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Letters to the Editor, May 12 - 15

In case of emergency…

EDITOR: As a local emergency physician, I am in favor of the renewal of the parcel tax for Sonoma Valley Hospital. The financing of a single district hospital is challenging and requires community support. However, I feel compelled to respond to statements in a recent letter to the editor (“Sonoma Needs an ER,” May 2). In his letter of support for the hospital and emergency room, the writer underlines the importance that heart attack and stroke are “highly time sensitive emergencies” and that “minutes can literally make all the difference.” I agree, and that is why if a Sonoma resident has concerning chest pain or symptoms of a stroke they should immediately call 911 and not drive to the Sonoma Valley ER.

Trained paramedics can identify heart attacks from blocked arteries, and strokes from blocked or bleeding arteries, by exam and using simple tests (i.e. EKG). They can then quickly transport patients to the appropriate hospital. Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa is the only hospital within 20 minutes of Sonoma (often less in an ambulance using lights and sirens) that has cardiologists and facilities to open blocked arteries causing a heart attack, and board-certified emergency physicians, neurologists and neurosurgeons to treat all strokes. Sonoma Valley Hospital does an excellent job in treating most emergencies, but does not yet have the resources to provide state-of-the-art cardiac and neurologic care for those with acute heart attacks and strokes. When a patient arrives at the ER at Sonoma Valley Hospital with these emergencies the doctors may provide stabilizing medications, but ultimately they will need to call an ambulance to transport the patient leading to a delay in definitive care.

On June 6 I will vote “yes” on Measure E supporting the Sonoma Valley Hospital. But it is important for Sonoma residents to remember that, regardless of the outcome of Measure E, for acute cardiac and neurologic emergencies there remains only one critical intervention in the first 20 minutes... gasoline.

Andrew Fenton, MD

Napa Valley Emergency Medical Group

Moratorium on tasting rooms?

EDITOR: I opened my hair salon, Red Loft Salon, five years ago come June 1. Sadly, I will not be able to celebrate my five-year anniversary because the out-of-town landlord has thrown my life into turmoil.

I’ve worked hard to build a five-star rating on Yelp and a predominantly local client base after 22 years in the hair business in San Francisco. Last year my “Red Loft Salon” was awarded “Best Hair Salon” in Sonoma by the Sonoma Index-Tribune’s “People’s Choice Award.” Despite those accolades, I am being forced to close my salon, simply due to an out-of-town landlord delivering a 51 percent rent increase. It’s the type of increase which, in my opinion, is financially raping and forcing small businesses to either close or relocate after years of hard work (and money, with those permits!) of building their brand.

We should all question – what is happening to our town which we all deeply love and care about?

The ever-increasing number of wine-tasting salons on the Plaza have escalated rents beyond reason on the Plaza. They have the deep financial means to afford such outrageous rents. This forces locally owned community-serving businesses providing services to people who live here to either close or relocate off the Plaza, reducing the need for locals to visit other Plaza-centric businesses and restaurants. Really, how much wine tasting can a local resident really do?

Soon, in the not too distant future, we will have zero Plaza-based businesses that provide services for residents who live here. The majority of businesses will be geared exclusively to tourists (wine tasting rooms) turning our town into “Disneyland With Wine.” Is this what Sonoma wants? Tourism can be a good thing, however, not exclusively and should not be at the expense of residents who live here looking for services downtown or to residents like myself trying to run a decent, honest business providing services to local residents.

There must be a happy medium? If not and even worse, when the economy sobers up, tourism reduces, then perhaps even wine rooms can’t renew leases at ridiculous rents to out-of-town landlords, and our beautiful Plaza will be surrounded by vacant spaces with dribs and drabs of wrinkled raisins left over from the wilted grapes. Is this what the City Council is planning with no moratorium on wine tasting rooms, for which the outrageous rents feed the lifestyle of an out-of-town landlord?

Len Handeland

Sonoma

No comparison to Holocaust

EDITOR: The recent letter by Hank Martinson (“Deportation Threat No Joke,” May 2) cannot go unanswered. Although I most likely agree with his view on immigrants, I have to take issue with his use of Anne Frank to bolster his opinion. There is no comparison between what happened to Anne Frank and the current immigrants situation. As someone who experienced Anne Frank’s suffering with one exception – I survived – I would be very happy to enlighten Mr. Martinson on the history of the “Destruction of European Jewry” and the current immigrant situation. I think Hank Martinson should do some more research and the paper did a disservice to its readers by publishing his letter.

Michael Zamczyk

Sonoma

Hospital is ‘swimming without bathing suit’

EDITOR: Once again, and again, and again, we are being asked to pay a “temporary tax.” Doesn’t anyone else see a pattern here?

They started in 2002 (and I enthusiastically supported the effort then because it was “temporary and only for five years or less”). Then they requested an extension for “just” another five years in 2007 and again in 2012 and in 2017 with attendant raises in the tax. Finally, earlier this year, the property owners got smart and voted it down.

Now they are back absolutely saturating the area with their “support Measure E” signs and phone calls. But wait, it is only for five years and oh, yes, we will again be raising the tax temporarily. You can’t possibly vote against apple pie and motherhood, can you?

The hospital is necessary and we should all support it. But like the camel, once it gets its nose under the tent, it’s all over. Have you ever met a politician who doesn’t want to continue taxes and continue to raise them? Probably not! That’s exactly what we have here. Once the mindset is that we can’t possibly do without it, we are doomed. (Sounds like the argument for years that we “have to build a new hospital, there is no way to retrofit it!” Yet, after years and years of repeating that mantra, someone decided that, hey, we don’t have to build a new hospital. We really can retrofit it. It is the same mindset here, that we must do it this way). I have written in the past that maybe the hospital should try going without these “temporary” add-ons. If, in fact, they can’t possibly make it run like a business, then and only then, should they propose a permanent tax affecting everyone.

I do want our hospital to stay here and I do support it, but it is about time that the administrators threw the crutches away so we can see exactly what is happening financially in our hospital. When the tide goes out, we soon learn who is swimming without a bathing suit!

Jonathan Gates

Sonoma