- Published on Wednesday, 03 April 2013 16:26
- Written by TIM BOWEN
- Hits: 2304
Keeping frail elderly loved ones at home can be extremely difficult; not only in terms of ensuring they receive the proper medical and personal care they need – which can often be a weekly or even daily necessity – but it can also prove difficult in terms of managing and maintaining a healthy balance with a career and personal life.
Many of us have struggled with this challenge, yet know it is a more acceptable alternative than placing our mother, father or other loved one in a nursing home. However, there is now an alternative that, if introduced, will provide much-needed assistance to families that are caring for a loved one by providing comprehensive in-home care to frail seniors at risk for nursing home placement. This alternative is called a PACE program, or Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly.
PACE programs are innovative managed care programs focused on providing all health care and other supportive services to keep those 55 years or older, who are very frail and at risk for long-term nursing home placement, living as independently as possible, for as long as possible.
During the 2013 Legislative Session, Haven Hospice is hopeful that the Florida Legislature will support the implementation of PACE programs in Duval, Alachua and Clay counties. Many wonder why a hospice provider would operate a PACE program as they are two very different services. The reason is simple, hospices are often best equipped from an operational standpoint to run PACE programs; and, at Haven, we truly believe that this valuable and unique managed care program will have a positive impact on the welfare of Florida seniors and their families, as well as providing significant saving to the state Medicaid budget.
If introduced, this valuable program would provide the entire continuum of care and services to seniors, including adult day care that offers primary care (dental and eye care; podiatry care; physical, speech, occupational and recreational therapies; nutritional counseling and meals; social work services; nursing and personal care); primary medical care provided by a PACE physician, who is familiar with the history, needs and preferences of each PACE participant; home health care and personal care to maintain the senior’s independence in their homes; all necessary prescription drugs; respite care and hospital and nursing home care when necessary.
In PACE programs, care and services are centered around an Adult Day Health Care Facility, which will strive to retain the focus on care and socialization by aiming to limit participants’ time in transport to or from the PACE facility. Moreover, under this unique program, health care providers and professionals are allowed the freedom and flexibility to plan and provide the most appropriate services, allowing each participant’s care to be specifically tailored to suit their needs and circumstances.
We are hopeful that members of the Florida Legislature will consider supporting the unique and valuable PACE concept this session, that will have a significant and positive impact on frail seniors and their loved ones.
Tim Bowen is President of Haven Hospice.
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- Published on Saturday, 17 November 2012 02:29
- Written by Mike Griffis
- Hits: 8904
Mike Griffis, Vice-Chairman, Citizens for Strong Schools
For Alachua County Public Schools, we have an opportunity Tuesday to renew a one mill ad valorem tax to pay for school nurses, classroom technology, and music, art, library, guidance, band, chorus, and academic magnet programs.
And don’t fall victim to four common misconceptions. Let me debunk them here.
- School taxes have increased: False.
School funding comes mainly from two sources: sales tax dollars and local property taxes. The state legislature controls nearly all of this. Every year, it sends fewer sales tax dollars and caps the millage rate that our school district can levy (one mill is $1 tax per $1,000 property value).
In 1995, it was 12.2 mill. Today, it is down to 8.5, counting the 1 mill. Actual yearly ad valorem tax on a typical house has been flat, no difference or even less when compared to 1995. A house that has significantly appreciated since then might pay nominally $125 more (see http://yesforalachuaschools.org).
While your taxes have increased, our public schools are not getting them.
In pre-Lottery 1988, the legislature funded education with 60 percent of the overall state budget. Now, to pay for pet projects, the legislature has reduced education to 29 percent of the budget.
Emphasis in the term-limited legislature is not on public education. But state law does allow for voter-approved additional millage to pay for programs ignored by the legislature; hence, the ballot initiative.
- Administration is bloated, funding isn’t getting into classrooms: False.
In the budget for our school district, 77 percent goes to personnel, which are mostly teachers.
Only one-half a percent goes to general administration and pays folks working out of a building built in 1900. School administration, mostly principals and vice-principals of 42 schools, gets 6 percent of the budget.
Almost 2/3 of the budget is instructional. The remaining 1/3 supports it. It is well run and worthy of our support.
- Graduation rate is low and this means our schools are failing: False.
The term-limited state legislature has embraced a national movement to streamline education and force it into a one-size-fits-all blueprint. Yes, teacher accountability is important, students need to be tested for ensuring progress, and reading, writing, and arithmetic are necessary aspects of a high quality education.
But the legislature has placed too much focus on reducing costs and the sole utopian goal of prepping all students for college. To receive a high school diploma, students must now pass Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Biology I, Chemistry I, and a Science Lab.
Not all students can pass these courses, nor would all students benefit from them. Not all jobs require a college degree, and in fact most do not.
Some options like vocational courses are all but a memory in the college-or-bust mandate. School districts lack the opportunity to provide appropriate options for students so they can get quality jobs suited to their abilities.
School districts are then penalized when students fail and drop out. There is a horde of uneducated and angry dropouts on the horizon.
Our Alachua County Public Schools is very successful as our high school graduation rate is 87 percent. Our children have access to a high quality education, in spite of the mandates coming from Tallahassee.
- Privatizing schools will improve the results at lower cost: False.
Another national movement being embraced privatizes public education using charter schools. Charters often appear out of nowhere and disappear like gypsies. To nurture them, charters are exempt from many of the mandates of public schools. They select desirable students, often drop-kicking unwanted students back into the public school system.
Rewarded are charter schools that lack educational and enterprise experience but lobby to be pet projects. Rewarded are those administrators with exorbitant salaries. Penalized are high performing public school districts like our own. Public schools must take everyone and educate using fewer funds.
Remember this when you vote: A high quality public education is a right guaranteed to our children. The State of Florida Constitution devotes an entire article to public education to ensure this.
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- Published on Wednesday, 01 August 2012 12:26
- Written by Linda Hewlett
- Hits: 9368
In her many years of service to High Springs she has received accolades from all who know her. Suddenly, freshman commissioner, Vice Mayor Barnas, claims she “circumvented a process that would have allowed voters…to make a choice for debt.” His blog remarks are much more insidious – a fact that moved Commissioner Scott Jamison to come out of his seat at the Tuesday, July 17 meeting.
Let’s break this down. Mr. Barnas has had a death wish for the city’s sewer system since the idea first appeared. He even declared to the commissioners at the time that the sewer was against his first amendment rights.
Now this commission, led in fact by Barnas, has decided that despite our proximity to the Floridan aquifer, they will not complete phases 4 or 5 of the sewer.
So, how could he ensure for all time that no sewer project can ever be completed?
That would be Charter Amendment 2012-13 that would require a two-thirds vote by the commission and a referendum approved by the voters for the commission to even temporarily borrow more than $1 million.
Commissioner Sue Weller pointed out that this could keep High Springs from using transportation tax dollars to pave roads. Former City Attorney Tom DePeters said this would squelch any chance of improving our very aged water systems, adding additional highway projects, or any other infrastructure needed for substantial growth.
How does this tie in to Mrs. Parham?
Step 1) There was a commission meeting on July 12 in which the charter amendment was proposed, but the majority of commissioners voted it down;
Step 2) Barnas ordered Parham to publish public hearing notices for the failed amendment in the newspapers. This, despite the fact that the city attorney has repeatedly told Barnas that he may not direct the activities of City staff (in fact there are more than 600 Charter and Sunshine violations submitted for legal action to the State against Barnas);
Step 3) Because the commission did not pass the amendment, Parham did not publish it, as per legal advice from the city attorney;
Step 4) The commission met in an emergency meeting on July 17 and voted to pass the amendment. Now Parham puts the ad into Alachua County Today, but not with Barnas’ dates for public hearings, but with the dates as legally required for notices.
The city manager, at the beginning of the July 17 commission meeting, explained to everyone in the room the exact steps Parham had followed regarding publishing Charter Amendment 2012-13 and explained why. Nevertheless, Barnas put out the letter slamming Parham on July 19.
Barnas has repeatedly proven to be unwilling to follow the High Springs Charter. This document must be the guide for the city manager and all commissioners. Parham knows it well, and abides by it as it is her legal (and moral) obligation.
Apparently, if a Charter Officer is unwilling to follow the individual direction of one commissioner the result is a public lashing. Commissioner Jamison asked Mayor Davis if the mayor condoned such verbal public abuse of an employee and Mayor Davis said he could not stop commissioners from saying whatever they want.
Jamison also pointed out that Davis has been on the commission for three years, and Barnas and Gestrin have been on the commission for seven months. If this charter amendment is such an important matter, why are we just hearing about it now? Why does lack of planning by Barnas result in an emergency for everyone else?
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- Published on Monday, 08 October 2012 19:49
- Written by Gene Levine
- Hits: 9239
Guest Column by Gene Levine, High Springs resident
Did you realize that High Springs is a business? Do you realize that our once vibrant City is on the brink of going out of business? I don’t want that to happen and hopefully you don’t want that either.
Let me summarize. I am fed up with the way three of the five commissioners have put our city in harm’s way. Commissioners Dean Davis, Bob Barnas and Linda Gestrin form a voting majority. Whenever important votes are called, it is always "Three for and two against" giving them the majority, which is their right. But as I hope to point out, there are no right ways to do wrong things.
This trio seems to have one trait in common: they act as all-knowing commissioners. Based on their actions, voting record and their lack of realization as to what they don't know and what they need to know, they have brought our City to its tipping point.
When the three assumed control they charged into office like the raging bull in a china shop that makes no distinction between what is good or bad as it destroys everything in its path. They immediately fired the experienced and capable City Planner, Christian Papoli. They pressured our City Attorney, Tom DePeter, to quit and in violation of our City Charter, and began to make veiled termination threats to City employees who wouldn't agree with the changes the trio directed them to make.
This trio's modus operandi is to also disregard our Charter and constantly reject input from the other two commissioners, Scott Jamison and Sue Weller. When Mayor Davis reluctantly allows well-meaning residents to speak, as they come forward to the podium, he points his gavel at them, and using bullying tones and gestures, threatens them with statements such as, "I caution you not to say anything disparaging or I will gavel you back to your seat or have you removed." In other words, if you decide to address this commission, Davis will deny your freedom of speech guaranteed to you by the 1st Amendment of our Constitution.
Because this trio displays an obvious lack of leadership and factual decision making, they rely on a group of less than capable cronies for advice. Ill-conceived advice apparently directed the trio to again ignore our Charter first by how they hired, and then illegally tried to fire Jeri Langman, their new City Manager. Because the trio got caught, they encouraged still another lawsuit. Langman getting fired happened when the trio learned she was an authentic professional and wanted no part in helping them break the law. She took the trio’s misdeeds to the press and the State and as a result she unfairly lost her job.
For some hard-to-explain reason, this trio also seems to shrug off the inevitable string of lawsuits they alone continue to cause. They have caused so many lawsuits against the City that our annual liability insurance premiums will spiral from; $13,754 in 2011 to the actuaries' projected $237,949 in 2013. And guess who is going to pay these premiums? If you said, "we the citizens," you guessed correctly.
Want more proof of the impending devastation to the City this trio is causing – beyond just spending money we don't have to finance expensive projects we don't need? It is the trio’s roughshod treatment of our remaining, hard-working City employees. Their threats and actions have brought the morale of these employees to so low a point that, based on my considered labor law experience during union organizing campaigns, it wouldn't surprise me if, to ensure their job security, the City employees decided to invite a union in to protect them.
Davis, Barnas and Gestrin defend their imprudent actions as the only way to balance the budget. What good is their balancing of our budget if, in the process, they destroy the future of our City?
The trio continuously denies any and all formal charges brought against them calling them, "lies and conspiracies." They continually blame past City administrations, stupid citizens, the present economy and what they call an, "outdated City Charter" for the mess our City is in.
My case for putting the blame for our City's potential demise where it belongs is solidified by having you look at the thriving City of Newberry just a few miles south of us. Newberry has faced the same economic challenges we have, but acted positively and proactively. Newberry is constantly expanding and adding jobs, while High Springs is steadily declining. Newberry will come to be widely known as the home of its Nations Park sports complex while our boarded up High Springs will fade into oblivion. Why can't we also thrive? It's because those who govern Newberry have better leadership skills, knowledge, attitudes, vision and abilities to successfully run and grow a City.
High Springs cannot survive unless you do something to help reverse our present trio's poor, unprofessional, uninformed, bullying and disastrous track record. If in past elections you voted for Davis, Barnas or Gestrin, you can help get High Springs out of the visible mess this trio has caused by opening your eyes to the truth. In the upcoming election on Nov. 6, 2012, think hard and try not to compound any previous voting error you may have made. On this election day do what is right for the City by voting for a well-seasoned professional past commissioner, Byran Williams who has pledged "to bring economic development and jobs back into the area, as well as work to get the City moving forward again." Scott Jamison is now unopposed. and fortunately our City will still have his voice on the commission.
Running against Williams is Pat Rush who pledges "To rein in spending, that adding to the City's debt, lack of money and sloppy bookkeeping is inexcusable." My question is; how can the City survive if he makes any more of his pledged budget cuts? Furthermore, Pat Rush's record shows that he once owned Pats' Place Coffee Shop on Main Street. It went out of business. Interesting isn't it that that he couldn't run his own small business successfully – where he had absolute control – yet he wants us to put him in a position to run our City.
We all know Byran Williams. He is a deeply religious man with impeccable and searchable personal credentials. On the other hand, Pat Rush's past and character raises many questions about his background and qualifications. You can therefore do what is best for our City and tip the scale back to the City's favor by voting for the only well informed and highly experienced Commission Candidate, Byran Williams.Williams and present commissioners Jamison and Weller will focus on providing the many things our City sorely needs including much needed jobs. They have the skills, knowledge, abilities, attitudes and vision to provide much needed guidance and a willingness to better position High Springs to get jobs for its residents so we may thrive once again. Add a comment Add a comment
- Published on Monday, 09 July 2012 20:05
- Written by Guest Column by Robert Wilford
- Hits: 7327
Dear Most Holy Father:
As a survivor of clergy sexual abuse in the early 1960s in Birmingham, Ala., I approached the local diocese, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and John Paul II, in 1993, to report the priest who sexually abused me for four years. I was virtually ignored.
As a result, this monster priest was allowed to remain in ministry until his crimes were finally made public by The Decatur Daily (Ala.) in 2002 after I reported him. He was forced into retirement in June of this year as a result of my relentless pursuit for justice.
For the past 19 years, I have been an outspoken critic of the hierarchy of a broken church in need of renewal, reformation, and rebirth in the 21st Century. Consequently, I have written numerous letters challenging the church's hierarchy to admit culpability in the cover-up of clergy sexual abuse crimes. John Paul and you failed miserably in meeting my challenge.
The Roman Catholic Church is in dire need of becoming truly "spiritual" in exercising its brand of Christianity in the 21st Century. I offer the following recommendations for your consideration:
1) Rescind the canonization process for Pope John Paul II. He is unworthy of this exalted declaration as it has been proven that he failed miserably in protecting children from being sexually victimized by predator priests.
2) Allow any ordained priest of the Roman Catholic Church to marry and remain in the priesthood. Two points are significant related to this recommendation. The first point is that priests were allowed to marry up to the 12th Century when the Vatican established the rule that priests could no longer marry in order to retain wealth for the church primarily in the form of land ownership.
The second point is related to the fact that priests of the Eastern Rite Catholic Church, who accept the authority of the Church of Rome, are permitted to be married. In addition, married clergy converts from a number of Catholic-like denominations have been allowed in recent years to become Catholic priests while remaining married. I propose that it is grossly unfair for the church to enforce totally different "celibacy" rules for its ordained priests.
3) Allow women to be ordained to the priesthood. It is time for Catholicism to embrace ordaining women to the priesthood is the God-inspired thing to do. Just a thought... if women who choose to be nuns are worthy to be accepted into this religious community, what spiritual purpose is served by keeping them from being ordained priests?
4) Allow the taking of communion with other Christian denominations at Mass and at Christian churches. It appears that the overwhelming theological argument from the Catholic perspective revolves around transubstantiation whereby the bread and wine become the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ during the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. Does it really matter? If Christians believe in the "same" Jesus, surely we can agree to communion together in a show of love for Him. I ask, why not?
5) Do not allow the secrecy and confidentiality of the confessional to be misused to harbor sexually abusive priests. It is time for the church to admit that it has allowed the Sacrament of Penance to be employed as an "unholy weapon of mass destruction" in killing the souls of children by protecting predator priests.
Priests who have been confirmed as sexual predators should be laicized and reported to law enforcement agencies to determine if they can be prosecuted for their crimes. Of course, many of these criminals will unjustly escape prosecution due to statue of limitations restrictions.
6) Repeal the infallibility doctrine. This doctrine was not proclaimed until the 19th Century intimating that the church cannot make errors regarding matters of faith and morals. It is flawed! It is unrealistic! It is invalid! ...proof of my point? ...Joan of Arc ...Martin Luther ...Galileo ...inquisitions and crusades ... and the cover-up of crimes committed by clergy sexual predators. These persecutions and/or misuses of power by the papacy are just a few of the reasons that the "infallibility" doctrine is a gargantuan mistake.
From this day forward, I will implore (demand) that the USCCB challenge you and the "fallible" papacy in affecting God-inspired change in Catholicism. The following quote is taken from the church's catechism and is listed on the website of the USCCB:
"As a legitimate successor of the apostles he (a bishop) is, by divine institution and precept, responsible with the other bishops for the apostolic mission of the Church."
Is this statement an ethical, a moral, a pastoral, and a spiritual, mandate for the bishops to confront the papacy when its decisions and actions are "fallible" as well as reprehensible? You know it is; the bishops know it is; and, now in the 21st Century, most Catholics know it is.
Yes, I still love my church and its beautiful traditions. No, I do not hold you and the majority of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church in high regard.
It is up to you as the leader of Catholicism to regain credibility and restore trust in the world's oldest Christian religion. Carpe diem... the time is now.Add a comment Add a comment