Op-Ed: Some Good, Some Bad In Obama Administration Plan To Protect Antibiotics

The following comes from Dev Gowda, an advocate with Illinois PIRG.

Plan fails to adequately address growing public health threat

Tomorrow the National Task Force for Combating Resistant Bacteria will release a five-year action plan to tackle the growing problem of antibiotic resistance. While the plan will take several important steps necessary to control the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, it will miss the opportunity to call for critical reforms in the agricultural sector that are essential to protect public health.

President Obama gets an 'A' for tackling this problem from multiple angles. But in terms of addressing the biggest problem, the troubling overuse and misuse of antibiotics on large factory farms, the administration gets an incomplete.

This lack of action to address the overuse of antibiotics in agriculture is notable in the face of recent commitments by several major retailers to curtail the purchase of meat raised with the routine use of the drugs.  Earlier this month, for instance, McDonald's announced it will phase out chicken raised with medically important antibiotics in its U.S. restaurants.  This policy will likely do more to confront the overuse of antibiotics in agriculture than the policies recommended in today's plan. 

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After Public Backlash, Emanuel To Join Garcia At Chicago State Forum

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and challenger Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia will both take part in a forum Wednesday night at Chicago State University on the city's South Side.

But Emanuel's decision to participate apparently took some public prodding.

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Garcia, CTU Call For $15 Minimum Wage For CPS Employees (VIDEO)

Chicago Mayoral challenger Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia joined the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) on Wednesday in demanding a $15 an hour minimum wage for all Chicago Public Schools (CPS) employees, including subcontracted workers.

Garcia and CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey made the call for a "living wage" for CPS employees at a press conference held ahead of the Chicago Board of Education's monthly meeting.

Safe Passage workers, who guard routes students take while traveling to and from school, are among those who would be impacted if CPS lifted its hourly minimum wage to $15 for all employees.

Sharkey said "there are hundreds, if not thousands, of Safe Passage workers" who currently earn less than $15 an hour.

"I stand with CTU today because what they are pressing for is an increase in the living wage," said Garcia, who is endorsed by the teachers' union in Chicago's mayoral race. "It is essential to have more stable families. They are critical providers of front-line services, caring for our children, ensuring greater community stability. I stand with them because it is good for Chicago and for a more promising Chicago for all workers in the city."

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Candidates Pope, Garza Go Head-To-Head In Passionate Debate Over Chicago's 10th Ward (VIDEO)

Aldermanic candidates for the 10th Ward, incumbent Ald. John Pope (10th) and public school counselor Susan Sadlowski Garza, traded jabs Tuesday night during a heated debate in the city's South Chicago neighborhood.

Pope, who was first elected alderman of the South Side ward in 1999, garnered 44 percent of the vote in the February 24 municipal election, followed by Garza at 24 percent. The ward includes the Calumet Heights, East Side, Hegwisch, South Chicago and South Deering neighborhoods.

While moderators attempted to limit the amount of personal attacks the candidates directed at each other, Pope nonetheless said the ward "could move backwards" if he were not elected in the April 7 runoff election. Garza said she would "not be a rubberstamp alderman" adding that, "The people in the 10th Ward deserve better than what we've been getting, that's for sure."

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Activists Rally Support For 'A Financial Plan That Puts Chicago’s Communities First'

Community activists say they have an alternative plan for making Chicago fiscally solvent -- and it doesn't rely on cuts that disproportionately affect low- and middle-income people. 

A new report, "Our Kind of Town: A Financial Plan that Puts Chicago's Communities First," targets "predatory financial deals" that cost the city millions of dollars. The paper, crafted by the Refund America Project at the Roosevelt Institute, also suggests a series of progressive taxes could put millions back into the city's coffers.

"What we have is a priorities crisis," said Amisha Patel, executive director of the Grassroots Collaborative at press conference outside the offices of Loop Capital Management. "For decades, budgets in Chicago have been balanced on the backs of working families. In fact, there are a clear set of policy solutions to raise a progressive revenue that our neighborhoods need."

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