Archive for Saturday, April 14, 2018

Letter to the editor: Educate yourself

April 14, 2018

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To the editor:

Anyone interested in the upcoming sales tax referendum should take the time to do their own research and learn the real stories behind the issue. The real story of the upcoming sales-tax referendum is different from what we’re hearing on social media and on the street.

Groups such as Citizens Against Jail Expansion have cast it as a jail-or-no-jail issue; their energetic campaign implores us to take a stand against jail expansion and argues that the county should instead concentrate on “alternatives to incarceration.”

All reasonable people oppose mass incarceration. But that’s not the issue at stake here. As population expands and state and national support for community services disappears, the county is more and more left to its own devices. The half-cent sales tax increase would fund not only necessary jail improvements but also “build an integrated system of care that moves from crisis and illness as a norm to recovery and prevention as a practice,” as the Douglas County website explains. The county is striving ultimately for the same goals as anti-jail activists.

What’s more, if the sales-tax increase is voted down — which seems likely, given the simple message available to its opponents — the county must fund jail expansion and mental health services with the “discretionary funding” that many local organizations rely on. Vote down the sales-tax increase and your favorite museums, arts centers and other cultural institutions will likely have to drastically scale back their operations or even shutter.

Douglas County is growing, and with growth comes new challenges in providing the best services for residents. We need to face these challenges with our hearts but also clear eyes and minds. Take time to learn the truth about the referendum and vote responsibly.

Comments

George Lippencott 5 days, 2 hours ago

I have been trying to follow the debate concerning the proposal for addressing how we manage criminal activity hereabouts. The recent posting from MS Watts was most helpful. This post has also added well to my understanding of the topic. The LJW article on how we are currently managing our local process was most helpful. What I have trouble understanding is why this topic is discussed all to frequently as an either/or.

It would seem to me that providing a responsible level of mental health support is long overdue. I note that the current incarceration process includes a number of positive, even creative steps to address recidivism which should continue and be reinforced. The statistics as to who is incarcerated suggest that we ae not indulging in mass incarceration but that there is a significant number of people that deserve to be off the streets. It would seem to me to be foolish beyond contempt to suggest we can significantly reduce those numbers in the near term through mental health initiatives alone.

If we carefully meld the extensive support, we are already offering our lawbreakers and would expand under the new initiative with the new mental health initiatives offered we may over time bring those numbers down. However, criminal activity is with us and betting on mental health initiatives alone to eliminate it just may not be a good idea.

Instead of endless dialogue arguing for the best solution, we should show our appreciation for all the effort our leaders and our local contributors to the process have expended in structuring ta sound proposal. Yes, it may be a bit rich and the total program might benefit from a more gradual approach, but I see little utility in starting over. Once again “better” will become the enemy of” good enough” As an aside we seem to be locked into such an approach all to often hereabouts.

The world will not end with this vote- we can fix it next year and we will all benefit from getting the new proposed process in place where we can examine it and make further changes! I hope there are few if any of us that think this initiative is the” last” word.

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