LETTERS: Transparency in Niles schools? Cheers and jeers for Trump, GOP

Where is transparency in Niles City Schools?

I am a proud grad- uate of Niles City Schools and president/broker of Association Group Insurance Agency Inc. Our agency has been the agent of record for the Niles school district Anthem Blue Cross plan from 2004 to September 2018 except for one year in that time span.

I have read on social media with great bewilderment how the Niles schools administration states that the Anthem Blue Cross plan has not been shopped in the marketplace of insurance carriers in over five years; that is false. Our office has shopped the district’s Anthem plan many times over the years, the latest was for the 2017-18 renewal period. We have shopped the plan with Aetna, Medical Mutual of Ohio and United Healthcare.

United Healthcare came back to the table with a $310,000-plus savings off the Anthem Blue Cross Renewal Proposal. The administration at that time asked our office to ask Anthem Blue Cross if it would match United Healthcare’s offer to remain with Anthem Blue Cross for another year. The feeling was it would be better for the employees of the school system to remain with Anthem Blue Cross preventing any disruption of PPO network of doctors, hospitals, providers, prescription drug lists, etc. Anthem agreed to match United Healthcare’s proposal and the district remained with Anthem Blue Cross for another contract year.

Secondly, the current administration has been quoted as saying that Anthem Blue Cross will not offer a four-tier premium system (i.e. employee, employee child or children and family premium pricing schedule). This is another misstatement.

Our agency, along with Anthem Blue Cross, had provided Niles schools with this important information in the May 2017 renewal period.

In closing, our local agency has been in the health insurance/employee benefits profession since 1984 – 35 years. We feel what is happening at the Niles City School District lacks transparency to the employees and most of all to the taxpayers of Niles.

John Ruberto, Niles

Reduction in sea ice threatens our planet

As a physicist, I read “Pace of Bering Sea changes startles ocean scientists” in your April 14 edition with engaged interest.

The melting and concomitant reduction of sea ice due to climate change is very disconcerting as this ice helps to reflect sunlight back into outer space. With reduced ice in the Bering Sea, liquid seawater more easily absorbs sunlight, which further accelerates the warming process.

The key question here is whether or not warming will be in a runaway/nonlinear/positive feedback condition where a small amount of additional energy trapped in the ecosphere ends up causing even more warming, which could then be irreversible.

With any natural system, when there is rapid change, the ecosystem will be stressed as life struggles to adapt to the new climate conditions. All life on this planet will likely suffer from climate change caused by the unfettered release of greenhouse gases largely caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

We need to act now if we have any chance to halt and possibly reverse this process.

Michael Pravica, Las Vegas

Michael Pravica, Ph.D., is a professor of physics at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Expect Republicans to fight Medicare for All

Democrats recent- ly introduced the Medicare For All Act of 2019. It would make health care available to every American. This plan includes a provision that would lower drug prices for all Americans by allowing the government to negotiate lower drug prices with corporations.

The Republicans would call it socialism, so if some people believe that garbage, then don’t accept it. Fill out a form stating that you don’t want any part of a plan that covers everyone.

The current system is rigged to benefit pharmaceutical CEOs and shareholders. Providing health care to every American should be a fundamental right, but with the Republicans running the show, it will be an uphill battle, so vote Democratic and let’s get everyone covered under this plan.

Bud McKelvey, Hermitage, Pa.

President Trump has it right on illegal aliens

About 27,000 illegal aliens crossed the border in February, the shortest month of the year.

We will have to feed and clothe many of these people at taxpayers’ expense.

They will have or should have to straighten out their own country first.

On immigration, President Donald Trump was right.

George R. Holko Sr., Warren

Muslims are friends, not enemies, to Americans

Recently, there was a horrific attack in Christchurch New Zealand, where innocent people were brutally slaughtered at the hands of a terrorist. This tragedy left a total of 50 people dead, including several children.

Unfortunately, the hate does not stop there. Just a few short days later, a mosque in Escondido, Calif., was set ablaze just before morning prayers. The arsonist left a message for the worshipers at the mosque, in which this was concluded as a hate crime.

As an American Muslim, I am both disgusted and horrified that these events have taken place. My prayers are with those families who have suffered.

Both of these incidents represent a larger issue of a combination of fear and prejudice towards Muslims living in the West.

We are not your enemy. We are your neighbors, friends, and loved ones.

Hassan Mirza, Worthington

Trump shows disdain for First Amendment

A popular slogan among gun owners and National Rifle Association members is “The Second protects the First,” referring to the constitutional right to bear arms protects freedom of speech. I agree with this.

It seems our president has his own interpretation of this slogan, and that should be worrisome to all gun owners. The president claims to believe strongly in the Second Amendment, but shows total disdain for the First Amendment, calling it “fake news” and the enemy of the people, especially with reference to the press. Is this how he feels about freedom of speech?

Russia, China and North Korea are dictatorships where First and Second Amendment rights don’t exist. These countries are also sworn enemies.

So what is our president’s opinion of the leaders of these countries? Trump takes Putin’s word over his own intelligence people, he praises China’s new law extending the president’s term for life, and makes the statement he “loves” Kim Jong Un.

If under our current regime our First Amendment were to disappear, the Second would rapidly follow.

Look at the countries mentioned in the above paragraph. That’s how democracies become dictatorships. Keep a close eye on a president who speaks so highly of enemies; otherwise he may someday be one of them.

Robert McKay, Grove City, Pa.

Democrats look like party of hatred and shame

No amount of investigations to find President Trump guilty of wrongdoing will satisfy the Democrats who continue to be blinded by their hatred for the president.

Unfortunately they fail to realize their ugly, shameful and hateful ways they continue to treat President Trump and his loved ones are earning their party to be known as the “party of hate and shame.”

Republicans, in contrast, are being hailed as fighters for our country, people, welfare, safety, and gain.

So Democrats, continue to be your own worst enemies and destroy your minds with hate. Just remember it’s not your hatred that will bring you change.

Common sense, positive reasoning, keeping one’s promises, fairness and wisdom are the best weapons to fight with. When all Americans put the needs of our country first, then and only then will all Americans succeed.

Mary Lou Jurina, Youngstown