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On April 1st a family tragedy brought me to Shelton where I had contact with personnel from numerous emergency response agencies; I would like to take this opportunity to recognize them and the community for putting together such a fine team:
Fire – Lake Limerick Fire Chief was the 1st responder and set a calming and professional tone for the entire event.
Medics – Debbie and her partner were quick to the scene, informative, and kind.
Sheriff – Deputy Willard coordinated the efforts of all responders while treating both myself and family with genuine respect.
Coroner – Wes Stockwell and his team were knowledgeable, compassionate and very informative. Additionally, Mr. Stockwell made time after the initial investigation to take calls and answer questions from additional family members.
Animal Control – Sheriff C. Brewer arrived to corral and care for animals and help plan a future path for their care. I cannot remember the last time I met someone so passionate about their job; a real-life “angel” sent in time of crisis.
Because it can be common for there to be some confusion when multiple agencies interact, I want to recognize Mason County for its hard work in developing such a qualified and caring team of professionals. All those who provided aid and assistance represented themselves and their community exceptionally well on Apr 1st. Thank you.
Bob Russell, Chehalis, WA
Posted April 12, 2013
The High Cost of Drug Pricing
My husband and I are among the lucky ones. Don is a 20-year veteran of the Air Force, I am a retired teacher, and both of us now are receiving retirement benefits from our respective careers. I guess you could say that we are recipients of “socialized” benefits accruing from our years of service to State and National government. We are also recipients of other socialized programs as we both qualify for Medicare, and we use Don’s Tricare for Life Insurance which is provided to us because of his 20 years of military service.
It has become apparent to me that political leaders are attempting to cut federal spending by taking away programs that protect the very citizens who worked hard and are in the most need of its services: our seniors.
Programs like Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security ease the financial burdens of housing, food, and medical treatment. Why are politicians placing the burden of decreasing the federal deficits on those who can least afford it?
Instead, let’s focus on trimming the fat from those who can readily afford to lose weight. When searching for industries that can afford to pay their fair share, one need look no further than today’s booming pharmaceutical companies.
Seniors are often in need of medical attention and often must spend a large portion of their income on prescription drugs. The average senior lives on an income of merely $22,000 per year, while pharmacy companies yield a yearly profit of $600 billion.
We must find practical solutions like lowering costs for prescription drugs. Reducing drug prices in Medicare just makes common sense.
When I turned 65, I qualified for the Medicare program. On average, the program covers half of all medical expenses. For my husband and me, whatever is not covered through the Medicare program is processed through our supplemental insurance under Tricare. Between both programs, we have very little to no out-of-pocket expenses. It works out great.
When I was recently diagnosed with metastasized breast cancer, I learned first-hand the benefit I receive in taking part in the Medicare program. My oncologist prescribed a monthly shot of the bone strengthening drug, Denosumab, which costs an astronomical $5000 per shot! The other drug prescribed for me was the estrogen prevention drug, Exemestane, which costs $337 for a 90-day supply. Without Medicare and Tricare, I would be paying $61,348 per year just for medications!
Without Medicare, I could not afford the treatment that I so desperately need. I asked my doctor how anyone could pay such high drug costs without insurance. He agreed that those who cannot afford the price do not get treatment.
How can we make these vital medications more affordable for all citizens? The answer to reducing spending in Medicare is to allow the program to do what the Veterans’ Affairs office does for its insured: negotiate common sense prices for entities that do mass purchasing.
Lowering drug prices would create real savings. Savings to the federal government over the next decade would be as high as $541 billion; savings for the states would be as high as $72 billion; and beneficiaries would save $112 billion. These amounts are far in excess of the demand for expenditure reduction being suggested by the most strident deficit reduction advocates.
Why aren’t we already negotiating drug prices in Medicare? After all, it is an obvious solution to reducing costs within the program. The reason is clear: the pharmaceutical industry is buying influence in Congress with its massive profits. In 2011, pharmaceutical companies spent nearly $153 million on lobbying, and made $14 million in contributions through the 2012 election cycle.
I, like other middle-income Americans across this state, have worked hard all of my life. I put in the effort and made financial sacrifices because I believe that everyone must play a role in moving this country forward. Pharmaceutical companies are no exception. The primary burden for cutting federal spending should NOT be on the backs of seniors, the poor and the disabled. Moving forward is a shared sacrifice.
by Sherri Goulet, Olympia, WA
Posted March 25, 2013
Ghost Bills Haunting Us
With the legislative session coming to a close, a shroud of secrecy has been imposed by both the Democratic controlled House and the Republican controlled Senate through the introduction of title-only bills.
On March 18, 2013, a whopping 23 title-only bills were introduced. 13 of which were brought to the floor by House Rep. Hunter; the other 10 were introduced by Sen. Hill.
Title-only bills provide little-to-no substantive information, therefore being the reason why they are concerning.
Consequently, the Washington Policy Center wrote, “Not only are title only bills (essentially blank pieces of legislation) not the most transparent way to introduce changes to state law (or perhaps too translucent) but they are used by lawmakers to circumvent the state Constitution.”
Brian Sonntag (D), a former State Auditor, and Rob Mckenna (R), the state’s Former Attorney General, wrote, “While the use of title-only bills is a rare procedure, the public concern substantially justifies eliminating their use entirely,” in a letter to their legislators.
Moreover, the Columbian – a newspaper serving Clark County – supplied a similar sentiment when it said, “This gimmick [title-only bills] — also known as a “ghost bill” — is a bill written with no text, only a vague title such as “fiscal matters” or “state government” or “criminal justice” . . . Details become known later, much later — too late, in fact, as the bill accelerates down its greased skids.”
Let’s not forget that title-only bills are in direct violation of Article II, Section 36 of the Washington’s Constitution:
“No bill shall be considered in either house unless the time of its introduction shall have been at least ten days before the final adjournment of the legislature, unless the legislature shall otherwise direct by a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, said vote to be taken by yeas and nays and entered upon the journal, or unless the same be at a special session.”
This is the type of disengenuous curruption we must put a stop to. Make sure to tell elected officials in Olympia that it is abhorrent to do this and we will stand for it no longer! The State is facing a $1.3 Billion budget deficit and needs atleast $1 billion more to fund education. How can these ghost bills help us to balance tnd education? They Cannot. They will only further a staggering deficit, meanwhile the State continues with a debacle in the I-5 Columbia River Bridge that will cost half a billion dollars by itself. This path is unsustainable, we ask government to live within its means just like our families are forced to at home. We ask politicians to adhere to one simple thing, their oath office. We cannot keep electing the same people that put us into this mess, to try to pull us out of this mess. Corrupt career politicians must be replaced. Its time for a change.
Travis Couture (Belfair)
Posted March, 22, 2013
As demonstrated at today’s Commission meeting (March 12, 2013) and public comment session, the atmosphere of the County Commission meetings has become lighter. It is apparent the two new Commissioners appear to be listening to the public. They tell me they welcome the public to come to the Commission meetings, not just to testify, but be informed of what is happening in their County and Community. For those of us who have been around for a while, in previous years we were not sure when we showed up for the County Commission meeting if when we opened the door we would meet the Lady or the Tiger, acceptance of our point of view even though it was different. It is refreshing to be met with warm regard and mutual respect. Thank you Terri Jeffreys and Randy Neatherlin! Now we’ve been nice enough, get back to work! ;)
Jerry Eckenrode, Shelton WA
Posted, March, 13, 2013
Mason County Citizens should know that there may be serious gross errors in the document declaring a Declaration of Non-Significance that was passed on a two to one vote at a recent meeting. This declaration and passage will have huge impacts on our citizens.
After meeting with well known environmental/land use attorney this past week, it was confirmed that there were impact errors in the document. Therefore, in order to avoid a costly law suit and a waste of taxpayers money, the Port Commissioners should re-visit this declaration.
Commissioner Jay Hupp is the only Commissioner that voted no to the change of use on an area known as the Mason County Fair Grounds, and should be commended for his action. Jay Hupp knew that changing the fair grounds area to an aviation area would have a serious impact on many groups in Mason County, our economy and our way of life. He also knew that this was not necessary for airport use. (Way to go Jay.)
Before this action took place, the fair grounds area was zoned commercial, industrial and other purposes, which allowed the many yearly events to take place for the past fifty plus years. Now it is zoned aviation reserve.
Some of the groups that have used this area in the past and will be affected are the 4-H, Future Farmers of America, Boy Scouts, Grange, Master Gardeners, Flora Clubs, Rock and Mineral Society, American Rhododendron Society, Northwest Chapter of Historical Trucks, Rock and Mineral Society, Mason County Historical Society, American Farm Engine and Tractor Association, school, the Oysterfest, and the Mason County Fair, plus other fraternal and service organizations. Other events that will be affected are car shows, motorcycles, family outings, dog shows, dog training classes, horse shows, many RV meetings, entertainment groups, dances, theater groups, sporting events, business and merchant shows, cultural and heritage events including but not limited to Polynesian, Indian, Filipino Asian, Hispanic and Samoan.
Wallitmer and Taylor should correct their error and not waste the taxpayers money. Maybe the County should re-zone the area or take the land from the Port as Washington State did when they built the State Patrol Academy. After all the county owned this land before the Port existed, as far back as 1926.
Annette S. McGee, Sheton WA
Posted Feb. 19, 2013