Tell the FDA to stop denying ALS patients treatment options
When I became a parent, I knew immediately that I would do anything to protect my daughters from the hardest parts of life. My mission would be to give them as much love and comfort as I possibly could. But now instead of me taking care of them, my daughters are often responsible for taking care of me, because in May of 2014 I was diagnosed with ALS. Now, instead of protecting them, my daughters are forced to watch as my body dies one muscle at a time. ALS is a devastating disease, that currently has no effective FDA approved treatments. However, there are promising therapies in the FDA approval pipeline that might improve my chances and quality of life, but the FDA isn’t willing to expedite the approval of these drugs, even though the average life expectancy of an ALS patient is 3-5 years and the average time it takes for a drug to become FDA approved is over a decade. Please join me and Hope NOW for ALS in petitioning Congress and the FDA to apply Accelerated Approvals (AAP) to promising treatments targeting terminal diseases, and implement faster, smarter, and more humane clinical trials using today’s science. This is not a radical or new idea. In 1992, in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the FDA adopted the Accelerated Approval Program (AAP) – an expedited approval process to treat fatal diseases. This was a process to allow patients fast access to potentially life saving drugs, and has since been used for cancer and heart failure treatments. But the FDA refuses to apply it to ALS and other rapidly fatal diseases. How can it possibly be fair to exclude the most vulnerable and at risk people -- those with fast acting terminal diseases -- from this program? ALS is always fatal, and there are currently over 30,000 patients in the US with no options. We need help. We need options. My diagnosis is the greatest challenge my family has ever faced, and my daughters have amazed me with their grace and strength in taking on this battle with me. I know that even though my life has not turned out like I imagined it, I can still be the dad I always wanted to be, and I can still show my daughters what it means to take a stand for what counts. Please join me and Hope NOW for ALS to help save my life, and the lives of so many others around the country.
Urge FDA to approve new treatment for Carcinoid Tumors
Hi. My name is Kerry and I’m a zebra. Now, before you think I'm crazy, I hope you'll please let me have a minute of your time to explain. In medical school, doctors-to-be are often taught the adage “If you hear hoof beats, think horse”. In other words, the most obvious answer is usually the right answer. But sometimes the hoof beats come from something rarer: a zebra perhaps. For nearly 5 years, doctors heard hoof beats as they looked at scans of my liver and saw some small “things” taking up residence. And, for nearly 5 years, they thought horse. They did blood tests, colonoscopies, upper endoscopies; all of the tests you would do looking for the “normal” cancers such as colon cancer, but the tests were negative. So they concluded that my liver had some benign growths on it. Nothing to worry about. In January of 2016 a biopsy of my liver resolved the mystery. I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Carcinoid or Neuroendocrine Tumor (NET). The disease is so rare it is referred to as the zebra of cancers and represents only about 2% of cancers treated each year. In honor of its rarity, the zebra has been adopted as the official mascot of those who suffer from it and we, the patients, are called zebras. In my desperate quest for solutions to my problem, I read about a treatment called Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy, or PRRT for short. It has been available in Europe for more than a decade and clinical trials here in the United States have recently concluded. The results have been very promising. According to one of the doctors who participated in the phase 3 clinical trial, “The findings were, in my opinion, extraordinarily impressive, the median progression-free survival improved by nearly 80%, which is fairly unprecedented in oncologic studies. The finding is important because limited therapeutic options exist for such patients, who comprise 20% to 45% of neuroendocrine tumor cases.” (1) As you can imagine, I have been following these trials with great interest as I am their target patient: my tumors are inoperable and are known to respond to the drug being used in the treatment. Earlier this year, there was hope the treatment would be approved by mid-year 2016. Then it was sometime in the fourth quarter of 2016. The latest timeframe for approval is now early 2017. I understand and appreciate the fact that the FDA has to perform their due diligence to insure that new drugs are safe and effective. None of us want unsafe drugs to be hurried to market. In the case of PRRT, it appears to have proven its worth, both in US clinical trials as well as in more than 10 years of use in Europe. I don’t profess to know or understand what the holdup is in obtaining approval. I’m certainly not a doctor. What I do know is that every day that passes without this treatment being approved thousands of us zebras get sicker and closer to the point where treatments won’t matter any longer. Will you please join me in urging the FDA to keep the approval of PRRT at the top of their priority list? I’m only 55 years old and I’m not ready to leave this world yet. I and my fellow zebras thank you. Kerry (1) Full article discussing PRRT can be found online at http://www.carcinoid.org/2016/05/03/one-step-closer-us-peptide-receptor-radionuclide-therapy-prrt-neuroendocrine-cancers/
Republican leaders: Take a stand against Trump & for Democracy!
Honorable Republican Senators and Representatives, Given your oath to support and defend the United States Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and given that you have publicly expressed criticism of Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign, we implore you now to elevate duty to country over allegiance to party. We urge you to enjoin a bipartisan call for a special prosecutor to investigate the Russian cyberattacks that interfered with our election, as well as connections between Donald Trump, his campaign team and cabinet appointees, and Vladimir Putin and the Russian state. These issues are deeply concerning to Americans of all political affiliations. Our democracy will undoubtedly suffer under a Trump presidency. He shows little regard for rule of law, customs of governance, basic civility, conflicts of interest per the emoluments clause, and intelligence briefings. We cannot assume that once sworn in he will suddenly take an interest in defending the Constitution. His immigration policies alone violate the 1st, 4th and 5th Amendments. His attacks on free speech and suggestion that people should be stripped of citizenship for exercising free speech are shocking. It’s time to stop pretending this is going to work out. We have two chances to prevent Trump from taking office. The Electoral College meets on December 19th. We call on you to ensure that the 538 electors receive a full security briefing by the 19th, or take action to ensure that the vote is postponed. The Electoral College has the Constitutional duty to elect a president who is 1) qualified, 2) not a demagogue, 3) and is free of foreign entanglements. Donald Trump does not meet the second and third criteria, and it is debatable whether he has the qualifications and temperament to lead our nation. The Electoral College thus has the duty to reject Donald Trump. There is a growing elector movement to vote for another Republican presidential candidate. There are reports that as many as thirty Republican electors may vote their conscience against him on December 19th, which may result in a House election of the president, and Senate election of the vice-president. The second chance to intervene will be during the joint session of Congress to tally Electoral College votes on January 6th, 2017. We call on you to object to Trump votes on grounds of interference by a foreign government, violation of the emoluments clause, conflicts of interest, and nepotism. If these issues are not resolved, Donald Trump be in violation of the Constitution the moment he is sworn in to office, according to Richard Painter, the former chief ethics counsel to President George W. Bush. Americans must unite and take action to defend democracy and our Constitution. If there is fear of blowback if these efforts fail, and fear of a violent uprising if they succeed - isn’t this the very reason that we must stop Trump? His tactic of reprisals against those who oppose him is the reason we need to stand up to his bullying. It only takes one person to say the emperor has no clothes, and - there is strength in numbers. In summary, in this perilous moment we ask that you call for security briefings for electors, postponement of the electoral college vote, and a broad special prosecutor investigation into every aspect of Russian involvement with Trump and his team. We respect your leadership, and we support you in taking what may be an unpopular stand within your party. We still have time to choose a different future for our country. But we only have a few days. Take a stand now.
Accelerate FDA Approval of Genervon's GM604 To Help Fight ALS
My uncle Russell is battling ALS, as are so many others today. There is hope though and we need your help to ensure that great people like my uncle get the help and treatment that is just out of reach. This month, Genervon, a privately held, clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company based in California, will seek approval from the FDA for a new treatment that has shown remarkable results, GM604. More info here>>Click here for the press release from Genervon We need your help to ensure that the FDA approves the treatment and we also want to petition Genervon to accept Russell into their Compassionate Patient Trial. Russell has already been approved by his doctor for this care. For more information on Russell Wolfe, please read below an article by AZCentral.com that covers his story: Russell Wolfe of Scottsdale, 49, is using his personal battle to inspire others. He's the man behind the largest Christian-film production house that has ever been, Pure Flix, which has had a hand in 70 films since 2005. Its latest release, "God's Not Dead," is the story of a man, played by Kevin Sorbo, struggling to keep his faith while grappling with the tragic early death of his mother. Wolfe lives in the Valley with his wife and two kids. With his business soaring, his life has taken an unexpected turn. Less than a year ago, Wolfe was diagnosed with ALS. "He was speaking fine, walking fine a year ago, everything was normal," said Alyson Wolfe, Russell's wife. "Then in nine, 10 months' time, your world is turned upside down." Christian-film producer, husband and father of two, Russell is losing his muscle strength and coordination. He is battling symptoms of a disease, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, which affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms don't always progress this quickly. "It's been pretty shocking how fast it's come," said Russell, who speaks slowly and with difficulty. "Over about a five-month period, my voice went to where it is now. My walking was unstable but then went to a cane then to a walker and now every once in a while I use a wheelchair." Russell has been a model client at physical therapy. "I'm just giving it my all and fighting through physical therapy, doing what I know I need to do, within my own power, to get better," he said. "But praying that it's all up to God, because it is." ALS is terminal. Russell knows what he is up against. His positivity, he says, comes from faith. "I mean, you can choose to focus on the negative. What good does that do?" he said. "I think if people could focus on the blessings you still have or the blessing of what you're still able to do, and not focus on what you can't do, you're in a much better place." He also thinks there's a reason we go through what we go through. "So if you look at that in a positive light, take your eyes off yourself and look at the big picture, and you can be a blessing to others," Russell said. This past weekend, dozens of friends and family showed their support for Russell's family and others battling ALS, in the Walk to Defeat ALS, the ALS Association Arizona Chapter's signature event of the year, at Scottsdale Stadium. They showed up for a man demonstrating incredible strength of character and spirit, battling a disease with no cure. "The most important thing for me is to live in the day," Alyson said. "To not let my thoughts get too far ahead and just take it one day at a time," said Russell. "Be in the moment." (AZCentral.com) Click here to tweet directly to the FDA and tell them you stand with the ALS community and support the approval of GM6: http://ctt.ec/6wa_a
Tell the H.E.L.P Senate Committee to Make Federal Employment Equal and Safe For People With Autism/ Mental Disabilities
Former FDA Consumer Safety Officer, Stacey A. Meyer is seeking a petition of a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of the United States due April 21st, 2015. She is also seeking to unite special interest groups as amicus curiae to file a brief in support of this case. Her prayer and plight is to bring change to “how” and “who”, neutral third party, handles the requests for reasonable accommodations for individuals with invisible or barely visible mental or developmental disabilities. Often times, the employee with a developmental or mental disability cannot advocate for themselves or even know “what” types of accommodations the employer could make for them. The very essence of their disability impedes them from requesting or speaking up for themselves. Additionally, if the decision making process is left to an employee’s first, second or third level supervisor, a conflict of interest or negative biases will ultimately impact “how”, “if” and “what” the employer will provide for the qualified disabled employee seeking relief. Now, the employee is left exposed, vulnerable and if not valued subjected to resentful and/or discriminatory treatment. Everyone knows someone who has autism either through direct interaction or indirectly. It affects all of us and unless we stand united together injustices will continue to be committed against individuals with autism whether they are children at home, in school or adults in pursuit of the American dream, gainful employment and independent living. Stacey was a proud public servant for the United States Government for 17 years. She was terminated “because of” the mental disabilities she suffers from on July 15, 2011. The last position she held was with the Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration as a Consumer Safety Officer regulating the imported commodities, primarily foods, which enter into our domestic commerce. She was a loyal, trustworthy, dedicated and hard-working individual despite her mental disabilities (panic attacks, major depression, social anxiety, avoidant personality disorder, dependant personality disorder and sensory processing disorders). It is more than likely, because of these traits and symptoms, that she falls under the autistic spectrum disorders. The disabilities listed are co-morbidities of the autism. She is a 46 year old woman and often, especially women, do not find out until much later in life. She has been in litigation for 3 ½ years and this process has intensified her health issues and put her in financial ruin. She has lost everything through all of the litigation expenses. She never had her day in court with the administrative judge in the Merit Systems Protection Board, because her trial attorneys led her to believe that the Administrative Judge was going to rule against her and for the defendant the Department of Health and Human Services. Under their guidance, she withdrew from the MSPB process and filed a civil employment lawsuit in the Southern District of Florida in early July of 2012. Her day in court was slated for the first two weeks of December 2013. On November 15, 2013 the defendant moved for Summary Judgment on all four counts and the District Judge Cecilia Altonaga dismissed all 4 counts and closed the case. The four counts: Count I – Discrimination based on disability for Meyer’s termination in violation of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. sections 701-791b; Count II Discrimination based on disability for the FDA’s failure to accommodate Meyer’s disability in violation of the Rehabilitation Act; Count III – Retaliatory termination against Meyer for engaging in a protected activity in violation of the Rehabilitation Act; and Count IV – Discrimination based on gender in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1064, 42 U.S.C. section 2000e-2(a) (“Title VII”) Case No. 12-22666-CIV-ALTONAGA/Simonton. HHS admitted that she is a “qualified individual with a disability” under the Rehabilitation Act. The only hurdle that she appears to be facing in the court of law is that the DHHS terminated her under the “guise” that she broke a policy, misuse of a Government Owned Vehicle GOV and misrepresentation of her time and attendance by performing “fieldwork” in the field. She worked from within the GOV to escape the inadequate cubicle, high foot traffic and its location to supervisor William Keck. The court is hinging on the fact that she was not terminated “solely, because of” her disabilities. She revealed her mental disabilities to her first and second line supervisors, respectively, William Keck and Florida Director of Imports Branch, Facundo Bernal. She requested a minimal reasonable accommodations through the EEOC process a flexible any 80 hour schedule. In September 2010, Bernal called a meeting to create the facade that he was willingly engaging in the interactive process that the American with Disabilities and the Rehabilitation Act envisions. This process is a give and take between employee and employer is to determine the exact limitations and to consider what types of accommodations might help the otherwise qualified individual effectively perform the job. This process is also ongoing not a one stop deal. The needs of the individual may change through time or circumstances. Bernal used this meeting as a platform , as a pretext, not to discuss her needs for accommodations, but instead ridiculed and mocked her limitations surrounding her conditions: 1) interacting with others 2) concentration and 3) inability to learn new things. Bernal called her a “liability” during the meeting and flat out stated he did not think she was qualified for the position. Bernal questioned her abilities to do fieldwork, drive a GOV and interact with the officials at the firms FDA regulates. Stacey experienced a panic attack and became overwhelmed when Bernal called her a “liability” and publicly humiliated her in front of the other five individuals involved in the meeting. This disrespect of Stacey as a human being and as a contributing employee to the department caused irrevocable damage to her. Stacey’s behavior, “avoidant” followed after this contemptuous treatment. Even though Bernal did not think she could do the fieldwork, he chose to leave her in that very environment to fester her conditions. Union representatives brought up various accommodations during the meeting, including inner office duties (i.e. entry review and filer evaluations). Those duties are within the position of her former position and there are individuals that are not disabled performing those duties exclusively. Rotation into the inner office duties would have allowed Stacey to decompress from the continual flux of sensory and social engagement countered performing fieldwork. EEOC strongly advised Bernal to grant the any 80 hour schedule and offer FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) as an additional accommodation. Basically, because of the EEOC laws, Bernal reluctantly granted the any 80 hour schedule, but never mentioned to Stacey about invoking her FMLA right. Only 3 weeks later, Bernal unilaterally changed the accommodation, to a First 40 schedule, without consultation with the EEOC. He notified her of the change without union representation and did not engage in a discussion for alternative accommodations. This schedule conceptually looked similar to the 80 hour, but was quite different and was difficult in application. Stacey volunteered every other weekend to perform entry review, remotely, and counted on those hours for the 80 hour pay period. After this change to her schedule Stacey “shutdown”. In November 2010 Stacey’s reasonable accommodation needs changed when the import personnel relocated to a larger building. Stacey’s cubicle in the previous office was a secluded partitioned cubicle. The new cubicle was an open space just outside Keck’s office. Because of the new exposed cubicle, her conditions became exacerbated with sensory overload and a change of routine, important for autistics, and the proximity to Keck’s office. This cubicle became a contaminated area for her. Stacey began to experience panic attacks while sitting there and within eyesight of Keck. Stacey’s previous involvement, with Keck, incited emotions that triggered these panic attacks and extreme anxiety. As a new accommodation, she asked Keck for a different cubicle reassignment and was denied and mocked. Stacey was trying to stay gainfully employed at the same time she was being mistreated and dealing with all the triggers causing her health to deteriorate. This cubicle affected her concentration and anxiety levels. Stacey began to avoid this space at all costs. Keck, on many occasions mocked her limitations regarding her disabilities by exclaiming “What’s a matter can’t you concentrate at this desk?” Keck also made reference to one of her limitations, social communication, by making inflammatory comments “If you shake your ass I know you won’t have any problems while out in the field”. Instead of reporting these inflammatory comments to the EEOC or third or fourth level supervisors, she mistakenly, because of her conditions, stayed silent. Staying silent for too long ultimately caused her termination. After visiting the importing firms Stacey would continue the “fieldwork” at a small park one block across from the office to perform administrative duties, which is not uncommon, within the “safe” space of the GOV or on the park bench. She used the GOV as a satellite office. She also combined her lunch and two – 15 minute breaks while at the park. The flexible schedule was requested and granted, although modified, for exactly this reason to flex her schedule when needed. Stacey chose to avoid the cubicle triggering her panic attacks and work from the field. She also utilized the hour break to walk decompressing from the sensory overload and prepare to return to the contaminated cubicle. Her first and second line supervisors believed she was taking too long out in the field, so allegedly Keck did surveillance for 4 days while she performed fieldwork. Instead of questioning her or asking if her disabilities were causing difficulties while driving or performing the fieldwork, they contacted her third line supervisor, Emma Singleton who allegedly contacted the Office of Internal Affairs (OIA) to conduct an investigation. These managers, Facundo I. Bernal and William M. Keck were so derelict of their duties as the Florida’s Director of Import Operations Branch and as a Supervisory Consumer Safety Officer making over $100,000 each annually neither offered to discuss what was causing Stacey’s delay doing the fieldwork. From the reasonable accommodation meeting held only 1 ½ months earlier both officers gleaned that Stacey was a qualified individual with a disability and struggled with the limitations of 1) social communication 2) concentration and 3) ability to learn new things but neither cared enough to try to engage Stacey when they both noticed a difference in her behavior after moving to the new office. This clearly demonstrates their disregard and animosity for Stacey’s limitations and as an employee in general. Their number one action should have been for her welfare and safety under their purview. This gave them the ability to remove Stacey from her federal career under the pretext that she violated a policy. The investigation through a GPS, of course, confirmed that she was going to the park across the street. Stacey was fired under the pretext that she misused a GOV and that she did not perform work while at this park. Stacey timely appealed, Case No. 13-15685-BB, to the 11th Circuit, on December 13th, 2013. On November 17, 2014 the 11th Circuit Judges: Chief Judge Ed Carnes, Gerald Tjoflat and Adalberto Jordan per curiam AFFIRMED the lower court’s ruling as a matter of law stating that there were no material facts in dispute for a trial jury to decide. Stacey’s trial attorneys and appeal attorney have raised several significant material facts of dispute that collectively; together create a mosaic of circumstantial evidence. These facts should be left to a jury of her peers to decide if there was intentional retaliation and/or discrimination for seeking a reasonable accommodation for her disabilities. The case has many, many more tiles, components to it, that taken together demonstrate intentional discriminatory and retaliatory actions from her first line supervisor, William M. Keck and her second line supervisor, Facundo I. Bernal. Quite prudent to this case is a glaring conflict of interest that has been disregarded and over-looked intentionally. Count IV, gender discrimination, was not appealed to the 11th circuit and is therefore not considered. However, if a jury heard her case in its entirety; the perjuries committed by Keck, about any former relationship, sexually, with Stacey would illustrate his lack of candor. Also the perjuries from the Director, Bernal that he never called Stacey a “liability” and even openly admitted that it was wrong when he unilaterally changed her accommodation, justice could be served. WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP: Please write, call, email and tweet the following individuals to change the outcome of my case and life. President Barack Obama, DHHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D) - FL, Florida District Director Susan Turcovski and the United States Attorney for Appellee Wilfredo A. Ferrer. If you decide to tweet, justice4stacey.com, please include the hashtag #justice4stacey #accountability #williamkeck and #facundobernal. The message is simple: Stacey deserves justice and her right to a jury trial. You can reach the President Barack Obama at: The White House Attention: President Barack Obama 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500 Phone (202)456-1111 Twitter: @BarackObama@WhiteHouse Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/barackobama You can reach U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D) - FL at: Office of Senator Bill Nelson 225 East Robinson Street, Suite 410 Orlando, Florida 32801 Phone: (407) 872-7161 Twitter: https://twitter.com/SenBillNelson Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/billnelson E-mail: http://www.billnelson.senate.gov/contact-bill You can reach my congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz at: Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz Congresswoman D. Wasserman-Schultz 118 Cannon H.O.B. 10100 Pines Blvd Washington, DC 20515 Pembroke Pines, FL 33026 Phone: (202)225-7931 Phone: (954)437-3936 Twitter: @DWStweets Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RepDebbieWassermanSchultz You can reach the DHHS Secretary, Sylvia Mathews Burwell at: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Attention: Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell 200 Independence Ave. SW Washington DC 20201 Phone: 1-877-696-6775 E-mail: Sylvia.Burwell@fda.hhs.gov Twitter: @SecBurwell You can reach the FDA Commissioner, Margaret A. Hamburg at: Food and Drug Administration Attention: Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg 10903 New Hampshire Avenue WO1 RM2219 HF-01 Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002 E-mail: Mhamburg1@fda.hhs.gov Phone (301)796-5000 You can reach the FDA Regional Director, Anne Reid at: Food and Drug Administration Attention: Regional Director Anne Reid 60 Eighth Street DO-ATL Annex1 RM214 HFR-SE1 Atlanta, GA 30309 E-mail: Anne.email@example.com Phone: 404-253-1171 You can reach the Florida District Director, Susan M. Turcovski at Food and Drug Administration 555 Winderley Place 2nd Floor, Suite 200 Maitland, FL 32751 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: (407)475-4702 You can reach U.S. Attorney Wilfredo A. Ferrer at: US Attorneys Office Southern District Office 99 NE 4th St Miami, FL 33132-2131 United States Phone: (305)961-9001 Fax: (305)530-6444 Email: email@example.com Thank-you everyone for your help and support! Without you I won't make a difference. Stacey Meyer twitter @samfashion43
Save Momence and Kankakee County - Oppose Marsh Refuge
We, residents and property owners in Kankakee County, are deeply concerned about the process U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is using to impose the Kankakee Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area against our will. In 1999, the community overwhelming opposed to the original plan. Now FWS changed the name and made the target focus area Momence, IL and wants to use the original Environment Assessment, use a Finding Of No Significant Impact. FWS has accepted land and declared that the refuge has been established before even making the Land Protection Plan public. FWS needs to do an Environmental Impact Statement and update its Comprehensive Conservation Plan.
The C.A.P. Education Reform Proposal: Save America's Schools -- By Cutting Administrators' Pay, with Federal Legislation.
Schools across America are in trouble, and this has been the case, and getting worse, for decades. Many educational reform proposals have come and gone, but none have fixed the problems plaguing our schools. It is time for a completely new approach. We propose a simple, elegant solution: cut administrators’ pay, nationwide. How would this help American education? In school districts across America, teachers have difficulty effectively teaching students, because of the problem of teacher abuse, by overpaid administrators, many of whom are motivated by two things, above all else: greed, and the desire to control other people, especially the teachers whom they should merely supervise and assist, but too often mistreat, instead. Teachers know the horror stories, in every state, and they are the people to talk to, in order to learn the details of this abusive behavior, which is the true cause of most problems afflicting America’s schools. There is clear evidence that other factors, which previous educational reform proposals attempted to address (all much more complicated), were not the correct factors to address to get real school improvement, which everyone should want. This evidence is the current condition of America’s schools. If previous attempts had worked, schools would be better that this, but they are not. It is time for an entirely new approach. The reality is that most administrators harm educational quality, rather than help it. This is easy to verify: simply ask a decent-sized sampling of teachers, anywhere in America, if they know of serious problems caused by incompetent, abusive, and/or overpaid administrators. They know the truth, and will share it with you, in vivid detail, once they know you will not report what they tell you to their administrators, for acts of retaliation against teachers who speak out against abusive acts are quite common, sadly, all across America. America’s teachers are under siege, and this is the true reason for problems in our schools, more than any other single factor – and other factors can be addressed, once this siege is broken. The details vary from place to place, of course, but the disturbing, and true, story has the same basic plot everywhere: bullies are lured in to administrative positions by obscenely high salaries, grow intoxicated with the power they can wield over those who must report to them, and begin ruling as petty dictators, using threats, intimidation, and unethical, often illegal acts to, in some cases, simply terrorize teachers. There is no better word for what really happens in too many of America’s schools. Teachers in such situations are left with no option but to unionize, for they are stronger united, and better able to resist this all-too-common mistreatment, than they possibly could be, individually. There are people who do not like unions of teachers, but the simple truth is that teachers’ unions are formed in response to serious administrative misdeeds. Teachers end up with no choice but to unionize, for self-protection, seeking, and finding, strength in unity – and then these abusive administrators target teacher unions as scapegoats. Remove the abuse, and this problem evaporates, for teachers’ unions can then concentrate on delivering professional development programs to their members, as opposed to devoting all their time to protection of their members from administrative abuse. In the school district where this idea originated, in Arkansas, the Superintendent collects a salary of $215,000 per year, with additional costs, such as Social Security/FICA and Arkansas Teacher Retirement, raising the cost to taxpayers of his personal employment to well over one-quarter of a million dollars per year. He reports to the State Department of Education Commissioner, who collects a contracted salary that is even higher, at $219,999 per year. That person is now serving in the role of our one-man, unelected school board, following a state takeover of the our school district, on grounds of fiscal distress, during the Summer of 2011, creating a classic “taxation without representation” problem: the voters of our school district have been disenfranchised since June 20, 2011. Given that the Superintendent is one of 57 district personnel (none of whom are teachers) who cost the taxpayers over $100,000 per year to employ, it is not hard to discern the true reasons for this fiscal distress here – obscenely bloated administrative costs – and one form of teacher abuse happening here is the ongoing effort to destroy our unions and contracts (they already refuse to recognize them), despite the fact that Arkansas state law only permits actions to be taken in this situation which directly affect the budget of a school district, and most items in our negotiated contracts are simply protections for the right of teachers, and have no impact on our budget at all. Additional fiscal distress is being caused by legal expenses related to the attempted defense of these illegal actions, which are, of course, being challenged in court. Taxpayers pay for the District's lawyers, who charge as much as $400 per hour. The lawyers defending teacher and support staff unions, on the other hand, are not funded through taxes. We pay union dues for a reason. Our situation is far from unique, which is why we are proposing that this problem be solved at the federal level, through federal legislation. Our Superintendent is not the highest-paid superintendent in America. However, his contracted salary of $215,000 is a useful for illustrating this problem, which is even worse in other parts of our nation. There are two people in the Executive Branch of the federal government who earn more than $215,000 per year: President Barack Obama, and Vice-President Joe Biden. No one questions that the responsibilities of the Oval Office are immense, and the Vice-President must be ready to assume that office at any time, in an emergency situation no one should ever want to see again. We do not begrudge these two men their salaries – it must be admitted, by all reasonable people, that they work hard, whether or not one agrees with their policies. The responsibilities of being a top-level cabinet official are also immense, but every single member of the president’s cabinet, such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, earns less than $215,000 per year – and she coordinates foreign policy for the most powerful nation on earth. In the Legislative Branch, there is only one person in Congress – Speaker of the House John Boehner – who earns more than $215,000 per year – and he is third in the line of succession to the Presidency. We do not question that he earns his salary, either. No one in the entire U.S. Senate earns a salary greater that $215,000 per year. In the Judicial Branch of the federal government, only one person, Chief Justice John Roberts of the U.S. Supreme Court, has a salary which exceeds $215,000 per year – all Supreme Court Associate Justices earn lower salaries, and other federal judges, of course, earn less. Clearly, this is absurd, on the face of it. No school administrator does work that is comparable in difficulty or importance to the work of these four people – the only people in the entire federal government with salaries exceeding those of a single superintendent, in Arkansas. In reality, the work of teachers is far more important than that of administrators. Administrators do not teach the children of America -- teachers do. Despite this obvious fact, though, teacher salaries, all across the country, are paltry, compared to those of administrators, most of whom simply cause problems for teachers, making it more difficult for them to effectively teach the youth of America. This is a national scandal, and deserves federal intervention. Please remember: there are other superintendents with even more bloated salaries. For example, there is at least one Superintendent in New York state who costs taxpayers over half a million dollars per year -- yes, even more than President Obama's salary. No one seems to be able to explain why this is the case, but it can be quickly verified with a Google-search. We do need some administrators in our schools, but we need far fewer than we now have. Our District certainly has too many, and we are far from alone. With substantial cuts to administrative salaries, only the few good administrators, the ones who are truly dedicated to improving education, will remain in their positions, and these rare administrators cause no harm, for they are not abusive. The rest of America’s harmful "army" of overpaid administrators can simply seek another profession, and America’s students, their education, and the teachers who teach them will all be better off, as a result. Republicans everywhere should support this plan because it cuts government spending, and may even permit decreases in taxes. Republicans are well-known for supporting cuts in government spending and taxes, and for good reasons. Democrats are generally supportive of organized labor, especially in education, and should support this reform proposal because it is consistent with the ideal of the Democratic Party. Moreover, even those who do not like teachers’ unions, of whatever political persuasion, should support a reform proposal which improves public education. Taxpayers should support anything which can lower their taxes, and this can. Another word for taxpayers, of course, is “voters.” Members of Congress, in both houses, and both parties, should be appalled that administrators in public schools, who neither draft nor debate legislation, nor have to answer to voters to stay in office, have salaries which exceed their own. This can therefore be a bipartisan proposal, easy to justify to everyone. It simply makes good sense. There is a Constitutional issue here, but it has a solution. Education is a responsibility of state governments, not federal governments. However, school districts all across America receive federal education funding. We therefore propose that the same thing be done which the federal government has done many times before: leave it up to each individual state whether or not to cooperate, and impose a salary cap on administrators, but only disburse federal education funding to those states which comply with the stated goal of this legislative proposal. The federal government is not required to send such funding to state governments, for state governments have the authority to raise their own taxes to fund education, and do so. The idea of losing the federal portion of their funding, though, is quite likely to persuade all fifty state governments that cooperation, with what we hope becomes the C.A.P. Act, makes good political sense – in addition to being the right thing to do, of course. There is also the issue of the amount of the salary cap. A simple dollar figure does not account for difference in economic reality from state to state, nor would it deal with the problem of inflation. This problem also has a simple solution, though: tie the salary cap, at either the state or school district level, to the average teacher salary. Administrative salaries could have a maximum amount which is a small multiple of average teacher pay – or, even better, simply establish parity: pay administrators no more than the average teacher in their areas are paid, in recognition of the fact that the work done by administrators is not more important than that of classroom teachers. If administrators want higher salaries, then, they will have every incentive to push for higher teacher salaries, especially for beginning teachers, who often are paid so little that it is hard for them to simply pay their bills. Raise their salaries to a reasonable level, average teacher pay increases, and administrators can then be paid more. Simply maintaining this system would automatically adjust for inflation, for it enables administrative salaries to move in whatever direction, and to whatever degree, average teacher salaries move. The exact language of this legislation, of course, will require Congressional discussion and debate, but everyone should be able to agree that this idea makes sense. It will save taxpayers money, improve working conditions for teachers, and those teachers will then be able to do a better job teaching their students. It has the advantage of simplicity, unlike many previous educational reform efforts from the federal level. The details of how to run schools, as is proper, can be left to the states. Teachers know how to teach their students – they simply need to be free from intimidation and bullying, in order to be able to do so effectively. Our schools are in crisis, and we need federal intervention, through simply cutting administrators’ pay, to solve these problems which have plagued our nation’s schools for decades.
Public Education Needs a Leader Who Knows About… well, Public Education!
Did you benefit from free public education? Do you have children who did? Do you have grandchildren currently in public schools? Do you agree that public education is the basis of our free and democratic society? Do you believe that public money should stay in public schools? And do you agree that we should invest in our public schools? Regardless of whether you are a Republican or a Democrat... If you’re a “Public School Person,” please speak up. You do not have to work in the educational system to be concerned with the future of public schools. No one benefits from living in an uneducated society. Therefore, we are urging our senators in Washington to vote for a qualified educator as Education Secretary and whose ideas do not contradict the very beliefs that universal public education is built upon. Betsy DeVos has no experience in public education in any capacity, and her only education agenda is to take funds from neighborhood schools and give those funds to private schools and for-profit charters. We are asking that our US senators vote against the current nomination of Betsy DeVos - and to oppose any misguided policies that weaken public education. #StandUpforPublicEducation #VoteNoforDevos
Tario Stamps.. "TRUE" 924c first time offender.
Citied from famm.org Section 924 Reform: No Recidivist Penalties for Non-Recidivists Meant to target repeat violent offenders, 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) requires, depending on the type of gun involved and how it is used, the addition of an extra 5, 7, 10, 25, or 30 years of prison time1 for people who possess, brandish, or discharge a gun in the course of a drug offense or a so-called “crime of violence.” This extra prison time is in addition to whatever sentence the person receives for the underlying crime. For example, a person who sells drugs in their living room and has a gun in the safe in the bedroom would get an extra five years automatically for possessing that gun – in addition to whatever punishment they receive for the drug offense. This recipe leads to very long, expensive prison sentences – even when guns are not used or fired, or are owned for other lawful purposes.A glitch in section 924(c), though, can result in absurdly lengthy sentences for people who are not true repeat offenders. Weldon Angelos,2 a life-long target shooting fan and a first-time offender was sentenced to federal prison for possessing a gun in the course of a drug trafficking offense. On three occasions over a short time period, Angelos sold about $1,000 worth of marijuana to an undercover officer. The first time, he had a gun in an ankle holster, but did not take out, point, or fire the gun. The second time, he had a gun in his car during the drug sale. The third sale occurred in his home, where police found guns locked in a safe. These three sales and gun possession events were charged in a single indictment, and because of the way section 924(c) works, Angelos received a sentence of 55 years: 5 years for the first gun charge, 25 years for the second gun charge, and 25 years for the third gun charge – all to be served back-to-back-to-back. Many first time offenders like Tario Stamps are serving life like sentences under 924c. Most of them were young and immature when they made the mistake of their lives. Tario has been labeled as a "violent offender" but has not physically hurt or killed anyone. He was given 96 years for bank robbery while "TRUE" violent offenders that physically hurt or take someone's life only serve a mere fraction of this time and are given second chances. It's been 11years now, why is he still there when 924c was meant to target repeat offenders?? He has missed out on countless milestones in life. Moments that no one can bring back. He did not deserve this type of draconian punishment for bank robbery. 924c "TRUE" first time offenders should be given second chances just as other offenders are given second chances. Our families are suffering and still being destroyed from laws of injustice. Help me restore my family and yours too! Hear our voices and give these men and women a second chance. Reunite them with their loved ones. Please sign this petition urging our leaders in Congress to grant 924c "TRUE" first time offenders a second chance. Grant Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (S.2123). Support this bill.
Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2015
Our brother Peter Briggs was recently deported back to Germany. Peter was adopted by my father (a US Citizen serving in the United States Air Force) when he was in Germany he met and married my mother. Peter was only 4 years old when he then came to the USA and he has been in this country for over 55 years with an immigration ID with permanent resident status. Due to a less than perfect childhood, and the unfortunate passing of my father, Peter never got his US citizenship. Peter has been in this country legally and making a contribution to society by working and doing his civic duty. Many, many, years ago Peter made some bad choices, and got in trouble with the law. and now, after all these years when he is almost 60, they decide he should leave our country. When I think about how many illegal aliens that the courts let loose in the USA even after such heinous crimes such as rape and robbery or worse, this makes not an ounce of sense to me. Peter has been an upstanding citizen and paid his dues for the trouble he got into. We would like to bring Peter home by enacting S.2275: Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2015. We need your help to get this bill enacted. Senate Bill S.2275 was introduced and referred to committee on November 10, 2015 and it currently has 5 cosponsors.