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Letters to the Editor:

Dear Mr. Lee Cohn, Editor:

I speak as a former teacher/employee of California Department of Corrections {CDC}, and after reading Tom Elias’ column, “Prison Hospital Demand is Far Too High” in your Dec. 4 to Dec.12, 2008 edition, I was compelled to write a Letter to the Editor.

If the doctors who run the “medical center” located in the prison were to practice Preventative Medicine and the prison system changed their policy and procedures that permit an inmate to see a doctor without being penalized if that inmate has school or his job assignment during the day when the Doctor is in, inmates’ overall health could quite possibly improve.

The other part of the solution would be for CDC to pay their Doctors etc. a competitive pay, so CDC could attract qualified medical professionals who are interested in making a career out of practicing medicine at state prisons.

When I was with CDC, its practice of offering low salary ended up attracting either unqualified doctors or doctors who would not be with CDC for a long-term. Both factors contributed to a high turnover.

With those few changes CDC would not need to build multi-billion dollar hospitals for inmates only. Instead, some of the money saved could be put into having mandatory exercise routines {three days a week}, improving inmates meals and providing foods that would meet the required daily nutrition levels set out by the United States Government.

Then with the remaining money, which California really doesn’t have to begin with, services for citizens, disabled, county hospitals and education could benefit, because hopefully, their budgets would not have to be cut to build multi-billion dollar hospitals for inmates only.

When I was a teacher, at Wasco State Prison, Valley Rose Adult School, 45 minutes northwest of Bakersfield from 1996 to 1999. I often had a problem with an inmate/student who was obviously very sick, but came to school anyways because he did not have an excused, “E” Day, ducat.

On numerous occasions, I called the appropriate health office and told them that I had an inmate who was obviously very sick and needed to see a doctor.

I was always told that unless the inmate/student had an ducat for an excused absence, “E” Day, he would get an “A” Day, unexcused absence if he chose to see the doctor and not attend school.

My memory tells me, that the only way an inmate could get a ducat was to see a doctor, however, if student/inmate went to the doctor who was only available during the hours the inmate/student was in school the inmate could be penalized by receiving an “A” Day that adds to their Sentence.

Inmates/students first doctor visit costs an inmate $5.00 which most of my student/inmates did not have, because they were in school and did not have a job that paid them anywhere from .09 cents an hour to .21 cents per hour. Often, I heard from inmates/students that the doctor they saw only told them to take aspirin and drink lots of water.

As a result, if an inmate/student chose to be absent from school he would receive an “A” day, unexcused absence. Depending on the inmates Sentence, having an “A” day on their record would add a day to his Sentence rather than earning a day off his Sentence by attending his school assignment.

Odds are pretty good, that this system still operates regarding inmates who complain of illnesses.

School was year round, Monday through Friday for 6.5 hours daily. The exception was paid legal holidays and on weekends when the Education Department was closed.

Sheila Finley

Santa Monica

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Dear Editor Cohn:

The objection to consideration of the veteran’s resolution at the California Democratic Party Executive Board (12/04/08 Daily Mirror online) had nothing to do with political pressure and everything to do with having both sides of an issue being heard. The resolution was late and the Committee received information from the VA and from Congressman Waxman’s office that raised some questions about the substance of the resolution. I was also informed by Party staff that one of the authors of the resolution was not willing to amend the resolution to see if common ground could be reached (which is his absolute right to do). Given this, my co-chairs and I felt the issue would best be decided by having both sides of the issue represented at our State Convention, when a few thousand delegates instead of a few hundred executive board members could decide the issue. No prejudice will result from this delay. Had the resolution been timely filed it would have been considered but most likely would have been continued to the Convention anyway. I received no political pressure to do anything on this resolution. In fact, the State Party Chair, Art Torres, was a co-sponsor!

I have long been a supporter of Veteran’s rights and my inclination is to vote for this resolution when it comes before the Committee in April. Westside L.A. powerbrokers and elected officials won’t change my mind unless they can rebut the arguments in the resolution on their merits. I support veterans but I also support a fair fight and the right of the Democratic Party to have both sides of a contested issue being heard.

John Hanna

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I would like to commend you for publishing Marissa Miller’s letter (SMMIRROR Dec 4-10) regarding Father’s Office. Having enjoyed this bar for over two decades, I was shocked and appalled to read about the rude treatment endured by Marisa’s celiac friend when she tried to order a burger without the bun.

The Father’s Office manager in question needs to consider that almost one in every hundred Americans suffers from this serious debilitating disease. These celiacs must avoid consuming gluten (wheat, oats, rye and barley) at all times. This is, of course, especially difficult when eating out and food establishments should be in business of supporting, not undermining, such medically-prescribed diets.

The manager should consider following the excellent example set by such worthy local eateries as P.F. Chang’s and Houston’s where celiacs are welcomed rather than scorned.

Until she does, I, for one, will not be returning to Father’s Office.

Thank you again for shedding light on this important issue.

Daniel Gilbertson.

Santa Monica (Sunset Park)

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To the Editor:

The election of Robert Kronovet to the Rent Control Board should be a source of great concern to all Santa Monicans who recognize that affordable housing is a human right. Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights-endorsed candidates Joel Koury (Rent Control Board incumbent) and Christopher Braun both embodied this belief. During the campaign, Mr. Kronovet repeatedly called into question the leadership that Mr. Koury has shown during his first term on the Board by accusing him of protecting the rights of people not worthy of such safeguards. At the public candidates’ debate, Mr. Kronovet insulted the vast number of people covered by rent control, who would be forced out of our community but for our modest rent protections, when he referred to them as people who know how to abuse the system. In addition, Mr. Kronovet appeared to adopt a page from the Republican Party playbook by contending that these same people – individuals on fixed-incomes and others most in need of stable, affordable housing – are a collective “special interest” group that needs to be stopped. In light of Mr. Kronovet’s proud support of the Republican Party and its deregulation agenda, this should not come as a surprise.

Santa Monica has changed a great deal over the past generation; but not to such an extent that long-term members of our community do not deserve a reasonable level of government regulation/protection through rent control. We should closely scrutinize Mr. Kronovet’s actions during his coming term in office.

Scott T. Johnson

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I have cats, and obviously I don’t want them eaten by coyotes – and when it becomes common to see them in Mar Vista, perhaps then it’s time to take some action. But northern Santa Monica is very close to wild spaces, so I do think those neighbors can probably learn to co-exist with, and not become unrealistically fearful of coyotes. While the commenter suggesting the complaining person referred to in the article go live on the moon may have said it in a witty way, I don’t think it’s very helpful. All Angelenos living near edges of wild spaces, and especially pet owners and parents of small children do have good reason to be concerned, and need to become as educated as possible about the issue and very aware and very cautious. There is not a character called Wily E. Coyote for no good reason! Thank you.

Lola Terrell

Los Angeles

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Celebrating the Human Rights Declaration

The United Nations General Assembly Proclaimed, in 1948:

This Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member states themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

On December 10, 1948, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was a defining moment for the world and for then First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Chairperson of the U.N. Commission that developed the Declaration.

This landmark Declaration, born out of the Human Rights catastrophe of World War II, has become one of the world’s most important documents, alongside the Magna Carta and the U.S. Bill of Rights. Although translated into over 300 languages, it is, unfortunately, still unknown to many.

The Universal Declaration became a beacon of hope, spawning Human Rights as a revolutionary movement worldwide. In its 30 Articles, the Universal Declaration spells out basic rights that all humans are born with. Former Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali articulated the underlying philosophy on Human Rights Day, 1992: “Full human dignity means not only freedom from torture, but also freedom from starvation. It means freedom to vote as it means the right to education. It means freedom of belief as it means the right to enjoy all rights without discrimination. And true development requires a solid basis of democracy and popular participation.”

While the Declaration spells out these basic Human Rights, it was only with the passage and ratification of various conventions, treaties and covenants that they were given the force of international law.

Our country has yet to ratify the conventions on the Rights of Women and the Rights of the Child, the Law of the Sea, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, nor the Convention on the Rights of the Disabled or treaties banning land mines and cluster bombs. We are one of very few nations that have not ratified the Kyoto Accords on the environment and the International Criminal Court. Ratification does not guarantee compliance, but it does provide the legal basis for enforcing basic human rights.

In celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, let us hope that the new administration will continue the tradition of Eleanor Roosevelt and set an example of leadership on Human Rights issues; banning torture and rendition and closing Guantanamo is a good start.

Irving Sarnoff

Santa Monica

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Dear Editor:

Re: Coyote Ugly?

By Nick Fuller Googins

December 4-10, 2008

Jennifer Donat, I feel your fur fear. This past Saturday morning around 6:15 a.m. (12/6/09) I was walking my dog, Dolly down fourth street grooving to my tunes when out of the corner of my eye I spotted what I thought was a stray dog on Marguerita. It took my brain seconds to realize it was no canine. It was a coyote and it was coming straight at me and my pitbull/cocker spaniel mix. At the sight of the coyote, Dolly froze. No barking, no show of teeth. She tucked her tail between her legs, her eyes telegraphing “danger, Will Robinson.”

At one with Jennifer’s daughter Brianna, I screamed like a nine-year-old, “NO!” I’ve lived in Santa Monica for over thirty years and never felt the need to carry protection. I had no mace and not much space between me and the not-so-calm looking Wolfman Jack. It keep advancing and retreating as I continued to scream. I looked around for anything to scare it off and picked up a rubber band bound copy of the Santa Monica Mirror. I wielded it like a sword as I slowly backed up, crossed fourth street and headed east on Marguerita. I walked backwards and keep on screaming which seemed to slow the wild thing down.

As I was walking backwards it occurred to me that I had been screaming bloody murder and not one of the rich folks who inhabit the neighborhood bothered to see what all the fuss was about. If a person screams in the middle of the street and no one responds: is it still called a neighborhood? I could have been mauled on Marguerita without the pleasure of having one the rocks.

Unlike most Santa Monicans, I don’t have a cell phone glued to my ear or I would have called 911 and cried wolf! I made it safely to 7th and Marguerita, SM Mirror in hand. I’m glad I didn’t have to use it on the coyote that obvious has a taste for the finer streets in life.

Valerie Scott

Santa Monica

Editor’s Note

Valerie: We at the Mirror are glad you found yet another useful purpose for our publication.

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