Gilroy lays off a sixth of its work force including 6 police & fire positions

As property values plummet across California, Santa Clara County is expecting an almost-unheard-of drop in its property tax rolls — about 2 percent.

Gilroy should be so lucky. The Garlic Capital of the World is facing a plunge of 11 percent — which represents a cut of about $1 million in tax revenue.

While many other cities in the county are now only beginning to panic about the sudden drop in revenue, the South County city has been struggling to keep from drowning for a year now.

As sales tax revenue plunged and building fees dried up last fall, the city council voted to lay off a sixth of its workforce — the equivalent of 48 full-time employees, including six full-time positions in both the police and fire departments.

Residents are being told to report many crimes online instead of in person or on the phone. The fire department went from three engine companies to two.

“It’s a bloodbath down there,” said county Assessor Larry Stone.

The pain has filtered down to Monterey Street, the downtown’s main drag in this city of 52,000.

At Sue’s Coffee Roasting Company, owner Sue Shalit has noticed a smaller morning crowd, in part because there are fewer city employees grabbing a morning Joe.

“Some people just don’t come that early any more. Now, unfortunately, they’re getting to sleep in,” said Shalit, who misses not only their business but the people themselves.

One of the toughest cuts for the police department was losing its community services officer who specialized in fighting graffiti. She not only photographed the tags so investigators could identify the vandals, she also cleaned up the graffiti herself.

“Now we’re seeing more graffiti,” said Sgt. Jim Gillio, “and it’s staying up longer.”

The economy took a nasty turn just when downtown Gilroy was making a comeback. The city had just spent millions on new sidewalks and street trees. Dozens of condos were being built on Monterey Street.

Now, many buildings sit empty, in part because laws require vacant properties with unreinforced masonry to be retrofitted before new tenants can move in. Plans were afoot to fix the buildings, but now owners can’t get loans or are reluctant to spend money until the economy picks up.

“It’s been a mess, even before we learned about the million dollar loss in property tax,” Gilroy Mayor Al Pinheiro said.

When Gilroy officials were initially preparing their current budget, they calculated the city would end the fiscal year with a $10 million deficit — representing about 20 percent of the budget. The city immediately froze 23 positions; eliminated all non-mandatory training and travel; and delayed projects such as remodeling city hall.

Over the next several months, however, the city continued to bleed red ink as the economy tanked, prompting the layoffs.

Like Morgan Hill and parts of San Jose, Gilroy has a lot of newer homes. Those were generally the first to drop in value as builders slashed prices. As mortgage values began to exceed home values, foreclosure rates skyrocketed.

“We have homes worth half as much as a couple of years ago,” said Gilroy City Administrator Tom Haglund.

The poster children for this frightening trend were fast-growing Central Valley cities such as Manteca and Tracy. But in many ways, Haglund said, “we’re the Central Valley of Santa Clara County.”

Indeed, in “feel” and in politics, the majority-Latino, relatively conservative city is more closely aligned with the agricultural towns to the south and east than with Silicon Valley.

“Gilroy is the only city in Santa Clara County that doesn’t touch another city,” said developer Gary Walton, a Gilroy resident who has an office downtown.

The isolation may make the place distinctive and quaint. But it also presents problems.

“I do worry about Gilroy, because we’re kind of an island,” Fire Chief Dale Foster said.

With a smaller fire department, he said, Gilroy will sometimes have to depend on far-flung departments for help.

“Luckily, we haven’t had that many big fires,” Foster said. “But the potential is also there for a train wreck or a big traffic accident on 101.”

To ease its pain, the city has been dipping into reserves — $4.7 million alone in the last fiscal year. But the city council decided it can no longer drain the rainy-day fund. In the next few weeks, it “will put together a truly balanced budget for the next fiscal year,” which will mean even deeper cuts, Mayor Pinheiro said.

That likely means a lot fewer employees, or a lot of employees making less. The city has asked its unions to reduce wages and benefits to save jobs.

Amid the gloom, there are signs Gilroy voters are willing to share the pain.

Despite the city’s reputation for turning down tax measures, voters in November passed a $37 million bond measure to build a new library. “Nobody could believe it,” said Lani Yoshimura, the longtime community librarian. The same day, voters in the Gilroy Unified School District passed a $150 million bond measure for school improvements.

The city recently got great ratings for the new library bonds, largely because the bond-rating agencies thought city officials had done a good job wielding the budgetary ax before things got worse.

City officials also say they’ve seen a spike in volunteerism. Residents have volunteered to help police patrol the streets and staff the Gilroy Museum, which lost all its paid employees to budget cuts.

Mayor Pinheiro said he was amazed when he tried to find residents willing to organize the town’s Memorial Day parade. He sent out a mass e-mail and quickly came up with a committee of nine to make sure the town didn’t cancel its popular parade.

Perhaps, developer Walton said, the do-it-yourself spirit can catch on downtown. “Maybe,” he said, “it’s time for us to start cleaning our own sidewalks.”

Aptos psychologist: Dumb decision? Hardest hit will be the Public Health agency. 212 jobs may be cut in proposed Santa Cruz County budget

The County Administrative Office on Friday released a budget proposal for next fiscal year, beginning in July, that calls for up to 140 job cuts, an average of 20 percent less funding for county departments like public works and probation and a 20 percent cut to nonprofits providing “safety-net” services for the elderly and poor.The proposed budget includes no new funding for infrastructure, like road construction or technology improvements. The budget entails major cuts at Juvenile Hall, including elimination of a once promising alternatives-to-incarceration program. And, the budget barely toes the line when it comes to sheriff patrols.

Hit hardest is public health,
whose programs not only benefit those with limited access to health care but ripple across the entire region, say health officials.

“Swine flu does not pay attention to how much income you make or your legal status, and this is true of all infectious diseases. You want a community whose health is good and has access to medical care,” said Rama Khalsa, director of the county Health Services Agency.

The 530-person health agency will lose about 60 positions under the budget proposal, which translates into reductions in mental health services, substance abuse assistance and clinical care.

The cuts proposed this week by county administrators attempt to close a $25 million gap between the county’s projected revenues and spending. The estimated $367 million general fund budget for next year reflects a roughly 6 percent decrease over this year’s budget.

The county, like a city government, is responsible for basic municipal services in the unincorporated areas, like road maintenance and planning, with the additional responsibility of providing state-mandated regional programs like the courts and health and human services.

Although no part of the roughly 2,400-person organization is immune to cuts, county administrators say they’ve made some funding priorities in the proposed budget, like public safety.

The Sheriff’s Office will lose positions, but most will be in support areas and perhaps investigations but not front-line police work.

“This will mean that some cases will take a lot longer to be handled,” said incoming Sheriff-Coroner Phil Wowak. “But patrols services and emergency services would be the last thing we would cut.”

The proposed budget calls for an 8.6 percent reduction of the county’s total work force, meaning 212 positions, though county administrators say only about two-thirds of those are currently filled.

Last month, the personnel department directed 156-hour furloughs for upper- and middle-management, as part of the ongoing cost-saving effort, presenting another significant cost savings in the proposed budget.

County administrators are currently in talks with representatives from the county’s largest labor union, Service Employees International Union, and say they hope a similar furlough arrangement can be set up. Such a concession, they say, would stave off many of the proposed layoffs.

An SEIU representative on Friday had no comment on whether they would agree to take time off.

The county’s proposed budget will be the subject of hearings in coming weeks and is expected to be finalized in June.

Medicare patients get kidney removed in contrast to private insurance patients who get to preserve organ function. Should the government decide how to ration medical services?

Does A Person’s Insurance Coverage Affect Their Access To Quality Cancer Care? YES. Do you want that choice?
ScienceDaily (Apr. 28, 2009) —

——————————————————————————–

“We discovered a discrepancy in the type of surgical treatment patients are offered based on their health insurance,” says Robert G. Uzzo, MD, chairman of the department of surgery at Fox Chase and the study’s lead author. His research evaluated differences in surgical treatment for kidney cancer based on a patient’s health insurance carrier. The study explored this question in one specific area of medicine, but the results may have implications for other areas of medicine as well.

The study results showed that kidney cancer patients with Medicare as their primary payer were more likely to have their kidney surgically removed entirely (radical nephrectomy) whereas those with private insurance were offered surgery to preserve organ function (partial nephrectomy).

“The notion that the kind of insurance you have can affect the quality of the care you receive has implications for the ongoing discussion about national health care reform. This research raises important questions for the government to consider,” adds Uzzo. “As our national leaders begin to discuss health care reform, it will be important to keep in mind that who pays for the care can affect the quality of care received.”

Kidney cancer is commonly treated by surgically removing the entire organ, but this is often unnecessary. Due to its technical demands, however, kidney-sparing surgery remains widely underutilized except at high-volume academic centers, where surgeons are experienced not only in resection of very complex kidney tumors but also in minimally-invasive techniques to treat patients with kidney cancer.

There are numerous long-term health benefits to patients when the non-cancerous portion of the kidney can be preserved. These include preserving maximum kidney function, reducing the risk of dialysis down the road and a longer life expectancy.

Uzzo’s study evaluated the potential impact of a patient’s primary insurance status as it relates to the likelihood of the patient undergoing a radical or partial nephrectomy. The study relied on inpatient discharge data from nearly 42,000 adult patients in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania over a six-year period.

The study results revealed that disparities in quality of care exist. Patients 65 and over, with Medicare coverage, were significantly less likely to undergo kidney-sparing surgery for treatment of renal malignancy (kidney cancer) than patients whose primary payer was a private insurance carrier.

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Journal reference:

Kutikov et al. Patients With Medicare As The Primary Payer Are Less Likely To Undergo Nephron Sparing Surgery (NSS) For Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC) Than Their Privately Insured Counterparts. The Journal of Urology, 2009; 181 (4): 77 DOI: 10.1016/S0022-5347(09)60221-4
Adapted from materials provided by Fox Chase Cancer Center, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.
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MLA Fox Chase Cancer Center (2009, April 28). Does A Person’s Insurance Coverage Affect Their Access To Quality Cancer Care?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 28, 2009, from

Aptos psychologist: Stop waste of time & conflict of interest by Santa Cruz County employees

Wow! There is a Whistle Blower hot line for Santa Cruz County. Let’s use it. Why does the CEO for Santa Cruz County have two assistants who bring her coffee who make more money than department heads?

How about a across the board PAY CUT for all managers that work for Santa Cruz County? The City of Santa Cruz has stepped up to the plate and has cut all salaries for managers by 10 percent. Lead the leaders lead in tough times.

Where do you see waste of time by government employees? Report it!!

go to http://www.co.santa-cruz.ca.us/whistleblower.htm Whistle Blowers for Santa Cruz County

Aptos psychologist: Conservatorships protect developmentally disabled persons. Your regional center can test & provide report to Superior Courts.

With a few modifications, this is from the Santa Clara web site.

“Who decides if an adult is developmentally disabled (DD)?

“The Regional Center in your community (San Andreas Regional Center covers Santa Clara County, Santa Cruz County, San Benito and Monterey County) will test the proposed conservatee to see if s/he is developmentally disabled.

“Generally, a person qualifies as developmentally disabled if s/he has an IQ less than 70 or is diagnosed with autism. There are five eligible conditions to qualify under at any age for Regional Center services. The dsability must have been present before the person became age eighteen.

“Other conditions can qualify too. If the Regional Center accepted the person as a consumer shortly after birth, then s/he automatically qualifies.

But, if the person has never been tested or accepted as a regional center consumer, s/he must be tested.

“If the Regional Center feels the person does not qualify, and you disagree, you can appeal to the Area Board in your region. In Santa Clara County, the area board supervising the San Andreas Regional Center is Area Board VII.

“What kinds of decisions does a limited conservator make?

At the hearing, the judge will say exactly what rights the conservator has.

Because developmentally disabled people can usually do many things on their own, the judge will only give the limited conservator power to do things the conservatee cannot do without help.

The conservator may:

* Decide where the DD adult will live (but, NOT in a locked facility).
* Look at the DD’s adult confidential records and papers.
* Sign a contract for the DD adult.
* Give or withhold consent for most medical treatment (NOT sterilization and certain other procedures).
* Make decisions about the DD adult’s education and vocational training.
* Place the DD adult at a state hospital for the developmentally disabled (a locked facility, like Agnews Developmental Center).
* Give or withhold consent to the DD adult’s marriage.
* Control the DD adult’s social and sexual contacts and relationships.
* Manage the DD adult’s financial affairs.

“Any adult developmentally disabled person for whom guardianship or
conservatorship is sought pursuant to this article shall be informed
by a member or designee of the regional center and by the court of
the person’s right to counsel; and if the person does not have an
attorney for the proceedings the court shall immediately appoint the
public defender or other attorney to represent the person. The
person shall pay the cost for such legal service if able.

“If an affidavit or certificate has been filed, as provided in
Section 416.7, evidencing the inability of the alleged
developmentally disabled person to be present at the hearing, the
psychologist …. assisting in preparing the report and
who is required to visit each person as provided in Section 416.8
shall communicate such information to the person during the visit,
consult the person to determine the person’s opinion concerning the
appointment, and be prepared to testify as to the person’s opinion,
if any.

416.17. It is the intent of this article that the director when
acting as guardian or conservator of the person of a developmentally
disabled person through the regional center as provided in Section
416.19 of this article, shall maintain close contact with the
developmentally disabled person no matter where such person is living
in this state; shall act as a wise parent would act in caring for
his developmentally disabled child; and shall permit and encourage
maximum self-reliance on the part of the developmentally disabled
person under his protection.

The above is from the web site for Superior Court of Santa Clara County

To contact San Andreas Regional Center for information, go www.sarc.orgSan Andreas Regional Center

Aptos psychologist: Should California follow the lead of Pennsylvania re Autism Regional Centers?

The State of Pennsylvania has established 3 centers to serve citizens with autistic spectrum disorders. Should California follow this example?

Pennsylvania Department Of Public Welfare Unveils Regional Autism Centers

Article Date: 21 Apr 2009

“Responding to the needs of the growing number of Pennsylvanians living with an autism spectrum disorder, Secretary of Public Welfare Estelle B. Richman unveiled three new regional autism centers geared toward improving access to services, education, research and training for families and professionals in need.

“The increased prevalence of autism has resulted in a greater demand for services, but the development of new programs has not kept pace — a challenge that has left many families searching for quality services,” said Secretary Richman. “In pooling our statewide resources to create these regional centers, Pennsylvania will be better suited to continue bridging the gap to critical programs and information that can significantly enhance the lives of our families.”

Funded through the Department of Public Welfare, each center represents a partnership of medical centers, centers of autism research and services, universities and other providers of services involved in the treatment and care of adults and children with an autism spectrum disorder.

The centers, a primary recommendation of the Pennsylvania Autism Task Force commissioned in 2004, will improve regional access to quality services and interventions, provide information and support to families, train professionals in best practices and facilitate collaboration among providers of services throughout the commonwealth.

Centers will be focused in the eastern, western and central parts of Pennsylvania. They include:

— Central: Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center; Philhaven’s Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities; Vista Foundation.

— Eastern: University of Pennsylvania Center for Autism Research; Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; Holy Family University; Drexel University; Lehigh University.

— Western: UPMC Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine Center for Autism and Developmental Disorders; The Watson Institute; Dr. Gertrude Barber Center, Inc.; UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Child Development Unit Autism Center; University of Pittsburgh, Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology; University of Pittsburgh, School of Education, Special Education; The Achievement Center and LEADERS program, Mercyhurst College.

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a set of five disorders that include Autistic Disorder, Asperger Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Rett Syndrome and Pervasive Development Disorder. Children and adults living with autism generally have impairments in social, communicative, and behavior development that are frequently accompanied by problems with cognitive functioning, learning, attention and sensory processing.

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare

Aptos psychologist says unionize now the students in PVUSD

Teachers’ unions harm student achievement expecially in large districts with large minority enrollment. PVUSD is large and has 78% minority. So lets unionize the students to advocate for student achievement.

unionize students?
unionize students?
The teachers’ unions seek to maximize teachers’ wages, benefits, hours and working conditions. Student achievement, higher test scores, more minorities taking Honors classes, a lower absentee rate — these are not goals sought by the teachers’ unions.

So who represents the students’ interests? The administrators? Half the people employed by California schools are not in the classroom. The administrators cannot unionize. They do have their own interests: to keep their jobs.

So, who really cares about the students’ interests? Parents of course. Well, most parents, not all parents. But parents have little power relative to the teachers’ unions. What collective power has the parents ever exerted over Pajaro Valley Unified School District? None.

The school board Trustees are supposed to represent the students. But if the Trustees, or some of them, are in the hip pocket of the unions, then the students are not represented by those Trustees.

One solution might be to unionize the students. Yes, I’m serious. Every student could be represented by one parent (or other adult of their choosing) and those adults choose representatives to sit down collectively with the teachers’ union. At the same table with the administrators. Together they could create “goal focused cooperation” – necessary in school districts where systemic change has lead to impressive advances in student achievement.

Bruce Woolpert, home grown in Santa Cruz County and President and CEO of Graniterock, wrote an article titled, “Unions exists to support teachers, not students”. Woolpert cites an article by Terry M. Moe published in the current issue of the American Review of Political Science. Moe’s article argues that unions are detrimental to student achievement particularly so in large districts that are predominantly minority. Pajaro Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) is large (about 20,000 students) and predominantly minority (78 percent).

In response to Woolpert’s article, Sandra Nichols, 8 year school board Trustee for PVUSD, wrote 4-19-09 in the Santa Cruz Sentinel. Her article is ” Teachers are in it for the good of society”. Yes, Sandra, some individual teachers do seek the good of society Whatever that is.

But, the PVUSD teachers’ union does not seek other than what is good for their members. Sandra, over the last 8 years have you ever seen as a union priority that teachers’ salary increases will be tied directly to student achievement increases? What a novel thought.

Sandra Niichols side steps Bruce Woolpert’s thesis that collective bargaining harms student achievement particularly in large districts with large minority enrollment. Districts like PVUSD. Nichols has been on the PVUSD board for 8 years. What objective evidence does she offer that the PVUSD teachers’ union has helped students to excel? Had she any objective evidence she would have offered it.

Since it is highly unlikely we can get rid of collective bargaining in the near future, let’s unionize the students and have parents sit across the table from the teachers’ union. And together let them work towards “goal focused cooperation”. Let them work together that all students achieve regardless of family income.

written by Cameron S. Jackson, Ph.D., psychologist living in Aptos
(831) 688-6002 P.O.Box 1972, Aptos, CA 95001-1972
Monterey Bay Forum, www.freedomOK.net/wordpress

from Aptos CA: How stop flow of GUNS to Mexico?

24/7 hour federal presence required in Laredo, Texas to stop flow of guns south to Mexico.

guns flow south
guns flow south
We need a 24/7 federal and state presence checking outflow to Mexico. Until we do, GUNS flow south.

Take Laredo, Texas. There are 12 lanes IN to the USA and 6 lanes OUT to Mexico. Every person coming IN faces a federal agent. Every bus is emptied. Every bag checked by dog or X-ray. In contrast, there are only 2 local policemen to check all OUT bound 6 traffic lanes. Thus, virtually nobody and few vehicles are checked for weapons or other contraband. We turn a blind eye to who and what goes south.

Over the last four years, here was an average of only 183 weapon seizures for each year for ALL federal ports along the South-western border. The estimate is that less than 1 percent of the guns going south were seized.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napoliano plans to deply more license plate scanners, more temporary teams and more X-ray machines. The police in Laredo say only an around-the-clock presence will make a real difference.

What can/should border states do? Don’t hold your breath for Homeland Security to get its act together.

The above based on article in The Wall Street Journal, Friday, April 17, 2009 written by Cam Simpson

written by Cameorn Jackson www.freedomOK.net/wordpress

Aptos, CA & elsewhere: Americans watch FOX overwhelmingly re TEA Party Protests

Santa Cruz Sentinel showed picture of numerous protesters in front of the Post Office in Santa Cruz, CA. US-wide, more people watched FOX about the Tea Party protests than all the other networks combined. See numbers below.

FOX RATINGS SURGE ON PROTEST COVERAGE
8-11 PM ET

FOXNEWS 3,390,000
MSNBC 1,210,000
CNN 1,070,000
CNN HEADLINE 909,000

FOXNEWS O’REILLY 3,980,000
FOXNEWS HANNITY 3,239,000
FOXNEWS GRETA 2,947,000
FOXNEWS BECK 2,740,000
FOXNEWS BAIER 2,401,000
FOXNEWS SHEP 2,185,000
COMEDY DAILY SHOW 1,777,000
MSNBC OLBERMANN 1,499,000
COMEDY COLBERT 1,446,000
CNNHN GRACE 1,336,000
CNN KING 1,292,000
MSNBC MADDOW 1,149,000
CNN COOPER 1,021,000

April 15 Tax Day brings swell of protests

Tea Parties across the USA on April 15, 2009.

April 15, 2009 Tea Party
April 15, 2009 Tea Party
Accross the USA, thousands of people protested. California is almost in bankrupcy. California has highest sales tax in the nation. Dennis Miller said on Fox today, “I have a contingency plan. I’d like to keep a buck for every buck I give away to stangers… We help too many of the clueless…”