balancing the scales Volume 29 Number 6
September 16, 2010
Steering Committee creates a political action committee for expanded member participation in political activities Pg. 0
Inside... Wayland citizens seek public office to create systemic change
Big banks back away from mountaintop removal investments
Singing for Democracy raises spirits and grassroots power
Bush era tax cuts that benefit the wealthy are set to expire
Solutions Journal gives emphasis on Appalachia
Annual Meeting: Registration and 2010-2011 Platform
balancing the scales, September 16, 2010
Table of Contents Letters to the Editor Support for miners does not diminish damages created by coal Solar power in a coal state is viable
page 3 page 3
Local Updates Wayland citizens seek public office to create systemic change Central Kentucky chapter works to create “safe bathrooms” KFTC ally update: Spotlight on Lexington Fairness Benham and Lynch citizens tell officials, “enough is enough” Harlan County fish pond damaged again by mining runoff
page 4 page 5 page 5 page 6 page 6
Economic Justice Update Bush era tax cuts that benefit the wealthy are set to expire One Nation: march on D.C. for a people’s agenda Member Commentary: Where do our tax dollars go?
page 7 page 7 page 8
Canary Project Update Big banks back away from mountaintop removal investments The people behind coal in Appalachia and Colombia Public told little when companies given okay to pollute Members show EPA the face of coal mining in Appalachia KFTC members share similar stories with citizens from New Mexico
page 9 page 12 page 14 page 15 page 16
High Road Initiative Update Retreat offers opportunity to work toward future solutions Solutions Journal gives emphasis on Appalachia
page 17 page 17
Voter Empowerment Update Singing for Democracy raises spirits and grassroots power KFTC members’ presence noted at Fancy Farm picnic
page 18 page 18
KFTC News Steering Comittee nominates an experienced, diverse group KFTC Executive Committee and Kentucky Coalition board to be selected at annual meeting Steering Committee creates a political action committee KFTC 2010-2011 Platform Annual Meeting Registration Calendar of Events
page 19 page 19 page 20 page 21 page 23 page 24
Kentuckians For The Commonwealth is a statewide grassroots social justice organi zation working for a new balance of power and a just society. KFTC uses direct-action organizing 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 K.A. Owens, Chairperson Steve Boyce, Vice-Chairperson Pam Maggard, Secretary-Treasurer Doug Doerrfeld, Immediate Past Chair Susan Williams, At-Large Member
Dana Beasley-Brown (Bowling Green) Jerry Moody (Central Kentucky) Rick Handshoe (Floyd) Carl Shoupe (Harlan) Becki Winchel (Jefferson) Cari Moore (Knott) Patty Amburgey (Letcher) Becca Parrish (Madison) Scott Goebel (Northern Kentucky) Randy Moon (Perry) Vanessa Hall (Pike) Sue Tallichet (Rowan) Rosanne Klarer (Scott) Alternates: Donna Aros, Matt Heil, Bev May, Stanley Sturgill, Martha Flack, Bobby Hicks, Jeff Chapman Crane, Ray Arnold, Truman Hurt, Erica Urias, Ted Withrow, Matt Doolin, Antonio Mazzaro.
Kentuckians For The Commonwealth P.O. Box 1450 London, Kentucky 40743-1450 606-878-2161 Fax: 606-878-5714 firstname.lastname@example.org www.kftc.org
On the cover: Members of the KFTC Steering Committee gathered outside of their September 11 meeting after they voted to create the New Power Political Action Committee. Last issue, the cover photo was provided by Bree Tracy.
balancing the scales is published by Kentuckians For The Commonwealth and mailed third class from Lexington, Kentucky. Reader contributions and letters to the editor should be sent to 250 Southland Drive Suite #4, Lexington, KY. 40503 or email@example.com. Subscriptions are $20 per year.
balancing the scales, September 16, 2010
Letters to the Editor
Support for miners does not diminish damages created by coal
Dear editor, Elaine Conradi’s letter to the editor in the July issue of balancing the scales says that “most of us in coal country are not against underground mining[.]” She goes on to say that society owes underground miners so much. But the letter fails to address what the miners owe society. Every time a miner cashes a paycheck, the money for that paycheck comes of the sale of coal. When that coal is burned, the soot air pollution put out will kill people— tens of thousands of people in the United States every year. They will die from heart attacks, lung cancer, strokes and other causes. When the coal is burned, the coal also releases mercury. Around 600,000 women each year give birth to babies with mercury levels in their blood that can cause developmental disabilities. The largest source of that mercury coursing through the veins of these mothers comes from coal. People’s health is not the only thing that suffers. The air pollution from burning coal also damages and stunts
the growth of crops and forests. For example, a soybean crop may be 5 or 10 percent smaller because of air pollution from burning coal. A loss of 5 or 10 percent of a farmer’s income is a big deal to the farmer. But by far the biggest issue is that the burning of coal is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, which are causing our climate to change. One can’t say for certain that Hurricane Katrina was caused by climate change but the science is clear that climate change will cause more frequent and more destructive hurricanes in the future. These hurricanes will destroy millions of people’s homes and livelihoods. Climate change is also spreading diseases like malaria and dengue fever to areas where it used to be too cold for them. Literally billions of people face the prospect of not having enough clean water, a fundamental necessity for life, from climate change. The tragedy of these impacts is amplified by the fact that burning coal is now unnecessary. We can meet all our energy needs with currently available, off the shelf
Dear Editor, Mark Twain once said, “When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Kentucky, because everything there happens 20 years after it happens anywhere else.” I truly hope this is not the case when it comes to the renewable energy revolution, it would be disastrous for the commonwealth. I launched a solar panel installation company in Louisville in March 2009 and the majority of the people I’ve talked to are more than excited about the prospect of having a renewable energy company in Louisville and want to learn more about it. But, I’ve also met a few people that repeat the myth that “there are too many cloudy days in Louisville” and that “solar won’t work.” When I ask them where they heard this “fact” they usually respond that they live in Louisville and see the cloudy days or heard it from someone else. To quote Paul Simon: “People hear what they want to hear and disregard the rest.” It is completely false to say that Louisville is too cloudy for solar to be a viable source of energy. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Louisville receives 4.5 peak sun hours per day on average while Los Angeles, CA gets 5.0 peak sun hours per day. This alone should tell you that solar will work in Louisville. I was recently checking in on a solar customer that had a system installed a year ago and this is what he said: “During our first year of going solar our entire electric bill was reduced to ZERO. In fact, we actually earned money this year rather than owing it. We netted almost $600 and got paid to go solar. That was enough to pay for most of our gas bills this year as well. For all our energy needs this year, both gas and electric, we paid LG&E a grand total of $106.47. That’s less than $10 per month for heating and cooling and all our other
energy needs for a 3000+ sq. ft. home! Needless to say, we’re thrilled.” There it is in black and white, solar not only works in Louisville but can also help offset your gas bill as well. This is done through Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) and they, along with the 30 percent Federal Tax Credit, make solar profitable for the homeowner. But, if that doesn’t persuade you, the fact that Germany leads the world in solar installations should. Germany has a mild climate and receives more cloudy days per year than Louisville. The reason solar is taking off in Germany is because of an incentive policy called ‘feed-in-tariffs’. Although the word tariff has a negative connotation, this is a great program and should be copied throughout the world. Here’s how it works: as your solar panel system creates electricity you sell that electricity back to the utility grid at a premium. If you are buying electricity at 7 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), you would be selling electricity back to the utility at 40 cents/kWh. The result is a much bigger ROI and the system would pay for itself in months rather than years. It has worked in Germany, it has worked in Spain, perpetually overcast England has just passed a feed-intariff program, and it is beginning to catch on in the U.S. The first feed-in-tariff program in the U.S. was implemented in Gainesville, Florida in March 2009. The Gainesville program is fully booked and now has a waiting list all the way through 2016! Vermont and California now have such programs in place and New York is considering one as well. It’s time for Louisville and the Commonwealth of Kentucky to get on board. We don’t want to miss the boat on this one.
Solar power in a coal state is viable
Dan Hofmann, President, RegenEn Solar Jefferson County www.regenensolar.com
renewable energy sources like wind and solar, energy efficiency upgrades and a modest dose of personal conservation. In fact, more people today in the United States work in the wind power industry than in the coal mining industry. I don’t deny that some miners face challenges to finding employment other than coal mining. However, in light of horrific damage that burning coal is doing to us, there is nothing that can justify continuing to participate in its production. Robert Ukeiley Berea, Kentucky
KFTC Offices and Staff MAIN OFFICE Morgan Brown, Robin Daugherty & Burt Lauderdale P.O. Box 1450 London, Kentucky 40743 606-878-2161 Fax: 606-878-5714 firstname.lastname@example.org
FIELD OFFICES Louisville
Jessica George, Jerry Hardt, Colette Henderson, Shameka Parrish-Wright and Nancy Reinhart 901 Franklin Street Louisville, Ky 40206 502-589-3188
Tim Buckingham, Jessica Hays Lucas, Erik Hungerbuhler, Brittany Hunsaker, Heather Roe Mahoney, Dave Newton and Ondine Quinn 250 Plaza Drive, Suite #4 Lexington, Ky 40503 859-276-0563
Bowling Green Patty Tarquino 606-335-0806
Berea Lisa Abbott, Amy Hogg, Carissa Lenfert, Sara Pennington Kevin Pentz, and Martin Richards 140 Mini Mall Drive Berea, KY 40403 859-986-1277
Berea Teri Blanton 118 Baugh Street Berea, Ky. 40403 859-986-1648
Northern Kentucky Joe Gallenstein 859-380-6103
Whitesburg Willa Johnson, Tanya Turner, and Colleen Unroe P.O. Box 463 Whitesburg, Ky 41858 606-632-0051
Floyd County Brittany Combs Floyd County, Ky. 606-422-0100
e-mail any staff member at email@example.com except for Jessica Hays Lucas use firstname.lastname@example.org and Brittany Hunsaker use email@example.com
balancing the scales, September 16, 2010
Wayland citizens seek public office to create systemic change
Residents in the town of Wayland in Floyd County began organizing this year, setting their goals high for making Wayland a community where folks work together to solve problems and share ideas. Wayland is a model for the way organizing can flourish and leaders can emerge and develop, from doorto-door conversations to potlucks and public hearings. Through a series of meetings under neighbors’ carports and at the Wayland Community Center, the residents worked on abandoned mines issues, clogged runoff drains, sidewalks, and re-democratizing city council meetings so people would know when they were and could attend. The community members went door-to-door talking to neighbors, petitioning, preparing community meals, and building a strategy to have a better quality of life and to restore the sense of connectedness that was once so strong. One highlight of the year was a public hearing in which local elected officials heard the concerns of citizens and learned about the injustices the community was facing. Now, almost a year later, some of those KFTC members have made the choice to take their leadership to the next level and run for mayor and city council seats. Jerry Fultz, the director of the Wayland Community Center and Wayland Historical Society, has worked for years preserving the past and also has been an integral part of working toward a better future. Fultz hosted the group ENGAGE, which did a human rights report in
Floyd County last year. Members of ENGAGE were excited to work with Fultz to learn about the role that coal played in a boom town like Wayland many years ago. Fultz recently decided to take the step to run for mayor of Wayland. Another community member who was active in organizing around local issues is Susie Mills. When Mills and several of her neighbors were dealing with standing water under their homes, she was one of the first folks in the community to start challenging the Abandoned Mine Lands division. Mills has decided to run for a seat on the council. “I wanted the place I grew up and the place where I am currently raising my children to be a better place to live,” said Mills. “Overall, what I want most out of running for this seat is to get people in the community involved so that we can share ideas. I know what working together can accomplish. I believe that it takes a whole community of people to make it function in a way that is fair and just.” Community member Linda Castle Spurlock also has played an important role in organizing in Wayland, including cooking huge pots of chicken and dumplings when the community was hosting student groups or visitors. As an emerging leader in the community, she also decided to step up and run for a seat. “I feel like the town needs change and I know that if we all work together we can make that change happen,” Spurlock said. “I look back at what we have accomplished so far and I know that it can only get better from here.”
We found some of our missing mountains in Louisville. Join Jefferson County members and speak out about the mountains of coal ash being created across our state. Kentuckians are working to transition to sustainable, healthy energy solutions. During this transition, KFTC believes our health should be protected in the best way possible from all forms of coal pollution. The toxins found in coal ash are many of the same ones to which people in communities affected by mountaintop removal are exposed. Until now, coal ash disposal has remained largely unregulated - but that could change. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed coal ash safety standards that, if adopted, could require utilities to protect the public from coal ash toxins.
Attend a rally and public hearing in Louisville on September 28th to support federal regulation of toxic coal ash. Tell the EPA you support passing the best possible coal ash safety standards. WHEN: Tuesday September 28th, 2010 WHERE: Seelbach Hilton 500 Fourth Street, Louisville, KY TIME: Rally begins at 5 p.m. outside the Seelbach Hilton. Public hearing sessions at 10 a.m. - 12 p.m., 1 - 5 p.m. and 6:30 - 9 p.m. You must register to speak at the hearing online at http://tiny.cc/51bh2. Look for more information and talking points at www.kftc.org.
Media Corner: www.kftc.org/blog Facebook: KFTC page twitter/kftc www.flickr.com/photos/kftcphotos
The dots represent the schools, churches and community centers located within a two-mile and five-mile radius of the proposed Cane Run coal ash pond.
balancing the scales, September 16, 2010
Central Kentucky chapter works to create “safe bathrooms” It’s a fact of life. Everyone goes to the bathroom. Most people have probably had the experience of being out with friends or being on the road and trying to find a clean bathroom to use. But what about a safe bathroom or an accessible one? What do these terms mean and why are they important? Members of the Central Kentucky chapter are beginning to look into these concerns and assess whether restrooms in Lexington are accessible to people with physical disabilities, and are safe for gender variant people and families. Bathrooms are a big issue for people who don’t conform to gender norms, since most bathrooms are single-sex. No matter which bathroom they use, they run the risk of being yelled at, threatened, harassed or physically attacked. Many people choose to be safe and simply not go to the bathroom at work, school, while out shopping etc., and develop bladder, urinary tract and kidney problems as a result. Bathrooms are also a big issue for people with disabilities. Despite the Americans with Disabilities Act, not
only do many public buildings still not have handicapped-accessible bathrooms, but also sometimes it is impossible to even enter many buildings. There are some groups who’ve already begun to work on these issues in other states. One such group, the Bathroom Liberation Front has created a website where anyone can list a bathroom in their town that is accessible and/or gender free. The website, Safe2Pee.org is an amazing resource for people all over North America. The Transgender Law Center (www.transgenderlaw.org) published a downloadable resource guide called “Peeing in Peace” with information about historical bathroom activism, how to prevent violence and harassment in restrooms and how to work with business and institutions to change their restrooms so that they accommodate everyone. For several KFTC members, this is an issue that falls close to home. “It’s important to me because I know there is a large transgender and gender queer community in Lexington,” said Central Kentucky member Eli
Gross. “It’s something that people don’t want to talk about a lot of the time, but it affects many of us on a daily basis. So if we (KFTC) can use our skills and resources to change that, then I believe that we should.” Chapter member Mel Lesch’s older brother Paul has Down Syndrome and can do a lot for himself but occasionally needs help in the restroom. “If it’s not a family style bathroom and I’m with Paul and he’s having trouble, I can’t go into the male bathroom and help him without people yelling at me and getting upset.” Central Kentucky KFTC members had their first informal “safe and accessible bathrooms” meeting in August and discussed ways to educate the community about these issues, how to encourage businesses to make their bathrooms better and how to reward businesses like Third Street Stuff Coffee Shop that are doing a fantastic job. Anyone interested in being a part of this campaign may contact Ondine Quinn, the KFTC Central Kentucky organizer, at Ondine@kftc.org or 859-2760563.
KFTC has been fighting for nearly 30 years to transform the state into a place where all people are treated with respect and fairness, where everyone has access to a job that allows them to take care of their families, where energy usage doesn’t damage the land, air or water, where everyone has a say in who represents them, where public officials are held accountable, where children are respected and valued and where people’s stories and experiences actually matter . As it can be imagined, this is really hard work and while KFTC has a dedicated staff team and almost 7,000 members across the state, the work still can’t be done alone. It is important to know that in addition to KFTC’s efforts there are many other groups from across the state working to create a more just Kentucky. One such ally is Lexington Fairness. Since 1992, Lexington Fairness has been committed to achieving equal rights under the law, acceptance and fairness for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people in Central Kentucky
through local community action, grassroots advocacy, network-building, and educational outreach. Lexington Fairness holds many events throughout the year to raise awareness of these issues as well as to honor the folks who work to make Lexington more accepting of LGBTIQ (lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender, intersex, and queer) people and their families. One such event is the annual Lexington Fairness Awards dinner. This year KFTC member and new power leader Jack Cofer received the Jennifer Crossen “Out for Fairness” award for booking queer musicians and performances at Al’s Bar in Lexington, and for publicly video documenting his transition from female to male. Another of Lexington Fairness’s activities, and one which KFTC makes a big effort to direct the members to, is their annual fairness lobby day in Frankfort. In preparation for the 2010 fairness lobby day, vice chair Joey Rose came to the Central Kentucky chapter’s monthly meeting to explain the various bills they
were lobbying for or against. One such bill, the Statewide Fairness Bill (House Bill 117), would have prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity throughout Kentucky in employment, housing, public accommodations, insurance cov-
Next time you’re in the bathroom think about: • Is the door wide enough for a wheelchair? • Are there grab bars? •How high are the soap dispenser, sink, and paper towels? • Is the bathroom genderneutral? • Is there a changing table? •Are their feminine hygiene product available? • Do you feel safe?
KFTC ally update: Spotlight on Lexington Fairness
erage, and credit. Currently only three cities have a fairness bill: Lexington, Louisville and Covington. To learn more about Lexington Fairness, including how to support their work, check out their website at www. lexingtonfairness.org.
Purchase your copy of this wonderful album to support the work of Appalachian Voices (ilovemountains.org) and to support two Kentucky musicians. Purchase the album from your local independent music store.
balancing the scales, September 16, 2010
Benham and Lynch citizens tell officials, “enough is enough”
“Our water is worth more than that coal!” Bennie Massey said to the Kentucky Department of Mining and Reclamation Enforcement (DMRE) at a hearing on the proposed strip mine targeted for the Benham and Lynch communities in Harlan County. Massey, Lynch’s longest serving city council member, joined 20 of his neighbors and friends in Middlesboro at the DMRE hearing on August 25 to speak out against the 500-acre strip mine that will threaten the community’s drinking water. “Our little communities of Benham and Lynch have a lot of potential. The Portal 31 Exhibition Coal Mine, Lynch Depot, Benham Theater, the Schoolhouse Inn, and the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum are all part of our history and heritage,” said Stanley Sturgill. “We are planning to rehab the Old Restaurant and Old Fire Station, near Portal 31. We can continue to build tourism if we protect these facilities and the beauty of our mountains.” This area also boasts the highest peak in the state (Black Mountain), great
quality drinking water, and local development plans that can be a showcase for the rest of the state. Allies from around the state supported these communities by answering a KFTC call to action to contact the Kentucky Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Carl Campbell, telling him that “enough is enough, respect the plans and concerns of local residents and give priority to protecting the communities’ assets.” “I come from a coal mining family. My dad, brothers, uncles, husband. I’m not here to talk against those working men. They’re turning us against each other,” said Diane Marceli. “If you love water, you’re against coal. Well, I’m not! Those miners can make their way. There are other mines. I’ve lived in Lynch my whole life and I want to live out the rest of my life here. We can’t live here like this.” Along with water, residents of Benham and Lynch expressed several other fears about the proposed mine. “Mountains can’t be destroyed and then expected to hold back water,” one woman
Nearly three years ago, Elmer Lloyd began a journey for justice on his property in Cumberland after the strip mine above his home completely devastated his family’s fish pond. Excessive drainage of toxins, sediment and mud killed hundreds of fish and nearly filled in the entire pond. Years of lawyers, inspectors, court battles, and coal company lies ended in Lloyd having to settle with the company, Nalley and Hamilton. “I fully believed there were enough laws to protect my property. Boy was I wrong,” Lloyd, a disabled underground coal miner, said of the tragedy. This past November Lloyd received his small settlement and began a new journey to restore his pond. Since then he has spent nearly $3,000 on the restoration. In mid August, the site above Elmer ’s home, now considered “reclaimed”, released another slide of silt and mud into his pond. “We had some rain, but the stream coming off Pine Mountain [onto my property] was crystal clear. The stream running off that strip job was thick mud
running right into my pond.” Inspectors came out but were resistant to give Lloyd any information. They told him they would be in touch about the water samples they took, and they couldn’t write a violation if the company was in compliance. “They probably won’t give them an off permit violation because of all the mess I made about it the last time. They know I won’t shut up about it and I’ll stay right on them.” Lloyd is hopeful that this incident isn’t as detrimental, although it will still be very damaging. He is yet to find any dead fish, but it will take some work to fix it. If his pond takes a couple similar hits to this one, it will be right back to the destroyed state it was three years ago. “A lot of people around here have serious damage to their homes and property, but are scared to talk about it because them or their families work in the mines. I’m just a drop in the bucket, but I don’t care to tell about it,” Lloyd said. To see a digital story about Lloyd’s pond visit www.kftc.org/elmer
Citizens waited their turn to speak before the Department of Mining and Reclamation Enforcement concerning permits located around Benham and Lynch. explained after reading aloud an article about Pike County residents of Harless Creek suing a coal company for extreme flooding damage. “I have flood insurance
right now and I live up on a mountain.” Sturgill added, “I don’t want to be blasted out of bed every morning by those machines.”
Harlan County fish pond damaged again by mining runoff
KFTC member Elmer Lloyd has battled against coal mining operations for years trying to protect a pond he built to enjoy with his family. The pond has yet again
balancing the scales, September 16, 2010
Economic Justice Update Congress debates what cuts to make permanent
Bush era tax cuts that benefit the wealthy are set to expire The Bush era tax cuts – two sets of tax breaks pushed through by President Bush in 2001 and 2003 – are set to expire in December, causing much debate about whether they should be extended or allowed to expire. While some policy proposals are still in fl ux, one key question that has drawn much attention is whether to make permanent the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of U.S. taxpayers. Some of the Bush tax cuts were spun as “middle-class tax cuts” – an expanded Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), lower taxes for married couples who fi le jointly, and more credits for education and retirement. However, the bulk of the cuts, were unapologetically aimed at the wealthy: cuts to income taxes, cuts to taxes on investment income, and cuts to and eventual elimination of the estate tax (which has had a direct impact on Kentucky’s state revenue) – all cuts aimed at lowering taxes for the wealthy. According to a 2008 report by Citizens for Tax Justice, the Bush tax cuts gave the top 1 percent about $79.5 billion in tax cuts in 2008 alone – more than the entire budget for the U.S. Department of Education, and more than 10 times the budget for the U.S Environmental Protection Agency. Many Republicans in Congress would like to see the Bush tax cuts made permanent, despite their hefty price tag. President Obama campaigned on the proposal to let the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent expire. Congressional Democrats are split. KFTC members are ready to put an end to the tax breaks for the wealthiest. “For the best interests of the country, the Bush tax cuts should be allowed to expire and politicians should have enough courage to explain that they never really benefi tted the majority of Americans in the fi rst place,” said K. A. Owens, KFTC chairperson. According to the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy, the Republicans’ approach to the Bush tax cuts would result in an average $83,000 tax break for the nation’s richest one percent. Under that approach, people in the
bottom 20 percent would only see about $95 – not even enough to cover one week of child care. How do President Obama’s and Republican proposals compare for Kentuckians?
Various tools and analyses are available to calculate how individuals would be impacted under the Republican approach and President Obama’s approach to tax cuts. According to Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), the bottom 60 percent of Kentuckians – those earning up to about $47,000 – would pay an average of $109 more in 2011 under the Republicans’ approach than they would under President Obama’s approach. The richest one percent of Kentucky taxpayers, on the other hand, would pay less. According to ITEP, the richest one percent of Kentuckians would get $29,308 less under the GOP plan than they would under Obama’s approach. They would be getting almost 30 percent of the total tax cuts going to Kentucky in 2011. ITEP has recently released a Tax Calculator that asks for some basic information about your income and family, and calculates how much of a tax break you’d get under the current tax policies, Obama’s proposals, and the Republicans’ approach to the Bush tax cuts. The calculator is available at: www. ctj.org/federalincometaxcalculator.php. SOURCE: Joint Committee on Taxation | The Washington Post
One Nation: march on D.C. for a people’s agenda
One Nation, a collection of labor and civil rights groups, is holding a march on October 2 in Washington D.C. in support of good jobs and equal education, demanding that the Obama Administration adopt a people’s agenda for jobs and economic renewal. “The mobilization is intended to be the beginning of an ongoing progressive coalition,” said Janet Tucker, a central Kentucky member who has been organizing for the march. “With the reach, size and political breadth
of the organizing partners, the 10.2.10 mobilization has potential to be huge and the continuing efforts very powerful.” KFTC has endorsed the event and is helping members coordinate travel and plans. Members who would like to go or learn about carpools from your area, contact Jessica Hays Lucas at 859-276-0563 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
balancing the scales, September 16, 2010
Economic Justice Update
Member Commentary: Where do our tax dollars go? by Shekinah Lavelle
Our 30 year aversion to taxes is finally starting to lose steam, despite the best efforts from the Tea Party. But there’s still a lot of work to do to show people what happens to the money that we earn and then hand over to the government. KFTC members have taken up this work, helping Kentuckians understand what happens to our tax dollars. What programs do they pay for, and what do they do for our communities? More importantly, what happens to our communities when our elected leaders fail to find the revenue we need to fund the programs that we value? The Jefferson County chapter started by learning more about the agencies that are charged with taking care of some of the most vulnerable members of our society – our children. These service agencies provide services for children who have already led tumultuous lives and are now in “the system” and are considered to be at “high risk.” They don’t have any “better choices” that they can make; they are children. And these children – all children – deserve to have love and support from their communities and opportunities to lead happy, healthful, and productive lives. Taking that from them not only hurts those kids, but also creates crime and poverty down the road. When we
cut programs that prevent drug abuse and encourage kids to stay in school and help families stay stable, we’re cutting the only shot we have of building a more just and sustainable commonwealth. Over the last 10 years, state funding for local programs for abused and neglected kids has been chopped by 10 percent and the cuts have had significant consequences. They’ve crippled programs that have a proven track record of keeping families together and keeping kids safe and learning and healthy. Family and Children’s Place, for example, is a Louisville agency that offers a program that helps bring parents into their kids’ school, getting them more involved in their education. The program has been enormously effective, with substantial reductions in delinquency, better educational experiences, and increased parental involvement among participants. This very successful program is available across the river, in Indiana, but not here in Kentucky. We don’t have the money to pay for it. Another local agency recently had to cut $350,000 from its budget. They closed two group homes. They closed two school programs – programs that had been effective for 13 years – that taught decision-making and anger management skills, helped prevent substance abuse, fed the kids a healthy supper and
I want to help KFTC build power! Name: Address:
kept them safe until 8 o’clock at night. These programs prevented kids from falling through the cracks, helped them stay in school and be successful, and kept families together. This agency has struggled for the last 10 years to fund these preventative programs. The director said he’s certain these two programs kept kids from being taken away from their families. Now they’re gone. What will happen to the kids and families who were making it because of the support they found in this program? There is no more room to tighten the belts of this agency. Those discontinued programs come on top of staff pay cuts of more than 9 percent for the top-level staff, and cuts to other staff pay as well. Some staff – people who’d worked successfully with children with significant challenges for 12 years – have even been laid off. The problem? Kentucky’s tax structure. “Our programs aren’t sustainable with this tax model,” said the director of one local agency. “We’re trying to position the agency for survival. It’s a shame that the only kids we can help are the ones who’ve fallen through the cracks. Prevention is the first thing to go. We’re doing a terrible job of protecting our children.” We cannot let kids fall by the wayside. Our legislators need to do their job
of finding the revenue we need to keep these programs going. Instead, legislators slash funds every time they balance the budget. The people who work for agencies that provide these services cannot be left to lobby for changes to their funding alone. As citizens of Kentucky, we have to understand that these are just a few programs that keep our citizenry afloat. We have to demand that leaders in our communities make policy choices that benefit the people of Kentucky instead of slowly eating away at the programs and services that help our communities thrive. We need tax reform. We need it now, before our social supports dry up and we’re left with a population that doesn’t have the resources it needs to survive. We need to tell our legislators to find the courage to stand up for the people of Kentucky – they’re there for us. If they can’t find the funds that we need to educate and care for our communities, they aren’t doing their jobs. Re-electing public officials who have forgotten that they, too, are citizens of Kentucky won’t get the job done. If our leaders don’t support tax reform, they don’t support Kentuckians. Taxes, after all, are dues that we pay for the privileges of membership in an organized society (Franklin D. Roosevelt).
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balancing the scales, September 16, 2010
Canary Project Update
Big banks back away from mountaintop removal investments
The top four U.S. banks have curbed loans for mountaintop removal operations, and cut financing for Massey Energy, one of the nation’s more controversial coal companies. Last month, Wells Fargo became the fourth top U.S. bank to adopt a position limiting financing of mountaintop removal (MTR) coal mining. This shift is consistent with a national move away from support for the mining practice, which recently both scientists and the federal government have confirmed causes irrevocable harm to landscape, water quality and public health. Within the last two years, Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo along with Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley have passed policies limiting their financial relationships with coal operators that practice mountaintop removal. These banks were the lead financiers of the practice prior to their policy shifts. The move comes as a response to more than three years of national pressure from several regional and national groups, spearheaded by Rainforest Action Network (RAN). KFTC members, in collaboration with RAN, have attended and spoken out at bank shareholder and board of director meetings during these years. “Supported by the proxy votes of other shareholders we’ve told the stories
of the people who, until then, were just numbers on a balance sheet. This is a major victory and we should savor it,” said KFTC Fellow Teri Blanton. One of the major impacts of these mountaintop mining policies is that the banks are no longer financing Massey Energy, the leading MTR coal company in the country that also was involved in the April 5 Upper Big Branch underground mine explosion where 29 miners were killed. In particular, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo, all of which have had substantial financing relationships (underwriting bonds or providing loans) with Massey Energy since January 2005, no longer finance the controversial company. With the nation’s leading banks moving away from MTR, coal operators are looking toward new banks for financing. Currently, PNC and UBS are the lead financiers of destructive mining. PNC finances mining companies responsible for almost half of all mountaintop removal coal mined in the U.S. PNC has numerous locations in Kentucky, including in counties that produce coal. UBS has operations in Louisville, Lexington and Paducah. Adapted from Rainforest Action Network news story.
JAVA for Justice! For every bag purchased of Mountain Dream Blend, KFTC will receive $5! Visit heinebroscoffee. com to purchase your bag today! (or stop by one of their 7 Louisville locations) DRINK IT (yourself) GIVE IT (as a gift) SUPPORT IT (local) LOVE IT (KFTC!) REPEAT!
7 Easy Steps to Move Your Checking Account Big banks have the advantage of inertia. Moving your checking and savings accounts is not as simple as switching grocery stores. You’ll have to maintain both your new and old accounts for a few weeks until everything switches over. That can be a little tricky, especially if you’re living paycheck to paycheck. After you’ve found your new financial institution, follow this simple sequence compiled by Stacy Mitchell of the New Rules Project’s Community Banking Initiative and keep an eye on things. It should go smoothly and, in a few weeks, you’ll be in a brand new banking relationship. 1. Open your new account. In most cases, you should be able to open a checking account with an initial deposit of between $25 and $100. At a credit union, you’ll also become a member and co-owner at the same time. 2. Order your new debit/ATM card and checks. These typically arrive within 1 to 2 weeks. You may also want to apply for a credit card from your new local institution. 3. If you use direct deposit, ask your employer to reroute your paycheck to your new account. When you open your new account, ask the bank or credit union for a direct deposit authorization form that includes your new account information. Give this form to your employer and anyone else who makes direct deposits to your account. It may take one or more pay cycles for the change to be made, so keep your old checking account open and watch for the switch. 4. Contact companies that direct-debit your account. Using your last bank statement, make a list of any businesses that you’ve authorized to directly debit your account. Ask your new bank or credit union for an automatic payments authorization form that includes your new account information. Send this to the businesses on your list. 5. Set up online bill paying for your new account. If you like to pay bills online, set up bill payment information for your new account. Meanwhile, stop any automatic recurring payments you have established through your old account. 6. Close your old account. Once you have started receiving direct deposits into your new account and are sure that there are no outstanding checks or automatic debits that need to clear, close your old account. Warning: do not just withdraw the last dollar and assume the account will fade away on its own. Your old big bank may start charging you fees for having an empty or inactive checking account. Instead, follow the bank’s procedure for closing out the account. 7. Enjoy your new local banking relationship!
KFTC members have worked over the past few years to share their stories and experiences with members of The Beehive Collective. The final product is the “True Cost of Coal” illustration that traces the total life cycle of coal and its impact on history, community,
balancing the scales, September 16, 2010
culture, and individual citizens’ lives. The illustrated poster can be used as a teaching tool, conversation piece, or simply wall art. It measures 61” x 31” and is printed on heavy paper in black and white.
To learn more about The Beehive Collective and other works they have produced visit www.beehivecollective.org
balancing the scales, September 16, 2010
You can order a copy of the poster from KFTC. Donations are accepted on a sliding scale between $10 and $20. Posters will be shipped for an additional $5.
To order a copy of “The True Cost of Coal” from KFTC, visit www.KFTC.org/beehive.
balancing the scales, September 16, 2010
Canary Project Update
The people behind coal in Appalachia and Colombia KFTC members Cari Moore, John Capillo and Randy Wilson along with two KFTC staff visited Colombia from July 19-26 as a part of a Witness For Peace (WFP) tour. WFP, an international organization, aims to support justice and sustainable economies by changing U.S. policies and corporate practices that contribute to poverty and oppression in Latin America and the Caribbean. The tour, called “The People Behind the Coal in Appalachia and Colombia,” began with a Mountain Witness Tour in eastern Kentucky. After that, tour participants spent 10 days in the Cesar region of northern Colombia, where coal mining has taken place for about 20 years. This is the third year that KFTC has participated in this exchange. By Randy Wilson We got up at 5:30 a.m. and were on the bus by 6:00 – another day on the road in the Cesar region of northern Colombia. I don’t think I saw more than twelve tourists during the whole seven days we were in that region, which is perfect for mining coal; nobody comes up there, so nobody sees the toll coal mining takes on a region. Everywhere we went people said, “They promised prosperity and jobs,”
33rd Anniversary of SMCRA (Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act) August 3 marked the 33rd anniversary of the signing of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA). The federal statute represents not the best or most effective law to protect the land and people but rather the best political compromise that could be reached in the mid-1970s. Though the scale of mining operations like those today was not envisioned at the time, the law contained sufficient loopholes to allow it to occur. Residents of coal-producing counties may be as close to a major overhaul of the Act – to end mountaintop removal – as any time since SMCRA was signed by President Jimmy Carter.
and then they gave us a long list of economic, environmental and health problems they had inherited from the coal companies. This day we had to leave the tour bus and take a four-wheel van back into those villages directly affected by a coal pit the size of Long Island! It was 35 miles long and five miles wide. We pitched to and fro through rutted roads, crossed a swelling river once, and then got caught in the rising river a second time. Locals rustled up a long rope and a bus pulled us out to safety. At one time all these villages were joined by a convenient trade route. They traded tobacco, garden vegetables, goat and cattle. They had no clear boundaries. Their cattle ranged far and wide. Some indigenous tribes lived in the region before the European invasion in 1499. But then there was a different kind of invasion led by mining multinationals, supported by the United States and Colombian governments, and strong-armed by military and paramilitary thugs, displacing folks right and left as the coal companies cleared their path. Some villagers were united. Some were not. The company picked off some, divided others. All were in negotiations for removal. One such village was Tomaquito, home of the indigenous Wyhuu people. Once lord of thousands of hectares, they were reduced to ten and bound within the confines of their village, dependent on food sources from a town some 25 miles of treacherous road away. They lived under a cool canopy of trees in mud huts with palm thatched roofs. They performed a dance for us where the women, covered from head to ankle in flaming red capes, circled the open ground to the sound of a drum. They told us of their life there, “Once we fished, we hunted, we grew crops, we tended goats and cattle. We had no boundaries. We traded with nearby villages. There was no need for electricity. When the sun sets and night falls it is dark, but we know where we are. We are not lost. Once we lived in peace.” Colombians don’t use coal for electricity. But every year 132 million tons of Colombian coal is shipped out to fire coal-burning plants in places like Mobile, Alabama; Tampa, Florida; and Salem,
KFTC members Cari Moore, John Capillo and Randy Wilson traveled to Colombia as a part of a delegation sponsored by Witness For Peace. Massachusetts. These plants put us all at risk. The very people who know how to live sustainably, who figured this out long, long ago, are being displaced by a society whose principles and policy don’t have a clue. To learn more about the issues and
the trip, please visit www.kftc.org/colombia. Plan to attend KFTC’s Annual Membership Meeting October 8-10 to participate in a multi-media presentation about the trip. What can you do? Visit www.kftc. org/colombia to find out how you can help.
Now available, Kentucky’s Natural Heritage: An Illustrated Guide to Biodiversity with a foreword by Wendell Berry. Organized by a team from the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, the book is an exploration of wild Kentucky that highlights species and natural communities found throughout the commonwealth. This synthesis of the current state of biodiversity knowledge is accompanied by more than 250 photographs, maps and illustrations that offer a means to visually explore wild Kentucky. Read more, view sample pages and learn how to get a copy by visiting http://naturepreserves.ky.gov/pubs/Pages/kynaturalheritage.aspx Check with your local independent bookstore to see if Kentucky’s Natural Heritage: An Illustrated Guide to Biodiversity is available.
balancing the scales, September 16, 2010 KFTC has had a robust field campaign in recent weeks to register voters and identify supporters of our campaigns through door-to-door canvassing, community tabling events, and other activities. Members will continue to register voters up until the voter registration deadline on October 4 and then turn around and mobilize 50,000 voters, mostly by phone, leading up to the November 2 election. Thereâ€™s a need for a lot volunteers to make calls, go door-to-door, give rides to the polls, and come out to community festivals over the next few weeks. Contact your local KFTC organizer to learn more. Also, look for KFTCâ€™s non-partisan KFTC Voter Guides in the weeks leading up to Election Day, as well as on www.KentuckyElection.org.
Operation Voter Madness!
balancing the scales, September 16, 2010
Canary Project Update
Public told little when companies given okay to pollute By Edmund Shelby The state of Kentucky has been giving coal companies permission to pollute streams and rivers for 30 years without notifying the public that they were going to do it, and the federal government allows it. Also, a state law that allows polluters to get exemptions from regulations has gone unnoticed. The Kentucky Division of Water, last month, granted a permit to the Blue Mountain Coal Company to pollute Teges Creek in northern Clay County. The two branches of the creek flow directly into the South Fork of the Kentucky River. The residents of the area did not know that the permit was being sought until it was discovered during the process of the company’s request to strip mine the area. Notices of intention to mine are required to be published in a local newspaper. The notice to strip mine along Teges Creek was published in the Manchester Enterprise on April 29. Marti Allen, who lives along Lower Teges Creek, said she had no idea a water permit was being sought until she was in a public hearing on the mining permit. According to a supervisor with the division, there has never been a requirement to publish notices about water permits. Larry Sowder, supervisor of the division’s operational permits section, told The Beattyville Enterprise in a recent telephone interview that there is no requirement that the public be notified of such permit requests. “We’ve not had to do that for the past 30 years,” he said. He also said that the permits he issues are governed by federal law, not by the state. State law, KRS 224.10-270, says that any person subject to any rule or regulation governing the discharge of contaminants into the air or water of the state may apply for an exemption from rules or regulations that are applicable. However, to do so, they must publish notice of their application in a newspaper in the county where the discharge “sought to be exempted” is located. Mary Stevens, an attorney with the Division of Water, said in a telephone interview that she was not familiar with
KRS 224.10-270. She did say that requirements for public notices are subject to the regulation that her agency produces following legislation. She said there are no regulations dealing with KRS 224.10270. She also said that her cabinet does not interpret a request for an exemption from rules as a request for a permit. She said the law does require her agency to have public notice be given in cases of “major” contamination, but not for “minor” ones. The difference, she said, would be in the number of people affected or the size of the stream.
titled, “Notice of request by Kentucky Pollutant discharge elimination system (KPDES) permit issuance.” Within the body of the notice, it said that the state Division of Water “proposes to issue the KPDES permit for the facility described.” There was no specific facility described. Instead the notice said, “Those coal mining operations, which have obtained a permanent program permit from the Department for Natural Resources (DNR),” pursuant to the applicable state law and regulations. It
Several purposes of the Clean Water Act were a part of it when it was enacted in 1977. The purpose listed first is, “It is the national goal that the discharge of pollutants into the navigable waters be eliminated by 1985.” Kentucky has not classified surface coal mines as major facilities, according to Kentuckians For The Commonwealth. Both Stevens and Sowder said that their agency lists permit requests on the division’s website. Sowder said that prior to the existence of the website, notices were mailed to anyone who had requested to be notified of permit filings. He said they had to be on a list, and usually consisted of other state agencies. Both Stevens and Sowder said that the actions of their agency are subject to the requirement of Section 402 of the U. S. Clean Water Act of 1977. Stevens said that based on those requirements, the agency provided notice of the request for 402 permits in notices published in the seven largest daily newspapers in the state on September 2, 2008 and May 15, 2009. The newspapers listed were the Ashland Daily Independent, the Bowling Green Daily News, The Gleaner in Henderson, The Kentucky Post (now defunct) in Covington, the Lexington Herald-Leader, The Courier-Journal in Louisville, the Middlesboro Daily News and the Paducah Sun. The paper on that list that has circulation in Clay County is the Lexington Herald-Leader. On September 2, 2008, the HeraldLeader published a public notice en-
then further described the “facility” as, “Those coal mining operations located within the 120 counties of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.” The language was general in nature because it dealt with the way the state proposed to continue issuing permits. Persons were given until October 2, 2008 to make public comment. The people of Teges Creek could have commented if they had read that notice, and thought that a year and a half later a permit would be sought that would allow pollution of their creek. They would not have been able to do so after the May 15, 2009 notice. Such a notice was not published in the Herald-Leader on that day. The only public notice published on that day in the paper was a rate adjustment for the Columbia Gas Company. The permit granted to Blue Mountain Mining is known as a “General” 402 KPDES permit. The requirements to obtain such a permit are few, and most such permit requests are granted. According to Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, Kentucky issued 2,133 KPDES permits in 2009. All but 100 were general permits. Allen said some of the residents of Teges are planning to ask the Division and the governor to reconsider the general permit, and to require an “Individual” permit. “That creek is 20 feet from my
home, and I’ve had to use it for bathing when my pipes freeze,” she said. Individual permits have more stringent requirements such as consideration of the aquatic life that could be affected. The South Fork of the Kentucky River is considered the cleanest of the river’s three main branches. The area of the river just above Teges Creek to Booneville is home to 16 different types of mussels, according to the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission. The federal Environmental Protection Agency requires that public notice be given for all individual permits. However, that is not so for general permits. That policy could change. The EPA is undertaking a review of 402 permits in Kentucky. The agency, according to EPA spokesperson Enesta Jones, “has recently recommended that Kentucky evaluate whether coverage under an individual permit may be more appropriate than under a general permit to help ensure that proposed permits protect water quality. This would also have the result of providing greater public transparency in the permit process enabling additional public involvement.” Several purposes of the Clean Water Act were a part of it when it was enacted in 1977. The purpose listed first is, “It is the national goal that the discharge of pollutants into the navigable waters be eliminated by 1985.” Previously published in the The Beattyville Enterprise.
KFTC Fellow Teri Blanton was appointed to EPA environmental justice group Teri Blanton is the first Appalachian ever to serve as a member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council. She will serve on the council from June 2010 through June 2013. This council provides advice and recommendations to the EPA about issues related to environmental justice from a community perspective.
balancing the scales, September 16, 2010
Canary Project Update
Members show EPA the face of coal mining in Appalachia
On August 17, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials from the Atlanta District 4 regional office visited eastern Kentucky to get a first hand look at the impacts of large-scale surface mining on the people and streams of eastern Kentucky. During the tour KFTC members were able to show the EPA staff the conductivity of streams where there was no surface mining, where there was mining with valley fills above, and the conductivity in streams where there was mining without any valley fills. The tour was a result of the work of KFTC allies at the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and their members’ willingness to put pressure on EPA offices around the country to stop mountaintop removal mining. One of RAN’s demands was that the EPA officials visit central Appalachia to meet with local residents and see what is happening. With the help of SouthWings (a nonprofit that provides mountaintop removal flyovers), the three EPA officials were able to see an aerial view of the destruction caused by mountaintop removal coal mining. EPA officials Stanley Meiburg, the acting District 4 administrator, Tom Welborn, the director of the EPA 404 permitting program, and Chris Thomas, who is the director of the 402 permitting program, went up in a plane to see the scope of mining from the air. KFTC members Truman Hurt, a former deep miner and pilot, and Stanley Sturgill, a former deep miner and federal mine inspector, rode along on the flights to identify what the group was seeing from the air. Though the EPA staff were trying not to comment much on what they saw, Acting Administrator Meiburg did comment on the multiple colors of the water they flew over. Another EPA staff person said they did not realize how much mining had taken place and how close the mines are to each other. After the SouthWings flights, the three EPA staff met with more than 20 KFTC members from across eastern Kentucky and allies from around the state, including the Appalachian Citizens Law Center, the Bluegrass Chapter of Sierra Club and the Kentucky Waterways Alliance. During the meeting the EPA described its role in the permitting process
of valley fills alongside the Army Corps of Engineers, as well as their oversight role in all Clean Water Act permits issued by the state Division of Water. The EPA officials were clear to point out that they have intervened in 12 “individual” 402 water discharge permits, but they don’t believe they have the authority to intervene in any 402 permit applications that fall under Kentucky’s “general” 402 permit. Kentucky officials allow most coal mines to apply under the much-lessstringent general permit. After the EPA’s explanation of its role, the officials took questions from KFTC members and allies in the audience. John Roark from Montgomery Creek in Perry County expressed concern about the lack of water testing that happens before companies begin to mine. He said residents need more background information in order to know when the quality is being diminished. “Our water can only take so much.” Meiburg agreed that the EPA wants more background information as well. Freddie Colman, whose mother ’s home was one of the many homes flooded this summer on Harless Creek in Pike County, described the flooding and how he felt it was caused by the mining and valley fills at the head of Harless Creek. He asked the EPA officials to do everything they can to protect the people of eastern Kentucky who live below these mines. Anne Shelby of Teges in Clay County spoke up about the potential impacts of several proposed strip mines in the Teges area of Clay County. She expressed dismay over the Kentucky Division of Water’s use of a general permit for coal mining pollution discharges. She pointed out that the public is never notified of these permits to discharge pollution into the creeks and that the socio-economic analysis submitted by the coal companies to justify the pollution was incredibly inaccurate. Meiburg said they are trying to work with the state and that they (the EPA) do not approve of the state’s extensive use of the General 402 permit for coal mining. He said the EPA is commenting on many of the coal mining applications to fall under Kentucky’s General 402 permit. After the meeting the EPA and some of the KFTC members and allies went on a ground tour of some creeks in Knott and Floyd counties. Along the way KFTC
KFTC member and Canary Leader Rick Handshoe reads the results of a conductivity meter in Saltlick Creek in Knott County to Stanley Meiburg, acting administrator of the EPA District 4 office in Atlanta. member Rick Handshoe used his portable conductivity meter to quickly measure the conductivity in each stream. The first stream they visited was Saltlick Creek in Knott County. Here, where there was very little strip mining near the headwaters of this creek, they witnessed lots of Mayfly larvae and minnows living in the creek and the conductivity measured about 500 microSiemens. Handshoe said he had been doing background tests in this creek and it usually measured around 250 micro-Siemens, but there had recently been a deep mine blow-out upstream and the conductivity had recently risen. Next they went to both Raccoon Creek and Hale Fork in Floyd County. There has been extensive mining in both creeks, with valley fills in the headwaters of Raccoon Creek and a lot of surface mining without valley fills in the left fork of Hale Fork. The group tested several tributaries that drain into Raccoon Creek and each registered at 1900 micro-Siemens or
higher and they found virtually no life in the creek at all. In Raccoon Creek itself the conductivity is high because the state is making the coal company add caustic soda to the acidic water coming from a valley fill and a deep mine. This acid mine problem has existed for several years and the state has no longterm plans for how to solve the problem other than continuing to add caustic soda forever. A pond below the valley fill and the deep mine are on a long-term monitoring program. In the left fork of Hale Fork, the conductivity was slightly lower, measuring between 900 and 1000 micro-Siemens. The members of the EPA said they were scheduled to go on a tour with the coal industry the following day. Update: On Wednesday September 1, the Obama Administration appointed Gwen Keys Fleming to be the Administrator of the District 4 Atlanta office of the EPA. She is a former district attorney for DeKalb County, Georgia. She will be replacing Acting Administrator Stanley Meiburg.
When was your last gift to KFTC? Check the front cover under your name to find out.
balancing the scales, September 16, 2010
Canary Project Update
KFTC members share similar stories with citizens from New Mexico
In both Kentucky and New Mexico, grassroots activists are working to give voice to people affected by extractive industries and create a future around clean energy that doesn’t compromise the land or people. KFTC members got a chance in August to visit with two organizing groups from New Mexico and share strategies for achieving environmental and economic justice in both states. Sponsored by the Pushback Network, a coalition of groups in nine states working for an authentic participatory democracy, the three-day exchange took members of the South West Organizing Project (SWOP), the Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment (MASE) and two staff members of Pushback on a Kentucky tour hosted by KFTC. The visitors met with KFTC members in Louisville, Hazard, Eolia, Benham, Lynch and Berea. SWOP is a multi-issue communitybased membership organization working to give New Mexicans a voice in social, economic and environmental decisions affecting their lives. MASE is a coalition of organizations in the Southwest affected by uranium mining. Like Kentucky, New Mexico is dependent on the energy industry to drive
much of its economy. New Mexico has coal, gas, oil and nuclear production. And, also like Kentucky, New Mexico has been exploited for resource extraction. Throughout the tour, in both formal and informal settings, participants discussed the similarities between communities in New Mexico affected by uranium mining and those in Kentucky affected by coal mining. Health impacts, contaminated water, and disenfranchisement of low-income people were common themes in both states. Participants discussed how strengthening democracy can bring environmental and economic justice to these communities. Jefferson County KFTC members K.A. Owens, Becki Winchel and George Eklund described ways KFTC is building new power in urban Jefferson County that extends to rural eastern Kentucky, including work around mountaintop removal and coal ash that has connected the extraction and disposal ends of the life cycle of coal. After a mountaintop removal flyover, the visitors reflected on their impressions in a discussion with eastern Kentucky KFTC members McKinley Sumner, Truman Hurt, Rick Handshoe, Herb E. Smith, Russell Oliver, Jenny Lauderdale and Jas-
Mountains decapitated. Forests obliterated. Water polluted. Wildlife displaced. People sickened. Plundering Appalachia uses powerful imagery, compelling writing, and a large-format design to illuminate the devastating assault on natural and human communities being waged by the coal industry. Contributors include heroic coalfield activists like Teri Blanton, Pam Maggard, Lucious Thompson, Judy Bonds, and Maria Gunnoe, and leading experts such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Wendell Berry, Erik Reece, Denise Giardina and Jack Spadaro who draw the larger connections between surface coal mining and a failed energy economy. Photographic contributions from Dobree Adams, Don Ament and Rebecca Gayle Howell. Pulling no punches, Plundering Appalachia asks the reader to become informed, and then to become engaged, to join the growing number of people working both to end radical surface mining in Appalachia and transition toward an energy economy that works for nature and people. Published by the Foundation for Deep Ecology and Earth Aware Editions. Learn more at www.plunderingappalachia.org Hardcover copies available from KFTC for $40 + $4 shipping. Credit card orders by calling 502-589-3188 or send payment to: KFTC • 901 Franklin Street • Louisville KY 40206. Or purchase from your local, independently owned bookstore.
Members of the South West Organizing Project (SWOP) loaded on a mantrip and headed into Portal 31 in the community of Lynch. per Lauderdale. The visitors expressed shock at the scale of destruction and the contrast between areas with thousands of trees and other areas that looked like moonscapes. Noting the connection between the land and the people, Kathy Kelly of SWOP asked, “Don’t they realize what they’re doing to themselves?” The group visited KFTC member Jeff Chapman-Crane at his art gallery in Eolia and talked with members Sam and Evelyn Gilbert at their home nearby. In describing the effects of mining on the streams around his home, Sam Gilbert said he once could seine enough minnows in an hour to fish for a week, and now he can’t catch enough in a week to fish for an hour. Participants spent a night at the Benham School House Inn and toured the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum in Benham and the Portal 31 Exhibition Coal Mine in Lynch, getting a first-hand look at local residents’ work to transition to new economic ventures such as tourism. As the tour drew to a close, eastern Kentucky KFTC members Carl Shoupe, Bennie Massey, Elmer Lloyd, Jeff and Sharman Chapman-Crane, Herb E. Smith, Randal Pfleger, and Jenny and Jasper Lauderdale gathered with the guests to discuss electoral strategies for building grassroots power in New Mexico and Kentucky. Rey Garduno, a SWOP member who successfully ran for city council in Albuquerque, emphasized the need to inform voters about issues rather than simply
encouraging them to vote. In general, voters do not understand the issues as deeply as they should, he said. “We must make issues become the reason for voting.” Grassroots activists also need to define their vision, rather than allow the traditional power brokers to create the frame. “They’re defining it, and we’re following it,” Garduno said. Massey, a KFTC member from Lynch, agreed. “We’ve been under a dictatorship for too long.” Taking back power is not simply about winning issues – it depends on participation by everyone, said Peter Hardie, executive director of the Pushback Network. “We want to win, and we want as full as possible engagement of everyone.” To finish the tour, participants stopped in Berea to hear from KFTC member Steve Boyce about the campaign to prevent construction of a coal-burning power plant in Clark County and reform the East Kentucky Power Cooperative to focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy. In an email following the trip, Brigid Flaherty of Pushback described her experience this way: “I saw and felt the powerful movement you’re building. Your organizations and thousands of members are exposing the greed and destruction involved in energy extraction and are turning the anger of those impacted into a force with which to defeat corporate interests and environmental racism.” Participants from both states expressed a desire to do another exchange with Kentuckians visiting New Mexico.
balancing the scales, September 16, 2010
High Road Initiative Update
Retreat offers opportunity to work toward future solutions By Mary Love
On August 20 and 21, KFTC members met in Harlan County to brainstorm around the subject of Appalachian Transition. We gathered Friday at the Benham School House Inn to hear from KFTC and community leaders in Benham and Lynch about the tradition of coal mining and the history of community organizing at the foot of Black Mountain. I was really impressed with the scope of the vision for their communities of Benham, Lynch and Cumberland (the tri-cities), including what had already been created with the Benham School House Inn (where we met and ate), the Coal Mining Museum and Portal 31 – Exhibition Underground Coal Mine. The community pride was evident not only in the people but in the neat, well-kept homes and streets, not to mention the beauty of the surrounding mountains. I was even more impressed by my fellow KFTC members. Despite being faced with numerous mine permits threatening their vision, they are more determined than ever to look for solutions that can build upon their history and traditions, and provide new jobs and new opportunities.
After our community welcome, we boarded a mantrip for the Portal 31 mine tour in Lynch. This tour is not to be missed! The mantrip takes you back into this high wall mine with a narrator and animatronic miners that speak and demonstrate mining techniques from 1917 to the 1980s. It is a very professional tour! My friend Truman Hurt from Perry County and a retired miner said, “I never intended to go back underground and was nervous heading in there, but they put a lot of work into that. I even found myself bowing my head on the way out so that the curtain wouldn’t knock my hardhat off! I’m gonna bring my family over to see this to know what I did for those many years.” With each trip to Benham and Lynch I learn more about the tremendous courage and perseverance that these miners and their families have as they work, build homes and raise families. I can see how Carl Shoupe, Benny Massey, Elmer Lloyd and other retired miners and KFTC members can keep fighting for what they believe despite the many challenges thrown at them – it’s in their blood and they won’t give up! Coming out of Portal 31, we then drove up to the top of Black Mountain, highest point in the state. There on the
border of Virginia and Kentucky we saw the heartbreaking contrast between the beauty of the mountain on the Kentucky side and the devastation of radical strip mining on the Virginia side. To me, the top of Black Mountain represents the options for Kentucky’s future. We can continue on the path we are on, and most of our mountains will look like the desolation on the Virginia side. Or, we can protect what we have and use it to build a better future. Growing up just outside the Smoky Mountains, I know that safeguarding the beauty of the mountains leads to job creation and prosperity It was then back to the Inn for a delicious supper and more talk with community members from Benham and Lynch about a micro-hydro electric generating plant, restoring more of the historic coal camp buildings, a small waterbottling plant (the water from Looney Creek is the sweetest, most pure water I’ve ever tasted!), wind power on Black Mountain, and how we all can work to create a secure future and realize the awesome potential in the mountains. After a good night’s sleep on the other side of Pine Mountain at the Pine Mountain Settlement School, it was time to innovate on how to create a transition to a new economy in Appalachia.
KFTC’s Sara Pennington and Randy Wilson coauthored an article in the July/August issue of the journal Solutions, which focuses on the future of Appalachia. Pennington is a KFTC organizer, and Wilson is a long-time KFTC member and fifth-generation Appalachian who lives in Clay County. The article focuses on Renew East Kentucky, a plan to create thousands of jobs and help the region transition to a more diverse economy. Renew East Kentucky would be a five-year energy efficiency and renewable energy initiative to retool and expand the local workforce, build up local initiatives already in place, and more aggressively implement solutions to address the region’s infrastructure and economic challenges. Why does Wilson think Renew East Kentucky is a good idea? “We need op-
tions in energy, and we need options in work,” he said. Wilson is doing an oral history project in coal-producing communities, and he’s finding that lots of folks are ready for change – like John Craft, who mined coal in eastern Kentucky for 20 years. As the article describes, Craft sees coal production declining and envisions a sustainable economy built on clean energy like wind, solar and micro-hydro. Renew East Kentucky is a chance to use the infrastructure we already have – rural electric cooperatives – to transition to a clean energy economy and create thousands of new jobs. Because the co-ops are member-run, real people at the local level would lead this transition and the new jobs would be the kind we need – clean and sustainable. “The word is power,” Wilson said. “Giving people power to make choices.”
The Solutions special issue on Appalachia also features an article on Benham and Lynch, two historic coal towns in eastern Kentucky that are working to create a new economy around tourism and clean energy. To purchase the magazine, email email@example.com. Or subscribe by visiting www.thesolutionsjournal.com/subscribe. You can also read both articles online at www.thesolutionsjournal. com/node/683 (Renew East Kentucky) and www.thesolutionsjournal.com/node/709 (Benham and Lynch).
Solutions Journal gives emphasis on Appalachia
I know that change is hard, and it doesn’t happen overnight, but the potential new jobs, especially for those young people just looking for ways to stay at home in the mountains, is just too great to ignore. There are great things happening right now. I loved hearing about the home energy efficiency work that Pine Mountain Settlement School is doing – one family’s electric bill dropped over $300 in one month by closing over 8 square feet of holes in outside walls! I’m sure that family can put that extra money to good use. New gardens and fresh food seem to be springing up everywhere from Harlan County to Floyd County with some of those folks looking to form or sell at farmers’ markets. People are beginning to reclaim the tradition of selfsufficiency and independence that was a long-held tradition in the mountains. The challenges facing an Appalachian transition are many. We have to create a grassroots momentum, highlight and create examples to show people it is possible and we have to find political leaders that will listen and lead us through this transition. Maybe most important, we have to find ways that people can talk without fear, express their dreams and act without reprisal. Elmer Lloyd, a retired miner and KFTC member from Benham, said it best, “A lot of people work in the mines or have family that does. If they could come out and say what they wanted to, this room couldn’t hold them.” KFTC is a starting place for this public conversation to be held. The people of eastern Kentucky need to know that we are their neighbors, friends and often their family. The people of KFTC share the same hopes and dreams for good jobs, healthy communities and a safe place to raise our children. We are all in this together!
A KFTC Voter Guide will be landing in your mailbox in early October. Be on the lookout!
Voter Empowerment Update
balancing the scales, September 16, 2010
Singing for Democracy raises spirits and grassroots power
Scott County KFTC members had a tremendous Singing For Democracy Gospel Fest in Georgetown in late summer with about 150 people happily crammed into the Ed Davis Learning Center to listen to some great gospel music and to educate each other on how to work together to restore voting rights to former felons who have served their time. The program included powerful singers like Chris Willis, Lonnie Cowan, Margaret Sweat and Maria Houghton, local religious leaders like Rev. Joseph Jackson and Rev. Rodney Mason, and former felons from Georgetown
and elsewhere telling their stories. One act was even the local cheerleading group the Mud Turtles. Event participants also got to see a preview of the voting rights digital stories by Seed Lynn through the Highlander Center’s Zilphia Horton Project. KFTC members have hosted similar events in Louisville and Lexington over the last nine months, but this Singing For Democracy was special because of where it was held. Senator Damon Thayer, the chair of the Senate State and Local Government Committee, is the individual most responsible for blocking a bill to
restore voting rights to former felons in recent years – and Georgetown is his hometown. Scott County KFTC members used the process of organizing the event to bring together churches and individuals in key communities to raise awareness of felony disenfranchisement. Numerous planning meetings and outreach events were held for the event, including going door-to-door, visiting churches, tabling at basketball games, and posting flyers. “Forgiveness, loving your neighbor, compassion – if we truly believed all of that, then we wouldn’t have to
have this discussion about whether former felons can vote or not. God is always watching – and we’d better make this right.” said Tayna Fogle, former felon and key event organizer. Special Thanks To:The Brighton Center, People Advocating Recovery, Connie Willis, Steppin To A New Beat participants, Ed Davis Learning Center, Never Alone, Scott County NAACP, Catholic Conference, ACLU, Key Conversations (1580 AM), King Cobras, Lexington Nightwhawks, Brothers Unite, Regulators, Recovery Voices Count, Highlander Center, Chronic Pain Support, and all of the members of the Boston Community in Georgetown!
The annual Fancy Farm Picnic is an odd Kentucky political tradition in which partisan political campaigns, barbecue enthusiasts, bingo players and thousands of political enthusiasts come together at St. Jerome’s Parish in far western Kentucky for a day of stump speeches, RC Cola, bingo, and way too much food. The event is largely about the candidates, who launch searing political attacks against each other in a hostile environment as supporters of the opposing candidate try to shout them down and boo them off of the stage. “There was a lot of tension and it was so partisan,” said Meredith Wadling-
ton, Bowling Green KFTC member. “To encounter people and say ‘we’re a nonpartisan, grassroots organization,’ I think people from all kinds of backgrounds responded to that and seemed more open to what we had to say. That was really cool.” Several dozen KFTC members traveled to the event from Louisville, Bowling Green, northern Kentucky and Lexington, as well as some members from far western Kentucky. The plan was to challenge the partisan, zero-sum, and frankly mean dynamics at Fancy Farm and to instead try to have conversations with candidates and other political enthusiasts about real issues that KFTC members and others can work together on to make Kentucky a better place for everyone. “The candidates were okay. The issues are more important, but that’s what we’re here for. It makes a pretty good weekend. First time down- probably going to come back,” said David Hunter, a northern Kentucky KFTC member. Members passed out more than 400 fans with KFTC’s Vision Statement on the back and about 750 lapel stickers for the Voting Rights campaign, plus hundreds of copies of KFTC’s newsletter balancing the scales. “I was really pumped that KFTC was able to get so much info out there,” said Kevin Smiley, Bowling Green member. “Everywhere we went there were people carrying our stickers and fans and such. It’s really awesome to have a strong presence.” With 43 KFTC members canvassing the crowd, members managed to have a
lot of key conversations with candidates, elected officials, allies, media outlets and KFTC members from the western part of the state that other members don’t usually get to see. Prominent Republican and Democratic Party leaders alike commented on the strong showing by KFTC, something members hope they both remember
during the legislative session early next year. KFTC has brought smaller groups to Fancy Farm for the last few years, but never this many. It was the first trip to Fancy Farm for about three-fourths of the members, most of whom say they’re looking forward to making next year’s group even larger.
KFTC members’ presence noted at Fancy Farm picnic
Fancy Farm 2010 by the Numbers • 43 - KFTC members volunteering at some point during the event. • 11 - KFTC members coming from Jefferson County, the chapter that brought out the most volunteers. • 130 - Years the Fancy Farm Picnic has been held. • 400 - Fans with KFTC’s Vision Statement passed out to the crowd. • 720 - Total miles traveled by the Northern Kentucky crew to get to Fancy Farm and back. • 750 - “I Voted, But 186,000 Kentuckians Could Not” stickers passed out to people. • 15,000 - Total estimated attendance. • 19,000 - Pounds of pork and mutton cooked up for the barbecue.
KFTC members traveled from all across the state to end up in far western Kentucky to help spread a message of democracy at a very unusual spectacle of Kentucky politics. Fancy Farm is a full-on shouting match and partisan mudslinging.
Follow KFTC on twitter at twitter.com/KFTC
balancing the scales, September 16, 2010
Steering Comittee nominates an experienced, diverse group KFTC Executive Committee and Kentucky Coalition board to be selected at annual meeting
The Steering Committee acknowledged the dedicated service of KFTC’s hard-working statewide officers, and has recommended a diverse set of community leaders to serve in those positions for the coming year. The proposed slate includes Steve Boyce as chairperson, Sue Tallichet as vice-chair, Dana Beasley Brown as secretary-treasurer, and Rick Handshoe as at-large representative. K.A. Owens will also serve in the position of immediate past chairperson. This slate, based on a recommendation from the Leadership Development Committee, will go before a vote of the full membership in attendance at the Annual Business meeting on October 10. Other nominations may be made from the floor at that time. Together, KFTC’s five statewide officers make up the organization’s Executive Committee. KFTC’s officers are elected for one-year terms and may serve no more than two consecutive years in the same position. This will be the first term for each nominee in his or her respective position. Below is some information about the nominees: Chairperson: Steve Boyce is an active member of the Madison County chapter. He has served in many leadership roles, including as Steering Committee Representative and four years on the KFTC Executive Committee. He has provided leadership as a member and chairperson of KFTC’s Finance Committee, as well as a member of the Economic Justice Committee. Steve has provided testimony about fair taxation before the Kentucky House Appropriations and Revenue Committee and was appointed to the citizens’ advisory board of the Berea Municipal Utility. He retired from the faculty of Berea College. Vice-chairperson: Sue Tallichet is an active member of the Rowan County chapter and KFTC Land Reform Committee. She has also served for a number of years on KFTC’s Steering
Committee. She is a brave and effective spokesperson about mountaintop removal mining and its impacts on land, water and people. She is also the author of a book called Daughters of the Mountain: Women Coal Miners in Central Appalachia. Secretary-Treasurer: Dana Beasley Brown was one of the driving forces behind the formation of the Bowling Green KFTC Chapter. She serves on KFTC’s Steering Committee and Economic Justice Committee and is deeply involved in local efforts to improve the quality and affordability of housing in her community. Dana has spoken before several legislative committees and has been a guest on the KET program Kentucky Tonight about the need for fair tax reforms. At-large Representative: Rick Handshoe has worked hard to build and strengthen the new Floyd County KFTC Chapter. He has served on KFTC’s Steering Committee for several years. He is a tireless leader in his community around issues related to water quality and the enforcement of mining laws. Rick has hosted hundreds of people who have visited his place to learn first hand about problems associated with harmful mining practices. He has used his story (and his excellent documentation) to educate and hold accountable many of the top decisionmakers in federal and state enforcement agencies. Kentucky Coalition Board members During the October 10 Annual Busi-
ness Meeting, KFTC members will also have the opportunity to vote on three members to serve on the board of the Kentucky Coalition. Kentucky Coalition is a tax-exempt affiliate organization to KFTC that supports leadership development, research and public education about important policy issues, and civic participation. The KC board is comprised of the five statewide officers of KFTC, plus an additional three individuals who are elected by KFTC’s membership. The Steering Committee has nominated the following individuals to serve next year on the KC board: Bill Stolte: Bill is a member of KFTC’s Madison County chapter. He served on the KC board during the previous year and has provided leadership as a member of KFTC’s Finance Committee. Beth Bissmeyer: Beth is an active member of KFTC’s Jefferson County chapter. She previously served on KFTC’s Steering Committee and on the KC Board. Doug Doerrfeld: Doug is an active member of the Rowan County chapter. He is a past chairperson of KFTC and has just completed about a decade of service on KFTC’s Steering and Executive Committees.
Appalachia Rising September 25-27, 2010 Washington D.C. For more information visit: www.appalachiarising.org
Happy Anniversary KFTC! It was 29 years ago in August that KFTC became “official.” According to KFTC’s book, Making History: The First Ten Years of KFTC: “Twenty-six people from 12 counties formally organized and named the Kentucky Fair Tax Coalition on August 17, 1981. They also agreed on a statement of purpose: The Kentucky Fair Tax Coalition is a group of community based organizations and individuals promoting more effective and efficient community services through a fair and equitable taxation system throughout the state of Kentucky, with a particular interest in coal counties. Also at that meeting, members “passed the hat for the first time. They netted KFTC’s first funds, $38. “This Hazard meeting was not the first meeting of this group of people who were coming together from across eastern Kentucky. The group had met on several prior occasions to explore the possibilities of working together on common issues. Shared concerns included the quality of (or lack of) community services and public education in coal counties (which suffered from gross inequalities in the tax system) and the rights of landowners. “Many of the people involved were organizing in their respective home counties around these and related issues. The decision to launch a new organization was based on the understanding that the issues were all related and shared a common underlying roots cause: “the inequality of life with a single dominant industry – coal – that was not contributing its fair share.” “People, especially in eastern Kentucky, were getting to know each other. All around the region there was a loose network of people who had worked together with each other in various ways over the past 15 years or so. What we didn’t have in those days was a structured connection between us. There was no interlocking of these community-level efforts, until KFTC.” — Herb E. Smith.
balancing the scales, September 16, 2010
Steering Committee creates a political action committee for expanded member participation in political activities
At their September meeting, the KFTC Steering Committee – by unanimous vote – made history by launching a federal, independent-expenditure political committee called the New Power PAC. The purpose of the New Power PAC is to focus a spotlight on the opportunity to create good jobs and clean, affordable energy and the need to stop the destruction – and the demise of democracy – caused by the coal and “old power” politics in Kentucky. The PAC is needed to help amplify the voices and work of KFTC members in ways that the organization cannot do as a nonprofit, because of the political nature of the work. “Somebody has to tell the truth about coal and what it’s doing to our democracy, not to mention our land, water, people, and climate,” noted Bev May of Floyd County. The New Power PAC is a voice for every Kentuckian who knows that while coal is an important part of Kentucky’s heritage, it does not represent the best way forward for the state or our nation. “Today, right now, we have the potential to generate clean energy jobs and develop affordable, cleaner energy options,” said Megan Naseman of Madison County. “Other states are racing to meet those opportunities with innovation and leadership. Where are the leaders with the vision to make the most of this moment?” Naseman asked. Prior to launching the New Power PAC, the Steering Committee spent time analyzing Kentucky’s political landscape and KFTC’s role within that. That analysis made clear that Kentucky continues to be run by what the Steering Committee calls “old power” which is characterized by entrenched powerful interests, “old boy” politics, out-dated approaches to economic development, and an over-dependence on coal. This “old power” landscape has taken its toll on Kentucky and is demonstrated by job loss, child poverty, environmental degradation, and more. Today, political candidates seem chained to these misguided and vision-starved “old power” standards. Candidates stoke the fears of voters and, rather than debate innovative ideas for moving Kentucky forward, they argue over who is the most “pro-coal.” This landscape calls for fresh air and fresh
ideas. “We are forming the New Power PAC as a direct challenge to these old power politics in Kentucky,” affirmed May. The New Power PAC is a logical continuation of KFTC’s work to help people who have experienced injustice find their voice and join with others to make a difference for the better. “Because KFTC is a true grassroots organization, empowering citizens to participate politically in the interest of economic, environmental and social justice is our true common wealth,” noted Sue Tallichet of Rowan County. What’s different about the New Power PAC from other political action committees is that it is focused on promoting ideas, not a specific candidate. New Power means new jobs for Kentucky workers today and for our children tomorrow. New Power means new affordable energy for our homes without destroying our communities, land, water, air, or health. New Power means that all Kentuckians are informed and participating in the decisions that shape their lives and communities. New Power means elected officials who are accountable to their constituents. The New Power PAC will advance these ideas. It’s up to candidates as to how they will align themselves – with old power antics that will leave Kentucky workers and families in the dark or with New Power principles that will create jobs, lift Kentucky’s quality of life indicators, and strengthen our democracy. The New Power PAC will allow KFTC to help voters understand where candidates stand on New Power policies. We will have direct personal contact with 50,000 Kentucky voters this fall. We will talk with them about the potential for clean energy jobs as well as the need to stop the harmful effects of Kentucky’s overdependence on coal. “Some people say that in Kentucky coal is King, and they try to throw around a lot of money to keep politicians saying it too, even though many of these politicians probably know better,” said Homer White of Scott County. “With the New Power PAC we will get out the message that the King has no clothes: that over-reliance on coal will lead to more global warming, that the industry doesn’t pay its way in terms of external costs to the health of the land
“I pledge to support candidates and elected officials who will work for New Power policies that create clean energy jobs, affordable renewable energy, and healthy communities and that address the problems created by old power fossil fuels.” — New Power Pledge and local communities, that rather than creating jobs the industry is destroying them with surface mining and MTR,” he explained. Through this work, KFTC will build, inform, and motivate a significant base of New Power voters. As a first step, the New Power PAC has launched a campaign to encourage Kentucky voters to sign the New Power Pledge. The pledge reads: “I pledge to support candidates and elected officials who will work for New Power policies that create clean energy jobs, affordable renewable energy, and healthy communities and that address the problems created by old power fossil fuels.” The pledge campaign is one of the many ways the New Power PAC intends to encourage candidates to respond to the needs of voters – their constituents – rather than their biggest contributors who are most often motivated by their corporate power and profit rather than by what is best for Kentucky’s future. “If the people persist in declaring that King Coal has no clothes, then eventually politicians will work up the nerve to admit the same thing and we can
clear the way for a better future based on development of alternative energy sources,” explained White. In launching the New Power PAC, the Steering Committee was fully aware that KFTC can’t outspend the coal industry – willing to spend millions of advertising dollars – during the current election cycle. The New Power PAC is not about corporate interests dominating the political scene. It’s about everyday Kentuckians working to have a voice within a political system that has been tainted by corporate money and narrow special interests. “At KFTC we value the views and rights of ordinary Kentuckians because they are not well represented by either party,” said Tallichet. “The New Power PAC will allow us to extend our reach among citizens who feel marginalized in order to give them a voice and take back the democratic system that was meant to serve them.” To get involved in the New Power campaign and to sign the New Power Pledge, visit www.newpowerky.org. Help KFTC build a huge list of New Power pledge signers by asking friends, family, Facebook contacts, and others to visit the site and sign the pledge.
balancing the scales, September 16, 2010
KFTC’s 2010 – 2011 Proposed Platform To be considered by the KFTC membership on October 11, 2009 Proposed additions to the platform are in ALL CAPS
Kentuckians For The Commonwealth is a statewide, grassroots, citizens organization working for a new balance of power and a just society. As we work together we build our strength, individually and as a group, and find solutions to real life problems. We use direct action to challenge — and change — unfair political, economic and social systems. Our membership is open to all people who are committed to equality, democracy and nonviolent change. KFTC’s goals of organizing are: (1) fostering democratic values, (2) changing unjust institutions, (3) empowering people and communities, (4) helping people participate, (5) overcoming racism and other discrimination, (6) communicating a message of what is possible, (7) building organizations, (8) winning issues that affect the common welfare, and (9) having fun. We will work to create a society which focuses on supporting the human rights of all people. We are a social justice organization. We believe that all people must be treated with respect and dignity regardless of ability, age, gender, national origin, race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, or any other defining characteristic. Since clean air, water and land are every Kentuckian’s right, KFTC will work to protect and preserve a clean environment and protect bio-diversity by working for stronger regulations and better enforcement. Specifically: • We will work for a sustainable forestry products industry [non-timber and wood products] for Kentucky that relies on ecologically sound forest management and the use of Best Management Practices on public and private lands. • We will work to preserve and protect publicly owned lands and their natural resources • We oppose on every front the rollback of the authority and funding for agencies and services that protect the environment and the rights of surface owners. • We will fight to ensure safe, accessible and affordable water for all Kentuckians. • We demand reasonable regulation of oil and gas drilling including protection and replacement of water and reclamation of damaged land. • We demand full enforcement of laws and regulations related to the mining, transportation and burning of coal in order to protect water resources, prevent blasting damage, and require the reclamation of land and permitting of secondary roads used for hauling coal. • We oppose the use of dangerous coal sludge impoundments and call for the development of emergency action plans for communities living near impoundments. • We oppose the use of the mountaintop removal method of surface coal mining and valley fills that bury perennial, intermittent and ephemeral streams. • We oppose the environmental and economic destruction of industrial farming and its threat to clean air, clean water, rural communities, and small family farmers. • We oppose importation of all solid, hazardous and special wastes, and promote local control over land-use decisions involving landfills and incinerators and related facilities. • RECOGNIZING THE HIGH COSTS AND DEADLY EFFECTS OF URANIUM MINING, PROCESSING, AND WASTE DISPOSAL, WE OPPOSE THE EXPANSION OF NUCLEAR POWER. • We will work to protect air quality to ensure the health and safety of Kentuckians. • We will support reducing the use of harmful pesticides, the right of the public to know the nature of pesticides applied, and the right of a local government to have more stringent control of pesticide use. • We promote source reduction, recycling, strong procurement policies for recycled products and a bottle bill. • We will oppose environmental racism and classism, or the practice of locating polluting industries and waste facilities near low-income and minority communities, and in neighborhoods where people are least able to fight back. • We support strengthening present timber theft laws in Kentucky to protect forests and private property rights. We will fight to protect surface owners from the abuses by extractive industries. Specifically: • We demand that the broad form deed amendment be fully enforced by all levels of government. • We support a change in property laws so that a minority owner of an undivided interest cannot allow the sale, leasing or mining of land or minerals against the wishes of the majority of owners. • We demand that oil and gas operators have permission of surface owners before they drill. • We support the property rights of all landowners and will work to ensure these rights are exercised responsibly and equitably so as not to unfairly compromise the interests of the public, the environment, or surrounding property owners. We will work to empower voters and expand authentic, democratic participation that makes government open, honest, and responsive to the needs of the people. Specifically: • • • • • •
We will fight to protect the local control of solid waste management and siting, and support strong host agreements before permits are issued by the state. We will work to strengthen and enforce ethics codes for elected and appointed officials. We will work to expose connections between money in political campaigns and governments that are non-responsive to the people. We support campaign spending limits and public financing of elections to reduce the amount spent on elections and the power of big money contributors. We will work to make state and local economic development authorities accountable to the people. We demand easy access and an end to the bureaucratic procedures necessary to obtain open records in Kentucky. continued on next page
balancing the scales, September 16, 2010
KFTC Proposed Platform
• We oppose the inappropriate use of police powers to address problems, the expansion and privatization of the prison system, and the use of excessive force by police. We do support full funding of continued from previous page public defenders. • We support equitable access to state funds for roads and public transit. • We support local communities’ cooperation on common issues. • We oppose closed-door meetings and decision making not open to the public. • We support restoring voting rights to former felons. We support programs that promote the positive re-entry of former felons into our communities. We will fight to create a just economy that sustains communities, families and individuals, promotes health and protects resources for the future. Specifically: • We will work with all interested parties, including recipients, to develop a welfare system that benefits the community as a whole, provides a safety net, helps people move forward, and treats people fairly and with dignity. • We will work for an economic development process that is open, sustainable, supportive of local economies, and sees that companies receiving public money for job creation provide training, safe working conditions, health benefits and a living wage and transition away from a fossil fuel extraction industry. • We support public policies and utility programs that minimize utility customer shutoffs due to inability to pay and we will work to eliminate customer shutoffs during extreme weather conditions and medical emergencies. We support energy conservation programs, the implementation of percentage of income payment plans and fair access to utility services including local gas hookups. • We support policies aimed at significantly increasing the development of energy conservation, energy efficiency, and clean renewable energy sources in Kentucky, ultimately leading toward climate neutrality. • We seek energy policies that promote the development of community-scale, locally owned renewable energy sources, create local jobs, and help lowwealth households, enterprises, and communities to access energy efficiency measures and clean energy solutions. • We support funding effective and efficient community services through an equitable, fair, and progressive tax structure. • We support the continued fair taxation of unmined minerals. • We support the collection of coal severance taxes on every ton of coal mined and demand an increasing return of severance tax funds to promote sustainable economic development in coalfield counties; we call for an increase in the severance tax rate and the creation of a community-based process to determine how funds are spent. • We call for a system of high quality public education, including higher education that is accessible and affordable for all Kentuckians. • WE OBJECT TO THE DOMINANCE OF CORPORATE INTERESTS IN THE DECISION-MAKING, VALUES AND PRIORITIES OF OUR PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES. • We support economic reform through the use and support of sustainable agriculture. • We demand quality, affordable and preventative health care for all Kentuckians, and support a single payer health care system. • We support a comprehensive approach — and investments — that recognize good health is determined by a wide range of social and economic factors such as education, social welfare, housing, income, and environmental conditions, as well as traditional health factors. • We support the right to a living wage for all Kentuckians. • We oppose exploitation of labor and unjust international trade programs and demand an end to the use and sale of sweatshop-made products. • We call for a new system for the transportation of coal that makes possible better pay for truckers, shared company accountability for safety violations and road damage, safe roads and safe mining communities, and reduced weight limits for coal trucks. • We support the right of workers to organize and the right to collective bargaining. • We support quality, affordable, accessible housing and demand just housing policies that protect the rights of renters to be treated fairly. • We demand enactment and enforcement of occupational health and safety laws that protect all workers in Kentucky, especially workers in occupations that continue to suffer high rates of preventable work-related death, disability, and illness such as coal miners, coal truckers, and other coal industry workers. • We support fair and equitable lending practices. • We support adequate, affordable, and energy efficient public transportation on a statewide basis, and we demand infrastructure planning that supports alternative modes of public transportation such as biking and walking. We will fight to create a fair and just society that respects human and civil rights, uplifts all people to their potential, and values the participation of everyone. Specifically: • We support affirmative action programs that guarantee equal rights for all people. • We oppose all forms of racism and work to eliminate it from our society and from within our organization. • We condemn and oppose oppression and harassment of all people by public or private individuals or institutions based on ability, age, gender, national origin, citizenship, race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, immigration status, or any other defining characteristic. • We will work toward a more fair justice system not mired in discrimination based on ability, age, gender, national origin, citizenship, race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, immigration status, or any other defining characteristic.
balancing the scales, September 16, 2010
Our Stories: The Building Blocks of New Power
or register online at www.kftc.org/annual-meeting Name(s) Address Phone Email Please specify your needs below. Lodging __ Friday night (10/8) __ Saturday night (10/9)
Saturday Meals __ Breakfast __ Lunch __ Evening Banquet Sunday Meals __ Breakfast __ Box Lunch Do you have any special dietary needs? Please specify Do you need a room equipped for physical disabilities? Please specify 2-4 people will share each room. Do you have a preferred roommate(s)? Please specify Will you need child care? __ Yes __ No # of children ___ Ages__ Please let us know if you are willing to help out by: Bringing items (including crafts) for a silent auction Participating in a talent show on Saturday Night Helping out with activities for children Transportation: I can drive and am willing to offer a ride to others from my area I need a ride
Friday, October 8 6 p.m.
Registration begins at the beautiful Kentucky Leadership Center (near Somerset). Directions will be sent to everyone who registers. Please eat dinner before arriving.
7 - 9 p.m.
Welcome, introductions and story telling on the porch
Late-night bonfire under the stars
Saturday, October 9 9 a.m.
Story-telling for social change. We’ll explore the importance of the stories we tell (and the stories that are told by others) about ourselves, our history, and our future. And we’ll examine ways that stories are an integral part of building movements for social change.
Telling our stories! Learn and practice ways of telling our own stories that inform and connect with others, connect to our issues, and inspire action. Hear from several KFTC members who are directly challenging injustice and reflect on the power of their stories to create change.
Stories as strategy. We will explore how stories shape the ways people respond to our issues. Learn ways of challenging untrue and outdated stories. Develop some of our own stories with the power to reframe our issues and create new understanding. Working in small groups, participants will develop effective and creative ways to tell the story about voting rights, economic justice, and coal and energy issues in Kentucky.
Banquet, Showcase of Video Stories, and Awards
Homegrown Talent Show: Join us for an evening of skits, poetry, music, dance, humor and other expressions of creativity.
Cost: The cost for the weekend is $90 per adult, which includes two nights lodging, five meals, meeting costs and child care, if needed. (Costs can be adjusted if you attend only part of the meeting. If $90 is beyond your budget, please contribute what you can). Early Bird Special! Register by September 24 and only pay $70! Do not let the expense keep you from attending! I have enclosed $______ for my registration. I cannot attend but am sending $______ so that someone else can participate. Please make check or money order payable to KFTC and mail with this registration form to: P.O. Box 1450 London, Kentucky 40743
Annual meeting checklist If you’re planning to come … √ Register as soon as possible using the form above or online at www.kftc.org. Don't forget to send in your registration fee in the amount you feel you can afford. √ Ask other KFTC members and non-members to come. Offer them a ride or try to carpool. √ Get excited. You’re going to have a great time.
Sunday, October 10 9 a.m.
Story-telling skills workshops. Choose from a variety of workshops aimed at helping us communicate better with stories, whether in public speaking, on-line, or in front porch conversations!
Business Meeting and Closing Session (ending by noon) Elect statewide officers, accept chapters and adopt the statewide platform.
Please remember to bring items to donate to the silent auction! Handmade or locally made items are especially appreciated.
balancing the scales, September 16, 2010
Last Gift Date Printed On Front Cover! We’ve heard from a lot of members that they would love to stay current in their membership dues, but they just don’t know when their renewal date is. So now we are printing your last gift date with your mailing label*. We ask members to give at least one time a year at whatever level feels right for their budget. If your last gift is more than a year ago, please consider renewing your dues today. Members of KFTC have different capacities to engage in the work. Some are able to join us in Frankfort, at chapter meetings, or attend local events. Even if you aren’t able to participate actively, everyone can keep our movement strong and vibrant by keeping their membership current. If your dues are due, please consider renewing. Renew by mail: You can renew by sending a contribution and the form on page 8 to our main office in London, KY. (PO Box 1450, London, KY 40743) Renew by phone: If the phone is the best way for you to renew your dues, call Morgan in our London office and she can take a credit card right over the phone. 606-878-2161 Renew online: It’s easy to make a donation online by check or with a credit card. Just go to www.kftc.org/donate and follow the prompts on your screen.
Calendar of Events Sept 21
Northern Kentucky Annual chapter meeting, 7 p.m., Florence City Building, 8100 Ewing Blvd., Florence.
Deadline for Discounted Annual Meeting Registration.
Appalachia Rising, Conference and Day of Action. www.appalachiarising.org
Madison County chapter meeting, 7 p.m. at Child Development Lab on Jefferson St., Berea.
Bowling Green Annual chapter meeting, 6:30 p.m. at ALIVE Center, 1818 31W, contact Jessica for more information, 859-2760563 or Jessicabreen@kftc.org.
Sept 30- October 4
Operation Voter Madness; contact Dave Newton to participate
Voter Registration Deadline
Harlan County Annual chapter meeting, contact Colleen Unroe for more information. Colleen@kftc.org or 606-632-0051
Scott County Annual chapter meeting, 7 p.m., St. John Church, 604 Main St., Georgetown.
KFTC Annual Membership Meeting, Kentucky Leadership Center in Jabez Kentucky. See page 23 to register or go to www.kftc.org/ annual-meeting
Submission deadline for balancing the scales. Contact Tim Buckingham for more information or to submit an article, photograph, etc. Tim@kftc.org or 859-276-0563
Become a pledger? When you renew your dues, consider becoming a pledger. Your regular contribution to KFTC supports the work all year long and when it’s automatic, you can always know that your dues are current.
* Let us know if the last gift date looks wrong. Databases can be imperfect things. Keep in mind that it takes about two weeks for the paper to be printed and on your doorstep. If you’ve made a donation in that time, it won’t make it on the label.
Heine Brothers’ Coffee in Louisville has partnered with Hound Dog Press to produce a beautiful letter pressed coffee bag to help raise money for KFTC.
For every bag purchased of Mountain Dream Blend, KFTC will receive $5! “We want to raise $25,000 this year for KFTC and we will do this because we do good by doing right!” Mike Mays, Heine Brothers’ Coffee
Visit heinebroscoffee.com to purchase your bag today! (or stop by one of their 7 Louisville locations)
October 11 Jefferson County Annual chapter meeting, 6:30 p.m. at the Main Public Library in the Board Room. (301 York Street). October 11 Floyd County Annual chapter meeting, 7 p.m. at St. Martha Catholic Church near Prestonsburg. October 21 Central Kentucky Annual chapter meeting, 7 p.m. at the Episcopal Diocese Mission House (on the corner of Martin Luther King Blvd. and 4th Street) in Lexington. October 21 Rowan County Annual chapter meeting, 6 p.m. at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church on 5th Street in Morehead. October 25 Madison County chapter meeting, 7 p.m. at Child Development Lab on Jefferson St., Berea. October 26 Bowling Green Annual chapter meeting, 6:30 p.m. at ALIVE Center, 1818 31W, contact Jessica for more information, 859-2760563 or Jessicabreen@kftc.org. November 2 Election Day! Polls are open from 6 a.m. - 6 p.m. To find your voting location, to learn what candidates are running for office and where they stand on important issue, and for other information, please visit http://www.KentuckElection.org