A few weeks back, an unofficial session was held with Muslim medical students of Thrissur Medical College by a religious group to discuss how LGBTQIA+ is anti-Islam and anti-science. While such opinions are commonly promulgated on social media it is a cause for alarm when medical students are indoctrinated with such ideas. While this was an unofficial private event, what is worrisome is that even in the official textbooks and curricula of Indian Medical Graduates there is rampant homophobia and transphobia.
In the same state of Kerala last year, responding to a plea by Kerala NGOs Queerythm and Disha, the Kerala High Court asked National Medical Commission to remove queerphobic content from the medical books. This was around the same time last year when Justice N Anand Venkatesh of Madras High Court had come down heavily on the National Medical Commission to remove homophobic and transphobic content from the medical textbooks.
The National Medical Commission which regulates medical education in India was quick to issue an order to all the medical colleges and universities to ensure that unscientific and derogatory remarks about the LGBTQIA+ community are not taught and that textbooks with such contents are not included in the curriculum. While the National Medical Commission has been quick to pass the buck, it has not set its own house in order. The NMC's latest competency-based medical education still has problematic references when it comes to intersex persons, the transgender community, and women. This has been repeatedly brought to the attention of NMC but they have not paid heed to it.
The author (Aqsa) had recently written to NMC and proposed a transgender-affirmative medical curriculum that not just weeds off transphobic content but also includes competencies to ensure that future medical graduates are competent in providing scientifically correct, empathetic, and dignified care to queer persons. This proposed curriculum was developed through consultative workshops with the transgender community, trans medical students and doctors, medical educators, and healthcare professionals providing services to the community, as part of the TransCare project.
Ensuring that the medical curriculum is revised to make it trans-inclusive is also a mandate under the Transgender Persons Protection of Rights Act, 2019. Section 15 of the act obligates the government to review the medical curriculum to address the specific health needs of the transgender community.
For a long period, homosexuality was not just a criminal act under 'unnatural sexual offences' and punished under Section 377 but it was also considered to be a mental illness. It was only in 2018 that the Supreme Court of India decided that sexual acts between consenting adults of the same sex are not illegal or punishable. Persistent efforts by the queer community ensured that almost five decades earlier in 1973, American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality as a diagnosis from its DSM manual which is used to diagnose mental illnesses.
In the International Classification of Diseases by WHO, the eleventh edition of which comes into force this year, transness and homosexuality are no longer considered disorders. Back home in India, the Indian Psychiatric Society has issued a position statement that homosexuality is not a disease and must not be treated as such. It clarified that any form of therapy to treat homosexuality should not be practised as it is not a disease and such ‘therapies’ don’t succeed in any manner.
The Madras High Court prohibited conversion therapy or any attempt to medically cure or change the sexual orientation or gender identity in 2021 in Sushma vs Commissioner of Police. It is noteworthy that no legislation expressly prohibits and penalizes conversion therapy, especially the one that is done with consent. Despite clear guidelines, conversion therapy for homosexuality is still being practised surreptitiously by psychiatrists, doctors, unlicensed practitioners, and faith healers.
Prodded by the same Madras High Court directive, the NMC has recently clarified that it forbids conversion therapy to attempt to change sexual orientation and gender identity and that such a practice will be considered professional misconduct and acted accordingly. It is interesting to note that while the National Medical Council regulates only modern medical education (allopathy), there is currently no similar guideline for AYUSH systems of medicine or faith healers to which a substantial proportion of our population subscribes. It may take a wider understanding of the Mental Health Act, various Anti-superstition and Black Magic Acts, and guidelines against misleading ads, to rein in such inhuman and unscientific practices.
While the queer community continues to face discriminatory treatment at the hands of doctors trained in a transphobic and homophobic medical system, we need a gamut of reforms – legislative, educational, and social to ensure that future medical graduates are not just spared the queerphobic teaching but also trained into scientific and humane understanding and treatment of their queer patients. We must not limit this to just medical graduates of modern medicine but also include AYUSH medical students and other healthcare professionals’ education like dentistry, nursing, and rehabilitation sciences.
We must also bear in mind that simply passing orders is not sufficient unless they come into action. In 2022 we cannot allow unscientific, inhuman, illegal, discriminatory and biased indoctrination to inform the current and future healthcare professionals who gatekeep access to life-saving healthcare services.
(The author is an Associate Professor of Community Medicine. She is a transgender woman and has proposed to National Medical Commission to incorporate transgender-affirmative medical education. She tweets with the handle @doctorsaheba.)
With the Income Tax Department closely watching the alleged tax violations and freebies offered by some of the pharma companies to the doctors, the National Medical Commission (NMC) has initiated efforts to collect the names of the registered medical practitioners who were involved in collection of these freebies.
According to reports, NMC’s ethics committee member Dr Yogender Malik has sent a letter to Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) seeking the details of the doctors allegedly involved in taking freebies from a Bengaluru-based pharma company, whose premises were raided by the Income Tax Department last month.
The IT Department conducted search and seizure operations in the premises of a major Bengaluru-based pharmaceutical Group on July 6, 2022, and stated that the company has distributed freebies worth around Rs. 1,000 crore to medical professionals under the head “Sales and Promotion”. Reports are that the search was conducted at the premises of Micro Labs, which has seen sales of its pain relief drug Dolo 650 skyrocketing during the time of Covid-19 pandemic.
The NMC member has sought the CBDT to share the details of the medical practitioners who have allegedly received the freebies from the pharmaceutical company, since it is against the ethics of the professional conduct, etiquette and ethics of the medical practitioners.
The IT department, in July 13, said that it has carried out search and seizure operations on a major Bengaluru-based pharmaceutical group, engaged in the business of manufacturing and marketing of pharmaceutical products and active pharmaceutical ingredients (API). The group has presence in over 50 countries. The search action covered around 36 premises spread across nine states.
“During the course of the search operations, substantial incriminating evidence, in the form of documents and digital data, has been found and seized. The initial gleaning of the evidence has revealed that the group has been debiting in its books of account unallowable expenses on account of distribution of freebies to the medical professionals under the head “Sales and Promotion,” said the department.
“These freebies included travel expenses, perquisites and gifts etc. to doctors and medical professionals for promoting the group’s products under the heads “Promotion and Propaganda,” “Seminars and Symposiums”, “Medical Advisories” etc. The evidence indicates that the group has adopted unethical practices to promote its products/ brands. The quantum of such freebies detected is estimated to be around Rs. 1,000 crore,” it added.
The group is also found to have claimed artificially inflated deductions under special provisions in respect of certain incomes, by resorting to suppression of expenses and over-appropriation of revenue to the unit eligible for such deduction. Various other means of tax evasion, including inadequate allocation of research and development expenses to eligible units and inflated claim of weighted deduction under Section 35 (2AB), have also been detected. The quantum of tax sought to be evaded through such means is estimated at over Rs. 300 crore.
Instances of violation of provisions of tax deduction at source under Section 194C of the Income-tax Act, 1961 have also been detected in respect of transactions under contracts entered into with the third-party bulk drug manufacturers. During the search action, unaccounted cash amounting to Rs. 1.20 crore and unaccounted gold and diamond jewellery worth more than Rs. 1.40 crore have also been seized. Further investigations are in progress, said the IT department during the time.
Amazon will acquire primary care provider One Medical for $3.9 billion, the companies announced Thursday, in a major expansion of the tech giant’s health care ambitions.
The deal – one of its largest acquisitions ever – will deliver Amazon a physical network of health care offices and providers, as well as access to technology the startup has built to enable virtual doctor visits.
It adds to the company’s existing health care portfolio, which includes an online pharmacy and Amazon Care, a virtual and in-home urgent care service.
But already, privacy advocates are raising concerns about the consequences of the tech giant – which already knows what millions of customers have purchased and asked Alexa – getting access to patients’ health care records.
And some of Amazon’s health care efforts have stumbled in the past.
Amazon will be able to partner its new purchase with its other health care initiatives, including an online pharmacy, said Daniel Grosslight, a health care tech research analyst at Citi.
“They acquired an asset here to supercharge where they were already headed,” he said.
In a release announcing the deal, Neil Lindsay, senior vice president of Amazon Health Services, said health care is in need of reinvention.
One Medical is a membership-based primary care provider that uses a strategy of planting offices close to where people work, and it has billed itself as more of a tech company by allowing members to use an app to book appointments and track health records.
Headquartered in San Francisco, the company operates 188 offices in major metro areas including Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles and the District.
It has 767,000 members, and patients are typically charged an annual subscription fee of $199.
But the company is not profitable, according to its most latest quarterly report.
Amazon’s $18 a share offer represents a 77% premium for 1Life Healthcare Inc., One Medical’s parent company.
Already, however, some patients are wary of Amazon’s move into their doctor’s offices.
Megan Broderick, a book editor who lives in the Bronx, has been a patient with One Medical for several years.
Her employer pays for the membership fee and she has been happy with the care she has received, she said.
But “Amazon is not great at being a retailer without major detrimental effects on society,” the 29-year-old said.
“The idea that they are trying to get into the medical space is terrifying.”
She’s unsure of whether she’ll stick around under the new ownership.
Other tech giants, including Google, Microsoft and Apple, have also made forays into health care in latest years, drawn to the industry’s huge size and relative lack of technical prowess.
But the moves have also drawn scrutiny from regulators and privacy advocates, who worry about the growing access to sensitive data the companies wield.
That’s been heightened in latest weeks, following the Supreme Court decision overturning the landmark abortion rights ruling Roe v. Wade, raising questions about how personal data could be used by state agencies to surveil and punish people seeking reproductive health services, including abortions.
In a letter Wednesday, six House Democrats demanded to know whether major cloud computing players Oracle and Amazon Web Services are taking steps to “protect the privacy rights of those seeking to exercise their reproductive rights.”
“Data collected and sold by your company could be used by law enforcement and prosecutors in states with aggressive abortion restrictions,” the lawmakers wrote, with particular concern about the collection and use of location data.
Because of the deal’s size, Amazon will be required to report the merger to both the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice for antitrust review.
Amazon is not one of the leading players in the health care space, so traditionally the deal would not have attracted antitrust scrutiny.
But it announced the deal as Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan has promised to address the ever-expanding tentacles of Big Tech into various industries.
Khan ascended to the helm of the Federal Trade Commission last year with wide expectations that she might pursue a lawsuit against the company, following her groundbreaking academic work that argued the company violates competition laws.
When asked about Amazon’s increasing expansion into health care during a June interview, Khan told the Washington Post that “our current approach to thinking about mergers still has more work to do to fully understand what it means for these businesses to enter into all these other markets and industries.”
Amazon, which got its start in the 1990s as an online book retailer, has grown its business over the past 20-plus years to encompass a delivery network roughly the size of UPS, a dominant cloud provider that allows companies to store data remotely and a vast ecosystem of Alexa-powered devices.
And it has grown its Prime membership program to more than 200 million globally.
The company frequently takes a spaghetti-against-the-wall approach to building its businesses, and sometimes fails.
Amazon in the past has turned to acquisitions to quickly expand its reach and expertise, including with its nearly $14 billion purchase of Whole Foods in 2017 and more recently its $8 billion bid for movie studio MGM.
The company for years had worked to build both its grocery business and studios, and those acquisitions provided a quick way for Amazon to get a jump-start.
The acquisition of One Medical – which is considered something of a boutique service and already follows a subscription business model – is likely to provide a similar boost to Amazon’s existing health care businesses.
“To me, this acquisition today is as relevant to health care as what the acquisition of Whole Foods was to the grocery industry,” said Tom Andriola, chief digital officer for University of California Irvine.
Buying One Medical is just the latest move in Amazon’s yearslong push to break into the health care industry.
One of its first big moves floundered, however.
Known as Haven, it was an ambitious effort by three of America’s most prominent companies – Amazon, JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway – to address soaring health care costs and Improve patient outcomes.
But it shuttered last year after only two years.
Amazon bought online pharmacy PillPack for $753 million in 2018, which it eventually turned into Amazon Pharmacy.
The company’s cloud computing division, Amazon Web Services, offers specific products for health care and a health care accelerator for startups.
The company has also used its Amazon Business e-commerce offering to target hospitals, according to reports.
And the company built Amazon Care with the help of yet another acquisition of smaller medical tech startup Health Navigator.
The service offers telehealth visits and in-home visits for employees of certain companies including Hilton in some cities.
In leaked audio of an all-hands meeting in November, Amazon’s chief executive Andy Jassy told staff that Amazon Care is one of the company’s top innovations, highlighting that the division is aiming to expand through partnerships and new services, Insider reported earlier this year.
Citi analyst Grosslight said Amazon could use the One Medical acquisition to further integrate its businesses, for example pointing people to buy nutritional food at Whole Foods or getting prescriptions from Amazon Pharmacy.
“It’s really the entry point for Amazon,” he said. “And then it’s about what else can Amazon do with a patient.”
Technology within the health care industry accelerated by about a decade of progress during the pandemic, largely by necessity, said Forrester research director Natalie Schibell.
If Amazon’s purchase can be used to further develop technology to lessen the burden on providers and increase access to care, it could be good for patients, she said.But some critics have already raised concerns about Amazon getting too close to patient health-care information.
“Amazon’s takeover of One Medical is the latest shot in a terrifying new stage in the business model of the world’s largest corporations,” Barry Lynn, the executive director of the left-leaning Open Markets Institute, said in a statement.
“The deal will expand Amazon’s ability to collect the most intimate and personal of information about individuals, in order to track, target, manipulate, and exploit people in ever more intrusive ways.”
Amazon said in a statement Thursday that the deal won’t change the fact that One Medical has to comply with HIPAA.
“Both One Medical and Amazon have stringent policies protecting customer privacy in accordance with HIPAA and all other applicable privacy laws and regulations,” Amazon spokeswoman Angie Quennell said in a statement.
“Customers’ Protected Health Information (PHI) is protected by Amazon’s practices and by law, including HIPAA, and we will retain our focus on this as we continue to grow our healthcare businesses, including the acquisition of One Medical.”
She declined to comment on whether Amazon would integrate One Medical services with any of its own services.
Schibell pointed out that people are now more accountable and concerned than ever about who has access to their health information, especially as more health care moves into a virtual world.
“This is really going to cause greater looks and scrutiny into medical data, HIPAA regulations and really the implications for consumers when more and more health care is online,” she said.
Staten Island: To Voicer Nancy Brenner: Your position is that the Jan. 6 committee is a Stalinist setup with no due process, no lawyer or witnesses for Trump, etc. The proposed commission was modeled on the one established to investigate the 9/11 terror attacks, with 10 commissioners — five Democrats and five Republicans — who would have subpoena powers. A Democratic chair and Republican vice chair would have had to approve all subpoenas with a final report due at the end of the year.
As Liz Cheney pointed out on Fox News, GOP House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said that a “bipartisan outside committee” should investigate the attack, but he later withdrew his support and influenced the Senate’s rejection of a bill that would establish an outside investigation. “After he negotiated with the Democrats and got all of the terms he wanted, he pulled the rug out from under the Republicans who were supporting it and made sure that it was defeated in the Senate,” Cheney said. “Once the outside bipartisan commission was defeated, the only alternative left to us was this committee.” McCarthy also withdrew all of his nominations to the committee after Nancy Pelosi rejected two of them “with good reason,” she added.
I might add that Gladys Sicknick, the mother of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who was beaten and died of two strokes the day after the attack, was asked why she wanted a commission: “Because my son is dead, and I want to know why.” Michele Corelli
Astoria: The Jan. 6 hearings have clearly shown what, I believe, the majority of Americans already know. Simply condensed: “Trump reason” equals treason! Karen N. Pearlman
Brooklyn: To Voicer Lydia DiBello: I would rather deal with all the things you are blaming President Biden for than have to see/hear your bloated, repugnant, nasty orange man. My conscience is clear also. June Lowe
Garwood, N.J.: To Voicer Lydia DiBello: So exactly who do you want to blame for our current situation? President Biden? All Dems? Let me ask: While your Orange Messiah was denying the existence of COVID and watched 600,000 Americans die under his watch, who would you blame? When Joe took over, did you get the free testing and free vaccines? When the stimulus checks were issued, did you say “no thanks” and send yours back? When folks on unemployment were given an extra $300 per week to help them out, was that bad? When the moratorium on evictions for renters was created, how many GOP folks said no thanks, we’ll live on the streets? As far as I can see, the only thing the GOP did was sit back and watch big businesses enjoy their tax cuts and government subsidies. As for the Orange Clown, he shuffled off to Florida and is still laughing at all of us. Sad! John Deichmeister
Bronx: The more I read about the attack on Lee Zeldin, the more convinced I become that this unacceptable violence against him has been purposely manipulated to conform to his political agenda. I did not know at first that the district attorney was a Republican who is actually working on his campaign. I did not know that she charged the attacker with a lesser charge when she knew full well that he would be released rather than charge a more serious offense that would have held him in custody pending bail. You can’t cause the situation, then complain about it to suit your agenda. Carol Webb
Bronx: Re “Revealing vid of three church heist gunmen” (July 28): l smell a big, fat rat in this case. I will wait for the case to be concluded. But mark my words. Pauline Graham Binder
Brooklyn: “The driver was not charged‚ but police are still investigating the incident” (”Upper E. Side bike tragedy,” July 28). How many more incidents before bicycle and scooter riders and pedestrians start paying attention? It’s not always the operator of a motor vehicle who’s at fault. Please, everybody, put down the phone while in motion. Rocco Conte
Catch up on the day’s top five stories every weekday afternoon.
Bronx: What is all the fuss about people jumping over the turnstiles when hundreds of people don’t pay the fare on buses? They go to the back door of the bus and get on without paying. Mary Caggiano
Forest Hills: It is unfortunate that doctors and the pharmaceutical industry have forgotten the hardships that seniors are up against. We are at the mercy of doctors. Some claim they’re honest but are not and are only interested in making money. They have forgotten what a medical license stands for. They operate and make big blunders and expect us to pay for their mistakes. Do you think that’s fair? What’s even sadder is when doctors are covering for one another. In their oath, they swear to honor their profession to help mankind, so where are these doctors now? Counting their money? These doctors should have their licenses taken away. They show no honesty or compassion. Laura Kuraner
Jamaica: Everything keeps going up except the federal minimum wage — our utility bills, food, gas, health benefits, rent and more. As of this date, the federal minimum wage should be at least $25 an hour. It is $7.25 and that is just too low. Yes, different states have raised their minimum wage but it’s still not enough. Employees need more money for their households. People have to get two or more jobs in order to make ends meet. Truly sad! Charlene Black
Queens Village: Calm down, Daily News readers. Every time a comic strip goes on vacation, readers get hysterical. The last time I wrote regarding this subject, “Mutts” was on a six-month sabbatical. At that time, the author wrote on his site that comic strips are usually submitted two weeks in advance. So the Daily News screwed up — not the first or last time will we see that happen. But know that The News hears our cries and, like the comic “Pooch Cafe,” brought it back. “Mutts” was only gone for six months while the author was working on a book with the Dalai Lama, a mission that we will probably read about soon. Now I only wish they would bring back “Tundra” so I can read about my beloved wolves on a daily basis! Joan Silaco
Little Neck: I totally agree with Voicer Marc Savino’s views on the Major League Baseball clown show presided over by Commissioner Rob Manfred. As a follow-up, how about a Daily News exposé on the disgrace of exclusive electronic ticketing for sporting events and concerts? Do not let the venues tell you that it is for COVID/health reasons. Electronic ticketing allows them to monetize fans’ e-mail addresses and other identification. Peter Bagatta
Howard Beach: I had an issue on a flight with a major carrier (JetBlue). I attempted to reach their customer service department, but any complaint must be received via email. I made two attempts with no response so when I got my credit card bill from my bank (Chase), I disputed the charge, assuming this would get their attention. Apparently, without as much as a telephone call, my complaint was dismissed. It appears big business rules and the little guy does not have a say. Victoria Costanza
Bronx: I had my gas meter fixed in November 2021. I got an estimated bill every month since then. Next week I’ll get my next bill. I can’t understand why I am still getting these bills as my stove is the only gas appliance in my house. I don’t cook. I only use the stove to boil water in the morning for my coffee and egg. Can you get someone at Con Ed to fix this problem? I emailed them and they gave me one bill, which I paid. It was for a minimum amount. Charles Lavorerio
A troubled GP surgery has merged with another – forming a super-surgery with a patient list among the largest in Kent.
Albion Place Medical Practice and The College Road Practice in Maidstone joined together on Friday, July 1.
They will serve more than 30,000 people in the town.
Health bosses say the joint practice will have better use of resources across its two sites.
In May, the last period for which NHS data is available, the College Practice had 13 GPs overseeing 18,762 patients – the equivalent of one doctor per 1,443 people, while Albion Place had six for its 11,682 (1,947 patients per GP).
Albion Place has recently been under fire from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) for a number of failings.
Following an unannounced inspection 2020 it was revealed half of all telephone calls were going unanswered and some vulnerable patients did not have a named GP to oversee their care.
They also found the practice had issues with processes to keep people safe and complaints were not always managed in a timely manner.
In January this year, Maritime Health Partnership, which runs the ‘good’ rated College Practice, took over the contract to run Albion Place from struggling DMC Healthcare.
As a result, it took on the medical practice’s poor CQC rating.
A spokesman for NHS Kent and Medway said: “College Road and Albion Place practices are run under two separate contracts between the NHS and Maritime Health Partnership.
“By merging these contracts, the practices can achieve more efficient ways of working across the sites and offer patients more services and choice in the future.
“Patients will continue to access their usual practice in the normal way and will be contacted with more details in the next few weeks.”
Staff at both sites are “working hard to ensure patients have access to a high standard of safe, quality care”, the spokesman added.
Despite concerns merging the practices will lead to longer waiting times and a higher GP to patient ratio, NHS Kent and Medway said: “It will enable the practice to make better use of its resources across the two sites.
“It will not affect GP ratios. It is important to remember that not all patients need to see a GP and patients may be offered appointments with other healthcare professionals, such as a nurse, pharmacist or paramedic.
“Together the practices will be able to share additional staff and Improve services.”
The National Medical Commission (NMC) has declined approval for the new Government Medical College in Konni, Pathanamthitta, Kerala as the Medical Assessment and Rating Board (MARB) of NMC found deficiencies in its infrastructure facilities.
According to the report of MARB, there is a deficiency of faculty, residents and buildings and infrastructure in Konni Medical College. The letter sent by the NMC to the college principal said that due to the above deficiencies, the MARB has deliberated on the available information and is constrained not to grant a letter of intent for starting a medical college with 100 MBBS seats for the academic year 2022-23, as stated in a report by The New Indian Express.
The letter of the NMC stated, "The college building is ready, but there is no infrastructure, including furniture and equipment for lecture theatres, library and laboratories. Laboratory facilities in anatomy, physiology and biochemistry are not available. Equipment, furniture and audio-visual facilities are not available. Laboratories and lecture theatres are not satisfactory. There are no lecture theatres, no demonstration rooms, and no laboratories. Faculty deficiency is 44 per cent. Resident deficiency is found to be 44.7 per cent. Hostels for students, resident doctors, nurses and staff quarters have not been constructed."
It went on to state that, "Central library is ready but lacks furniture. Books and computer terminals are not available. Medical journals are not available in the hospital. The hospital has 294 beds against the requirement of 330 to start a medical college. There are only 10 beds available in the casualty wing. Beds are deficient in different departments including orthopaedics and gynaecology. Life-saving equipment like central suction, central oxygen unit, pulse oximeter, crash cart, ambu bag are not available. Three minor operation theatres are available against the requirement of five. There is no dressing room and plaster cutting room in the department of orthopaedics."
The letter received in the college on June 25 said that the college may rectify the deficiencies and inform MARB within 15 days and submit a fresh application for recognition.
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Nine candidates are running for three Gainesville City Commission seats in the upcoming election. All of them would be newcomers to the commission, but each would bring a different level of experience and expertise.
Voters in districts 2, 3 and 4 should select candidates who are knowledgeable about the biggest problems facing the city and have good ideas for fixing them, even if they aren’t in lockstep on every issue. While The Sun’s editorial board is providing recommendations in the races, we encourage voters to do their own research including practicing columns written by the candidates (found online at bit.ly/august22electioncolumns).
District 2 voters are choosing between four candidates with a variety of backgrounds: Jo Beaty is a longtime activist, Ed Book is chief of police for Santa Fe College, James Ingle is president of the local electricians’ union and Michael Raburn is pastor at Gainesville Vineyard church.
Columns from the District 2 candidates:
Jo Lee Beaty: A commitment to looking out for taxpayers, ratepayers
Ed Book: Civility is the most effective way to get things done
James Ingle: Working families need a voice on the City Commission
Michael Raburn: We need city commissioners who listen to our citizens
While Beaty’s dedication to providing oversight on commission decisions is admirable, she is more focused on process than solutions to the city’s problems. Book’s experience at Santa Fe and previously on the Gainesville Police Department would be a beneficial addition to the commission, but he too is lacking in concrete plans to Improve our community.
Ingle touts his working-class experience as needed on the commission, reflected in his efforts on such issues as helping get a wage-theft ordinance passed. Raburn’s experience includes establishing the GNV Bridge Community Center in the former Boys & Girls Club in the Lincoln Estates neighborhood, which provides free groceries, literacy tutoring and other programs.
The choice between them is difficult, but the editorial board recommends voting for Raburn. One major reason is his advocacy for establishing a board separate from the commission to oversee Gainesville Regional Utilities, an overdue idea that would provide long-term stability for the utility and benefit from being developed within the city.
Three candidates are running in the commission’s District 3 race: DeJeon Cain, a security company owner; Patrick Ingle, a retired engineer and Uber driver; and Casey Willits, a medical residency program coordinator for the University of Florida. While Ingle’s interest in local politics is noble, he lacks the experience to be seriously considered.
Columns from the District 3 candidates:
DeJeon Cain: An opportunity to create the city of our dreams
Patrick O. Ingle: Make Gainesville a safe, affordable city for everyone
Casey Willits: Return city to being a place of promise, opportunity
Cain's experience on city boards has provided him with a solid understanding of local issues such as a lack of affordable housing. Willits is also knowledgeable about government through his work on local and state political issues, including as an Equality Florida organizer.
We recommend voting for Willits due to his laser-like focus on the problems facing the newly redrawn District 3, which is dominated by apartment complexes housing UF students. His push for a new park in southwestern Gainesville and support for a diversity of housing options and transportation improvements would serve residents of the district well.
The District 4 race offers another tough choice. Bryan Eastman, a political consultant active in local campaigns, is running in the race against Christian Newman, a wildlife biologist working for a nonprofit energy research organization.
Columns from the District 4 candidates:
Bryan Eastman: We need leaders that stand up for community’s values
Christian Newman: Experienced leadership needed in local government
Newman's deep involvement in the community, including serving on the City Plan Board, provides him with a valuable perspective and commitment to collaboration. But Eastman is more knowledgeable about how local government works than any other commission candidate running.
His past work on such issues as the city’s waste-reduction efforts would help ensure these plans are well implemented. We recommend voting for Eastman so that he could bring to the commission that experience, along with a bevy of new ideas on issues ranging from homelessness to pedestrian safety.
In addition to the commission races, voters citywide will elect a new mayor and voters countywide will vote on four School Board seats (previous editorials featured our recommendations in these races) along with other contests. No matter who they choose, we encourage voters to get informed and cast their ballots through mail-in voting that has already started, early voting from Aug. 13 to Aug. 20 or on Election Day, Aug. 23.
— This editorial was written by Nathan Crabbe based on candidate interviews and represents the opinion of The Sun’s editorial board.
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This article originally appeared on The Gainesville Sun: Editorial: Elect Eastman, Raburn, Willits to Gainesville commission