MT. AUBURN PRESBYTERIAN: Long known as one of the most progressive and inclusive churches in the Tristate, Mount Auburn Presbyterian Church recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of its “Policy on the Inclusion of Gays and Lesbians.” The policy states, “We affirm that gays and lesbians are part of God's good creation and that they, no less than heterosexuals, are meant to enjoy God's gifts of love, joy, and intimacy. All who seek and receive God's love are welcomed as full participants in the life and worship of Christ's church without having to deny or hide their sexual orientation.” When it was approved in late 1991, the policy was a risky stance and it established the church as a national leader in the fight for equal rights for the LGBT community. The church's pastor, the Rev. Susan Quinn Bryan, says the church practices “radical hospitality,” and has a policy of open communion.
WILLIAMSTOWN: Officials in this small city near Lexington, Ky., apparently aren't familiar with the concept that governments and public money shouldn't be used to promote any religion. Williamstown City Council approved a property tax discount of 75 percent over the next 30 years for a biblically themed amusement park. As reported by The Herald-Leader, the discount was given to Answers in Genesis, which wants to build a park based on the story of Noah's Ark.
The same firm also operates the Creation Museum in Northern Kentucky. It alleges the new project will create 900 full- and part-time jobs, although that seems as unlikely to us as fitting examples of every animal species on Earth into a single ship. The park also has been promised $40 million in sales tax rebates and a likely $11 million in highway improvements near the site. Instead of seeking government assistance, developers of this piece of kitsch should pray for money from private sources.
MARIAH REYNOLDS: The 12-year-old Reynolds, who is a drama and vocal major at the School for Creative and Performing Arts in Over-the-Rhine, recently received a major award for her volunteerism. She was one of four children nationwide selected as winners in the “Kids Who Give” contest, sponsored by Farm Rich, the Georgia-based producer of frozen foods. Mariah was honored for helping create three nonprofit groups: Just One Heart, which sends Valentine’s Day cards to military veterans and active-duty service personnel; gLove One Another, which collects hats, scarves and gloves for shelters, churches and schools; and Heal the Soul, which gives mp3 players and iPods to sick children. Overall, she volunteers about 40 hours each month. Her recent efforts include donating 5,000 Valentine’s Day cards to soldiers and collecting 3,000 books for libraries and schools. Mariah is truly a role model for all of us.
DOUBLE DIPPERS: In the past two years, 21 Hamilton County employees have retired, cashed in on unused sick leave and vacation time, began collecting their pensions and then were rehired to the same position — sometimes at a reduced salary, sometimes not. This practice is known as “double-dipping” and although legal, it's forced the county to tap into its general fund to get all the cash needed for the payouts. According to an Enquirer analysis, those who are double-dipping include County Auditor Dusty Rhodes, Deputy Auditor Roger Silbersack, Chief Deputy Sheriff Sean Donovan and Judge Robert Ruehlman. Those who partake in the dubious practice say it's a way to retain experienced workers, but in fact it usually costs taxpayers more in the long run. Let these folks really leave their jobs for good, and hire new workers for less money. Particularly contemptible is Rhodes, who now defends double-dipping after getting years of media attention for criticizing the practice.