Sunday, October 31, 1999

Caucus hears variety of views

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FLORENCE — Along with the perennial issues of abortion and capital punishment, members of the Northern Kentucky legislative caucus got an earful Saturday on a myriad of other topics.

        Residents opposed to the new jail site in Elsmere made a strong showing as did property rights advocates and a group opposed to tailpipe testing.

        Legislators listened for more than two hours to a group of about 40 people, some asking for support through legislation and others money.

        “We want to hear what you have to say, and that's principally why we're here,” state Rep. Katie Stine, R-Fort Thomas, told the group.

        “We're doing this in preparation of the next session.”

        Opponents of the new jail site asked legislators to consider emergency legislation that would create statewide standards for the placement of jail facilities. They also asked that the state allow a referendum.

        “We're asking that that right be given back to the community,” said Terry Whittaker, an Elsmere resident.

        After meeting with legisla tors, a group of about 300 residents held signs at the corner of Turkeyfoot and Autumn roads and honked their horns.

        Some even wore black-and-white striped prisoner's uniforms.

        Others wore T-shirts that read: No jailyards in our backyards.

        State Sen. Jack Westwood, R-Erlanger, agreed to meet with the group of opponents.

        “I like the idea of being involved in a review committee,” he said. “We need to sit down and find out what's really going on here.”

        William Kunkel, 12, told legislators he'd been studying history and the Founding Fathers.

        He and his family members asked legislators to support a bill that protects property rights.

        Another initiative that received some attention was funding for people with mental retardation or who are developmentally disabled.

        Judi Gerding, executive director of The Point — an organization that aims to improve the quality of life of mentally retarded and developmentally disabled citizens — told legislators that Kentucky is ranked 50th in the United States when it comes to residential and vocational services and requested $30 million.

        “I'm pleased that they listened, but we're tired of hearing, "No more money,'” she said.

        Several legislators agreed it was time to raise the commonwealth's ranking.

        Gatewood Galbraith, Kentucky's Reform Party candidate for governor, also made a short appearance as he campaigned across Northern Kentucky in preparation for Tuesday's election.

        He encouraged the group of residents to vote and passed out literature on his 14-point platform.

        “This Tuesday we're going to find out if this process is still working,” he said.


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