ve heard the stories

Americans fought England for liberty only to chain up millions of slaves Oh, we revised our ways— traded chains for illegitimate taxes and unlivable wages

Listen to the stories There are hundreds in our city they come like waves when you’re willing to listen they come crashing down like breakers breakers of contracts and hearts There’s a sea of ugliness at work  Please hold your opinion until you know the stories 

there are pages and pages of the same old truths in the history books nothing’s changed since 1890 our streets are hiding secrets landowners direct the flow

ity for many in Bowling Green — racial discord, economic inequity, and, underlying it all, a dearth of resources for renters. A d d i t i o n a l l y, the spoken word, poetry and songs also pointed to significant differences in the quality of life between the haves and the havenots. KFTC member Dana Beasley-Brown spoke to the crowd about M e l i s s a housing issues at the March 4 Voices 4 Justice event in BowlR o d a r t e , a ing Green. KFTC memPhoto by WKU Herald photographer Luke Sharret ber who heightened the work around fair houssion with KFTC, Habitat for Humanity, ing in Bowling Green, said, “This event and the Housing Authority. brought light to an area in Bowling The forum is an opportunity to air Green that has not been taken care of by out concerns and show support for Unilandlords. It’s embarrassing when you form Residential Landlord and Tenant realize that you are part of a community Act (URLTA), other fair housing policies, that prides itself on such high Christian and to develop relationships between values and still allows people to be misresidents of the west side of Bowling treated.” Green and Western Kentucky University Rodarte is excited about the po(WKU) students — two groups that are tential that Kaleidoscope and KFTC, especially affected the lack of renters’ working together, have to help renters in rights. Bowling Green. Rodarte sees this forum as a way “Our alliance helps these young to further the work that Voices 4 Justice people realize that they are not alone in started, and has been working with what they do,” said Rodarte. “They are other members to reach out to residents able to see that there really are adults of the west side to involve them in the from many backgrounds, races, cultures forum. and ages who are willing to make a dif “I just hope to make more people ference.” aware of the issues involving the west unCOMMon UNITY laid the part of town, especially the lack of city groundwork for this month’s event — a code enforcements and lack of laws to Fair Housing Forum sponsored by the protect landlords and tenants,” said RoBowling Green Human Rights Commisdarte.

Stay up-to-date with KFTC members, visit

balancing the scales, April 28, 2008

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High Road Initiative Update

High Road Initiative builds momentum during session toward long-term economic development policy change

Building on the gubernatorial election last year — where High Road economic development ideas were part of the campaign debate — the High Road Initiative approached the 2008 legislative session with a goal of spreading these ideas and discussion among lawmakers. KFTC members and staff from KFTC and the Mountain Association for Economic Development (MACED) logged many hours in the hallways introducing the High Road to legislators, working with sponsors to develop legislation and to build support. More than one legislator was surprised to learn that KFTC is involved in economic development. While some legislators, especially in the coalfields, are happy to have some common ground with KFTC, there are others who are only now becoming aware of the organization. Though the High Road Initiative is now on the radar of legislators, the Cabinet for Economic Development and the governor’s staff, there still remains the challenge of being taken seriously and given a respectful ear. 2008 Policy Goals Prior to the beginning of the 2008 General Assembly, the High Road Strategy Team set policy goals for the session to: a) increase support for homegrown entrepreneurs and small businesses; b) increase support for promising sectors like sustainable forestry, renewable energy/energy efficiency; and c) enact economic development system reforms to broaden membership of the Partnership Board, require a Unified Development Budget report and implement sunsetting provisions for incentive programs. Highlights During the session the High Road Initiative helped to introduce four pieces of legislation with three different sponsors. House Concurrent Resolution 178, sponsored by Rep. Dwight Butler, called for a statewide task force to support entrepreneurship and small business. House Bill 718 wanted to expand the Partnership Board and

“If it’s something I believe in — and I really do believe in what we’re doing in KFTC, it’s hard to keep me quiet.” Mary Love, Jefferson County member require a new state economic development plan. House Bill 748 would have set expiration dates and an evaluation process before any incentive programs could be reauthorized. House Bill 750 would required an annual public report of revenue lost from incentives. The High Road Initiative also actively supported three pieces of renewable energy/energy efficiency legislation. House Bill 92 would have lowered the investment threshold from $1 million to $50,000 for renewable energy facilities to receive state incentives. House Bill 313 expanded Kentucky’s existing net-metering law to include wind, biomass, and hydro electrical generation, and increase the maximum amount of electricity to be put back on the grid. House Bill 2 created tax incentives for homes and businesses to install renewable energy systems or to improve their energy efficiency. The High Road bills and HB 92 (like more than 92 percent of the bills introduced in the 2008 session) did not become law. Most of the provision of HB 313 were incorporated into SB 83, which is now law. HB 2 also was expanded as is made its way through the legislative process and was passed. Even though the economic development bills did not pass, members were very successful in creating new levels of discussion about economic development and energy policy. Additionally, they provided new opportunities for KFTC and MACED to develop specific policy proposals for people to bring real life experience to the halls of Frankfort. The High Road Initiative was introduced to members of House committees for Agriculture and Small Business; Economic Development; Appropriations and Revenue; and Tourism Development and Energy through KFTC members and allies testifying in

four committee meetings. The legislative session also provided the setting to begin a dialogue with the new Beshear administration. High Road Initiative members and staff met three times with representatives from the administration including Cabinet Secretary Larry Hayes, Executive Assistant Colmon Elridge and Economic Development Secretary John Hindman. The high profile of the High Road Initiative was due in large part to the

dedicated leadership of KFTC member Mary Love of Jefferson County. Love patiently and persistently met with legislators on numerous days and testified on several occasions. “If it’s something I believe in — and I really do believe in what we’re doing in KFTC, it’s hard to keep me quiet,” said Love. “I’m really having a ball lobbying and meeting with folks. It’s very important work and I’m loving it!”        The High Road Initiative recognized and extended its thanks to Reps. Dwight Butler, Don Pasley, Harry Moberly and Jim Wayne for their leadership and belief in the principles behind the High Road Initiative. Each sponsored one or more of the Hgh Road bills. KFTC members are excited to work with them over the course of this next year and into the 2009 session.

Heartwood Forest Council in Ohio 18th Annual Heartwood Forest Council, held Memorial Day weekend, May 23-26, 2008, at Boy Scout Camp Oyo in the Shawnee State Forest near West Portsmouth, Ohio. Hosts for this years event include Heartwood, the Buckeye Forest Council, Save Our Shawnee Forest, Voices for the Forest, Meigs Citizens Action Now, Protect Biodiversity in Public Forests, EarthWatch Ohio and Southern Ohio Neighbor’s Group. The theme of this year’s Forest Council is “Burning Issues: Climate is a Forest Product.”

What is the Heartwood Forest Council? The Heartwood Forest Council is the largest annual gathering of citizens from across the eastern, midwestern, and southern United States who care about the health and well-being of the nation’s forests. The gathering will focus on threats to the region and to human and community health in an atmosphere of collaboration designed to form stronger personal and organizational connections. While addressing the issues and celebrating the work done, the Forest Council offers participants an opportunity to identify lasting solutions and proven action steps that will move people, as a community, toward a shared vision of a healthy, just, and sustainable society. Up-to-date information, including program, registration, directions, a complete presenter list, and ride-share information will soon be available at

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balancing the scales, April 28, 2008

Canary Project Update

Canary Project leaders and members travel to Washington, DC to lobby in support of the Clean Water Protection Act by Sara Pennington

On April 5, thirteen KFTC members, including five members of the Canary Leadership Network, arrived in Washington, D.C. to join more than 100 volunteers from 20 states in lobbying for the Clean Water Protection Act. This year’s Mountaintop Removal Week in Washington was brought together by the Alliance for Appalachia, a consortium of 13 grassroots organizations throughout the region, including KFTC. The Clean Water Protection Act (HR 2169), a two-sentence amendment restoring language of the Clean Water Act, would once again make illegal the dumping of mining waste into waterways. The Clean Water Act was modified by an administrative rule of the Bush administration in 2002. Prior to the Week in Washington, HR 2169 had bipartisan support of 129 cosponsors. The goal of the week was to share with legislators the importance of halting mountaintop removal mining and to garner further support for HR 2169 in the form of more cosponsors. During the lobbying training on April 6, KFTC members spoke alongside residents from Virginia, Tennessee and West Virginia on the issue of mountaintop removal mining in Kentucky. In addition to providing a coalfield

perspective, the Alliance for Appalachia trained all the participants on the details of the bill, lobbying techniques, and effective messaging. Before going into lobby visits the next day, participants practiced their skills in mock meetings with legislators. Participants made more than 130 lobby visits on Capitol Hill Monday through Wednesday. By the end of lobbying, HR 2169 had gained four new cosponsors and the staff for dozens of legislators had been deeply informed, many of them for the first time, on the issue of mountaintop removal mining and how the Clean Water Protection act would rein in the practice. KFTC members spoke to legislators and staff about their personal experiences in the coalfields. Members spoke alongside constituents of legislators from scores of districts outside Appalachia. KFTC members also participated in meetings with both the House and Senate staff of the Environment and Public Works committees. The real progress of these meetings will be made in the weeks to come as citizens follow up with those staff and legislators who promised to consider cosponsoring the bill. Last year the Alliance gained 20 new cosponsors in the weeks following the lobby visits. During the week, KFTC member Rully Urias met with the congressional staff of all three presidential candi-

Sharman and Jeff Chapman-Crane met with members of the Beehive Collective at their home in Eolia of Letcher County.

dates, Senators Clinton, McCain and Obama. According to Urias, all three are still “dancing around” the issue of

and all the other groups participating became further empowered in the fight against mountaintop removal mining by just being in each other’s company.

Lorelei Scarbro of West Virginia, Anne Leigh of Tennessee, Larry Bush of Virginia and KFTC member Carl Shoupe of Benham, Kentucky, spoke as coalfield residents during training for the 2008 Mountaintop Removal Week in Washington. Photo by Jamie Goodman, Parson Brown Productions mountaintop removal coal mining. Each still talks about the possibilities of “clean coal,” though Obama’s aide, Todd Adkinson, was quick to correct himself and say “cleaner” coal. Urias summed up the opinions of the senators’ staff this way: they all acknowledged, “We still have to use it (coal), but we’ve got to do it better.” In addition to participating in successful lobby visits, KFTC members

From sharing stories about individual fights and successes against Big Coal, to belting out karaoke songs, to jamming together to old time tunes, to sharing meals, to comparing blisters from all the walking on Capitol Hill, this group of more than 125 volunteers from the east coast to the west to everywhere in between left Washington, D.C. energized and ready for all the hard work ahead.

A group of young artists from Maine are working on a graphic banner project that will tell the story of coalfield resistance to mountaintop removal and the role every consumer in the United States plays in the destruction of Appalachian mountains and streams. The Beehive Collective is an internationally known design group whose work takes on pressing social justice issues. Nine artists from the collective stayed in Harlan County and visited with KFTC members in mid-April to collaborate on designing a banner that will tell the story of resistance to

coal industry abuses and mountaintop removal in the coalfields, and offer a vision of hope for the future. The poster is expected to be completed this fall and KFTC will have access to a large banner and will be able to sell posters of the design as well as use it as an educational and organizing tool. Additionally, the artists are also designing educational materials on coal that will supplement their artwork. To learn more about The Beehive Collective and view some of their work, visit them online at:

Busy bees in eastern Kentucky

balancing the scales, April 28, 2008

Page 13

Canary Project Update

Coalfield residents to travel to Columbia to share stories

KFTC members Rully Urias and Sara Pennington will join staff member Patty Tarquino as a part of a Witness For Peace delegation to Colombia on May 24–31. The purpose of the journey is to follow the trail of the coal that supplies power to New England and meet with human rights activists, trade unionists, members of AfroColombian indigenous communities, and others affected by coal production in Colombia. The trip will give members the opportunity to share stories and draw connections between the work in Kentucky on coal issues and the organizing work happening in Colombia around coal. “I feel we will be able to serve as an important cultural bridge for the participants traveling from Massachusetts,” said Pennington. “Like the members of Witness for Peace, Rully and I are U.S. citizens. But like the residents of the coalfields of Columbia, we live in a region that is considered a ‘sacrifice zone’ for the energy needs of the United States.” Colombia is home to two of the largest coal mines in the world, which export to the U.S. Just as it has in Appalachia, the coal industry in Colombia has devastated the land and the people. The Colombia excursion is a

“Like the members of Witness for Peace, Rully and I are U.S. citizens. But like the residents of the coalfields of Columbia, we live in a region that is considered a ‘sacrifice zone’ for the energy needs of the United States.” Sarah Pennington, Knott County Chapter leadership development opportunity as well as a unique venue for building international connections among coalfield residents. Colombia is a country rich in culture, beauty, and resources with an abundance of oil, minerals, and other natural resources. However, many Colombians are left desperately impoverished and trapped in an unjust economic system because an elite minority and large multinational corporations from North America and Europe control the vast majority of the country’s wealth and resources. Making matters worse, government forces, on many occasions, have worked with the paramilitary to suppress worker rights movements, labor unions, organizers, and human rights defenders. The social, environmental, and economic injustice goes hand-inhand with a cycle of violence. Coal is a primary impetus of this injustice and violence. Colombia is home to two of the largest openpit coal mines in the world. Exxon created El Cerrejon in the 1980s. A consortium of European-based companies and La Loma (owned by the Alabamabased Drummond Company) now owns El Cerrajon. The Colombian mines export large quantities of coal to the United States and have been accused of serious human

rights violations. Also, as a former coal miner, Urias said he “can relate to the hardships that the industry puts onto the workers and the community.” Coal companies in Kentucky, like in Colombia, extract coal at any cost, starve the region of opportunity, and work diligently to squash any threats to their profits all while causing grave destruction to the Appalachian mountains and headwater streams. This outlaw industry has scarred the land and the people — in Kentucky and in Colombia.

But the similarities don’t stop there. Like in Colombia, in Kentucky, there are ordinary — yet extraordinary — community members who are taking a stand. KFTC members are fighting hard to protect their land, water and heritage while at the same time build a movement for a sustainable future beyond coal. KFTC members are working to establish local sustainable economies that do not compromise the well-being of the community, and are putting renewable energy and energy efficiency alternatives on the table as direct alternatives to more coal. The excursion will explore how to build solidarity around holding corporations accountable, will help KFTC members draw connections between their local campaigns and global energy and climate change issues, and will lay the foundation for a cross-cultural coalfield exchange between Colombian residents and KFTC members in eastern Kentucky.

Specific products from the trip will likely include: • Audio pieces produced in collaboration with the Community Correspondence Corps and the Place Stories Project at Appalshop. These pieces can be aired on local radio programs and accessed through the KFTC web site so that a broader audience can experience the exchange. • Digital stories that merge audio and photographs that will allow folks to take a virtual tour of the Colombian mining communities. These digital stories will be accessed through the KFTC web site and will be used in Canary Leadership Network trainings. • Press advisories and press releases to local and statewide newspapers which will inform Kentuckians about what is happening in Colombia while also demonstrating that KFTC is providing leadership in creating a future beyond coal within Kentucky and abroad. • Speaking engagements in which the KFTC delegation will share the story of their exchange with other KFTC members, students, allies, and the general public.

Track their travel at

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balancing the scales, April 28, 2008

Floyd County members’ stories inspire steering committee

“This is the next place that’s going to get licked by strip mining if we don’t do something,” warned Bev May of Wilson Creek in Floyd County. She was speaking to the KFTC Steering Committee that met in Prestonsburg for its April meeting. The Floyd County chapter welcomed their fellow KFTC members to their community and shared highlights from their work. “It used to be beautiful here,” noted Barbara Bailey who lives in Hueysville. “It used to be peaceful. Kids could play outside without being scared and I could hang my clothes out on the line.” “This used to be paradise,” added Bailey’s husband, Todd. “It’s not like that any more.” Injustice — and resistance to it — isn’t new to Floyd County. When KFTC began in 1981, Floyd County emerged as one of the first chapters. In fact, the first KFTC office was located in Prestonsburg. Members in those early days worked on coal issues, education issues, and later worked on welfare reform. However, the chapter faded out in the mid1990s. In summer 2007, the chapter was revived when folks from several Floyd County communities, including Wilson Creek and Hueysville, came together. “We realized that to hold a chapter together, we’d have to be about something,” explained May. “We couldn’t just be individual communities fighting individual problems.” “Because of KFTC,” May added, “we’ve had the tools we needed to fight back against the coal industry.” Floyd County members have challenged valley fill permits and filed numerous complaints with the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet to challenge its lack of enforcement. They have learned about regulations and have partnered with attorneys at the Appalachian Citizens Law Center to force enforcement agencies to pay attention. Members like Rick Handshoe keep meticulous records of all their complaints. “If I learned one thing when I

worked for the state, it’s that you have to keep good paperwork,” said Handshoe. Although they face significant challenges, the Floyd County members have seen important results. “Our work has shut down the way the coal companies do business,” affirmed Handshoe. “They usually just continue doing what they do, but we’ve held up their permits.” Not only are coal operations feeling the Floyd County chapter’s resistance, state enforcement agencies are also having to pay attention to their complaints. Recently, Paul Rothman, the director of the Division of Mine Reclamation and Enforcement, met with Handshoe for an hour to discuss complaints filed by the chapter. During this meeting, Handshoe was able to point out major mistakes enforcement officers made on administrative reports regarding the Floyd County complaints. He showed Rothman one complaint that coal operators were burying trees in hollow fills

Floyd County members Beverly May (center), Rick Handshoe and Barbara Bailey spoke at the April Steering Committee meeting about the success the chapter has seen as well as the challenges facing the community. noted May. “We want to double our membership again this year.” Bailey explained the importance of having one-on-one conversations with neighbors. “When Rick came to talk to me about KFTC, I thought it was great. It’s amazing what we can accomplish going door to door.” “I believe Chairperson there’s a lot more members here especially if we can make a victory out of one thing,” added Handshoe. “They’ll see that change can happen.” Steering Committee members drew much inspiration from the Floyd County presentation. “I felt like they were talking about what is going on with us in Pike County,” said Erica Urias. “I learned a

“The Floyd County Chapter’s dedication and work is an inspiration to the entire organization.” Doug Doerrfeld, Chair, KFTC which is illegal. The first state inspector denied that trees were being buried to which Floyd County members responded, “Then where are the trees?” “It’s not a lack of enforcement,” said Handshoe. “It’s no enforcement.” Because their complaints are drawing attention, Floyd County members are beginning to feel substantial community pressure and have become targets of intimidation tactics. “They try to intimidate me every now and then,” explained Handshoe, “but that doesn’t work. We’ll keep doing what we need to do.” The Floyd County chapter continues to organize around mining issues. They are planning a candidate forum for the May primary election and are reaching out to other communities in the county including people in Allen and in a housing project who are dealing with issues related to a coal tipple. “We try to get in touch with other folks and make them feel welcome,”

thing or two from them. We won’t back down either. We’re all fighting for the same thing.” “The Floyd County chapter is on a roll,” exclaimed Pam Maggard of Knott County. “Their passion and determination are contagious.” “Their work is important because they give us all hope,” she added. Steve Boyce of Madison County agreed. “I was struck by how much courage it takes to do what they’re doing and by how resourceful, patient, and ingenious they have been. There’s a lot we can learn from the folks in Floyd County about the work we’ve begun in Madison County to oppose the building of two new East Kentucky Power Cooperative coal-fired power plants near us.” To win, Boyce added, “We’ll need some measure of the courage that Floyd County members are bringing to their work. They set a pretty high standard.”

In addition to hearing about the work of the Floyd County Chapter, during their April meeting, the Steering Committee: •Heard reports on KFTC’s legislative issues and evaluated work during the 2008 General Assembly. •Discussed organizational changes that might be pursued in order to broaden our voter empowerment work. •Discussed the political landscape around coal and energy issues and brainstormed priorities for moving forward.

balancing the scales, April 28, 2008

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KFTC staff expands with new hire, new duties and openings Amy Hogg Joins Staff Team Amy Hogg joined KFTC’s staff team in early April, filling the position of Writer. As Writer, Hogg will assist the executive director and other staff members in maintaining consistent and effective communication with leaders, allies, and funders. Among other writing projects, Hogg will play a major role in grant writing and reporting. Hogg is originally from Letcher County and now lives in Berea with her husband, Mike, and their two daughters — Ellie who is 12 and Claire who is 9. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, camping, raising a garden, and watching her daughters perform in a local children’s theater group. Hogg comes to KFTC from Berea College where one of her responsibilities was maintaining correspondence with foundations and donors. “Now that I have children, I’m increasingly aware of the urgency of solving Kentucky’s problems, particularly in eastern Kentucky where I grew up,” said Hogg. “I see our mountains disappearing, and I’m angry that my children won’t enjoy them as I did. That’s why I’m glad to be at KFTC — to help do something about it.”

Steering Committee Members Reflect on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. April 4th marked the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s death. During their April 5th meeting, Steering Committee members reflected on Dr. King’s legacy and what it means for KFTC’s work today. Here are some of those reflections. “Even though Martin Luther King was killed, the movement went on. The same is true for us. For KFTC, we’ll keep going on no matter what.” Rick Handshoe, Floyd County “Martin Luther King Day is the most important holiday we have. We need to recognize everyone’s humanity. We need to honor his work. He was right on and his message applies perhaps even more today.” Lyle Snider, Perry County “They put their entire lives on hold for the movement. They risked everything for the cause.” K.A. Owens, Jefferson County “I remember going through the Civil Rights Museum in Birmingham thinking, ‘This is incomprehensible. Why would people do this to other people?’ I hope one day folks will go to the Coal Mining Museum in Benham and there’ll be pictures of mountaintop removal and people will see them and say ‘this is incomprehensible.’” Pam Maggard, Knott County “When I joined the military and went to the South to Fort Benning, it grieved my heart. You could see the oppression as soon as you stepped off the bus. What Martin Luther King did wasn’t popular at the time. It’s an inspiration. What we’re doing isn’t popular, but we keep doing it.” Truman Hurt, Perry County

Jessica George Transitions to Development Director In March, KFTC filled the Development Director position. KFTC’s new Development Director is Jessica George! George has been the Jefferson County Chapter Organizer since February 2005. In that time, the chapter has nearly doubled in size and George has worked to deepen KFTC’s alliances in Louisville and raised the profile of campaigns around mountaintop removal and restoration voting rights to former felons. George plans to bring her organizing instincts and fundraising experience to the new position. “As Development Director, I’m excited to take the skills that I’ve gained as an organizer and apply them to fundraising,” noted George. “I think the strength and sustainability of our work and our organization is through our ability to solidify grassroots support, $15 at a time.” When she’s not working on grassroots fundraising, George spends her time creating spreadsheets, crafting, and house hunting with her partner, Heather. If you have any leads on a great house near the Louisville office, give Jessica a call!

Dave Newton Becomes KFTC’s First Voter Empowerment Organizer Although KFTC has done voter empowerment work throughout its history, this work has significantly increased in the last four years. Last year alone, KFTC registered more than 1,300 voters and distributed nearly 20,000 non-partisan voter guides. In order to increase capacity to do even more voter registration, education, and mobilization around the state, the Steering Committee decided to hire a Voter Empowerment Organizer to coordinate this body of work. KFTC’s Central Kentucky Organizer Dave Newton has been chosen to fill the position. Newton has been organizing in Central Kentucky since the summer of 2004. As an organizer, Newton helped the Central Kentucky chapter grow to nearly 1,400 members and has helped build the Restoration of Voting Rights for Former Felons Campaign. He has also played a key role in developing KFTC’s voter empowerment program. “Through our growing system of voter registration, education, and mobilization, I think we have a chance at fundamentally changing how elections are won in the state of Kentucky,” said Newton about the potential of KFTC’s voter empowerment work. “I think we can make it less about money and more about issues and connecting with the people of the state.” In addition to registering voters and sending out candidate surveys, Newton enjoys zombie movies, clipboards, fruit roll ups, and spending time with his girlfriend, Caitlin and his cat, Emma.

KFTC is in the process of hiring chapter organizers to replace George and Newton. In addition, KFTC will soon be announcing a new position — a Development Associate — who will manage the growing database, sync it with the voter empowerment work, and assist with grassroots fundraising. Please check the KFTC web site in the coming weeks for more information about this position.

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Keep current with the KFTC blog

Have you ever wanted to know what KFTC members are up to between issues of balancing the scales? Are you interested in seeing more photos and videos from recent KFTC events? Would you like to participate in a dialog with other members (and opponents) about KFTC’s issues and work? If so, come pay a visit to the KFTC blog at Recent posts include reports on the state budget and the growing economic divide in the United States, a series of articles outlining the systemic lack of enforcement of mining laws by state officials, a report on members at the Bank of America shareholders meeting, and reprints of letters and op-eds by KFTC members. Since its debut almost a year ago, traffic on the blog has increased nearly every month. Along with the growing amount of visitors, the number of contributors writing about various topics has also increased. The KFTC blog provides a unique space on the web for people to talk about grassroots activism and social justice in Kentucky. If this appeals to you, now is a great time to join KFTC’s community of bloggers. You can submit a blog post or simply comment on one of the various entries. Members are needed who are interested in telling their stories or providing commentary on current events. If you are interested in contributing to the blog, please contact with your ideas.

balancing the scales, April 28, 2008

Calendar of Events May 6

Harlan County chapter meeting, 6 p.m. at Southeast Community College Appalachian Center, Cumberland

May 6

Bowling Green/Western Kentucky member meeting, 6:30 p.m. at Kaleidoscope Office on Durbin

May 12

Jefferson County chapter meeting, 6:30 p.m. at the KFTC office in Louisville (901 Franklin Street)

May 12

Letcher County chapter meeting, 6 p.m. at the KFTC office in Whitesburg

May 12

Floyd County chapter meeting, 7 p.m. at St. Martha Catholic Church near Prestonsburg

May 13

Pike County chapter meeting, 6 p.m. at the Pike County Public Library

May 15

Rowan County chapter meeting, 6 p.m. at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church on 5th Street in Morehead

May 15

Central Kentucky chapter meeting, 7 p.m. at the Episcopal Diocese Mission House (on the corner of Martin Luther King Blvd. and 4th Street) in Lexington

May 17

KFTC Steering Committee meeting

May 20

Kentucky Primary Election, Remember to Vote!

May 20

Knott County chapter meeting, 5:30 p.m. at Hindman Settlement School

May 20

Perry County chapter meeting, 6 p.m. at Hazard Community College vocational education building, room 116

May 26

Madison County chapter meeting, 7 p.m. at Child Development Lab on Jefferson St., Berea

June 3

Harlan County chapter meeting, 6 p.m. at Southeast Community College Appalachian Center, Cumberland

June 3

Bowling Green/Western Kentucky member meeting, 6:30 p.m. at Kaleidoscope Office on Durbin

June 9

Jefferson County chapter meeting, 6:30 p.m. at the KFTC office in Louisville (901 Franklin Street)

June 9

Letcher County chapter meeting, 6 p.m. at the KFTC office in Whitesburg

June 9

Floyd County chapter meeting, 7 p.m. at St. Martha Catholic Church near Prestonsburg

June 10

Pike County chapter meeting, 6 p.m. at the Pike County Public Library

June 19

Rowan County chapter meeting, 6 p.m. at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church on 5th Street in Morehead

balancing the scales - April 2008  

The April 2008 issue of balancing the scales, the newsletter for Kentuckians For The Commonwealth