Ukiah Daily Journal from Ukiah, California on March 19, 2004 · Page 4
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Ukiah Daily Journal from Ukiah, California · Page 4

Ukiah, California
Issue Date:
Friday, March 19, 2004
Page 4
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A-4 - FRIDAY, MARCH 19, 2004 Editor; K.C. Meadows, 468^526 FORUM Letters from our readers A shameful anniversary To the Editor: Today, March 19. is the anniversary of the U.S. attack on Iraq. We as a Americans should hang our heads in shame for what has happened in Iraq. In the name of over 500 American soldiers, other foreign workers and thousands of Iraqis who have lost their lives in the last year, the Bush Administration is accountable for intelligence lapses leading up to the Iraq War. No weapons of mass destruction have been found, and it seems that Iraq posed no imminent threat to us or our allies. Congress is specifically authorized to censure a.president. If ever a president deserved censure, George Bush does. Urge Congress to censure Bush for manipulating prewar intelligence and lying to the American people. Jacqueline M. Lee Redwood Valley Budget discussion frustrating To the Editor: I recently sat through hours of the Board of Superviors' meeting to see how they would vote on the director of Mental Health's proposed draconian cuts to already inadequate medical and crisis care services for people who suffer from severe and persistant menial illness. Beth Martinez (along with Jim Andersen and Dennis Huey) had decided to balance the budget by making massive cuts in services to people with mental illness. Martinez has eliminated the Crisis Services Center, reduced the jail psychiatrist's hours to 10/week, asked for a mandatory four- hour/week furlough resulting in the closure of all DMH offices at no'on on Friday, and wants layoffs. I was absolutely stunned that Patti Campbell and Hal Wagenet voted in favor of these cruel and irresponsible cuts. I expected Mike Delbar to vote for the cuts. David Colfax and Richard Shoemaker voted against them because they do not believe the county's budget should be balanced on the backs of vulnerable people. They understand that not providing medical and crisis services to people with mental illness will show up later on in other costs to the county (hospitalizations, out- of-county placements, conservatorships, legal costs, incarcerations, DSS and DPH). The Department of Mental Health is the only county department that gets no county money and is the only one asking to layoff employees, furlough employees and close itself some four hours/week. This director is not on the side of people with mental illness or her employees but acts as an extension of the CAO's and Auditor/Controller's offices. More, people need to witness the BOS budget meetings if you have the stomach for it. They need people who will watch their proceedings and try to bring some .humanity and common sense to it. There were some bright moments of hope in yesterday's meeting. One was when David Colfax who asked the board to consider a more equitable solution than the other alternative of .decimating medical and crisis care services at DMH. He presented a list of the 1,400 county employees according to their salaries. The highest paid 10 percent of employees would take the highest percentage of cuts in pay and the people at the bottom of the scale (janitors, clerical workers, etc.) would have no pay cut. Those in between would have a descending percentage of their salary cut with the total cut equaling the county budget deficit. There appears to be one supervisor against it but I hope it will get three votes when the time conies. Hopefully this would mean reinstating medical and crisis services but Marline/ indicated she wants to give any saved or extra DMH money back to the county. Let's hope at least three supervisors come down on the side of reinstating services. A second hope was the great questioning of Martinez by Richard Shoemaker LETTER POLICY The Daily Journal welcomes letters lo the editor. All letters must include a clear name, signature, return address and phone number. Letters are generally published in the order they are received, but shorter, concise letters are given preference. Because of the volume of letters coming in, letters of more lhan 400 words in length may take longer to be printed. Names will not be withheld for any reason. If we are aware that you are connected to a local organization or are an elected official writing about the organization or body on which you serve, that will be included in your signature. If you want lo make it clear you are not speaking for that organization, you should do so in your letter.All letters are subject lo editing without notice. Editing is generally limited to removing statements that are potentially libelous or are not suitable for a family newspaper. Form letters that are clearly part of a write-in campaign will not be published. You may drop letters off at our office at 590 S. School St., or fax letters to 468-3544, mail to Letters to the Editor, P.O: Box 749, Ukiah, 95482 or email them to E-mail letters should also include hometown and a phone number. about her accounting numbers, and expensive and failed computer program ventures. And a third was when the union representative informed us of bloated middle management at DMH where 30 percent of the 62 percent of the DMH budget for salaries and benefits is for administrative overhead. As Martinez shrinks the number of workes at DMH, I wondered if all those managers who are likely to stay will eventually have to be providing services to clients. I felt disgusted and almost sick as I listened to Martinez, Andersen and Huey cover up people's lives with all their paper and numbers - their words and actions as far removed from human need as you can get. I wondered if mere might have been a third vote against this is the BOS chambers had been filled with DMH clients, family members and friends. Instead it was filled with administrators. Those are the ones who will also show up when the BOS votes on David Colfax's novel solution to balance the budget. The administrators won't be letting their lowest paid employees get release time to attend. I wonder if it would help for the supervisors to see a room full of the lowest paid county employees. Sonya Nesch Comptche Taking another look at federalists To the Editor: After reading the Feb. 13 letter from Terri L. Cader (Putting real Christians in office) I was moved to respond. Terri, I must say that you inspired me to dust off a copy of "The Federalist," which I am sure you know is a collection of 84 essays by our "awesome Founding Fathers." I read that their debates over democracy vs. republic centered around what was practical for a nation so large as to make travel to a central meeting location difficult. They believed that democracy was great for small groups, but on such a large scale it could, as you stated, "lead to tyranny." But what were the tyrannies they feared? According to James Madison, in essay No. 10, those tyrannies where: ambitious leaders, religion, and a rage for paper money! Madison wrote that in a republic such factious leaders "may kindle a flame with their particular states, but will be unable to spread a general conflagration through the other states. A religious sect may degenerate into a political faction in a part of a Confederacy; but the variety of sects dispersed over the entire face of it must secure the national councils against any danger from that source." So then, Terri, they invented an ingenious democratic republic to protect us from those tyrannies. With so many divergent opinions of what God is, even among themselves, our awesome Founding Fathers were wise enough to leave God out of government. It is far too easy for someone to rally a huge following just by claiming to be a man of God. You may remember such notable "Christians" as Jim Jones and Adolf Hitler. So please, Terri, take a closer look at Mr. Bush and his gang. You will see that while they preach "one nation under God," they strive for one world under Enron and Wal-Mart - with millions of American jobs for those godless communists in red China! David Arnett Ukiah Expose the lies To the Editor: As we head more deeply into an election year the roar of political turpitude gets turned up. However, outright lying is the lowest of the low. In the recent ads run by the Bush administration has his opponent Kerry characterized by blatant lies such as absurd tax hikes and the weakening the Patriot Act. These and other allegations are totally false. Since they are paid for ads, backed by $100 million campaign funds, there is no way to refute them, except by excellent and courageous journalism. As a citizen wanting to live in a healthy democracy, I ask this paper to join with others to expose these statements made in ad campaigns for the.lies they are. Justine Willis Toms Ukiah THANK YOU LETTER POLICY Editor's note: The Daily Journal welcomes letters of thanks from organizations and individuals. We are glad that so many successful events are held here. However, thank you letters must be kept short. For that reason we have a 20-business name limit per letter. If your letter lists more than 20 businesses it will not be printed. Shorter thank you letters which do not contain lists of participants or donors will be printed more quickly. Those wishing to thank long lists of people and businesses are welcome to contact our advertising department for help with a thank you ad. WHERE TO WRITE President George Bush: The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, D.C. 20500; (202) 456-1111, FAX (202)456-2461. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger: State Capitol, Sacramento, 95814. (916) 445-2841; FAX (916)445-4633 Sen. Barbara Boxer: 112 Hart Senate Office Bldg., Washington, D.C. 20510; (202)224-3553; San Francisco, (415) 4030100 FAX (415) 956-6701 Sen. Dlanne Felnsteln: 331 Hart Senate Office Bldg., Washington, D.C. 20510. (202)224-3841 FAX (202) 228-3954; San Francisco (415) 393-0707; senator®fein- Congressman Mike Thompson: 1st District, 119 Cannon Office Bldg, Washington, D.C. 20515. (202) 225-3311; FAX (202)225-4335. Fort Bragg district representative, Kendall Smith, 430 N. Franklin St., PO Box 2208, Fort Bragg 95437; 962- 0933.FAX 962-0934; rep Assemblywoman Patty Berg: State Assembly District 1, Capitol, Rm. 2137, Sacramento, 95814. (916) 319-2001; Santa Rosa, 576-2526; FAX, Santa Rosa, 5762297. Berg's field representative in Ukiah and Lake County is Kathy Kelley, located at 104 W. Church St, Ukiah, 95482, 463-5770. The office's fax number is 463-5773. E-mail to: Senator Wes Chesbro: State Senate District 2, Capitol Building, Room 5100, Sacramento, 95814. (916) 445-3375; FAX (916) 323-6958. Meld Rep. in Ukiah is Jennifer Puser, P.O. Box 785, Ukiah, 95482, 468-8914, FAX 468-8931. District offices at 1040 Main St., Suite 205, Napa, 94559, 2241990, 50 D St., Suite 120A, Santa Rosa, 95404, 576-2771, and 317 3rd St., Suite 6, Eureka, 95501,445-6508. Mendoclno County Supervisors: Michael Delbar, 1st District; Richard Shoemaker, 2nd District; Hal Wagenet, 3rd District; Patricia Canipbell, 4th District; David Colfax, 5th District. All can be reached by writing to 501 Low Gap Road, Room 1090, Ukiah, 95482, 463-4221, FAX 463-4245. THOMAS D, ELIAS Chances looking up for worker's comp bill In the best of all possible Californias, workers injured on the job would get high-quality medical care while their employers would pay reasonable rates for the insurance providing that care. This is far from the situation today in a California where employers pay the nation's highest rates for workers compensation insurance - often as much as $8 to $12 out of every $100 in revenue their companies produce - while workers get below-average benefits. That situation made workers comp reform a top priority of ex-Gov. Gray Davis last fall and caused current Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to declare further reform his top priority after voters passed his deficit reduction bond propositions in early March. Even before then, Schwarzenegger listed such reform among his chief aims, threatening to run an initiative campaign to impose his ideas if the Legislature refused to act. Last week, he made his threat more real by donating more than $1 million from one of his political committees, the California Recovery Team, to the signature drive for such an initiative. Petition carriers will be paid at least $1.25 for each signature they gather. As usual, Schwarzenegger did not reveal the precise sources of that money. Nevertheless, the Republican governor is not acting very confrontational these days. In fact, he may be willing to agree on a compromise plan with state Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi and the Democrats who run the Legislature. "I talked with him at length the other day and he said he much prefers reform to be done by the Legislature," reported Garamendi. One new development has caused great new flexibility on everyone's part: A report from the insurance industry's Workers Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau which found reforms passed last year and signed by Davis actually cut insurance company costs by $7 billion more than previous estimates indicated. This represented a savings of more than one-fourth of the cost of workers comp in California, savings not yet passed along to employers. It was achieved because the new law cut medical costs and eliminated $1.2 billion in vocational rehabilitation expenses. Schwarzenegger says a 50 percent savings in rates is his goal, and half that target has now been half reached. A healthy percentage of insurance bills to employers goes out each July 1, reflecting the fiscal realities as of the previous March 31. That means if no further reforms are enacted by the end of this month, this summer's employer premiums should be about 25 percent lower than last year's. Both Schwarzenegger and Garamendi want to do more, and both realize that whatever they and the Legislature do must be finished by March 31 - or most new savings will be delayed until midsummer of 2005. "That's too long," Garamendi said, "We want to act now to keep businesses in the state." If there's to be new reform this month, it will have to include some compromise of the key issues in many workers comp disputes: Who picks the doctors that decide how badly a worker is hurt, the employer or the employee? And what can doctors do or decide? Garamendi offers compromises on both issues. "Employees don't trust company doctors because everyone knows their job is to cut costs," he said. "Companies don't trust the doctors their employees choose, because they feel those doctors exaggerate the harm to workers." Is compromise possible? The insurance commissioner suggests letting companies control the choice of physician during the first 30,60 or 90 days after an injury or complaint, the exact time to be set in dickering between Schwarzenegger and the lawmakers. "If employer doctors know workers can go to their own doctors later on, then chances are in favor of more honesty," Garamendi says. "And if the worker knows he can eventually pick his own doctor, there should be none of the business where workers hire lawyers before they seek out medical care. That would save a lot of money because problems would be treated much earlier." But Garamendi insists the Schwarzenegger proposal to deprive workers of the right to legal help will not fly. "He's got to compromise if he wants action now," said the commissioner, a Democrat. Garamendi also insists any new law should compel doctors to work within guidelines of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and the American Medical Association. "If you use their standards, the choice of doctor won't matter so much and you won't get as many lawsuits, which will save a lot of money," he said. "My aLns - and they're the same as the governor's are to keep businesses in the state and assure quality care to injured workers," Garamendi said. Which means the chance's for a money-saving compromise on workers comp look better now than they have in many years - and Democratic lawmakers would be fools to ignore this new climate at the expense of both the state's workers and their employers. Thomas D. Bias is a syndicated columnist. Visit our web site at email us at The Ukiah DAILY JOURNAL Publisher: Kevin NcConnell Editor: K.C. Meadows Advertising director: Cindy Delk Office manager: Yvonne Bell Circulation director: Daniel Miller Qroup systems director: Sue Whitman Member Audit Bureau 01 Circulations Member California New»p«per Publisher Association

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