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Social Justice Group to Congressman Rogers: “KY Deserves Better”

October 17, 2011

SOMERSET, Ky. - It wasn't as big or as loud as the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York, but an equally-determined group rallied on Friday at the Somerset office of U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers. Nearly 50 members of the grassroots social justice group Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KFTC) took to Rogers' eastern Kentucky headquarters with the theme "Kentucky Deserves Better."

Environmentalist and KFTC member Teri Blanton is disappointed with the 30-year congressman's voting record on poverty, education and environmental rules. She says Rogers should rethink his priorities, in a district that includes several of the poorest counties in the nation.

"Votes for jobs and for investments in our roads and bridges; for education and job training. Votes for safeguards for our air and our water that keep us healthy, and votes for letting the EPA do its job. "

Demonstrators left letters, books, photographs and even a bottle of a family's well water at Rogers' office. The congressman was in Washington at the time of the demonstration, but defended his record in a written statement, saying he is balancing environmental interests with job creation and low-cost energy resources in the form of coal. He also cites as accomplishments of his PRIDE program improving water quality, removing so-called "straight pipes" for illicit sewage disposal, and cleaning up illegal dumps.

Blanton and others at the rally point out that Rogers, as chair of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, has earned the media moniker of "the Prince of Pork." But she adds they believe his district has reaped few benefits.

"You know, it just seems like his congressional district gets crumbs while his pet projects get millions of dollars around the world."

Protestors blasted Rogers for supporting budget plans that eliminate federal job-training programs and make cuts to low-income heating assistance and Pell grants, while protecting tax breaks for the wealthy. Rogers, a Republican, is serving his 16th term in Congress, representing Kentucky's 5th District.

Renee Shaw, Public News Service - KY