Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Faith Forays Supplant Sitting Governor

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

A representative from the Fayette County Department of Public Health committed yesterday to all of a faith-based community group's recommendations to help uninsured, single adults in Lexington obtain health care. But when the group called on city officials to hear recommendations to clean up mobile home parks, no one was present. Leaders of BUILD, which includes more than 20 churches that work to solve community problems, told more than 800 people at Consolidated Baptist Church to call the mayor's office for an explanation.

On Friday, spokeswoman Susan Straub said no one from the city planned to attend the meeting. Mayor Jim Newberry issued a statement saying he is studying improvements at the code enforcement department. He said the city's customer call center, LexCall, will soon involve code enforcement and track complaints more effectively. The Rev. Richard Gaines of Consolidated Baptist Church said he spoke to Newberry Friday and was told the city would create a plan regarding trailer parks, possibly in the next few days. "We don't want to believe that the mayor does not care," Gaines said.

BUILD planned to ask a representative from the city to: Direct code enforcement to prepare a plan to review compliance with housing codes in Lexington trailer parks, beginning with Ingleside Mobile Home Park. Direct that the inspection phase begin within 60 days and be completed in 90 days. Bring structures into compliance with building codes by April 2008.

BUILD, whose name stands for Building a United Interfaith Lexington through Direct-Action, has cited trash, rodents, raw sewage and shabby trailers as problems in some of the city's trailer parks. "We try to keep it clean for our children," said Sarah Gordon, of Open Door Church, who has lived in Ingleside about five years and spoke in front of the crowd last night. Nora Putnam, of Trinity Baptist Church was disappointed, like many others, that city officials missed the meeting. "I'm just interested to see what his plan is," she said.

Reached last night, Straub said "this is a situation of great concern" to the mayor. She said she could not comment further. Melinda Rowe, commissioner of the Department of Public Health, agreed to: Determine the number of uninsured people in Fayette County by June 2007. Create a short-term plan to increase the number of patients the Health Department sees by September 2007. Create a long-term plan by 2015 to help those in need. Rowe also agreed to follow-up with BUILD and attend next year's assembly.

Why are Kentucky’s faith based groups burdened? Where is our Governor? Where are his initiatives? Where are his solutions?

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