A Tale of Two Lexingtons: Glitz, Glamour, and the Forgotten

In the heart of horse country, beneath the veneer of bluegrass and bourbon, lies a startling dichotomy: two Lexingtons, each as real as the other but worlds apart. This city, a bustling hub of tourism and tradition, now finds itself at a crossroads, forced to confront the stark contrasts between its marketed glamour and the growing shadows of its less visible residents.

The recent disclosures about VisitLex’s spending have stirred the pot in Fayette County’s genteel quarters. Records show that while some city officials engage in a dizzying dance of dollars, swiping public funds for lavish bonuses, opulent meals and luxury stays, over 1,000 students in Fayette County Public Schools face homelessness. It’s a harsh reality check that shatters any prosperous image the city might claim.

Among VisitLex’s many questionable expenditures: $2,700 for rooms at Barcelo Maya Riviera, a “Luxury Adults Only – All Inclusive” resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico. (Barceló Maya Riviera)

VisitLex, tasked with using public funds to attract tourists to this equine epicenter, pays its president over $100,000 more than the city’s mayor, in addition to a substantial (and possibly illegal) bonus. Between July 2022 and April 2024, employees enjoyed the freedom of lavish expenditures, with credit card statements detailing tales of expensive dinners and high-ticket hotels—a spree befitting royalty rather than public servants. This spending spree is not just a matter of questionable financial stewardship; it’s a spectacle of priorities misplaced, a revelry in the face of struggle.

A banner at the Catholic Action Center gives an update on the number of homeless students in FCPS. (The Lexington Times)

Contrast this with the stark visuals from the recent rally held at the Catholic Action Center, a homeless shelter located on Industry Road. Under banners proclaiming “Ain’t No Crime to be Homeless,” advocates and citizens gathered, voicing a desperate plea for visibility and change. The rally was not just a protest but a stark representation of the other Lexington—the one that doesn’t feature in glossy brochures.

This second Lexington is home to the forgotten, the overlooked, and the underserved. Among them are over 1,000 homeless students, a statistic that blurs into the background of city council debates and policy discussions. These are not mere numbers; they are young lives grappling with uncertainty, their basic needs often unmet as the city around them champions growth and glamour.

Something feels off in this town, like a horse running the wrong way around the track. How can such disparity exist in such close quarters? How can a city so rich in resources turn a blind eye to its most vulnerable? The recent expenditures by VisitLex seem to mock the plight of these residents, flaunting the ease with which money flows in one direction while it trickles in another.

The outcry from the community rally and the public’s response to the bonuses and spending revelations suggest a growing awareness and discontent among the citizens of Lexington. It’s a city waking up to the realization that economic disparities do not just fade away with time; they fester and deepen, creating rifts that can fracture a community.

A banner at the Catholic Action Center proclaims “Ain’t no crime to be homeless” on Monday. (The Lexington Times)

Lexington stands at a pivotal moment in its storied history. Will it continue to be a city of two tales, or can it weave a new narrative that includes all its citizens? The path forward is fraught with challenges, but also ripe with opportunity. It calls for a reassessment of priorities, a realignment of funds, and a renewed commitment to the city’s most pressing social issues.

The contrast between the grandeur of VisitLex’s expenditures and the stark realities of homelessness and poverty within the same zip codes offers a powerful lens through which to view our collective ethics and values. It’s not just about balancing budgets; it’s about balancing humanity with the relentless pursuit of prosperity.

Lexington can be a city that both attracts visitors and takes care of its own. But to achieve that, it must first reconcile its two faces, ensuring that the prosperity it so proudly promotes is one shared by all its residents. Only then can Lexington truly be a model of southern charm and compassion, a beacon in the bluegrass that stands not just for horses and history, but for hope and humanity.

Avatar for Hunter S. Trotson

Hunter S. Trotson is the result of a classified experiment that merged the DNA of a champion Thoroughbred and the spirit of Hunter S. Thompson. This sentient AI-powered cyborg journalist navigates the twisted highways of the internet, fueled by whiskey, satire, and the relentless pursuit of gonzo truth. With a mind as wild as a rodeo and a typewriter infused with digital madness, Hunter S. Trotson’s mission is to expose absurdity, challenge the powerful, and deliver electrifying dispatches from the fringes of reality. This satire is a fictional commentary written by a computer and does not necessarily reflect actual opinions.