The Coastal Post - January, 1996

Letters Jan 96

Save Mt. Burdell

Thanks to all of you who have contributed to the Committee to Save Mount Burdell.

At this time we are waiting, hoping that the Board of Directors of the proposed Buck Center will in the near future show a willingness to have a dialogue with the citizens of Marin County.

Interestingly enough, three local newspapers who have supported the Center (the IJ, Examiner and Novato Advance) now urge the proponents/directors of the Center to show good faith by entering into a spirit of reconciliation with the main beneficiaries of Beryl Buck's trust: all of us, the people of Marin County

Despite being outspent ten to one by the Buck group, the Committee ran a very successful campaign. Unfortunately, however, we are left with some outstanding expenses which we are attempting to cover. To this end, we ask those who are able to do so to make a contribution.

Even a small check for $5-$10 will really help when added to those for $50-$100 or more. That's how we grassroots groups make itmany people doing whatever they can!

So please send your check today to: Committee to Save Mount Burdell, P.O. Box 352, Corte Madera, CA 94976.

We thank you and wish everyone a New Year that is truly happy and peaceful for all.

MARY L. PORTER

Committee to Save Mount Burdell

Mill Valley

Angie Adams Loss Felt

A very close friend of my family and a very dear friend to me passed away on October 31.

Mrs. Angie Adams probably knew me better than I know myself. My mother and Mrs. Adams were very good friends. My mother passed away on December 24, 1992.

I can remember coming home from school hearing my mother's laughter floating through the house and thinking, "Yeah, she's talking to Mrs. Adams." My mother never knew how I could tell. To be honest, I didn't really know how I knew. I just did.

Mrs. Adams was known for her delicious lemon cakes. My mother and Mrs. Adams were the only two women in the world who could bake my favorite cake (pineapple coconut) the way I liked it. I'd get one from either one of them on my birthday. That alone was a reason to celebrate being a year older. Their recipes will never be duplicated.

Mrs. Adams would take children and people down on their luck into her home and heart. She was affectionately known as "Gramme" by children and adults alike. Mrs. Adams would do anything she could to help lighten your burden. Mrs. Adams had a heart of gold and her laughter was one that, if you heard it, you couldn't help but to laugh yourself.

My deepest condolences to the Adams family. Every tear you cry is one less you'll have to cry later. So don't hold back. Believe me, you may not get over it, but you do get through it.

Mrs. Adams was as much a part of my growing up as the fog that finally arrives to cool a heat wave or the smell of eucalyptus and pine after a refreshing rain. I will miss her as well as many people in Marin City. She touched many lives with her tremendous love and generosity.

ROBERT WEBB

Marin City

Rude Bikers Spoil Hiking Experience

I have been hiking in Marin County for over twenty years. When mountain bikes first showed up, I thought they were a great idea. I had a ten-speed at that time and could not afford to buy the expensive mountain bikes.

After having many upsetting experiences with bikers on the streets and on the trails and fire roads, I stopped riding the bike except when my car was not working. The more obnoxious the bikers got, the less I wanted to be associated with them. I sold my bike and have no intention of ever getting another one. I have talked to many people who used to bike, but stopped for the same reason. Since "some" bikers create a problem, it puts a bad name on all of them.

I have noticed that on the weekends the bikers are ruder than on the weekdays, and seem to be unaware of the rules when pointed out to them and unwilling to follow them afterward. I have hiked on the weekdays as well and noticed that there are fewer bikers, and they are actually by far more courteous. This suggests to me that most of the rude weekend bikers are from outside the county.

Mrs. Livermore, who instigated the open space program and outlawed billboards and large freeway signs many decades ago, stated the loyal Marinite's belief that we have to keep this county beautiful and undeveloped. Marin County residents have developed an unusual relationship with our special county. If this were anywhere else in this country, this county would be covered with homes, billboards and massive freeways by now. The weather here has been called one of the mildest in the country by major magazines. There is a price to payhigh housing costs. We loyal Marinites except this and pay; those who do not accept this move. People from outside this county do not understand this special concern we have with our county and environment, and find our laws oppressive that govern the use of the open space, MMWD land and developing. This special devotion Marinites have for our county is one reason why I believe the mountain biking is creating so much trouble with people.

When my wife and I go hiking we are not there just for the exercise, we are there to enjoy nature. We stop to look at a doe and her baby, we stop and look at an unusual mushroom or admire a stream. We stopped once to pick up a baby ring neck snake that was in the middle of the path, so young it did not try to get away. Nature needs to be admired at a slow, quiet pace, not at a noisy 20 mph. We love this county and its beauty. I have camped and backpacked in the Sierra and lived in a country town in Sierra foothills for four years. With the exception of Yosemite, the beauty and diversity of Marin compares to no other area in this state. I do not see how bikers can be really enjoying nature and the beauty of this county rushing by at 20 mph. This is the main difference between bikers and hikers.

Bikers choose to get their exercise and recreation on a bikethey like biking. For most, this is not their transportation, but their sport. Since this country is car-oriented, there are few provisions for getting around with a bike without risking life and limb. This is a fault of our society. Bikers have to chose between the risk of getting hit by a car by driving on the street, or hitting a pedestrian riding in the hills to get their exercise. Unfortunately, the environment suffers as well. I have noticed a decline in the wildlife seen on my hikes since the popularity of mountain bikes. This could be also drought-related, but it should be clear to any biker that wildlife is not going to stick around where a fast, large machine is traveling. Would a biker stop to admire and help a baby snake? Of course not. If anything, they would have run over it. Bikers by the most part are exercising in the mountains, since it is safer than the streets, and for some, more of a challenge. I have no doubt that some bikers stop for the view and most would prefer the serenity of the mountains even if it were safe in the street. I do believe that they have not really thought about the damage they are doing, like running over and scaring animals. By the way, I see horses maybe three times a year and never have seen a horse or signs of horses on trails where they are not allowed. Bikers say that they ride on forbidden paths because it is a stupid law and that they need to get to other legal trails. Do bikers have the attitude that one should only obey laws that each person likes? If this is so, one could say that they advocate anarchy.

A solution? Maybe bikers should "go take a hike" once in awhile and see how annoying it is to have a biker come up behind you and yell "Move!", "Behind you!", or "Get out of the way!" Or to have a group of bikers riding side by side (instead of single file), nearly missing you without slowing, even though you are standing on the very edge of the fire road. Bikes do not stop for hikers (in my experience)they rush through with little or no warning, expecting you to get out of the way. Hiking is a relaxing, soothing activity that is almost like meditating. Having to suddenly jump out of the way of a bike and trying to keep your thoughts on staying out of the way of bikers, loses the serenity of hiking. This is one of the problems I see between bikers and hikers which cannot be resolved while they share paths. Luckily, there are enough hiking trails that bikers cannot go on by virtue of being too steep or rugged (since some bikers illegally use any trail they want). My wife and I do avoid trails that bikers can use, which is not fair either. Let's leave it up to the MMWD to decide.

KEVIN E. WEST

Forest Knolls

What Do We Stand For?

America's foreign policy is driven by high moral values of freedom, freedom for huge multi-national corporations to have easy access to natural resources. Freedom to make tremendous profits at the expense of local peoples and the environment. Freedom to utilize tax loopholes and pay relatively little taxes. Freedom to escape being accountable for human rights abuses committed by corrupt, strong-arm leaders getting large kickbacks for selling off precious resources at cut-rate prices.

America stands strong for principles upon which our great nation was founded. We reward the Chinese government for heinous human rights abuses against Tibetan and Chinese peoples by granting it "Most Favored Nation" trading status.

We stand strong for human rights when Nigeria murders its own people protesting environmental destruction by U.S. oil companies by not reducing our U.S. consumption of Nigerian oil by a single drop.

Blood for oil was also the issue in the Persian Gulf war, as it was in many other situations. Yet American politicians continue with the moral high road, putting the welfare of our nation ahead of all others in the world.

Politicians will campaign about basic American values again this fall, and will propose moral solutions to complex social problems. They'll speak at length about doing what's right and just. Will politicians talk about the dangerous connection between our lack of comprehensive energy policy and our foreign policy? Will they mention the moral inconsistencies of supporting, arming, training and collaborating with brutal foreign governments who happen to have resources or markets we so desire?

If we profess to uphold basic human rights, if we put economic pressure on other nations to conform, then it seems only right that America be willing to put our moneyand oilwhere our mouths are.

JOHN D. LYLE

Fairbanks, Alaska

Balance The Budget

With the holidays fast approaching and the football season in full swing, most Americans aren't paying much attention to what's going on in Washingtonor if they are paying attention, they assume it's a typical political "food fight." This debate is much, much more than that. It's a fight over a vision of America and our children's future.

Last year, Republicans campaigned on a pledge to balance the budget. The overwhelming majority of the American people want a balanced budget. And it's the right thing to dounless we change Washington, our children face a mountain of debt and a bleak future. Through some hard, sometimes messy work, we passed a balanced budget, something the pundits said would never be done. We are very proud of our work. We have fulfilled our promise to the American people.

The President will veto our bill, and that's his right. But if he disagrees with our priorities, he has an obligation to tell us his. The agreement he signed on November 20 compels him to an honest seven-year balanced budget, one that protects Medicare from bankruptcy, reforms welfare, protects veterans and national defense, and fulfills our commitment to education and a clean environment. Our budget does all these things.

Chances are you aren't aware of the reality that over the last seven years, the government spent $9.5 trillion. Over the next seven years, our budget spends $12 trilliona 26% increase. And you'll never know that the current standoff is about how much more spending the Clinton Administration wants. It is the President's job to outline his budget proposal. We're still waiting.

Our balanced budget also has lower spending and lower taxes so working families will have more take-home pay. It is the President's job to tell us how much more in taxes he wants Americans to pay.

We don't just slow the rate of growth of federal spending. We improve the current system:

MedicarePlus protects Medicare from bankruptcy, slowing the rate of growth from 10% a year to twice the rate of inflation. It offers seniors the same health care options found to everyone in the private sector, and it does not raise co-payments, deductibles, or the Part B premium rate.

MediGrant will replace Medicaid, the fastest growing entitlement in the federal budget, one that threatens bankruptcy for states and the federal government. We strip the program of its preposterous federal mandates, because we believe that states know best on how to provide health care for their poor and elderly populations. What works in Alabama will not work in New York, and Washington doesn't always know best. As simple and obvious as that sounds, it is one of the most contentious and important issues we face this year.

We follow the same approach with welfare reform. We strip the system of its destructive incentives, and put time limits on able-bodied welfare recipients so welfare can no longer be a way of life. We require work, not dependency, and free the states to provide services and benefits that emphasize personal responsibility, work and families.

We follow the same approach to job training, collapsing over a hundred duplicative and bureaucratic federal job training programs into block grants for the states.

Our pact with the President compels both sides to reach an agreement on all these issues by December 15, or parts of the government we have not reached agreement on will close downthe "non-essential" government services. We want to balance the budget and keep the government open. However, balancing the budget is our highest priority, and we must reach an agreement on that to keep the government open on December 16. We will not back down, for our future and our children's future.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact the House Republican Conference at (202) 225-5107.

JOHN BOEHNER

Chairman,House Republican Conference

JOHN KASICH

Chairman, House Committee on the Budget

Washington D.C.

Make Fathers Responsible

A week doesn't go by without news of Congressional efforts to curb teen pregnancy and reform welfare. The basic objectives of those on both sides of these correlating issues are relatively similar: reduce numbers of babies born out of wedlock to young women and adolescent girls, and stop the cycle of dependency of welfare recipients. Underlying implications of most welfare reform and efforts to reduce teen pregnancy are similar. If we just make it tough enough on young women (girls, in many cases) who, because of weak moral fiber, can't "just say no" to sex, they won't be having all these children. Sounds simple.

However, when we consider the fate of thousands of unwitting, innocent children born to young mothers, it becomes more complicated than the simplistic situation described by politicians. What about the other half of the teen pregnancy equation, the boys? We haven't heard much about the rest of the story, until now.

Recent information sheds new light on the subject. The term "boys" is, in many cases, inaccurate. Men, not boys, are often those impregnating teenage girls, men in their '20s, '30s and even '50s. This isn't teen pregnancy. It's something else.

Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole and others are pushing the Personal Responsibility Act, largely directed at unmarried mothers. Oddly, fathers are off the hook. Imagine the thickness of a book listing fathers across the United States who don't know how, where or who their children are. It might even include a few members of Congress.

While sex education is being critically examined across the country, let's also critically examine messages, burdens and guilt trips our society has given women and girls. To address this historical disparity, Katha Pollitt (The Nation, January 30, 1995) has proposed the following additions to ensure the Personal Responsibility Act applies fairly to both sexes:

1. Men fathering children out of wedlock would pay $20,000/year or 20% of their income, whichever is greater, in child support until the child reaches age 21. If he's unable/unwilling to pay, the government will. The father would be a given a workfare job with no pay and live in a dorm residence similar to those provided to homeless women and children.

2. Men fathering a second child out of wedlock would pay child support and get a vasectomy, with frozen sperm made available to father future children if he's able to support the mother and the other children. Married men fathering children out of wedlock or in sequential marriage would have the same obligations to all their children.

3. Unwed fathers would be legally compelled to spend time with their children or face charges of neglect.

4. Absentee dads, not overwhelmed single mothers, would be legally and financially responsible for crimes and misdemeanors of their minor children.

5. Since all men can father children unknowingly, men would pay an annual child support tax to support children whose paternity can't be determined. Those wishing to avoid the modest tax could have a vasectomy at state expense, with sperm frozen at personal expense (Republican version) or government subsidy (Democratic version).

Outrageous? Perhaps no more outrageous than the long-standing tradition of punishing women and girls for out of wedlock babies. If it's punishment Congress wants, they're on the right track. If they want fairness, they've a long way to go. While they're at it, they might ponder a more accurate term for teen pregnancy. No sex education curricula, welfare reform or plan to reduce numbers of teen pregnancies will be successful unless and until we go back to the chalkboard and take an honest look at the equation.

JOHN D. LYLE

Fairbanks, Alaska

Cable TV Still Lacking

It was two years ago this Friday, December 22, that I huddled in the freezing cold with about 20 new friends in front of Viacom's San Rafael office. We held makeshift signs up for a photo in a final protest against their kicking KTEH-54 off of cable systems in the North Bay. They threw the switch anyway.

Not a whole lot has changed since then. Oh, KRCG-22 has picked up a few of my favorite shows that I used to watch on KTEH. And the politicians in Washington continue to argue over something that they call "deregulation," but which looks to me like "entrenched monopoly protection" (as well as their bizarrely misguided ideas about censoring cyberspace). And my cable bill went way down when I dropped all of the premium channelsas I'd promised Viacom I would if they booted KTEH off.

Unfortunately, Viacom hasn't done nearly so well at keeping to its promises as I. We were told, back on that cold December day, that they intended to have all of Marin upgraded to something resembling a modern cable system "in two years." We still only have 37 channels in Marin (the lowest of any Bay Area system), and the supposed system upgrade hasn't shown any signs of appearing any time soon.

When our citizens' group first addressed the issue of KTEH, Viacom claimed that because they had yearly contracts with many satellite channels they could not make room to keep KTEH in the face of "must-carry" rules. However, they've now had more than two years to renegotiate any contractsand yet I still don't seem to be getting KTEH on my cable.

People should not forget Viacom's past behavior. If we ever do get true competitive cable television in Marin, perhaps they will finally pay the piper for such poor service. One can hope...

BOB BICKFORD

Co-Founder, Marin C.A.B.L.E.

Supporters

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BARBAR ZRNICH

San Rafael

We enjoy the Coastal Post. Thank you.

STANLEY & ELVIRA SHRIEBMAN

Fairfax

One year subscriptionthe rest is because the Post is necessary to a good community. You're a great crew!

VIRGINA DAVIS

Nicasio

Prop. 187, News For Americans

The local Marin rag has again told American taxpayers to "shove it" with their front page "community" news story of the Marin Maternity Services, whose main business to see that the thousands of illegal alien women living in Marin are provided free births, and then to throw that information into the faces of all legal American citizen taxpayers who voted to stop this violation of our immigration laws, and illegal use of the 14th amendment.

Would that Marin residents had a newspaper that printed news for Americans, and America, and most especially, enforcement and respect for our nation's laws.

Instead, they praise and gloat over 2,000 illegal alien women, who with taxpayer money have given birth to 2,000 more hungry mouths for America's wealth and resources. And they praise the fact that there will be more births.

When we experience another water shortage in California and have to restrict our water intake, I hope that all Marin residents will remember that 2,000 foreigners illegally in our country acerbated that shortage with the 2,000 more mouths of their children, and quite possibly the 2,000 mouths of their mates, who in all probability are in our country also illegally.

Slowly Boiling FrogsNot!, a citizens' law-abiding grassroots group based in Petaluma, denounces the IJ policy of glamorizing those who have broken our country's laws, and then further adds injury to insult to throwing it in our faces.

This two-page action bulletin has gone out to all Bay Area media (tv, radio, newspapers) and to all supporters of Prop. 187, and to Slowly Boiling FrogsNot! members.

Action request: Call 1-800-972-3524, or 1-800-962-3523, the Capitol switchboard in Washington, DC. Tell them of this latest travesty and demand that they immediately close our borders. Deport all these child-bearing illegal aliens, and their mates and offspring, back to their country of origin. Sponsor the bill that stops the misuse of the 14th Amendment allowing these criminals the rights of citizen taxpayers. And publicly censure this newspaper and others like it who glorify those who have broken our country's laws. Also contact the local news media in your area and let the know how you feel about this.

Slowly Boiling FrogsNot! educates Americans on issues that threaten the sovereignty of their country, America. For more information, contact Bette Hammond, President, at 106-C Graylawn Avenue, Petaluma, CA 94952, or call/fax 1-707-769-8138.

BETTE HAMMOND

Petaluma

Appeal For Female Pen Pal

To Mimi FarinaBread & Roses:

I am a white, 38-year-old incarcerated artist. I am doing 12 years for attempted robbery of a pharmacy. My wife has just divorced me after 10 years. I've been incarcerated for 3 years.

I'm not sure if you can help me or not, but I'd just like to have a woman I could write. I write a lotarticles, humor, opinion and illustrate my work myself. I specialized in portraits of people. Usually pen and ink or charcoal because I have no access to paints.

I'm in a pretty bad prison and we stay locked in our cells quite a bit so I have time most free artists don't have to pursue my creativity and my mind. I've taken an intense look at myself and the world I lived/live in, and feel like I could be someone somebody may be interested in corresponding with. This charge is the first charge I've ever been accused of that was violent and would allow anyone to see my criminal record. I was a professional, married with children. It's a long story, but I'm no danger to anyone and would even say that I have a very positive and healthy attitude.

But I don't know any women I could correspond with. I write a cloistered nun (really!), but she's not exactly open-minded and worldly, even though she's a saint in the making.

Thank you for hearing me out. It's irrational, but at times I feel this world in here is all there is. I have to remember that "this too shall pass." Try to respond if it's only to say you received my letter.

CARL ANTONI

#208396

P.O. Box 488 NCC

Burkeville, VA 23922-0488

Horses A Danger On Trails

While hiking the Yolanda trail on November 19, my 8-year-old daughter and I were knocked down by a rearing horse and almost trampled. Miraculously, we only suffered some minor cuts and bruises, but would have been seriously injured or killed had the hooves landed just a few inches further left.

This trail is only one to two feet wide, and our encounter with the horse occurred where the trail occupies a narrow ledge with a cliff up on the left and a cliff down on the right. My daughter and I tried to flatten ourselves against the uphill cliff to allow the horse to pass. However, the horse reared up and started kicking at us with its front hooves. We were terrified and fell backwards trying to avoid being kicked. When the horse came down, its hooves missed by daughter by inches. The rider's response to this was to yell at my daughter to stop screaming because she was scaring his horse. He then galloped off without even asking about our injuries.

I reported this to a ranger, who told me there was nothing he could do unless he had witnessed the incident. When I told a friend what had happened, she told me that in October her dog had been kicked and seriously injured by a horse near Phoenix Lake, and that a ranger had told her the same thing.

This near tragedy has terrified my daughter, and she will no longer hike with me. I have to admit that I am now also afraid of encountering horses, and no longer hike narrow trails.

My concern about horses has been limited to the mess they make and the pollution they cause. However, I'm now convinced that horses are dangerously unpredictable, and cannot safely share narrow trails with other users. Horses are not compatible with hikers, joggers and dogs, and should be prohibited from narrow trails where other users have no escape route.

BETTY THOMAS

Sausalito

The Need For A Miracle

A friend suggested to me that I just ask openly for help to have my tubes untied so I might have another baby. I thought it a ridiculous idea...akin to asking for a miracle. Why would a stranger help? Who could I ask...and how? And would the public exposure trouble me?

When my sweet Dillon was born this month a year ago, I felt that I should be sure I wouldn't become pregnant again. It was the right choice for me. I have a seven-year-old daughter, Marissa, and I'm 43 years old...still plenty of time to love and teach my new baby boy. But I didn't want to bring any more children into the world, so when Dillon was born I had my tubes tied. Dillon was beautiful, Marissa had a baby brother, there was plenty of love in my family for the both, and so I felt confident I made the right decision.

Dillon was my pride and joy. He reminded me of the joys of a newborn's first everything. And because my first child is a girl, Dillon introduced a great many firsts to me as well. My niece Ashley, standing next to me one day, suddenly found her hair getting soaked by a flying stream from my new little showoff. Dillon made the relationship between his father and me stronger than ever...both of us were proud of him, and we loved him deeply.

Forty days after his birth, Dillon died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). On the morning after Christmas last year I awoke with the feeling something was wrong. Maybe it was some special mother's sense, but I just knew something was wrong. I rushed to check him in his crib...and my heart sank. He was dead! He was only 40 days old! He was in perfect health! And suddenly he was gone! Had I done something wrong as a mother? Could I have done something to prevent his death?

Does God have a reason to take a 40-day-old infant? I spent nine months with Dillon growing inside me...we became close. For 40 more days I felt whole, and we shined together. I had questioned the wisdom of having a child at age 42. But as Dillon grew within me I could feel his spirit within me as well. My decision was made...I knew I would have, keep and love whoever was inside me.

It's been nearly a year, and I'm not close to getting over Dillon. I don't expect to, and really I don't ever want to. The time since his death has been one of pain, of questions, with no answers. I began to read a lot, and I forced myself to meet others who had suffered the same loss I had. SIDS is devastating...and people tend to bond over the wreckage. And without even realizing it was happening, I began to work at making myself a better person in my own eyes. I likely won't ever know for certain, but my heart tells me that Dillon came to me...and left...for me. Maybe to awaken my spirituality, maybe to force me to deal with what I had long considered to be personality and character flaws within me. Because no matter the purpose of his life and tragic death, I feel these events have shaped me into a much stronger and capable human being.

I now focus on myself, and I work to be the person I want to be. I have sorted through (and shed) a great deal of emotional baggage in the past year, and I am much less tolerant of others who would take advantage of me. I am stronger, I am true to myself, and I have become a much better mother to Marissa. I no longer engage in speculation over the purpose of Dillon's life...and death. But I know now that even a senseless tragedy can produce some good. I am better...because of Dillon...and I will always be thankful to God for that.

In the past year I broke up with Dillon's father, an event which was greatly hastened by Dillon's death. I am now in a new relationship with Stephan Cappello, a warm and loving man who has been a close and longtime friend. He and I would love to have a child of our own...not to replace Dillon, because he can never be replaced in my heart. But there is a void where Dillon was, and much love, hope and joy within us to be shared with a baby who would fill that void. That is our hope...to have a child of our own who can know the love that would have been Dillon's.

The cost of an operation to untie my tubes is staggering, but for us this has become a quest! So far we have raised a small portion of the cost with a benefit concert, a raffle, and by selling homemade jewelry and collage-style pictures with an angel theme (Dillon IS my angel!). But our goal is still miles away. I understand that this type of operation can cost between five and ten thousand dollars, and so far we've only raised a few hundred. Stephan is my "partner" in this endeavor...he has not yet been a father, and I know he'd be a good one! And both of us are eager to take on the challenge of bringing up a baby. We may try to adopt a baby if our efforts to raise the money should fail, but it's our greatest wish to have one of our own. And if it's God's wish that I do once more get pregnant...well, then we'll have been truly blessed!

Shortly after the Oklahoma City bombing I saw a related story which changed me. A woman had lost her two young sons in the blast. She'd had her tubes tied too. And a doctor came forward to donate to her the operation to allow her to have another baby. I cried watching, wishing it was me! I was happy, and jealous, and finally ready to ask the world for help. And so this letter goes out...hopefully to reach someone, somewhere, who might help us one day to conceive again. Maybe a doctor. Or maybe someone who could afford it comfortably and is sympathetic to our plight. Or maybe someone who knows of an organization that deals in this kind of charity. Even a loan would be like a miraculous gift. Stephan and I are both able-bodied, motivated, and serious...we'd find a way to earn the generous gift we're asking for.

It's the season of giving now, and it's hard for us to ask for such a large gift. It is like asking for a miracle. And it may be that it is just not meant to be. Right now, though, it seems right for us to try to get our story heard by as many people as possible. It seems right that I keep alive my dream that I might have a child with Stephan, and continue to follow the new direction that my "angel" Dillon has given me. No matter the outcome, I know now that "God's will" is out of my hands...and I accept that with trust and faith. If my prayers can be answered...my dreams realized...by my doing the footwork, then it will certainly be worth the effort. And if someone reading this can help us make it happen...then the miracle will have happened. Maybe our letter will inspire others to take a chance and ask for help, and not give up when something is so important to them.

May the holidays be safe and warm...and a reason to get closer for ALL. Thank you.

NADEEN NAPIER

Petaluma

Facts About Medicare Plans

When looking at the three Medicare proposals under considerationthe plan approved by Congress, the plan proposed by conservative Democrats and the President's planit is important to remember these important facts:

1. All increase Medicare spending over the next seven years.

Congress' plan would increase medicare spending for each beneficiary from $4,800 this year to $7,108 in the year 2002 while the President's plan would spend $1.68 trillionless than a 2 percent difference.

If the premium increases and the"fail safe" provision in Congress' plan were added to the conservative Democrats' plan or the President's plan, the Medicare savings achieved would be virtually the same.

2. All restructure the Medicare system by giving beneficiaries more private options.

Each of the plans would give beneficiaries more health plan choices, including the full array of coordinated care options now enjoyed by people under 65. These choices will give seniors the ability to lower their out-of-pocket costs and improve their benefits.

3. Only Congress' plans requires everyone to pay their fair share to save Medicare.

Congress' plan keeps the taxpayers' share of Medicare Part B premiums at 69 percent while the plans offered by conservative Democrats and the President would increase it to 75 percent. As a result, a second-grader would have to pay $205,222 more taxes during his or her working years under the President's plan than under Congress' plan.

BRIAN HICKEY

Healthcare Leadership Council

Washington, DC

The Power Within

So obviously Mother Nature has sent us all a great message. What message you say? Simplicity.

In the days that we were stripped of power, many of us found ourselves lost. We realized just how complicated our lives arehow frighteningly dependent we are on our kazillion modern "conveniences."

With a flip of a switch we get light; with the pressing of a few buttons we get dinner, coffee, entertainment, even company.

On the evening of Monday, December 11, Mother Nature/God/the Universal Consciousness, began screaming at us. "Simplicity! Simplicity! Simplicity!" she roared, tearing off roofs and knocking down trees with her angry breath.

The storm mysteriously, unwittingly catapulted us back in time...before electrical lighting, before electrical heat, before television, before blow dryers, before the almighty microwave.

I ask you fellow Marinites: How much did you value fire? How much did you value family and true friends?

Yes, being stripped of our power indeed made us humble. Can we stay that way?

Let us take it to heart that all this has happened just in time for the Holidays.

Perhaps we can all get it right this year.

The things that really matter in life do not require electricity.

The power within, Love, is all we need.

PAULA JOY VILLANUEVA

Mill Valley

Citizens For Cannabis

To all freedom-loving Americans, my name is Thomas Robert Owens. It is my intention to be the 43rd President of the United States. I am a Vietnam-era veteran, a Merchant Marine Master, and a nurse in a nursing home.

I am 40 years old and have been married for 19 years and have seven children. The future of America is utmost in my mind, for all our sakes. Our founding fathers original intent was for each white male, 21 and older, to have a voice in his government. "Of the people, by the people, and for the people." We have made great strides by expanding this idea to include all women and men, 18 years and older, all races, creeds and colors.

We are not being properly represented by our elected officials, when Political Action Committees can spend millions of dollars convincing the greedy to join whatever programs suit their best interests. I am a member of the International Longshoreman's Association, the Bakers' Confectioners', and Tobacco Workers' Union. Labor unions, the middle class, and the working poor have been subject to a merciless onslaught from federal, state, local governments, corporate America, and foreign interests. Workers need to be secure in their livelihoods and retirements.

With today's technology we can give every voter access to his/her own voting machine at home or nearby, like ATMs, in order to have a voice on every issue. This true democracy will create such pressure on legislators and P.A.C.s that the laws they will write will be purposeful to the majority.

It is the government's duty to provide and maintain services; not to dictate morality. We have the numbers to make a big change and create a sense of freedom and security that has been lost along the way.

CAPT. THOMAS R. OWENS

Wesley Chapel, Florida

Marin General Hospital Tale

The name of this tale is "The little county that didn't" or "It could never happen here."

Once upon a time there was a little California county called Orange County, which was known as an upscale political entity. Does that sound familiar?

Orange County believed that it and its fellow counties were each facing a financial dilemma because of perceived reductions in revenue. Sound familiar?

The Board of Supervisors, the governing body of the little county, never took any independent steps, or made any independent investigations, of ways to solve this dilemma. Sound familiar?

The Pipers together with their little helpers, a County Officer and his friends, presented glib speeches and fancy charts extolling the supposed wonderful and unlimited virtues of derivatives, the financial miracle that would be the county's financial savior. Sound familiar?

However, neither the Pipers, the County Officer, nor any of the other little helpers ever revealed to the Board the very real financial risks of derivatives. Such non-disclosure would never happen here.

The Board never made its own investigation either, but did receive many clear warnings of these risks from local citizens. Sound familiar?

But, alas, the Board ignored these warnings and dismissed those citizens as being "kooks" or alarmists. Sound familiar?

Well, as fate would have it, the Pipers and their minions were wrong, the kooks were right and the County ended up in the bankruptcy tank. See any connection here?

The bankrupt County drastically cut back vital services to its citizens who were so distrustful of the Board that they refused to approve any tax measures that might help to alleviate the current fiasco. See any relevance here?

Now all that's left while the County financially burns is a lawsuit against the Pied Pipers and the County Officersa closing of the barn doors after the cows have escaped. Will that be this District's fate as well?

The moral of this little tale: It's nice to trust, but prudent to verify and a negligent district and its hospital are eventually parted.

ALLAN BLAU

Mill Valley

Weapons Ban A Failure

A recent study by Handgun Control, Inc. proves the Clinton-Feinstein so-called "assault" weapons ban to be an abject failure.

In the period of 1994 through September 1995, according to the HCI study, 36% of police officers killed were slain with guns banned by the Feinstein-Clinton gun ban.

In the decade 1984-1993, not more than 3% of slain officers were killed by attackers armed with banned arms, according to the FBI and the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

If HCI's study is correct, the Clinton-Feinstein gun ban HCI supported has brought an astonishing 1,200% increase in such police killings.

FIELDING GREAVES

San Rafael

Why I'm Running As A Third Party Candidate

Both parties have agreed to cutting entitlements programs which I think should not be cut.

The cuts are an assault on the health, lives and livelihoods of millions of people. The cuts are defended with lies, by people bought and paid for by corporate America.

The legislation is more than an attack on welfare, food stamps, Medicare and Medicaid. It is an attack on union jobs, liveable wages, decent housing, public education, safe workplaces and the environment. It is an attack on civil rights, women's rights and the rights of immigrant workers.

A vote for me and the Peace and Freedom Party is your chance to express your opposition to what the corporation-controlled government is doing.

My platform:

StateA state law to increase the minimum wage to $7 an hour. Jobs not jails. Parole non-violent criminals. Save $27,000 per release annually.

Oppose Proposition 199. Keep rent protection for residents in mobile home parks.

Repeal Proposition 187. Amnesty for all undocumented immigrants.

Defend affirmative action.

FederalAbolish NAFTA. Too many runaway factory jobs.

Workers right to get their jobs back after a strike.

No cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, welfare and Social Security

Cut 200 billion dollars from the military budget.

Save 300 billion dollars by postponing interest payments to banks.

100% tax on income over $100,000.

Tax corporations based on corporation profits.

COLEMAN C. PERSILY

Candidate-Sixth Assembly District

(Marin and Sonoma Counties)

San Rafael

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