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Veterans On the March - Memorial Day Actions in DC

The Free Press WV

The United States is the most militarized and jingoistic nation on earth. Its foreign policy is guided by imperialist militarism, neoliberal capitalism and racial xenophobia. For more than sixteen years now, three presidential administrations have carried out a so-called “War on Terror” (GWOT), a perpetual state of war that is waged globally, under the depraved reasoning that “the world is a battlefield,” to quote investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill. As demonstrated by the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the GWOT is conducted through conventional warfare. More often, however, it is executed through covert or “dirty” wars, against groups and individuals in many other nations.

The U.S. has the financial and logistical capacity to wage these illegal wars. Its bloated military budget is larger than the next seven countries combined. It is by far the largest operator of military installations abroad, maintaining nearly 800 bases in around 70 countries. The ever-growing military-industrial complex, which President Eisenhower warned about in his farewell address, permeates every facet of our society – from an economy largely dependent on the war industry, to military recruiting in our public schools, to police militarization. This toxic culture of war is underscored on different national holidays, particularly Memorial Day.

Memorial Day – a day originating in 1868 (Decoration Day), on which the gravesites of the Civil War dead were decorated with flowers – has morphed into a day that conflates the memorialization of killed soldiers with the glorification of war. The perennial flag-waving, ultra-nationalist speeches, garish street parades and hyper-consumerism of Memorial Day do not honor these soldiers. What might, however, is working to prevent future war and nurture peace – honoring their memory by not sending more men and women into harm’s way and to kill and maim in wars based on lies. To have any chance at being effective, however, this work must include efforts aimed at increasing public awareness about the many causes and costs of war.

Long-time consumer advocate, lawyer, and author Ralph Nader affirms in the essay, “Strengthening Memorial Day,” honoring our war casualties should be about more than their loss. According to Nader, “waging strong peace initiatives is also a way to remember those human beings, soldiers and civilians, who never returned to their homes. “Never again” should be our tribute and promise to them.”

Referring to the post-9/11 invasions, in “Remember This on Memorial Day: They Didn’t Fall, They Were Pushed,” Ray McGovern, former Army officer and senior CIA analyst, tenders a hypophoric question: what constitutes a show of respect for the U.S. troops killed in these wars and for the family members on Memorial Day? To which McGovern responds, “Simple: Avoid euphemisms like “the fallen” and expose the lies about what a great idea it was to start those wars and then to “surge” tens of thousands of more troops into those fools’ errands.”

Bill Quigley, law professor at Loyola University New Orleans, writes in “Memorial Day: Praying for Peace While Waging Permanent War?” that “Memorial Day is, by federal law, a day of prayer for permanent peace.” This is a contradiction, though—based on the conduct of our government. Quigley asks: “is it possible to honestly pray for peace while our country is far and away number one in the world in waging war, military presence, military spending and the sale of weapons around the world?” He offers five suggestions for how we might alter this reality, the first two being, “learn the facts and face the truth that the US is the biggest war maker in the world” and “commit ourselves and organize others to a true revolution of values and confront the corporations and politicians who continue to push our nation into war and inflate the military budget with the hot air of permanent fear mongering.” Quigley emphasizes that, “Only when we work for the day when the US is no longer the world leader in war will we have the right to pray for peace on Memorial Day.”

In an article published in The Boston Globe (1976), the people’s historian Howard Zinn urged readers to rethink Memorial Day, who we honor that day, and our national priorities. Dr. Zinn wrote: “Memorial Day will be celebrated … by the usual betrayal of the dead, by the hypocritical patriotism of the politicians and contractors preparing for more wars, more graves to receive more flowers on future Memorial Days. The memory of the dead deserves a different dedication. To peace, to defiance of governments.”... “Memorial Day should be a day for putting flowers on graves and planting trees. Also, for destroying the weapons of death that endanger us more than they protect us, that waste our resources and threaten our children and grandchildren.”

Each Memorial Day, members of Veterans For Peace (VFP), an international nonprofit that works to abolish war and promote peace, participates in a wide range of nonviolent protest actions in cities and towns nationwide. This year is no different. A major VFP action will be held in Washington, DC, through a series of events termed “Veterans On the March! Stop Endless War, Build for Peace,” May 29 and 30, 2017. VFP’s military veterans, military family members and allies will converge in DC in solidarity to end war as instrument of national policy; build a culture of peace; expose the true costs of war; and, heal the wounds of war.

On Memorial Day, VFP and its friends will gather on this solemn and respectful occasion to deliver letters at the Vietnam Memorial Wall, intended as a commemoration of all combatants and civilians who died in Vietnam and all wars. VFP will mourn the tragic and preventable loss of life, and call for people to strive to abolish war, in the name of those who have died and for the sake of all those who live today. The “Letters at the Wall” remembrance is an activity of the Vietnam Full Disclosure Campaign, a national project of VFP. In her essay, “Preparing for the Next Memorial Day,” CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin shares the story of one of the veterans who partakes in the Project: “As Vietnam vet Dan Shea said when he reflected on the names etched and not etched on the Vietnam Memorial, including the missing names of the Vietnamese and all the victims of Agent Orange, including his own son: “Why Vietnam? Why Afghanistan? Why Iraq? Why any war? .…May the mighty roar of the victims of this violence silence the drums that beat for war.”

On Tuesday, May 30, VFP will host a mass rally at the Lincoln Memorial, where speakers will boldly and loudly call for an end to war, to the assault on our planet, and to the abuse and oppression of all people. Calls will also be made for people to stand for peace and justice, at home and abroad. Following the rally, participants will march to the White House to present a list of demands to the President stipulating that the systemic state violence which is preventing a just, peaceful and sustainable way of life for current and future generations must stop immediately. Planning for this rally/march started in response to VFP’s galvanizing statement about Trump’s Military Budget and the desire and responsibility of veterans, citizens and human beings to express strong resistance to Trump’s racist and antagonistic policies and commit to find a better way to peace.

In addition to these actions, VFP will once again fill a void in the National Memorial space by offering people an opportunity to bear witness on a touring memorial to all the costs of war on all sides. Not only do we lack a memorial to the American combat dead in Iraq and Afghanistan and other post-Vietnam wars, but we lack a monument to the many suicide deaths and families torn by the traumas of exposure to war. The Swords to Plowshares Memorial Belltower, a 24-foot tall tower covered with silver wind-blown ‘bricks’ made from recycled cans, provides an opportunity for tribute to these war victims. Initiated by VFP’s Eisenhower Chapter, the Belltower is dedicated to stopping the cycle of war and violence, healing the wounds of war that is caused on both sides of conflict, and providing a forum for all victims to start the healing process caused by wars.

Join VFP in Washington, DC on May 29 and 30 to stop hegemonic thinking, dismantle the military-industrial complex, and demand a transformation of national priorities from death and destruction to social uplift and peace. These shared goals can be achieved if enough people come together and engage in nonviolent social change for a better tomorrow.

Brian Trautman is a U.S. Army veteran, a national board member of Veterans For Peace, and a peace educator/activist.

Governor Will Hold Mediation Session To Solve Budget Differences

As mediator-in-chief, Governor hopes to iron out concerns

Justice will meet separately with all sides to finalize deal

The Free Press WV

Today, Governor Justice will meet with the Senate President, the Senate Minority Leader, the Speaker of the House, and the House Minority Leader in four separate rooms and travel from room to room as the mediator-in-chief. Justice wants to better understand the positions of each side.

Governor Justice welcomes and appreciates that all of the parties are willing to participate in the mediation to get to a hopeful resolution for the betterment of the people of West Virginia.

The Governor recognizes that everyone needs to get on the same page, including income tax reform, roads, veterans, the sales tax, etc. The mediation meetings will take place tomorrow at the state Capitol.

“I want to get this budget deal done, and a mediation session will hopefully help us get there,” said Governor Justice. “We are all West Virginians and we all want a path forward that will help our people. Rarely has West Virginia had this opportunity in the midst of a terrible crisis; we don’t want to lose this moment.”

WV Lawmakers Make Progress on Needed Revenue

The Free Press WV

The West Virginia Legislature is getting closer to securing the revenue the state needs. But Ted Boettner, executive director with the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, says lawmakers aren’t there yet.

Bills have passed in the House and Senate that would increase state revenue by as much as $150 million, mostly through raising and expanding the sales tax. But Boettner said they’re still $100 million short for this fiscal year - and even more for next year.

“There is a tremendous amount of unfinished business. If they don’t address it this year, it’s highly unlikely they will next year during an election year,” Boettner said. “And at that point you’re going to talk about major cuts to Medicaid, closing down several universities.“

Boettner said next year’s shortfall could be $140 million, depending on new revenue forecasts due this week. Some lawmakers have called for many more cuts to balance the budget. But Boettner noted that after years of budget tightening, even the Legislature has been unable to come up with enough politically viable cuts to close the gap.

Lawmakers are due back in Charleston on Tuesday.

With the revenue bills that look likely to pass, the state’s budget crisis seems to be approaching a more manageable level. And Boettner said he’s pleased the House is firmly opposed to what he called the “foolish plan” to phase out the state income tax when the state is running in the red.

Senate leaders had argued that enough revenue would come from additional growth sparked by the tax cuts to make up for the losses. But Boettner said House leaders recognized that as a false hope.

“Fortunately, the House rejected the Senate’s offer to cut the income tax by 20 percent and repeal it. The House would like to instead focus on the sales tax,” he said.

The West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy has long argued that the state should raise the taxes on tobacco and sugary drinks. But Boettner said that doesn’t seem likely now.

“But when it comes to soda and cigarettes, unfortunately they haven’t looked upon those again to raise,” he said. “But that would be a step in the right direction that would not only bring in revenue, but also improve our state’s health.“

The governor has yet to add the budget to the list of items that can be discussed during the current special session. Right now, discussions are limited to the revenue side.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

Huge Cuts to Food Stamps Part of Trump’s Budget Proposal

The Free Press WV

Donald Trump’s budget would drive millions of people off of food stamps, part of a new wave of spending cut proposals that already are getting panned by lawmakers in both parties on Capitol Hill.

Trump’s blueprint for the 2018 budget year comes out Tuesday. It includes a wave of cuts to benefit programs such as Medicaid, federal employee pensions, welfare benefits and farm subsidies.

All told, according to people familiar with the plan, Trump’s budget includes $1.7 trillion over 10 years in cuts from such so-called mandatory programs. That includes cuts to pensions for federal workers and higher contributions toward those pension benefits, as well as cuts to refundable tax credits paid to the working poor. People familiar with the plan were not authorized to discuss it by name and requested anonymity.

Cuts include a whopping $193 billion from food stamps over the coming decade — a cut of more than 25 percent — implemented by cutting back eligibility and imposing additional work requirements, according to talking points circulated by the White House. The program presently serves about 42 million people.

The food stamp cuts are several times larger than those attempted by House Republicans a few years back and comprise the bulk of a 10-year, $274 billion proposal that’s labeled as welfare reform.

The fleshed-out proposal follows up on an unpopular partial release in March that targeted the budgets of domestic agencies and foreign aid for cuts averaging 10 percent — and made lawmakers in both parties recoil.

The new cuts are unpopular as well.

“We think it’s wrongheaded,“ said Representaive Mike Conaway, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, when asked about looming cuts to farm programs. “Production agriculture is in the worst slump since the depression — 50 percent drop in the net income for producers. They need this safety net,“ said Conaway, R-Texas.

Trump’s budget plan promises to balance the federal ledger by the end of a 10-year window, even while exempting Social Security and Medicare retirement benefits from cuts. To achieve balance, the plan by White House budget director Mick Mulvaney relies on optimistic estimates of economic growth, and the surge in revenues that would result, while abandoning Trump’s promise of a “massive tax cut.“

Instead, the Trump tax plan promises an overhaul that would cut tax rates but rely on erasing tax breaks and economic growth to end up as “revenue neutral.“ It would create three tax brackets — 10 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent — instead of the current seven.

Trump is also targeting the Medicaid health program that provides care to the poor and disabled, and nursing home care to millions of older people who could not otherwise afford it.

The House had a bitter debate on health care before a razor-thin 217-213 passage in early May of a GOP health bill that included more than $800 billion in Medicaid cuts over the coming decade. Key Republicans are not interested in another round of cuts to the program.

“I would think that the health care bill is our best policy statement on Medicaid going forward,“ said Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over the program.

Details on Trump’s budget will not be publicly released until Tuesday, but Mulvaney has briefed Republicans about what’s coming and his staff has provided targeted leaks to the media.

A full budget submission by the administration to Congress is months overdue and follows the release two months ago of an outline for the discretionary portion of the budget, covering defense, education, foreign aid, housing and environmental programs, among others. Their budgets pass each year through annual appropriations bills.

An earlier blueprint from Trump proposed a $54 billion, 10 percent increase for the military above an existing cap on Pentagon spending, financed by an equal cut to nondefense programs. Those cuts rang alarm bells for many Republicans, who were particularly upset about proposals to eliminate community development block grants, slash medical research and eviscerate foreign aid.

Trump’s GOP allies rejected such cuts when wrapping up long-overdue legislation for the current budget year, which ends Sept. 30. There’s little sign they will have a change of heart now, especially with Trump’s administration in turmoil and his poll ratings at historic lows.

“The budget’s a starting point. We’ll go to work from there,“ said Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Republicans controlling Congress have delayed action on their companion budget measure, waiting for Trump to go first. This year’s budget debate, Republicans hope, would grease the way for a major overhaul of the loophole-cluttered tax system. But House conservatives also want to embark on a round of cuts to benefit programs and are open to Trump’s suggestions for cuts to mandatory programs such as federal employee pensions.

Presidential budgets are mere suggestions, and the White House has discretion to assume higher economic growth rates of up to 3 percent or so under Trump’s agenda of tax changes, loosened regulations and infrastructure spending.

Tuesday’s budget will also include proposals such as paid leave for parents after the birth or adoption of a child, a $200 billion infrastructure plan that Trump officials claim could leverage, along with private investment, up to $1 trillion in construction projects, and funding for Trump’s oft-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The budget contains $1.6 billion for wall construction, along with $300 million for additional border patrol and immigration agents as part of a $2.6 billion hike for border security programs.

Governor Justice and the Crocodile Comments

The Free Press WV

In short order, Governor Jim Justice has become known for extended metaphors he uses when he speaks.

Dogs enter almost every conversation. He’s talked about rattleshakes. He’s described a student walking around with a raccoon. He’s talked about mayonnaise sandwiches and nothingburgers.

On Wednesday, as the governor spoke to the House of Delegates, the imagery was a crocodile.

Justice used the metaphor to describe the difficult situation the state finds itself in. Somehow, popular chain restaurants also became part of the discussion, apparently as a way to encourage lawmakers to worry about the trouble at hand.

“You’ve got your leg jammed down a crocodile’s mouth, and absolutely you’re trying to figure out whether you’re going to Wendy’s or Applebee’s tonight,” Justice said.

“You best better worry about the crocodile that’s about to inhale you. Because that’s what you’ve got.”

A few minutes later, the governor re-upped on the crocodile metaphor, saying the state needs to make bold moves if it hopes to change its perilous financial situation. He was trying to put lawmakers at ease about any fiscal uncertainty his approach could create in future years.

The governor also mixed in a quick reference to a male appendage.

“We’ve got our leg in a crocodile’s mouth,” Justice said. “Maybe it works, and if it works we go straight to the roof. We do wonderful. If it doesn’t work and we’ve got our foot in the crocodile’s mouth in 2021 or 2022.

“But right now we’ve got our whole leg in the crocodile’s mouth. And if you’re men and he gets ready to bite, it’s going to hurt more than your leg. If you hear what I said.”

~~  Brad McElhinny ~~

Former Oil Industry Exec Weighs In on Methane-Waste Rule

Just hours are left for the U.S. Senate to invoke the Congressional Review Act and overturn a Bureau of Land Management rule preventing oil and gas developers on public land from venting and flaring methane gas into the atmosphere.

The Congressional Review Act gives lawmakers 60 days to overturn newly adopted agency rules, and for the BLM methane-waste rules, that deadline is Thursday. The Senate vote could come as early as today.

Wayne Warmack, a former director at ConocoPhillips, worked in the oil and gas industry for nearly three decades and contended that the rule will ensure a cleaner environment and bring in money for local communities.

The Free Press WV
The Bureau of Land Management estimates that energy companies wasted enough natural gas to power more than 5 million homes between 2009 and 2014.


The result, he said, could be “millions and millions of dollars every year that would come in the form of taxes and royalties to the states and federal government, and the public. There are job benefits, in the fact that there will be more jobs created to help capture this methane.“

The BLM has estimated that companies wasted enough gas to power more than 5 million homes between 2009 and 2014. Supporters have said royalty dollars could go to support public schools or updated infrastructure. Those who are opposed have said capturing the gas is too costly for energy companies and impractical for older well sites.

Warmack said regulations must move forward in line with the public’s continually rising expectations. However, he noted, industry always rises to the challenge. One example, he said, was the mandate that vapor-control systems be installed at gas pumps.

“There was a huge cry about how much it was going to increase the price of gas and how it would put gas stations out of business and cost a lot of jobs,“ he said, “but the truth is that industry responds to those challenges by finding better technology and better ways to accomplish those tasks.“

A poll conducted earlier this year found an overwhelming majority of voters on both sides of the political aisle support keeping the BLM methane rule in place, and 60 percent said they oppose eliminating federal requirements on energy companies.

A fact sheet on the BLM methane-waste rule is online at doi.gov.

JUSTICE: Remember Who Brung You To This Terrible Dance

A column by Governor Justice

The Free Press WV

The special session will resume on Monday, May 15. The goal remains the same: pass a budget that will put West Virginia on a pathway to prosperity.

But what we have to understand is there is something that is being terribly forgotten here. The political class is missing the point. I don’t want West Virginians missing the point. We need to quit being so preoccupied with a proposal and first remember how disastrous today’s condition is in our state. We must remember that we’re 50th in way too many areas. We need to remember how bad things truly are.

The budget that was sent to me last month that was passed by the House and the Senate did these things:

  • Eliminated a 2% pay raise for teachers
  • Cut the budgets for our State Police and Corrections
  • Denied a tax break for our veterans
  • Hampered our institutions of higher learning—forcing them into a position to make hurtful cuts and dramatically increase tuition
  • Cut our K-12 public schools
  • Reduced funding for the sick and disabled
  • Provided no real funding to address the drug epidemic
  • Walked away from our unions and building trades and 48,000 immediate, new jobs
  • Didn’t help coal by tiering the severance tax that boosts the industry when times are bad but greatly would help the state when times are good
  • Provided no funds for tourism and marketing our state
  • Blocked an opportunity to have our income tax lowered
  • Stopped West Virginians from driving on our toll roads for free

A budget was passed that was horrible beyond belief.

When I took office in January, I inherited a $500 million dollar budget deficit. That was the result of the same old political gimmicks that just kick the can so politicians won’t have to make a tough decision— or any decision at all. It’s the same playbook that’s left us 50th in everything. What the Legislature’s been doing for years and years just hasn’t worked— just look around.

So sure, we can debate the proposal that the Senate and I completely endorse, but it is totally unfair to forget the magnitude of the hole and how bleak it really is.

We are in a heck of a mess and a catastrophe for West Virginia is about to happen. I’m trying to stop it.

I’ve worked with both sides to put forward a plan that will create 48,000 jobs, reform the state tax code, protect our schools and most vulnerable citizens from devastating cuts, give our veterans a tax cut, fix all of our potholes, and give our teachers a pay raise. It will not require ONE penny from the Rainy Day fund.

We need jobs, yet I read in the newspaper where one journalist says that there will be so many jobs created through our plan that West Virginians won’t be able to fill them all and workers from out of state will have to be brought in.

Really? Too many jobs versus no jobs? Bad roads versus good roads? Do we want the jobs and the opportunity to employ people or do we want to just keep watching West Virginians move away from our state to find jobs elsewhere? That’s crazy thinking!

The plan I’ve put forward has been fine-tuned by working with both sides of the aisle. It’s not a Democratic plan or a Republican plan; it’s a West Virginia plan. It will save our state, cut taxes, control spending, balance the budget, and put our people to work. I’ve spoken privately with many Republicans in the House and Senate and I’m confident these people want to do the right thing. The Democrats have courageously and overwhelming supported our plan to bring opportunity and prosperity.

However, just last week I found myself totally baffled by what took place when the Legislature was in session. On one end of the hall, 100 percent of the Republicans in the Senate were in support of our plan and voted that way. When the legislation went to the other end of the hall, without even reading it, all but two of the House Republicans said no.

History is being made by the Legislature and it’s not something I think they want West Virginians to remember them for—again, crazy.

The choice before the Legislature in the special session is either recovery or death for our state. There was a good bipartisan plan on the table, and it’s past time for us all to work together for the good of all West Virginians to deliver a great budget, an opportunity for all.

The special session costs taxpayers $35,000 per day. I sent up legislation that provided no pay if we went beyond five days in a special session. It never got out of committee.
It’s now up to the House and Senate to move quickly. The longer they wait, the longer it will take to bring new jobs here.

West Virginians are hurting and can’t afford to wait. We need a responsible budget passed ASAP so our people can go to work.

Never forget who BRUNG YOU TO THIS TERRIBLE DANCE. It wasn’t Governor Jim Justice. In fact he just got here, and in fact he’s trying with everything in him to fix it.

If this fails, our state is doomed.


Jim Justice
The 36th Governor of West Virginia

G-OpEd™: Painkiller Alternatives May Reduce Risk of Prescription Opioid Abuse

The Free Press WV

Opioid abuse is devastating our state, and too often it starts with something as seemingly harmless as the prescription of an opioid-based pain medication.

Powerful painkillers, such as oxycodone or hydrocodone, are prescribed to provide temporary relief, but do nothing to address the source of pain.

Long-term prescription opioid use creates a tremendous problem where patients develop a tolerance and dependence for pills that share characteristics similar to heroin. This ultimately turns one’s search for temporary relief into addiction, accidental overdose, coma and death.

West Virginia tops the list for overdose deaths in the nation, and this cycle must change. The answer lies with patients and prescribers choosing safer, non-narcotic alternatives.

That’s why my office created the first substance abuse fighting unit by an Attorney General in West Virginia. It promotes a focused effort on enforcement, prevention through education and the pursuit of alternative treatments for injury or pain.

The process must begin with a thorough physical examination and the prescriber considering every available alternative to opioid medication. The price of anything less is potential addiction, overdose and death.

Patients must feel empowered to ask for non-opioid based medication and treatment.  These options include physical and occupational therapy, chiropractic medicine, massage therapy, acupuncture and over-the-counter medication.

Such a strategy follows our office’s best practices for prescribing and dispensing opioid drugs. This initiative garnered support from more than 25 national and state stakeholders. It also laid the foundation to cut prescription opioid use by more than 25 percent.

But the key to achieving that goal is use of non-opioid alternatives. Highly addictive pills can no longer be the first choice in treating aches and pain.

Physical and occupational therapy, non-medication approaches to physical rehabilitation and improving functionality, offers an interdisciplinary approach to pain management that focuses on physical, social and emotional health. In some cases, the technique has been shown to improve a patient’s overall health by assessing performance issues in everyday living.

Chiropractic care and doctor-initiated osteopathic manipulation therapy have been shown to be as effective as exercise therapy or standard medical care for pain, particularly for lower back pain. This type of treatment also improves functionality in the case of injury.

Massage therapy has proven effective in the short-term management of pain, particularly pain isolated to one area of the body such as the lower back or neck. One clinical study found few adverse effects resulting from massage as a pain management technique.

Acupuncture offers short-term comfort as well as increased functionality of the injured body part, according to some studies. One study found patients undergoing total joint replacements reported feeling a 45 percent reduction in pain after receiving acupuncture treatments.

Over-the-counter pain medications are shown often to be more effective in treating pain than medications that can lead to addiction or death. Acetaminophen, ibuprofen or a combination of the two readily-available pain relievers can reduce pain without the risk of addiction and can be prescribed in larger doses as needed.

These non-opioid alternatives provide West Virginians a much safer option. They also cut down on the selling or sharing of pills, and prevent medications from accidentally falling into the wrong hands – such as those of a child.

Our goal is to reduce misuse of prescription medication while preserving legitimate patient access to necessary treatment, such as active cancer treatments or palliative and end-of-life care.

My office will not relent in working toward a healthier, drug-free West Virginia.

Our state has a great deal of potential, but drugs decimate our workforce, shatter ambitions born in adolescence, rip families apart and leave too many to mourn the passing of those who overdosed one too many times.

With caution, education – and a sensible approach to pain management – I have faith that West Virginia can curb its opioid epidemic and we can build a safer, brighter future for our state.

Patrick Morrisey is the Attorney General of West Virginia.

What’s At Stake When We Talk About Healthcare

All across the country, citizens at town hall meetings are asking hard questions to the 217 Republicans like New York’s John Faso and Elise Stefanik who voted in Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act and cut Medicaid.

On May 04, Congress passed a health care repeal that will push 24 million people off health care and make health care more expensive for many millions more. The Senate will soon start writing its own legislation to take our health care away.

We’ve beat this repeal back before. Let’s do it again. Help keep our firestorm going by talking with family, friends, and neighbors about how health care repeal will hurt us and our hometowns.


Talk About Our Values

Most of us believe the only decent thing is for everyone to get the health care they need. We believe our government should make sure we all can get health care – not take health care away. We don’t think people should die or suffer because they don’t have a lot of money.

But members of Congress who voted for this health repeal don’t share these values. If they’re like Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, they think we’re to blame for our illnesses. Some, like Rep. Raul Labrador, refuse to understand that, yes, people do die if they can’t afford health care. They really don’t think our government should protect and promote access to health care. We do.


Stick to the Real Fundamentals of What the Health Repeal Does

Some members of Congress are plain lying about what their health care repeal bill does. So, let’s make sure people in our hometowns know the fundamentals:


Talk About How Health Repeal Hurts Everyone

No matter where we live, people will be kicked off coverage – here are estimates by congressional district. Some people may see premiums go up because of health conditions: here are estimates of pre-existing condition surcharges and the number of people affected, also by congressional district.

This means more people cutting treatment short or not getting it at all, skipping medications, going without exams that catch cancer early, or being sent to collections. It means families having to take care of aging relatives instead of getting professional care (most people receiving long-term care are covered by Medicaid). It means stress and worry.

And lots of people will die.

Some people – mainly those who are younger and have higher incomes – may get more money for premiums. But their deductibles will spike, going up by about $1,550. And we all may be hit with those dollar caps on care – including people with employer plans.

But the bigger point is this: you just can’t take health care away from this many people without dire consequences for entire communities. Hospitals and clinics may shutter, especially in rural areas. People will lose jobs in health care and related industries.

And small businesses – part of the fabric of our communities – will be hit by a double-whammy: no coverage for their employees (or themselves), and a customer base that’s struggling under the weight of higher health care prices.


Say What You’ll Do to Protect Healthcare in Your Hometown, and Invite People to Help!

Tell friends and family you’re not going to let your member of Congress of the hook for their disastrous, reprehensible vote. You’re going to call and let that congressperson know how outraged you are and your plans for holding them responsible. They should do the same.

Invite people to events in your hometown – rallies, town hall meetings, and other events where people are gathering to call for health care for everyone.

Now more than ever, we need to take democracy into our own hands. That means spreading the word and letting politicians know we’re organized and committed – and we’re not going away!

~~  Julie Chinitz ~~


05.12.2017
NewsUnited StatesOpinions | Commentary | G-LtE™ | G-Comm™ | G-OpEd™Politics | Government | ElectionUSA(2) Comments

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~~~ Readers' Comments ~~~

Obamacare is failing.  It is going to crash and burn whether or not it is repealed & replaced. 

Liberal/progressive leftists can get on board with conservatives and help find health care policy that works, or they can obstruct progress, but nothing they can do will save Obamacare.

Sincerely

Pat McGroyne

By Pat McGroyne  on  05.12.2017

Enough talk about hypotheticals and blame game of previous administrations. If it were bad, is it fixed yet? You guys need to talk about what you got to deliver and the joke and chaos our country has been put in. Are you proud of it? Or are you trying to change the subject?

By I am ashamed  on  05.12.2017

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Obamacare Repeal No Panacea for Republicans

The Free Press WV

The four Republicans in West Virginia’s Congressional delegation (Senator Shelley Moore Capito and Congressmen David McKinley, Alex Mooney and Evan Jenkins) have all pushed for repealing Obamacare.

House Republicans fulfilled that campaign promise last week by narrowly passing (217-213) The American Health Care Act. However, for some Republicans, the action feels like the barking dog has finally caught the car it was chasing.

For example, 3rd District Representative Jenkins clearly has reservations.  “This was a tough call,” he told me on Talkline last week.  “Is it a perfect solution? No,” he said.  “It goes to the Senate. Work will continue.  Doing nothing wasn’t an option.”

It sounds like Jenkins and a number of his fellow Republicans can scratch “Repeal Obamacare” off their To Do lists, but they are also hoping the Senate will save them from themselves. The issues are particularly sensitive in West Virginia, where the population is older, sicker and poorer.

The Medicaid Expansion program has over 170,000 West Virginians enrolled, with the federal government picking up a larger share of the cost than the typical reimbursement. However, under the Republican plan the federal government will reduce funding for expanded coverage after 2019, leading to an expected decline in coverage.

When supporters of the replacement say no one on Medicaid will lose their coverage they are technically correct.  However, the system has a certain amount of churn, so as the Washington Post Fact Checker reported, “If they try to get back into the system, however, the planned reductions in funding may mean they no longer find themselves eligible for the program, or that their benefits have been scaled back.”

Also, the Kaiser Family Foundation says the AHCA allows for higher out-of-pocket costs for older people. “Generally, people who are older, lower-income, or live in high-premium areas (like Alaska and Arizona) receive less financial assistance under the AHCA,” Kaiser reports.  “Additionally, older people would have higher starting premiums.”

Congressman Jenkins is correct that doing nothing was not an option because the exchanges are flawed. There simply are not enough young healthy people willing to pay skyrocketing premiums and out-of-pocket expenses to subsidize the sickest people or those with pre-existing conditions.

The alternative high-risk pool makes sense, as long as it’s fully funded.  As columnist Holman Jenkins wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “By giving new options to the states, the House bill would make subsidizing pre-existing conditions a general obligation of the taxpayer as it always should have been.”

Republicans banked for years on “Repeal and replace Obamacare” as an instant applause line, but West Virginia has quickly become dependent on Obamacare to provide coverage for a large chunk of the population, and many providers prefer the known of existing law to the unknown of the legislative process.

Controlling Medicaid costs and making premiums more actuarially sound make fiscal sense, but they are going to be a hard sell in West Virginia and elsewhere.  Government benefits build constituencies and expand government power. Those trends are not easily reversed.

~~  Hoppy Kercheval ~~

City of Glenville Police Report

The Gilmer Free Press
City of Glenville, WV Police Report
Crime/Ordinance Violation
Officer
Disposition
Location
Overdose Garrett Subject transported to hospital Conrad Motel
Speeding Garrett Warning W. Main Street
Defective Equipment Garrett Warning S. Lewis Street
Speeding Garrett Warning W. Main Street
Speeding Garrett Warning W. Main Street
Speeding Garrett Warning W. Main Street
Speeding Garrett Warning W. Main Street
Speeding Garrett Warning W. Main Street
Defective Equipment Garrett Warning Issued for Defective Equipment and Cited for Expired Operators W. Main Street
Illegal Use of Horn Garrett Warnings Issued for Illegal use of horn and failure to change address W. Main Street
Speeding Garrett Warning W. Main Street
Speeding Garrett Warning W. Main Street
Speeding Garrett Cited W. Main Street
Child Restraint Garrett Cited W. Main Street
Robbery Garrett Criminal Investigation Started W. Main Street
Cellphone Garrett Cited W. Main Street
Speeding Garrett Warnings Issued for Speeding and Unsigned Registration W. Main Street
Speeding Huffman Warnings Issued for Speeding, No Proof of Registration, and no Proof of Insurance N. Lewis Street
No Plates Huffman No Proof of registration and No Plates on vehicle (driver stated plates had been stolen) N. Lewis Street
No Seatbelt Huffman Cited for No Seatbelt and Cell phone while driving N. Lewis Street
Trespassing Huffman Children removed from the property and informed if they returned they would be charged for trespassing Brooklyn
Speeding Garrett Cited W. Main Street
Speeding Garrett Cited W. Main Street
Speeding Garrett Cited W. Main Street
Defective Equipment Garrett Cited Powell Street
Speeding Huffman Cited N. Lewis Street
Speeding Huffman Cited N. Lewis Street
Assist another agency Huffman Assisted Sheriff Department with a missing persons Lick Run
Vehicle Unlock Huffman Vehicle unlocked Glenville Gardens
Speeding Huffman Warning W. Main Street
Speeding Huffman Warning N. Lewis Street
Speeding Huffman Cited for Speeding and warning Issued for No Proof of Registration N. Lewis Street
Serve Capias Huffman/Garrett One Subject arrested and transported to Central Regional Jail Magistrate Court
Speeding Huffman 2 vehicles stopped for speeding 1st vehicle cited for speeding and no proof of insurance 2nd vehicle cited for speeding and driving on suspended 1st offense W. Main Street
Speeding Huffman Cited W. Main Street
Speeding Huffman Cited W. Main Street
Speeding Huffman Cited W. Main Street
Improper Registration Garrett Warning E. Main Street
Speeding Garrett Warning W. Main Street
Passing in no passing zone Garrett Warning W. Main Street
Speeding Garrett Cited W. Main Street
Speeding Garrett Cited W. Main Street
Defective Equipment Garrett Cited W. Main Street
Speeding Garrett Cited W. Main Street
Suspicious Person Huffman Located subject approximately an hour after initial call everything was ok I sent the individual back to his motel room and advised him that if I had anymore calls about him  I would take him to Central Regional Jail College Street

Glenville City Council Meeting Report

The Free Press WV
GLENVILLE CITY COUNCIL MINUTES
April 03, 2017
7:00 PM

The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. by Mayor Dennis Fitzpatrick with Council members Fisher, Wiant, and Walters present. 

Councilmembers Taylor and Huffman were absent.


Pledge of Allegiance


I. Call to Order


Public Comments

Jessica Greenlief came before council with proclamations for Alcohol Awareness and Child Abuse Prevention. 

She noted the blue pinwheels is the national symbol for child abuse prevention and April is designated as Child Abuse Prevention month. 

Her daughter, Aurora Williams, gave each council member a blue pinwheel lapel pin representing Child Abuse Prevention. 

Many blue pinwheels have been placed around the city and they will have a brunch to honor grandparents for caring for many of the children in addition to many other activities. 

This is also Alcohol Awareness month. 

The proclamations for Child Abuse Prevention and Alcohol Awareness and were read and signed by Mayor Fitzpatrick. 


A. Approval of Minutes – January 04, 2016

The minutes from the March 06, 2017 meeting were reviewed. 

No corrections were noted and minutes were placed on file for audit.
 

II. Reports

Financial

We are currently at 75.61% if fiscal year budget with 86.39% revenue and 67.59% expenses. 

The new budget request was submitted to the state auditor’s office with confirmation of receipt. 

The payment for Gilmer Management will move to the Treasurer’s Office line item. 

Councilman Walters made a motion to approve the financial report as presented.  Councilman Fisher seconded the motion.  Motion passed.

Councilman Walters made a motion to approve a pay raise for the office assistant, Mindi Fitzpatrick, beginning July 01, 2017. 

Councilman Fisher seconded the motion.  Motion passed.


Street Report

Mayor Fitzpatrick provided the street report. 

The workers are very busy daily.


Police Report

Chief Huffman provided the police report to council. 

The new city officer will begin work on May 16 with his application to the Academy due by April 28 and will attend the academy on June 12.


Glenville Utility

Mayor attended the utility meeting on March 28. 

No leaks to report.

The Lift station pump installation is complete. 

Western Auto slip has been corrected.


Recorder

Nothing to report


Mayor Comments

- Enforce penalty phase in existing Municipal Fee Ordinance

Penalty phase still in progress

- Citywide clean up – April 08.

GSC football team will volunteer for this yearly activity.

- Lay the Levy – April 18th

Council meeting is scheduled for April 18, at 6:00 p.m. to Lay the Levy.

- 5:30 Paint the Town Blue (honoring our police officers) the 27th

A public event to honor our police officers is scheduled for April 27th at 5:30 p.m. at the City Park.

5K Run/Walk – April 07, 2017

Glenville State College student organization Pioneers for a Cause is planning the annual Relay for Life walk on April 07 from 6:00 p.m. to 1200 midnight and the annual Color the World without Autism 5K run/walk on April 11 beginning at 5:30 p.m. 


III. Unfinished Business

None


IV. New Business

Chief Huffman mentioned that the Gilmer County Pony League is planning 5K run/walk and he is working to set up route. 

They will request council approval in May.


V. Other Business to come before Council

Councilman Walters asked about paving the remaining streets this year. 

Councilman Fisher made a motion to approve Mayor Fitzpatrick secure estimates to pave the remaining streets in the city for 2017. 

Councilman Walters seconded the motion.  Motion passed.

*Chief Huffman asked about the schedule for the roundabout. 

Mayor Fitzpatrick noted that he had a letter from the state that they would be seeing some activity at the end of 2016 and hope to start actual work on roundabout end of 2017 or beginning of 2018.

Mayor Fitzpatrick has talked with McKenzie Murphy regarding the bridge repair on Sycamore.

They have corrected the engineering issues and are waiting on supplies to begin the bridge repair.


Next City Council Meeting

The next council meeting will be May 01, 2017, at 7:00 p.m.


VI. Adjourn

Meeting adjourned at 7:20 p.m.

State Budget Impasse. Now What?

The Free Press WV

The special session of the West Virginia Legislature has recessed until May 15. Lawmakers met for two days to consider the latest budget-related proposals, but could not reach a consensus.

The revenue measure agreed to by the Senate and the Governor lowered income tax rates, but raised the consumer sales tax, corporate income tax and added a wealth tax. Separate, but related, is a plan to increase gasoline taxes and DMV fees to fund road repairs and construction.

The House quickly voted down the revenue package along party lines. The Senate took up the bill anyway and passed it 32-1, causing the House to take a second vote where the bill again failed.

Following those votes, the Legislature left town with plans to return in ten days.

It would be overly simplistic to dismiss the two-day special session as a waste. As previously pointed out here, it was important for the lawmakers to get votes on the record. We know for certain now the proposal pushed by Governor Justice and the Senate is not acceptable to a united Republican majority in the House.

I’ll come down on the side of optimism and say that’s progress… sort of. Now it is necessary for the negotiators to seriously contemplate what they are willing to change in their positions. George Bernard Shaw said, “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

Of course, change is not easy, especially if one’s position is based on a deeply held principle, and we have those among the legislators and the Governor.

Justice is convinced state government cannot make deeper cuts into services and that additional revenue, including a taxpayer-financed road plan, is essential to the state’s recovery. Senate Republicans will abide by higher consumption and business taxes if income taxes are lowered to stimulate growth. House Republicans say they have a responsibility to their constituents to hold the line on spending and higher taxes.

The two day session and the votes have firmly established those positions, so today it is difficult to imagine where change can come from, but change they must. The only alternative is a government shutdown on July 1 which would be a disaster.

Given what has happened so far, it’s time to move away from an approach where an agreement can be reached where all sides are pleased. It does not appear that common ground exists. The fallback position is a budget where none of the principles are satisfied.

Then we will know that they have truly reached a compromise.

What You Need to Know About School Vouchers

Have school vouchers been shown to have a positive impact on student success?

The Free Press WV

Donald Trump has proposed cutting after-school programs for young children, as well as grants and federal work-study programs for college students. But his most significant attack on public education may be his pledge to spend $20 billion on market-based school choice, including charter schools and vouchers.

Conventional voucher policies now exist in 16 states. Taxpayers in those states help pay private-school tuition for about 175,000 students each year. Education savings accounts that let states circumnavigate constitutional language against public funding for private and religious organizations are used in 17 states and generate another 250,000 vouchers annually.

Before the public embraces Trump’s plans to create even more vouchers, there are important things it should know about the voucher concept’s origination.

Milton Friedman, a University of Chicago economist and apostle of free-market fundamentalism, believed corporations should be able to profit from education. In 1997, he wrote an article arguing that vouchers were “a means to make a transition from a government to a market system,” to enable “a private, for-profit industry to develop” and ultimately abolish public schools.

In 1955, Friedman also wrote that he didn’t believe in government-sponsored integration of schools. Southern politicians agreed and used vouchers to create what were called “segregation academies” for whites only.

Proponents of school vouchers overlook this history and frame vouchers as a “limited” approach meant to help poor children in cities–even claiming they are a civil right.

The political argument that market-based school choice is the answer for longstanding inequalities in the American education system is at odds with the positions of most national civil rights organizations. The NAACP and Urban League agree that vouchers, in the words of a civil rights leadership conference report, “siphon away all-too-limited public education funds and fail to provide protection from discrimination and segregation.”

In fact, there is little evidence that vouchers have a positive effect on student performance. Martin Carnoy, a Stanford University professor of economics and education, concluded in a recent Economic Policy Institute report that the predominance of peer-reviewed research over 25 years shows vouchers don’t improve student success.

Yet vouchers are supported by well-heeled conservative philanthropists and conservatives including the Koch brothers, American Legislative Executive Council, Walton Foundation, and Heritage Foundation. That’s because vouchers purposefully transfer the responsibility for educating students, and the funding that comes with it, away from the traditional democratically controlled public school system.

And vouchers give private schools greater control over the student population through such practices as “creaming” and “cropping.” Creaming occurs when private schools choose to enroll only the best and least costly students. Cropping is when they deny more costly students who are disabled, poor or language learners. Private “choice schools” can legally prevent them from enrolling.

Donald Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos remain committed to privately managed school choice funded by public tax dollars, despite a sordid racial history, opposition from the civil rights community, state constitutional problems, and the proven failure of the approach to help students.

Julian Vasquez Heilig is a professor at California State University Sacramento.

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