Category: Changing the Political Will

02/14/2020: Showing the World that Americans Care

by Bill Budd,

Published in the Kitsap Sun September 12, 2019 and in KUUF’s Candle newsletter February 14, 2020. Bill is a longtime KUUF member

When I read the story about the Kitsap volunteers heading to the Bahamas to help with the recovery from Hurricane Dorian (Kitsap Sun, Sept. 4, 2019), I felt proud of our community and country. Volunteer efforts throughout the world show that we care.

The U.S. administration should not be impounding funds for foreign aid that has been appropriated by congress and we should definitely be part of the world’s climate change goals to mitigate global warming. In one very specific way the U.S. can show that we care about the people in the rest of the world is to commit to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The Global Fund brings together many countries and non-profit groups such as the Gates Foundation to save the lives of about 5 million people per year.

I am hoping that the U.S. Congress can commit to cooperating with other nations in a positive way that shows we care about all people in the world and not just ourselves.

Kitsap Sun URL

05/10/2019: More Support for Alzheimer’s disease is needed

by Karen Scott

Published May 10, 2019 in the Kitsap Sun

There are more than 110,000 living with Alzheimer’s disease in our state and more than 348,000 family members and friends acting as unpaid caregivers.

Fellow Washingtonians who joined the more than 1,200 attendees at the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement Advocacy Forum in Washington, D.C., said Congress was listening to their explanation of the burden that places on our state and nation.

This advocacy is important to me. As someone who has had a family member with dementia and as support group facilitator of caregivers of those with dementia, I have seen the heavy burden that families carry.

Legislators were asked to increase funding for Alzheimer’s disease research at the National Institutes of Health, as well as fund implementation of the Building Our Largest Dementia (BOLD) Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act, which Congress passed into law last year.

Shockingly only 1 percent of Medicare beneficiaries with dementia have received a personal care plan available to them since 2017. Advocates asked members of Congress to co-sponsor the Improving HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act, legislation that will give doctors information about how to develop a plan for each of their patients. Planning is vital to helping patients, families and the community to move forward in the best way possible.

Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the country and ranks as America’s most expensive disease, which costs surpassing $290 billion in 2019. It is only through adequate funding and enacting reforms that we can meet the goal to prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s by 2025. 

Please join me in urging Rep. Derek Kilmer to continue to invest in policies that address this national public crisis.

05/02/2019: America needs help to afford housing

The United States has a shortage of seven million rental homes for extremely low-income renters that are both affordable and available.

Studies show that a worker earning the prevailing minimum wage cannot afford a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in America. Three out of every eligible low-income households don’t receive the Federal Housing Assistance they need. In other words, only one out of four low-income households that are eligible for housing assistance actually receive assistance. Of the people who do receive housing subsidies and assistance in the U.S., 2.9 million are lifted above the poverty line. 

An additional 340,000 families could receive housing assistance in the next two years with the recommended $5 billion funding increase presently proposed before Congress by RESULTS and other anti-poverty groups. Urge your members of Congress to increase funding for federal housing assistance.

Alan Newberg, Bremerton

12/29/2019: Help Congress Help Homeless With Renters Credits

The Olympian’s Christmas Eve edition asks “Is Congress doing enough to help homeless in Thurston County?” emphasizing struggles within the “unsheltered” population even with some community progress. While Thurston County is to be commended for its successes, the 31 percent rise of average rents in the last 10 years might be a huge thorn that needs clipping for those caught in the downside of our housing situation.

The Olympian speaks to providing political pressure at the federal level in response to what we see daily about our community. Let’s consider financial resources by addressing the increased rent burden and how to insulate the most vulnerable from evictions, one of the major paths into homelessness.

A renters’ tax credit could help address the affordable housing crisis by capping the out-of-pocket rent and utility expenses a low-income household would pay at around 30 percent of their income. The credit would cover any excess above that up to 100 percent of the community’s “Fair Market Rent.” Researchers at Columbia University estimate that a renters’ credit could lift over 9 million Americans above the poverty line. There have been bipartisan proposals to create a renters’ credit and to appropriately address the rights of landlords.

Adequate housing is as complicated as finding solutions. A renters’ tax credit can be part of the solutions. Political pressure comes from our using not only our vote, but expressing hopes and possibilities to our elected representatives. Let’s use our personal power during this dark time of the year.

Nancy Curtiss, Olympia

01/06/2020: Let’s not ignore the inconvenient issues

If history were only this day and the world were only my house, I think I would agree with Pete Brady (“Economic answers for Trump’s popularity,” letters, Dec.31) about the greatness of these times.  

Like him, many of us don’t like to think of increasing national debt and homelessness, dirty oceans and melting ice, bombs, food insecurity and locally undereducated children.

We want someone else to take care of those problems. Maybe my granddaughter. She’s three.

Jill Clarridge, Bremerton 

12/19/2020: Great news for working parents in 2020

Preparing for a newborn should be exciting. But for my family, that joy was tempered by stress and financial uncertainty, because I did not have adequate paid leave. My employer could only offer six weeks at about half my normal pay. As an early childhood professional, I knew the science about the importance of parents being there during a baby’s first months and wanted to bond with my daughter. My husband and I saved as much as possible so I could take 12 additional weeks unpaid.

Those weeks were incredibly difficult. We struggled to cover expenses – and emergencies were a nightmare. Our car broke down, leaving us dependent on family for transportation. My brother’s family lived with us. And when our dryer broke, none of us could afford to fix it.

No family should be pushed into a financial crisis because they need time to recover from birth and bond with a newborn. That’s why I’m so excited about Washington’s new paid leave program, which will help give families the security they deserve.

Starting Jan. 1, 2020, Washington workers who accrued 820 hours in the past year will qualify for up to 16 weeks of combined paid family and medical leave each year to bond with a new child or take care of themselves or a loved one with a serious illness. Payroll premiums for the program began last January, with the average working person contributing just $2 a week. Learn more about this new program!

Cristyn Kelly is a graduate student, a mom, and a member of MomsRising. She lives in Bremerton

12/15/2019: Climate isn’t just business as usual

COP 25, the United Nations climate conference, ended on Friday. How many people even know what COP stands for or what it is trying to do? Our climate is collapsing yet only a few people talk about it, or realize what a tragedy is happening.

Instead, business continues as usual. We approve natural gas projects like the liquid natural gas plant on the Tacoma tidelands. We continue to build natural gas lines to homes. And yes, we continue to buy gas-guzzling cars. There are good, affordable alternatives to fossil fuels. We must keep fossil fuels in the ground.

Think of all the jobs that we will need to transition to clean energy — jobs in wind, solar, microgrids, and electric rail. We can do this. We just have to start before all the tipping points take us into a future that is unrecognizable.

Marty Bishop, Port Orchard and member of 350 West Sound Climate Action

12/08/2019: Response wasn’t suitable as a counterpoint

In Brett Thovson’s response to Reverend Jessica Rockers (Letters, Nov. 19) I saw nothing more than fear-mongering and slander.

According to his letter, Rev. Rockers said: “she admits her view is based on the law enforcement ‘machine’ and not on the individual.” She was actually was speaking about the structures that were built on racist legislation long before slaves were free and the average person’s view of racial stereotypes. That is very clear to anybody with a reading level suited to an adult.

That said, is it really okay for The Sun to have published him comparing her to child abusers? Do they consider slander a true opinion or is it suddenly okay to print Ad hominem attacks against people? Not to mention the people who are trying to better the world by making us all think about the history of racism and how it affects decisions made by the police, judges, and jury to this very day?

I say the answer is no. It is not okay in the slightest and is dangerous to Rev. Rockers, her family, and the congregation that she preaches to. The Sun as a whole should be ashamed for printing that attack against Rev. Rockers.

Joey Witherspoon, Bremerton 

12/08/2019: Quit making cuts just to benefit the rich

Welfare for the very rich at the expense of struggling families must stop. (“Program for food stamps tighten” Dec. 5) About 3.1 million people would lose SNAP eligibility (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps).

The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture itself has admitted its reforms would cost almost half a million children their free school lunches since eligibility is often determined by a household receipt of food stamps.

Meanwhile, with the help of tax loopholes instigated by the rich and powerful, more than half of all U.S. income growth has gone to the top 1% since 1976.

And because of the 2017 tax law, the richest 1% of households (making $1.8 million per year) receive on average about $47,000 in annual tax cuts, while those with the lowest income (making $13,000 annually) receive on average $90. (taxallianceforeconomicmobility.org) This makes our growing wealth gap much worse.

Consider:

– The majority of the people who receive SNAP are children, the elderly or people who struggle with a disability. Government statistics show that the average monthly benefit per person is $135 a month.

– Economists at Moody’s Analytics estimate that every $1 in SNAP payments generates $1.70 in local and regional economic activity.

– Here in Kitsap County about 13.1% of our children are living below the poverty line. (data.census.gov) They deserve better.

We can tell Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, and U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer to reject these new changes. 

Donna Munro, Bremerton

11/17/2019: Let tragedy galvanize us against racism

The column published in September, “The Trouble with Tying All Police Shootings to Racism,” asks us to wait for the facts before we determine whether the shooting of Mr. Stonechild Chiefstick in Poulsbo on July 3 was racially motivated. I would argue that racial bias in our U.S. justice system is already a well-documented fact.

This article claims “white officers are not any more likely to fatally shoot” people of color than non-white officers. This shows a woeful misunderstanding of the reality of institutionalized racism and how it transcends the skin color of individual officers. Stonechild Chiefstick’s death is the result of a much deeper issue than the skin color of the officer who killed him. It is the result of a justice system that values white bodies over bodies of color.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King wrote, “Justice too long delayed is justice denied.” Mr. Chiefstick did not deserve to be killed. Our Suquamish community does not deserve our silence.

Rev. Jessica Star Rockers

11/14/2019: U.S. must honor its commitments to world health

I recently heard that hundreds of children in Pakistan contracted the AIDS virus. This is an especially sad story as we get near to Worlds AIDS Day on December 1. This disastrous event could have been prevented with enough funding to provide clean disposable needles. Even better would be if we eradicate this disease. The possibility of doing that is feasible.

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has been saving lives for years by providing treatment and vaccines. Recently the United States agreed to do their part in fully funding this program. With the state of our government funding as it is, there is fear that the promised funding will not be delivered. We need to watch and ensure that our government honors its commitment. In doing so it will also honor all those who we remember on World AIDS Day.

Martha Bishop, Port Orchard 

11/08/2019: Let’s work together to improve life for low-income mothers

I have seen the dedicated Catholic congregants praying outside Planned Parenthood, and I am writing because I believe we share a common goal. We want women to be safe and to find alternative options if they want them.

I believe that when you stand at an abortion clinic you are shaming women that have had to make a difficult choice. Ending abortion services will not end abortion, it will only make it dangerous (and life-threatening) for those in need. Closing Planned Parenthood clinics will also increase unwanted pregnancies by making it impossible for low-income women to get birth control.

In service to our mutual goals, I have made this offer to the Holy Trinity Parish Pastoral Coordinator: If a list of all the social services available in Kitsap County can be provided, I will make a brochure for placement inside Planned Parenthood, where those facing a difficult decision will be able to see the alternatives that you are praying they find.

Please, allow a merciful God to judge them, and use the gifts God has given you to serve these women in tangible ways. Use your time and energy gathering donations for new moms, scholarships for them to get an education, build houses for them to have a safe space. Use your tools to help them build their life with their baby. These are the efforts that will create real change for women in difficult situations, not judgement from the roadside. Please end your visible prayers outside the clinic and begin the work that will make abortion obsolete.

Ani Pendergast, Bremerton 

10/23/2019: Congress leads the world in saving lives

In these days of bitter partisanship dividing our nation, a recent development in global health gives me hope and gratitude to Congress and the American people. When many people thought it couldn’t happen, Congress came together, bridging across party lines, to continue the U.S. leadership in combating HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria worldwide. This important development has received scant attention from the press, but deserves to be known and understood by all Americans. 

In 2001, with the U.S. and the Gates Foundation in leadership, nations of the world came together to form the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. It was funded by many nations and foundations, but the U.S. committed then to provide 1/3rd of the needed funds. The U.S. commitment leveraged $2 for every $1 invested by our nation, which has continued to this day. Since its founding, the Global Fund has saved 32 million lives, including millions of children, who are particularly susceptible to the ravages of malaria. 

Every three years, the nations and NGOs who fund the Global Fund come together for a “Replenishment Conference” to pledge for their commitment for the next three years.  This has happened seven times since 2001 and occurred again on October 10. This year, France hosted the Replenishment Conference.

As part of “putting America first,” the current Administration attempted to reduce the U.S. commitment to a quarter of the funds needed and has three times proposed deep cuts to our national investment in foreign aid and global health, including the Global Fund.  Civil Society across the world was very concerned that the Global Fund pledge from the U.S. would fall off, and other nations would back off as well. These diseases have been cut in half since 2001, but this challenge could result in a rise of the rate of infection and death, worldwide. 

But Congress would have none of it.  Leaders on both sides of the aisle, in both the House and Senate, worked together to ensure that the funds needed to sustain and grow the Global Fund were included in the next year’s federal budget. The funds requested will save 16 million more lives in the next three years.  Further, Congress included in its budget a statement that two more years of funding would follow. And then Congress sent four Representatives, two Republicans and two Democrats, to the Replenishment Conference for the Global Fund to personally deliver that commitment to the world. 

With that commitment in mind, other nations and non-profits, including some recipient countries, stepped up and pledged their fair share during the meeting. Fourteen billion dollars were pledged in total, the largest global commitment ever made! Ever!  Congress led the world and as a result, 16 million people who would have been lost to disease, will be saved. 

None of this would have been possible without the excellent past work of the Global Fund to save lives, making it a highly credible organization; the political advocacy of many citizens and organizations and the deep commitment and common human caring our Senators and Representatives acted upon.

I am particularly proud and grateful that our Congressman, Rep. Derek Kilmer, has always strongly supported funding for the Global Fund and other global health initiatives. He knows his constituents are fully behind him on this humanitarian matter.

Here in Kitsap County, citizen advocates and supporters with RESULTS worked very hard to communicate the importance of the Global Fund to Rep. Kilmer and our two Senators, seeking their support. And support it they did!  If you want to participate in this important poverty reduction work going forward, please check out RESULTS and connect with the local group at www.results.org. 

This moment gives me great hope that our nation’s leaders are not so mired in divisive politics that they cannot do good in the world. Indeed, that’s why each of them sought election in the first place. It is important to remember that – our government does work, often, for the betterment of all. May we all be grateful for the collective impact that, together, we can have for a better world. 

Beth Wilson is the volunteer regional coordinator for the South Kitsap/Gig Harbor chapter of RESULTS, a nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to ending poverty. She lives in Olalla. 

Click here to view this on the Kitsap sun website

10/16/2019 Don’t lower cap for spending on public art

Kitsap Sun

Oct. 16, 2019

Don’t lower cap for spending on public art

As a member of the local community of artists, I was one of those lobbying the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners to institute the Percent for Art program in 2002. The recent Kitsap Sun story outlining the curtailing of this program by cutting it from 1% of qualifying Kitsap County capital projects to 1 ⁄ 2 of one percent was not good news to me.

But it also was not surprising.

There have long been cultural Luddites opposing programs that allocate a certain percentage for public art at the national, state and local levels, despite innumerable accounts and studies documenting the pivotal role these programs have played in boosting the economies in communities across the country. People are drawn to communities with vibrant cultural climates, both as places to live and work as well as places to visit and recreate.

Even more disturbing than the reduction to a half a percent is the capping of the allocation to $75,000 per project. This provision ensures that the biggest and most important projects will not be supported by artwork commensurate with the project’s importance. It is uncommon for capital projects in today’s economy not to exceed a couple of million dollars. Without the new caps, such a project would merit a $100,000 art budget. The missing $25,000 will lessen both the attractiveness of the project to top artists and the size or amount of art procured. It is the public that will suffer this diminution.

Alan Newberg is a founding member of Collective Visions Gallery in Bremerton.

09/17/2019: We can help more families find housing

In reply to the Kitsap Sun’s recent story, “Sky-rocketing rental prices show no sign of slowing“: 

America, including Kitsap County, has a housing crisis. Since 1960, renters’ median earnings have gone up 5 percent while rents have risen by 61 percent — and only 37 affordable and available rental homes exist for every 100 extremely low-income renter households. However, because of inadequate funding, only 1 in 4 eligible households can get rental housing assistance.

Stable housing makes our lives and our communities better. It improves job performance and helps our children stay happy, healthy, and safe. Kids do better in school when they have a reliable place to come home to.

Everyone deserves a home. I call on our senators and representatives in Washington to shift tax resources to support a “Renters Tax Credit” for low- and moderate-income families. We must address the affordable housing crisis and end poverty. It is in our power to end this crisis. Will you join in ending homelessness?

Judy Arbogast, Olalla

Link to Kitsap sun page here