Prairie Politics

Ranzau: Don’t relate public health cuts to climbing STD rates

“We’re talking about national trends over the last four years up to 2014,” Sedgwick County Comission Chairman Richard Ranzau said. “And they’re trying to connect it to reductions in spending that haven’t even occurred yet.”
“We’re talking about national trends over the last four years up to 2014,” Sedgwick County Comission Chairman Richard Ranzau said. “And they’re trying to connect it to reductions in spending that haven’t even occurred yet.” File photo

Sedgwick County Commission Chairman Richard Ranzau said Wednesday there is no link between health department cuts and an increase in sexually transmitted disease rates.

“Public health funding does not cause syphilis or HIV,” Ranzau said. “Actions by individuals cause you to get syphilis or HIV.

“If you are going to participate in certain sexual acts, you’re going to be at increased risk, period,” Ranzau says. “That’s what causes it. Not proposed funding cuts.”

Ranzau criticized an Eagle article and editorial for mentioning budget cuts to the county health department in relation to the climbing STD rates.

He closed the Sedgwick County Commission’s Wednesday meeting arguing for the public health cuts that were cited in a recall effort against him.

The county commission approved about $540,000 in cuts to the health department, including the Community Health Improvement Plan, which gathers data about the county’s overall health.

Ranzau said there needs to be a real discussion about the cause of rising STD rates: individual behavior.

“If you have sex with an anonymous person, unprotected, you’re going to get syphilis or HIV,” Ranzau said. “Look at some of the efforts that are going on throughout this country to promote all sorts of sexual behavior as being normal, acceptable and moral.”

He said the county’s health cuts did not affect the health department’s efforts against STDs, which include testing and treatment.

“We’re talking about national trends over the last four years up to 2014,” Ranzau said. “And they’re trying to connect it to reductions in spending that haven’t even occurred yet. They don’t go into effect until January.”

The county’s changes to its health department phased in toward the end of September.

Ranzau publicly commented on a recent recall petition to try to remove him from office. The district attorney’s office said last week there aren’t sufficient legal grounds for a recall election. Petitioners may try to file a petition with different legal grounds soon.

“I’m committed to that fight for as long as I’m in here,” Ranzau said. “No one is going to intimidate me and make me back down.”

He said most of his constituents agree with his positions on the Women, Infants and Children program. He asked the state in October to block illegal immigrants from receiving benefits through the nutrition program.

“I also know you’re not racist bigots because of that position, as some would pontificate,” he said.

The 14-minute speech was in the “other” section of Wednesday’s meeting. Commissioners also approved their 2016 legislative agenda, a new contract with KPTS to broadcast commission meetings and buying and renovating a building for a new tag office.

This is the second straight meeting that ended on a speech from a commissioner who warned it would not be politically correct.

Commissioner Karl Peterjohn drew headlines last month for a 13-minute speech he called a public warning about the threat of the Islamic State terrorist group to Americans. He showed a slideshow of people named Muhammad who have committed terrorist attacks.

On Wednesday, Peterjohn talked about various events in American history as he normally does.

Peterjohn noted Wednesday, Dec. 2, as the anniversary of the establishment of the first synagogue in America, the first demonstration of a controlled nuclear reaction and the creation of Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska. He also noted that on this day James Monroe began crafting what became the Monroe Doctrine, an influential approach to foreign policy in American history.

Daniel Salazar: 316-269-6791, @imdanielsalazar

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