Letters to the Editor, March 3 - 6

Black lives, and films about them, matter

EDITOR: Kirk Michael’s review of the film “Hidden Figures” says it is too upbeat for the Jim Crow-era story (“Math is Color Blind in ‘Hidden Figures,’” Feb. 10). As a black woman who grew up in the California version of Jim Crow during that time, I disagree. We need more depictions of black life that focus on the hard work of heroines like these and not the actions of the oppressors of the time. Films like this make it great to be in this country, despite its shortcomings.

Veda Lewis


This is no time for timidity

EDITOR: Jason (Walsh) reported (“Council Pressed for ‘Bold Statement’ on Immigration,” Feb. 24) that at the Feb. 22 City Council meeting, David Cook worried, whether using a provocative term like “sanctuary” would be akin to seceding from the union, as it openly bucks federal law.

Seriously, David? Seceding from the Union? Come on. I doubt that simply “using a provocative term like ’sanctuary’” is against any federal law. This is no time for timidity.

Jason quoted Gary Edwards in saying, “Poking someone in the eye with the word ‘sanctuary’ doesn’t make sense to me. Our homes should be our sanctuary.”

Seriously, Gary? Miguel and Arturo and Maria’s homes are no longer their sanctuaries – rather, addresses where they can be found and hauled away from their families. If our homes are no longer sanctuaries, then isn’t it time for Sonoma to step up to the plate and poke “somebody” in the eye? And use a really bold, scary word like “sanctuary”? This is no time for timidity.

I say it is time for Sonoma, and everybody else for that matter, to be provocative. To take a stand. To say who we are and what we stand for. These are not normal times. This is no time for timidity.

Sonoma took a bold, daring, provocative, untried stand on those awful leaf blowers for crying out loud. Now, we have a true terror blowing dirt in our face. This is no time for timidity.

Stand up and do something, Sonoma City Council.

Hank Martinson


Cannabis tax should fix pots, weeds

Editor: With Sonoma County roads and streets in such dire condition, would it not seem appropriate to earmark tax revenues derived from the cultivation of cannabis on the March ballot to fixing Sonoma County pot holes and, perhaps, if sufficient revenues still exist, to then focus upon weed control along our streets and roads?

Tom Jenkins


Time to pull plug on hospital

EDITOR: The Sonoma Valley Hospital (SVH) and its associated emergency room are not medically necessary and are prohibitively costly. They should be closed and replaced with better medical care for fewer dollars. A fear campaign is currently being run to support Measure B on the March 7 ballot. The information being provided about SVH and its ER is incomplete and misleading at best. This is true about much of the information on the Sonoma Valley Health Care District (SVHCD) website as well.

Our local ER functions primarily as a convenient but expensive drop-in clinic for non-emergencies. True medical emergencies cannot be properly handled there. Patients with evolving heart attacks, stroke disorders, severe wounds or head or spinal injuries can get proper and timely care only when transported the extra 15 to 30 minutes to the up-to-date equipment and certified medical/surgical subspecialists that true emergencies demand. Our excellent paramedics/EMS personnel in Sonoma know to take many patients directly to Marin or Napa or Santa Rosa. Others are unfortunately delayed here before being transferred.

Most hospitals are not supported by tax monies and small town hospitals across this nation are rapidly disappearing for both medical and fiscal reasons. SVH is constantly and increasingly losing money except for being propped up by constantly increasing parcel tax money. The financials and other details are available on the website with its links. Utilization of the acute-care beds is only about 35 percent (the 27 beds in the skilled nursing facility should not be used in their statistics as they are. The nursing facility could be located anywhere in town.) The three surgical suites which share the new west wing with the ER are utilized barely 50 percent the time.

The parcel tax, which will doubtlessly be renewed on March 7, has been in place since 2002. As reported in the I-T, the Measure B parcel tax will bring in $3.85 million per year for the next five years in addition to the regular revenues from private and government insurance and donations from very well-intentioned donors. It can be used only for salaries and other operational expenses. The payroll for our small and under-utilized hospital is huge with across the board raises planned. The CEO alone now receives over $400,000 per year salary and benefits (double what the CEO of the City of Sonoma is paid). Another $1 million (over 25 percent) is spent on marketing and public relations. Other questionable expenses are for “alternative medicine” and financial support for some of the part-time Sonoma doctors. I don’t believe the Board of the SVHCD is meeting its fiduciary responsibility to the tax paying public.

The Board should phase out the hospital and take the money they now have to prompt investment by doctors and other private healthcare investors to establish an out-patient 24-hour-ER clinic, a “surgi-center” and an imaging center here in Sonoma. This is what is happening in small communities all over America. If there are extra proceeds, let them be used to support a “med-transport system” to help district citizens who need a ride to their medical appointment or to visit friends/family in the hospital.

Clayton Parson, M.D.