- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Joplin Globe, Sept. 10

Our View: Bring a plan to restore cuts

When Missouri’s legislators head to a Wednesday veto override session in Jefferson City this week, they need to plan on staying long enough to vote themselves into a special session.

And they need to come armed with a plan to fix cuts that that are taking away services from seniors, veterans and disabled Missourians. Every day is crucial because those cuts went into effect in July.

Nearly 8,000 recipients of long-term care services in nursing homes or their own homes are going to lose their eligibility because they won’t meet new qualifications.

These cuts are already having serious consequences and should never have happened. The Missouri Legislature passed a bill in May that would have continued the service. Then, Gov. Eric Greitens vetoed the bill, calling it “an unconstitutional, one-time fake fix to a real problem.”

None of that matters to the real victims such as Shanda York, 23, of Carl Junction, who is featured on our front page today. She was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus and may find her in-home care cut unless lawmakers can restore funding. Without it, she will have to move to a more costly nursing home.

But even those already in nursing homes have reason to worry. Nursing homes are going to be reimbursed 3 percent less for Medicaid patients, meaning nursing homes could lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual revenue. Sue Joslen, the administrator at St. Luke’s Nursing Center in Carthage, says that the center will receive $100,000 less a year. The center has 70 patients there who are on Medicaid. In many cases, Medicaid patients have simply outlived their assets. Once their savings and their physical assets are depleted, then all that’s left is for them to turn to Medicaid. Joslen said it is the first time in her 41 year tenure that she is struggling to keep her residents from struggling.

Our local lawmakers all say they will vote for the special session. That’s only the first hurdle.

Much harder will be finding a funding fix that will pass and get the signature of the governor. In our view, there’s no walking away from this or kicking it down the road until the 2018 legislative session.

State Rep. Bill White, R-Joplin, who has called for a special session, believes the Legislature has a “moral obligation” to those who soon will have nowhere to go.

Sen. President Pro-Tem Ron Richard, R-Joplin, says the current situation is “unacceptable.”

We agree. Now let’s hope legislators and the governor can get on the same page.

Some 8,000 people are waiting for a decision.

______

The Springfield News-Leader, Sept. 6

Our Voice: HUD shouldn’t rush policy changes

Residents are more likely to get frustrated at the government’s pace for being too slow, but we’re seeing recently some negative effects of moving too fast.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s change to a definition regarding the use of grant money appears to be a wise adjustment in that it pushes money from the bank into projects.

HUD measures whether grant money is being spent fast enough, and the definition change now includes money that was sitting in the city’s commercial loan fund. The department’s directive forces the money to be put to good use.

However, by requiring $4 million to be spent, not just allocated, within the year, HUD limited what good could come of the policy change.

First of all, it limited what projects the city could select. For example, a council member asked about renovations to Founder’s Park - a project that has been desired but for which funding hasn’t been available.

Park Board Director Bob Belote explained that the project couldn’t get done in HUD’s time frame. It surely isn’t the only project that loses out because of timing criteria.

The short deadline has also left some residents feeling like they didn’t have a say in the process.

The typical cycle to allocate grants includes substantial feedback and citizen participation. While there was opportunity for some participation in this case, it was limited.

City spokeswoman Cora Scott said because of the “tight timeline on the reprogramming of the Commercial Loan funds, we didn’t have the luxury of going through an extensive public process because all of the projects had to be shovel ready.”

It’s possible that, after a year of discussion and planning, the city would have decided on the same $4 million worth of projects.

But we would have at least had the discussion, been able to consider a greater number of projects and reassured the public that their voices were being heard.

HUD made the right decision to push this money into the community, but in rushing it, the department limited the good that could have been accomplished.

____

The Kansas City Star, Sept. 8

Chiefs’ Marcus Peters sits one out for his country

Marcus Peters, sitting mute on that trainer’s bench while “The Star-Spangled Banner” played before Thursday night’s game - why, it’s enough to make a Chiefs fan root for Tom Brady.

OK, maybe that’s a bridge too far. And this time, Peters didn’t raise a fist as he did at last year’s season opener, or ride a stationary bike as he did in the preseason. But it’s clear that the Kansas City cornerback’s silent protests are picking at a scar that feels increasingly raw these days.

The facile symbolism is thick: An ungratefully prosperous African-American athlete damned the very foundation of the nation that granted him his fortune, just before taking on a team literally named the Patriots. And Brady, New England’s square-jawed, all-American superstar quarterback is a longtime “good friend” and golfing buddy of President Donald Trump.

Or, through a different lens: An unapologetic American success story chose not to rise for a song that wasn’t even adopted as the national anthem until 1931 - and whose lyrics were penned by a slave owner, and whose seldom-sung third verse may or may not cheer the deaths of slaves - standing on principle, then earning the Chiefs’ biggest regular season win over a team of cheaters who still sport Super Bowl rings.

Time to dial it back a bit. We’re all slogging along together through this great age of outrage, fueled by the talk radio and internet tantrum machines. One man’s protest isn’t a referendum on who loves this country most.

Activism is old hat in professional sports, from Muhammed Ali’s civil rights crusade to John Carlos’ and Tommie Smith’s Black Power salute at the 1968 Olympics. So why is Colin Kaepernick unemployed today? And who gets to define just what patriotism means?

Contrary to our Facebook timelines, Chiefs owner Clark Hunt has not dismissed players as “paid performers on a stage.” A team spokesman said Friday that they stand by a statement from last year where they committed to “have conversations, educate ourselves and others on social issues.”

For his part, Peters may be an open book, but it isn’t always so easy to follow the plot. He hasn’t said much directly about his intentions, and puzzling them out from his mercurial social media feeds sometimes calls for the deductive skills of Sherlock Holmes. He’d do well to open up and state his case explicitly - and hope for listeners with open minds.

Equality-minded Republicans know just how infuriating it is to be shouted down as a bigot on the basis of nothing more than party affiliation. That’s not why the Founding Fathers established a bedrock of free speech. Marcus Peters is owed that right absolutely. He wouldn’t advocate for change if he didn’t want a stronger country. We want to hear his ideas.

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