Unnecessary regulations create double standard

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

What a surprise.

I recently drove a friend to her dentist’s office for a simple surgery. We arrived in a light rain, but we brought umbrellas. In the waiting room, I had to walk into a hallway to find the water fountain, which is where I also found the bathroom. The sink handles were less than 6 inches long.

All this and yet my friend’s surgery wasn’t affected in any way.

What does this boring recollection have to do with abortion? It shouldn’t. But if you’d substituted “women’s health clinic” for “dentist’s office,” you’d see the double standard.

A few years ago, Virginia legislators who oppose legal abortion passed a law requiring that any doctor’s office or clinic that also provides abortion will be designated an outpatient hospital. These hospitals must adhere to additional physical plant regulations. Why? In order to compel abortion providers to make costly renovations, necessitating a huge increase in the procedure’s cost? In order to ensure my friend’s safety?

My money is on the former.

Let’s all agree: While abortion might be one of the more emotionally fraught medical procedures, it also is medically proved to be one of the safest. Thus, your emotions should not dictate regulations. Emotions should not require the Virginia Board of Health to regulate one building that provides safe surgical procedures differently from your dentist’s or ophthalmologist’s office.

On Sept. 5, the state Board of Health has the chance to correct these medically unnecessary regulations. They could, instead, ensure that their regulations are medically appropriate.

You might still need to find the water fountain outside the waiting room and bring an umbrella. But if you bring a friend for an abortion, she won’t be affected in any way.

Karen Raschke.

Retired Planned Parenthood lobbyist and Virginia League for Planned Parenthood CEO.Glen Allen.

Solve other problems before rezoning schools

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

I left a recent Richmond Public Schools meeting at Carver Elementary totally mystified that a five-year process to consolidate underused schools and thus free up money and resources for students has morphed into a gerrymandering of school boundaries.

I was further dismayed when I read in the RTD that the citizen rezoning commission has concluded that the city of Richmond needs another new elementary school. Despite building eight new schools in seven years and having a declining enrollment over the past 10 years, the RPS still wants more new schools?

It truly is disappointing to see that the RPS and the Richmond School Board are not focused on the key issues causing the poor graduation rates and low test scores within the RPS.

1) Absenteeism: The absenteeism rate in RPS is essentially twice that of Henrico and Chesterfield County School districts (19%, 10.3% and 9.4% respectively). Low attendance rates, which are three to four times that of the surrounding counties (20.0%, 5.3% and 6.9% respectively), clearly are a factor in the high RPS dropout rate.

2) Learning environment: No one wants to mention it, but clearly RPS is losing control of its classrooms. A look at the “number of Offenses Against Staff” or “number of Disorderly & Disruptive Behavior Offenses” rates is an eye-opener. The RPS rates are three to five times higher than the surrounding counties.

I strongly advocate for a fresh approach, one focused on reducing absenteeism and creating a safe learning environment. These should be the top two priorities of the RPS and the School Board.

Let’s get the horse back in front of the cart and put on hold proposing new schools, gerrymandering school boundaries and the DREAMS4RPS program until the RPS makes significant progress in these two areas.

Colin Kelly.

Richmond.

Emergency personnel trained to stop on red

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

In response to the recent editorial about drivers running red lights, I can attest that, as an EVOC — a certified emergency vehicle operator — firefighters and medics are trained to stop at all intersections, before safely proceeding through.

Low-key Hanover County Fire & EMS Department fire engines and ambulances dutifully do that, day after day, including Hanover Engine, Truck and Medic 410 in Atlee.

Donald E. White.

Ashland.

For many, second jobs

are a necessity

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

Ruben Navarrette’s Labor Day musings, “Politicians have plenty of time off,” were disingenuous at best. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., isn’t interested in limiting his, or anyone else’s, lucrative “side hustles.”

For Navarrette and his cohorts, such gigs represent a preference, not a necessity. For too many Americans, a full-time job is not enough to provide food, clothing and shelter for themselves and their families.

If Navarrette had his way, and the government didn’t get involved in such issues, we’d still have sweatshops and child labor.

Marjorie Reed.

Midlothian.

‘Half-baked nostalgia’ won’t solve problems

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

“It’s not about wanting to roll America back to the ‘good old days,’” Chet Wade assures us in his “Is your half-caf, nonfat latte killing our culture?” Commentary column. Yet every example he offers has the same format. Apparently “everyone” used to do “X” (order coffee black, drink Coke, watch network TV), and now “everyone” does “Y” (order complicated lattes, drink customized Gatorade, watch cable or streaming services). What any of this has to do with an alleged empathy deficit escapes me. We deserve better than the half-baked nostalgia Wade served up as a solution to what ails us.

Perhaps what the nation needs is not more empathy, but a willingness to name the problems facing us: a yawning gap between rich and poor; rampant gun violence; millions of Americans without health insurance or even a place to sleep at night; rising and increasingly mainstream racial hatred; a climate crisis that worsens by the day. In such a context, Wade’s suggestion that we “just listen ... to others and wait until they are done before making judgments” seems radically out of touch. Maybe that’s why his VCU students seem dumbfounded. The planet is on fire, the nation endures 300 mass shootings a year, students face crippling college debt, black Americans suffer daily violence at the hands of police, yet Wade is talking to us about how he used to order coffee?

Andrew Murphy.

Richmond.

Signs, banners can be high-wind hazards

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

In preparation for the high winds expected from Hurricane Dorian, banners, sail banners, signs supported off the ground by wire frames, etc., need to come down for the sake of safety. These attention-getting signs are a problem even under normal weather conditions. They are illegal if placed on public streets and highway right of ways. Many are placed in front of traffic signs, including stop signs and in medians and yield islands to get maximum visibility. Even in good weather, they can be distracting for motorists and even partially block the view of the road. High winds can cause them to flap around and create even more distractions, or even worse, turn them into dangerous flying objects.

All organizations — be they home builders, realtors, political, fundraisers or businesses — need to address this problem. After the storm passes, they need to determine if they are breaking the law by reinstalling their signs. Henrico County has a pamphlet available in its libraries that lays out the ordinances that cover these attention-getting devices.

Our area will be safer and less trashy if these signs are taken down ahead of the storm.

Richard Wulf.

Henrico.

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