The Coastal Post - December, 1996

Election Retrospective

BY JOAN REUTINGER

The election was a mixed bag as far as the Coastal Post was concerned. Clinton, a Democrat, was re-elected, but the Republicans still held both Houses of Congress, although the Democrats made some gains. And the biggest blow of all was that Dotty LeMieux went down in defeat. Now the paper will deal with Steve Kinsey, whom Dottie called pro-development, but who insists he's not.

We're happy that the pot bill passed. Perhaps it had something to do with the Attorney General's action in closing down the marijuana club in San Francisco.

And we can see nothing but trouble since Prop 209 passed. Maybe it passed because it was worded in such a way that nobody could understand it. The "Civil Rights Initiative?" Already, opposing lawsuits have been filed against it, but Governor Wilson issued an executive order requiring state officials to implement Prop 209 immediately. Student protests promptly flared at San Francisco State College, and the University of California campuses at Berkeley and Santa Cruz. Opponents of this bill will be glad to know Prop 209 lost in Marin County by 10,000 votes. It reminds me of the immigration Measure 187, which passed statewide but lost in Marin.

Lynn Woolsey won her race easily and will be a welcome relief in Congress, because she adds one vote to the Democratic minority. Mazzoni and Burton won their races for state office, Mazzoni in the Assembly and Burton in the Senate.

The California League of Conservation Voters said the big winner was the environment. Sam Schuchat, executive director, said, "Tuesday's results show that environmental issues and environmental candidates are clear winners with California voters. Californians sent a strong message to Sacramento and Washington that we will not stand for elected officials who try to roll back the environmental laws that protect our families and our communities."

"Pringles' loss of the speakership (to Bustamante, the first Hispanic to hold that office), should also dramatically change the direction of the California Coastal Commission, which oversees protection of the state's oceans and beaches. Last session, Pringle outraged environmentalists by appointing two new members to the Commission who had been charged with violating the laws the Commission was created to enforce. The new Speaker will immediately be able to replace four of the Commission's 12 members, restoring a pro-environmental majority."

But the biggest upset of all was the Marin General Hospital Board. The Marin Safe Healthcare Coalition triumphed by electing Linda Remy of Belvedere, and the well-known consumer advocate, Sylvia Seigel of Mill Valley. And we voted out two former doctors-Drs. Larry Bedard and Paul Lofholm-because of conflict of interest. They were recalled, the first time anyone on the Marin General Hospital District Board has been recalled in this writer's memory. Dr. Diana Parnell was reelected to a second four-year term, along with Suzanna Coxhead and Valerie Bergmann. This will make an all-female board.

The first thing that Remy and Siegel did was to vow to make the beleagued board a truly public body, to be more responsive to the community than past directors. Coxhead concurred with this more open attitude. For one thing, the new directors vowed to have monthly instead of quarterly meetings.

Nancy McCarthy, who used to be on the board, and has long been a critic of the way the hospital is run, said, "I worked for over a year and a half to get this majority on the board. There isn't a person who's happier."

She also said this is a profitable hospital, and consequently the people who give to the hospital foundation, who think they are giving to a new emergency room, or a pediatric unit, are wasting their money, because the hospital doesn't really need it.

Nancy said that the new board faces challenges such as the psychiatric unit, or Unit A, which has been cut drastically, and the low nursing-to-patient ratio, which has led to all sorts of complaints.

But she said the real challenge to nonprofit hospitals is that the trend seems to be to sell them to for-profit hospitals. She says she'd fight if there were an attempt to sell this hospital without a vote of the people. On 60 Minutes, she said when sales come up top administrators make millions.

Nancy McCarthy said the real challenge to the board will come in two years. The election that time may remove Sylvia Siegle, who will be up for the reelection, and that would be dire news for the board.

Marin General is now owned by Sutter/CHS, the second largest health care provider in Northern California.

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