Accountability and Local Government Reform

 

 Independent Redistricting
Re-Charter and Redistrict & Re-Enfranchise Petersburg 
At-large Mayor of Petersburg
Pre-approved Closed      Session Council Agenda 
Environmental Justice     
(Tri-City Landfill Clean-Up)
Citizen Review Board

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Healthcare

 

Drug Substitution Addiction Treatment
Support Medicaid Expansion
Create Public Option for Middle Class 
Mental Health Parity
Drug Discount Programs

Accountability, Local Gov’t & Healthcare Reform

 

Re-charter and Re-district Petersburg council should have at-large elections to properly represent the city and so that residents can hold their leader accountable city-wide. There is not much difference among the seven wards; it doesn’t make sense for divided representation. If not all council, at least the Mayor should be elected at-large, even still with the same powers and responsibilities as before, citizens would be allowed to cast a vote of confidence for the head of city government.

 

Marijuana Legalization/War on Drugs Ten states and the District of Columbia have now legalized marijuana and/or decriminalized a small amount of drug possession. The War on Drugs has had a devastating impact on our community and has been largely ineffective. The acceptability of marijuana legalization is gradually shifting towards a pro-liberty direction and it is time Virginia join the right side of history. With our state history in relation to the tobacco industry, we should be allowing Virginia companies, like Altria, to lead the cannabis industry.

 

Like the issue of gun rights, the most optimal approaches to drug reform consist of both state and local level activism. Texas has the right idea by focusing on DA offices in major urban centers like Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio. Eventually, this momentum will carry over to the state level. It bears repeating what kind of damage the War on Drugs has done. Not only has it been a fiscal sinkhole for the U.S. government, with estimates pointing to a $1 trillion being spent to carry out this campaign since it started in the 1970s, but it has also led to organized crime, and has helped create an unprecedented mass incarceration industry in America.

 

Notably, harm reduction strategies have found support among law enforcement officers through programs such as Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD). Through LEAD, law enforcement officers are empowered to redirect individuals with substance use disorders to social services, rather than making low-level arrests. The program is founded on the understanding that incarceration can lead to unnecessary harm—or even death—for people with substance use disorders. Overdoses are the leading cause of death among individuals recently released from prison, who are 129 percent more likely to die from an overdose during that period than the general public.

 

A Citizen Review Board should approve agendas and review minutes of the closed-session Petersburg council meetings. According to current law, council members can go into closed sessions under certain specific circumstances. The Review board should approve closed-session agendas to concur that business intended is lawful and ethical, then review the minutes and decisions taken during the closed-session to ensure consistency with the approved agenda. The Citizen Review Board should review city-government and police department complaints, and deliver periodic summary reports recommending (by unanimous vote) non-binding alternatives that might solve the issues that need to be addressed, including administrative changes.

 

Mental Health Parity describes the equal treatment of mental health conditions and substance use disorders in insurance plans. When a plan has parity, it means that if you are provided unlimited doctor visits for a chronic condition like diabetes then they must offer unlimited visits for a mental health condition such as depression or schizophrenia. Federal parity replaces state law only in cases where the state law “prevents the application” of federal parity requirements. For example, if state law requires some coverage for mental health conditions, then the federal requirement of equal coverage will trump the “weaker” state law. Health plans that do not have to follow federal parity include:

  • Medicare (except for Medicare's cost-sharing for outpatient mental health services do comply with parity).
  • Medicaid fee-for-service plans.
  • “Grandfathered” individual and group health plans that were created and purchased before March 23, 2010.
  • Plans who received an exemption based on the increase of costs related to parity.
     

Affordable Healthcare: You can think of a public option as something of a compromise between a single-payer system and our current system, in which only certain Americans now qualify for government-run programs. More people could get government insurance. But only if they wanted it. Public-option plans would allow middle-income, working-age adults to choose a public insurance plan — like Medicare or Medicaid — instead of a private insurance plan. There are various ways this could work. Some proposals would allow individuals to pay a premium to buy a Medicare or Medicaid plan that would be the same as the insurance now available to older people, the disabled or the poor.