Community Engagement Committee - Fairfax County, VA
Dr. Lolita Mancheno-Smoak presented testimony in support of keeping the current ozone standard of 75 parts per billion at the EPA Ozone hearing held January 29th

 

2015-01-29 004
 

Environmental Protection Agency Public Hearing
Proposed Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS)
EPA Docket Number: EPA-HQ-OAR-2008-0699
Washington D.C, January 29, 2015
Dr. Lolita Mancheno-Smoak, Virginia

Good afternoon and thank you for allowing me to speak today regarding EPA’s proposal to lower the ozone standard. My name is Dr. Lolita Mancheno-Smoak. I have over 30-years work experience in manufacturing, information technology, human resources, program management, and quality management. I’ve held the position of Deputy Chief of Staff – Information Services with the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction; have held various executive level positions at the U.S. Postal Service and in the private sector, and am currently faculty at the University of Phoenix. I am also a wife, a grandmother, a daughter, a small business owner, and a strong advocate for the Hispanic community within Northern Virginia. It’s this combined experience that brings me here to testify about ozone standards.

I am very sensitive to public health concerns with a father that suffers from pulmonary disease. I moved him from the Bronx to Northern Virginia both to provide a healthier environment and to be closer to me so that I could care for him. Having grown up in New York City myself, I understand the impact of air quality on health, but also realize that there are other factors that contribute to pulmonary respiratory problems. This does not diminish the concerns of other families that are experiencing problems similar to my father’s, because I witness the fear of losing the breath of life daily and it is not easy.
However, through my years of experience working in the public and private sector domestically and internationally, I also believe that we must have a balanced approach when setting public policy, because the effects of these policy decisions are widespread and lasting.

I am here today, as a Virginian and a member of the Hispanic community, to ask that the EPA take other perspectives into account before lowering the current ozone standard from 75 parts per billion. I believe the current 75 parts per billion standard is working and should not be changed.
It is important that Americans be able to live in areas where they are able to breathe clean air, and the EPA set a standard of 75 parts per billion in 2008 that is providing just that. I live in Northern Virginia which is meeting this standard – even though marginally – and I look at my father who moved from the Bronx where ozone levels are much higher, than this area, and it has helped him. Granted, there are many other factors that impact his respiratory problems, but cleaner air has made a positive impact. Articles that I have read have also concurred that this current standard is protective of public health. i,ii

So, I question why it needs to be lowered, and am concerned about the impact, if it is lowered.

Former Virginia Lt. Governor Bill Bolling recently published an OpEd that described the potential impact of lowering the ozone standard in Virginia. He cites a recent study from NERA Economic Consulting that estimates, and I quote “new ozone regulations could cost Virginia billions of dollars in gross state product between 2017 and 2040, and cause the loss of tens of thousands of jobs a year.”

That’s TENS of THOUSANDS of jobs at a time when Virginia is just beginning to see the economic losses directly attributable to Sequestration.

This past Tuesday, Norfolk Southern announced it was closing its Roanoke office with an expected job loss of 500 for that area. These jobs used to support coal industry jobs until EPA regulations kicked into full effect.
And in Northern Virginia, we are still struggling to recover from a national recession and federal budget cuts. Thus, a federal policy that could cause further economic harm such as this lower ozone standard would only add insult to injury to the Northern Virginia economy.

I have read the views that the Hispanic community is disproportionately impacted by ozone since many live in urban settings. However, I believe that the Hispanic community is at disproportionately greater risk if the ozone level were lowered because they work in the industries that could be impacted the most: agriculture, manufacturing, oil and natural gas development, construction, etc. as well as the small businesses along the supply chain. They could suffer from increased costs and job losses (and with job losses, the elimination of healthcare coverage).

I ask you today, to please keep the current ozone standard and not further reduce it. The unintended repercussions are far-reaching to families in Virginia, to the Hispanic community and to Americans across the nation.

Thank you again for the privilege of presenting my testimony.
____________________________________________________________________________
i) TCEQ Opposes New EPA Ozone Standards Proposal. Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. November 26, 2014. Retrieved from https://www.tceq.texas.gov/news/releases/11-26opposeozone
ii) Howard Feldman’s remarks at press conference call ahead of proposed Ozone NAAQS regulations. API. November 25, 2014. Retrieved from http://www.api.org/news-and-media/testimony-speeches/2014/howard-feldman-remarks-press-conference-call-ahead-of-proposed-ozone-naaqs-regulations

Posted on February 8th, 2015


A Fair alternative to Obamacare

0_0_0_0_153_86_csupload_62186860The easiest part of the Affordable Care Act was supposed to be designing a user-friendly website that prompted millions to sign up for health insurance with just few clicks. To describe the launch as a colossal fiasco is putting it mildly.

While many feel slighted with a “glitchy” website, the Latino community has been utterly dismissed. That’s because if you speak only Spanish, the Administration didn’t even bother to fully rollout an ObamaCare website for you. Yet, something tells me they won’t have any difficulties sending us the penalty notice for not signing up – in Spanish.

Still, while much attention is currently being focused on the mutilation of a website, those of us who mistrust Washington’s growing control and power are most distressed about the damage Obamacare’s full implementation will do to the nation’s Healthcare system.

0_0_0_0_169_127_csupload_62186851

President Obama promised that his health reform plan would lower health costs, expand choice, and improve quality of care. Yet, as the program is unveiled – piece by broken piece – none of these promises are materializing. Americans are losing full-time employment, millions have been dropped from their employer insurance rolls, and many doctors won’t participate.

And worst of all, the care is not affordable. While a Bronze Plan – the cheapest insurance available under the ACA – will cost many families more than they are currently paying, they will have to cover 40 percent of their medical bills out of pocket through deductibles and co-payments — up to as much as $12,700 per year for a family. Consider also that 65 percent of Hispanics are millennials, meaning they will pay much more for a product they don’t need, didn’t ask for and cannot afford.

Posted on November 19th, 2014


Black Unemployment: Answers to the Unspoken Problem

Leah Durant, Black Engagement Chair: Posted on Tuesday, August 26, 2014 3:34 PM

Leah_Durant-largeJobs in America remain hard to come by. That’s especially true in Black America.

More than twice as many African-American men are unemployed as white men — 11.1 percent versus 4.8 percent.[1] More than ten percent of African-American women are jobless — again, nearly double the 4.9 percent of white women without jobs.[2]

When President Obama took office as the nation’s first African-American president, the ratio of black-white unemployment was at its lowest level in decades. Under his economic stewardship, however, the fate of black America has taken a turn for the worse.

Unfortunately, that won’t change until the president gets rid of the regulatory red tape and suffocating legislation that shackle the economy.

The chronic unemployment afflicting black America is especially worrisome because its effects can fester for years after a recovery takes hold. The longer workers are without regular employment, the harder it is for them to get back into the labor force. Sustained joblessness can lead to breakdowns in the family and crime.

Blacks know this better than anyone else. Research on hiring patterns conducted in 2010 professors from the University of Connecticut and the University of California, suggests that African-American workers with relatively short periods of idleness are among those most likely to be hired when the economy picks up again.[3] African-American workers with long gaps on their resumes are the last to be taken on. Historically, many black Americans have responded to economic headwinds by taking matters into their own hands and starting their own businesses. While black workers generally have fewer years of formal education, they tend to be entrepreneurial. Young African-Americans are on a proportionate basis twice as likely to create new businesses.

But wrongheaded policies and overregulation have resulted in a war on entrepreneurs, and many of the president’s policies, such as Obamacare, are chief among them. In addition to driving up the cost of basic insurance policies, the increased cost of health care often deprives entrepreneurs, both black and white, of the funds they need to grow businesses or hire additional employees.

As recently as 2011, unemployment rates among African-Americans in seven U.S. states ran over 20 percent.[4] Including discouraged workers in that total increases joblessness in those states to Depression-era levels.

These dire economic straits have come about on President Obama’s watch. Expanding the size of government with the likes of policies like Obamacare has only made matters worse. Sadly, the job prospects for working America will not improve until the federal government plays a less prominent role in the economy.

[1] http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t02.htm.  [2] Id. [3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3000014/ [4] States having black unemployment rates averaging higher than 20% during 2011 were Oregon, Nevada, Wyoming, New Mexico, Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin. See: http://www.dol.gov/_sec/media/reports/blacklaborforce/

Posted on August 26th, 2014


Are you better off with Obamacare? Latinos say no!

Our recent survey revealed that you are not better off with Obamacare. And who can blame you? The law is resulting in higher premiums for Americans across the country. And now, Obama Administration officials are telling Congress that consumers should expect “bumps” during the enrollment process through the  website even as we enter the second year since the inception of The Affordable Care Act (ACA)!
So far, the website has cost taxpayers nearly $1 billion. Do they think that money grows on trees?
TakingYourPulseObamacarePoll
Check out the impact of Obamacare in your state
Nuestra reciente encuesta reveló que no estás mejor bajo Obamacare. No es para menos. La ley esta resultando en primas más altas para millones de estadounidenses a lo largo del país. Ahora los oficiales de la administración de Obama le han dicho al congreso que los consumidores deben esperar “tropiezos” en el proceso de registración durante el segundo año de La Ley de Salud Asequible (ACA).
Hasta el momento, la página web le ha costado a los contribuyentes casi mil millones de dólares. ¿Piensan que el dinero crece en árboles?
Vea el impacto de Obamacare en tu estado.

Posted on August 6th, 2014


What Millennials Want (Really)

Gabrielle Jackson, Millennial Chair: Posted on Monday, August 04, 2014 11:44 AM

What Millennials Want (Really)Millennials tend to be a hot topic these days. Whether you are selling a car or a candidate—everyone wants to know what will capture the attention and retention of this next generation.

As a Millennial strategist, I spend a lot of my time interacting with twenty-somethings and measuring what gets them interested and excited about ideas, products and people.

What I have found is the profound impact that stories have on this generation. We are a highly commoditized group of consumers who are constantly bombarded with a demand on our time and our money. We are leery of slick campaigns and 20 second sound bites. If you want to make a real impression with Millennials, tell us a story. Share with us your own journey. Show us how you became successful. Empower us with skills and knowledge so we can discover our own path, while still relying on your guidance.

There is incredible power in story. Ronald Reagan taught us that.
This last month, I had the opportunity to speak with interns at The Leadership Institute and The Heritage Foundation. Both conservative organizations draw young people from across the country committed to advancing liberty. I shared my own story of moving to the greater D.C. area and learning how to apply my skills and passions to the conservative movement. I was honest and authentic as I recalled my own journey learning how my career could also be my calling.

You never know the impact that your story can have on another person’s life. Three days after I spoke at the Leadership Institute, I received a letter.

It read: “Thank you for presenting to our intern class…hearing your story about how you developed and found your way to where you are now, is something that has helped me put into perspective that life really is a ‘long ball game,’ and that despite the uncertainty, hard work and determination will help one succeed in the end.”

As conservatives, we are more than our ideas. We are all keepers of our own stories and sparks of inspiration to others. As Republicans we have a unique opportunity to capture the inspiration and affection of this next generation by being open about our own journey and inviting them into writing this next chapter in America’s story as we seek to advance liberty and conservative principles for this generation, and many more to come.

Posted on August 4th, 2014


Virginia Latino Advisory Board meeting

0_0_0_0_112_179_csupload_65145986_largeThe quarterly meeting of the Governor’s “Virginia Latino Advisory Board” was held at the offices of the Virginia Hispanic Chamber in Tysons Corner on Friday, 7/25/14 .  Members of the statewide board are appointed to 4-year terms and have the power and duty to advise the Governor on issues affecting the Latino community.  Theresa Speake, member of the CEC, was appointed by Governor McDonnell and will serve through 2016.
 
The Secretary of Administration for the Governor, Nancy Rodrigues, made a presentation regarding the new voter identification card that is available at any Electoral Board free of charge for anyone not having picture identification.  All individuals in Virginia must possess and present a photo ID in order to vote starting with the upcoming 2014 general election.
 
The public attendance included the Chair of the CEC, Lolita Mancheno-Smoak and Micah Edmond, GOP candidate for the 8th Congressional District.

Posted on July 28th, 2014


Can our students get more sleep, finally? Only if you speak up

Start School LaterAfter much lobbying by several organizations at the national and state level, Fairfax County Public School students might have an opportunity to finally enjoy the amount of sleep needed for a healthy and productive school day.  But you must let our school system know you, as parents and students, support this effort!  This is how:
 
“Fairfax County Public Schools invites you to attend one of eight community meetings to gather feedback on four scenarios that would move high school start times after 8 a.m.
 
Monday, May 19
7:00-9:00 p.m.
 
Tuesday, May 20
7:00-9:00 p.m.
Tuesday, May 27
7:00-9:00 p.m.
Wednesday, May 28  
7:00-9:00 p.m.
Saturday, June 7
10:00 a.m. to Noon  
Monday, June 9
7:00-9:00 p.m.
Tuesday, June 10
7:00-9:00 p.m.
 
Wednesday, June 11
7:00-9:00 p.m.
If you are unable to attend a community meeting, we invite you to use an online form to submit your feedback. The online form will be available beginning May 19 on the Later High School Start Times web page.
 
The Fairfax County School Board adopted a resolution in April 2012 to seek solutions that will establish high school start times at 8 a.m. or later. In March 2013, the School Board voted to award a contract to Children’s National Medical Center (CNMC) to develop a proposal to achieve this goal. Working with a diverse stakeholder committee, CNMC’s Division of Sleep Medicine initiated a process to develop a Blueprint for Change.  The committee studied many scenarios to start FCPS high schools after 8 a.m. to improve students’ mental and physical health, academic performance, and safety. The School Board reviewed four scenarios at its work session on April 23, and now seeks the community feedback on these options.”
 
This is the time to speak up, or forever hold your peace!  It is a proven scientific fact our teenagers will benefit immensely from having later school start times.  Let’s make this happen?

Posted on May 15th, 2014


No more parties at home if you invite too many people? Maybe!

You must think the title of this blog is actually a joke, but this IS  happening in Fairfax County!  Backyard weddings, Christmas parties, family reunions, Bible studies at your own residence may ALL be banned very soon, if we do not take action! The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is considering a regulation to prevent such gatherings from happening.  From Pat Herrity’s newsletter, our Springfield District Supervisor:
 
County Proposing Restricting Rights of Groups to Assemble in Residential Dwellings
 
Fairfax County has proposed changes to the zoning ordinance in an attempt to curb “frequent and large gatherings at neighborhood homes.” Specifically the zoning change states “Group assembly when accessory to a dwelling unit shall be permitted, except any group assembly exceeding forty-nine (49) people in one day shall not occur more frequently than three (3) times in any forty (40) day period.”   While there have been some complaints about frequent and large gatherings creating issues such as lack of parking, noise, and traffic, I have serious concerns about such a sweeping change to the zoning ordinance. These include the following:
 
  • I believe the County is risking a lawsuit and/or a Constitution challenge by interfering with peoples’ right to assemble.
  • I do not believe the County has taken into account the unintended consequences on activities that regularly occur in the community and do not currently pose problems.
  • I believe this will impact many large families that gather on a regular basis, community group meetings and potentially holiday gatherings
  • This would be nearly impossible, labor intensive and costly for our code compliance staff to enforce, having to “catch” people in the act, including staking out an offender for more than 3 days in a 40 day period
  • We should be focusing on dealing with the issues and not restricting groups’ rights to assemble.
 
So there you have it.  Our local government believes they can dictate how many people, and how often, we can have them over at our homes, our property, paid for by our hard-earned money.  Take a read about the thoughts of other Fairfax County citizens here:
 
“I never imagined when I agreed to host a Bible study in my home that such an action may one day be a violation of law. Yet that’s exactly what my very own Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is prepared to do right here in Virginia…Because six people complained, the county is poised to violate the right to free speech, the right to religious expression, and the right to freedom of assembly.”  Read this blog authored by Matthew Clark here:http://bearingdrift.com/2014/05/05/fairfax-county-poised-to-shut-down-home-bible-studies/

 

 
 What can we DO about it?  Let your voices be heard!  Supervisor Herrity  welcomes your thoughts via an email at springfield@fairfaxcounty.gov. The County will also be holding public meetings addressing this issue on the following dates:
  • Monday, May 12, 2014 from 7 – 9 p.m. at Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA  22035 in the Board Auditorium
  • Monday, May 19, 2014 from 7 – 9 p.m. at Lemon Road Elementary School, 7230 Idylwood Road, Falls Church, VA  22043 in the school cafeteria

Last, but not least, write a comment on your thoughts ONLINE!  From the comfort of your own home, let the County know what you think about this by going to this link:  http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpz/zoning/groupassembly/


Hopefully reason will prevail on all this, but it will take engaged citizens to make it happen!

Posted on May 7th, 2014


Obamacare, Vaya con la Broma!

La Campana de HeritageNi el mejor de los guionistas se podría inventar algo así. El día de la supuesta fecha límite de la ley de atención médica, tras un masivo intento de la gente por visitar la página web, HealthCare.gov se cayó. Así resumió la web Politico lo sucedido:
HealthCare.gov estuvo caída durante seis horas a primera hora de la mañana del lunes. Luego volvió a funcionar. Posteriormente se activó su “sala de espera virtual”. Más tarde bloqueó a los nuevos visitantes que trataban de crear cuentas. Después estuvo funcionando de nuevo…
El líder de la mayoría en el Senado, Harry Reid (D-NV), dice que Obamacare está teniendo problemas para despegar debido a que “la gente no está educada en los usos de Internet”. La representante Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) indica que Obamacare es una “victoria política”, mientras el programa Saturday Night Live se burla de los intentos de la administración por conectar con los jóvenes americanos mediante cualquier celebridad o red social disponible.
Y todo esto está sucediendo realmente. LEA MAS AQUI!

Posted on April 1st, 2014


2014 is the year of the Millennials!

0_0_0_0_111_93_csupload_637930752014 is the year of the Millennial. This year the youngest Millennial will become a teenager, while the oldest of us will realize thirty isn’t really that bad. There are nearly 90 million of us, and at 25% of the American population, we are hard to ignore.

0_0_0_0_191_120_csupload_638487101.       Put them on the team – Millennials have been placed on teams our entire lives- from soccer to science projects. As adults we are looking forward to working in diverse groups of various ages, ethnicities, genders and backgrounds.

2.       Ask their opinion – Sure, everyone wants to know someone cares what they think. But Millennials feel especially motivated when our supervisors value our input, even if they don’t take our advice.
3.       Escape the office – Millennials are sensory learners and retain more information when our left and right brain are stimulated simultaneously. Encourage your employees to work together in settings that don’t include a conference table. Extra points if it includes food.
4.       Give them a mentor – Millennials don’t want a boss, we want a coach. Although we don’t act like it, Millennials realize we don’t know it all, and want to learn from whoever manages us.
5.       Make them a mentor – Millennials love teaching others what we know. Cut back on on-boarding costs within the organization by putting your young minds to work on peer-mentoring programs or training videos. TO LEARN MORE, click HERE
Gabrielle Jackson is one of our featured speaker in the upcoming LIBERATED with TRUTH conference taking place on 4/12 at Langley HS, Fairfax.  To attend and find out more about this conference focused on the mythical “War on Women”, go to www.terrybeatly.com

Posted on March 18th, 2014


 
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