My husband and I were going to make an offer on a house and move to Dillon Beach, until reading this article today ("Wrung Dry," May 29). I am horrified by the greed of this company and the way these people are forced to live. I am all for water conservation, but upon exploring CalWater.com, I am surprised to say that usage isn't the issue. These people are reusing bath water and not cleaning their medical instruments, but the amount of water one uses contributes very little to the actual amount billed. The size of your meter, the service charges, taxes and additional fees are where they are really gouging customers. These residents should be better informed about their bill breakdown. I am not in the area, but I would like to know how to get involved in changing how Cal Water treats these customers and expose the lack of oversight.
Conserve and Pay
Regarding Rachel Dovey's article on Cal Water, a recent PUC public hearing in Guerneville considered a 50.9 to 70.2 percent rate increase application from Cal Water.
This district includes Armstrong Woods, Noel Heights, Duncans Mills and Hawkins (Santa Rosa). It is owned by the largest investor-owned water-service company west of the Mississippi and the third largest in the United States. With a significant decrease in water usage, they say "rates then have to be increased to cover fixed costs." This means a typical monthly bill could increase from $85.72 to $160.86 a month for 50 consumers in Noel Heights—because we are conserving water. There are no infrastructure improvements planned for us.
Are we paying for water service, or lining the pockets of the corporate officers and the stockholders? This is the 46th consecutive year the stockholder dividend has increased. In 2012, the net income increase was 29.5 percent. The PUC mandates a corporate profit and guaranteed fixed minimum stockholder income of approximately 8 percent providing "steady, predictable returns."
It is difficult to have any empathy for the county water agency and Santa Rosa consumers. A reported 1 to 5 percent increase seems so minuscule.
As front-line workers, RNs are the experts on what we need in our workplace conditions; administrators are not. The hospital makes a huge profit, and it is our business how the surplus is spent.
It should matter to nurses at Memorial Hospital that the hospital chooses to invest in "consumer-friendly" new construction while cutting ancillary staff. To the patient who is lying in a soiled bed for half an hour because there are no more nurse's aides, and his nurse is maintaining pressure on a femoral artery down the hall, that new diagnostic imaging center will be of little comfort. When RNs spend more time doing non-nursing tasks (entering orders, chasing down linens, emptying trash), we are pulled from the bedside. Patients receive less direct nursing care, and poorer outcomes result. Likewise when we are denied breaks. There are ample evidence-based studies linking nurse fatigue to bad outcomes. Demanding that the system step up staffing is not "whining."
We strike not to assert our value (which is self-evident in our work), but to assert our power and solidarity. Our union has defended RNs who crossed our picket line and who never dreamed they would need union help. Your union is an incarnation of the thousands of women and men who fought and died for working conditions that are safe, compensation that is fair and terms that protect RNs from the whims and vagaries of administrative "efficiency." We owe it to those workers, to new nurses, to our patients and to ourselves to maintain a strong union.
Staff nurse, Sutter Hospital
The Big Money that is supporting the Lunny's oyster farm in Drakes Bay want to set a precedent that allows commercial activity in our National Parks, Wilderness areas in particular ("Salty Situation," May 29). The other issues—environmental impact, small family farming, local, sustainable—while important, are just smoke screens in this fight for our wilderness areas nationwide. If the effort in Drakes Bay fails, what is next? Mining for minerals in Yellowstone National Park?
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