A-4 Forum THE UKIAH DAILY JOURNAL FRI., JUNE 5-SAT, JUNE 6, 1998 ilililjlililiii K.C. Meadows, editor, 468-3526 LOCALLY OPERATED MEMBER DONPEY MEDIA GROUP Donald W. Reynolds, Founder Ukiah Daily 'ournal (USPS 646-920) Dennis Wilson, Publisher K.C. Meadows - Editor Janet Noe - Advertising Manager Vte Martinez • Production Manager Yvonne Bell - Office Manager Ken Bohl - Circulation Manager Mcrnbw Audit Burami „ „ 1W»M«n*«r Of Circulations <i? tornta N«*»P«P«' Pubtlttwr* AnocMon (gfi}IS>81 OTHER OPINIONS from around the nation The San Jose Mercury News How HMOs can get healthy Your little boy wakes up with a rash and a raging fever. You finally get through to the advice nurse, and when you take him in for the appointment, you have to cross a picket line. Your mother is on life support in the intensive- care unit. As you step into the hall, you hear the R.N.s at the nurses' station discussing the one-day strike that will begin at midnight. This is not how it's supposed to be. Yet that was the health care picture for Northern California's Kaiser Permanente members last year. What was once unthinkable became reality as the California Nurses Association battled the largest provider of health care in California. Nurses walked off the job six times in a series of one- and two-day strikes over the 18 months they went without a contract. The nurses' actions took on the aspects of any bitter labor dispute. But this was not a mine or a car factory that was affected. This was health care, as essential a service as police or fire fighting. Kaiser and the CNA reached agreement in March. Meanwhile, almost unnoticed, Local 250 of the Health Care Workers Union easily reached agreement with Kaiser on a new contract. Local 250 represents such workers as licensed vocational nurses, technicians and clerical workers. The union credits the partnership agreement it signed with Kaiser last year for creating an atmosphere in which labor peace could prevail. This National Labor-Management Partnership Agreement contains provisions similar to what the nurses wanted and which they attained this year — a bigger role in making decisions that affect patients as well as employees. While the nurses' agreement differs from the Health Care Workers', both arrangements are cause for optimism. Rank-and-file involvement in the future of health care could help steer it away from the dehumanization that occurs whenever decisions are made too far away from the people most affected. The San Diego Union-Tribune Low-level radioactive waste dump The last chance for California hospitals, biotech labs and nuclear power plants that need a storage facility for low-level radioactive waste now lies with a federal judge in Washington. At the urging of three state legislators who oppose Ward Valley, a mid-level U.S. Interior Department director has concluded that the California Department of Health, which was negotiating the transfer of Ward Valley from the federal government to the state, lacks the authority to take possession of the land. With that decision, the Interior Department has halted all efforts to transfer the land, not that it was doing much, anyway. But Interior Department officials now feel this edict gives their lack of action on Ward Valley some sort of legitimacy. Three California Democrats, Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl of Santa Monica, Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles and Senate President Pro Tern John Burton of San Francisco, wrote to the Clinton administration claiming the state health department had no authority to acquire Ward Valley and operate it as a low-level radioactive waste dump. They asked the federal government to stop dealing with California over Ward Valley, and the Interior Department agreed. The state's last hopes for Ward Valley may hinge on a June 17 hearing in federal district court in Washington, where the state will argue it has done everything under the law and that all official scientific studies support its stance on Ward Valley. ... Federal judges should rule in California's favor, but Congress needs to act, too, to require the Interior Department to transfer the land to the state. This whole Ward Valley battle has been a fiasco; the Interior Department has dragged its feet for years, with only the flimsiest legal cover. President Bill Clinton: The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, D.C. 20500; (202) 456-1111, FAX (202)456-2461. Governor Pete Wilson: State Capitol, Sacramento, 95814. (916) 445-2841; FAX (916)4454633. Sen. Barbara Boxer: U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C'. 20510; (202)224-3553; San Francisco, (415) 403-0100. Sen. Dianne Feinstein: U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C. 20510. (202)224-3841; San Francisco (415) 536-6868. Letters to the Daily Journal Kicked the habit To the Editor: Going on four months off the weed, but I'll always be making sure I don't slip back. Last year, had six months behind me - then went back to it. What a fiasco. During the six months, even tried acupuncture which didn't work. And, listen to me, will-power did not account for either my six months or my four months. Realize it was not a will-power thing (although I'm not saying it couldn't be). Determination, steadfastness, discretion (which is proper judgment), and abstinence (popular swear word) - are all that is needed. And when you've "passed" one day, then two, then three, two weeks, a month - it just takes hold of you - for less cigarettes: the desire to quit. I'm shootin' for one year, then 10 years - this so I can come to life again to the right way. Many benefits: I had a chronic runny nose almost disappeared now. Food tastes better. Breathing - better all around. Improved immune system (and it's going to get better): more resistance vs. colds and viruses. Freedom from physical and monetary addiction. My heart definitely approves. And (you can believe it) - society approves. Go with the crowd. Drop it! John F. Reilly Ukiah Judging others To the Editor: I'm writing in regards to an honorable judge. Surely one appointed or elected judge must take his job seriously. But this man does his job like if it was amateur night at the Apollo. All I ever see him do is berate the D.A., the public defender, and what concerns me the most is the way he jokes around about the future of people's lives, which I think is a little unprofessional. He may be a good judge, a fair judge, but I have yet to see some consideration towards the defendants, who may or A PoLinc/Advj WAJO pur p&i/sJCfPLE AHEAD of P0LIT/C.S GOLDWATER WHO PUT OF PUBLIC OP/N/OM THIS £f LOfeY PAST OUR wAwr TO p^isf we OLD M/T IF IT'S GO/A/G TD COJT may not be innocent. But who am I to judge, right? I never took a walk in his shoes. K. Litzin Mendocino County Jail Thank you To the Editor: Thanks to our community on Saturday, May 16, Ukiah Police Activities League held a rummage sale of great success, due to the efforts of PAL volunteers, local Lutheran Brotherhood Branch No. 8973 volunteers, Mendocino Spay/ Neuter Assistance program volunteers, J & M Locksmith, all the folks who generously donated to the rummage sale and not to forget those who carried home all their purchased treasures. Thanks for all your support. Jo Courtney Ukiah Education is hard work "I pledge to be the Education President." "Vote for me - I'll be your Education Governor!" Promises made to American citizens...promises not kept. Why? Because these promises are impossible to keep. Education is not an important enough aim for the majority of Americans. Hence, many of our children sit at graffiti-chipped tables listening to adults who are paid less than their plumber. How important can it be, the student questions... America needs an answer. It's important enough that we compel youngsters to attend school their entire childhood. Unlike the scholastic scene in classical Greece where willing students raptly listened and questioned their highly respected teacher, 20th century U.S. schools spend large budgets to see that all students are in class and didn't bring their weapon with them. Not that the Greeks were perfectly enlightened....you would find few of the fairer sex sitting under the marble-columned portico. But that's another essay. To understand any topic, it's necessary to go back and try to understand its beginning, which should bring perspective to why it is what it is today. Early American schools were essential only for those who could spend time away from the family fields. Survival was first and foremost, and then if our children could better learn to read, write, and do arithmetic, this would benefit the family's future prospects. The prospects of our country and even Valerie Warda is a Ukiah resident. VALERIE WARDA Another voice of the human species were considered by the more noble of our forefathers - in other words, those who had others to do their basic survival work for them and could spend time making the larger American dreams come true. What's amazing is that the educational system put in place with those goals in mind is still being stretched to fit the unwieldy body of America today. An America with only a tiny minority still working the farm... an America that needs more than arithmetic to manage their household budgets... an America bombarded with messages from digital screens and online 'zines that need to be decoded for their true meanings - phonics just won't cut it! Our America today needs more than the basics. And not to equip our young with what they really need to succeed in tomorrow's world is criminal. Some of us can recall trying to make that older cousin's shirt fit for another year. Hand-me-downs filled in the near-empty closets": Our public schools insist on tried-and-true styles that don't meet the need of today's students. Or if you can't relate to that metaphor., .how about that stylish garment that said "One size fits all" - yet it just doesn't look More from the circus The Ukiah Daily Journal's email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org. AUSTIN - This year's Editorial Writer's Award goes to Gov. George W. Bush, in honor of Murray Kempton's famous observation that editorial writers are those who ride down onto the field after the battle is over and shoot the wounded. We are in the midst of a splendid bout here, one of those Everyone-Looks-Ridiculous rounds of political fisticuffs for which our state is nationally recognized. This all started with a famous victory in January: The state of Texas won a whopping, record- setting $15.3 billion settlement from the tobacco companies for all the Texans who have gotten sick from smoking and had to be cared for by the state. Nice going, team. But the thrill of victory lasted about 10 minutes before the ugly greed scrum started. The lawyers, as per their contract with the state, got 15 percent of the settlement, which works out to $2.3 billion, a very substantial chunk of change indeed. Dubya Bush does not care much for trial lawyers in the first place: His sole notable contribution to governance during his first term was "tort reform," a way to keep lawyers from winning huge monetary verdicts from juries who tend to dislike big insurance companies and other corporate malefactors. Bush thinks $2.3 billion is too big a fee for five lawyers (actually, over two years, about 100 lawyers worked on the case, but that's another story), and you must admit, he has a point there. Quite a good point, actually. Let not the ugly word "politics" rear its head here, but coming out against a $2.3 billion fee for five lawyers, no matter how much they jacked out of the tobacco companies, is not going to cost you any votes in an election year, since lawyers rank even below politicians in public esteem. So: - U.S. District Judge David Folsom rules in late January that 15 percent for the attorneys is a rea- Molly Ivins is a syndicated columnist. Molly Ivins sonable fee. Since trial lawyers usually claim a third of the spoils when they take a case on contingency (that means they put up the money to fight the case; the state didn't kick in a nickel), this could be considered a bargain: on the other hand, $2.3 billion? ~ So Bush and seven state legislators file a challenge to the fee: It is unclear, since they were not involved in the lawsuit, whether they actually have standing to do so. It becomes clearer when Folsom throws them out of court in March, observing "their argument is not grounded on recognized law." - The five attorneys, now concerned about their big fee, hire Michael Tigar, one of the biggest legal guns in the state, to represent their interests. Two months of negotiations ensue: The lawyers are willing to go as low as an $800 million floor if it goes to mediation. Two weeks ago, Bush backs out of the mediation. ~ A week goes by, and Attorney General Dan Morales finds out Bush's office is once again talking directly to the tobacco lawyers in a case in which Bush has no standing. Morales is infuriated by the interference with "his" settlement and asks the judge to fine Bush and the legislators $25 million for "their frivolous intervention and improper political meddling." good on you? Are we dressing our kids up but sending them nowhere? Giving them answers to questions they don't have and ignoring their questions that resound in our ears - the questions we're not comfortable with., .the questions we weren't trained to answer? If we want to keep the public school system alive and vital, perhaps we should look closer to jts cut and design. When the"wearer changes size or needs a new look, clothing industries try to offer what is needed or demanded. If our 21st century students need to operate effectively in a changing world, then our duty as their educators is to fit them properly. Where do we start, you ask? Nationally,,and locally, our governments, communities and' schools should all work towards creating adequate funding - perhaps even changing the property tax concept to something more equitable generated possibly from a government body whose sole pur-; pose is ensuring education for every American student. Well, it's a thought. Can we leave it all for our President or Governor to do? It's nice to have their support, but we need more than words or promises-. If we want our children, our students, our future leaders to respect us and want to learn from us, then we need to inspire greatness in them. We need to come through with knowledge and understanding in our lessons and actions - and do it with sin^ cerity and hard work. Let's dress them all up in a good-looking outfit ready to do what they need to do well. Who knows which of today's students will be educating your grandchildren someday? -- Bush replies that this is "a frivolous lawsuit against a duly elected official," and in retaliation, the seven lawmakers file a federal court document that implies Morales asked for a $1 million kick- -. back from attorneys who bid for the case. At this -i: point, the alleged allegation is a cloudy reference *: in a deposition by Joe Jamail, yet another one of :'.' the biggest legal guns in the state, who lost the con- : tract to sue the tobacco companies in the first place. (In one of the better strange-bedfellows aspects to * this mess, Jamail, now on the same side as Bush, didn't get the contract because he wanted a 33 per- £ cent contingency fee.) -: Here's the state of play as of this writing: J Morales claims the $1 million fund referred to by • Jamail was actually upfront expense money for the I lawsuit and that if anything "questionable or ille'- * gal" occurred, as Jamail alleges, the entire roomful. *: of very-high-priced attorneys present at the tim'e-'i could now be disbarred. In another happy wrinkle, Bush is now claiming * the lawyers' fees in the Minnesota tobacco settle- I ment are much more equitable and we should rene- * gotiate to get a similar deal. Morales replies the ' governor doesn't know what he's talking about: A I deal similar to Minnesota's would give our lawyers • 17 percent instead of 15 percent. Bush says the tax- \ payers are on the hook for the lawyers' fees; * Morales says the tobacco companies will pay them • if the arbitration panel, to meet in November, is * willing. ' • Further, somebody is spreading the rumor that " : Morales plans to run against Sen. Kay Bailey • Hutchison in 2000. Morales, who is not running for ! re-election, has friends who claim Bush decided to ' give him a parting kick in the pants on his way out the door. Both sides claim they have taken the high " road and engaged in no abuse, whereas the other -' guys have said nasty, awful, tacky things. •'* And if you're not confused now, you haven't > been paying attention.
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