The Coastal Post - September, 1995

Letters Sept 95

Car Sales Savvy

The Federal Trade Commission for the first time ever charged a consortium of car dealers with restraint of free trade for retaliating against the San Jose Mercury News by withdrawing a million dollars in advertising because the newspaper printed a consumer-friendly story on negotiating fair dealer profits on new car deals. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that the San Francisco Chronicle printed this New York Times-bylined, newswire story at all under the unstated dealers' threat.

New car consumers are alerted to the traditions of unfair, manipulative and fraudulent sales and service practices used by this industry to milk inflated profits from America's friends and families for decades. Flipping and turning, grounding, double dipping, lemon laundering, lowballing, undisclosed defects and damage repairs, curb-stoning, invoice tampering, unchecked profit-creep built into manufacturer's invoices, milking profits through the sale of unnecessary items and services, such as rust-proofing, "regional advertising," floor mats, and extended warranty coverage during the normal warranty period, dishonored warranties, and a myriad of other ploys and ruses used in the car sales and service industry to cheat the American consumer out of billions of dollars annually. Christ! Even Sears systematically cheated its automotive service customers by charging for services not rendered, overcharging for services rendered, and selling unneeded services. This shabby history of sham is what the dealers in San Jose don't want customers to know, and what the newspaper editors aid and abet by watering down or hiding industry-critical stories in the back pages of their publications, if they get printed at all.

Consumers can put a dent in profit creep and price gouging on new car deals by negotiating the manufacturer's profit, as well as the dealer's profit, for the dealer's five minutes of often sloppy paperwork on all new car deals, including so-called value priced and no-dicker deals. Car manufacturers are posting record profits. To exercise a legitimate consumer pricing force in the marketplace new car consumers should start by offering the dealer 1/4 to 1/3 less (more on luxury models) than the manufacturer's invoice price to the dealer (available from new-car pricing services such as Consumer Reports, AAA and others), and walking away until the dealer calls begging the customers to take one of the inanimate shiny thin tin, plastic and glass objects piling up in inventory on the dealers' sales lot.

Since the automobile sales and service industry is unable or unwilling to police itself in its own best interest, consumers should demand of their state and national representatives the enactment of "Fair Car Sales and Service Practices Acts," at state and nation all levels to protect our families from unchecked profit creep, price gouging and unfair, manipulative and fradulent sales and services in this industry. Consumer protection is good for business in a consumer-driven economy.

Buying a new car? Save yourself the aggravation and buy a bicycle instead!

Cheers and happy motoring, America.

RAND KNOX

San Rafael

Life-Threatening Cutbacks

I did not die, as Nancy Lehman did at Boston's Dana-Faber Cancer Institute, but I came dangerously close to it on July 25 at Marin General Hospital, from an overdose of magnesium during a chemotherapy treatment. This was due to a mistake in the pharmacy department. If it were not for two "guardian angels," my daughter who just happened to be there and observed my seizures, and a highly qualified oncology nurse who responded appropriately, I would not be here to write this letter. Ironically, this RN who has had around six years of oncology experience, was a victim of the recent nursing cutbacks at Marin General Hospital, and is now hired on a per diem basis, therefore has no benefits. She was not working in the oncology section when these events took place, but just happened to be passing through on her lunch break. My daughter ran into her when she was frantically looking for help and grabbed her, since she is a friend of the family.

I strongly disagree with Dr. Robert MacInnes, medical director of quality management, who maintains that the new team system will not increase risk to patients, nor affect the quality of care. I have been in and out of Marin General many times this past year and can testify that the quality keeps going down each time that I am there. The beds are not now routinely changed each day, and food is poorly prepared. All this I can live with. However, when my life is at risk due to cutbacks, where a qualified RN is stretched so thin that she may not be able to respond to an emergency situation, this is unforgivable.

Is Marin getting like Sicily, where you must bring you own linen, food and family members to care for you?

TORI HAFER

Corte Madera

Call For Public Forum

To Larry Bedard, MD, Chair, Marin Hospital District Board

I have received numerous letters and calls regarding the closure of the psychiatric inpatient services at Marin General Hospital. Physicians, staff, patients and many people in the community are very concerned about this issue.

I am requesting that you call a special public forum to receive input from the community regarding this issue before the next District Board meeting. Appropriate hospital administration should be invited to participate in this meeting. Notice of this meeting should be consistent with that of the District Board meetings.

DIANA D. PARNELL, MD. Vice-Chair

Marin Hospital District

Greenbrae

Sympathy For The Devil

Wondering what motivates the "gun control" people, I have concluded that it is the haunting fear that some ordinary citizen may be hindering an honorable, enterprising thug in the orderly practice of his profession.

LUKE ASBURY

Mill Valley

Voices In Support Of The Seniors' Coalition

Most older Americans are unaware that Medicare is in danger of financial collapse. I urge you to run stories alerting senior citizens in our community about this crisis.

Congress must not "fix" Medicare as they have in the past. Simply cutting spending in Medicare will lead to rationing.

I support the position of The Seniors' Coalition to give me the option of innovative free market choices in health care, or allow me to stay on Medicare if I want. to. Please call their Washington office at 1-800-273-9009 for more information on their solution to the crisis.

CLIFFORD R. THIEL

Petaluma

FRANK PEPPER

Bolinas

Basically, Medicare needs to convert to HMO coverage.

JOHN KERBY-MILLER

Kentfield

Concessionaire Forced Out

The management of Marin General Hospital has no shame. Richard McClean, Cafe ChocoLatte owner who leased space at MGH, made a success of his concession. Now the hospital wants it, refusing to honor their verbal agreement that there would be no problem renewing his lease, which expired in April.

NORMAN CARRIGG

Hospital OK

Many of the criticisms of Marin General Hospital which have appeared in these letters, including some from people with personal axes to grind or who have never even been an MGH patient, make me furious.

I'm in a good position to comment on the quality of patient care at Marin General, since I have been an overnight patient eight times in the past two years and therefore have had first-hand experience with the service in many hospital departments.

Not only has my personal care from the admissions clerks to the night nurses always been prompt, professional and compassionate, but the treatment of my various "roommates" has also been outstanding. Nurses have come by to change IVs regularly and we've seldom needed to use the call button. Not one person has had a complaint about the medical care at MGH in my presence.

Marin General is an excellent hospital. We're fortunate to have it and I hope no one will hesitate to use it if they need it. Take it from someone to knows. Although I was a volunteer for many years, I have no financial connection to the hospital whatsoever. I simply want to applaud the dedicated, conscientious work by the vast majority of MGH staff who are busy caring for patients and not writing letters to the paper.

JUNE GUERIN

Greenbrae

Short-Sighted

Thank you for your editorial of August 1, "The Real Menace." A subscriber of yours, a friend of mine who knows I hold your views, sent me a clipping of your piece. For love of country, the saddest part of the international capitalism menace is that those who profit from it cannot see that ultimately they have most to lose on account of its inherent self-destructiveness.

Keep going!

DAVID PIEL

Carson City

Keep Shrinks, Lose Puppets

Last month I wondered why the people who run Marin General should not depart. I am convinced that the departure of Henry J. Buhrmann and his puppets must happen soon.

The local district hospital is in shambles. Services have been and are being cut. Care is less than ever.

We are about to lose the psychiatric service. Better that we lose the current management.

Jamie Phillips

San Rafael

Dental Help Found

Six years ago after many physical problems and months of trying to find answers, I was given, by my acupuncturist, an article on the dangers of amalgam fillings. He said, "I think we may have found your problem."

I spent weeks trying to find a dentist in Marin to listen to me and take my problem seriously. One insisted that I must be tested to see if I was allergic to mercury. After being sent to Marin General medical lab and being shuffled from person to person, I was told that there is no accurate way to test for it. My dentist then refused to remove all my amalgam. After speaking to several others, their only solutions were to replace my many amalgams with gold costly, timely and not very effective (some people are allergic to gold also).

I was desperate to get the amalgam out of my mouth, but finding a supportive and sympathetic dentist was a real problem. With luck, I finally was put in touch with J.P. Dahler in Concord. Dr. Dahler had been practicing "mercury-free" dentistry for many years. He is also a professional Nutrition Consultant, specializing in balancing body chemistry. After an initial exam and consultation, I scheduled a return visit to have all 13 of my amalgam fillings removed and replaced with a special composite filling. The procedure was fast, painless and I immediately felt better. I had always been ill after amalgam fillings and had thought I was allergic to the Novocaine. But, no problems with Dr. Dahler.

I urge people who feel they have a problem and are not being supported by their dentist to call Dr. Dahler at 415-672-8787. He is affordable, very well informed on the subject and well worth the drive to Concord. He sees patients from all over the U.S.

I was told by other dentists that the composite fillings wouldn't hold up for long and would need to be replaced often. It's been six years and I have only had one or two fillings that were very large need to be fixed or replaced. My health is better and I will never put amalgam in my mouth (or my children's) again. Dr. Dahler was also extremely reasonably priced for the work he did.

I hope that this information may help some of those that are suffering from mercury problems. The symptoms and problems are many and can be very much a health problem. There is a solution get the amalgam out of your mouth, now! Dr. Dahler can help changed your life.

PAT LATIMER

Pt. Reyes Station

Depression Not Just In The Mind

Stephen Simac in his July article on suicide completely ignores the biochemical aspects of depression. When he says: "If the depressed person can look up from the mirror and really see others, not just their projection, they will feel less lonely. If they express their anger in healthy and direct ways, they will feel less rage. If they learn how they can help other people, they will feel less despair," he makes a fine and dandy argument.

If a depressed person's brain chemistry is imbalanced and the neurotransmitters in the brain aren't transmitting nerve impulses from one nerve cell to another, then without medication for that person, Simac's advice seems to me naive, ignorant and frivolous.

Depression is a biological disorder. Just like a sufferer of diabetes needs insulin to live, some sufferers of depression need medication to stay alive.

KEITH BRAMSTEDT

San Anselmo

Poor Not To Blame

This letter addresses one Gary Jordan's screed of August 1 in the Coastal Post concerning the St. Vincent de Paul Free Dining Room on B Street in San Rafael, and his sanctimonious proffering that our Board should "ideally" relocate to the San Rafael Canal industrial area, to presumably help revitalize the downtown neighborhood.

Has it not occurred to Mr. Jordan that the difficulties of many of America's (if not the western world's) downtown merchants has more to do with the convenience, availability of goods and price structures of our modern shopping centers than with any blight on the landscape purportedly caused by homeless persons? A minority of these rejected individuals are probably addicted to chemical substances, some may be lazy. But, dear reader, isn't this the way it is in any field of American society?

Many acquaintances of mine have over recent years declared that they, because of a few minutes of over-zealous shopping in downtown San Rafael, found themselves rewarded with a $14 parking meter ticket and would, from now on, take their business to friendlier climes. This punitive, if not stupid, policy of enforcing parking privileges may have something to do with shopper disaffection. In any case, for what particular reason do we enjoy free two-hour parking in the business district during the Hannukah-Christmas buying spree?

Our economy, having mercifully become "global," whereby products we use daily are manufactured by foreigners at roughly one-tenth of our own national survival wage, is able to keep inflation under control. That's very gratifying news, and most of us are indirectly guilty of enjoying the free ride. However, the flip side to this blissful state of affairs is that many of our own workers have found themselves to have excess-baggage in a whirlwind of corporate takeovers they perhaps ill understand. They are the victims, not the cause, of retail readjustments. This has little to do with their work ethic or capability. I have personally met many administrators in the public sector with neither the skills nor the energy to put in a productive day's work in the private sector, yet they proceed unimpeded attending worthless meetings and building fat pension plans, while offering precious little to the local business community. It may be argued that some of our "public servants" are the real excess baggage.

Mr. Jordan needs to accept the fact that most of the clients of St. Vincent's Dining Room are downtown residents and taxpayers. They live in the hotels and rooms above the downtown businesses. Downtown is their neighborhood, just as mine is Santa Venetia or some other resident's might be Terra Linda or Tiburon. To equate our charitable society's mission with the Canal area serves no useful purpose other than offending the many volunteers who have helped us serve over one million quality meals to the temporarily impecunious for the last 13 years.

The reason why so many Latinos are arriving, just as some years ago so many Poles, Irish, Jews and Italians, among others, is a matter for historians to debate; but the facts are begging the question: If the fourteen or so families who own all of El Salvador would kindly share some of the goods with their own indentured populace, and then spread the enlightened news to the rest of Mexico and Central America, maybe the wretched could find solace in their own land and make our workday easier at St. Vincent de Pauls' Dining Room.

MICHAEL VENABLES

St. Vincent de Paul Society

District Council of Marin

San Rafael

Wide Appeal

I love your paper! It is the best in all of California and probably the world! I love especially Jim Powers' and Mark Van Proyen's articles they are the best writers of the whole Coastal Post (they should write the whole paper). I'm 11 years old and I thank you for making the Coastal Post not only for adults but for everyone.

JENN PLECAS

Bolinas

Peters Gets Raise, Psych Clinic Gets Ax

Mr. Peter's "crocodile tears" over the plight of taxpayers who need psychiatric care in the County is really infuriating.

This is the same Mr. Peters who campaigned statewide against Proposition 187. Who do you think can pay the bills? Mr. Peters, with the blessing of the Board of Supervisors, closed down the medical clinic in San Rafael for lack of funds.

This clinic supplied medical care to the middle-class taxpayer who could not afford private medical insurance, the homeless people and veterans.

Mr. Peters cut back the Public Health Nursing Visits to the senior citizens in their homes. These nurses rendered very necessary preventative health care, kindness and compassion.

Mr. Peters established a maternity clinic in San Rafael which has encouraged hundreds of illegal pregnant women to come to the County with the resulting tax burden for AFDC, food stamps, medical care, low-cost housing, crime and drugs. The cost is in the millions.

This reader does not think the Board of Supervisors and Mr. Peters acted in the best interest of the taxpayer. Their overwhelming benevolence is admirable only when they personally are paying the bills.

The plight of the mentally ill and their families is a disgrace. The board, instead of giving Mr. Peters an 11% raise, should find someone who will be more responsible to the taxpayer and the Board of Supervisors should be more diligent in their job. They are getting well paid, and indeed not doing a very good job.

CATHERINE DAVIS, RN

San Anselmo

Objects To Greaves

Will someone please muzzle Fielding Greaves, Marin County's chief right-wing nut? This guy is full of venom.

In trying to put some sense into the Waco mess investigation, Leon Panetta is "a shameless liar."

The NRA wants FBI and BATF "purged of thugs."

Certain columnists of San Francisco newspapers are "ignorant of facts."

That Judge Greenberg, being "unacquainted with facts" is "appalling...astonishing."

The Chronicle's and Examiner's refusal to print correction of Greenberg's disinformation is "dishonest, disgraceful, reprehensible."

The media display "professorial ignorance" of weapon history when they refuse to buy into Greaves theory that repeat firing and semi-automatic weapons existed back in 1661.

The suggestion that the Founding Fathers (when they wrote the 2nd Amendment) were ignorant of firearm technology is "preposterous."

It is "shameful" local newspapers are bent in their "virulent anti-gun bigotry."

Assemblyman John Burton is "pulling political chicanery" in trying to ban cop killer bullets. This shows how "weird anti-gun charlatans" are. John Burton is the "klutz he's always been."

Please shut off this guy's water. You needn't print everything he passes.

JOHN F. SAIZ

Sausalito

No Voter Fraud

In your July issue, Bob Koch's letter makes some serious allegations about voter fraud, supposedly perpetrated, or at least, condoned by liberal activists.

Since he offers no evidence that such has actually occurred, I contacted Marin County Clerk Howard Hanson to see if any voting irregularities had been reported to the authorities. Mr. Hanson said that there have been no complaints for several years, since an incident concerning a single individual was investigated.

The unfounded statements contained in the above-mentioned letter may tend to undermine the public's faith in the integrity of the voting system and therefore do a disservice to all citizens.The vote is the cornerstone of American democracy and must be protected at all times.

If any persons have evidence of voter fraud, it should be reported immediately to the office of the Registrar of Votes at the Marin Civic Center. The League of Women Voters would also be interested in pursuing any cases of suspected voter fraud.

AILENE S. TAYLOR

San Rafael

7:Greenbrae

San Rafael

New Subscriber

ineer and businessman who has also been politically active with Hama!

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