Letter to Editor: Yes, We Need More Civility

We appreciate efforts to encourage civility, particularly during these stressful times. Let us also agree, though, that while civility requires listening respectfully, the ability to engage in constructive dialogue is essential to making progress. In that vein we might even recognize the likelihood that Dr. Harris’s town hall audience was more interested in policy than expressing animosity toward Trump supporters. We all have friends who do not share our views in the voting booth.

We very likely also disagree about health care reform. Dr. Harris emphasized that Medicare isn’t single payer, and that we must look to the VA. His town hall audience groaned. Under ideal circumstances, we would be more likely to listen to one another attentively and agree that Medicare is a single payer base. There was no acknowledgement that Medicare works very much like the health care in so many other industrialized nations, though, delivering better outcomes to all of their citizens at far less cost while incorporating supplemental coverage.

Under ideal circumstances, listening is a reciprocal activity and facts would prevail. There may be little opportunity for dialogue at a town hall, but our reactions were communicated. Dr. Harris was cheered for supporting efforts to reduce pollution in our Chesapeake Bay, and not only for agreeing with most of us, but for essentially acknowledging that a healthy Bay supports a healthy economy.

Concerning our nation’s debt, we listened respectfully for as long as we could, which admittedly wasn’t long. We might have hoped to hear an acknowledgement that President Obama had reduced our deficit. That was a long shot, although every Democratic president since

WWII has reduced our budget deficits. We would have also appreciated hearing that while our debt is huge now, Dr. Harris’s party left us with more debt as a share of our economy. Hearing that our government is spending less as a percentage of our economy than nearly every other industrialized nation would definitely have cleared a path toward civility.

It is a laudable endeavor. Doing what it takes may be challenging, though. Let’s hope we are up to the task. Listening to others and treating them in the way we would like to be treated is an essential part of that process, but without a rational, fact-based dialogue we may not reach our goals.

Carol Voyles

More information can be found on these sites.

https://data.oecd.org/gga/general-government-spending.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_total_health_expenditure_per_capita
http://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/issue-briefs/2015/oct/us-health-care-from-a-global-perspective
http://www.pgpf.org/chart-archive/0011_health-outcomes

Letter to Editor: Local Groups Seek Answers from Congressman Harris March 31

This is an open letter from a number of constituent groups, all of whom share significant concerns about the many vital issues we face and the wholly inadequate amount of time you have allotted to the Town Hall on March 31. One hour doesn’t provide a fair chance to discuss our concerns and hear your views. We are concerned about these major items, among others:

Repeal of the Affordable Care Act and replacement with a bill that will cost Maryland $2 Billion annually, substantially increase those who are uninsured and increase the cost of health care. These are just a few of the many groups that oppose the current bill:
American Medical Association – “the replacement bill, as written, would reverse the coverage gains achieved under the ACA, causing many Americans to lose the health care coverage they have come to depend upon.”

American Hospital Association & Federation of American Hospitals: “As lawmakers work to re-examine this law, patients and the caregivers who serve them across America are depending on Congress to make continued coverage a priority. We believe that any changes to the ACA must be guided by ensuring that we continue to provide health care coverage for the tens of millions of Americans who have benefitted from the law. We are pleased that so many in Congress also recognize the need to preserve patient coverage.”

AARP “…opposes this legislation, as introduced, that would weaken Medicare, leaving the door open to a voucher program that shifts costs and risks to seniors.”
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network “ACS CAN has long advocated that any changes to the health care law should provide equal or better coverage for cancer prevention, treatment and follow-up care than what is currently available. These bills have the potential to significantly alter the affordability, availability and quality of health insurance available to cancer patients and survivors. Changing the income-based subsidy to a flat tax credit, combined with reducing the standards for quality insurance could return cancer patients to a world where many are unable to afford meaningful insurance or are left to buy coverage that doesn’t meet their health needs.”

“In 2015, approximately 1.5 million people with a history of cancer between 18-64 years old relied on Medicaid for their insurance. Nearly one-third of childhood cancer patients are insured through Medicaid at the time of diagnosis. The proposed repeal of Medicaid expansion along with significant federal funding changes could leave the nation’s lowest income cancer patients without access to preventive, c”rative and follow-up health care.”

National Partnership Women and Families: “House Republicans’ Affordable Care Act repeal bill would wreak havoc on our health care system by making health coverage more expensive and inadequate for millions of women and families. The shroud of secrecy surrounding the Republicans’ process and their attempt to sneak through a bill that would have such a devastating impact, without allowing anyone to review it, is shameful.”

“Now that the bill has been revealed, it is clear why Republicans didn’t want people to see it. Their proposal radically overhauls and cuts Medicaid while simultaneously gutting the ACA by repealing financial assistance for low-income families and making it harder for people to afford coverage. It also defunds Planned Parenthood from the Medicaid program, denying 2.5 million people access to essential health care.”

“Moreover, the Republican bill interferes with women’s ability to make health care decisions by making abortion coverage inaccessible. It would harshen and expand already harmful abortion coverage restrictions, denying women the ability to access the care they need.”

Over 50 organizations oppose the proposed healthcare plan that will make Americans will pay more for less. The list includes nurses, doctors, hospitals, teachers, churches, and more. You can see a few here:

https://cooper.house.gov/groups-opposing-republican-health-plan

Why did you co-sponsor H.R. 610 to take funding away from public education through vouchers, repeal the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and limit the authority of the Department of Education (ED) to award block grants to qualified states. Why did you, as a physician, co-sponsor a Bill that repeals nutrition standards for national school lunch and breakfast programs? Why repeal standards that require schools to increase the availability of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or fat free milk in school meals, reduce the levels of sodium, saturated fat, and trans fat and meet children’s nutritional needs? Whose side are you on?

https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/610

H.R.861 – a bill to terminate the Environmental Protection Agency. Your constituents are entitled to know where you stand on efforts to eliminate environmental protection of the Chesapeake Bay, its rivers, steams, and farmlands. Whose side are you on?

This is just a partial list of our concerns. If you have a genuine interest in listening to your constituents, we demand you allot at least 3 hours to the Town Hall to hear our concerns and explain your views.

We have sent copies of this letter to news organizations throughout the 1st District and expect your early and positive response.

Thank you.

Talbot Rising
Michael Pullen

Together We Will, Delmarva
Emily Jackson
Deborah Collins Krueger
Michele Copper

Together We Will, Harford County
DeLane Lewis

Easton Huddle
Naomi M. Hyman

Kent and Queen Anne’s County Indivisible
Erin Anderson
Kitty Maynard

Talbot County Democratic Women’s’ Club
Lesley Israel

The Eastern Shore PAC for Social And Economic Justice
Meredith Girard
Michele Drostin
Lauren Harton

Kent County Democratic Central Committee
Pamela White

Md. 1st Dist. Indivisible,
New Harford Dem. Club
Allison Galbraith

Md 1st Dist. Indivisible
Baltimore County
Kirk Fairfield

African American Democrats
of Maryland
James A. Sweeting, III, Esq.

Dorchester Indivisible
Mike Brown

Indivisible Worcester Maryland
Susan Buyer, Toby Perkins

Maryland 1st Congressional District Resistance
Joseph Riedel

Bipartisan Alliance for Democracy, Eastern Shore
Maureen Johnston

Queen Anne’s Co. Dem. Central Committee
Elaine Mcneil

Indivisible, Harford County
Irene Whalen

Wicomico County Progressive Caucus
Michael A. Feldman

UMBC Progressives

Cambridge Alert – Yard Make-over at No Cost by CBF’s Alan Girard

Residents of Cambridge, this spring you can win an unusual prize: a yard make-over at no cost. And in the process you can help clean up the waters around the city, and the Chesapeake Bay. Oh, and everybody gets a free ‘rain barrel.’

The whole idea is the brainchild of the Cambridge Clean Water Advisory Committee. The group wants to encourage practical, low-cost activities that can improve water quality in the city.

The process is simple. Interested residents must first attend a workshop that’s happening at the Dorchester County Public Library in Cambridge, 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. Wednesday, March 22. You will receive information about what possible changes could be made in your yard that treat polluted runoff.

For instance, “rain gardens” are a type of beautiful garden that also soaks up rain running off your property. This is helpful because this runoff often contains pollution from the air or the landscape. The pollution usually ends up in local creeks. You won’t make any commitments at the workshops, just learn about possibilities for a make-over.

If you’re still interested, next you will receive a free visit after the workshop from a professional landscaper who will look at your yard, talk to you, and come up with ideas such as rain gardens, native plants, pavement removal and other possible modifications best suited for your yard.

You’ll pay nothing for the make-over if you are selected. Only five properties will be chosen in the first year of the two-year program. In the second year, financial support drops from 100 percent to 90 percent as a way to encourage early participation.

Both homeowners and renters are eligible to enroll. Those of limited means are particularly encouraged to step forward as the project is intended, in part, to respond to needs in underserved communities. A community survey accessible online here will further help reveal how much people know about water quality and ways to improve it. All survey respondents are eligible to enter to win a $40 Jimmie & Sooks Raw Bar and Grill gift card.

Pre-registration is required to attend the workshop on March 22nd. Each workshop participant will receive a free rain barrel and instructions on how to install it. For more information and to register, contact Hilary Gibson at 410-543-1999 or hgibson@cbf.org.

Fertilizers, soil, oil, grease and other contaminants run off private property when it rains. Until now, cities such as Cambridge have been left with the responsibility to deal with this problem. It’s difficult and expensive, especially to manage runoff from private property.

The work in Cambridge seeks to treat runoff before it becomes the city’s responsibility. Recognizing the burden of treating runoff once it reaches the city’s drainage system, the Cambridge Clean Water Advisory Committee of private and public partners stepped in to try to demonstrate how runoff volumes and contaminants can be reduced before that point. Funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation was awarded to pilot a program that offers homeowners and renters incentives to install native plantings, swales and other practices that naturally filter runoff on private property – minimizing runoff volumes and pollutants for the city to handle later.

Alan Girard is the director of the Maryland Eastern Shore Office of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Letter to Editor: Solidarity of Faith Leaders in Talbot County to Protect Free Worship

As leaders of the diverse set of faiths and faith communities in Talbot County, we are committed to keeping all congregations and religious organizations and institutions safe places for worship and community activities. At this time, we write in particular to express our solidarity with the Jewish and Muslim communities who have recently faced widespread threats in our country. While explicit threats have not occurred locally, and we are grateful for this, This is not acceptable. In this spirit, we stand together in solidarity ready to affirm the inherent worth, dignity and safety of all. boundaries.

We aspire for our community to embrace and live out a vision of compassion and mutual respect We welcome and invite every person in Talbot County to join us, committed to supporting and living into this shared vision.

Rabbi Donald R Berlin

Davis B. Bobrow

Molly Burgoyne Brian, Clerk, Third Haven Friends Meeting

Rev. Dr. Shirlyn Henry Brown

Rev. Sue Browning, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Easton

The Rev. Bill Chilton

Fr. Kevin M. Cross, The Church of the Holy Trinity, Oxford

Pastor Rusty Curling, Interim Pastor, Easton Church of the Brethren

Reverend Jody E. Gunn

Michelle Hammond

John Harrald, President, Board of Directors Talbot Interfaith Shelter

Rev. Dartanyon L. Hines

Rabbi Naomi Hyman

Rabbi Peter E. Hyman

Temple B’Nai Israel, Easton

The Right Reverend Joel Marcus Johnson

Walter Johnson, Member,Talbot Association of Clergy and Laity

M. Walid Kamsheh, M.D. Islamic Center of Easton

Rev. John F. Keydel, Jr., Interim Rector Christ Church St. Michaels

Rev. Karen E. Larson Pastor, Grace Lutheran Church

Rev. Gary L. Moore United Methodist, Retired

Vy. Rev. James Nash, V.F. SS Peter and Paul Catholic Parish

Matthew R. Peters, Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center

Deacon Edward R. Potter Union Baptist Church

Richard M. Potter, Jr., President NAACP, Talbot County Branch

The Very Rev. Gregory L. Powell Dean, Trinity Cathedral

Rev. Missy Rekitzke, St. Mark’s UMC, Easton

Rev. Nancy Sajda, Interfaith Minister President, P.E.A.C.E.

Pastor Tony Short, Trilife Christian Center

Rev. Flavia Skilbred, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church

Rev. Dr. Wm. T. Wallace, Sr.

Letter to Editor: 1st District Voters Must Read Andy Harris Sponsored Bill H.R. 637

There is a new bill in the House of Representatives called H.R. 637, sponsored by our 1st District Representative, Dr. Andy Harris. This broad, sweeping bill seeks to reclassify several chemicals so that they would no longer be regulated nor considered, “air pollutants,”

Dr. Harris’s bill says these are no longer air pollutants: methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride, carbon dioxide. I researched these chemicals, and I can’t find any reason why we would want these chemicals in our air, unregulated. These chemicals are gasses that contribute to air pollution. If they go into our air, they will impact our crops, livestock, seafood, soil and waters that are the bounty of our Chesapeake Bay region, not to mention our lungs! Remember smog, acid rain, greenhouse gasses?  The polluted Potomac River? Let’s work together in a bipartisan way to protect our Bay Region. You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Our God given air, soils, and water, need our good stewardship. This bill can be found online here. It is a very short, easy read, yet disastrous for our Bay Region. Our representatives work hard and deserve our respect. Often they may not know how we feel about certain bills.

Let’s make sure Mr. Harris knows that this bill is not in the best interest of a healthy 1st District Baltimore, Eastern Shore, and Chesapeake Bay Region. Dr.. Harris’ local office can be reached here . I encourage you to make your concerned, red and blue voices heard.

Chris Koch

Letter to Editor: Talbot Mentors to Depart United Fund of Talbot County Support with Thanks

Talbot Mentors has benefitted from the support of Talbot County residents through the generosity of The United Fund of Talbot County (UFTC) for the past 15 years. While our needs are ongoing especially as we gear up to hit our goal of pairing 120 mentor/mentee pairs by the end of 2017, at a recent board meeting the decision was made to “graduate” from receiving UFTC financial support at the end of the 2016-17 United Fund campaign year. This will make room for other worthwhile organizations to benefit from the same support as Talbot Mentors has enjoyed.

The mission of Talbot Mentors is to work to ensure that all young people in Talbot County have the opportunity to mature into engaged and productive members of their communities. Through consistent support, guidance, coaching and role modeling, our volunteer mentors will strive to instill values and standards, and help these young people prepare for success in their personal and professional lives.

On behalf of the board of directors, staff, mentors and most importantly the kids who have benefitted from the support of UFTC, Talbot Mentors extends our sincere thanks and appreciation.

Natalie Costanzo
Executive Director
Talbot Mentors

Letter to Editor: Monty Alexander Jazz Festival Notes Sad Passing of Beth Schucker

The Monty Alexander Jazz Festival and Chesapeake Music lost one of its Frontline Players on February 8th with the sad passing of Beth Schucker. Beth was a true lover of music of all genres, but she had a special passion for jazz which she shared with her late husband Ray, himself a talented jazz pianist.

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Monty Alexander on left followed by Beth, Sally Heckman and Nancy Farinacci

Beth had many talents, including a keen musical ear and a great literary gift that produced many memorable articles on the jazz festival over the eight years of its history. She was one of the key supporters of the festival founded by the vision of Al and Marty Sikes and became one of its most loyal ambassadors introducing so many of us new comers to the Easton jazz scene. Beth had a wonderful journalistic approach to her writing…this excerpt from her autumn 2014 article in Chesapeake Music’s quarterly publication “Interlude” captures her skill perfectly as she interviewed Monty Alexander:

“Absolutely not,” says Monty Alexander, with a hint of indignation. I had asked him if he raised an eyebrow when Al Sikes invited him in 2010 to perform a one-nighter, in a small theater, in a small town on the Eastern Shore. I thought the question relevant: after all, Monty, the namesake and Artistic Director of The Monty Alexander Jazz Festival, claims the world as his stage. Monty finishes his thought, “I had no formal music training. I learned piano by playing. So I played anywhere. I never raised an eyebrow. After sixty some years, I’m still learning, playing anywhere and not raising an eyebrow.”

Beth, with Lee Philips her partner and performer in music, was one of those “extraordinary/ordinary” people with a passion for jazz, a love of life and a dear friend to so many from the Eastern Shore to New Zealand and back. She will be dearly missed, but her memory will live on in those wonderful articles in the Chesapeake Music archives.

John Malin

Letter to Editor: The Bay Needs Oyster Sanctuaries

The Bay needs oyster sanctuaries, and the sanctuaries need our help to protect them from efforts to reduce their size and keep them free from harvest. Oyster sanctuaries are our best hope to restore the health and productivity of the Chesapeake Bay. On February 13, the Oyster Advisory Commission considered proposed changes to sanctuary management that would reduce the size of oyster sanctuaries by 11 percent and open up nearly 1,000 acres of the remaining sanctuaries to rotational harvesting. If adopted, the proposal would be a major setback to Chesapeake restoration efforts and should be rejected.

The Oyster Advisory Commission was established in 2007 to advise the Department of Natural Resources on strategies for rebuilding and managing oyster populations. The current oyster management plan was adopted in 2010 to meet these objectives, including the establishment of several sanctuary areas. Of the 36,000 acres of productive oyster bottom remaining in Maryland’s portion of the Bay, 24 percent (approximately 9,000 acres) was placed in sanctuary, with the remaining 76 percent left open as public shellfish fishery areas.

It was clear during Monday’s meeting that there is no scientific justification for a reduction in the size of oyster sanctuaries. The draft 2016 status report indicates that all current objectives for sanctuary management are being met, which means there is no scientific reason to reduce sanctuaries or damage them with rotational harvesting.

Sanctuaries need to be kept free from harvest to allow oysters to continue to reproduce in a manner to establish oyster reefs. Oysters have the incredible ability to filter water – up to 50 gallons of water per day for each oyster. Furthermore, when left to their own devices oysters have the ability to build vertical reefs in the Bay that create critical habitat for other aquatic species. These reefs also help mix Bay water as a result of tidal action, reducing “dead zones” that typically occur during warm weather months. Rotational harvesting would break up the reefs and destroys these vertical structures, sacrificing long-term efforts to restore the Bay for a small and temporary increase in harvest levels.

There is hope. Recently, State Representative James Gilchrist introduced House Bill 924 to prohibit any changes to oyster sanctuaries until the Department of Natural Resources developed a science-based plan that would justify any changes. Under this bill, the Department would consult with University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science to carry out peer-reviewed science that would guide future action, with a final report due December 2018. This approach would ensure that science, and not short term political interests, would govern management of the oyster sanctuaries. Oysters belong in the Bay, and the Bay belongs to all of us.

Ron Ketter
Easton

Letter to Editor: Congressman Harris Should Not Repeal Affordable Care Act

I’m deeply concerned that Congressman Andy Harris will vote to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act against the best interests of Marylanders, particularly the vulnerable communities he represents on the Eastern Shore. As a family physician serving the Eastern Shore’s neediest communities, I can tell you first hand that access to health insurance improves health. Investing in health has vast societal benefits, from helping our children to be better learners to increasing the productivity of working families.

Since the law was passed in 2010, the Affordable Care Act has helped 278,000 Marylanders gain access to healthcare. Maryland’s most vulnerable people such as children, people with disabilities, seniors and people living in poverty can more easily obtain and keep health insurance coverage. Marylanders can obtain vital preventive care that saves lives and lowers healthcare costs. Women are no longer discriminated against under the Affordable Care Act. Marylanders can now obtain information about the exact cost and coverage of each plan available. Yet, Congressman Harris voted against the Affordable Care Act in 2010 and voted to repeal it twice, most recently on January 13, 2017.

Last week a gentleman in my office explained that his diabetes has been uncontrolled for years and that he has not sought testing for his chest pain because he did not have health insurance until recently. A pregnant woman postponed important testing I had recommended for her high-risk pregnancy while waiting to be added to her husband’s plan. Stories such as these are common within the communities I serve. People need easier access to health insurance, not more barriers. We need to improve our existing health insurance programs under the Affordable Care Act, not start from scratch with a new program that will take years to implement and disrupt the services we are already trying to provide.

Clearly our healthcare system is far from perfect. However we need to continue expanding coverage, not cancel it. We need to improve and expand services under existing insurance coverage, not limit it further. My position on this issue is not unique. On January 2, 2017, organizations representing hundreds of thousands of doctors throughout the country (The American Academy of Family Physicians, The American Academy of Pediatricians, The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and The American College of Physicians) released a letter to Congress, supporting wide-spread insurance coverage in our country and voicing caution against dismantling the system we are working to build and improve.

Congressman Harris should work in the spirit of bipartisanship with Senator Van Hollen and the rest of the Maryland Congressional delegation to improve the Affordable Care Act, rather than dismantle it to the detriment of our communities. I urge readers to call Congressman Harris’ office today and ask him not to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Christina Drostin, MD, MPH

Letter to Editor: Reflections on 30 Years of Chesapeake Music on the Eastern Shore

 

Imagine what the world would be without music. Then imagine what the Eastern Shore would be without the many programs offered by Chesapeake Music. Did you know that thousands of children in area schools have been exposed to classical music and jazz through Chesapeake Music’s Youth Reach Program and hundreds of others have learned to play the violin, often their first hands-on experience with a musical instrument through Chesapeake Music’s First Strings and Presto programs?

screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-5-27-59-pm Did you know that in addition to educating children, every June thousands of concert goers are enthralled by internationally-acclaimed musicians at Chesapeake Music’s annual Chamber Music Festival and every Labor Day weekend, musicians in Chesapeake Music’s Monty Alexander Jazz Festival entertain local audiences with soaring notes and finger-snapping rhythms and that Chesapeake Music’s Jazz on the Chesapeake and Chesapeake Chamber Music entertain us with award-winning artists throughout the year.

And, since 2004, some 250 chamber music groups from around the world have competed for one of music’s most prestigious global prizes in Chesapeake Music’s biennial Chamber Music Competition, launching the musical careers of several emerging young artists.

Chesapeake Music can only offer these programs with the financial support of members of the community. Let the music play on by including Chesapeake Music in your year-end charitable giving. To donate visit chesapeakemusic.org and click “DONATE.”