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LETTERS to Sonoma County Gazette READERS - November 2016


LETTERS to Sonoma County Gazette READERS
November 2016

NOT Election

I would like to thank all the Gazette readers, especially the musicians in the county and elsewhere who have given me such a warm welcome.  When I opened Free-Range Guitars I didn’t know how it would be having a shop open to the public for the first time in nearly forty years.  People have been wonderful.  I’ve met so many lovely people, guitarists, wanna-be guitarists, and non-guitarists, that any reservations I may have had are long gone.  I want to remind Gazette readers that I do adjustments for kids free, and offer free help the first Sunday of each month, 4-6 pm, to people building their own guitar. 

Harry Fleishman, Sebastopol

SoCo Initiatives

For the last 20 years Sonoma County Community Separators have kept green buffers between our cities freeing us from urban sprawl and strip malls that plague so many other areas in California.  With a YES for Measure K in November our Community Separators  will be renewed for another 20 years. The separators complement the urban growth boundaries (UGB) around our cities by safeguarding rural/agriculture landscapes in adjacent county lands.  Let’s not risk losing more farm lands and rural landscapes.  Greenbelts preserve our economy, environment and public health.  Even better news is Measure K is a tax free initiative so there is no cost to taxpayers.  A vote for Measure K in November will ensure land protections for our and future generations.  It will also help keep Sonoma County the beautiful place we so enjoy.

Christina Meyer

Election Politics

Ah Election time again. Candidates Local, State, National seem good at saying how bad their counterparts are without saying what they have accomplished. Do we want leadership that bad mouth, or blame others for things not getting done?

Are Big Signs, or even lots and lots of signs all over; a sign of solid leadership skills? It is a sign that they have lots of money to spend and blighting the landscape is their message. Does it show conservation or resource management? If they spend lots of money getting elected will they suddenly stop spending money once elected? “Being on the fence” once said you were neutral or undecided... what it really means at election time is that if the candidate’s sign is not on a fence or private property then it is in the roadway or public property where for the most part it does NOT belong!!!

Candidates are not supposed to post signs wherever they feel like it and take no responsibility for their actions...or are they?

Look at your Property Tax Bill.  What did your leaders decide you should spend and for how long? If there is a big chunk of change on your tax bill does it show fiscal responsibility? If there are three or more taxes for the same entity does that show budget oversight? Are there other resources that could have been tapped? Are incumbents bragging about passing tax measures and spending your money?

If someone is great at spending money just getting elected, will they stop spending once in office? If they get lots and lots of endorsements are they part of a machine or obligated in any way to their team of supporters?

Perhaps we should vote for those who spend less, who are into true conservation of resources, and put out a few signs, fewer mailings, are self funded, and not seeking endorsements from all angles and groups; and do not damn others but take responsibility for their own decisions and have a history of responsible leadership and involvement.

Please vote and make your OWN informed decision.

Eric Kirchmann

Trumping the 4th Amendment

I wish I could tell you the many ways Donald Trump is utterly unfit to be president, but I am limited to 200 words. Yet again, as an example of Trumps ineptness, we are reminded of the Donald’s ignorance of the US Constitution by his recent call for the broad use of stop and frisk. 

What Trump does not understand is that the 4th Amendment, applied to the states by the 14th, provides protections against unreasonable search and seizures. Pursuant to Terry v Ohio the standard for stop and frisk is reasonable suspicion. This minimum standard, determinable only on a case by case basis, is both subjective and objective. It means that a police officer may rely on his intuition and perception but also needs an  articulable objective  indicator that unlawful activity may be afoot to justify detaining an individual. A frisk, more complicated, is restricted to a plain touch of the persons clothing for safety purposes.Trump’s call to relax this low standard is both unconstitutional as it fuels profiling and a slippery slope towards a police state. What next Donald? Will you call for searching our homes without a warrant or probable cause? In my view given our military might the real threat to this nation comes from the ignorance within not from explosive external forces. 

Gene Colombini

Palm Drive Health Care

 Editor: In the long run, Economics always wins. Keeping the Sonoma West Medical Center open is an emotional issue that is not backed by the economics of running a hospital. Financial information included in the latest board packet shows that the hospital and the district are both basically insolvent.

When was the last time the district had audited financial statements prepared in accordance with accepted governmental accounting standards? Do the current directors even know how to read financial statements? Do the candidates? They are relying on financial statements prepared by a bookkeeper. The taxpayers are entitled to a true audit performed by an outside accounting firm.

Fear mongers say that people will be dying in the streets if the hospital closes. What an insult to our emergency services personnel and agencies. They are very well trained and equipped to handle emergencies and transport patients to other hospitals.

In the long run, economics always wins. The economics of the small hospital in this medical reimbursement environment going forward are dismal. Let’s end the charade.

Jim Horn wants to move the District forward, whether or not the hospital survives, and put an end to the accumulation of debt that will take decades to pay off. 

Vote for Jim Horn for fiscal responsibility for the Palm Drive Health Care District.

Barbara Barney, CPA (ret), MBA, Sebastopol


To all our Palm Drive Health Care District residents

I have been a resident of Sebastopol for more than 20 years.  During that time I have benefited and my family has benefited from the hospital now known as Sonoma West Medical Center and formerly Palm Drive Hospital.  I am an endorser of the two candidates who are running to keep our hospital in the community, Gail Thomas and Rob Cary.  

In the Sonoma West Times and News on Thursday, October 20, a Director of the Palm Drive Health Care District, Sandra Bodley, wrote a letter to the editor that I feel needs a response.

Director Bodley, who voted to close our hospital and stated publically that “the new normal for small communities is not to have a hospital” has written that she supports the candidates running to close the hospital:  Jim Horn and Eira Klitch-Heartt.  She also included Marsha Sue Lustig as a candidate who was in favor of closing the hospital which comes as a surprise to me but I KNOW that the other two candidates which Director Bodley is against, Gail Thomas and Rob Cary, have worked hard to Open Our Hospital and to keep it open.

My late father was one of the “35 for Palm Drive” who put up funds to purchase the hospital so that our community could have this facility. I have also worked at the hospital for almost 15 years.  During the course of that time, I have been well aware of efforts and the voter initiatives which passed specifically to keep our hospital.  In 2005 we agreed in Measure W to pay a parcel tax of $155/year “To insure survival of Palm Drive Hospital and access to local emergency, acute care, medical and physician services…” .  Specifically, we voters passed a measure to fund our hospital and, to continue with the words of the measure, to “provide for ongoing expenses, repair and improvements to equipment and technology” so that we could be assured of having our hospital.

In no way did we vote to tax ourselves $155/year for services WITHOUT a hospital.  Health services could be in partnership with a hospital but the hospital is central to providing health care to our community.  As the Thomas and Cary signs say…”Our Hospital Saves Lives” and to suggest that programs in community health education (as important as that is) are a replacement for our hospital is ludicrous.  

Candidate Horn, supported by Director Bodley, has suggested that Urgent Care facilities can replace our hospital.  This is misleading and uninformed—ambulances cannot stop at Urgent Care facilities, nor can Urgent Care facilities provide the emergency service of a hospital—they transfer to a hospital while wasting precious minutes.  When our hospital was closed, (Director Bodley was one of those who voted to close it) people may have died because they could not get emergency services quickly—people on the coast were without emergency responders while they went for the 3+hour round trip to Santa Rosa.  

We need our hospital and we can have our hospital.  After reading Director Bodley’s comments, I can see even more clearly why we need Thomas and Cary, new people on the District Board who care about our hospital and our community.  If our hospital has been struggling, maybe it has been because not all of our elected Directors were really interested in preserving it.  

Join me in voting for Gail Thomas and Rob Cary.

Diane Widen-Sakowicz


To Voters in the Palm Drive Health Care District

Thank you for your support and encouragement over the past 2 years.  

It is your support that has kept all of us working hard both reopening our hospital and our efforts at keeping our hospital in Sebastopol.  Sonoma West Medical Center, formerly Palm Drive Hospital, is again saving lives and providing that excellent care we all want. As Foundation President, I have tried to be your voice for having our hospital open and available.

In my more than 35 years in West County, I have had the opportunity to bless our hospital many times.  My parents, my children, my grandchildren, and yes both my husband and myself have all benefited from having our emergency room and our outstanding community hospital.  Just this past week my husband was at SWMC and once again we were so grateful for the medical care he received.  

This is why we want our hospital—and why it is worth every minute to fight for it. It is my desire that our hospital stay open and helping all who need medical care. It is not only possible, it is imperative. 

I do not agree with those who say that in the 21st century we can no longer expect local hospital and emergency care – in fact we have a hospital with over 70 years of history and it is well positioned to give us another 70 years,  

Those who would close our hospital forget that this hospital is not only a resource in our community, it is also a small hospital leader in many ways.  We have a research program run by Dr. Bernstein, world recognized for his work in Alzheimer’s disease.  We have a telemedicine program which not only brings experts into our hospital through the robot, but we also are helping hospitals around the world to develop similar programs.

We have a hospital of which we can be rightfully proud and confident that will provide excellent care--and as a community, we have voted repeatedly to support.  We have taxed ourselves $155/year to have this hospital, NOT to abandon it.  People who are running for the District Board with a platform to close the hospital do not understand or do not care how important it is for our community. We lost lives in our community during the 18 months it was closed; we are saving lives every day since it reopened.

Please give me, Gail Thomas, and Rob Cary your support as candidates for the Palm Drive Health Care District Board.  We pledge to keep our hospital open, viable, and responsible to its community. Do not elect the people who are pledged to close it.

Gail Thomas

Measure T a win-win

On Oct. 5, The Press Democrat Editorial Board misinterpreted the intent of Healdsburg’s Measure T, the fluoride safety initiative (“No on Measure T: Keep fluoridation”). They tout fluoridation as “safe and effective” but cower at the idea of requiring proof. If ingesting fluoridation chemicals imported from China is truly safe, there should be no concern of Measure T getting the yes vote, because fluoridation will continue once proof of safety is provided. It’s logical to err on the side of safety. BPA was once considered safe, but now we know better. If fluoride is proven safe, we’ve lost nothing. If it’s not, we’ve gained a healthier Healdsburg — a win-win situation. Let’s ensure fluoride is safe for ingestion. Vote yes on Measure T.

Brian Pardini Healdsburg

5th District Supervisor Election

5th District Voters are lucky to have two candidates who care about the environment and are committed to protect what we love most about our section of the county.  I’m choosing Lynda Hopkins over Noreen for other reasons.  Foremost for me is how West County is represented on the Board.  Yes, Noreen has represented us all through her political posts in the past. But I want someone representing me, not Santa Rosa, not Sonoma, not Petaluma.  They have their own advocates on the Board.  As a longtime West County resident I feel we are different, diverse, eclectic, and I want someone who is 100% for us.  Lynda has been a West County resident for 10 years.  She knows us, not JUST because she lives in our “territory”, but because she listens intently when we speak, she asks questions, she engages, she is open minded and caring vs someone who already “knows it all.”  I find Lynda Hopkins to have high integrity and am insulted by flyers that insinuate otherwise.  I’m confident Lynda will do an amazing job balancing priorities, fighting for us and doing so with grace, intellect and style.  

Lucy Barnett Hardcastle, Forestville


Big Money Does Girl Good

I understand Lynda Hopkins has received a lot of money from business to back her campaign. Some say a whole lot, like a zillion or a even a zillion five. Some say Lynda had to leave her prize goats out in the rain so she’d have a place to store all that cash. I’m sure that’s a silly exaggeration--unless the Noreen Evans campaign gives official confirmation that they believe it’s true. But I have some bad news for Fat Cat Donors: Unless you are too dumb to realize what district we are talking about, this is the Fifth. Way past granola, way past merely environmental, way past approving of any business that is not GMO-free, Monsanto-hating and worker-owned. Build on the coast? forget it. See, once Lynda is in office, unless you are a one-percenter of the nature-loving persuasion, who has a Constitutional right to see lovely open space every day, you are not going to like the way Lynda does business. She doesn’t want RoundUp anywhere near her organic farm, and she doesn’t want any event centers in ag zones, any more big grape-growing projects that rob water from existing users, any further degradation of the River or any of that stuff that Noreen should oppose as well. So if Lynda doesn’t want to listen to the gravel miners and developers, she won’t have to. IN FACT, DOING FAVORS FOR BIG BUSINESS WOULD BE A DEATH SENTENCE FOR ANY NEW FIFTH DISTRICT SUPERVISOR’S SECOND TERM. So Lynda not only means what she says, she is free to keep her promises. And know what? Her big financial backers know that. In the Fifth Supervisorial District of Sonoma County, California, big contributors are grateful that Lynda will talk to them at all. She certainly doesn’t have to.

Scott Kersnar, Guerneville


Good Old Boy Network 

Lynda Hopkins may be an organic farmer with a fresh face and a couple of “Ivy League West” degrees, compared to Efren’s one. Like him, she represents the good old boy network. And it is her campaign that is the nasty one, blaming and haranguing and then acting like the victim.  

The earlier harping on pension legislation reminds me of the persecution of Rue Furch over her property taxes. The latest hit pieces from Eric Koenigshofer, lobbyist for Preservation Ranch, which ultimately garnered $10M from the Coastal Conservancy and special interest money from the same real estate, development, wineries and extractive industry interests that have funded Ms. Hopkins’s campaign, include a full page color ad in the Press Democrat on October 12 and a glossy color mailer the same day. Both slam Noreen Evans and her time on the Coastal Conservancy, saying she did not vote on key coastal issues. This is misleading and disingenuous; as a legislator, Ms. Evans was not a voting member of the Conservancy. One wonders why those who know, such as the Conservancy Chair, can allow such misinformation to be published.  

Today, October 13, another costly full page color ad slams Evans for taking money from casino interests while accusing Ms. Hopkins of a conflict of interest for the same. This ad, again funded by those special interests, including those involved in the Cloverdale casino—the tribe’s lobbyist, Rob Muelrath, is Hopkins’s campaign consultant—shows how desperate her supporters are to keep their power in Sonoma County.  

They want to hand an extremely important job to someone with no experience, like she was handed a several-million-dollar organic farm as a wedding present. If the subject comes up about the money literally pouring into her campaign, it is either dismissed or called an attack. Ms. Hopkins may very well be “passionate” about west county issues, but I for one am tired of hearing about her Stanford degrees and her organic farm.  

Let’s not be fooled—it’s becoming more and more painfully obvious that that essential swing vote on the Board of Superviors, so urgent now for protecting our beloved county and coast, is in grave danger of being bought.

Kate Fenton


Hopkins has strong values

I have known Lynda Hopkins intimately for fourteen years, and been married to her for six.  We met while in Stanford’s Earth Systems program, where we studied land use, climate change, marine science and environmental economics.

We took our values with us when we moved back to the property where I grew up along the Russian River. Lynda and I started an organic vegetable farm. Despite intense pressures, we never used a single non-organic product on our fields.  We chose to grow vegetables, grains, and livestock because that was our vision for the community—not because it was the path of least resistance.

While farming, Lynda also served as Executive Director at Farm Trails and as a community journalist with Sonoma West Publishers. She has always taken the path of serving the community and put her values ahead of doing what was easy or profitable.

As co-treasurer for Lynda’s campaign, I can tell you that the campaign has received over 500 donations below $250—most of them below $100—from ordinary community members.  Anyone elected to supervisor is going to have to answer to supporters and donors who they may disagree with at times. But I’m proud to say that Lynda will have far more small donors to answer to, and I know that she has the strength and values to follow her conscience.  Lynda will always put the needs of the West County community, environment and people first.

Emmett Hopkins


False Hit on Evans

As a former board member of the State Coastal Conservancy, I have been disturbed by the recent misleading mailers and full page ads criticizing Noreen Evans for poor attendance on that Board.

First, the legislative seat on the Conservancy Board is a non-voting, ex-officio position intended mainly to maintain some contact between the Conservancy and the legislature. It is not a decision making seat.

Second, it is common practice for legislators to designate key staff to represent them at Commission meetings which often occur while the legislature is in session. Evans did this on a number of occasions and, combined with her personal attendance, scores among the highest attendees of legislative representatives before or after her service on the Board.

Further, Legislators have always had a role in shaping the agenda and priorities for projects in their districts. As such, Noreen was an active and effective advocate for the Conservancy projects in the Laguna restoration, the Jenner Headlands and Preservation Ranch.

All of this information is omitted in the ads against her. It is the type of deliberately misleading, last-minute hit piece that should have voters questioning her opponent rather than Evans.

Mike Reilly


Lynda Hopkins -- An Independent Voice

Lynda Hopkins is a fresh, authentic, independent voice running for 5th District Supervisor. She’s smart, tough, and loves West County. What a natural! She’s energetic and creative, with a passion for government transparency. A delight at Town Hall meetings, she listens to everyone, takes new ideas gracefully into consideration, is flexible, reasonable, open and direct. Her background in Land Use and Environmental Studies is a perfect fit for the 5th District. She will protect our coast, assure free access to our beaches, maintain our rivers, parks, roads and enhance our schools, libraries and social services. She’s got what we need and are looking for. Join me in voting for Lynda  Hopkins for Supervisor.

Ann Maurice, Occidental