Our state's elected leaders have received well deserved recognition for the effective, coordinated response to the recent winter storm. As a result of comprehensive planning, some lessons learned, and the dedication of thousands of heroes on the front lines, Georgians remained safe, the roads were clear, and children were home with their families.
As ice accumulated on trees and power lines, our state's utility employees were ready. Having left their own families at home, they staged in parking lots and temporary facilities -- ready to start working first to prevent outages and then to restore power to the many Georgians who lost it. While it may have taken longer in some cases than anyone would have liked, it was not for lack of determination or commitment. The same can be said for our public safety and transportation workers. They got ahead of the storm and did not rest -- or go home -- until the danger had passed.
The Georgia Chamber is proud to salute these unsung heroes who exemplify everything that is great about our state and remind us all that when we work together, we can accomplish incredible results.
President and CEO
Georgia Chamber of Commerce
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB); headed by Richard Cordray, protects consumers from fraudulent products and services which undermine a healthy economy. The CFPB has provided $394 million in relief to 2.1 million harmed individuals for credit card fraud. It also assessed $50 million in civil monetary penalties to help prevent further abuses. The CFPB also created new rules to protect the American mortgage market -- a $ 10 trillion market -- from repeating the fraudulent and abusive practices which caused the Great Recession. All was done under Cordray's leadership.
The Consumer Financial Protection and Soundness Act just introduced by the House will tie Cordray's hands by installing a bipartisan committee of five to approve any action insuring that any effective oversight is mired in political morass and therefore doomed. Financial institutions don't want consumer protections to hinder their reckless greedy practices.
Americans who care about consumer protection must call their representatives (Capitol switchboard toll free: 1-866-220-0044) to insure that this Act is not passed.
Dangerously lax oversight
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is still expanding the list of retailers carrying meat unfit for human consumption to Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, and 970 locations in California alone. About 8.7 million pounds were shipped all through 2013 by Rancho Feeding Corporation of Petaluma, Calif.
The recall comes in the wake of USDA's new "inspection" program that allows the meat industry to increase speed of processing lines and replace federal inspectors with plant employees. According to USDA inspector general, this has resulted in partial failure to remove fecal matter, undigested food, and other contaminants that may contain deadly E. coli and listeria bacteria.
Traditionally, USDA has catered more to the interests and profitability of the meat industry than to the health and safety of American consumers. Consumer interests come into play only when large numbers of us get sick. Having USDA protect consumers is like asking the fox to guard the henhouse.
The Obama administration should reallocate responsibility for all food safety to the Food and Drug Administration. In the meantime, each of us can assume responsibility for our own safety by switching to the rich variety of soy-based meat products offered by our favorite supermarket.
Columbus Regional Midtown Medical Center is truly a caring place. Totally dependent on health care professionals there for 14 days, I regained health, nurtured by excellent doctors, nurses, nursing assistants, techs, radiologists, pharmacists, food prep and sanitation providers, and others.
Five days following routine laparoscopic out-patient surgery, I returned to Midtown with unexpected complications. Twelve-hour shifts of dedicated individuals performed their responsibilities well, directly impacting patients' well-being. Staff arriving on shift -- alert, cheerful, eager to care for very ill clientele -- were as thoughtful and responsive at grueling shift's end as its beginning.
I observed dynamics aimed at healing patients. Individuals' distinct personalities meshed within an efficient whole, providing restorative calm. Nursing staff on 10 Main provided efficient, knowledgeable, time-sensitive care. The floor was full virtually every day (25 extremely ill patients). During the ice/snow event of January, I witnessed behind-the-scenes preparations. Daycare was available within hospital so parents/employees could care for hospital patients. Employees with 4-wheel-drive vehicles drove in stranded fellow employees. Staff who couldn't leave had access to in-hospital sleeping and food arrangements. Consistently, our patient care was central.
A favorite memory occurred when I quipped to a radiology staffer, "Brand new surgery -- same old scar " She laughed, "Hey, that sounds like a country song!" and erupted in song. Whenever I encountered her, she sang and I laughed, helping to heal a place within me weary of being so ill.
I am thrilled with this local hospital and want these excellent caregivers to know our area values their effort. I'm home, regaining strength and health, and proud to claim Columbus as my new city -- a place with a heart for healing. Thank you, dear Midtown healthcare professionals.