Excellent leadership inspires best service

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

I would like to commend The Times-Dispatch for its excellent news coverage and commentary about the nepotism problem that has apparently persisted at City Hall for quite some time. It is disappointing to note that the problem apparently continues to exist and, to date, there has been little reaction from the mayor’s office.

A particularly unsettling comment came from City Council member Kristen Larson, who said, “We need to have as many safeguards as possible to make sure this doesn’t happen again.” From my perspective, that remark defines the very nature of City Hall problems. It indicates that the best way to deter city employees from transgressions such as this is to make it harder for them to break or circumvent the established rules.

While really effective organizations and businesses do have rules and guidelines that are clearly established and enforced, it is the culture of that entity that ultimately causes its employees to obey the rules and work toward a common goal for the good of all. That culture, once ingrained in employees, makes them want to deliver excellent service to their customers and to always present their employer and themselves in the best possible light.

If City Council and Mayor Levar Stoney really want to fix this problem, they will look inward and begin the process of instilling in City Hall a culture that encourages employees to deliver excellent customer service, to adhere to the established rules and to take pride in the reputation of the organization.

The answer to a solid organizational culture is excellent leadership, not more rules, and that starts at the top.

Robert Norfleet Jr.

Richmond.

Overcoming

the opioid epidemic

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

I applaud the efforts of the Richmond Times-Dispatch to ask “Can we overcome the opioid epidemic?” in the recent RTD Public Square. However, missing on the stage was an important part of the solution: the voice of the authentic peer recovery community.

How do we define success without the voice of the authentic peer recovery community — people with lived experience who understand that success is best measured by quality of life, one day at a time? People who understand the therapeutic value of one addict helping another? People who understand because they have been there and come out of the darkness?

Success and overcoming the epidemic means recovery. And recovery means connection. Organizations like True Recovery RVA, REAL LIFE, The WAR Foundation, Journey House Foundation and The McShin Foundation offer immediate recovery solutions. Same-day access to service — not simply assessment — linkage to medication-assisted recovery, and immediate connections to a community of peers are all proven, effective solutions to this epidemic.

We need beds, not billboards. We must support and fund real solutions. Solutions like The McShin Recovery Resource Foundation, a nonprofit recovery community organization that operates more than 110 beds in the Richmond area with same-day access. Same-day access for those crucial moments when an individual is able to break free from the disease and reach out for help.

Understanding the epidemic as a disease is vital to our public response. Early in the forum, Hanover County Sheriff David Hines conceded that we cannot arrest our way out of a public health crisis. And he’s right. Recovery needs connection, not isolation. Recovery needs hope, not despair. We can and must support proven, effective recovery solutions to overcome the opioid epidemic.

Nathan Mitchell.

Community Outreach & Advocacy Coordinator,The McShin Recovery Resource Foundation.

Green energy sources better than fracking

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

In the recent editorial “Saudi oil fields: Cushioning the blow,” Robin Beres stated, “Nothing could disrupt world peace faster than a global fight over oil. Which makes us quite thankful for the impressive energy revolution that has taken place in the United States.”

I am not thankful. The incremental energy production has come as a result of fracking. Fracking is a double whammy for climate change. Methane, a greenhouse gas, is released during the fracking process. Just this month, the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency killed a regulation put in place by the Obama administration that would cut down on this pollution. In addition, fracking extracts fossil fuel, which produces carbon dioxide when burned.

The United States needs to lead the world in moving away from fossil fuels and replacing them with renewable energy. There always will be disruptions in the world’s oil supply. But less reliance on fossil fuels will lessen the likelihood that our president will have to be “locked and loaded” and ready to fight over the world’s oil supplies.

Hopefully in the not too distant future, your editorial about a Saudi oil disruption will read, “We are quite thankful for our green revolution that reduced the world’s reliance on Saudi oil and made the current disruption meaningless to our economy.”

Kathy Corker.

Goochland.

Taxpayers will pay bill

for ‘free’ health care

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

In her recent Letter to the Editor, correspondent Sheila Berry wondered why a politician would be opposed to the potential trillions of dollars a “Medicare for All” bill will add to our $22 trillion-plus deficit.

Berry’s medical bills did not decrease. The amount she paid decreased, meaning the U.S. taxpayers paid for the rest of her medical expenses.

Just as “free tuition” will not cost the recipient any money, it does not mean it is actually free. The “free lunch” probably cost so much more than anyone realizes.

This country is blessed in that its citizens can become wealthy by working harder, longer or smarter. When the government decides to take everyone’s money, for the benefit of “everyone,” then there is no incentive to make a better mousetrap or to invent something like Google in someone’s garage. I am happy my tax dollars were able to help Berry with her medical expenses. I, and my fellow taxpayers, cannot afford to provide all the “free” stuff some politicians are promising.

A $5 co-pay? No wonder our federal budget is running up huge deficits. To me, that feels like robbery, but I can’t go to the police to file a report. I can only go to the polls and vote for someone who will not steal from me (and call it a tax). I will vote for someone who does have the best interest of America at heart.

William Langnau.

Midlothian.

Certainty of consequence needed to affect behavior

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

Howard Browne’s recent Letter to the Editor regarding the death penalty omitted the essential principles necessary to influence behavior.

To influence behavior, there must be present a certainty of a consequence, either positive to motivate people toward an action or goal, or negative to motivate people away from an action. In either case, there must be a high degree of certainty. Without said certainty of a consequence, the ability to positively influence behavior is proportionately diminished.

This is a fact of human nature and cannot be ignored without generating inconsistent and unacceptable results.

Joseph Ganahl.

Midlothian.

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