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Concerned about Rising Property Taxes? Support More State Aid for Schools PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Kathleen Vinehout, State Senator 31st District   
Tuesday, 02 August 2016 14:30

school-bus-kidsHistoric reductions in state aid to schools and Madison imposed revenue limits have left cash strapped local schools with no alternative but referenda to fund operations.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 August 2016 15:04
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Climate Change and Health PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Paul Linzmeyer   
Monday, 01 August 2016 14:17

hurricane-sandyHealthcare Must Lead On Climate Change


GREEN BAY - Sustainability and climate change discussion needs a different perspective—human health. Healthcare’s commitment to sustainability principles should not be focused on improving healthcare, but rather improving overall health.  Medical care impacts only about 10% of outcomes that make us healthy.  Life quality and expectancy improvements over the last several hundred years have been made in the basic fundamentals for health: clean air, clean water, enough nutritious food, safe shelter and community, regular physical activity, and stable civilization. Climate change threatens all of these fundamentals through increased air temperature, raised sea levels, and extreme weather, such as drought, flooding, and tropical storms.

Two areas to consider about climate change and health:

  1. Health impacts of climate change – The National Climate Assessment released in May 2014 confirms that changes in climate threaten US human health and well-being in many ways and climate change will amplify some of the existing health threats the nation now faces in the future.
  2. Health impacts of fossil fuel usage, independent of climate change: Fossil fuels contributes to four of the five leading causes of US deaths   including heart disease, cancer, stroke and lung diseases, while putting our children at risk of asthma and delayed mental development. Particulate pollution, primarily from the burning of fossil fuels and biomass, is responsible for over 60,000 US deaths annually.

Already, impoverished areas see worse asthma, lung, and heart diseases. A warmer world will have more hospitalizations and deaths from asthma, COPD, and heart disease. Warmer air with more CO2 creates a longer pollen season with higher pollen concentrations, worsening asthma and other allergic diseases.

Healthcare executives have not looked widely/deeply enough to see the billions of dollars of potential savings by implementing best practices for climate change.  One study projected a conservative estimate of $15 Billion in energy savings for US healthcare alone. According to the National Academy of Sciences, the use of fossil fuels causes $120B in health related damages/year.  Replacing coal alone with efficient/clean energy could save 10,000 lives and $60B annually.

In Wisconsin, the majority of agricultural land is dedicated to the dairy/meat industries, which negatively impact both our greenhouse gas emissions and watersheds. We import most of our fruit and vegetables which contributes needlessly to emissions. Healthcare and public/private educational institutions need to change how they purchase food and create a market for a vibrant year-round local food economy made up of urban and rural agriculture, delivered through an innovative food distribution system. Reducing our intake of meat—especially beef—will help people maintain a healthy weight, prevent heart disease and cancer, and is important in limiting climate change.

Improving the design of our cities/towns with pedestrians, bikes, and mass transit will reduce emissions and help people become more physically active, lose weight, and fight depression and obesity. Replacing short car trips in urban areas of the upper Midwest alone would save over 1200 lives and 8B/year from cleaner air and greater physical activity.

American healthcare organizations need to both support and encourage regional activism in sustainability and better health outcomes, but also climate change, energy alternatives, and healthy food. We can no longer do things the same way and expect different results. Healthcare can and needs to drive the change necessary to achieve sustainable healthy economic, environmental, and social outcomes.

In December, 2014, I joined a group of national healthcare leaders at the White House to announce our commitment to enhance the climate resilience of our facilities, operations, and communities we serve using the Administration’s Climate Action Plan as a foundation. The plan recognizes that even as we take aggressive action to curb the carbon pollution that is driving climate change, we must also prepare for the climate impacts we are already seeing across the country.  A Climate Change Resiliency Assessment is being tested at our facilities and will be rolled out soon for all to collaborate.

The healthcare organizations that met at the White House are prominent in strategizing and implementing climate change and alternative energy policies, but, healthcare as a sector is not unified in these activities. This lack of unity is harming the local, regional, and global communities they are meant to serve. The work of Climate Change Council is to drive all healthcare organizations to engage their communities in climate change action. Otherwise, inaction will prove to be counterproductive and costly to both their brand and bottom line. Healthcare must take a leadership role in driving for alternative energy and climate change strategies.

***

To learn more about the author, go to www.paullinzmeyer.com.

Last Updated on Monday, 01 August 2016 14:35
 
Blue Jean Nation "The deciding factor" PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Friday, 29 July 2016 10:50

populismMany mainstream Democrats can’t seem to fathom how people could possibly fall for a billionaire reality TV star. But many feel they’ve been left behind and the outcome of this fall’s election may hinge on who best understands and responds to the causes of their anger.


ALTOONA, WI - What happens when history and the here and now collide?

We’re about to find out.

There were two competing storylines at this week’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Democrats made history by becoming the first major party to nominate a woman for president. Then there were the tens of thousands of emails made public by Wikileaks showing how the Democratic establishment played favorites in the race for the nomination and went to great lengths to sabotage Bernie Sanders’ campaign.

In the euphoria of finally achieving the long-awaited and historic selection of a woman to be the party’s candidate for the nation’s highest office, Democrats looked past the fact that their nominee not only is a female but also someone who personifies the political establishment at a time of intense anti-establishment feelings among voters and one who is running as a centrist at a time when there is no center in American politics.

Last Updated on Friday, 29 July 2016 11:23
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Services Best Delivered in Counties with Direct Veteran-to-Veteran Support PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District   
Thursday, 28 July 2016 16:40

iraq-warCounty Veterans Service Officers are our most essential direct contact to veterans in Wisconsin, but the State DVA has targeted them and it needs to stop. Why this relentless attack on CVSO officers and veterans by the Wisconsin DVA?


MIDDLETON, WI - Veterans in Wisconsin need only to travel within their own county to have personal contact with another veteran helping navigate access to services. That office is the County Veterans Service Office by statute a “bricks and mortar” office where a veteran can receive support and assistance from another veteran.

CVSO’s are our most essential direct contact to veterans in Wisconsin. Why are they under attack from the Department of Veterans Affairs and Secretary John Scocos? I have no idea, but I want it to stop.

CVSO’s should have easier access to direct service connections with state and federal benefits, but instead, the Wisconsin DVA has been making it harder for CVSO’s to help veterans. From limiting access to benefits programs to blocking grants without proper legal authority, the DVA has targeted CVSO’s and it needs to stop.

Last Updated on Thursday, 28 July 2016 17:13
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