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Thanks for quality care

Thanks for quality care

I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for the care that I received at Queen of the Valley Hospital in early February. I want to thank Drs. Cardey, Kivela, Chough and Gugenheim. Their quick and careful coordinated care, consulting with specialists at UCSF got me stabilized then transferred to UCSF to resolve my condition.

If I knew the names of all of the staff that I encountered from unit secretaries, to phlebotomists, and of course nurses, I would mention them each by name. These medical care personnel are often unsung heroes whether from truly life saving actions to simple kind, calming words.

Thanks to all of you.

Sarah Aylard


We lost our songbird

The Valley lost our songbird recently. The untimely death of Wesla breaks my heart; I’d become a ‘groupie’ of hers in the ‘80s after hearing her in a little club in San Francisco, soon after she began crooning again, following the horrific senseless shooting that left her partially paralyzed and appropriately bitter.

I had never heard the American songbook sung with more passion and was hooked.

When she met Mike Greensill, the love of her life and true partner in every sense, a new joy and peace and great passion filled her words and her music.

Imagine my delight when they settled in St. Helena several years ago and found a home at Silo’s. It’s rather ironic that Wesla died a week before Valentine’s Day: no one ‘got love’ like Wesla, lost love, dreamed-for love , remembered love. She could bring back the magic with a phrase, and help with the tears.

Wesla loved ‘”Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and now birds are indeed flying over the rainbow, but she is flying with them, free and no longer in pain.

To Mike and all who adored his treasured lady, hugs and love. We were so blessed to have spent any moments hearing that magical voice, sharing in the joy she found in the music and brought to our lives.

Carol Fink


Take care of children who are alive now

This letter is not to debunk Ms. Crotty’s statistics about abortions of African Americans in New York, or to try to change anyone’s mind about abortion (“40 Days for Life opens 20th campaign,” Feb, 3). No one likes abortion. It is a very serious decision with more than one way in which to view it. For example:

In the early 1980s, I was employed at Napa State Hospital in the Children’s Center as the school secretary. Many people were shocked to realize there were children at Napa State Hospital. There were five or six units in the Children’s Center, and I don’t remember what the exact population was at the time, so perhaps 200 give or take. Staff told me that this number was only one-tenth of one-percent of the total of children in California needing mental health interventions. The youngest at that time was five years old, the oldest 17. What I do remember are the children’s histories.

All the children housed there had emotional/mental problems of varying degrees, and most of them had suffered physical, sexual and emotional abuse of the most egregious types. They had been abandoned – sometimes in strange towns or cities; they had been burned with cigarettes, on kitchen ranges, with steam irons; they had been beaten, strangled, starved, dropped from high places. They suffered abuse that normal people cannot even imagine – all at the hands of those who should have protected and nurtured them. It’s no wonder they grew up with emotional problems.

They will probably never recover to the point they can live ‘’normal’’ lives. No child should have gone through what they suffered. Abortions would have saved them living with such cruelty.

Today, there are children living – here in Napa – who are also suffering from poverty, abuse, abandonment and neglect. I would much prefer to see Right-to-Life protesters put their energy into helping those children rather than worrying about the unborn. We need to protect and nurture the children who are here now.

There are numerous organizations in Napa County that are dedicated to the welfare of children. They all welcome volunteers and financial support. Some of them are:

— CASA Voice for Children (Advocates for children), 1804 Soscol Avenue, Suite 201, 257-2272;

— Community Resources for Children, 5 Financial Plaza, Suite 224, 253-0376;

— Cope Family Center, 707 Randolph St., 252-1123;

— VOICES (Assists foster youth as they age out of the foster care system), 780 Lincoln Ave., 251-9432.

Other organizations directly benefiting children are:

— Boys & Girls Clubs of Napa Valley, 1515 Pueblo Ave., 255-8866;

— Connolly Ranch, 3141 Browns Valley Road, 224-1894;

— The Music Connection (provides musical instruments free of charge to any student in the NVUSD), 2425 Jefferson St., Room 105, 259-8565;

— Napa County Library Foundation, 580 Coombs St., 253-4241;

— Napa Valley Education Foundation, 2425 Jefferson St., Room 103, 253-3563.

I’m sure there are other organizations of which I’m not familiar; if there are, I hope representatives will come forward with contact information.

Lastly: Along with teachers, doctors and nurses, we are all reporters. If you know of any child or children who are living in abusive households or are at risk of bodily injury from anyone, please contact Child Protective Services, 2344 Old Sonoma Road, 253-4261.

Protect children who are living now.

Martha Wise


Commentary: We need Abraham Lincoln's Friendship Train again

It’s not only Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on Monday, but also the 70th anniversary of his Friendship Train. Back in 1948, farmers in Nebraska were so inspired by the former president they started a train in his honor to feed the world’s hungry.

We could use the Lincoln Friendship Train spirit again, as the world faces the worst hunger crisis since that era. The U.S. Famine Warning System says “Across 45 countries, an estimated 76 million people are expected to require emergency food assistance during 2018. Four countries – Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, and Nigeria – face a credible risk of Famine.”

Ethiopia, Syria and the Congo are some of the other countries most at risk. Children face potentially deadly malnutrition in these worst affected areas. Food has clearly become a top foreign policy priority for the United States, as it was after World War II. But there needs to be a response as powerful as the Lincoln Friendship Train.

On Lincoln’s birthday in 1948, the train launched from the town of Lincoln, Nebraska. Carloads of food donations were gathered onto sections of the train in Iowa, South Dakota and Illinois. Supplies from Colorado and Wyoming also arrived at start. The train kept moving east toward Philadelphia rounding up even more supplies.

Around 200 freight cars of supplies were collected. By the end of February food was on its way to Austria, Germany, Poland, Japan, Korea and other nations who had suffered so much during World War II. Imagine the relief when hungry children could drink milk again because of this American generosity through the Lincoln train.

Hunger was really the last remaining enemy from World War II. Food production is always a casualty of conflict. Without U.S. assistance, these nations could not rebuild. Without food, you have no strength to recover from such a tragedy.

As Lincoln himself once said “With Malice toward none and charity toward all.” Lincoln was a man who stood for peace and freedom. The Friendship Train in his name back in 1948 gave people freedom from hunger and the chance to live in peace.

Lincoln once said the United States should “do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.” That sums up the purpose of our United States Food for Peace and other aid programs. For peace and freedom cannot be founded on empty stomachs.

In 1948, Americans fully understood this, which led to Lincoln’s Friendship Train but also much more. There were also other Friendship Trains in the fall of 1947.

President Harry Truman and Secretary of State George Marshall were leading the way on a massive European Recovery program. The Marshall Plan, as it was called, was also signed in 1948 and rebuilt Europe. Food aid was essential for this plan to succeed.

Today, the Congress should increase funding for U.S. food aid programs because of the massive hunger crisis ongoing. The Food for Peace program and the McGovern-Dole global school lunch program should see funding boosts.

Food can write the peace today as it did after World War II with Abraham Lincoln’s Friendship Train.

Thomas D. Elias: Rebuke for California Public Utilities Commission as consumers get half a win
Lenny Ignelzi  

FILE—In this June 30, 2011 file photo, beach-goers walk on the sand near the San Onofre nuclear power plant in San Clemente, Calif.

The bottom line on the 2012 shutdown of the San Onofre Nuclear Power Station was that by all sensible logic, consumers should never have had to pay anything for its eventual scrapping.And yet, customers of two of the three largest electric utilities in California have paid for its closure every month since early 2014, when the state Public Utilities Commission – without so much as a public hearing – assessed consumers almost 70 percent of the $4.7 billion costs. So far, customers of the Southern California Edison Co. and the San Diego Gas & Electric Co. have paid more than $2 billion.

But the incident has ended up as the first time in modern memory where the scandal-ridden PUC essentially admitted a mistake of billion-dollar proportions. This one resulted from a well-documented secret meeting during a 2013 trade conference in Poland which saw Edison executives and former PUC President Michael Peevey agree on terms of the 2014 decision and evade public hearings. An ongoing criminal investigation has yielded no indictments.

The monthly payments by consumers will now end, under terms of a new settlement agreed to early this month by Edison and several consumer groups. Customers will save about $873 million over the next four years, eliminating the “nuclear decommissioning charges” item on their monthly bills. The average customer will be spared paying a total of more than $100.

The new deal should serve as a warning to both the PUC and other major California utilities like Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and the Southern California Gas Co. that commission decisions are not necessarily final and can be altered if consumer interests are sufficiently persistent and if those decisions are not reached with integrity.

Most persistent in pursuing cancellation of the secretive earlier settlement were former San Diego City Attorney Mike Aguirre and his law partner Maria Severson, who endured frequent mistreatment from PUC commissioners as they represented a group called Citizens Oversight in pursuing the new deal.

“Consumers should feel good about not paying for this anymore,” said Aguirre. “But we’re well aware that stopping future collections is not the same as recovering all the money that’s been collected.”

In all, consumers who were assessed about 70 percent of the total shutdown costs in the original settlement now have paid about 53 percent of those expenses and won’t pay more.(tncms-inline)831b7bcd-0e0b-4f02-bdb9-9a493179815f[0](/tncms-inline)

That doesn’t alter the moral reality that in a perfect world, consumers would have paid nothing beyond the approximately $500 million worth of replacement power the companies provided after San Onofre was disabled.

This morality is clear because the plant had to be closed due to failure of a steam generator built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries whose design Edison knew could fail.

In a 2004 letter to Mitsubishi executives, Edison Vice President Dwight Nunn wrote that “I am concerned that there is the potential that design flaws could be inadvertently introduced into the steam generator design that will lead to unacceptable consequences (e.g. tube wear and eventual tube plugging). This would be a disastrous outcome…”

Despite that foreknowledge, Edison installed a steam generator that produced precisely the “disastrous outcome” of which Nunn warned, leading to closure of San Onofre many years before its lifespan was expected to end. Edison later sued Mitsubishi for the full costs of the shutdown, but got only $125 million, a small fraction of what it sought.

Since consumers had nothing to do with the conduct of either Edison or Mitsubishi, it made no sense for them to pay any of the decommissioning costs. But they will not be getting back what they’ve already paid.

The new settlement thus represents a sort of compromise, with consumers ending up out only about two-thirds of what the first settlement called for. It also spells relief for Edison, whose corporate fortunes have been uncertain as long as the San Onofre case hung over it.

But it’s a defeat for the PUC and its current president, Michael Picker, who voted for the 2014 deal and later pledged transparency, while steadfastly refusing to explain his reasoning, even to legislative committees demanding details. The PUC also faces the possibility of an FBI investigation of this entire fiasco.

“We’re well aware that stopping future collections is not the same as recovering all the money that’s been collected.” – Michael Aguirre, consumer attorney

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