Why abstinence-only is winning: We are undone by our apathy

The Sin City Siren

Talk about AB230, the comprehensive sex education bill, was all over the TV yesterday! Even your humble Siren got in the mix as a guest, with my pal Annette Magnus, of Planned Parenthood of Southern Nevada, on Ralston Reports. Likewise, Annette made appearances on Fox 5 in the morning as well as The Agenda.

Taking it to the airwaves!

And we need it more than ever! If you haven’t already, check out my re-cap of the hearing on AB230 on Monday, in which some truly horrifying behavior and testimony happened. And if you’re not totally outraged after that, take a gander at the opinions entered on the public record for AB230. No really. Let’s look at some.

Names are withheld on opinions submitted through the Legislature’s website, but here are some snippets from the opposition:

You are forcing the rights of parents and churches out of the raising…

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Cross-Post: How I Spent My Sunday

Cross-posted from The Neophyte Photographer (Originally posted on Monday, March 18, 2013)

Long-time followers know that I photographed the first ever Medical Outreach Response Event (MORE) last year as my final project for my lighting class.   They held the event again this past weekend and I volunteered to shoot the event. They already had a photographer for Saturday so I showed up yesterday.  Sunday wasn’t as busy as Saturday, but there was still plenty of need.   There are no medical services to speak of in our town. Many of these people are working poor, or disabled, and there are so many hurdles for them to jump over and so many cracks for them to fall through, that the problem feels insurmountable.

Here are just a few shots.

Attendees starting the process at intake.  The clients were screened here and directed to the various areas, depending on their need.

They might need dental work, vision care, help with obtaining affordable insurance or low-cost prescription assistance.  Or all of the above. There was also an immunization clinic to get people up-to-date on their shots, mental health screening, three dental vans, and the Mammovan was there to provide breast cancer screening.

 People shouldn’t have to get their health care in the middle of a high school gymnasium or get their teeth fixed in the parking lot. My country has its priorities all screwed up.

They shouldn’t have to wonder if there is something . . .  anything . . .  they can afford.

A young boy attempts to read the eye chart as the Lions Club volunteer looks on.

Immunization clinic.

She’s a bit nervous.

But she came through with flying colors.

More to come.

An idea whose time has come!

I was perusing the Bill Draft Requests over at the Nevada Legislature web site when I came upon this one that would make Lyon County’s Attorney General the ex officio Public Administrator (pdf).  I think it’s a great idea and hope it passes.

After all, we haven’t had the best track record electing them.

What Heller understood that Berkley did not

“Over the years, I have really had to work Washoe hard,” Heller said. “In my first race for Congress, I lost Washoe. And so it has taken me six years of dedicated work in Washoe County to develop that relationship.”

Quite a stunning piece about Heller and his thoughts on the Republican party. Is it possible that the old Dean Heller is making a comeback? Makes me think him being in the Senate won’t be completely catastrophic.

And yes, Shelley Berkley lost her Senate bid because she thought she could win with Clark County alone. If she had performed as well as Obama did in Washoe, we’d be calling her Senator Berkley now.  She needed to introduce herself to voters in the north, but instead, she was pretty much invisible up here and it showed in the vote.

The Republicans’ next tactic to delegitimize the election

And so it begins.

If they can’t get their way with Voter ID laws designed to suppress Democratic votes, Republicans are setting the stage to blame what is shaping up to be Mitt Romney’s loss on the voting machines.  And as is usually the case when the Republicans start screaming about vote fraud, there is no there there.

The Republican National Committee alleges voting machines in Nevada and five other states are flawed and improperly showing votes for President Obama instead of GOP nominee Mitt Romney.

In a letter sent Thursday to state election officials, the RNC’s chief counsel says a “significant number” of cases have been reported of votes being placed for Obama when a voter cast a ballot for Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.

Here’s the thing: Even if this were true – glitches do happen sometimes – this isn’t a problem in Nevada. We use voter-verifiable, paper-trail voting machines. In fact, the machines provide a two-step double-check, the first being where the voter reviews their ballot on the large touchscreen, and again, a second time by viewing the print-out that scrolls under the plastic window to the left of the touchscreen.  At both of these verification points the voter has the opportunity to go back and change or correct any of their votes before officially casting it.  If any person casts a vote for the wrong candidate after being given TWO chances to correct it, well, I’m sorry, but that’s on them.

And it appears, that hasn’t happened at all.

Clark County Registrar of Voters Larry Lomax said his department has had about four complaints of the 400,000 ballots cast this election. In every instance, the issue was corrected before the voter cast his or her ballot, he said.

Four out of 400,000.

Hardly the “significant number” the RNC letter alleges.  And each vote was corrected before it was cast.

The Republicans are also trying to imply that the machines are not well-maintained and glitchy.

The RNC asks that machines be recalibrated and voters be reminded to double-check their choices before their votes are recorded.

Lomax said it is possible for the machines to fall out of sync, but the county recalibrates the voting machines at least once a day.

As far as demanding that “voters be reminded to double-check their choices before casting their votes,”  as I mentioned above, that process is already built into the voting process.

Did they run this by Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) before going down this road?

In 2003, when the state decided to go completely to the touchscreen voting machines, there was a hue and cry from all sides of the political spectrum about the need for voter-verifiable machines and that meant a paper trail. I remember going to town halls and standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Greens, and Non-Partisans who were determined that the integrity of their votes would be protected.  It was so loud and so bipartisan (poli-partisan?) that county clerks and registrars across the state were set back on their heels by the people of Nevada.

From an article in the Reno Gazette-Journal in December 2003:

“A paper trail is an intrinsic component of voter confidence, ” Heller said in explaining why he insisted that Sequoia–which already has nearly 3,000 machines installed in Clark County– include the receipt printers on new machines for the upcoming elections. The printers must be added on existing machines by 2006.

Heller mentioned the Florida elections in 2000, saying, “The Florida debacle and the chaos created by the’hanging and pregnant chad’controversy clearly demonstrate the need to move forward with advanced technology.”

While the printers add to the cost of the voting systems, Heller said “money takes a back seat to accuracy, security and voter confidence.” The printers let voters see their ballot choices before finalizing their votes.

The decision to go with Sequoia machines was based in part on a review by the state Gaming Control Board’s slot machine experts who issued a report saying the Diebold machine that was analyzed “represented a legitimate threat to the integrity of the election process.”

Marc McDermott, the GCB’s electronic services division chief, said the Sequoia machine”represents a much more secure option.”

From USA Today in 2004:

[Secretary of State Dean] Heller purchased the equipment in December, after his staff conducted town hall meetings and solicited comments from voters. The feedback came after voting activists discovered security breaches and conflicts of interest among executives at voting equipment companies, particularly Ohio-based Diebold Inc.

Voters were very vocal in their concerns about paperless electronic voting,” Heller said at a Carson City community center where voters received red, white and blue “I voted touchscreen” stickers as they left the polls. “Diebold’s controversies were on the leading edge of voters’ minds.”

Voter advocates praised Nevada’s system, in which paper records will be kept in county election offices for 22 months and used in case of a recount.

For the RNC to come in now and try to pull this shit just shows how desperate they are.

Voting Challenges

Got this little tidbit from the local Democratic party. For those of you voting in Nevada:

NRS293.303 Challenges.

1. A person applying to vote may be challenged:

(a) Orally by any registered voter of the precinct upon the ground that he or she is not the person entitled to vote as claimed or has voted before at the same election. A registered voter who initiates a challenge pursuant to this paragraph must submit an affirmation that is signed under penalty of perjury and in the form prescribed by the Secretary of State stating that the challenge is based on the personal knowledge of the registered voter.

Donna Clontz for State Board of Education

Donna Clontz for NV Board of EducationI have personally known Donna for a number of years. She is a person of high integrity, intelligence, and drive. She would be a stellar addition to the Nevada State Board of Education and a wonderful advocate for our state’s school children.

From her bio at the Nevada Appeal:

Explain your background and how this qualifies you for the position you are seeking.

I taught 5th and 6th grade, trained high school students in job-seeking and on-the-job skills, was a juvenile prosecutor, represented abused, neglected children, and was staff attorney for the National School Safety Center. I am an expert on prevention of school crime and a strategic planner in juvenile and criminal justice specializing in interagency cooperation and communication. I was a lobbyist at two state legislatures, drafted legislation which became law, and can build relationships with leaders at city, county, school district and state levels. These skills are essential to gaining support for education reforms that are still needed in Nevada.

I have served on many boards and currently chair the Northwest Reno Neighborhood Advisory Board and am vice-chair of the Reno Senior Citizens Advisory Committee. I know how effective board members can work together to build consensus to execute their plans and to reach their goals for their communities. I have facilitated many strategic planning processes and helped many communities create action plans. I believe that the State Board of Education must create and implement a new strategic plan if it is to reach its goals and objectives to reform Nevada schools.

What are the two most important issues to you and what should be done to resolve them?

Improving Nevada’s high school graduation rates is one of my highest priorities, both for individual students and the future well-being of our state. The second priority, and closely linked, is preparing all students to be career- or college-ready. An educated workforce draws new businesses and improves our economy. An educated community improves our democracy and the quality of life for everyone.

Let’s improve statewide graduation rates by:

• Using current data systems to create early warning and intervention systems that use the early predictors of potential dropouts (attendance, behavior, reading and math performance) to prevent students from dropping out in the first place. Contact all identified students and their parents and create individual plans to get them back on track.

• Identifying 3rd and 4th grade struggling readers and providing continuous remediation until skills are up to par. Do the same with struggling middle school math students.

• Reducing chronic absenteeism by engaging parents, assigning staff to follow-up, reporting statistics, and holding schools and districts accountable for improvement.

• Identifying and connecting with low-credit high school students and their parents to create individual plans for them to earn missing credits needed to graduate. Provide credit recovery programs that meet their needs.

Let’s better prepare students for college or careers by:

• Building strong partnerships between schools and the employment and business community to design classes to teach students the skills they need to get and keep a job in today’s economy.

Offer those clearly identified career programs in middle and high schools and continue support to magnet schools, technical and arts academies, schools-within-schools, and charter schools.

• Aligning high school courses with college courses to ensure that students master the foundation knowledge and skills while in high school that they will need in college. New Common Core State Standards will help us do that.

• Reducing costly remedial college courses by giving the math and English placement tests to college-bound high school students and providing remediation in high school until they can pass the placement tests.

• Eliminating Nevada’s high school proficiency exams and replacing them with nationally-known tests that are better predictors of knowledge, skills and abilities such as the ACT or National Career Readiness test, depending on whether the student is going to college or into the workforce.

Why should voters choose you over the other candidate?

Nevada schools have been struggling for years at the bottom of all the good lists and at the top of all the bad lists. The State Board of Education has long stood on the sidelines on most of the reforms that were needed and that were recently enacted by the Governor and the Legislature.

The newly restructured State Board of Education can become a strong voice and advocate for our K-12 schools. It is time to elect some dynamic new leaders to the State Board of Education to create an action plan to implement these reforms consistently and efficiently in every district.

I want to take on this challenge. I have the experience, leadership skills and vision to build proactive partnerships with teachers, administrators, parents, community, business and government leaders. With their ideas and commitment, we can create a workable plan that will improve our children’s education.

You can learn more about Donna at www.donnaclontz.com or at www.facebook.com/clontz4nvedu