Thursday, October 22, 1998
Stand Against Hate
I think every mother and father in America trembled when we heard about Matthew Shepard's beating in Wyoming, and anxiously waited for word of his condition. And we all must have wept at the thought of a child tortured and left to die on a country road.
I hope every parent did what I wanted to do: Hug your children, and hold them close. I feel personally obligated as an elected official to make sure these criminals know their actions will not be tolerated.
I am proud to be a co-sponsor of HR 3081, the Hate Crimes Prevention Act. This bill was introduced in Congress last year, and would classify crimes committed on the basis of sexual orientation--as well as race, religion, national origin, religion, gender or disability--as hate crimes.
That is a very important distinction. Hate crimes are a federal matter, which means their victims are protected by our country when local agencies fail them. This bill would authorize the U.S. Department of Justice to treat hate crimes as a particularly dangerous matter, with research and prosecution funds to match.
That seems reasonable, you must be thinking. But the Republican leadership has refused to allow Congress to vote on this bill.
Our nation has paid the price for intolerance too many times. But we can turn this into a bittersweet blessing. I am reminded of San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk's words: "If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closed door."
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, D-CARMEL
What Are We Not Being Told?
Monterey County and incorporated cities want Measure N passed to raise money for road improvement, so they say. The 1/2 percent increase would be for nine years, yet the only road mentioned is Highway 101 Prunedale corridor. What the county is not telling us is that an interchange is and scheduled to start in 1999. In addition, Caltrans has budgeted, planned and scheduled six other improvements that will bring that roadway up to "freeway" status. Just ask Caltrans. Since the improvements began a couple of years ago, there have been no auto accident deaths on that roadway.
When all the improvements are done the cost will be $190 million or more. So why spend money on a bypass? Some say developers want the bypass.
Ask this: Why is the Monterey-Salinas Highway not mentioned? TAMC and Caltrans rate that roadway F, the worst. Why is Highway 1 between Castroville and the county line not mentioned? Why don't the public officials tell us what the money is going to be used for? We have that right.
Please read everything you can before you vote. Don't be fooled by the hype. Vote No on N.
MYRON R. SERES
Following the Money
In January 1998, I tried to report that something was "amiss with [Seaside's] financial status". I requested that staff provide a complete and comprehensive overview on the city's financial condition during council's FY '97-'98 mid-year budget review.
After experiencing problems trying to place items on two council agendas, I realized that it would be impossible for me to place any item questioning financial information on any agenda--ever.
In July 1993, unrestricted General Operating Fund balances (exclusive of redevelopment funds, any restricted funds and a tax revenue anticipation note of $1.5 million) totaled $5.2 million. In July 1998, those same funds totaled a little more than $1 million.
How can the mayor say we are financially better off today, if (1) in five years, there is a $4.1 million decrease in unrestricted cash and investment funds? (2) the FY '96-'97 audit's combined balance sheet shows general fund assets cash and investments to be in deficit ($3 million)? and (3) audited (FY '96-'97) budget figures show $700,000 in deficiencies?
Seaside is not financially healthy, and budgets have not been balanced. I have exercised my fiduciary responsibilities and tried to report that something was "amiss with the city's financial status." No one has permitted me to prove it.
COUNCIL MEMBER, CANDIDATE FOR RE-ELECTION
Keeping Abreast of Cancer
My congratulations go to Elaine Hermann on her article on breast cancer (Public Forum, Oct. 8). I would just like to add a few important points.
The best way we presently have to decrease the morbidity and mortality from this disease is early detection. This includes breast self examination (BSE), clinical breast exam (CBE) and mammography. A women's primary healthcare provider should be teaching BSE, performing CBE and scheduling mammography at intervals recommended by the American Cancer Society or the National Cancer Institute. Healthcare providers who desire to improve their proficiency in CBE and receive an update on breast cancer can do so by attending a course sponsored by the Cancer Detection Section of the California Department of Health Services and the Breast Cancer Early Detection Project (BCEDP). This course is offered at Natividad Medical Center free of charge. The BCEDP offers free screening (CBE and mammography) to women who are eligible.
The second point is to emphasize that after detection, the best chance for a cure is through surgery. This does not always mean mastectomy. Certain patients are candidates for breast-conserving therapy. It is the general surgeon who can help diagnose and treat the cancer in conjunction with the women's primary care provider, radiologist, oncologist and plastic surgeon, if needed. General surgeons also can allay fears about breast cancer and help diagnose non-cancerous breast lumps.
On the horizon is technology such as sentinel node biopsy which, in the near future, might decrease the amount of surgery needed to stage these cancers and alter the number of women who are candidates for adjuvant therapies. There are women at high risk who might be eligible for preventative therapies. Women should ask their healthcare providers about these topics.
Healthcare providers can obtain a computer program that assesses risk for all women by accessing the following website: http://cancerTrials.nci.nih.gov on the World Wide Web. This tool is free of charge. Algorithms for diagnosing and treating breast cancer are available on the Web also. More information on CBE for healthcare providers can be found in the October issue of "Action Report" by the Medical Board of California.
On a final note, remember that men can get breast cancer too.
ATUL N. JANI, MD, FACS
DIRECTOR OF SURGICAL SERVICES
NATIVIDAD MEDICAL CENTER
Importance of Ernest
What has happened to "Friends of Ernest?" It is the first thing I read in your paper. I figured last week was a fluke, but two weeks in a row tells me Ernest has been fired (or perhaps he has taken early retirement or is stepping down before being impeached). We need the wisdom and humor of this strip to carry us through the current turbulent political waters.
I cast my vote to: Bring back Ernest!
Editor's Response: Sometimes, in the course of newspaper events, it is necessary to cut some features to make room for others. In this case, we felt it was more important to make room for more Letters to the Editor than to run "Friends of Ernest."
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