Public Life Advocate

  • 401 Frederica Street, B-203
  • Owensboro, Kentucky 42301
  • (270) 685-2652 | FAX (270) 685-6074

Citizens Speak ... Leaders Respond


“Waging a Living” Forum

Approximately 100 people participated in the “Waging a Living” forum on August 28 at the Settle Memorial United Methodist Church annex. The forum was organized by the Coalition for the Poor in conjunction with numerous community organizations.

Following a presentation of a PBS documentary, participants examined separate case studies of low-wage earners struggling to make ends meet: a security guard, a single mother and full-time college student, and a nursing assistant. In small group discussions, forum participants explored individual and systemic responsibilities, challenges and possible solutions to improve conditions and prospects for these struggling individuals and families.

Most of the forum participants concluded…

  • that our community has many people whose situations mirror the case studies featured in the documentary.
  • that we do not have a comprehensive strategic plan to help working low and moderate income families deal with the challenges facing them.
  • that despite the fact that state and federal governments devote significant funds to meet these needs, local agencies do not have the resources they need.
  • that our economy, even though growing at a 3.5 to 4.0 percent rate, has not improved the standard of living for many citizens. Many people feel they are falling farther behind and are one health crisis away from bankruptcy.

More than two dozen strategies were suggested or supported. Forty-five participants expressed an interest in working on federal or state policy or local initiatives.

Even though there is not an agreement on how to achieve goals, acknowledgement of the problem by elected officials, community leaders and the public represents important progress.

Forum results were sent to forum participants, elected officials, social and health care agency officials, community leaders and the media.

Forum on Coal-Burning Power Plants

Results of the questionnaire completed by participants at the August 22 forum on coal-fired power plants (summarized in our September edition) were sent to officials with state regulatory agencies, elected officials, utility executives, business and economic development specialists, union leaders, environmental science researchers, media and others.

As of this printing, there have been no responses.

Immigration Forum: Participants favor holding off on reform until legislative flaws can be corrected

Approximately 40 people attended the Unity Coalition’s September 21 forum on proposed immigration reform legislation. The forum featured a debate between Todd Inman (representing the U.S. House of Representatives proposal) and Hervey Howell (representing the Senate version). Following the debate, forum participants engaged in small group discussions and were asked to reach a compromise as if they were members of a joint House-Senate Conference Committee.

Discussions at five tables resulted in the following:

  • Sixty percent said that this country’s immigration problem is extremely serious.
  • Sixty percent said that it is somewhat serious for Congress to solve the problem of illegal immigration this year.
  • Eighty percent favor legislation that would:
    • provide resources to greatly increase border security
    • impose much tougher penalties on employers who hire illegal workers
    • allow additional foreign workers to come to the U.S. for a temporary period
    • provide temporary workers with a multi-year path to earned citizenship
  • Sixty percent were unsure if they would be more or less likely to vote for a candidate who supports this legislation
  • Fifty percent were unsure if they would support or oppose legislation to:
    • tighten the border
    • put tougher penalties on employers and workers who violate immigration laws
    • create or expand guest worker programs
  • All said that it is a good idea not to pass immigration reform this year because the major proposals have too many flaws and Congress needs more time to get it right.

Youth share ideas at riverfront forum

Eleven local youth participated in a forum on the downtown riverfront on July 20 at the Public Life Foundation. Following a review of the proposed Riverfront Master Plan, participants shared impressions about the private sector additions that would effectively complement the public sector investments included in the master plan.

Recommendations included quality restaurants with river views, specialty retail shops (bakeries, coffee shops, candy stores, ice cream parlors, flower shops, and clothing stores) and an entertainment complex (bowling alley, movie theater, nightclubs, indoor go-kart track, and laser tag).

The youth expressed concern over the appearance of downtown. They support architectural standards and new buildings to be consistent with historic buildings. They want downtown Owensboro to be unique, with features such as cobblestone streets and period light fixtures. And they encourage plans to provide for year round attractions.

A summary of the forum was sent to local elected officials, riverfront planners and designers. As a result, Owensboro City Manager Bob Whitmer invited Sarah Wood, forum moderator, to serve on the citizen advisory committee for the riverfront.


Copyright ©2005 Public Life Foundation of Owensboro
Site Development by Red Pixel Studios