The Coastal Post - March, 1998

PR Mar 98

Disaster Assistance Programs

Recovery Times, a newsletter published by state and federal disaster relief officials, is on its way to Californians impacted by the El Nino '98 storms.

The Governor's Office of Emergency Service and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said more than 400,000 copies will be distributed in flood-ravaged areas in several local newspapers beginning this week.

The first issue includes information on several disaster assistance programs, including temporary housing, U.S. Small Business Administration loans, and the National Flood Insurance Program. Flood victims may register for disaster asssistance by calling FEMA's toll-free number, 1-800-462-9029 or for the hearing- or speech-impaired, 1-800-462-7585. For inquiries about the newsletter, call 1-800-525-0321. For additional copies, call 1-800-480-2520.

Inserts will be in the Oakland Tribune, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, among other area newspapers.

Take Care When Hiring Contractors

Residents and business owners who have El Nino storm-related damage to their property are advised to be very careful when hiring contractors. The California Attorney General's Office and the Better Business Bureau suggest the following "consumer beware" steps:

Use reliable, licensed contractors. For guidance, call California Contractor's State License Board at its Disaster 24-hour Infoline, 1-800-321-2752 or the Disaster Hotline at 1-800-962-1125. Or access website www.cslb.ca.gov, or www.bbb.org.

Obtain a written estimate for work to be done and read the small print. Compare services and prices from several reputable contractors, and whenever possible, retain a local contractor.

Check references.

Check proof of insurance. Be certain the contractor carries general liability insurance and workers' compensation. Property owners could be liable for accidents that occur on the property or damages to the house or building if the contractor is not properly insured.

Ask for a written contract. A complete contract should state clearly all the work to be done, all associated costs and the payment schedule. Be sure the contract specifies who applies for the necessary permits or licenses. Have a lawyer review the document if the costs involved are substantial.

Obtain written guarantees. If the contractor provides any guarantees, they should be written into the contract clearly stating what is guaranteed, who is responsible and for how long it is valid.

Pay by check. Avoid cash payments. Under state law, contractors cannot ask for a deposit of more than 10 percent or $1,000, whichever is less, unless the contractor provides a bond, approved bond equivalent, or approved joint control that ensures completion of the contract.

To cancel a contract, do so within three days of signing. Notification should be sent by registered mail.

Have work inspected. If excavation work is being performed (e.g., sewers or basement walls), be sure a qualified observer inspects the work before it is hidden from view in order to avoid problems in the future.

Property owners who have problems with contractors or who have been victimized by fraud should contact the State Office of Consumer Affairs at (916) 445-1254, the Attorney General's office at (916) 445-9555 or the FEMA fraud abuse hotline at 1-800-323-8603.

"Dont' be rushed, take your time.Talk with building and floodplain officials and deal cautiously with contractors," said Dorothy Lacey, Federal Coordinating Office for FEMA.

Riggs Enters Senate Race

Saying that it is time to put principle over politics, North Coast Congressman Frank Riggs (R-Napa) announced that he is running for U.S. Senate.

"I am running for the Senate because I want to repair and rebuild the moral fabric of American society and create a better future for all children, regardless of race, color or creed. These are our children and they represent our hopes, our dreams, our common mission. We have balanced the budget and eliminated the federal deficit-now we need to address the moral deficit," Riggs said.

Riggs, a former police officer, said his campaign would focus on the need to reform and improve California's public education system, reduce judicial activism, cut taxes on working families and improve public safety.

"The U.S. Senate has enough lawyers. It could use an ex-cop. The first responsibility of any elected official is public safety. I will end lenient release and parole standards. Time given will be time served. We will seal off the border from drugs and illegal immigration. I want to shift at least one-third of IRS's 110,000 employees to the Border Patrol and the DEA," Riggs said.

Proposed Budget Bad For Vets

The budget proposed for the Department of Veterans Affairs in Fiscal Year 1999 is potentially devastating to our nation's veterans.

The Administration's health-care appropriation falls $1.1 billion dollars short of what is needed to meet the health-care needs of veterans, said an annual policy report produced by four veterans groups. While the Administration proposes to make up the difference in health-care appropriations with the collection of funds from third-party payers, such as insurance companies, the reality is that this is a real gamble that may leave VA woefully short of funds needed to treat the veterans it serves. Historically, VA has never met its collection targets. The authors the the Independent Budget contend that reimbursements should be used to augment, not substitute for, appropriations.

In addition, if approved by Congress, this is the third year in a row that VA's appropriation has been "straightlined," with no increase to cover new programs or inflation.

The impact of the budget shortfall is compounded by VA's rapid reorganization and creation of a new eligibility and enrollment system that goes into effect in October. By law, available funds will determine the number of veterans who can gain access to VA health-care services. VA's failure to collect adequate payments from third-party payers may result in denial of services to tens of thousands of veterans and lower quality care.

The level of staffing that the President's budget would authorize for VA's benefits programs falls far short of what is needed to deliver benefits in an equitable and timely manner. The President's budget does not even begin to address what is really needed, said the authors. The Independent Budget recommends 500 additional employees to handle the unprecedented compensation and pension claims backlog that has resulted from staffing reductions in past years.

Given the federal budget surplus and the Administration's proposal for billions of dollars of spending for new programs, it is distrubing that there is such a lack of concern for veterans programs, stated the authors of the Independent Budget. Our nation should honor previous commitments before new ones are made, they said.

Audubon Programs

Wildlife of India

A slide/lecture program on wildlife splendor of India will be presented on Friday, March 6 at 8:00 p.m. at Richardson Bay Audubon Center and Sanctuary, 376 Greenwood Beach Road, Tiburon. Beth Huning, Director, has led several trips to the Indian sub-continent and is the evening's speaker. Her slides contain views of birds, many species of deer and wild Bengal tigers. The natural habitat and the impact of human populations on wildlife are featured in her travels to Bharatpur Bird Sanctury and the National Parks of Corbett, Kanha and Ranthambore.

Birder Outing

A field trip for beginning birders to learn and see local birds will be held Saturday, March 7 at 9:00 a.m. Meet at the end of Echo Avenue, East Corte Madera. Marta's Marsh alongside Richardson Bay in Corte Madera is the perfect place for beginning birders. Duck, egrets and shorebirds abound and are easily viewed at close proximity. Marin Audubon leaders are eager to promote and encourage birding. There will be a discussion on field guides, binoculars and birding spots as well bird identification tips. This is a good trip for older children and all interested bird lovers.

Call 456-5311 for more information.

Valley Events

Music

Fiddle master Martin Hayes and guitarist Dennis Cahill will perform a two-set concert at the San Geronimo Valley Cultural Center on Tuesday, March 10 at 8:00 p.m.

Martin Hayes is a world-renown musician from Ireland. He has been playing fiddle since the age of seven. He won the prestigious title of All-Ireland Champion six times. His album "The Lonesome Touch" was made with his touring partner Dennis Cahill. Cahill is one of the most respected and innovative guitar players on the Irish music scene.

Tickets are $12 and available at the door. Doors open at 7 p.m. Call 488-9385 for more information.

Valley Visions

Lagunitas School Savers has set Saturday, April 25, for its eighth annual Valley Visions Home Cuisine, Dance and Art Auction to benefit the Lagunitas School District. Gourmet dinners will be offered at homes throughout the aera, followed by a dance and art auction at the golf course.

Hosts and chefs wanting to volunteer their home and/or their culinary talents should call 488-0270.

Art

Tiahna Skye's art opening for her exhibit entitled "Mandala, the Healing Circle," at the San Geronimo Valley Cultural Center will be held Sunday, March 8, from 3:00-5:00 at the San Geronimo Cultural Center.

Beautifully illuminated mandalas created over the past two and a half years will be on display, depicting the artist's multi-faceted journey of living with breast cancer.

Tiahana offers workshops and on-going groups which use mandalas as tools for exploration, self-healing and personal growth. She also uses mandalas in her professional counseling work. For more information, contact Tiahna at Expansions, Center for Personal Growth, 257-1559.

Her art show will be on display from March 3rd-30th. After the opening on March 8, call 488-9385 for a viewing appointment.

Rummage Sale Items Sought

Donations for Drake High School's annual rummage sale will be received on Saturdays, March 7 and 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in front of the gym, 1327 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo. The sale will take place on March 21 from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. in the gym and will benefit the Safe and Sober Grad Night in June.

Call 459-1183, 453-6207 or 459-7698 for more information or special pickup.

Stavert's Campaign Against Woolsey

Gisele Stavert, a San Rafael teacher, is making steady progress in her campaign against incumbent Lynn Woolsey in the 6th Congressional District. "One of my first goals was to see if my background and my message could excite people enough to contribute their resources and time," said Stavert. The goal of raising $100,000 by the end of 1997 has been surpassed, and the potential of further support confirmed. Stavert said that 99% of her contributions came from individuals instead of political action committees, "people across this district who know that we can have better schools, end 101 gridlock and lower the tax burden shouldered by our families."

Woolsey Supports Clinton Budget

Representative Lynn Woolsey (D-Petaluma), a third-term member of the House Budget Committee, praised President Clinton's 1999 budget proposal for balancing the budget three years ahead of schedule, while improving education, expanding Medicare, and making quality child care more affordable.

Woolsey served on the Budget Committee when it wrote the two major deficit-cutting laws that made balancing the budget this year possible.

Kaiser Programs

Arthritis

A self-help course to assist people with arthritis will begin Thursday, May 19 and run for six weeks, two hours a week from 7:00-9:00 p.m. at Kaiser, 99 Montecillo Road, San Rafael.

Any adult with arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia or any related condition may sign up. Call 444-2173. The fee is $30 for Kaiser members and $40 for non-members.

Breast Self-Exam

A one-session Breast Self-Exam class will meet on Wednesday, March 18 from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. at Kaiser. Call 444-2344.

Space is limited for each of these classes.

San Francisco Foundation

Since 1948, the San Francisco Foundation has been mobilizing resources to meet community needs and serving as a catalyst for change. The Foundation has helped to launch such organizations at The Center for Independent Living, BRIDGE Housing, the Trust for Public Land, and KQED. And it has been at the forefront of community-wide efforts to address such issues as school reform, AIDS funding and the quality of San Francisco Bay.

In fiscal years 1997, Foundation Trustees approved 3,173 grants totaling $45,610,852.

State Parks Reservations

Campsites can be reserved by calling 1-800-444-PARK between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. seven days a week. Reservations for tours at Hearst Castle and Ano Nuevo State Reserve will continue to be on a first-come, first-serve basis until further notice.

Visit website http://cal-parks.ca.gov.

Creativity And Dreams

A workshop series on using dreams for the content and direction of writing, painting and other creative work will be held from 1:00 to 4:00 on the first three Saturdays in March at the Claudia Chapline Gallery, 3445 Shoreline Hwy. Stinson Beach. The fee is $35 each session or $90 all three.

Call Joyce Lynn, workshop leader at 267-7620, or e-mail to [email protected] for more information.

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