Category: Changing the Political Will

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