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Issue Briefs & Dialogue Guides

The Challenged American Family

What Should We Do? A Community Dialogue

The purpose of this forum is to examine the changing dynamics of modern American families. Marriage patterns are changing. Families are increasingly redefined, creating pressures on children, policymakers and communities.

The War on Poverty

50 years of social action: Was it worth the cost?

The War on Poverty was the unofficial name of legislation brought forth during President Lyndon Johnson’s State of the Union address on January 8, 1964. The national poverty rate was close to 20 percent at that time, 30 percent for seniors. This was the impetus of the Office of Economic Opportunity Act which authorized the use of federal funds aimed at ending poverty.

High quality early childhood education:

Do we value it enough to fund it?

As pressures build at every level of government to cut costs and gain efficiencies, the debate continues over the value, cost-effectiveness and appropriate role of early childhood education programs. High quality early childhood education is cited by some as our most promising strategy to strengthen our educational competitiveness, prepare employable workers and reverse generational poverty. Others challenge such a notion, preferring to declare that early childhood programs are ineffective and an inappropriate provider of services traditionally considered a parental responsibility.

Prenatal Care for the Poor

Is our community positioned to meet the need?

Ninety percent of pregnant women in Owensboro-Daviess County receive prenatal care in the first trimester, which is six percent more than the national average. With the recent reduction in prenatal services at the health department, should we be concerned about our capacity to sustain this vital service?

Should OMHS build a new hospital?

In an Aug. 16 presentation to the Owensboro Rotary Club, Jeff Barber, president and chief executive officer of Owensboro Medical Health System (OMHS), acknowledged that the hospital faces a critical strategic decision: Do we build a new facility or expand and renovate the existing one?

Coal-fired Power Plants

An economic opportunity or a threat to the health and livability of our region?

Through the years, abundant coal reserves and good river access resulted in a concentration of coal-fired power plants being constructed in this region. Concerns over U.S. dependence on foreign oil and rising gasoline prices have led to proposals to expand coal production and build more power plants. Taking these steps could improve our economic position and create jobs but threaten environmental quality.

Dental care for disadvantaged youth

Local options for expanded services

As dental care and dental insurance costs rise, employers and individual policy owners cancel policies, take their chances, and more low-income people postpone treatment until conditions are serious. Children are particularly vulnerable. How should a compassionate community respond?

What about fairness?

Local tax structure has many inequities

There are differences in government services from one area to another, but most people do not notice the difference. Is such a disparity justified? Is this right? Is this fair?

The State Budget

The state legislature has convened, and once again the battle lines are drawn between those who have pledged not to raise taxes and who want to shrink government, and those who claim that we are under-funded and unprepared to meet increasing needs in education, health care and other vital services.

How should we pay for the hurricanes?

After the Gulf Coast received direct hits from three major hurricanes within two months, the government was hit with the daunting task of rebuilding cities and restoring livelihoods. But where does the money come from?

What will work along the riverfront?

As alluring as a $40 million gift for our riverfront may be, if a substantial amount of private sector investment does not occur as a complement to the ambitious Riverfront Master Plan, or if incompatible private investments occur that impede the ability to appropriately develop the riverfront, the project will fall tragically short of its potential. What kind of private investment will best complement this astonishing public (taxpayer) investment? What has the best chance of success? What vision and strategy should our community embrace? We examine several options.

Care for the Uninsured:

Examining local options to meet the growing need

While public officials, insurance and drug companies, doctors and hospitals wrestle with state and national strategies to provide health care for the growing number of uninsured Americans, we examine steps that can be taken at the local level to get more people the care they need.

Big Dreams, Big Decisions

A citizen guide to prioritizing proposed community projects

The look and feel of Owensboro and Daviess County could well be enriched in the years ahead. Public officials, community leaders, financial experts, organizational boards, a variety of committees, and private fundraisers all are wrestling with ways to build ambitious community projects now under consideration. The Public Life Advocate offers a guide to help citizens assess, prioritize, and have an informed voice in decisions concerning the largest of these substantial public investments.

Strengthening Social Security

Ideology or Economics? Modest Adjustments or Massive Overhaul? Will the debate dwell on higher returns and private control of retirement funds or effective and fiscally responsible steps to balance the books?

Better Access to Quality Care:

A Citizens Participation Handbook

The People’s Health Project is a program of the Public Life Foundation of Owensboro aimed at demonstrating that citizens can influence the direction of health and health care in our community, particularly citizens whose voices often are not heard.

401 Frederica Street, B-203
Owensboro, Kentucky 42301
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