OPINION

Letters to the editor: Nevada's commitment to human services, and an assessment of Chris Rock and Will Smith

When a program is cut without changes in finances or regulation, that sends a message of who they value and who they think should be invested in.

Letters to the editor

City should invest more in human services

The Human Services fund was established by former Mayor Lynn Lathrop many years ago. The idea is to give nonprofit organizations in town some money from the local option sales tax that is collected. There is a wide range of organizations that have used this program over the years, from Harmony Clothing Closet to NCRC to the community band. All organizations who apply for the funds give a presentation to a mayor-appointed panel of citizens who then give a recommendation to the City Council for disbursement.

It is a great way to provide support and investment in a wide range of services and organizations who serve a broad group of people in our community.

This fund was allocated $75,000 per year for many years. For the 2019 fiscal year that was reduced to $50,000 because of an anticipated reduction in the amount of sales tax revenues the city would receive. That was a smart and responsible reaction to a possible drop in tax revenues. When the revenues came in, we were fortunate to not have a reduction in tax revenues; however, the Human Services fund was not restored. 

For fiscal year 2021, the program faced another setback when the State Auditor released a finding saying that funds such as these were not legal. As a result, the city halved the allocated amount, to $25,000, with a plan of finding a way to provide assistance to the services providing basic needs like food, shelter, clothing etc. After pushback from the many cities who provide this type of program, the auditor reversed their finding but asked that there be more structure in ensuring the taxpayer dollars were used as they were said they would be. Basically, leave a paper trail and follow up with the organizations to ensure they spend the money on what they said they would.  A completely fair and responsible request.

The current proposed city budget for the next fiscal year shows $40,000 for this fund. When city leaders invest in our community, it is important that they have a diverse investment portfolio that serves and supports as many people in the community as possible. We’ve done this in the past through tax incentives for new and growing businesses, or grants to downtown building owners. The human services fund has been a critical part of that portfolio. It serves our community through food and clothing services like the food banks, Salvation Army and Harmony closet. Through after school programing and events like the Boys and Girls Club, NCRC, the PTA, and Raising Readers. With counseling and mentorship programs through CFR and YSS. After trauma care programs like Legal Aid, and the assault care center and even community entertainment nonprofits like the community band.  And there are plenty more.

Our city leadership is charged with the responsibility of knowing the needs of our community. They communicate what those needs are to us through how they allocate our tax dollars. So when a program is cut without changes in finances or regulation, that sends a message of who they value and who they think should be invested in. These organizations and the people they serve deserve to be valued and invested in. They are the foundation of our community, and without them and their success our city will not succeed.

Luke Spence, Nevada

In defense of Jada Pinkett Smith

A short synopsis: Chris Rock makes a comment about Jada Pinkett Smith. Her husband, Will Smith, slaps Chris Rock. Will Smith apologizes and the media goes collectively out of their minds.

Let’s consider a few points.

First, Rock has not been privy to the very personal pain that Pinkett Smith has experienced in seeking her diagnosis.  Days, weeks, months and possibly years have passed while she has been seeking the reasons for her symptoms. The symptoms confuse and baffle her. She is in a line of work where image is everything. Imagine her difficulties walking proudly out of her house, head held high.

Second, Will Smith has been watching his wife struggle  The tears, the insecurities, the questions. He has been watching it all. He aches for his wife in their very public lifestyle.

Third, Rock has been given a pass as a provocateur to say nearly anything from a stage in front of an audience. Ah, but this time, he’s crossed the line. Not only that, half the country is watching, and we all know the rest of the story.

Consider this: What if Pinkett Smith had lost her hair to cancer? Would the joke have passed? What would have been the reaction if that were the reality? What gives a person on stage the license to publicly mock anyone and everyone? Do we have to sit by and take it? Clearly, Will Smith did not think so.

So, here we are. Rock has basically been given a pass to say whatever he wants and is fortified by the public and media to continue to do so. Smith has had to apologize multiple times for his chivalrous protection of his wife, due to the physical nature of his response.

What if his response had been to merely stand up and shout at Chris Rock? Yes, it would have caused a stir in the Oscars ceremony, but would it have made the very appropriate point that some things are off limits?

Our society has degenerated to a state where there appears to be no limits. “Funny” and “not funny” are breathed in the same sentence. We breathe them both in with astonishing complacency. We don’t have a filter any longer. We give ideas no thought with regard to their value. We do not reject ideas that are offensive, because the ideas are so incredibly ubiquitous that our capacity to reject the negative, untrue or downright unkind are overwhelmed.

Overwhelmed. How true. We have the media shouting contradicting stories at us 24/7. Politicians speaking out of both sides of their mouths. Our familiar acquaintances treating us with disrespect in order for personal gain. And, oh, yes, there’s social media, which is a veritable feeding frenzy of negativity and offensiveness. Those with flaws are pounced upon a like a wounded gazelle on the savanna, which brings us back to Jada Pinkett Smith.

She has a “flaw.” Her flaw happens to be that she has a disease. Diseases generally aren’t acquired by choice and Rock took advantage of it for personal gain. How many others in the audience were squirming because of things he said? How many others have our court jesters embarrassed down to their toenails?  

I believe it is time to re-evaluate the definitions of “funny” and “not funny.” We need to reject the negative, untrue and unkind commentary that invades our social environment and take the personal responsibility to bring this form to a halt.

Jean Friestad, Nevada

Patients, doctors, and pharmacists should make decisions, not PBMs

Did you know that three of the largest companies in America control almost every prescription processed across the country? These entities, known as Pharmacy Benefits Managers, or PBMs, exert enormous control over the pharmaceutical industry and local pharmacies.

What began as a way to streamline insurance claims and make things easier to fill prescriptions has become the most powerful companies in America. These companies now decide what drugs you can receive and where you can get them while squeezing money out of the system at the expense of local pharmacies and patient care. Patients, doctors, and pharmacists should not be prevented from making decisions in the best interest of their patients in order to pad PBM profits.

It's past time that the PBM system is meaningfully reformed. The industry requires transparency, patient protections, and oversight so that our local pharmacies can continue to operate. Iowa communities have been losing pharmacies at an alarming rate. This is all because of PBM practices!

The Iowa House has passed PBM reform unanimously. It’s vital that the Iowa Senate follows suit and supports House File 2384/Senate File 2231.

Michael Bilden, pharmacist, Parkview Pharmacy, Nevada