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Section A • Page 6 • tacomaweekly.com • Friday, March 24, 2017

Our View

DÉJĂ€ VU ALL OVER AGAIN The idea of term limits for elected officials has been around for generations. The concept is actually not a bad idea since not only does a cap on public service keep seats for elected bodies from becoming “old guardâ€? networks of lifetime council members; it also allows people at least a paper’s chance to land a council seat by not having to battle against an incumbent. The Tacoma City Charter limits council members and the mayor to 10 consecutive years either on the council or as mayor before they have to take a “break in service,â€? a period that is not defined in the charter itself. Save Tacoma Water wants to change that. The local water-watching group filed the charter amendment petition last week that would limit elected officials to eight years in office and require a break of eight years before serving again. The group would have to get 12,794 valid signatures from Tacoma voters by midsummer to land on the November ballot. The petition filing came after former Councilmember Victoria Woodards opted to step down late last year to restart her term limit clock, so she could run for mayor since Marilyn Strickland is term limited from running for another term as mayor. Save Tacoma Water sees the move as a way for Woodards to avoid the term limit rules through a loophole in the charter, but still have the benefit of name recognition with voters and detailed knowledge about the current issues facing the city that challengers likely wouldn’t have. Of course, Woodards only has one challenger, Jim Merritt, at this point and he has name recognition of his own as a noted architect and civic booster, as well as a stint on the most recent Charter Review Committee that took up the issue of term limits just three years ago. Certainly citizens have the right to gather support for an election to change how their government functions, but the petition simply seems ill advised and ill timed. The City Charter requires a full review of the “whosâ€? and “whatsâ€? and “howsâ€? of Tacoma’s governmental operations every 10 years. We just went through the process in 2014. The local political climate or operations of government haven’t changed so drastically in the last two years to revisit the issue now. But there is also a practical matter to consider. Councilmembers and the mayor serve four-year terms. The petition to change the charter from 10 years to eight years would create a few unforeseen consequences when the council has to appoint someone to fill a vacant position like Lauren Walker Lee’s appointment to fill Woodards’ seat. The current charter takes appointments into account with the addition of two years. The two-term limit would jumble the election cycle by creating vacancies when appointed councilmembers face reelection after serving a full term. They could either not run for a second term of their own, or gain a term on the council that they would only be allowed to serve half of without going afoul of the rules. Term limits for city officials started in 1973, and was most recently part of the Charter Review slate in 2014, when two thirds of city voters defeated a proposed amendment that would have allowed someone to serve two terms on the council and then two terms as mayor, for a total of 18 years in office if they were appointed to finish out the final two years of a council term.

Letters to the Editor Dear Editor, (Re: “An immigrant's road to Tacoma, family, a Chinese restaurant and home� by Larry LaRue, TW 3/10/17) Thank you for the article on Sam Fong. We ate at his restaurant for many years and my wife, son and I have often wondered what became of him and his family. Sam started calling my son “won ton soup boy� since that is what he always wanted, a name I still call him 30 years later when we meet at our favorite pho restaurant. The Seven Seas restaurant was truly a family affair. Being there was so much more than just excellent food. Of all the things that have come and gone in Tacoma, the restaurant and all it represented is what I miss the most. Michael Ball Tacoma, WA Dear Editor, The Alzheimer’s Association’s 2017 Facts and Figures report found a soaring prevalence, lack of effective treatment and enormous costs for Alzheimer’s and other dementias. In Washington, with more than 110,000 people living with Alzheimer’s, it is the third leading cause of death in our state. The 5.5 million Americans with Alzheimer’s will grow to almost 16 million by 2050. The federal government has been making progress toward shining light on Alzheimer’s and other dementias, having doubled the small research budget in the last three years. Congress requires the National Institutes of Health scientists to submit a professional judgment budget each fiscal year to help guide the size of funding for Alzheimer’s research. I urge Congressman Denny Heck to continue to support the scientists’ recommendation of a $414 million increase in Alzheimer’s research. This increase will help achieve the national goal of a treatment for Alzheimer’s by 2025. I care deeply about this because in my work I see families that have received a diagnosis that has taken too long, or seen too many physicians and still have no clear diagnosis. Often, spouses are left to struggle with caregiving without any guidance or understanding of what might come next. It’s time to put an end to Alzheimer’s disease! Visit ALZ.org or call 1 (800) 272-3900 to learn more and get involved with the fight against Alzheimer’s. Patricia Le Roy Lacey, WA

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Guest Editorial

TRUMPCARE: AN INTERNATIONAL EMBARRASSMENT By Mel Gurtov

Paul Ryan justifies the current Trumpcare bill as promoting freedom – the right not to have to buy health insurance and thus be “free� to be unhealthy. It’s a revolting position to take, not to mention inhumane and short-sighted, reminiscent of Marie Antoinette’s infamous advice to the starving French masses: “let them eat cake.� A large, unhealthy population – 52 million by 2026, including millions of children – guarantees a less educated, skilled, and healthy workforce, more desperation and crime, and more impoverished families and communities needing all kinds of social-welfare help. Of particular urgency is that Trumpcare will tear apart the largely successful health care net for children – Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the Affordable Care Act. According to the Children’s Defense Fund, 94 percent of children have access to health care because of these three programs. The threat now, as two writers (one a physician) in Pennsylvania put it, is that “changes such as federal funding caps or a block grant may pit kids against the disabled, seniors or even their parents. We cannot afford to go backward and the state doesn't have the resources to fill the gap.� The Congressional Budget Office report predicts that if, as Trumpcare proposes, federal funding for Planned Parenthood ends for one year, thousands of additional births to parents on Medicaid will result. That will put a huge new strain on Medicaid’s budget, which already is under attack by conservatives. The planned cut will also mean loss of women’s access to critical prenatal and preventive health services that Planned Parenthood provides. THE INTERNATIONAL DIMENSION Less often considered is that Trumpcare tramples on international law. Enacting Trumpcare will put the United States in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Consider Article 25 of the Universal Declaration, which all UN members must accept: Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

Under Trumpcare, the US would also be in violation of several articles of the 1990 Convention on the Rights of the Child. True, the U.S. has not ratified the CRC; in fact it is the only country in the world that has not ratified it (thanks to Republicans in the Senate who traditionally reject any notion that U.S. law or practice should be subordinate to what the rest of the world accepts). But the U.S. is a signatory to the CRC, thanks to Bill Clinton in 1995, and thus a globally responsible president would at least heed the convention’s most basic requirements, which are surely in the national interest. Here are the CRC articles relevant to children’s health: • Article 3: States parties shall ensure that the institutions, services and facilities responsible for the care or protection of children shall conform with the standards established by competent authorities, particularly in the areas of safety, health, in the number and suitability of their staff, as well as competent supervision. • Article 6: States parties recognize that every child has the inherent right to life. States parties shall ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child. • Article 24: States parties recognize the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health. States parties shall strive to ensure that no child is deprived of his or her right of access to such health care services. States parties shall pursue full implementation of this right and, in particular, shall take appropriate measures:

(a) To diminish infant and child mortality; (b) To ensure the provision of necessary medical assistance and health care to all children with emphasis on the development of primary health care. There is a campaign for U.S. ratification of the CRC. Of course the president and his minions care not a whit about international law, any more than they show concern about human rights. Our children, and all children, deserve better. Mel Gurtov, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is professor emeritus of political science at Portland State University.

AMERICA’S LIFE-SAVING WORK IN AFRICA ENCOURAGES COUNTRIES TO TAKE CARE OF THEIR OWN By Willie Dickerson Imagine your family members and friends begin to die for unknown reasons. When HIV/AIDS is revealed as the cause, the deaths continue. Even when medicines come out, they are too expensive, and the deaths continue. Tuberculosis complicates the problems and often brings death to people with weakened immune systems caused by AIDS. This is the story of many countries during the 1990s and early 2000s, Zambia being a sad example of this scenario. One Peace Corps volunteer told me, when he worked in Zambia during these times, there was little hope, only one person he met talked about the future. Finally, thanks to PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria, people began to survive. The anti-retro viral drugs these programs provided were giving hope to people who had been resigned to die. Even better, these drugs help stem the spread of HIV/AIDS. The PEPFAR program is America’s answer to the AIDS epidemic begun under President Bush. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria is a multinational program that battles these three plagues. America’s robust support of the Global Fund ($4.3 billion over the next three years) has inspired other nations and private donors to give, helping to turn the tide against these epidemics. Recently there has been talk of an AIDS free generation. In fact, while I was in Zambia this month, the PEPFAR coordinator for the region said that the AIDS free generation is only three to five years away in Zambia. Of course this depends on continued funding from the United States and other donors. But Zambia of

the present day is one of hope and confidence. The reality is that the AIDS epidemic is not the killer it once was. Yet nearly every family has been touched by it. Everyone has had family members or friends who were taken by the disease. The Zambian people I met always thanked me for the hope the new medicines from America brought. What can we do to make sure this work of hope continues? Right now in the halls of Congress our elected representatives are deciding about the budget for next year. Even though President Obama pledged the money to the Global Fund for a total of $4.3 billion over the next three years, each year it requires funding by Congress. The same is true for the monies for PEPFAR, which the current administration is questioning. What can we do to make sure these programs continue? Each of us can help by calling or writing our representative and senators to make sure they understand that these programs are a matter of life and death to millions in our world. The AIDS free generation is possible if we continue investing in these programs. As Mark Dybul, executive director of the Global Fund, has said on many occasions, if we fail to keep up this battle, all of these diseases will come back quickly and it will be even harder to stop them in the future. Our voices can make sure this doesn’t happen and that the AIDS free generation becomes a reality. Willie Dickerson is a former Tacoma resident where he taught school for 16 years (and he still visits family often). Retired now, he is a volunteer with RESULTS (results.org) working to end hunger and the worst aspects of poverty in America and our world.