More smoke and mirrors
We live in a relatively poor county. The median household income is 65% of that statewide. A large number are living on Social Security, with Medicare their only health insurance.
A not-funny thing happened to them this year. They got a whopping 1.6% cost of living increase in Social Security. At the same time, their Medicare payment went up 7%. That took away half of the tiny COLA for many.
When you factor in fast-rising medical costs, higher Medicare copays will take away the rest of the COLA. Those copays could also take all their savings, if they have any left. We all know people who’ve lost everything to medical bills.
When Trump was campaigning, he promised to give us health insurance for everybody. His health care plan would be a “lot less expensive” for the government, consumers and providers. But first, he said, get rid of Obamacare.
Trump has already partially gutted Obamacare. For the first time in a decade, the number of uninsured Americans has increased … by millions. As for his promise to produce a “phenomenal health care program,” he’s still just smoke and mirrors. Meanwhile, he’s trying to use the courts to eliminate Obamacare completely.
Three years after he took office, he still has no real plan, only “the concept of the plan.” I guess the idea is that when the hospital sends you a bill for a copay that will bankrupt you, you just tell them you’ll pay the bill with a concept of actual money.
Randy Brook, Twisp
The seventh-graders of Liberty Bell Junior-Senior High School recently had a unique opportunity to complete independent science projects of their own choosing. This project was called “Be A Scientist.” Rather than doing these projects at home under the guidance of a stressed-out family member forced to buy vinegar and baking soda moments before the store closes the night before a deadline, our students were guided in class by volunteer scientists, and the purchase of materials for individual experiments was supported by the Methow Valley Public School Funding Alliance.
We are extremely grateful to a dedicated group of volunteers who showed up at Liberty Bell weekly – and sometimes more – since New Year’s, ready to work with seventh-grade students, full of insights about science, and brimming with enthusiasm for this project. Those volunteers were Char Alkire, Marie Delaney, Karl Englert, Cheryl Goerger, Brent Hayward, Tom Hinckley, John Kirner, Nancy Kirner, Kraig Mott, Roy Reiber, Mark Tuttle, Bob Ulrich, Jacque Wilk and Matt Young.
Additionally, the students’ experiments would not have been nearly as rigorous if not for the Methow Valley Public School Funding Alliance. Their financial support allowed students to design experiments with fewer constraints on materials than a typical independent science project.
The future of the Methow Valley, the Pacific Northwest, our country, and indeed the planet are dependent on a scientifically literate citizenry. A hallmark of any strong community is a well-supported public school system. We are grateful for a community that supports our teaching, and in particular for the help from our Be A Scientist volunteers and the Public School Funding Alliance. Thank you!
Matt Hinckley and Genny Rice, Science teachers, Liberty Bell Junior-Senior High School
A.W. “Sandy” Mackie, a Seattle resident and attorney for decades, seems to be suffering from either memory issues or lack of knowledge regarding Methow Valley and Okanogan County history. Or perhaps his disingenuous attack upon the Methow Valley Citizens Council and their “west-side environmental guru” attorney is out of disappointment that his own short-lived tenure as an Okanogan County adviser, while he still practiced law as a Seattle attorney, is over.
The commissioners Mackie served, who were up for re-election after the passage of the 2014 Comp Plan he defends, were tossed out of office soon afterwards by a large majority of Okanogan County voters.
Why? One central issue in that election was the adoption of the current 2014 plan. It not only fails to defend the public interest on especially water and fire-related issues, but it also removed the vision statements of 11 countywide facilitated “Neighborhood Groups” and the more detailed work of appointed members of the Lower (Methow) Valley advisory group from the county’s previous 2009 draft.
When taxpaying citizens accomplish one to two years of work for the county and their work is ignored, and the county has spent a ton of money on facilitating their group decisions, they tend to remember — even though Mr. Mackie seems to have forgotten. He supports the county’s actions in excluding citizen input from not only the Comp Plan but later from even the appendix of the 2014 plan.
In his attempt to discredit legal actions brought in the public interest by not only a local citizens group but also the Yakama Nation and a statewide environmental organization, Mr. Mackie has also reminded us all not only of the hard work of citizens in past decades, but also of the power of citizens on the ballot.
Isabelle Spohn, Twisp
Here is an indisputable fact for your readers. The Winthrop fire station cannot be expanded further to accommodate the growing needs of firefighting in our fire-prone valley. On Feb. 25, the Okanogan County Fire District 6 commissioners approved a motion to place a permanent levy increase on the April 28 ballot, which will fund the proposed new district fire station and training center.
Approving this proposition will be a win-win for the valley. First and foremost, if voters approve the levy lid lift, the district will obtain a $1.8 million grant from the Betti Foundation. This will help pay for training-related space in the station and for ongoing training of staff and volunteers.
But building this new station is invaluable for so many reasons. Right now, our volunteers train in a cramped and inadequate facility. The new station will have on-site training capabilities — no more trips to Liberty Bell High School, if and when it is available. This training is extremely important for firefighter safety and expertise. Firefighter safety will be greatly enhanced by having a dedicated decontamination room, which will decrease their exposure to toxins. It will have an up-to-date emergency communications room, maintenance areas to service equipment, and they will no longer have to pay higher prices to alter vehicles to fit into bays that are too small.
In truth though, I feel one of the most compelling reasons to approve this proposition is the simplest. The Winthrop station doesn’t meet Washington safety standards, and costs to build a new facility are not going to go down. It is fiscally prudent to do it now. Methow Valley residents will still have one of the lowest rates compared to other eastern Washington districts of equal real estate value.
And perhaps most important, we will keep our firefighters safe while they are keeping us safe. I ask that you vote to approve Proposition 6 when you receive the ballot on April 10.
Karen Mulcahy, Winthrop