What I stand for:

Fair Districting in Pennsylvania

Gerrymandering by definition is the locating of voting district lines by artificial means specifically to increase the likelihood of one political party winning the district because of where voters live in the created district.

Over the years, both parties have engaged in this practice, always to the detriment of fair elections, all across the US and certainly in Pennsylvania.  Long skinny oddly-shaped districts that wind around are a sure sign of this kind of manipulation.  The American people have largely grown tired of this artifice and want to see districts that are fairly drawn, compact in shape, and that do not skew the votes one way or the other.

The time for reform has come.  It is generally agreed that there needs to be a huge change to a wide open transparent process that includes public participation and sharing of information, and this must be bipartisan in nature.  Strict rules for map-making must be respected and enforced.

The good news is that both Democrat and Republican parties support this effort and have co-sponsored House Bill 2638 and Senate Bill 1242.  Janelle supports these bills, which are currently in play.

For more information, see www.fairdistrictspa.com.

Open Primaries in Pennsylvania

All across the US, there is a movement to modernize the election system by giving all registered voters the opportunity to vote in a primary election, and this is supported by us individuals but also by a wide range of civic and business organizations.  There is a national organization, Open Primaries, which stands for

  • Fairness in representation
  • Accountability in elections
  • No taxation without representation.

Currently in Pennsylvania, here is the status of primary election voting:

 

PARTY REGISTRATION

CONGRESSIONAL ELECTIONS

STATE OFFICE ELECTIONS

PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS

 

DEMOCRAT 

CLOSED

CLOSED

CLOSED

 

REPUBLICAN

CLOSED

CLOSED

CLOSED

Closed primaries mean that the 14% of Pennsylvania voters who are not affiliated with either party, that is, independents and members of other parties, are not represented.  Right now, this amounts to a startling 1,200,000 voters.

Many voters, whether Democrat, Republican, or neither, want to see open primaries.   Pennsylvania Senate Bill SB 300 would correct this.  Voters could choose a primary in which to vote.  The bipartisan bill passed the Senate and is now in the General Assembly.

Janelle supports the bill’s passage.

For more information, please visit www.openprimariespa.org.

Nursing Home Care

Improvement of patient care is a dynamic process and should be uppermost in the minds of medical care personnel. The development and sustenance of a patient-sensitive system is most critical to achieving this objective. It is important to pay attention to quality in every aspect of patient care, both medical and non-medical.

Waiting Times – Waiting times for all services should be minimized. In most developing countries, the high demand for services often makes this a huge problem. Nevertheless, it must be addressed effectively through continual review of patient responses and other data and using this feedback to make the necessary changes in systems.

Information – Patient information and instruction about all procedures, both medical and administrative, should be made noticeably clear. Well-trained patient counselors form an effective link between the patient and the facility staff and make the patient’s experience better and the physicians’ task much easier.

Communication – Communicating with the patient and the family about possible delays is a factor that can avoid a lot of frustration and anxiety. The creation of a special ‘Patient Care Department’ with a full-time Administrator has helped our institution significantly and has enhanced our interactions with patients and their families.

Ancillary Services – Other services such as communication, food, etc. should be accessible both to patients and to attending families.

Trained Personnel – A well-trained team is critical to providing high-quality care with desirable outcomes. Lack of adequate personnel and lack of adequate training facilities for the available personnel are major problems. The temptation to recruit untrained or poorly trained people should be resisted. The number of training programs must be increased, and the existing programs must be improved. Making a uniform basic curriculum available for all training institutions/programs should help bring about standardization.

 

 

Nursing Home Staffing

Staffing is one of the most important measures of nursing home quality, and it accounts for about two-thirds of a facility’s spending on average.

Most days, nursing home staffing levels are below what the CMS expects. This is when quality-of-care problems are going to emerge.

High nurse staffing levels and quality

CMS and experts recommend higher minimum staffing levels

A USCMS study in 2001 established the importance of having a minimum of 0.75 RN hours per resident day (hprd), 0.55 LVN/LPN hprd, and 2.8 (to 3.0) CNA hprd, for a total of 4.1 nursing hprd to meet the federal quality standards. These statistics are not enough and must be increased.

Nurse staffing levels are too low in half of U.S. nursing homes

In spite of improvements statistics show that the median nursing home has RN, CNA, and total staffing levels, which are below the CMS recommended standard.

Staffing levels need to be adjusted for resident acuity

The minimum expected staffing based on acuity should be higher than the recommended minimums.

* – “Because residents have different care needs, nursing homes with the same staffing levels could differ substantially in how well their staffing levels meet these needs. Thus, reported staffing levels must be adjusted to reflect the care needs (i.e., patient acuity or frailty) of a facility’s residents.” (https://innovation.cms.gov/files/x/nhp4p-staffing-risk-adjustment.pdf)

Regulatory enforcement

The CMS is the federal agency responsible for setting federal nursing home standards and for regulatory oversight. CMS contracts with state agencies to carry out the federal guidelines for surveys, complaint investigations, and enforcement compliance.

State political leadership has been found to be a factor influencing the stringency of nursing home oversight, where more liberal leadership is associated with stronger regulation and conservative leadership with less regulation and this NEEDS TO END.

School Funding and Safety

School Funding

Pennsylvania ranks a disappointing 46th in the US in the state’s share of funding for public schools, as the state now covers just 38% of school costs.  Local school districts must make up most of the difference, primarily through property taxes; and the Federal government picks up a small share.

The current PA education funding for 2020-21 FY budget amounts to

  •             $6,742,838,000 for Basic Education funding
  •             $1,186,815,000 for Special Education funding
  •                $268,000,000 for Ready to Learn Block Grants
  •                  $66,639,000 for Secondary Career and Technical Education Subsidies

These amounts are equal to the 2019-20 FY budget, so there was no increase for this year.

In Pennsylvania, as elsewhere, many ideas for alternative ways to fund public education have been discussed.  Among the sources discussed is casino gaming revenues.  There is much concern over the inherent unfairness to students in economically depressed areas that cannot collect property taxes like those collected in more prosperous areas.

Janelle is committed to finding ways to provide fair funding to serve ALL Pennsylvania students.  Because of the inequities of local funding, she supports increasing the state’s share, which once reached a high of 55%.  She believes this situation warrants further study to improve the funding sources and formulae.  Along with Governor Wolf, she supports the important goals of

  • Providing universal access to high-quality early childhood education
  • Ensuring that graduates of Pennsylvania’s high schools are career-ready
  • Improving access, affordability, and completion in postsecondary education and training.

The Pennsylvania State Education Association has endorsed the campaign to Elect Janelle Crossley for PA 199.

School Safety

There is no simple solution. We cannot just ban guns, or hand them out willy-nilly, and expect our kids to be safe. America must get beyond the political theater and posturing and do the hard work of making our schools secure places for kids to learn and grow.

What is needed is a true system of overall security. We the people must determine that schools are a big enough priority to take action.

These are steps that we can take and steps that we can greatly improve upon if already initiated.

Respond Pre-emptively: In order to pre-emptively stop school violence, it is vital to establish an environment that provides solid psychological security. A promising track is to develop relevant and up-to-date forms and modes of psychological first aid.

Control Access to the School: The second pillar is firmly controlling access to school facilities. If a person does not belong in the school, or is attempting to bring in prohibited items such as weapons, they must be denied access. Schools must have limited points of entry (one or at most two), each of which should be monitored and controlled by personnel that can turn people away when needed.

Hardening the Classroom: Next, we must do a better job of securing (or hardening) classrooms as potential targets inside the school. Classrooms are often chosen to shelter-in-place, particularly for the youngest kids who are very difficult to move quickly.

On-Site Incident Response: Schools must have an on-site response capability that can confront and stop an active shooter.

Law enforcement will do their best to respond in a timely manner, but they will quite often fail. Most active shooter scenarios are done within 3-6 minutes. Few, if any, police or sheriff departments can promise to respond that quickly, especially in non-urban areas. How schools achieve this capability is again a delicate decision.

The following are especially important steps to prevent and control bullying in our schools:

Parents, school staff, and other caring adults have a role to play in preventing bullying. They can: 

Help kids understand bullying. Talk about what bullying is and how to stand up to it safely. Tell kids bullying is unacceptable. Make sure kids know how to get help.
Keep the lines of communication open. Check-in with kids often. Listen to them. Know their friends, ask about school, and understand their concerns.
Encourage kids to do what they love. Special activities, interests, and hobbies can boost confidence, help kids make friends, and protect them from bullying behavior.
Model how to treat others with kindness and respect.

This is a growing problem over the past few years and we all need to do our part in preventing bullying and our schools and staff. Our schools, staff, and our school officials need to start taking ownership of this ever so horrendous act that is failing our kids as well as taking our kids’ lives as in suicide.

Help Kids Understand Bullying

Kids who know what bullying is can better identify it. They can talk about bullying if it happens to them or others. Kids need to know ways to safely stand up to bullying and how to get help.

Keep the Lines of Communication Open

Research tells us that children really do look to parents and caregivers for advice and help on tough decisions. Sometimes spending 15 minutes a day talking can reassure kids that they can talk to their parents if they have a problem.

Encourage Kids to Do What They Love

Help kids take part in activities, interests, and hobbies they like. Kids can volunteer, play sports, sing in a chorus, or join a youth group or school club. These activities give kids a chance to have fun and meet others with the same interests. They can build confidence and friendships that help protect kids from bullying.

Model How to Treat Others with Kindness and Respect

Kids learn from adults’ actions. By treating others with kindness and respect, adults show the kids in their lives that there is no place for bullying. Even if it seems like they are not paying attention, kids are watching how adults manage stress and conflict, as well as how they treat their friends, colleagues, and families.

Homelessness

We can end the homelessness crisis.

The fundamental cause of homelessness is the widening housing affordability gap. In New York City, that gap has widened significantly over the past decades – which have seen the loss of hundreds of thousands of units of affordable rental housing. As housing affordability has worsened, government at every level has cut back on already-inadequate housing assistance for low-income people and has reduced investments in building and preserving affordable housing.

By stabilizing people through shelter, moving them into permanent housing, and implementing assistance programs to keep them in their housing, we can not only reduce, but eliminate, homelessness.

Here are a few steps we need to take and improve greatly.

Federal housing assistance: Federal housing programs are one of the most successful housing-based solutions to reduce homelessness. The two largest federal housing programs are public housing and federal housing vouchers, known as Housing Choice Vouchers or Section 8 vouchers.

Permanent supportive housing: Pioneered in New York City in the 1980s, permanent supportive housing has now proven to be a successful and cost-effective solution to the homelessness crisis. The supportive housing model combines affordable housing assistance with vital support services for individuals living with mental illness, HIV/AIDS or other serious health problems.

Housing First: Another proven solution developed and replicated nationwide is the “housing first” approach to street homelessness, which builds on the success of permanent supportive housing. The “housing first” approach involves moving long-term street homeless individuals — the majority of whom are living with mental illness, substance abuse disorders and other serious health problems — directly into subsidized housing and then linking them to support services, either on-site or in the community.

Equality for All

Our American society indeed has a long history of unequal rights, dating back to the time when persons were enslaved, when immigrants of all kinds suffered discrimination, when indigenous people were displaced and herded out of their age-old occupation lands by newcomers, when religious intolerance stained our everyday lives, and when over half of Americans were denied the right to vote.  Too many of these persist today, including the disparity in pay for certain groups.

Janelle Crossley supports full equality for all Americans with no discrimination based on race, age, ethnicity, religion, country or language of origin, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity/expression.  She stands in support of people fitting into any of these categories using their right to peaceful assembly and exercise of the constitutional rights to work for the betterment of society.

LGBTQ Matters

In her candidacy to represent you in Harrisburg, Janelle has never concealed the fact that she is a transgender woman.  At the same time, she has focused on the issues that affect all in the 199th district and her commitment to what is best for all as we pursue leadership, justice, and equity.  Her commitment to equal rights for everyone in the 199th District is firm.   She is committed to strengthening non-discrimination laws as protection of civil rights.  Should she win, she will have been elected as the first openly transgender Pennsylvania state legislator, and there will doubtless be attention to this issue.  But everyone considering voting for Janelle needs to know that this is neither her biggest issue nor her sole focus.  Just like you, she is working to live a good and happy life and to serve others.

Janelle’s campaign reflects another pillar of helping people that we call BUILDING BELONGING.  Janelle has served as a regional representative for TransAdvocacy PA and is the first openly transgender woman to run for office in Pennsylvania.  In addition to her overall service as your representative, Janelle wants to be an advocate for LGBTQIA+ people in the district; and she wants to fight for important legislation that has stalled in Harrisburg for far too long.  This includes legislation that would prevent employment discrimination based on identity and a proposed ban on “conversion therapy” for minors.

Also, Janelle intends to fight for racial justice if elected.  Janelle has maintained an ongoing dialogue with Carlisle for Justice Transparency, a local group devoted to criminal justice reform in the wake of George Floyd’s death.  She has also spoken out in favor of Act 59, a recently-enacted bill that expands police training on the use of force and how to interact with diverse individuals.  The road to social justice is ongoing, and Janelle intends to stay the course through honest dialogues with her constituents and bold, inclusive advocacy.