By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers’ woke health panel is taking a lot of heat for being another taxpayer-funded tool of the leftist agenda, and rightly so. The Health Equity Council had a hard time defining what “equity” means when it launched, but many of its liberal members have had no problem opening up their wallets to Democrats.
Republicans this week blasted recommendations issued by the group Democrat Evers created more than three years ago. The Equity Health Council, among other things, calls for the formation of an Interagency Council on Transgender Health and Safety and an Office of Environmental Justice (No word on whether Aquaman, Wonder Woman or the Wonder Twins will lead the latter).
“Amid rising crime, historic inflation, and a crippled education system, @GovEvers is trying to make the extreme left-wing agenda for big government and social engineering more palatable by trying to pass it off as health care,” Anna Kelly, Wisconsin GOP Comms director, tweeted earlier this week
“While Democrats push for taxpayer-funded offices for ‘transgender health and safety,’ ‘environmental justice’ and government handouts, Republicans are focused on uplifting all Wisconsinites by lowering costs, prioritizing public safety and giving parents a voice in our education system,” Kelly told the Wisconsin State Journal.
But Evers’ leftist committee du jour is filled with Democrat Party donors — 15 out of the 33 members. Some have donated to the political campaigns of fellow council member, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes.
The biggest Dem contributor on the Equity Council, by far, is Cristy Garcia-Thomas, Chief External Affairs Officer for Advocate Aurora Health. She has contributed a total of $15,735 to Democrat campaigns over the years.
Council member Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer at UW Health, has contributed a total of $1,920 to Democrats and liberal causes, the second most among the Equity directors according to campaign finance records.
The other members have contributed smaller amounts, from $25 to $250.
But Dem Party and liberal activist presence is well represented on the committee. Member Stacy Clark is Democratic Party of Wisconsin Black Caucus vice chair. Member Lilliann Paine wants #abortionjustice, and Cristal Tinajero Rodriquez was a youth organizer for Voces De La Frontera, a leftist Milwaukee-based organization. Others have pushed a variety of woke initiatives and liberal social justice projects. Paine is “the brainchild behind Wisconsin Public Health Association’s (WPHA) 2018 Resolution: “Racism Is a Public Health Crisis.”
Wonder why it’s taken Evers’ pet committee so long to come out with its recommendations? The panel spent 40 minutes trying to “establish a common definition of equity, disparity” and “decide how to center the work of the council.” Perhaps they should have started with an Equity and Inclusion Peace Circle, as Evers Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection is doing.
“The terms ‘equity’ and ‘disparities’ have different meanings for different people. The council will spend time reflecting on the various takes on equity presented during the introductions, contrasting that with disparities, and ultimately deciding on how we want to incorporate them into our work,” the council’s first meeting agenda states.
Council members also discussed using American Rescue Plan Act funds, the billions of dollars in federal COVID aid Evers has had at his disposal, for woke pet projects. They talked about creating small grants for health organizations “to provide formal diversity education for their staff; training sessions.” They sought to carve out ARPA funds for minority-owned small businesses that focus on home-based medical support. One member wanted to know, “if at all are folks who are not currently citizens supported?”
Evers established the Health Equity Council, he said, to “improve health outcomes and reduce disparities.” But it’s just another liberal committee with a woke agenda to appease his far left base. And Evers wants it to remain in perpetuity through state statute.