Letters for January 4, 2001

Rest in peace, Donna

Re “Last Words” by Steven T. Jones (SN&R, Dec. 21):

When I read the tragic story of Ms. McDaniel, I realized how similar my experience at a major teaching hospital in Boston was. I experienced similar treatment like she did and ended up ill and in therapy. If I weren’t a single mom with a young teenage daughter depending on me, I might have ended up the same way as she did. After five years of enduring horrible abuse and overwork, I was a wreck. This can happen to anyone, no matter what their psychological makeup. It took five years after leaving the job for me to recover and NO ONE would help me seek redress for my well-documented abuse. Now I finally work for an Internet company in a great environment and have high-tech skills. But I am 57 years old, so if I ever lost this job I would be doomed. The combination of abuse and age discrimination in the workplace is truly a killer, and what happened to this horribly victimized woman proves it. Donna, may you rest in peace. I know how you suffered.

Mary Ann MacDonagh

Get help

Re “The Other Victims” by Carol Hartman (SN&R News, Dec. 21):

Just to clarify—Women Escaping a Violent Environment (WEAVE) does provide counseling services for men who are survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. If you are a male and have been assaulted or have experienced abuse at the hands of an intimate partner, call WEAVE’s 24-hour hotline at (916) 920-2952. A trained counselor will talk with you and give you information on our services. Besides in-person and one-on-one counseling, sexual assault survivors can receive hospital and law enforcement accompaniment, and domestic violence survivors may be eligible for motel shelter and legal assistance. I recently did a community presentation on domestic violence and was dismayed when one man in the audience asked, “What kind of wimp would let himself be abused?” I responded that as long as we think that way, male victims will be afraid to speak up and ask for help.

No one deserves to be abused. No one.

Shirleen Miles
Director of Community Outreach

Inequality rules

Re “Straight Shots” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R News, Dec. 21):

First off, if you choose to publish this letter, please make sure you leave my name off. You see, I’m a Sacramento County employee. I’ve worked there long hours for many years, but if you print my name I can forget about a promotion or decent working conditions in my department. I’m a lesbian.

I’m writing to thank you, Illa Collin and Roger Dickinson, for being decent people. I’d like to thank them for having the courage to vote for domestic partnership benefits for county employees. And thank you, Cosmo Garvin, for the willingness to write about it.

It was a gagged and secret meeting that decided I and those like me should not have the right to care for our partners when they become ill and to grieve in private when they die. If my partner becomes ill, I’ll have to show up for work and do my best under the circumstances. I wonder how well Don Nottoli would do at work if his wife were in the hospital, alone and frightened, being cared for by strangers? How productive would Muriel Johnson be at work the day after her spouse dies in her arms? What does Roger Niello have that I don’t that makes him able to give 100 percent at work while his wife is undergoing chemotherapy at the hospital without him? Since these three individuals voted against our rights to be with our spouses when they are in need, let them be the first to give up their “special privileges” of being with their spouses. How loudly would the married employees shout if this right were taken from them? (When they came for the Jews, I said nothing, because I wasn’t a Jew.) I would marry my partner if the law would allow it.

I can pay for my partner’s health benefits out of pocket, but I cannot afford to lose my job to care for her. I doubt the rest of the county’s uncounted dedicated gay and lesbian employees can either. If you don’t want to pay for my spouse’s healthcare, fine, but give me the time to care for her and to grieve. I am not even asking you to grieve with me when she dies. I am begging you for a basic human right that I desperately hope never to need.

Name withheld upon request

Moral authority

Re “Straight Shots” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R News, Dec. 21):

I am a Sacramento County employee who has been involved with some labor negotiations. The former head of County Labor relations, Don Turko, stated before he left his job that there were no discernible cost issues with implementing domestic partner benefits. … So this leaves really one issue—MORALITY!

Sacramento County is having the hardest time ever recruiting and retaining staff, particularly in certain job classifications. To further hinder their efforts, they are not keeping pace with the world that surrounds them. I personally don’t care what the three members personal thoughts on the issue are; however, I can say they should not allow their personal thoughts to drive their decisions. I am a social worker, and as such, it is not professional for me to allow my personal feelings toward a person or situation to impact my actions. Shouldn’t our elected officials be bound by similar ethics?

I know this is all largely rhetorical since these things are negotiated, but I do feel this information needs to be public information as it is an issue of fairness. I can also tell you that the Union of Public Employees, Local 1, that just negotiated that contract is very supportive of the issue of Domestic Partners, and for the unit I am in, the issue has been on the table of negotiations for more than nine years.

Thanks for the ear and for printing the article!

Karen Guckert