Once again Kentucky made national headlines - this time for the hundreds of pardons issued by outgoing Governor, Matt Bevin, in his final days of office.
The convicted murderers and offenders involved in violent crimes who received a free ticket to a new life simply mystified me, along with the thousands of other people who have been adversely affected by those actions. I am supportive of those whose felony convictions for non-violent crimes - who have served their jail time and probation time without further incidents. They have paid the piper, so to speak, and deserve a chance to function productively in society. But I simply am appalled by the number of violent offenders who have a chance at a 'new life' through their pardons.
Analyzing the situation makes me inclined to believe that many of those pardons were done from a standpoint of vengeance - a vindictive act to "pay back" the voters who sent Bevin packing from the Governor's mansion following the November election. Bevin's administration was riddled with controversy, with his good intentions being blocked by now-Governor Andy Beshear in his role as Attorney General. But Bevin's greatest mistake was his constant insults against the state's teachers and their reactions to his attempts to remedy the teacher pension fund. While I admire his efforts to address the issue - something that previous legislators and governors have failed to do - his comments definitely put the nails in his coffin for a re-election bid.
All the campaign promises made by Beshear in support of public education, however, cause some concern on whether those words will truly have any impact on the situation. Pardon me, but I agree with Bevin that elected officials should not qualify for retirement - that they are paid well to do their jobs in Frankfort. I also support term limits that would eliminate such procedures from ever affecting the hard-working people of this state who are now paying for the mistakes of our past leaders through increased taxes on various commodities. One of my suggestions to Bevin's staff was to cut the pension of elected officials and return it to the people who should be funded through those funds. Or to have new teachers pay into Social Security so they will at least have some type of income to fall back on once they reach their designated retirement age - and inevitably relieving the budgeting strains on what pension funding is still intact.
The promise of a teacher pension fund was made by the elected officials who did not do their jobs to ensure that the money promised had indeed been set aside. But you can bet your bottom dollar that many of those same people are drawing their full retirement and that Beshear is certainly not going to cut his own father's financial status by cutting the retirement of those responsible for this travesty. While I understand the discontent of teachers regarding their financial future and Bevin's degrading comments, he must be given credit for attempting to make some resolution toward resolving the crisis. He's the first to address the situation at all, but his constant criticism of teachers and their attitudes inevitably cost him his job. And, again, pardon me, but I am in full agreement that those teachers who used a 'sick day' to go protest in Frankfort should indeed be cut a day's pay. Sick time is designated for a specific purpose - being sick or going to a doctor appointment or assisting an ill family member. Sick time does not - and should never - be used for protests. Personal time or vacation time would be the only justification for missing work for a protest. I will stand firm with Bevin on that point, although his comments about children being hungry or abused on those days when school was dismissed at several districts due to teacher call ins was a bit harsh and exaggerated.
The pardons of violent offenders who had been convicted through the state's judicial system was indeed as much a slap in the face to the residents of Kentucky, especially the victims of these crimes and their families who are left to deal with the aftermath. While a stoic believer in second chances, there are some situations in which I must stand for "do the crime, do the time." Bevin desecrated that when he pardoned convicted murderers to have a 'second chance.' Their victims lying in the cemeteries across the state do not have that opportunity. Cold blooded, well planned acts of violence should never be pardoned.
In this season of Christmas, now just one week away, we should all bear in mind that the only true pardon we have is the one made by the birth and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. He paid the pardon for each of us and it is our choice whether to accept that or not. That is the ultimate pardon for all of our personal wrong doings and should be the one we truly focus on - every day of the year.