Letters for October 6, 2011

Letter of the week
Bravo, Blackhawk pilot

Re “Medevac!” by Paul Graham (SN&R Feature, September 29):

I’m an avid news reader of SN&R in various forms, but rarely comment on news article since you know the saying: “Everyone has an opinion.” Still, I have to say that the Paul Graham article—or rather, “semi-journal”—was outstanding. I hope there is some way you can get the message to Paul that I was reading the print and had a sense that I was there with him. Great job, Paul, and any follow-up segments would be greatly appreciated.

John Griffin
via email

Honor the sacrifice

Re “Medevac!” by Paul Graham (SN&R Feature, September 29):

This was fantastic. We need to hear more from the people who are actually doing the work of fighting these wars. Just the teaser on the front cover tells it all: “Blood.” We’re asking a lot of these men and women, and [Paul] Graham’s story makes it clear just how much they’re giving us.

Good luck, Godspeed, and keep your head down, Graham. And let’s work to get him home as soon as we can.

Jan Kline

Don’t wait for supermarkets

Re “Slow food” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Frontlines, September 29) and “Second responder” by Jeff vonKaenel (SN&R Greenlight, September 29):

What if the Roberts Family Development Center developed a buying club so people could at least order staples wholesale? And buying clubs are a stepping-stone to member-owned cooperative storefronts, like the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op. I’d bet co-op staff have some suggestions for north Sac consumers who would like to empower themselves to get a grocery store. But don’t keep waiting for someone else to solve the problem.

As for [The Rev.] Rick Cole, when I attended two of his services on a Sunday in the fall of 2008, I saw Islam being used as a bogeyman to get the audience to donate money. I hope that has changed, and that Cole isn’t telling the press one thing and his congregation another.

Muriel Strand

More categories, please

Re “Best of Sacramento” (SN&R Feature, September 22):

I love your Best of Sacramento issue.

One suggestion: Since the best Local Theater results are always the professional theaters in town, how about having two categories: Best Local Professional Theater and Best Local Community Theater? There’s a lot of great theater going on in the area that is not “professional.”

Susan Madden

Love the local people

Re “Best of Sacramento” (SN&R Feature, September 22);

I think this is one of the best Best of Sacramento issues I’ve ever seen—and I’ve been reading SN&R for as long as you’ve been here. The photography was fantastic, and I liked having longer features on interesting local people. Good work!

Betty Halverson

Fixing the system

Re “Two-tiered system” by Amy Yannello (SN&R Frontlines, September 15):

I would like to thank you for your coverage of the debate over the implementation of [Proposition] 63 Mental Health Services Act. [Amy] Yannello produced a well-balanced report of the diverse stakeholder perspectives. Reading the article provides a clear sense of the mental-health system dysfunction and the dismissive attitude of public servants and service providers toward the public.

All agree that the intent of Prop. 63 was/is to improve the continuum of care for the most vulnerable receiving disjointed services or no services. The term “wraparound services” is commonly used to describe the intent of wrapping any service necessary around an individual to stabilize and keep stable.

It is clear that we are trying to do too much with MHSA. We must simplify the dialogue and focus on the problem. Every book written on the subject of severe mental illness has consistently cited one main problem: A person with severe mental illness cycling through the following: He needs help because he is in danger to self or others; he is hospitalized on a 72-hour psychiatric hold (designed to stabilize him—typically medication is administered); if he is not stable by then, he may be put on a 14-day hold to stabilize; once he is deemed stable, he is released to deal with life on his own (he may or may not be given medication); he stops taking his medications and doesn’t see his doctor; he self-medicates with illicit drugs and/or alcohol; he decompensates (starts hearing voices); may attempt suicide, be arrested (many have gotten killed during this process); may assault someone or—more typically—gets assaulted because he is “acting strange”; may kill someone because the voices told him to do that for self-preservation; is arrested and taken to the hospital to start the cycle all over again.

This vicious cycle occurs because the continuum of care is broken. It is not only emotionally and physically devastating to the consumer and his family, but also a huge drain on public funds.

Contrary to popular belief, this is not a result of reduced realignment funds, but at best poor management. One would think that the system would have focused on this core problem and addressed it, using part of the Prop. 63 billions. It is beyond me that thousands of professionals in the state didn’t set the objective of developing wraparound services to address this core problem. I challenge the Department of Mental Health, local mental-health directors, state legislators, and county boards of supervisors to change their focus. It is time for our leaders to join us in the struggle of transforming this marginal system using proven LEAN methodologies.

Thank you for your continued commitment to facilitating this critical dialogue.

Peter Mantas
former chairman
Contra Costa County Mental Health Commission

Save mental-health care

Re “Two-tiered system” by Amy Yannello (SN&R Frontlines, September 15):

In 2004, California voters approved Proposition 63, which created the Mental Health Service Act. It was supposed to expand existing mental-health services and programs like the Regional Support Teams, and it didn’t.

Due to the budget cuts in 2010, the Regional Support Teams clinics were forced to cut thousands of people receiving mental-health care from their programs. Many were left with no services (such as medication support, case management and helpful things, such as group therapy).

With more budget cuts looming ahead what is next? Without vital services for the seriously mentally ill, what is next? Those with mental illnesses may not get the services they need—and were promised with the passage of Prop. 63—and they may end up dead! Does anyone care?

Sherrie Tyler

Still a few things worth fighting for

Re “9/11 blind” by Tom Hayden (SN&R Feature, September 8):

In response to this article, I think that there may still be things worth fighting for in our relations with foreign countries.

Materialism is high on the list for Republicans, and I think women’s rights and education in foreign countries is a must for Democrats. We cannot pass laws in the U.S. in favor of gay marriage if we have foreigners searching the Internet and saying they disapprove—let’s attack! Our message of gay marriage, women’s rights and education must be global or it won’t be any fun.

We are patching up our soldiers with cool metal limbs, we have cool Hummers, and it’s a job! Our anti-psychotic drugs were not so available in Vietnam and other wars. Our veteran’s hospitals weren’t so good. So let’s keep fighting until the ayatollah accepts gay marriage, women’s lib and education!

Corinne Kehoe
Granite Bay

Most managers contribute

Re “Public enemies” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Feature, September 1):

I am a big fan of [publisher] Jeff vonKaenel, [writer] Cosmo Garvin, and SN&R, but I am getting very tired of hearing managers who work for the public sector lumped together as one big overpaid, underworking group.

Garvin did not distinguish between the three to 15 managers who do not contribute to their retirement and the rest of us. We are about 800 managers, who work typically 60 hours a week, have had no raises for three years, have been on furloughs for almost four years, and who work during their furlough and personal time off out of their dedication and commitment to the city. We are exhausted. Our families and our personal lives and health are also suffering. We are doing two, three or four people’s jobs and giving everything we have. Why not write a story on that? It would be accurate and it would let your readers, residents of Sacramento, feel proud of their government.

Rhyena Halpern

Better oversight of dental providers

Re “Cleaning up, with teeth” by Hugh Biggar (SN&R Frontlines, September 1):

This described local efforts to change the funding structure of Sacramento’s children’s dental program. As a public-health social worker studying public dental-insurance programs, I am so happy to see this issue brought to public awareness.

Clearly, the capitation payment system isn’t working. And the commission’s request that dentists see children as young as their first birthday or first tooth is an important step in providing better oral health for our children.

We need better oversight of dental providers who receive state funds. The percentages you reported by dental plan were for children who had a single visit in the previous year. This is appalling! Children with totally healthy teeth are advised by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry to receive cleanings and examinations every six months. Children who need additional treatment, like fillings, must be seen much more frequently than this.

We are setting the bar far too low. Children covered by MediCal, especially those under age 5, face grave disparities in access to dental care. These children deserve better, and it’s up to us to urge the state to take action. In an economy like this, it’s important to make sure our tax dollars are spent wisely. That means paying providers for services rendered. They’ve proven they can’t be trusted to provide care in a capitation payment system.

Taylor Priestley

If gays can’t marry, they’ll stop having sex?

Re “What are marriage opponents hiding?” by Kel Munger (SN&R Cut&Paste, September 1):

[Proposition] 8 is more than a stance on same-sex marriage, it’s stopping an abominable behavior pattern. As a Christian, I’m putting my stance on this subject. In the beginning God made man, and it was good. God then made woman from man and saw that it was also good. But unfortunately, the world no longer sees it that way.

To break free from the so-called bonds of what’s proper and what’s not, society chooses to rebel and do whatever it wants to, not realizing the consequences. “For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another” (Romans 1:26-27). But God is full of love and forgiveness and desperately wants His children to come back to Him. God loves us sinners but hates the sin.

Andre Wallace