Letters for August 11, 2005

Personal sensibilities, personal decisions

Re “Sense and sensibility” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R News, July 28):

As a California Department of Transportation employee, a U.S. citizen and a taxpayer, I am sorry the department took action to remove SN&R at the 18th and Alhambra location in Sacramento. Those offices are rented, and the cafeteria is not owned by the department.

This is just another case where an individual can hide behind a “zero tolerance” policy, be protected from lawsuits and questions from peers, and not be responsible for their own action. I will continue to enjoy SN&R and make my own decisions about what to look at, what to read and what to ignore. That is what it is all about: personal decisions, not government decisions.

Larry Layne
via e-mail

The reform that makes all other reform possible

Re “Pump up democracy, not pay-to-play” (SN&R Guest comment, July 28):

The latest figures on the governor’s colossal fund-raising and fund-spending career are jaw-dropping. Barbara O’Connor, a politics and media expert at California State University, Sacramento, has claimed that the governor’s special election could see “an excess of $500 million in spending,” and that’s in an off-election year.

California’s voters are sickened and alienated. They don’t want the special election, and they do want their elected officials to do their job: taking care of California’s business.

There is only one way to convert our decayed, dysfunctional political system, and that is by passing a bill to provide clean money for public elections. Such a bill is now in our Legislature: Assembly Bill 583, sponsored by Assemblywoman Loni Hancock. Maine and Arizona passed similar legislation in 1998, which broke the hold of special interests on their legislators.

It’s bipartisan, it’s healthy, and it’s the one reform that makes all other reform possible. Check it out: www.CAclean.org.

Mary Bisharat

Even insurers know it’s a good idea

Re “Laws of unintended consequences” by Jill Stewart (SN&R Capitol punishment, July 21):

Normally, I find Jill Stewart’s comments on legislation thoughtful and reasonable, even if I don’t always agree. But she really failed to do her homework on Senate Bill 573 (by Senator Gloria Romero), which she ridicules as the “Alcoholics Bill of Rights.” The bill simply allows California to join many other states in repealing an outdated provision of the Insurance Code (the Uniform Accident and Sickness Insurance Policy Provision Law, or UPPL) that currently discourages trauma centers from screening for alcohol and drug use.

Trauma physicians know that a high percentage of the injured they treat in emergency rooms are there because of a problem with substance abuse. In fact, they tend to see the same individuals over and over, because these people are not getting treatment for their underlying problem. Trauma centers will not screen for alcohol or drugs for fear of being refused reimbursement by insurance if these substances are discovered; hence, the opportunity for intervention and treatment is missed.

The UPPL allows insurers to deny reimbursement for medical care if the insured is alcohol- or drug-involved. The irony is that the insurance companies are already paying for patching up these people, often many times over, because the screenings do not take place. If they could get screened and treated for their substance abuse, these folks would be less likely to frequent emergency rooms.

That’s why even the insurance group that originally wrote this code section is now urging its repeal. S.B. 573 gives no rights to alcoholics, but it does enable trauma centers to help these people get the treatment they need.

Thomas Renfree
legislative advocate, County Alcohol and Drug Program Administrators Association of California

Cosmetics should be safe for the face

Re “Laws of unintended consequences” by Jill Stewart (SN&R Capitol punishment, July 21):

Jill Stewart minimized meaningful efforts by the Legislature to address an important issue of worker health. The truth of the matter is that for generations, beauty-care workers have suffered a variety of occupation-related illnesses while receiving little attention from policymakers.

In 1978, the General Accounting Office reported to the U.S. Congress on the “need for additional legislative authority” to regulate the safety of cosmetics. Over 25 year later, the Food and Drug Administration still does not review chemicals for their health and safety prior to marketing, or impose bans of harmful ingredients in products (see www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/cos-206.html). Loopholes in federal law still allow harmful ingredients to hide behind labels such as “fragrance.”

It is hard to fathom why Ms. Stewart thinks it “silly” that workers and consumers be provided more complete information on what they apply to their bodies. Equally difficult to fathom is why she thinks it “silly” that state scientists be given authority to regulate chemicals of concern in the interest of public health.

Next time Ms. Stewart decides to belittle legislative efforts that could significantly benefit California’s working class, I hope she will choose to spend more time on substance and less time insulting the readers’ intelligence.

Nick Guroff
National Environmental Trust, San Francisco

The National Environmental Trust is a sponsoring organization for Senate Bill 484.

Unintended comedy

Re “Laws of unintended consequences” by Jill Stewart (SN&R Capitol punishment, July 21):

Measured by the number of dollars he has collected in blatant conflict-of-interest schemes, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger may be the most corrupt politician in America.

He vetoed a bill to protect car buyers from used-car scams. He vetoed a bill to restore regulation of energy supplies in California. He vetoed a bill to allow importation of cheap, safe prescription drugs from Canada.

He cut disability benefits for injured workers, allowing insurance companies to increase profits while denying workers medical care. He is now trying to eliminate the rule that guarantees every full-time worker a meal break. He even declared it an emergency!

Fortunately, he has provided some comic relief: a multimillionaire actor, collecting tens of millions of dollars from out-of-state sources, car dealers, insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry, who claims to represent the people against the “special interests.”

The Proposition 77 fiasco is the latest (as of this writing) in a whole comedy of errors. His pension proposal and merit-pay plan had to be withdrawn. He called a $50 million special election for initiatives that would have taken effect just as soon if he had waited until the next regular election.

After all these blunders, he still wants us to trust him on Proposition 76, which cuts funding for public schools and would give Schwarzenegger the power to slash the budget unilaterally. Would you trust a man who is corrupt and whose incompetence has made him a laughingstock on national media? As a governor, he is not yet ready for prime time.

George Sheridan
Garden Valley

A few words in defense of one cartoon—or more

Re “One cartoon is worth his 100 words” (SN&R Letters, July 21):

I am a longtime reader of SN&R and have finally been motivated to write in defense of Kloss’ captivating political art. May I suggest to Mr. Hal Jordan that if he would only attend a few college classes at the local community level, he might better understand the nature of Kloss’ creatively depicted ideals.

Perhaps a well-rounded curriculum in the social sciences would help him to better conceive the symbolic interaction prevalent in every one of Kloss’ masterpieces. Perhaps the experience of being a local college student and the struggle to survive the financial costs it entails would be an eye-opening journey, one that may give him “hope,” and “a message will emerge”

Nancy Dziuba

Rukeyser bio on the way

Re “Unapologetic” by Kel Munger (SN&R Words, July 21):

Thank you for a very fine review of the new [Muriel] Rukeyser Collected Poems.

I’m happy to report that Jan Heller Levi is nearing completion of a Rukeyser biography, which is under contract to Knopf publishers. Kate Daniels, who edited Out of Silence, an earlier edition of selected poems, actually attempted a bio and did a lot of research before she stalled, for reasons unknown to me.

William L. Rukeyser