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LETTERS from Sonoma County Gazette Readers - MARCH 2015

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LETTERS from Sonoma County Gazette Readers - MARCH 2015

News articles and updates are posted to our website between print editons  at www.SonomaCountyGazette.com, and some of it becomes old news by the time the print edition comes out - or is on the verge of happening. Facebook plays a part in how readers respond to these stories because when a news article gets posted, we put a link to it on the Gazette’s Facebook page so people know that news has been posted. 

One of the stories that won’t make it to print (but is on our website) is an update on the Paul Hobbs vineyard planted next to Apple Blossom School in Sebastopol. Mr. Hobbs was fined $100,000 for violating riparian rules on this site and several other environmental offenses as well. The Watertrough Children’s Alliance is heading to court to see what they can do to protect school children from the harmful impacts of agricultural chemicals near the school. Visit their website - http://wcachildren.org  - for details and stay-tuned to the Gazette’s wwebsite and Facebook page as this story unfolds. 

Issues like these and many different subjects that don’t fit into these pages happen in between print editons. If you want to stay in touch with community news throughout the month, please check www.SonomaCountyGazette.com, and if you want alerts to updates, please LIKE us on Facebook. We don’t post links for everything - just articles we feel you may not want to miss and may want to comment on with your opinion. 

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Birds of Laguna de Santa Rosa

Lovely article and great photos.  Should have lots of bird watchers paying attention now.

Tom Reynolds and his wildlife photography is worth a whole article itself.

Thanks for the spotlight on birds.

Cathy Landis

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Into the Future - Judie Messier Interviews Sonoma County

I think we need to take a page from Phoenix and other cities that have great way to capture the rain that does fall.  Rainwater catchment should be standard for all buildings.  Landscape water should come from that alone. Unless water is being used for inside the home, crops, livestock or publicly used greens (and even the greens can be watered with grey water), it should be irrigated with grey water captured from the home/business.

Karen Giovannini

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Jack London’s Tree

At the State Parks event honoring the continued life of the 400-year-old Jack London Oak on Sunday Feb. 1st, I was reminded of what a great difference one person can make in this world. After hearing, two years ago, that this magnificent oak was considered diseased and slated for removal, Chris Monroe, a man who has been studying trees all his adult life, disagreed. He sent close-up photos of the tree to Professor Matteo Garbelotto, discoverer of the Sudden Oak Death disease at U.C. Berkeley, asking him to inspect the tree himself. The professor complied, as well as  biologists from U.C. Davis, and all agreed that the tree was healthy and could live for many more years. 

Without Chris’ passionate perseverance, I believe that this icon would no longer be with us. As Chris advised nature lovers during Sunday’s event, “If you believe strongly enough that something’s right, taking no for an answer can be exactly the wrong thing to do! Nurture nature and it will endure and do the same for you.” 

 I hope more of us will follow Chris’ example .

Barbara Jacobsen

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Florence Brass 

A very good friend and colleague gave me a Florence Brass Oil Painting as a parting gift when we sold our home in Sonoma County  in 2003.   I had  the pleasure of meeting Florence….An interesting vibrant woman.  Today the painting of Mantazas Creek Winery ,when the lavender is in full bloom, graces the mantle in our great room.   I so enjoy looking at it as it reminds me of the  wonderful memories of our time in Sonoma.     

Sincerely,  Edith Merritt-Driver

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Wood Fuel Burning

Regarding your articles n wood stoves: spot on!

I’ve recently retired from 35 years in the wood stove business and have seen great changes and improvements in the industry.

EPA woods stoves are in the range of 60 to 80 times CLEANER than the typical fireplace and 20 to 40 times cleaner than non-EPA stoves. Efficiency is more tan 10 times better than fireplaces and 2 to 3 times better than non-EPA woodstoves.

I agree with your pollution comparison t gas stoves by NOT comparing just the top of the exhaust stack, but including the true pollution costs from source to burn. Transportation, handling, processing, all add to the list of emissions for gas and are minimal for wood. Wood is usually sourced within the community it is used since most cord/fire wood comes from tree services which need a place to dispose of what they trim and cut down.

Your discussion for rural and urban is good and covers that wood stoves are not for everyone.

As far as No Burn Days are concerned, rural communities are exempt, but how the rules came to be are a whole story unto itself.

Larry Williams, Forestville

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Unauthorized Water Use

My family owns a house in Camp Meeker and have had unauthorized water usage two separate times. Once was in November 2012 and the next was in November 2014. The first one was 75,000 gallons and the most recent was 25,000 gallons. As we only use the house as a summer cabin, and don’t visit between October-May, this was quite unusual.

I read a reader question in your April 2014 issue about water trucks filling up and bringing water to other locations (Water Issues, Rob Flowers). It offers a plausible explanation for the water use at our place - albeit an illegal one.

Have you heard of any other unauthorized water uses/abuses? We’re working on resolving this with Russian River Utilities but would be interested to hear if there are any other stories out there like ours.

thank you, Karen Atkinson

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Sonoma Clean Power

I wonder how SCP can claim being ‘non-profit’ or actually clean when they’re buying power from Constellation Energy that has its own nuclear plants, and that itself is owned by Exelon, one of the biggest nuclear producers in the country with 23 nuclear plants. So where does the non profit or clean come in? Seems like part of the deregulation shell game of power brokering from what’s already on the grid, that PGE purchases as well.

For all the money SCP spent on consultants, lawyers, lobbying and creating their own new county agency, there could have been a lot of solar panels put on Sonoma County public buildings and be owned by Sonoma County residents. 

From Exelon website:

Nation’s largest nuclear fleet

Exelon Nuclear, a division of Exelon Generation, operates the largest fleet of nuclear plants in the nation. The fleet consists of 23 reactors at 14 locations in Illinois, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.”

Greg Kestel

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Hi Vesta, 

Some of these are questions/misnomers we hear from time to time, so I’m glad to have the chance to set the record straight:

• Sonoma Clean Power is not a 501c non profit organization. We are a not-for-profit public agency. We re-invest earnings into the organization to keep rates stable and low, and to support the development of additional sources of renewable energy.

• We are a public agency, created under a Joint Powers Authority for the cities participating in our program. Our Board of Directors comprises elected officials from the County Board of Supervisors and each city that is participating. We are not a County program, our employees are not employees of the County of Sonoma, nor do we participate in their retirement/benefit programs.

• While we do purchase some of our power from Constellation, we have the ability to choose which sources of power that we purchase. We not purchase nuclear from Constellation (or anyone for that matter. We have 0% nuclear in our mix.)

Please let me know if you have any follow up questions. 

Thanks Vesta!

Kate Kelly | Sonoma Clean Power

Director, Public Affairs & Marketing

www.SonomaCleanPower.org

Direct: (707) 978-3468 

Customer Service: 1 (855) 202-2139

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Power of Choice’

I read the recent Gazette article touting Sonoma Clean Power. And I’ve seen and heard endless ads in the PD and on the radio paid for by SCP. There is so much to say about SCP, beyond the feel good hype about it being a ‘real’ choice  It’s complicated business to be sure, but here are the key issues. First, nobody likes or trusts PG&E much, except when our power goes out or we smell gas and we need experienced technicians to bail us out. So, given a ‘real choice, who wouldn’t dump PG&E and its legacy of Diablo Canyon, San Bruno, etc. But SCP is not dumping PG&E at all. It’s using PG&E’s infrastructure to deliver power and do billing. PG&E is still very much in our lives. 

As to the fact that 93% of Sonoma County power users have ‘chosen’ Sonoma Clean Power, the reality is that the opt-out requirement (if you do nothing, you are automatically enrolled in SCP) and the human tendency, when in doubt,  to do nothing are the big reason for SCP’s instant success in signing up the whole county. The expensive paid advertising and solicitation of ‘testimonials’ from local small businesses testifying to pie-in-the-sky ‘green’ hopes and dreams has probably also helped reel in a few fence sitters. 

SCP’s pricing (about 5% below PG&E) is a completely artificial construct designed to lull the public into believing that somehow a tiny new power company has more pricing power, or is just nicer, than PG&E is silly. The pricing was set simply to undercut PG&E by just enough to make consumers believe that SCP is super efficient and a real bargain to boot. But there is not a shred of actual evidence that SCP’s costs are any lower than PG&E’s and common sense suggests otherwise. These rates will almost inevitably need to be raised once the program is entrenched and the actual costs of purchasing power AND of supporting the growing SCP bureaucracy become more clear to the public. 

Possibly most importantly, the idea that SCP is ‘greener’ than PG&E is pure naiveté. The only way to reduce carbon emissions is to build more renewables and then turn off something that was generating carbon. SCP is not funding any renewables. It doesn’t have the money to do that. But by buying selectively (i.e. no coal or other ‘dirty’ power) and by buying pieces of paper (REC’s),  SCP can claim to provide 33% renewable energy vs just 20% for PG&E. 

The reality is that by 2020, under government mandate, PG&E has to provide 33% and is already moving in that direction by divesting its oldest, dirtiest power sources. What will be the point of SCP at that point, other than the fact that it’s not PG&E?

We have all seen government pile into a variety of utopian schemes before. They all look financially feasible at the outset. But at the bitter end, the taxpayer is invariably stuck with the unanticipated costs. And when we follow the money, it usually has been siphoned off by businesses that quickly tap into the lucrative new government programs by financing political campaigns and paying for favors. Sonoma Clean Power will be no different. We’ve seen this movie so many times before. It’s hard to believe that we’re sitting back and watching yet again.

Nancy Hair

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COMMENTS to online news @SonomaCountyGazette.com: Paul Hobbs pays penalties for unlawful vineyard development in Sonoma County

Seriously, $100,000 for violations in development, environmental degradation! A slap in the wrist. What about halting development & use permits? This guy acts like he owns Sonoma County, and could care less about the environment here.

Bonnie

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My kids go to that school and I personally filmed major dust clouds blowing down the hill and through campus. I don’t have a problem with crops converting to other crops, but I do have a problem with a guy knowingly and illegally clearing native riparian vegetation in the face of existing scrutiny. HE CLEARLY did it his was knowing that a fine is all he would get. That makes him a criminal and should be PERSONALLY accountable. Probation, jail time, whatever. Wake up people, there are plenty of people with huge egos and even bigger checkbooks that are making a mockery of agriculture in Sonoma County.

Brent Reed 

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If you’ve got the bucks what’s a little fine. Digcusting! Too many grape vines here already and most do use lots of chemicals.

Jan Rice

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This is unfortunate as we all knew there was something sketchy going on here and it will continue to happen with a mere monetary fine for the violations that many of the people of these communities knew of and were ridiculed for speaking up about.

Rhi Smith-Guerrero

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I live nearby.....sickening. Doesn’t he also spray Round-Up? Can’t wait for it to be pulled from the shelves one day. I only respect organic growers.

Joanne Panizzera

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COMMENTS to online news @SonomaCountyGazette.com: Sonoma and Napa County Residents Oppose Winery Over-Expansion

Sonoma County is in a major drought. The Board of Supervisors and the City of Santa Rosa asked residents to cut water use. I reside in city limits and so I purchased low flow toilets, a water saving washing machine, and hired a plumber to fix any leaks in my backyard underground water lines. (Expensive). I hauled all my clothes washer rinse water (from the garage) in buckets to water my plants. (Very time consuming & hard on the elbows & shoulders). I planted only a few vegetable plants. I usually plant enough to have fresh vegetables through the summer & to give away. Lastly “If it was yellow I let it mellow”’ even though I thought that looked disgusting. 

I was feeling efficient about my water saving until I received the notice about the proposed Dairyman winery on Highway 12 & Llano Road. Wait a minute!!! This winery will produce 500,000 cases of wine, 250,000 gallons of distilled spirits a year; have 58 promotional events, four events with 600 people and outdoor amplified music. Wow!!!!!!!! That would entail quite a bit of toilet flushing unless they will be using porta-potties for guests. 

My calculations predict they will use more water in one day then I do all year. Now I ask myself where is the fairness of this? What about all the other neighboring wells in that vicinity? Some rural residents already have lost their water to winery and hotel projects resulting in a huge cost to drill deeper wells. 

What about long term damage to the aquifer?  What about the Laguna? No one can predict how long the drought will last. The Dairyman winery and event center must not be permitted. 

Carol Vellutini

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Water Fluoridation

Open Letter to Board of Supervisors

I am a local physician very concerned that special interests may harm residents in Sonoma County. Today, most experts are calling for an international moratorium on water fluoridation. 97% of Europeans resist fluoridation. Please go to http://www.fluoridealert.org to review the evidence against water fluoridation discussed globally, though not in the United States. The precautionary principle trumps other arguments.

Fluoride is a demonstrable carcinogen, mutagen (DNA damage), hormonal disruptor, and a serious neurotoxin. Fluoridation of county water supplies will increase residents’ risk of many expensive health conditions that will dwarf the suffering and costs of cavities. Our Sonoma County Medical Association (SCMA) is negligent in blindly supporting fluoridation; most doctors and dentists are under-informed and too busy to find the science.

Dental hygiene, good nutrition, and fluoride applied to teeth, are safe and effective in preventing tooth decay. Ingested fluoride is, in fact, neither. The June 2013 issue of the Journal of Dental Research includes yet another study showing that the natural sweetener xylitol safely and effectively protects dental enamel.

The Wall Street Journal has been reporting on credible research (consistently and deliberately marginalized) showing clear evidence that human cancer and neurological damage results from fluoridation of water. Peer-reviewed human and animal studies confirm that fluoride lowers intelligence and increases bone fractures. Increasing numbers of adolescents, greater than 40%, have visible tooth enamel damage (dental fluorosis), an indicator of high body exposure, toxic injury of fluoride. Fluorosis of bones, brain, glands, and organs, is not visible; those critical studies have been politically avoided in the US.

African-Americans and Hispanic residents, who are more vulnerable to fluoride harms, have not been warned. Maternal iodine deficiency, which is found in at least half of pregnant women, increases fluoride toxicity. Even after more than a decade of well documented research, the same Institute of Medicine behind fluoride in drinking water has yet to show concern for the developing brain.

That is to ask, where is the long overdue advisory to correct prenatal iodine deficiency? Both congenital hypothyroidism and neurological impairment are on the rise; these conditions are associated with maternal iodine deficiency, increasing radioactive iodine fallout, and fluoride exposure. Not only do SCMA physicians have the option to avoid foods containing fluorinated pesticides and herbicides, but we can travel to pristine places and install expensive water filtration or distillation in our homes to remove fluoride. True, we may not see our own families as being threatened by fluoridated water. But with each passing year of economic stress, more of our patients are unable to afford organic food, fluoride-free beverages, and they cannot escape job or local pollution exposures.

According to most current studies, children often ingest an overdose of fluoride simply through inattention when brushing with kids’ fluoride toothpaste.

Keep in mind that promoting more plastic water bottle use and waste is not good health policy.

MEDICAL SCHOOL ON THE FLY (for board members without medical licensure):

•Fluoride for water treatment is not medical grade. It is industrial sourced, added at the water plant along with “officially acceptable” contaminants: arsenic, lead, (radioactive salts in some samples). It all eventually contaminates our environment.

•Water fluoridation means each one of you is prescribing a whole body dose of an FDA designated “unapproved drug” to every resident for many years - without informed consent. This is not a personal freedom issue; it is public health malpractice,

•Have you noticed that the incidence of autism is now one in fifty children born today? In the early 1980’s, when I started medical school, it was one in ten thousand.

Fluoride is not a nutrient, it is another neurotoxin.

•Fluoride is bioaccumulative. There is a very low level of safe body burden, mostly bone and pineal gland storage of fluoride. Have you been monitoring the fluoride content in foods and beverages (high in grape products and tea, for example)? Are you monitoring the fluoride laden air pollution arriving in Sonoma County 24/7 from China? From Japan, Fukushima meltdown pollution has increased US radioactive iodine to over 200 times “acceptable” (?) levels at several EPA monitoring devices.

•30 tons of fluorinated pesticides are dispersed in Sonoma County vineyards every year. These fluorocarbons are themselves harmful and release free fluoride into our bodies as well. The product information sheets do not show this.

•Your malpractice risk is over more years than physicians or dentists. Besides your dosing of toxic water, patients are prescribed long term fluorinated medications The effects of fluoride from the metabolism of these drugs in humans has not been published and package inserts do not include data about the release of fluoride (by

known hepatic enzyme pathways) demonstrated in mammalian animal studies.

•Do you know each patient? Will Sonoma County supply distilled water to WIC moms and officially warn vulnerable patients and tourists: “Do not drink tap water”?

Water fluoridation is a placebo promoted to band-aid the converging national crises of poor nutrition and inaccessible dental care. Your public health officer is proposing an archaic policy never supported by scientific study. She has brought you fluoridation “experts” who work overtime to sell an industrial toxic waste. They are hoping to delay the inevitable, when sixty years of deliberate deception about water fluoridation is officially deconstructed.

Your role in local fluoride poisoning may be inescapable; you have been well informed by many local health professionals and knowledgeable citizens who are committed to keeping clean water.

Think long and hard about the predictable harms to your children and grandchildren, all your constituents, as well as the impact on wine country tourism, before caving in to forces pushing water fluoridation. Will you start a persisting financial hemorrhage for a dangerous countywide program imposed on your watch? Should you be consulting your lawyer?

Please vote on the side of caution. Do not fluoridate our drinking water!

April M. Hurley, MD

Board Certified Family Medicine

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Last Tuesday (Jan 27, 2015) was a public meeting of the FAC (Fluoride Action Committee) at the Sonoma County Health Dept. This committee is the next step in the county’s headlong journey down the path of adding more things to the mix in order to save the public from itself. It was noted that not one Dr. was on the committee who was opposed to fluoridation, and although there was an interesting mix, it was a stacked deck as far as a fair conglomerate of community oversight. Of the approximate thirty people from the public at large, who took time during the middle of their workday to attend a boring government meeting, not one public attendee voiced desire to add fluoride to the water.

The Health Dept. again, held up the poor Latino community as their reason for needing this. They trotted out the usual presentation and used skewed and biased stats to make their case for adding chemicals to our water. They neglected to mention that Healdsburg, which has fluoride, has one dentist per 450 people, whereas Santa Rosa has only one dentist per 718 persons. (2010 census, Ca. registry of dentists), meaning the town with fluoride has more dentists that the one without. Logic would indicate that the town with fluoride in their water would have much fewer dentists because the water additive worked. This is not born out by this simple count of dentists versus population. They then tried to show that there were fewer cavities, by almost a whopping 4%, amongst Healdsburg kids, and claimed that was a significant difference. Although a 5% difference can be called significant in statistical terms, 48% of kids with bad teeth, is not a good amount where there was fluoride to supposedly fix their dental woes. There was no taking into account the affluence or dental culture, nor that the Latino people in question are from a culture where drinking the water is not good for you.

Last Thursday, in response to the meeting that the Press Democrat did not cover, the Press published an opinion piece that was as close to propaganda as I have seen in our paper. The writer stated that the added fluoride was a “natural element”, which it is not. She was alluding to calcium fluoride. The fluoride to be added is a Chinese supplied industrial chemical that is primarily used for insecticide and in the smelting of aluminum, and is produced through the process of making fertilizer. Sodium Fluoride. The opinion also used post WWII anecdotal evidence as supportive. The education and proliferation of tooth products and explosion of dentists after the war was a huge factor in the dental hygiene of our country and had nothing to do with fluoride in the water supply.

The writer portrays fluoride as the cure all for bad teeth and yet states clearly that topically applied fluoride through the use of toothpaste was responsible. She also stated that two thirds of Americans have fluoridated water, yet there is still a lot of dental decay out there. She uses terms like improvement when she talks about fluoridating as if further degrading our clean water with adulterants is a good thing. She claims it saves money and lists states that have extremely poor people. Medicaid dental is less where they dose the water she says. Toothpaste and toothbrush sales in this country are huge. Why would they be huge if fluoride works so well in mineralizing teeth against decay.  Mostly because it does not work very effectively.

I am a full advocate of topical application of medically approved fluoride treatments coupled with education to help prevent dental decay. The picture that accompanied the slanted piece was of a kid being attended to by a dental hygienist. It did not show a Latino kid throwing away his candy in favor of sneaking a drink of tap water while his grandmothers’ back was turned.

Fluoride Banned in Countries World-Wide

Many modern, well educated, first world countries with excellent medical industry have banned this practice: Austria (Toxic fluorides have never been added to the public water supplies in Austria.), Belgium (The main reason for that is the fundamental position of the drinking water sector that it is not its task to deliver medicinal treatment to people. This is the sole responsibility of health services), China (where we would get sodium fluoride from to put in our water, fluoridation is banned: “not allowed”), Czech Republic (fluoridation represents an untargeted form of supplementation which disregards actual individual intake), Denmark (toxic fluorides have never been added to the public water supplies), Finland (There are better ways of providing the fluoride our teeth need), France (Fluoride chemicals are not included in the list of chemicals for drinking water treatment), Germany (Federal Ministry of Health against a general permission of fluoridation of drinking water is the problematic nature of compulsory medication.) Hungary (Stopped fluoridating for technical reasons ), India (The Indian government has been working to remove the fluorides from drinking water sources to alleviate skeletal fluorosis), Israel (the potential damage to public health and environment from fluoridation may be greater than the benefits from decreased dental cavities), Japan (The 0.8 -1.5 mg regulated level is for calcium fluoride, not the hazardous waste by-product which is added with artificial fluoridation), Luxembourg (the drinking water isn’t the suitable way for medicinal treatment), Northern Ireland (Fluoridation ceased at the two locations for operational reasons), Netherlands (there was no legal basis for fluoridation), Norway (the conclusion was that drinking water should not be fluoridated), Scotland (rejected plans to add fluoride to the nation’s water), Sweden (Drinking water fluoridation is not allowed in Sweden),  Switzerland (In April 9, 2003, the City Parliament of Basel, Switzerland voted 73 to 23 to stop Basel’s 41 year water fluoridation program. Basel was the only city in Switzerland to fluoridate its water, and was the only city in continental western Europe, outside of a few areas in Spain).

These countries are not behind the curve. They are ahead of simplistic thinking that does not work as advertised.

In 2013 the city of Portland Oregon decided against fluoridating its water. The people deciding to not put more chemicals into the water supply to address particular medical concerns are not stupid backward thinking yokels who rally behind every conspiracy theory to come along. They are educated mindful persons who see fundamental flaws in the leap of judgment to medicate the masses for the supposed benefit of the few.

There has to be a better way to address the issues of poor dental hygiene than medicating entire populations with unregulated dosages of an industrial insecticide.

How about, let’s take the 8.5 million that was proposed initially, and rig out a couple of Dental RV’s, complete with a dentist and hygienists and a presentationon how to take care of your teeth and a barrel full of toothbrushes and take it on a continual school road trip to educate these poor low income folk who don’t know what they’re doing with their teeth. How about we address the cause of the problem instead of a knee jerk reaction to pacify the broad brush industrialists who want their sales and the politicians who want easy flashy campaigns to pin their ribbons on and let’s do the harder more effective thing.  Tax sugar and use the money to fund dental programs for the people.

Well, that’s not easy nor does it allow those in power to wash their hands of the issue and pay lip service to their constituents about what a great job they did to implement a one shot fix all, even if it didn’t do what it was supposed to. But, it does focus on the root of the problem; sugar. The bad teeth of low income Latinos, or anyone else for that matter, is not lack of fluoride in the water they drink. It is the enormous amount of sugar in practically everything we consume. If tooth decay is a public detriment then sugar as its cause should be subject to a sin tax as with tobacco and alcohol. These funds could pay for any dental program one could conceive and Sonoma County could be a national model of how to positively address a health problem without cramming some totalitarian plan for medicating every man woman and child with substances they don’t need want or would approve of if they knew what they were getting.

Sonoma County Supes, are you listening?

Ray Morgan

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PALM DRIVE HEALTHCARE DISTRICT

A growing group of Russian River corridor constituents has taken the first step in detaching from the Palm Drive Health Care District. The District board has been informed of our intention to detach and are scheduling a special board meeting in Monte Rio to publicly discuss this option along with their attorney, a LAFCO representative and a bond expert. 

Detachment does not require any approval or permission from the District. LAFCO recommends discussion with the local agency first. Like any government process, this will take time and many steps to complete. 

Why would the Russian River corridor detach?

First of all, many believe the River corridor was included in the District as a rich income source supporting a hospital facility for the Sebastopol community.  The District boundaries are defined by nine elementary school districts with Forestville, Guerneville and Monte Rio school districts making up 42% of the parcels and 42% of the District taxes.

There have never been any Palm Drive District services offered directly to the River corridor community.  Although there is some interest in pursuing programs in our area it is too little, too late.

The River community includes many nonresident second homes and vacant parcels who’s owners have no say or vote about the tax burden.  This is truly taxation without representation. To further aggravate the inequity, the River corridor makes up 27% of the district registered voters, many who are not parcel owners.  And, with all but one District board member from Sebastopol, we have a snowball’s chance in hell of convincing anyone that we matter.

Are the Palm Drive Health Care District current plans financially sustainable?  The District is in the midst of it’s second bankruptcy.  After a year, there is still no exiting plan.  With the most recent plans depending on all the parcel tax monies and heavy philanthropy, sustainability is seriously questionable. There is no point in putting more money in a financial, astronomical black hole that offers no service to our area.

Sustainability is further in question with very large numbers of District constituents with Kaiser, Sutter and St. Joseph membership unable to access Sebastopol services.  With 80% of the predicted consumers on Medicare, low reimbursement for services is eminent.  MediCal numbers are not insignificant. You get the picture!

What we do have is the detachment process.  The decisions will be made by the registered voters of the Forestville, Guerneville, and Monte Rio school districts.  No other part of the District may vote on this issue.  It is up to us.  It may be our only option to have a say in this morass.

It’s like I said before, hang on to your wallet, it’s going to be a rough ride!

Jeanette Dillman

RussianRiverDetachment@sonic.net

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Having a hospital in Sebastopol truly raises the stature of
the community. And for the wealthy 
enclaves of Bodega Bay and Occidental an emergency room in Sebastopol could be
a real life saver. But Palm Drive supporter, know this, we on The
 River are sick and tired of pay for your hospital. Many of us are physically closer to Santa
Rosa and Healdsburg than we are to Sebastopol; in terms of travel time we are
much closer to Santa Rosa. And few of us
can afford any insurance plan that covers Palm Drive. If we do show up and patronize this facility
do we get any special discount for providing this facility with a steady cash
flow? Maybe anyone who pays the parcel
tax could qualify for the Medicare reimbursement rates? It feels like we were gerrymandered into this district
to capture a large number of parcels to tax with fewer voters. We on the lower Russian River are being asked
to subsidize this facility that doesn’t serve us. This is happening in a context of another
problem we are having with Sebastopol. We
are seeing a huge influx of homeless people who are being rousted from the Sebastopol 
encampments by the Sebastopol PD. The
 Homeless people are being told that, unfortunately, Sebastopol doesn’t have 
services for them but we do at The River. Sebastopol 
is now the home of West County Community Services, a major player in Sebastopol’s
booming nonprofit sector and one of the major providers of services to the
homeless. We have some emergency “beds”
at the Vet’s Hall and every week or so a truck pulls up to a parking lot and
they toss food onto pallets and speeds off in a few hours. Unfortunately, many of the homeless are not
using the shelter and they are setting up encampments on the river bank. Sebastopol is benefiting from having West
County Community Services there. They are
renting a large space and have paid employees who surely contribute to the
local economy. Don’t even think about
asking us for more help with your hospital while you continue to ship us your
homeless population. You have a Vet’s hall
for an emergency shelter; you have public parking lots for food distribution. In fact, many would argue that Palm Drive
would make a wonderful homeless shelter. 
It could have a clinic too!

Mike – Ernie Loconsolo

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Hi Vesta … here’s my dollar’s worth:

Re:     Detachment from Palm Drive

I truly understand why some (not all) Sebastopol residents want to re-open “their” hospital.  I don’t understand why those same Sebastopol residents refer to a growing population of residents along the River Road Corridor (Monte Rio, Guerneville and Forestville School District areas) who support detachment as being greedy and self-centered.  Gail Thomas, of Palm Drive Health Care Foundation, said it best at the last Board meeting … “I want an emergency room 5 minutes from my front door.”  Who wouldn’t?  The reality is, that is not going to happen for the 27% of the voters who generate 42% of the tax revenue for this twice failed district. 

Palm Drive Health Care District (PDHCD) is a special district.  As a special district, PDHCD is tasked with providing services throughout the district – not just Sebastopol.  They have not served the Russian River communities although they have happily collected special assessments from our communities for 15 years ($20M- $25M).  Not a bad deal - for them. 

PDHCD boundaries were drawn to maximize tax revenues.  Our area was included in the district for the high volume of taxable parcels (summer cabins and taxable lots) vs. low voter representation (absent property owners do not have a vote).  If anyone wonders why Cazadero and more northern communities (who must travel through the PDHCD to go to a hospital or medical facility) are not a part of the district, it is because they would have swayed the vote against forming the district.  (Gerrymandering - to manipulate or adapt to one's advantage). 

Health Care Options.  We now have two state-of-the-art hospital facilities which are actually easier to access.  Sutter is approximately 16 miles and Kaiser is 18.4 miles from the Russian River Fire Department in Guerneville.  Palm Drive is a slow 18.3 miles (via River Road, the preferred route of our ambulance service).  Sonoma County has a substantially large population who now belong to Kaiser and a growing population who are covered by Sutter.  Those remaining few who do have insurance that will cover services at Palm Drive (Sonoma West Medical Center) will still have the ability to go to the hospital of their choosing. 

I’ve grown weary of the scare tactics, listening to bashing by Foundation members of other area hospitals and demeaning comments toward River communities at District Board meetings, not to mention the Board’s failure and refusal to provide requested information regarding financials and asset appraisals, despite repeated requests.  After two bankruptcies, a revolving door of Executive Directors (at least 10) and continued fiscal irresponsibility, I can’t believe that a new name, a fresh coat of paint and a “no wait” ER will somehow magically turn Palm Drive into a going concern or profitable facility.  They expect to open on April 27th - they haven’t even come up with a viable plan to exit bankruptcy?  Talk about the cart way ahead of the horse! 

Barbara DeCarly, Guerneville, CA

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To begin with let me say that in years past I have used and was glad to have Palm Drive Hospital as an option for emergency medical treatment.  I went there to have glass removed from my arm and receive stiches after running through a plate glass window.  That was 37 years ago.  I took my daughter to have a barbed fish hook removed from her thumb 13 years ago.  For those of you counting at home that is twice in the last 37 years.  I have paid thousands of dollars through property taxes to keep this option open, against my wishes.  To me this hospital is a luxury, not a necessity.  As a single father of 4 daughters I can scarcely afford luxuries, especial those that benefit an already affluent community.  I work full time and more to take care of my responsibilities and this hospital is not one of them.   A town that can support its own police service can, if they really want it, support their own hospital.   I live in Western County and it takes approx. 30 min to get to Palm Drive or Sutter; the latter of which happens to be a real, well-staffed and equipped hospital.  Which would you go to?  If you live in Sebastopol you might like the option of walking to your hospital that is your right, your hospital and your responsibility to maintain and pay for.  I and many like me do not want or need it and haven’t for quite some time.  It is unfair and unjust to force people to spend their hard earned dollars for something that does not benefit them in the slightest. 

  At a recent meeting discussing “detachment” Jonathan Greenberg was quoted (PD) “the anit-tax argument, ‘I don’t use it, I don’t want to pay for it,’ is something that I found morally reprehensible,’.  I might remind Mr. Greenberg (of Sebastopol) that this is not a school we are talking about here this is a non-essential and obviously non-sustainable project.  I think many of Americans wanted no part of bailing out the banks; we were forced to do so.  The Federal government is a much bigger beast to reign in than local government.  We as a community should have more say in how our local money is spent.  Mr. Greenberg went on to state that he believes those who favor detachment represent a small segment of the Russian River corridor, not the majority.  When you include the whole River corridor this may be true, when you include most points west of Sebastopol not so true.  If it is, in fact, a small segment of tax payers then Mr. Greenberg and those of his mindset should have no problem in taking over our portion of the payments; I believe it would only amount to cents on their property tax.  That is my two cents and all I am willing to pitch in on this sinking ship.

Robert K. Andersen
River resident and disgruntled tax payer