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Updated 7:09pm - Oct 12, 2015

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Coastal Voices: Sutter Health does not play nicely in sandbox

“Who’s going to protect the people of Del Norte County?”

Those words of Kevin Caldwell, M.D., reverberate loudly. It was Dr. Caldwell who first dared to stand up to the multi-billion-dollar goliath Sutter Health by opposing Sutter’s decision to move hospital ownership out of Del Norte County to the Bay Area and lower the 49-bed Acute Care hospital to a 24-bed Critical Access facility. Dr. Caldwell was the first local physician to see Sutter’s malfeasance. As hospital chief of staff, he identified Sutter’s repeated implementation of patient care policies without physician input. Sutter Health was telling doctors how to practice medicine, in violation of California law. With great effort, Dr. Caldwell was able to unwind Sutter’s illegal policies. Later, after Sutter Health executives advised the local hospital Board to dissolve itself and transfer hospital ownership to the Bay Area, Dr. Caldwell asked the hospital board chair for a guarantee Sutter would not close the obstetrics service. Dr. Caldwell could not get that guarantee. He stood alone in defense of our community. Dr. Caldwell joins medical colleagues Mark Davis, M.D., Manfred Ritter, M.D., and Gregory Duncan, M.D., all of whom have experienced the pain of a revengeful, insatiable bully, Sutter Health Corporation. Sutter Health, parent of Sutter Coast Hospital, does not play nicely in the Del Norte sandbox. 


Coastal Voices: Enforce, set limits on PWC use

Within the past two years, a handful of people have begun riding their personal watercraft (PWC) at South Beach in and among swimmers and surfers — often at high speeds while using the waves as ramps to jump into the air. While this might be exciting to watch from shore, it can be unnerving and leave you concerned for your safety if you are in the water and within close proximity to them. 

One would never imagine someone riding an ATV through the Kid Town or Brother Johnathan playgrounds. But that is essentially what I watched last October as four operators launched their personal watercraft (PWC) at South Beach while my wife and I played with our two children in the surf. Not only did they launch their craft within 10 feet of us, they left their hand trailer floating in the water, forcing my family and I to move down the beach to avoid the trailer that was floating unattended. My wife and I observed for the next hour the four operators of the PWCs zip around in the surf zone that was also being used by swimmers and surfers. The PWCs kept coming back and forth from the surf zone to the shore every 10 minutes to take a break on shore, each time launching around swimmers and surfers and zipping out to open water. When it became clear that the PWCs were not going to be leaving us alone to enjoy the water with our family without worrying about being run over by the constant launching and re-launching from shore, we packed our family up and went home.

Coastal Voices: Jet Ski riders will respect community

I write this letter to provide you with some information in regard to having Jet Ski recreational riders and competitors at Crescent City. I am the promoter and creator of one of the premier Jet Ski competitions in the nation, called the Grayland Open, that is held annually in Grayland, Wash., near the fishing community of Westport, Wash. The town is very similar to Crescent City in many ways. I started the competition in 2009 as a small competition between friends. Fast forward to 2015 and this event has grown to become one of the largest competitions of its kind in the western United States and brings riders and spectators from all parts of the world. One of the main reasons that this event has grown over the years is due to a community that embraces the sport and the wonderful people that are involved in the sport. Freeriders are respectful and do not want to cause problems amongst other people. We go where we are welcomed and that’s where we spend our money. I know it can be difficult to understand the impact that you can have by just welcoming this community of riders into your community. Let me give you some examples of what one Jet Ski event in Grayland has done for the community. 


Coastal Voices: Close achievement gap according to local voices

When we really define the academic achievement gap locally, one glaring gap that continues to need attention is the disproportionate graduation rates for American Indian students in Del Norte County, including Yurok students, within the county. The three-year cohort graduation rate in Del Norte for all students is 77.3 percent. For American Indians in Del Norte the three-year cohort graduation rate is 66.3 percent. This is an 11-point difference (or a 15 percent gap in achievement) over the previous three-year cohort graduation rates, according to the DataQuest system at the California Department of Education. Surely the graduation rates for the American Indian student group can be one of the measurements considered in the current Local Control Funding Formula debate occurring this spring in Del Norte’s County’s school district, especially since graduation is one of the primary goals for the K–12 school system.  

Coastal Voices: Are we compassionate or are we enablers?

I have read the recent columns and letters to the editor regarding blight and litter in our neighborhoods. I would like to augment those fine articles by writing about a recent experience I had that is occurring in the shadows of our community: Illegal encampments and the dangers they pose to our health, our safety and our environment.

You may be aware that District 1 County Supervisor Roger Gitlin sponsors a Take a Bite out of Blight Campaign. Mr. Gitlin has exhibited true leadership by organizing and sponsoring such cleanups. A prime example of Mr. Gitlin’s good work is the cleanup around the east parking lot of Walmart, where many of us shop.

Chamber Chatter: McGuire to join Economic Summit

The 12th annual Economic Summit is just around the corner. Please join us Friday, April 10, at Elk Valley Rancheria, 2332 Howland Hill Road. Every year we try to bring you topics and speakers that are relevant and important to you as a community member, business owner, manager or professional. 

This year we are pleased to announce that Sen. Mike McGuire will be our keynote speaker. He will address the audience on how we can work together as a community to move our economy forward and what the future economic climate looks like for the state of California. 

Coastal Voices: Klamath agreements crucial to farm survival

Last month, the Family Farm Alliance board of directors, by unanimous vote, formally supported the concept captured in recent Senate legislation to advance the settlement agreements developed for the Klamath River watershed. The Alliance is a grassroots, nonprofit organization that represents family farmers, ranchers, agricultural water purveyors and allied industries in the 17 Western states. We have long advocated that the best solutions to the challenges faced by Western irrigators come from the ground up, driven by local interests.


Coastal Voices: Troubled past gradually fades into memory

The bomb’s blast reverberated from the small TV, seeming to rattle the wall brackets that held it over my bed. As I turned sharply toward the crash, the pain flashed in shards of light from my neck through the top of my skull. The images of the buildings being blown to dust were real — as real as the cold, starched sheets that encased me and the cervical collar bracing the steel plate and screws an ER surgeon had hours before inserted into my broken neck. 

Coastal Voices: What happens to costs under Critical Access?

In 2014, Sutter Coast Hospital applied for Critical Access Hospital designation while claiming the hospital had not been profitable since 2008 and projecting heavy losses through 2016. Both of those claims were later proven false. IRS filings confirm large profits for SCH in 2009 and 2010. On Feb. 27, hospital CEO Mitch Hanna stated 2014 was a “profitable year.” At this point you may be asking: Is Sutter more interested in profits or your health care? 

In an effort to resolve our community conflict with Sutter Health, I repeatedly requested meetings with Sutter Health CEO Pat Fry and Sutter Regional President Mike Cohill. Both men declined my request. So I contacted the state agency reviewing SCH’s Critical Access application and forwarded letters from numerous individuals and groups that object to Sutter’s proposed downsizing. Our community needs more health care, not less. 

Coastal Voices: Peace of mind in ‘death with dignity’ laws

If you want to understand the benefit of a death with dignity law like the one being considered by the California legislature, you should know how it helped my father.  

My father lived most of his life in California, where he operated a small business and raised a family. When he was in his 90s, my mother died, and my dad decided to move in with my wife and I in Oregon. 

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