Letters for November 15, 2001
I was speaking to an acquaintance recently who lives here in California but grew up in the Middle East. He relayed a story that seemed very relevant to the recent international situation. A film crew was doing interviews in and around his former home with young people. The interviewer asked these kids what they wanted to be when they grew up. The answer was that they wanted to be alive.
Most if not all of the great religious books ever written will tell you that if you kill your neighbor, his family and friends will become angry. They will become vengeful and filled with hatred for you and those who are like you and they will try to kill you. This is a simple truth as old as mankind.
Maybe it’s time to try something else.
Up Rock Creek
Supervisor Mary Anne Houx Houx [“Houx hearing Rock Creek concerns,” Guest comment, Nov. 1] makes reference to a June 1999 public meeting as the beginning of what she portrays as a comprehensive outreach program on the part of the county to keep the public informed on the proposed flood-control project. In truth, this project has evolved from day one primarily behind closed doors, with little public input since the 1999 meeting.
Supervisor Houx also fails to mention the request at that meeting for a moratorium on further building in the affected area until the Army Corps of Engineers had completed its feasibility study. The county representatives in attendance, including Supervisor Houx, said they felt no such moratorium was needed. As a consequence, new people are put in harm’s way every day.
Though Butte County has done its best to blame the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) for mapping activity that led to the approval of development in the Rock CreekKeefer Slough area, the truth is that the county has long known that this area is subject to flooding and has had a legal responsibility to determine the extent of potential flooding through the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The approval of subdivisions is the sole responsibility of the county.
The project is at $36 million and counting. The promised environmental-impact report is nowhere to be seen, and citizen opposition is growing. Supervisor Houx hopes to avert a disaster, but it is already too late. This fiasco sits squarely at her feet, and to wish it otherwise does not make it so.
The real reason
Let’s see if I’ve got this straight.
The California Nurses Association says Enloe is not fair with nurses. CNA’s major demand is a closed union shop. The other main concerns are mandatory overtime and a nurses-only committee to address hospital staffing and patient care. What does CNA really want?
Enloe has agreed on many union demands using wording from existing CNA contracts, only to have CNA demand that until a closed shop is agreed upon, nothing else will commence. So it appears a closed shop is CNA’s major demand. Why? A closed shop will put more than $264,000 into its treasury, that’s why.
Mandatory overtime? Does CNA have statistics on how often that happens at Enloe? If so, where are they?
A nurses-only committee to address staffing and patient care? If CNA is really concerned with these issues, why not include the whole team of caregivers? MDs, nurses, respiratory, pharmacy and management all play a vital role in patient care. How can you address any issue without input from all professionals involved?
Trying to negotiate with CNA has forced Enloe to request federal mediators. Come on, CNA, stop stalling. Give Enloe a contract. Or better yet, leave and let those of us who truly care about patient care get back to work and take care of our patients.
Gene Cunha, RN
Several Enterprise-Record letter writers have urged oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve to end U.S. dependence on Middle Eastern oil. It won’t help, I wrote back, but the E-R hasn’t published my response.
I agree it’s foolish for U.S. needs to depend heavily on that unstable part of the world. However, the oil industry admits it would take 10 years to get Arctic oil. Not much help. Worse, the reserve contains only one year of U.S. oil needs. That’s not freedom from Middle Eastern oil. And it’s not worth endangering one of earth’s most important wildlife breeding grounds. We’re not God’s only creatures deserving to live.
Most of the world’s oil is in the Middle East, requiring enormous military and human costs, and we cannot count on it. Worse, only 50 years of oil remains on earth. One year from the Arctic solves nothing. If our cars averaged 3 more miles per gallon, we’d save more oil than the Arctic could ever supply. We must use the remaining oil more carefully and switch quickly to alternative energy sources.
Want to be a patriot and increase national security? Get a more efficient car and turn off the lights.
Trickle-down tax break
I was shocked to learn that, while our nation was reeling from terrorism and few people were paying attention, the House voted to give gigantic tax rebates to our country’s largest corporations. The members voted to repeal the “Alternative Minimum Tax,” which normally requires companies to pay at least some tax, no matter how many loopholes they can find.
The repeal would allow many companies to pay zero U.S. income tax in perpetuity, a loss of more than $12 billion in revenue next year alone. The repeal is retroactive, so companies would get rebates for all the Alternative Minimum Tax they’ve paid for the last 15 years. The economic stimulus package includes: $1.4 billion for IBM; $833 million for General Motors; $671 million for General Electric; $572 million for Chevron Texaco; and $254 million for Enron.
A better stimulus would be to put more money in the hands of the people who need it most by extending health insurance benefits and unemployment benefits. Helping people makes economic sense. Giving billions to America’s biggest corporations doesn’t.
Sign the contract
I am hoping that Enloe’s negotiations with the California Nurses Association will start picking up speed. The hospital has been very slow in bargaining and negotiations are painstaking and frustrating.
Enloe has hired U.S. Nursing Corp. to provide replacement nurses in case of a strike. This will be a huge cost to the hospital and patients and signals preparation for a strike. In the meantime, quality patient care is compromised and Enloe pays traveling nurses approximately $40/hr. for regular time and $60/hr. for overtime. Travelers are also compensated for housing.
It is time for Enloe to give its RNs a contract that will encourage local, committed nurses to stay and work at our community medical center.
Kaiser, in Oakland, has offered its RNs a 14 percent increase in salary over the next 11 months. It has also instituted safe, reasonable staffing ratios and is making these changes realizing that retaining committed employees is a good economic decision that will cut the huge cost of travelers and overtime. I just received a card in the mail from Kaiser offering a $5,000 sign-on bonus.
I am an RN at Enloe Hospice and I love it, but new grads and frustrated, excellent nurses will go where they are listened to and respected. Let’s get that contract signed.