Politicas Speak Out!

Op Ed pieces in the Raleigh News and Observer

Manju Karkare -Save Meals on Wheels funding from federal budget cuts
Meals on Wheels of Wake County has joined the nationwide #SaveLunch effort to urge Congress to protect and increase critical federal funding sources for Meals on Wheels programs.

Congress is in the midst of its annual debate to determine federal funding levels for the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. The budget proposal put forth by the president in May includes decreases to the current funding levels for the Older Americans Act Nutrition Program and the elimination of the Social Services, Community Services and Community Development Block Grants.

Eight out of 10 Meals on Wheels programs nationwide rely on some type of federal funding to serve seniors, and cuts of any kind will widen the existing gap between seniors served and those who desperately need this lifeline.

Meals on Wheels of Wake County receives almost 50 percent of its budget from the Older Americans Act Nutrition Program. Every $1,500 in cuts to the program would result in eliminating one homebound client from receiving a daily, nutritious meal for a year.

The OAA is the vital funding foundation for 5,000-plus local Meals on Wheels programs nationwide, like Meals on Wheels of Wake County, enabling them to deliver nutritious meals, friendly visits and critical safety checks to vulnerable seniors. Meals on Wheels keeps seniors out of nursing homes, prevents unnecessary trips to the emergency room and reduces hospital admissions and re-admissions, saving taxpayers billions of dollars each year.

Decreased federal funding will force senior nutrition programs to cut back even further, while the number of seniors on waiting lists will continue to mount in every state. As is, those programs that rely on OAA funding are already serving 23 million fewer meals today than in 2005.

#SaveLunch is an effort led by Meals on Wheels America, the oldest and largest national organization supporting the more than 5,000 community-based senior nutrition programs across the country that are dedicated to addressing senior hunger and isolation. Alongside this network of local programs, Meals on Wheels of Wake County is making a collective appeal to Congress to #SaveLunch for our nation’s seniors during the Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations process and make sure that no senior is left hungry and isolated.

“Assuring adequate federal funding for social programs like Meals on Wheels is not only vital to the health and well-being of at-risk seniors, but it is essential to the health and vibrancy of our nation. We are already losing ground in keeping pace with an exponentially increasing need. The time to act to save lives and money is now,” says Ellie Hollander, President and CEO of Meals on wheels America.

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Letters to the Editor in the Raleigh News and Observer

Susan Marshall: Enablers in Congress (April 26, 2019)

Celia Rivenbark nailed it in her Sunday column. The biggest problem is not Donald Trump. We knew he was a lying cheat with no morals and the temperament of a 6-year-old.

The biggest problem is the enablers in Congress who overlook and gaslight his misdeeds to further their agenda and line their pockets.

In setting up the rules for removing a president from office, the Founding Fathers clearly envisioned that someone of questionable morals and integrity might somehow become president. It is our misfortune that they did not envision a Congress packed with people with a similar lack of integrity who would put party and money before country.

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Adrienne Kelly: Wake public schools budget must grow along with the county (September 12, 2017)

I’ve been a Wake County resident since 1991 and have had three children enrolled in Wake County public schools simultaneously for all those years. Over nearly three decades I have seen the successes and the failures of our school system. I fear we will experience more of the latter if we don’t finance our schools in accordance with their growth.

Over time, the school system has been starved of needed investments that once made it the best school system in the country – from abysmal teacher pay, removing teacher assistants from elementary classrooms, siphoning funds to charters and inadequate counseling services for students. I cringed last year to hear my son’s biology teacher begging for donations of supplies or cash in order to conduct lab experiments that are integral to the curriculum; same thing in chemistry this year.

No one would expect to feed their growing family on the same budget they had 20 years ago, yet that is exactly what we are doing in Wake. Wake County’s budget does not reflect the realities of the growth in the number of students and the resources needed to serve them. As long as there is rapid growth, the school budget needs to keep up. Period.

Amy Womble: Commissioners must stand up for public school funding (September 8, 2017)

Each WCPSS graduating class adds more than $86 million to local property values. That figure is huge. Few like higher taxes, but I also don’t want to see our economy and housing market sink.

Across the country, few cities like Raleigh have such a unified and strong school system. Our legislature and federal government are working to undermine that, with increasing funding for charter schools and private schools. This will hurt our children and our community in the long run. We need our commissioners to stand up for public schools. The current budget is not enough. Please help fund our schools.

Cosette Singh: Basketball trumps LGBT community (April 8, 2017)

March madness everywhere. It’s not just for college basketball championships anymore.

Sport and the threatened loss of revenue unified enough of the N.C. General Assembly to agree a bill to calm the N.C. Bathroom Crisis, the nationally pilloried House Bill 2.

This compromise, viewed either as a pragmatic first step or a sellout to moneyed interest such as those courting the ACC and NCAA, sailed through our fractured and contentious governing institutions. It is touted to restore North Carolina’s reputation.

The unifying spirit of bipartisanship along with the statewide celebration of the Tar Heels’ 2017 championship bid gives little comfort to those still vulnerable to discrimination. Their interests were judged below even those stained by NCAA investigation of two decades of a corrupt university administration, an investigation described as a “reluctant striptease.”

Cosette Singh: A most difficult decision (February 10, 2017)

The Jan. 29 Point of View “The joys of a Down syndrome child” was a charming portrait of a photogenic family where “Eight is Never Enough.”

This life-affirming tale I’m sure has parents wishing they could reach into teenagers’ tiny chromosomes and snatch out all those “surly” genes. Whether a joy or a pain, they are our children. Parents and society must care for them, preserve their dignity and not take away the right of self-determination.

I commend Patrick O’Neill in sincerely supporting families who struggle with a difficult choice when prenatal screening shows chromosomal aberrations. I hope he respects their decision even if it isn’t what he would choose. Suspending judgment and condemnation would be a blessing.

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