Letters to the editor

SPH rehab department issue isn’t a Mr. Congeniality contest

I applaud the Homer News for publishing the recent story about South Peninsula Hospital. It is important to the health of our community that these unpleasant things come to light.

It is with all due respect to the friends and supporters who took the time to write letters of support for the therapist. This particular situation is not, however, a Mr. Congeniality contest. It is speculative at best and foolish to the extreme to believe we can ever really know what a person is capable of and even more so when we were not there. Harvey Weinstein’s wife, Georgina Chapman, recently said she never suspected her husband was a monster and never had suspicions about him. “We had what I thought was a very happy marriage,” she said. Recently Camille Cosby has reportedly said she does not believe her husband Bill is guilty, despite a criminal court conviction of three counts of sexual assault and countless women on record recording their eerily similar stories.

The people who have stepped forward to report how they were hurt need our support and protection. It takes a special kind of courage to step forward and speak out about these actions, especially when they know there will always be a certain percentage of people who choose not to believe them.

Now state and federal agencies will be investigating the allegations and the community should step back and allow them to do their work. Let the facts speak, not emotional rhetoric paraded as fact.

Our community should have a reasonable expectation that our publicly funded health care entity has conducted itself with due diligence in regard to this matter. It is ultimately the oversight of the SPH Board of Directors and administration of SPH who are responsible for employees not adhering to policies, federal and state laws. People who have not done their jobs should be removed and help to usher SPH into the 21st century.

Mary Kirkpatrick-Fulbright

Thanks from Homer Emblem Club

As representative of the Homer Emblem Club and Homer Elks, I’d like to thank everyone who helped make this year’s Elk’s Essay Contest such a success. Along with the local Elk and Emblem Club, which presented cash to the contest winners, the Alaska State Elk Association also presented special medallions. Area businesses answered my request to enhance the prizes, and they made our contest so much more meaningful. A resounding thank you goes to: Boss Hogz, Fat Olive’s, Homer Theater and Ulmer’s.

Congratulations also go to our winners: Haylee Blaine, Riley Blake, Mason Watson, Isabella Jansen, Keith Roderick and Mischa Slaughter.

Thank you so much,

Sharron Cotogno

Vietnam vet: Get off your butts and vote

Greetings editors and citizens. Well, another round of elections is on its way, I am already finding those crude cardboard “Vote for Me” Pamphlets in my mail box. Not “put out by the candidate” but “I approve this message.” Usually they consist of an ugly message dissing the incumbent, and contain nothing of substance on how this candidate plans to run the show if he/she should be elected. Well, they just lost my vote.

The person I want in office must have a set of principals, a firm commitment to work for the voters (We, the People) and not be beholden to Big Oil, Big Business, lobbyists and other special interests. It strikes me that this kind of person is rare indeed, and if we ever find one we better pay attention and support them.

The big issue here is you, the people getting off your butts and casting your vote. When we have turnouts as low as 20 percent it just makes me ashamed of us. Remember folks, if you do not vote, you lose your right to do any complaining about our elected officials. There just is no excuse to be made when all it takes is 30 minutes to an hour to do your duty and exercise your rights, that I myself fought for in Vietnam and millions of other men fought for all over this planet.

So, please do your duty and vote for whoever you want to speak for you. All of us do matter.

Thank you for voting.

George Trudeau, Anchor Point

Ninilchik grad is grateful for health care scholarship

My name is Chelsea J. Oberle-Lozano. I am a graduating senior of the class of 2018 from Ninilchik High School and recipient of the Health Care Providers Scholarship from the Homer Foundation. I grew up in southern California with a single mother. By the time I turned seven my mother lost custody and I came to live in Alaska with my father. Ninilchik has been my home for the past 13 years and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The small community has really given me a sense of home ever since I was a young girl.

When I received the Homer Foundation Health Care Providers Scholarship, I was in shock. My most secondary goals are to attend Kachemak Bay Campus for my generals and the transfer out to another school and pursue a degree in nursing. I grew up in a community that was always giving back to its people. I’ve always wanted to help others and believe that it will be a good career for myself.

When my brother was born, he had a multitude of problems from his autism, crooked leg and cerebral palsy. I was quite old when he was born and became more like a parent then a sister. I love him deeply and because of the obstacles he has overcome he has encouraged me to do the same.

I will pursue a degree in nursing, with the Health Care Providers Scholarship. I feel a sense of relief knowing that they believe in me, my community believes in me and most importantly, my brother believes in me.

Thank you.

Chelsea J. Oberle-Lozano

Merchants of death leave a legacy

The merchants of death continue to prowl the Earth as children everywhere continue to die, children who only wanted to grow up. Those who survive will face another day, another week filled with fear, terror, death and a reality we cannot begin to imagine. They are truly the walking dead. Stripped of the most basic understanding of what it means to be human, due to the hatred and greed that lives in the hearts of some men.

These men were once little boys, wanting only to grow up. They had no knowledge of the words which would come to define their lives: words like deceit, greed, hubris, obscene opulence and perversion. They succumbed to the forces that proved to be stronger than they themselves. The little boy who only wanted to grow up never did. He just got older and more dangerous. Be vigilant. Be thankful. Pray.

Fran Zwonitzer

Response to other letters

As one of the women on record, in the May 17 article, I would like to respond to some recent letters to the editor.

“I suggest that his staff develop a sense of humor and respect…”

How many individuals do you think it would take to substantiate that something is amiss with “being sarcastic in a friendly way”? Would 12 offended people be enough? 15? 20?

“Saying a baby with a new tooth could hurt a nursing mother is hardly pornography, commenting about a sleeveless blouse, complaining that someone stands too close in talking all could easily be resolved with simple communications…”

Even in the 1960s, you could not argue that talking about a woman’s body in the specific ways that Douglas has was remotely appropriate for a department director, especially given the built-in power imbalance between a manager and their subordinates.

“Given the momentum of the #MeToo movement, there was a risk that the growing scrutiny of behavior and intention could be itself abused.”

What did I gain by speaking up? Friends? No. Money? No. Entertainment? No. How exactly is ‘growing scrutiny of behavior and intention’ abused in this case? I’m curious.

“…give due honor to our time-tested servant Doug Westphal. He is giving of his time to learn how to even better communicate his good will to all of us. It is our job to see clearly and support his great contribution to our community.”

I see the appeal to antiquity, but I am interested in truth. I believe it is essential to acknowledge that people who have been known to do good things, are also capable of causing great harm.

Sarah Bollwitt

Re-do the task force

The makeup of the HERC Task Force is not acceptable to me for several important reasons: it does not include a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission, does not have gender equity, and does not have a single member who is in a health care field or area related to health/exercise/recreation.

The members of the Parks and Recreation Commission are citizens who were chosen to represent us on matters concerning parks and recreation in our city. They have the most knowledge and understanding of what is important for our citizens in this area, and one member of this commission needs to be included on this Task Force in order to make the best determination of the possibilities for the HERC Building.

There is no reason that there shouldn’t be gender equity when there is a task force appointed by the city and this one is not even close.

In addition, recreation, exercise and good lifestyle choice options are all extremely important for our health and wellbeing and to have no member on that task force that is a health care professional is unacceptable.

The Mayor needs to re-do the task force in order to appoint a better array of members including one member from the commission and one health care professional, and an overall group that has gender equity. The fate of the HERC is important to us now and will be for a long time into the future especially since it will impact the health of our future generations. Decisions about the HERC affect city residents and those of us outside the city—we all need to have the best decisions made and the only way to accomplish that is to re-do the Task Force.

Lani Raymond

Separate your papers

The Kenai Peninsula Borough’s Waste Management department and the contractor who manages the Homer Transfer Facility, have decided to separate newspapers from other mixed papers for recycling. Each product that is recycled is delivered to a company in Anchorage. Each product is considered a commodity, and as such has a potential value. However, currently in order for the contractor to recycle mixed paper, they must pay $40 per ton. So, it is important to minimize the quantity of mixed paper. This can be done by separating the newsprint/newspapers from the mixed paper. The market for newsprint paper is better than for other mixed paper.

Please sort your newspapers from your other mixed paper when you recycle paper products.

We thank you for recycling.

Vivian Finlay for Kachemak Advocates of Recycling (KARe)

Owning an animal is a big responsibility

Since we’ve had about two months of “winter time gossip” and it’s time to move on, let’s have a subject change. Something a little more positive than hearsay induced word vomit: The commitment of owning an animal.

It’s a lot of work. We’re talking hours each day; money being spent on their needs. Know that when you adopt an animal, you are taking on a responsibility that is very much like having children: A 24/7 commitment. But the rewards are oh-so-worth it. Anyone that has every known the love of a dog can attest that there is nothing else like it. But it isn’t just given, it must be earned.

You are looking at a good 10 plus year-commitment to that creature when you take them into your life. Please do understand the concept of responsibility before you go out and get your kids a puppy or kitten, and realize three months later just what kind of time and energy goes into raising them.

In the past few years, we’ve seen an influx of animal dumps. Many of these animals have been older dogs. Dumping an animal on the side of the road leaves them vulnerable and open to numerous situations such as being hit by a vehicle, and/or eaten by a bear or coyotes. With summer fast approaching, I would like to remind individuals that we have a wonderful Homer Animal Shelter (235-3141) that has truly turned around in the past year thanks to new management. If ever you are in need of a new home for your animals, please take them to the shelter where they have the best chance of being re-homed.

And if for some reason you find it incredibly too time consuming to drop your critter off at the beautiful shelter, please do provide your animal with a collar that has their name written in permanent marker, large enough for us to read. It makes getting them off the road and more adjusted to their new homes, easier — especially as they get older and stuck in their ways.

Heather Schade

HERC Task Force must be done right

The City Council still is working on the composition of the HERC Task Force, and it’s time for a reset. Having a PARCAC representative is a must, and, despite attempts to dismiss this issue, gender equity always must be a guiding principle for any decision-making body. Since recreation and education both relate to personal health, a health pro also should be included on the task force.

Council has set a precedent in the past of putting aside a process that has gone awry in favor of a complete restart. That happened with the process of hiring a city manager, and the outcome was a very good one.

Accepting that a process has not worked out doesn’t require placing blame, but still it’s a daunting political step. If the council will throw this process into reverse, and then approach it carefully and deliberately, we should respect their willingness to try to do better something that isn’t going all that well right now. HERC is an extremely valuable property of the people of Homer, and it has great potential to serve the public good far into the future. We have to get this right, and that’s going to require selecting R before shifting back into D.

Ron Keffer

Amazing Contradictions

One by one, a select few employees past and present took offense to the former Rehabilitation Director at SPH. One by one, they submitted their grievances above and beyond the call of one who felt they were victims; so much so it coalesced in to a stew of victim-hood they didn’t have to eat. Douglas, as well as those who work and visit SPH have to consume it, and will for some time.

After Sept. 11, 2001 the Homer News published stories on Sept. 13 and 20 about those terrorist attacks. The sum total of those stories together equaled only 39 percent of what was published about the former rehabilitation director on May 17, 2018. That is a contradiction showing how magnetized attention to grievances against males in leadership positions has been overpowered since the truly justified exposure of those who actually deserve calling out began in earnest.

Another facet of one accuser has been their decision to publish negative social media posts about SPH (against the Code of Conduct as an employee). If this goes without correction, double-standards is the order of the day.

I wish when I was in the Marine Corps I could tell my superiors they were standing too close, that my leave requests were taking too long to be approved, their making us clean the same room until 5 a.m. was overdoing it, continually standing posts for 24 hours or more with little food and water were hurtful, but that was circumstantial and what I volunteered for and was contractually bound to.

SPH is not the Marine Corps. Anyone can express their grievances to someone as kind and receptive as Douglas. Moreover, his past is not littered with records of complaints and abuses that you would expect to find in what his accusers describe him to be. People don’t begin abusive behavior decades in to their professional life — it is ingrained in their personality and a clear track record of negligence would be evident. Something Douglas does not have.

Thank you for your time,

Kellen Davenport

HERC Task Force confusion was over an incomplete application

Some Homer residents may feel frustrated by Mayor Brian Zak’s failure to appoint a Parks, Art, Recreation and Culture Advisory Commission representative for the recently approved HERC task force (I’m a member). They shouldn’t. I think its a simple case of failure to communicate based upon false assumptions.

For years PARCAC members have been both using the HERC and engaging in discussions with the city over its use, so when the HERC Task Force was recently created they naturally anticipated a seat. Although the verbiage of the resolution creating the task didn’t mandate a seat for them, it could be construed that it did. Thus, the PARCAC selected a well-known and prominent member, and that member, through another communication misunderstanding, submitted an incomplete application listing essentially just name and contact info.

However, all the remaining eighteen applications had complied with the prescribed public process of listing their qualifications and reasons for their selection. Even though Mayor Zak was familiar with and had anticipated appointing that member to the task force, there’s no way in God’s green earth he could justify doing so based solely upon name recognition without impugning the city’s reputation as cynically employing a “good old boy’s network” when selecting members for Homer’s civic bodies.

As an officer and custodian of the city’s reputation for fairness and impartiality in civic governance, Mayor Zak had no choice but to deny the incomplete PARCAC application in order to uphold the integrity of the civic process.

And as a gentleman Mayor Zak will not risk embarrassing the PARCAC folks by publically justifying himself. He will bear their indignation, instead.

Unless Mayor Zak states otherwise, I believe this is a reasonable and acceptable explanation of events.

Larry Slone

Current police station is not too old

I do not live in Homer, but I spend a lot of money there (at least so far).

Do the proponents of this ridiculous expenditure ($7.5 million) expect to round up enough scofflaws to justify a new jailhouse? Does that price tag not seem a little high? Perhaps we are so accustomed to hearing city government tossing around large numbers that the word “million” has lost its meaning to us. This same type of proposition was overwhelmingly defeated by Homer voters less than two years ago. Is the council hoping that you have forgotten?

The argument that the present building is old is ludicrous. Some of the most noteworthy buildings in this country are far older. When the plumbing and ventilation system of the White House were out of date we didn’t build a new White House. We should take pride in our old buildings and strive to preserve them, updating and repairing as necessary.

It is ironic that the City is spending $5,000 of the taxpayers’ money trying to convince the voters to approve higher taxes. The City claims that the sales tax will “only” be raised .35 percent. Well, add that to the 7.5 percent we are already paying, and, at nearly 8 percent, it just might push a lot of us to pursue many purchases elsewhere. The “mere pennies,” as it has been referred to, quickly adds up to many dollars.

Deviously choosing a separate voting date in June, rather than adding it to an already scheduled election, is a shrewd, conniving, and unscrupulous way to discourage the voting of those who are against the measure; proponents are usually more apt to turn up on an inconvenient date than opponents. The council claims that including this measure on the already scheduled ballot might “confuse” people. Don’t let them get away with insulting your intelligence.

Citizens of Homer, surprise the City council and think for yourselves. And vote.

Michael Bavarsky

Fritz Creek