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Op-Ed: December 2014

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Op-Ed: December 2014
Sebastopol CVS Boycott - Andy Lopez - Healthcare

Join The CVS Boycott!  Buy Local!

By Magick

When you can't stop greedy corporations with the current laws then take it to the streets and let the people decide!
In October, the Sebastopol City Council refused to give up and say their hands were tied just because there were no further legal options. Instead they did something so rare in the political arena, they said we will use our voices and our platform to advocate for our town!

They revealed how CVS has lied, bullied and terrorized Sebastopol, including a lawsuit that cost us $336,000, to force their proposed project.

Although the council decided to approve the project to prevent us from bankruptcy with further legal defenses, they vowed to instigate a boycott of the current and proposed CVS at the intersection of Hwy 12 and 116. Also, Small Town Sebastopol’s lawsuit did win the right to continue our moratorium on drive-thrus, and other concessions that made the proposal better.
But now it’s time to put their feet to the fire!

Mayor, Robert Jacob, said, "I will give $5000 to kick off a campaign for picketing, radio ads and an all out boycott of CVS. If a corporation were a person CVS would be the one who stabs you in the back!"

Una Glass, with emotion and passion, said she was appalled at the tactics and lies and that we need to update the General Plan so this never happens again. John Eder wore black, mourning the death of his own optimism, and called CVS a terrorist!

Sarah Gurney spoke of how the Pellinis forced this disaster on our town by selling their property to CVS when there were other options.

Patrick Slayter was seriously angry at the lies about the design. He pointed out that CVS did not even submit the final plan until a few hours before this October meeting, even though the design was dated complete back in August. They had promised two stories, as per our request, to make the best use of our downtown space, but there was still only one story and a façade to look like two.

Well, we are done with their “stories” and the lies they told from the beginning about wanting to be good neighbors. They filed their lawsuit in classic Grinch-style on Christmas Eve, 2013. Now let’s show them, in true holiday spirit, that we will support local businesses and boycott CVS for its abuse, lies and disrespect.

In all my life as an activist I have never seen a more passionate, courageous, articulate and fearless expression of outrage by public officials at a gov’t meeting.
Please spread the word and volunteer to bring us to victory! Many folks from the Sebastopol Village Building Convergence and other activists are already meeting and we need you!

HERE’S THE PLAN so far…

Stage 1) Boycott CVS and win!

Stage 2 )We need to pack the City Council meeting on Tuesday, December 16th, to encourage the council to make our temporary Formula Business Ordinance stronger and permanent (to prevent a CVS repeat by other corporations).

Stage 3) Embed a “Community Bill of Rights” in our General Plan that will include the rights of nature and the rights of the people.

 

Ecuador and Bolivia, in accord with indigenous communities, have embedded a Bill of Rights for nature in their constitution and now 100’s of communities in the US are following suit through ordinances and updates of their General Plans. 
Denton, Texas, where fracking started, and Pittsburg, Pa have both banned fracking!

In Sebastopol, we can do the same. Come join us this holiday season to promote a flourishing local economy and protect our community from corporate aggression.

For info about this new initiative…

Contact:

Magick 707 327 7940 magick@sonic.net

Jeremiah Garcia 707 304 9743 jeremiahpaulg@gmail.com

 

 Resources about Community Bill of Rights:

CELDF.org Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund
Earthlawcenter.org/earth-community

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A Matter of Life or Death

By Will Shonbrun

His blue eyes and engaging 13-year-old-I’m-hip smile stare back at you. It’s the now too familiar face of young Andy Lopez. Then, juxtaposed on the same newspaper page, illuminated from below by hand-held memorial candles is a photo of intense, expectant and defiant faces of three of his friends, Arlene, Blanca and Sara on the anniversary of Andy’s death. Is this the end of the story or the beginning?

No one in Sonoma County seems to have forgotten the Andy Lopez shooting. And why should they? Lopez was a young boy, committing no crime whatsoever and only guilty of the foolishness of carrying a toy weapon that strongly resembles the real thing, and being stopped by an overzealous officer who shot and killed him in an instance of monumental misjudgment. ‘Monumental’ to his parents, his relatives and friends, his community in general and to all of us in a broader sense.

It reverberates because most of us can relate to this cruel twist of fate. We’ve all done foolish things, and we know our kids have, but it usually doesn’t end up with an irreplaceable loss.

The questions now remain: What can be done to avoid this from happening again? Is that possible? How?

To try and answer these questions it’s necessary to delve into the heart of the matter and that is the decision by the Sheriff’s Deputy to shoot-to-kill in the short time and circumstances leading up to this tragic error.

Law enforcement shoot-to-kill policies in California appear essentially the same and match language constructed from US Supreme Court decisions. “Deadly force” policies allow deputies to shoot-to-kill when defending themselves or others from an “immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury.” This threat is called in law “imminent peril,” which is further explicated as “apparent, clear, and easily understood by a reasonable observer” (California Jury Instructions). Also, and importantly, the deputy must have shot to kill only after exercising “due caution and circumspection” (California Penal Code). Lastly, there is a requirement that a law enforcement official must have had probable cause to believe that the victim posed an imminent peril.

So the paramount question is were these provisions met by the deputy in the Andy Lopez killing? And as importantly are these legally required provisions embedded in and being met by the County Sheriff’s Department?

Some groups in the county: among them the Peace and Justice Center of Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley Peace and Justice, the Women’s Justice Center, the (Northern California) American Civil Liberties Union, and an organization seeking justice for Andy Lopez are saying “no” to both questions. The County District Attorney’s office counters by saying that their offices and their designated outside investigator concluded that the legal provisions in this case were met and therefore the deputy who shot Andy Lopez does not have to go to trial. It is my understanding that both the County Sheriff’s Dept. and the Santa Rosa Police Dept. conducted their own reviews of the case (I’m not sure what that means or entails), but that information is not accessible. 

But the fact of the matter is that the public will never know if this finding by the District Attorney’s office is justified or accurate, i.e., the truth of the matter, because it will never go to a public trial. So the questions that might have been asked and addressed in a legal public hearing hang in the air like black balloons at a funeral marking only a death of an innocent boy, with no resolution and no solutions for future shoot-to-kill incidents. And there will surely be more.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 

Sidebar:

Earlier questions asked: “What can be done to avoid this from happening again, and how?”

The Sonoma County American Civil Liberties Union and many others in the county answer this problematic question by saying there is a pressing need, as well as a long history that supports that need, for a Civilian Review Board. It is recommended that such a board be comprised of citizens of the county not affiliated with any polices departments or the District Attorney’s office, who are appointed by impartial entities, perhaps judicial, and who will and can act independent of all outside pressures or influences.

These are the ACLU’s guidelines for the argument for and the establishment of a Civilian Review Board: 

ACLU Sonoma County Position on Civilian Review Board

1. The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, as overseen by the Board of Supervisors, needs to take a new approach to “community policing” — one in which the community feels respected and protected by law enforcement, not harassed and threatened.

2. There should be a thorough reassessment of the use of deadly force by law enforcement agencies across Sonoma County, focusing on policies, training of officers and evaluation of their conduct. While officer safety is important, the emphasis should be on protecting the public.

3. There should be an immediate independent review of all the facts in the fatal shooting of Andy Lopez on Oct. 22, as well as full public disclosure of results of all investigations.

4. We call on the U.S. Civil Rights Commission to return to Sonoma County to investigate police killings since 1998.

5. We support establishment of a countywide Civilian Review Board, with provisions stated below.

6. We call for installation of body cams and patrol car cameras for all police agencies in Sonoma County, with the necessary privacy provisions.

7. We support conversion of the open space at Moorland and West Robles avenues into the Andy Lopez Memorial Park.

 

11 PRINCIPLES FOR AN EFFECTIVE CIVILIAN REVIEW BOARD

1. INDEPENDENCE: The power to conduct hearings, subpoena witnesses who testify under oath and report findings and recommendations to the public.

2. INVESTIGATORY POWER: The authority to independently investigate incidents and issue findings on complaints.

3. MANDATORY POLICE COOPERATION: Complete access to police witnesses and documents through legal mandate or subpoena power.

4. ADEQUATE FUNDING: Should not be a lower budget priority than police internal affairs.

5. HEARINGS: Essential for solving credibility questions and enhancing public confidence in process.

6. REFLECT COMMUNITY DIVERSITY: Board & staff should be broadly representative of the community it serves.

7. POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS: Citizen oversight can spot problem policies and provide a forum for developing reform.

8. STATISTICAL ANALYSIS: Public statistical reports can detail trends in allegations, and early warning systems can identify officers who are subjects of unusually numerous complaints.

9. SEPARATE OFFICES: Should be housed away from police headquarters to maintain independence and credibility with public.

10. DISCIPLINARY ROLE: Board findings should be considered in determining appropriate disciplinary action.

11. ADEQUATE TRAINING AND EXPERTISE: To ensure that Board members are knowledgeable about proper police practices, conduct meaningful investigations and can make informed recommendations

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We’re #1 But We CAN Change That!

by Stan Gold, Petaluma; Member PHNP, Sonoma County Chapter

The United States indisputably ranks #1 in the world -- in healthcare costs. Over 17.3% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is sucked up by the American healthcare industry. No other industrialized, democratic country in the world even comes close. 

In contrast, many countries that have had multiple decades of successful experience with “Single Payer Healthcare”, a.k.a. “Expanded, Improved Medicare for ALL”, allocate only 8% or less of their national GDP to healthcare. The difference amounts to hundreds of billions of dollars of wasted money each decade, yielding nothing for the insurance premium payers.

Unlike Single Payer/Expanded Medicare countries, in the U.S. a substantial portion of every premium dollar never reaches any actual provider of healthcare. The wasted money is consumed by the superfluous health insurance industry for sales staffs; dollar-gobbling, advertising programs (magazines, TV, radio, newspapers, direct mail, etc.); marketing departments; and eight figure pay packages (salaries and stock options, plus outrageous annual bonuses) for their CEOs.

Prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a.k.a. “Obamacare”, an individual Californian could lose approximately 30% of his or her premium dollars to the overhead costs and profits of the insurance corporation. Thus, only 70 cents of each premium dollar would eventually find its way to an actual healthcare provider, such as a doctor or a hospital.

Under Obamacare, health insurance corporations must now pay-out fully 80% of each health insurance premium dollar for ACTUAL healthcare. Thus, the loss to our individual policyholder drops from 30 cents on the dollar to 20 cents on the dollar. There is no reason to cheer.

Contrast that 20% loss with the reality of a national healthcare program that has NO sales staff, NO advertising, NO marketers, and pays civil service wages to all employees. That would be our 49 year old Medicare Administration. Its total overhead costs are a just over 2%. Hence, almost 98% of all dollars allocated to Medicare are actually spent on healthcare. No one can manage the taxpayers’ money more efficiently than that.  Note that no “profit-first” health insurance corporations are involved.

Our wasted hundreds of billions of insurance dollars have not affected comparative medical outcomes. All the while, the problems of uninsurance, under-insurance, and medical bankruptcies remain unresolved. 

Many decades ago, some industrialized democracies concluded that the good health of their residents was a valuable national asset. They set about to develop comprehensive, affordable, national healthcare systems. A common element in all of these systems was the recognition that health insurance corporations are definitely an economic barrier to delivering affordable healthcare coverage to people. At times, they are even a barrier to delivering good quality medical care.

No health insurance corporation ever wrote a single prescription for anything, set a broken bone, removed a gall bladder, delivered a newborn baby, managed a case of diabetes, or did anything in actual healthcare. The main function of the insurance company was to act as a broker, a third party, who put the patient and doctor in touch with one another.

Such brokerage services are needed in real estate or stock market transactions, but not in healthcare. Under Single Payer/Extended Medicare, patients are free to contact ANY doctor. No insurance corporation restricts them from doing so. Likewise, doctors are free to serve ANY patient, without restrictions by a third party, insurance corporation.

There are over 3,000 health insurance companies in the U.S. Each has its own  policies, rules, forms, and billing process. Dealing with all of this requires doctors and hospitals to maintain their own large staffs of workers, just to process the horrendous amount of paper work. This large, wasteful, overhead expense adds nothing to the quality of patient healthcare, but definitely adds to healthcare cost.

“Single Payer” sets up just ONE government office per area, with a uniform set of rules and forms, where all medical practitioners send their bills, and from which they all get paid, -- without the gut-wrenching insurance hassles.  

Future Parts of this LTE series, will examine issues for families and businesses. ‘Till next month check out the website of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), www.pnhp.org.

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Heath Care for All 

The new health care reform has put its effort toward creating affordable and dependable health care for all but its mission to do so had failed in some ways. Some see the Affordable Health Care Act of 2010 as a step towards better and more affordable health care, but for many, it is seen as a troublesome process and in worst cases, not even available.  

The specific goal of the law was to increase the quality and affordability of health insurance while lowering the uninsured rate by expanding public and private insurance coverage. Its main goal as well was to reduce the cost of healthcare for each individual and for the government itself. Yet for the homeless and for those who are undocumented, they do not get recognized as members of society who need this type of coverage. This act has not only penalized those who are homeless or undocumented, but it has excluded a large group of the population entirely from having the basic right of health coverage. People who come to reside in the United States are simply trying to fulfill the ‘American Dream’ and should be provided health care rights as well. 

Cydney Shorkend, Sonoma State University, Investigative Sociology Class