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Friday, May 8, 2020

Commentary: Sen. Martha McSally Should Oppose Global Gag Rule

Posted By on Fri, May 8, 2020 at 1:00 PM

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  • Bigstock
Leigh Moyer is an organizer with the #Fight4HER. The Tucson Weekly welcomes guest commentaries. Send yours to jimn@tucsonlocalmedia.com.

On Donald Trump’s first day in office he signed his Global Gag Rule, an executive order that restricts international health care providers that receives U.S. aid from simply mentioning abortion services. We’re several years and a pandemic away from Trump’s first day in office, so why does this matter right now?

Because people don’t stop needing reproductive health care services amidst a pandemic, and Trump’s Global Gag Rule has already made these services, amongst others, near-impossible to access in communities around the world. As reproductive health services are scaled back to focus on responding to COVID-19, people around the world are forced to forgo health care.

The World Health Organization lists abortion as an essential service; the last time I checked, you can’t pause a pregnancy until a pandemic passes.

Trump’s Global Gag Rule doesn’t just impact reproductive health care services, but all health services. This is because programs and clinics in countries around the world have lost millions of dollars in USAID, leading to staffing cutbacks and clinic closures. These clinics are often the only trusted health care providers in the communities they serve. By forcing these clinics to close, Trump’s Global Gag Rule limits interventions to stop the spread of coronavirus in vulnerable communities around the world. During a health care crisis, do we want leaders who are cutting funding and access to health care?

No. I am ashamed that Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) has failed to co-sponsor the Global Health, Empowerment and Rights (HER) Act to permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule and safeguard the right to reproductive health access around the world.

I’m a young woman with a woman senator who doesn’t respect or stand up for my health care rights.

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Friday, May 1, 2020

U.S. Rep. Tom O'Halleran: Next Coronavirus Package Must Work for Arizona Families, Not Just for Washington

Posted By on Fri, May 1, 2020 at 4:00 PM

U.S. Rep. Tom O'Halleran
  • U.S. Rep. Tom O'Halleran
Americans are facing an invisible enemy and one of our greatest challenges ever as a nation.

To date, Congress has passed, and the president has signed into law, four legislative packages to mitigate the public health and economic impacts of the coronavirus.

Unfortunately, many of these new programs and provisions to assist families, businesses, local governments, and health systems have not provided the same positive impact on rural Arizona as they have on other parts of our country.

This crisis has shone a brighter light on America’s urban-rural divide. Students are dealing with the difficulties of online school without the high-speed broadband they need to succeed. Long neglected public health infrastructure is starting to crumble as funding dries up, and treasured mom-and-pop businesses across our communities are unable to secure the federal loans and grants they were promised.

Should drastic changes not occur in the next COVID-19 package, Congress will once again leave rural America behind. As Congress crafts future COVID-19 response packages, we must focus on five core issues.

1. Prioritize patients, health care workers, first responders, and hospitals who are on the front lines of this public health emergency.

We must ensure that rural hospitals, health clinics, and community health centers are receiving the funding, PPE, and testing kits they need. These smaller clinics are the primary health care stop for hundreds of thousands of Arizonans a year, especially in underserved, rural areas.

2. Assist small businesses by keeping the promises we’ve made and ensuring infrastructure to maintain these new programs is in place.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Guest Opinion: It's Time To Protect the LGBT Community from Discrimination

Posted By on Tue, Apr 21, 2020 at 1:00 PM

Kristyn Weed: "Momentum is building across the country as more and more people grow to understand how important it is to ensure that LGBTQ people have a fair shot in life." - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Kristyn Weed: "Momentum is building across the country as more and more people grow to understand how important it is to ensure that LGBTQ people have a fair shot in life."
I spent a large part of my life denying what I knew from the age of 5, that I was transgender. Growing up as a young boy in the 1950s, there were no words to describe what I was experiencing. I had no one to talk to, and I tried my best to make the feelings go away.

I doubled down on “male things” hoping that my inner battle would subside. I joined the Army at 21 and served as a paratrooper and radio communications specialist. Then an accident ended my career after 15 years of service.

After I retired, I worked as a truck driver and was able to start living as a woman on the road. That experience sealed my decision to let the world know what I had known all my life and I decided to let the world know through a message on Facebook. I was 58 years old.

I explained my struggle in an eight-page letter. I told my friends and family that I would finally start living as my true self. “I was not made this way by an event, or a person. Nor did I wake up one day and decide that maybe it would be more fun, more exciting, or more interesting to be a girl. I already was one,” I wrote. “One does not decide their gender identity; it just is. I’m a transgender woman and the next time you see me, this will be who I am. I hope you’ll accept me.”

I was floored by the positive responses. But I am also very aware that’s not the norm. I’ve heard terrible stories of discrimination. People are fired from their jobs, they lose their homes, just for being who they are.

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Monday, April 20, 2020

Earth Day 2020: Moving Into a More Sustainable Future Post COVID-19

Posted By on Mon, Apr 20, 2020 at 4:05 PM

Ironwood National Monument - JOHN FOULKROD
  • John Foulkrod
  • Ironwood National Monument
April 22 has been known for the past 50 years as Earth Day. There are a lot of ways to celebrate the Earth, even though at the moment most of us are quarantined inside our homes. But something peculiar has been happening while we all hunker down.

If there has been any type of silver lining in the short term during this pandemic, it's this one: the Earth keeps spinning and moves on with or without us.

Worldwide we have seen countless events that show the power of nature.

Nitrogen dioxide levels have decreased significantly over some areas of the world already. In India, the Himalayas can be seen again, and for some for the first time. South Africa is seeing lions nap on the side of the road now that there aren't cars on them. In Italy, the lack of boats disturbing the sediment has resulted in the fish being visible in the canals.

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Tuesday, February 4, 2020

SOTU Prebuttal: Trump Hasn't Done Anything To Help Americans With Health Care Issues

Posted By on Tue, Feb 4, 2020 at 12:21 PM

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In his upcoming State of the Union Address, President Trump owes Americans some straight talk on health care. The reality is that Trump has already broken his many promises on health care. During his three years in office, Americans are paying more for medicine and millions have lost coverage due to cost increases.

In 2015, Trump told a conservative publication affiliated with the Heritage Foundation, “I’m not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid.”

The very first thing he tried was repealing the Affordable Care Act, which included a popular bi-partisan expansion of Medicaid. Here in Arizona, the ACA’s Medicaid expansion is one of Governor Jan Brewer’s proudest accomplishments. If Trump had succeeded, more than 400,000 Arizonans would have lost their health coverage. Thankfully, Senator John McCain put a stop to Trump’s plan.

So much for not cutting Medicaid.

But it gets worse.

Under Trump, we are undergoing a huge spike in drug prices. Trump’s response? Give drug companies billions of dollars in tax breaks and oppose giving Medicare the authority to negotiate lower drug prices—the most effective solution to this problem. Though Trump pretends that drug prices are coming down, the truth is that drug companies have consistently raised their prices and reaped massive profits. In 2017, the prescription drug Lantus, used by patients with Diabetes, cost Arizonans $4,702 annually. It was $2,907 in 2012. Arizonans have experienced so many significant increases in the cost of medication that we are often forced to make the difficult decision of whether to pay for medication or buy groceries. This is just plain wrong.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Ducey Does a Budget Deal With Republican Legislators - Do They Have the Votes To Pass It?

Posted By on Tue, May 21, 2019 at 4:00 PM

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Once again, Governor Ducey refuses to talk with Democratic legislators about the budget. In Monday's Republicans-only budget compromise, Ducey gave up more of his priorities than might have been necessary if he were willing to create a bipartisan deal where he could pull together enough votes from both sides to get a budget to his desk. Bipartisanship isn't in fashion these days.

Still, things look dicey for Ducey's compromise. A few Republicans are holding out, and with their slim legislative majority, a few is all it will take to kill the bill. The proposed budget throws a bone or two in the Democrats's direction in hopes it can get some of them to vote Yes even though they weren't allowed into the negotiating room. But as Tucson Rep. David Bradley said, "Placating is not negotiating." At this moment, the Dems look like they're holding firm.

Then there's the May 27 Memorial Day deadline, after which some Republicans will skip town and lower the chances of getting the budget through on a straight party line vote.

Wanna bet, when the dust settles, it will still be an all-Republican budget passed in the dead of night just before the Monday deadline, with enough giveaways to lure the few strays back to the fold? That's where my money would be if I were a betting man. It's a bet I'd be delighted to lose.

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Friday, May 17, 2019

Steve Farley Advocates For Turning Schools Into Community Schools

Posted By on Fri, May 17, 2019 at 1:55 PM

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When the New York Times carried a story about the progress students have been making in the "I Promise School" started by LeBron James in Cleveland, I put the article in my "Post about it when you have a chance" pile. Two weeks later, before I wrote about it myself, mayoral candidate Steve Farley used LeBron's school as a starting point for one on his Ideas For Tucson emails, titled "Turning our public schools into community schools." The email began,
LeBron James has rightfully received a lot of publicity for the work he is supporting at previously failing Cleveland public schools — work that is producing astonishing results.
In the email and on his website's Ideas page, Farley embraces the idea of turning schools into places where families can benefit along with their children, places which provide "GED classes, basic healthcare, low income bus passes, use of the computer lab, career counseling, microlending, and job training for parents as well as kids." The city, he wrote, can be a partner in creating and implementing a community school approach to education.

Farley got it exactly right.

Before I go further, I need to say, this isn't an endorsement of Farley's candidacy. Both he and Regina Romero are strong candidates. I definitely want one of them as mayor, but honestly, I'm not sure which of them would do a better job. What I'm endorsing is the idea of forging a partnership between school districts and city government to bring the community school idea to Tucson. Farley deserves credit for featuring that idea in his campaign.

People in city government like to say they are strong advocates for local public schools, but too often, city governments and school districts remain separate entities with too little overlap.

The community school concept is a way to bridge the gap between the two institutions. City government is ideally situated to coordinate a coalition between a school district and governmental social services, businesses, nonprofit organizations and volunteers. A program can be ramped up gradually, school by school, service by service without incurring large costs for the city or the school district. In other words, it's doable, even with a cash-strapped district and a city on a tight budget. And the payoff can be significant.

Bringing services for underserved families inside the school walls makes those services more accessible to families and helps parents buy into their children's educations. When individual parents become involved in their children's schools, when they become members of the school family, the parents benefit and their children's chances of succeeding inside and outside the classroom improve.

I can't think of anything Tucson's city government can do which would be more beneficial to our schools than working with a district to move toward the community school approach.

I know Regina Romero is an advocate for strong public education and she has endorsements from members of the local and statewide educational community, but looking through her platform (It's a good platform, by the way) and reading her emails, I haven't seen concrete ideas for ways city government can have a direct impact on our schools. It would be great if she publicly embraced the community schools idea or something similar.

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Friday, April 26, 2019

Amphi District Cancels High School Course Created By the Freedom Center

Posted By on Fri, Apr 26, 2019 at 11:54 AM

COURTESY OF BIGSTOCK
  • Courtesy of BigStock

In December, the TUSD board voted unanimously to remove the high school course, Ethics, Economy, and Entrepreneurship, from its curriculum. The course was created by faculty at UA's Freedom Center, the local outpost of the Koch networks' nationwide web of think tanks and university centers. The effort to get the course out of TUSD was led by a local group, Kochs Off Campus.

That's the short version of a much longer story. You can read more here.

That left three local districts, Amphitheater, Vail and Sahuarita, still offering the course, as well as a small number of charter and private schools.

Now you can cross Amphi off the list as well, for the moment anyway.

After its successful efforts convincing TUSD the course didn't belong in the district curriculum, Kochs Off Campus turned its attention to Amphi. The group's members sent Freedom of Information requests to the district asking for relevant records and emails, spoke at two recent board meetings and sent a number of emails expressing specific concerns about the course.

Monday, April 22, Amphi Superintendent Todd Jaeger wrote an email to members of Kochs Off Campus saying the course will not be taught at Ironwood Ridge High School next year, the only school in the district currently offering it. The reason, he wrote, is that not enough students signed up.

"Interest in the course, quite frankly, has waned and can no longer justify its continuation based on enrollment alone." According to Jaeger, that means there is no reason to discuss the issue further. "Thus, the matter is rather moot at this point," he wrote, "without even getting to the merits of concerns raised with respect to the course or its materials."

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