Letters to the Editor

Letters: Politicians and tradeoffs, spending and mental health, etc.

Napa State Hospital experiences about 3,000 assaults a year, and while patients are most often the victims, staff members also are attacked.
Napa State Hospital experiences about 3,000 assaults a year, and while patients are most often the victims, staff members also are attacked. J.L. Sousa

The people’s needs should count the most

Re “Senator must pay tribute” (Forum, Dan Morain, Feb. 8): Dan Morain wrote a very informative and frank account about the choices that Richard Pan and Kamala Harris will soon be making, as called for under the current political system.

Both must decide which contributors to please the most or anger the least, regarding legislation requiring mandatory vaccinations for children, and a decision as to either OK or accept the sale of six hospitals to a different health network.

If only this same system would enable a politician to do what is actually best for the people themselves.

Jerry Marr, Davis

Public service?

Dan Morain’s column on Richard Pan’s toiling for Service Employees International Union starkly exposes some of the unfortunate relationships and trade-offs that often permeate the Capitol: we support your candidacy, you support our cause or agenda. The story helps explain terms like “service,” as in SEIU, and “Pan,” as in pandering.

Steve Schnaidt, Sacramento

Culture shift needed

Re “Violence rife in state hospitals for convicts” (Forum, Feb. 8): A need continues for secure and humane settings within which dangerous and/or law-breaking patients with a mental illness can receive treatment. The Department of State Hospitals continues to struggle in its attempt to provide such environments.

The ability of the department to change its culture and think outside the box has been historically constrained by politics, the law and its budget. If society wished to better meet this need, the body politic would follow. Then the department could attract better psychiatrists and other trained staff.

Psychotropic medication decisions would be taken out of the hands of the patients least able to make them. Pragmatic leadership would replace ineffective political bureaucrats and let common sense guide facility planning, staffing, policy and practices. The solutions are obvious to those whose noses aren’t buried in data.

Tim Worley, West Sacramento

Spending on mental health?

Re “Mental health act money is well spent” (Another View, Feb. 8): How ironic. While Robert Oakes spouts all the statistics about how Proposition 63 funds are helping the mentally ill of California, the article on the previous page by Dr. Stephen Seager describes the increase in violence in state mental health hospitals, with an average of 10 assaults a day at Napa State Hospital.

Perhaps the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission should send funds to the state hospitals instead of spending so many dollars collecting data.

Denise Harben, Auburn

Civics education in schools

Re “Civics education needs remedial work” (Viewpoints, Feb. 8): I agree with Mindy Romero that high schools can be critical partners in educating students about civic participation. The good news is that many high schools in the Sacramento area are working hard to get more students involved in the democratic process.

At Health Professions High School, we require students to be involved in civic projects to help them apply knowledge to a health concern in their community, from homelessness to human trafficking. Additionally, through the Sacramento Department of Education’s Action Civics Initiative, our school will work with 14 other schools to create meaningful classroom discussions on current events for students and to give them tools to make informed decisions. Many teachers love helping students and go beyond traditional classroom work to connect to their community. We believe their civic actions will lead to more confidence in themselves and hope for a better future.

Deborah Meltvedt, Sacramento