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Welcome to the Sonoma County Gazette ARCHIVE of PAST EDITIONS. Our NEW WEBSITE is up and running, so GazExtra is serving as your path to archived articles. Thanks for being part of our Sonoma County community...stay in touch...e-mail me - VESTA

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Children's Museum of Sonoma County

at The Children's Museum of Sonoma County...

On Sunday, May 15, from 11am-4pm the Children's Museum of Sonoma County (CMOSC) is opening its new home on Steele Lane in Santa Rosa for its first May Day is Play Day event. This is a great opportunity to tour the site before construction begins, view conceptual sketches of exhibit designs, enjoy the full Museum-on-the-Go, experience the “Raceways” exhibit from the Sacramento Children's Museum AND see our newest exhibit - a real Indy Racing Car – donated by Infineon Raceway! A suggested donation of $3 per person for the entire day, rain or shine. All proceeds will go towards the cost of exhibits and site.

The CMOSC was started in 2005 by CEO and Founder, Collette Michaud, a mom living in Petaluma with her husband and two young children. She wanted a culturally enriching place to take her two boys in Sonoma County.

The mission of the CMOSC is to inspire children's creativity and stimulate their curiosity to discover the world through playful exploration of the arts and sciences. The CMOSC envisions a compassionate and vibrant place that supports the creative potential of all children and enhances a child's capacity to actively contribute to the long-term health and prosperity of the community.

Over the past five years the CMOSC has operated primarily as a Museum-on-the-Go, bringing hands-on, interactive exhibits focused on science and the arts to over 10,000 children at more than 140 events, including schools, private and community events throughout Sonoma County.

Last December, the CMOSC signed a lease with Jeannie Schulz for the building and 4.2 acres of land at 1835 W. Steele lane, within walking distance from the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Snoopy Ice Arena. Conceptual exhibit designs by S2 Associates in Napa are now complete and Axia Architects of Santa Rosa is leading the tenant improvement efforts. The immediate plans for the renovated building include a toddler room, an art room, birthday party room, and main gallery focused on science and Sonoma County History. Future plans also include an outdoor theatre and interactive outdoor gardens. The CMOSC hopes to begin renovations to the site in spring of 2012, with a goal of opening to the general public by the end of the year.

In the meantime, the CMOSC is hosting Birthday parties for kids ages 3-10, workshops, and other special events like May Day at the new site.

We hope to see you on May 15th, but you can also visit the Museum-on-the-Go at other wonderful community events this spring and summer starting with Earth Day celebrations at both Montgomery Village (April 16) and Windsor on the Green (April 17th). For more information about birthday parties, workshops, School Outreach programs, and the Museum-on-the-Go, please visit our website at Bringing hands-on experiences in science, art and nature to ALL children is the goal of the CMOSC and we need your help! Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the museum and be a part of making this wonderful and much needed family resource a reality for Sonoma County’s families!

Collette Michaud,CMOSC Founder and CEO, Biography (Optional/FYI)
Collette has over 20 years of experience working in software design as a project leader, game designer, art manager and animator. For more than ten years, she was a key innovator and manager for Lucas Learning and LucasArts Entertainment Company. While at LucasArts, Collette was a part of the executive management team and was recruited to help launch Lucas Learning LTD. During her tenure at Lucas Learning, Collette worked with teachers, scientists, and young children to create award winning educational software products. In 2001, Collette left the software industry to raise her two young sons. Having children of her own opened her eyes to the real need for hands-on experiential learning outside of the computer.

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Monday, May 9, 2011

Sonoma County Bike to Work in May

Bike Commuting: A Simple Solution
By Sandra Lupien

Which of these applies to you?
I want to save money.
I want to improve my health/get more exercise.
I want to spend more time outdoors.
I want to reduce my carbon footprint.
I want to have more fun.
Most of us probably relate to most, if not all, of those statements. And, while might perceive some of them to be in conflict with others, the truth is that there’s one simple action that serves every one of these desires: getting around by bike!

Think about it: automobile fuel prices are climbing toward an all-time high (not to mention insurance costs); the best exercise is outdoors and the utilitarian kind is easiest to schedule; the only energy required by you to pedal your bike comes from the food you eat, and you (um, hopefully) emit far, far, far less carbon than your car; and riding a bike will make you feel like a kid again.

Haven’t ridden a bike in years? Do you ride for fun or for sport, but feel daunted by the idea of turning your commute into a training ride? Getting answers to your questions is a key to getting started.

“How do I get my kids to school?”
Make it family time. Get a trail-a-bike, tandem, kid seat, or trailer. Learn great riding skills and teach them to your kids. Have fun with it. Bike the kids to school, then continue on to work.

“Won’t I be all sweaty and disheveled?”
If your company doesn’t have onsite showers, advocate for them. In the meantime, stow toiletries in your desk and bring a shower in a coffee cup (a warm washcloth in your portable mug). Keep a couple changes of clothes in your office if necessary.

“How do I find the extra time?”
If your commute is just a few miles, you might find yourself getting to work more quickly when you bike. If it’s a longer commute, deduct the time you spend biking to work from your regular workout schedule.

“How do I ride on the road with all those cars?”
This can feel intimidating, but with a little education, biking on the road becomes second nature. Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition’s monthly “Street Skills for Bike Riders” class is a great resource. Remember to wear layers, bright colors, and to have lights on the front and back of your bike for night time riding. It helps to plan your route in advance and try it out on a weekend when you’re not under time pressure.

“How do I carry what I need?”
Bike commuting is hot, and the bike industry knows it. New racks, baskets, bags, trailers, and cargo bikes make it easier than ever to tote everything you need on your bicycle. A regular old backpack works great, too!

“How do I ride in the rain?”
Get started in the Spring and Summer, and you’ll be ready to don rain gear come January. If not, don’t worry about it… you’ll start again when the weather clears up.

Get started in May!
May is National Bike Month and Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition and its amazing community partners will be celebrating all month long. The biggest celebration is May 12th, Bike to Work Day, when we’ll set up nearly 30 “Energizer Stations” throughout the County. Plan your morning commute to coincide with one of these stops, where you’ll find coffee, food, great prizes, and other people biking to work. Then, that evening, find a Bike Home Celebration in your community!

Bike to Work Day is great, but repetition and support are the keys to forming a new habit, so get some co-workers together and register for the Team Bike Challenge. Throughout the month of May, you and your teammates will log points for each day you use your bicycles for transportation. You could be the winning team in Sonoma County – or in the entire Bay Area region. Warning: People who participate in this popular contest report becoming addicted to bike commuting and tend to start pedaling to work year-round.

The key is to give yourself a break. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to bike every day. For long commutes, drive part way, and ride the rest. Try it once a week for starters, and build from there.
Once you get started and get into a routine, you’ll be amazed how much you look forward to your bike commute.

Sandra Lupien is the Outreach Director at Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition (SCBC), a non-profit organization that promotes bicycling for transportation and recreation. Visit for details about Bike to Work Day, Bike Month events, Safe Routes to School, and to learn how SCBC is making Sonoma County the best possible place to ride a bike.


Bike Commuter of the Year: John Daly

celebrates his 66th birthday by pedaling to a Giants Game

As thousands of Sonoma County residents prepare to celebrate Bike to Work Day this Thursday, May 12th, Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition introduces Sonoma County Bike Commuter of the Year, John Daly.

Daly, a counselor at Santa Rosa Junior College, was nominated by his co-worker, Roberta Delgado. “Two years ago I changed offices and moved into the building where he [Daly] works,” writes Delgado, “and it became increasingly difficult for me to justify driving from my Northwest Santa Rosa home to our SRJC office. I was inspired to acquire a commuter bike and to begin riding to work myself. Soon three others in our department began riding frequently---one from as far away as Sebastopol. Nominee’s question every dry day is "Did you ride today?" and he has a high-five for me every time I can say ‘yes’.”

Daly, has been bike commuting from his home in Occidental to SRJC, rain or shine, for 30 years. In the darker winter months, he drives 5 miles East to Graton, and bikes the rest of the way to avoid riding in the dark.

“To me,” says Daly, “It’s a lifelong commitment. By bike commuting, I’m guaranteed my daily work-out, which is just wonderful. There’s no better way to start the day – it clears your mind. It’s like shaving – something I just get up in the morning and do! Plus, I just love to ride…”

Read a full interview with Daly at

Daly celebrates his 66th birthday on Bike to Work Day, May 12th, by riding his bike from Occidental to the Larkspur ferry to enjoy the San Francisco Giants game.

“John Daly is a great role model for anyone who wants to try bike commuting,” says Sandra Lupien, Outreach Director of Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition. “He’s especially committed, and has an especially long commute. Luckily, most of us in Sonoma County live less than 5 miles from work, so it really is possible to enjoy getting to work by bike.”

Bike to Work Day is a great time to start!

Visit one of 30 Energizer Stations throughout the County between 6-9 a.m. And, be sure to attend one of four Bike Home From Work Celebrations (Sonoma, Petaluma, Sebastopol, Santa Rosa) that evening.

Find a Bike to Work Day Energizer Station or Celebration, and a list of more Bike Month events at Or, call Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition at 707-545-0153.

And, make sure to register for Bike to Work Day online at If you pledge to try riding for transportation even once in May, you’ll be registered to win great prizes, including a new bike!

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Free Parenting Group in Guerneville

Free Parenting Group

By Donna Roper
Are you admitting to being a bad parent if you ask for help? By my definition asking for help means you are not a bad parent, you are seeking to become a better one. Have you ever met a perfect parent? They are about as common as unicorns. Here is some information about the new parenting group forming in Guerneville. The group is currently offered free at 8:30 AM Friday mornings at Guerneville School.

When you join us you will be asked to introduce yourself and tell a bit about your family and household. The others in the group will do the same. You will come to know who has kids the same age as yours and who has them full time or part time or only for visits. Some will be working toward increasing the time they spend with their children after a family crisis. Some will be single moms or dads; some will be parenting with a partner, some with a grandparent, some as grandparents parenting one more time. Some will have a young first child, some with several school age children or some with teenagers. Each will have different stories and many will have challenges and successes similar to your own. Your story will be heard with respect and kept confidential; you will decide for yourself what to share.

Information is offered on topics such as what to expect at each stage of development and how aspects of each of our (both parent and child) basic personalities can affect parenting and learning styles. There are tip sheets about handling common difficulties. You will be encouraged to bring specific challenges to the group for suggestions and feedback. There are opportunities to practice new strategies. There is about an hour dedicated to presentation of a topic and an hour to use as the group chooses. Sometimes that will be to offer support for a parent’s challenging situation, sometimes to discuss the topic of the day more fully, sometimes to gather information about a topic that a group member is curious about or to practice role playing with each other.

Much of the information presented comes from the Positive Parenting Program (“Triple P”) that is being introduced statewide in California. This program focuses on increasing positive interactions parents have with children, recognizing that the need for discipline is naturally reduced as a result and offering effective strategies for dealing with challenges. When discipline is needed it is always in the interest of teaching the child self-regulation, communication and appropriate behavior.. “The challenge for parents is to avoid accidentally rewarding difficult behavior and to start rewarding the behavior you want to encourage.” wrote Dr. Matthew Sanders, author of Every Parent, and Founder of the Triple P Positive Parenting Program.

There is also information on ways to reduce the likelihood of violence in families and in society. There are surveys to take to help in gaining an understanding of personality types, yours and your child’s, and how each of you recharges, gathers and processes information and makes decisions. This allows you to tailor your parenting to be more effective as well as to discover ways to take better care of yourself. All of the above and more is offered with the recognition that no parent is (or should expect to be) perfect and that each of us knows our own family best and is free to adapt the strategies to best suit themselves in the present.

This challenge is really for us to change the way we see the world, what we focus on, learning to look for and acknowledge the positive. As we practice doing this with our children, showing them what we DO want rather than repeating what we don’t want, catching them being “good” and letting them know we have noticed, we begin to feel more gratitude for the positive things we have in our lives in general, beginning a new habit of mind perhaps. Scientists that study the brain are seeing that dwelling on the positive and the good feelings it brings to us can actually change the levels of brain chemicals that improve our mood. What a great “side effect” of positive parenting!

This group is offered by Russian River Counselors in co-operation with River to Coast Children’s Services. It is facilitated by D. Breeze Holloway, MA who has been certified by Triple P and by ACT Against Violence parenting program, and is raising five children of her own. Parents who need to be a little late due to dropping children at another school are welcome! To join the group, please call 865-1200 Ext. 103 and leave a message.

This group is only the newest addition to the services offered in support of families by the counseling intern at RCCS and the therapists at Russian River Counseling. There are counseling services offered at both agencies for families that need more individualized attention, for individuals, couples and the whole family together, offered on a sliding scale to accommodate all income levels.


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Family Justice for Sonoma County

On the Verge of Greatness
Family Justice Center is Launched!

By Laura Colgate, Project Director
Currently a typical victim of family violence has to visit over 23 different locations to receive all the support and legal services currently available in Sonoma County. This scattering of services makes it difficult and discouraging for victims, and exposes them to prolonged jeopardy and increased risk of further violence.

The Family Justice Center Sonoma County (FJCSC) seeks to empower family violence victims to live free from violence and abuse by providing a coordinated community response and wrap-around services to victims through a single access point.

According to District Attorney Jill Ravitch, “The Family Justice Center will empower and strengthen the ability of women, children and elder crime victims to move from being victims to survivors, and then ‘thrivers’ in our community.”

The building at 2755 Mendocino Ave., near the County office complex, was bought last year by the County. Office construction is in progress, even as fundraising continues. The first floor will house Community Based Organizations FJCSC Advocate Staff, DA’s office Victim Assistance Advocates, and on-site partner agencies. The DA’s office of Prosecution, Santa Rosa Police Department Domestic Violence unit, and Sheriff’s Office Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault unit will all be housed on the second floor. Completion is expected later this year.

In advance of physically opening the doors of that location, partner agencies have already enhanced their collaboration and co-location of staff to support family violence victims and their children with comprehensive services. FJCSC Advocate Staff have been working together serving victims in Sonoma County since April, 2010.

For information or to make a contribution to the Family Justice Center of Sonoma County, go to the website at

Why We Need A Family Justice Center:
Two Survivor Stories

Story #1
“People often ask, ‘Why don’t women in an abusive relationship just leave?’ One reason is that we can be in more danger after we leave. My ex-husband threatened to kill me if I ever tried to leave him. I finally did leave, when he was out of the country. However, leaving didn’t make me safe.

A year after my two small children and I left my abusive ex-husband, he broke down the door to my home at 7:00 am in the morning and tried to kill me with a knife and a gun. I fought him with all my strength, but sustained life threatening injuries. My landlord finally stopped him and held a gun on my ex-husband until the police arrived and arrested him. I was taken away in an ambulance, and spent several days in intensive care.

My children who were 4 and 2 at the time were present during the attack. At the time I left my ex-husband there was no safe house in Sonoma County. If there had been a safe place for me to go, then I would not have had to endure this attack and carry the life long scars and my children would not have been traumatized.

“Once the police came and arrested my ex-husband I thought my ordeal was over, but I was wrong. I had never dealt with the criminal justice system and it was a world I didn’t understand.
I thought welfare and social workers was something they had in New York City. I didn’t know where to even begin. Finding the help I needed to deal with the aftermath of my attack was like going on a treasure hunt. I couldn’t just tell about the attack once, and then begin to heal and move forward with my life. With each individual or agency I had to retell my story, which traumatized me over and over again. I would not have made it without the help of family and friends.

“Thankfully, we have a safe house now in Sonoma County. The next step is to have a family justice center so that the resources needed by a family broken by domestic violence are all in one place. The victims will only have to tell their story of the abuse once and will have the support and help to stop the violence and begin the healing. Domestic violence services save lives, and the Family Justice Center will help the families heal and begin new health lives.”

Story #2
“Growing up, my mom only dated abusive men. I remember some pretty horrific fights and when I would tell her as a small child that we need to get away from which ever boyfriend she was getting beat up by. She would explain to me that the person loved us and that she had just done something to upset him. Only having abuse modeled for me, I really truly believed when I started dating if my boyfriend hit me, he loved me and it was just something I had done. I was attracted to the same type of men that my mother was, and oh boy, did I find one. My husband didn’t only beat me but also his three children that he shared with the previous wife.

“I took his abuse for about 5 years and suffered numerous injuries: broken teeth, ribs, face, arm, many stitches, etc. I had no self esteem, courage or strength left. We had a daughter together and one day when Ellie was 4 years old I had an aha! moment. As he was beating me and my daughter was hysterical I saw the cycle. I called 911 and for the first time ever followed through with pressing charges. The case was long and difficult and although the people that were helping us were absolutely wonderful, trying to navigate the county to find services was exhausting. My husband was eventually sentenced to 6 years and 8 months in prison. You would think it would be a relief and a fresh start, but because my husband had been the one supporting us, I didn’t have a job, couldn’t afford the rent and the services stopped because we weren’t in danger anymore. We ended up homeless, on welfare and struggled for several years after that.

“I finally put myself through school and now I work to help women struggling from the same issues I’ve fought through and overcome. My daughter and I are doing well and happy to report we are survivors and the cycle is broken.

“I’m so happy Sonoma County is going to have a Family Justice Center available for victims. You don’t know how difficult and scary it is until you are going through it. When I took my little girl and left my husband, lucky to be alive, I had no idea where to get help or what I needed to do first. It was devastating, embarrassing and overwhelming and on top of all of that trying to navigate the county to find the services and help was exhausting. If the Justice Center existed then I could have gotten referrals for a safe place to stay and counseling, help with filing my restraining order and would have been able to meet with the DA, officers and attorneys all without leaving my daughter. I truly believe this center is going to help victims come forward to help themselves.”


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Advocating for Sonoma County Youth

By Caitlin Childs
Founded in 1971, Social Advocates for Youth (SAY) is a non-profit organization providing counseling, crisis and community programs to youth and families throughout Sonoma County.

There are an estimated 1,100 homeless youth in Sonoma County, and more than 40 youth age out of foster care each year in Sonoma County. SAY’s crisis programs focus on these vulnerable youth populations and offer support and hope to youth who need it most. In Santa Rosa, SAY operates the Dr. James E Coffee House Teen Shelter, the county’s only 24/7 teen shelter. SAY also operates the Mary and Jose Tamayo House, a transitional housing program for youth who have aged out of foster care and need safe, stable housing and support in finding employment and continuing their education.

With so many youth estimated to be homeless it is no wonder that the Street Outreach team at the Coffee House Teen Shelter served more than 1,123 meals to hungry youth in 2010. That same year, counselors at Coffee House were able to safely reunite 93% of the youth who stayed at Coffee House with their families.

Another core program at SAY is mental health counseling. In Santa Rosa SAY offers free counseling for MediCal eligible youth ages 4-25, and our counselors fill a gap by providing counseling to youth in Healdsburg, Cloverdale and Sonoma Valley high schools. Our counselors work with youth and families to enhance communication skills, and challenge each individual to engage in activities and relationships that encourage discovery and development of their own unique talents, strengths, and abilities.

Recently, SAY began offering low-cost anger management and diversion groups for teens ages 13-18 who need help addressing social skills, dealing with feelings, finding alternatives to aggression, dealing with stress, and decision making.

SAY’s community programs include our Youth Employment Center in Santa Rosa and a tutoring program in the Sonoma Valley. Youth Employment Center staff help youth write resumes, teach job interviewing skills, offer career and education workshops and provide job referrals. In Sonoma, our Opportunities Now program offers counseling and tutoring to help youth achieve their GED or diploma.

Last year, our staff served approximately 6,000 individuals across Sonoma County at one of our five locations. We serve the Santa Rosa area at our main office, the Coffee House Teen Shelter, and Tamayo House, the North County at our office in Healdsburg, and the Sonoma Valley at our office in Sonoma.

The Coffee House Teen Shelter is located at 1243 Ripley Ave. in Santa Rosa, their crisis hotline number is (800) 544-3299. To find out more about SAY’s general programs and services, please visit or call (707) 544-3299.


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Friday, May 6, 2011

Conversation with Chester Aaron

Over-Radiation of African Americans
A Conversation with Chester Aaron

By Raynetta James
Chester Aaron, now 87 years old, has published 25 books: fiction and non-fiction, adult and young adult. He has won a variety of awards, including NEA and Primo Levy grants. His books have been translated into Dutch, French and German. He is a WWII veteran and a professor emeritus of Saint Mary's College. His new novel, About Them, is due late this year, and a new collection of ten short stories, Saved for My Pallbearers, is due early next year.

I have been getting creative writing tips from Chester for almost 2 years in a class started by Lolly Mesches to raise funds for the Occidental Center for the Arts. It was hosted at the home of the late Doris Murphy, a long-time labor and justice advocate and a founder of the center. During the year or so that Doris was well enough for us to meet at her house, Chester told me a story that came to mind when the current radiation crisis in Japan began. So I asked him about it:

Q. Chester, you told me that, when x-rayed, African Americans often received more radiation than a white patient of the same age and size. They got a higher dose of radiation than a white person, only because they were African American. Is that right?

A. Yes. The amount of extra radiation varied from tech to tech, hospital to hospital, but it was happening all over the country. The amount of extra radiation ranged from a third more to a half more that a white patient of similar body mass would have received. Radiation, especially in the aggregate, is dangerous; that's why there are lead shields. So over-radiation is likely to have caused many deaths and health problems over the years.

Q. How did you discover this over-radiation?

A. By accident. In the late 60's I was Chief Technician in the x-ray Department of Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley, California. I was concerned about the lack of standard training and practice of x-ray technicians and I believed licensure would help establish standards. At that time, New York was the only state requiring x-ray technicians to pass a state-sponsored exam to prove they were knowledgeable enough to safely dispense radiation to patients. We had been trying to get similar standards and licensure in California.

I was preparing for state committee hearings, when I learned from Pat, one of the seven x-ray technicians at Alta Bates, that she was giving extra radiation to every African American patient that she x-rayed, regardless of age, gender or the target of the radiation, whether it was bone, soft tissue, organs or the skull. She had been ordered to do so by the Radiologist who trained her. The text she used in training said that African Americans required extra radiation to provide films of acceptable diagnostic quality. Later, I found that the practice was common.

Q. When did it happen? Is it still going on?

A. After I discovered it in the late 1960's, I tried many times to get it stopped and acknowledged. It may have been stopped, in many hospitals, but it was never acknowledged. The question of after-effects on present and future African Americans should be studied and dealt with in terms of health consequences and deaths.

Q. You're saying although it was stopped, we should still be concerned?

A. I am. First, the effects of radiation are long term. Skin cancer, thyroid cancer, leukemia and reproductive harm are all possible. Second, the practice is part of the history of racial inequality in this country, part of the history of African Americans being treated as if they are "other." And the response of governmental officials and institutional leaders is part of the history of African Americans being treated as less than equal. Consider the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study of 1932-1972, when 400 Black men were infected with syphilis with secret government support. We don't stop being concerned about the ramifications of that experiment just because it was stopped. In both cases we should recognize that the same practices applied to white people would not be tolerated.

Q. And how did you try to stop it?

A. Over the years, I have contacted more than a hundred people who I thought should and would be concerned. I selected people I thought would do something to stop over-radiation, but I got few responses and less satisfaction. Each time I would send information to someone who should have cared, and either hear nothing or be brushed off. For instance, the last big push I gave it was in 1998, when I sent a letter to Ed Bradley. His program, 60 Minutes, was one that took risks and investigated stories in depth. I offered him a story more than 50 years deep. I told him how I had discovered that in most American Hospitals African Americans were being over-radiated, receiving more radiation than a comparable white patient, and that it had to be disclosed; it had to be stopped. The practice, I said could be more disastrous to African Americans than the results of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study.

Q. Weren't they interested?

A. I did get a response, from Catherine Kim, identified on her letter as "...a researcher for Ed Bradley." She said Mr. Bradley wanted to visit my California farm to interview me and disclose this unrecognized and horrible piece of American history. I agreed, but three days later a letter from Ms. Kim informed me that Mr. Bradley, having received information that the practice of over-radiating African Americans had stopped since I had first disclosed it some thirty years before, was canceling the pending visit and interview.

Q. That must have been disappointing, to get so close.

A. It was. I wrote back to inform them that though the practice had diminished it had not stopped. Even if it had stopped altogether, the reasons for it to have ever existed had to be disclosed and researched farther for a variety of reasons, only one of which related to our country's history. I told them that Mr. Bradley was certainly over-radiated when he was young because he was a "Negro," and that his parents had been over-radiated because they were "Negroes." Because of that generational over-radiation Mr. Bradley and his children and his children's children, may very well inherit ongoing health problems. And, I asked, what about African Americans who, unlike Mr. Bradley, do not have the benefits of high income and good health care to deal with those predictable and unpredictable consequences?

Q. What did they say to that?

A. I didn't hear a word. Sadly, 8 years later, in 2006, Mr. Bradley died of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. The risk of that disease greatly increases among people who have been exposed (or whose parents and grandparents have been exposed) to high doses of radiation. And the chances are very high that the parents of Mr. Bradley and Mr. Bradley himself, every time they were x-rayed, from childhood, received as much as twice the radiation that would have been given a white patient the same gender, age, size and muscle-mass. Think Hiroshima. Think Nagasaki. Think Chernobyl. In my letter lamenting his death, I included those details, but I never heard from Ms. Kim or anyone else at CBS.

Q. But that wasn't the first time you had tried to disclose and stop over-radiation, was it?

A. Oh no, as I said I had contacted hundreds of people over the years. When I discovered the practice in the late '60s I was in my mid-forties, barely 20 years home from WWII, where I had participated in the liberation of the concentration camp of Dachau. How could I not be sympathetic to the fate of innocent victims? So when I discovered the practice while preparing for hearings on State Licensure, I was astounded. I had received two years training at Cowell Hospital on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley. I had worked as an x-ray technician at Kaiser Hospital, San Francisco for two years and Alta Bates Hospital for three years before being appointed Chief Technician by the three Radiologists serving Alta Bates Hospital. In all that time I never once used the color of a patient's skin to determine how much radiation I should use. And my films had been acceptable to the Radiologists; after all they had made me Chief. I had never even heard of such a theory. But then Pat told me she had been ordered to do so by her Radiologist trainer, and her textbooks said that African Americans required extra radiation to provide films of acceptable diagnostic quality. Then I found out that most x-ray technicians had been taught the same thing, and did increase the dosage of radiation for African Americans. Their reasons varied: African Americans had darker skin, African Americans had harder bones, or African Americans' bones contained more calcium. I could find no scientific evidence proving any such reasons were legitimate.

Q. That was when you were fighting for licensure legislation. Did stopping the practice of over-radiation become part of the effort?

A. When our group working for State Licensure traveled to Sacramento to meet with the Committee on Efficiency and Economy in the State Assembly whose Chairman was Willie Brown, later San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, an African American. I was selected to act as spokesman. To illustrate the need for licensure, I noted that every x-ray technician in the state must learn the truth: that extra radiation to African American patients was not only unnecessary but hazardous. Willie Brown declared the meeting at an end. The Committee had no time, he said, to consider such discussion. Over the following years my letters of further explanation and appeal to Representative Brown received not one single reply. We failed to get licensure at that time.

I got involved in helping the East Bay technicians decide on the union by whom they wished to be represented. The ILWU (the International Longshoremen Workers Union) was selected. In that effort, I discovered through questions added to a survey of x-ray technicians that 72 of the approximately 90 technicians surveyed stated they did routinely give higher doses of radiation to African Americans. I tried to get the ILWU involved in the over-radiation battle, but our local representative and the Union officers could not have been less interested.

Q. Where did it go from there?

A. I kept gathering information about the possibly homicidal practice of over-radiating African Americans, and I heard about a physicist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (Dr. Karl Z. Morgan, Time Magazine, Sept. 8, 1967) who stressed the hazards of x-rays, inconsistent dosage and lack of training for many who gave x-rays. We exchanged letters of support for each other's work.

I heard from technicians all over the country who were as angry and helpless as I was and who gave me details of the textbooks and their Radiologists (many who "ordered" their techs to give extra radiation to African Americans.)

Senator Jennings Randolph (D. West Virginia) sent me a letter of strong support. He worked for many years to get Federal legislation to establish minimum standards for the accreditation of x-ray machine operations.

By the early to mid '70s I had a collection of letters and research documents totaling about 50 pages. By the late 90's, I had sent perhaps 50 copies to officials in the NAACP, in Health, Education, Journalism and Government, including my own senators Feinstein and Boxer and Representatives Lynne Woolsey and Ron Dellums, and to Representatives Shirley Chisholm and Maxine Waters, pleading for support. Maxine Waters sent me a card informing me that she was referring my letter to my Representative, Lynne Woolsey.

Rep. Woolsey did take the matter to the Office of the U. S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division. I received a letter from Bill Lann Lee, Acting Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division, dated May 20, 1998, which said that the practice did not, quoting here "appear to indicate ongoing violation of CRIPA (Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act), i.e. the circumstances you have described do not involve practices to which individuals confined to or residing in public facilities (let me emphasize that phrase) presently are being subjected. Under these circumstances we have no authority to initiate an investigation under CRIPA of your allegations...."

Rep. Ron Dellums, my own representative from my own city did not reply. A few years later, when I informed him that I intended to disclose this information to the then-very conservative Oakland Tribune, his Oakland Office Manager called and suggested I come to the office. I did. His greeting: "I understand you have a problem." My response: "I don't have a problem. You do. And Representative Dellums does. You are both black and I am white." He said he had not read the report I had sent to Congressman Dellums. I got up and left the office.

At meetings of my own American Society of X-ray Technicians I was hooted down and more than once called a Communist or agitator or both.

Q. Did you have any success at all?

A. There was a ray of hope in the early 70's: an African American Nurse at my own hospital, Ethel Jellins, RN, sent a copy of my document collection to her cousin, John A. Williams, a WWII vet and author and journalist at The Amsterdam News, New York.

John and I had several telephone conversations before he published an article in the Amsterdam News disclosing the practice of the over-radiation of African Americans. But I did not receive one response.

And, as another hopeful sign, Ralph Nader was introduced to the issue by Dr. Karl Z. Morgan. Mr. Nader did his own research in several hospitals and testified before a U.S. Senate subcommittee, I think in 1971, to publicize the issue, citing my work. His statistics about the practice of over-radiation bore mine out.

The following day, several newspapers all over the country had Nader's testimony about the over-radiation of African American patients on their front pages. The stories included reference to my name and my work. David Perlman, Science Editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, interviewed me on the phone for a half hour. The day after that the Chronicle ran the science editor's report.

The day after that I was given notice by the Assistant Administrator at Alta Bates Hospital, Richard Adams, to clean out my desk and be off the premises in two hours.
When I informed Mr. Nader of the consequences of his testimony he very kindly said that if I wanted my job back he would come out to California to help me. I refused his offer. I should have accepted it.

Thinking myself more than qualified to be a Chief Technician I was sure I would have no difficulty getting a job. But over the following year every hospital and private office I applied to turned me down, except one: Ross General in Marin County. I lasted not quite two months. I was fired when I protested that the Chief Radiologist was not permitting the technicians to have their coffee breaks.

Over the years, after I left the Medical Field (I became a professor at Saint Mary's College, where I served for 25 years) I continued to try to get a variety of relevant local and national authorities to act in some way on the issue of over-radiation of African Americans, but they all ignored those efforts. The only protest by a relevant authority came from an article published in the Black Muslim newspaper Muhammad Speaks. There was no reaction.

Enter Jack S. Mandel, PhD, MPH, Professor and Head Mayo Chair in Public Health at the University of Minnesota. In the mid-90's, I began receiving requests from Professor Mandel to participate in a study that was developing information about the effects of possible radiation effects on the health of former x-ray technicians.

I think I answered two different surveys before I sent a letter to Prof. Mandel, along with my collected documentation regarding the over-radiation of African Americans, and asked him if he was including in his study the fact that African American Technicians might have extra concerns because of the cumulative effects of their exposure as patients added to their exposure as x-ray technicians. He did not respond.

I persisted, demanding a reply, or, I said, I would go to higher authorities. I reminded him of the involvement of "scientists" and health officials in Alabama in the infamous and deadly Tuskegee Syphilis Study, where at least 400 African American men died, thanks to scientific research, funded by the same Federal Government that was probably funding much of his work.
I sent a copy of this letter and copies of my documents to a reporter for the leading Minnesota newspaper.

Finally, a reply came from the Professor, dated March 17, 1997, in which he said, "I have talked to many people at the National Cancer Institute and elsewhere about the issue you raised. I was not able to locate anyone who had any information. I spoke to people who are international experts in radiation epidemiology and health physics representing over three decades of research experience. None was able to recollect the Senate Commerce Committee hearings to which you referred or the issue of over-radiation of black patients."

I wrote back pointing out that I had originally brought the issue to his attention ten or eleven years earlier when I first received his questionnaire. I reminded him that I had documented the practice some 25-30 years earlier, that my documentation of the practice was verified and reported before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee by Ralph Nader, that, in preceding and subsequent public testimony by Dr. Karl Z. Morgan of Oak Ridge National Laboratories, after performing his own research, verified the ongoing practice and suggested that the death of approximately 300 African Americans per year was related to this over-radiation, that David Perlman, the Science Editor of the San Francisco Chronicle had interviewed me and published much of this information in the Chronicle. I reminded him that all of this testimony and documentation was public record. I accused him of willfully denying and ignoring the facts, facts relevant to his study of the effects of radiation of x-ray technicians.

I sent copies of my letter to many people. Dr. Mandel never responded. Of the governmental officials I contacted, only Representative Maxine Waters replied, to inform me she was relaying my letter to my own Representative, Congresswoman Lynne Woolsey, who contacted the Civil Rights Division of the Attorney General's office - I have already described their letter and reasons for doing nothing - as well to 60 Minutes, the results of which I have already described.
I gave up.

Then in 2009, in a brief essay delivered on National Public Radio, reviewing my life, I mentioned (20 seconds in a statement of about five minutes) "... my attempts to stop the over-radiation of African American patients in hospitals 40 years ago...."

Over the next several days I received phone calls and emails requesting more information. I contacted the offices of the NAACP in Baltimore, Maryland. I spoke to Mr. Adam Lee who transferred me to Ms. Wendy Hamilton. Ms. Hamilton expressed serious interest. I suggested I send her copies of those documents I still had. She agreed. I sent the copies. I heard nothing. Is, was, this silence a repetition of the disinterest displayed by the NAACP in the '60s? But why? I sent Ms. Hamilton an email saying that I am now almost 86 years old and I would not be patient and considerate and indulgent any longer. Should I not hear from the NAACP in 5 days I would seek other routes for disclosure. I still have not heard.

Suggestion: if you are an African American - no matter your age, no matter your gender - think about what increased health risks you may now be exposed to because, and only because, you are an African American. Shouldn't we all, but especially the NAACP, be concerned?


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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Sonoma County organizes to Invest Upstream

By Lisa Mann
Local government and community organizations who serve vulnerable populations in Sonoma County are simultaneously facing unprecedented funding cuts and a recession-fueled increase in needs. The news is full of agencies struggling to make up budget shortfalls and trying to do more with less. But a group of local leaders in health and human service organizations have been quietly collaborating on a long range plan to not only accomplish more with less, but to actually eradicate poverty—and the resulting problems associated with poverty—in Sonoma County.

The project is called the Upstream Investments Initiative. “The concept of Upstream Investments is simple,” says Jo Weber, the Director of Sonoma County’s Human Service Department. “Rather than spending limited resources to repair difficult societal problems once they occur, the Upstream Initiative takes early aim at the factors that lead to those problems with investment in prevention focused outcome-based programs to keep them from occurring at all.”
According to Upstream Initiative supporters, by embracing Upstream Investments today, we as a community can reduce the downstream need for expensive services–like criminal justice costs, child or substance abuse, or public aid. In addition, by reducing the obstacles to academic achievement and future employment, upstream investments strengthen our workforce and increase our tax base, building a more robust local economy.

Many “upstream investments” target early childhood. For example, the Nurse-Family Partnership, a program on the Upstream Investments Portfolio of Model Programs, was shown to decrease child abuse and neglect by low-income, first-time mothers by up to 80 percent and to reduce children’s arrests by age 15 by more than 50 percent. In addition to the societal benefits of less child abuse and less crime, the Nurse Family Partnership results in a cost savings of over $17 for every dollar spent for each mother and child served.
“Upstream investments are cost effective. In an era of very difficult budget situations, it only makes sense to be fiscally responsible, to focus on programs and policies that are proven to have the desired effects, and reduce the most serious issues we face,” says Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Chair Efren Carrillo.

“The cost of not investing in our children is high,” agrees Weber. “Every adult and child in Sonoma County spends more than $800 in federal, state, and local taxes each year just for criminal justice costs—and that is just one downstream cost. There are many others, from child welfare, special education, and public assistance costs to expenses for substance abuse or mental health treatment.”

Although early childhood programs have been proven to be highly effective in targeting downstream outcomes, Supervisor Shirlee Zane, in a recent public Forum meeting explaining Upstream Investments, pointed out that Upstream Investments is not just about early childhood interventions, it is about getting “upstream” of any difficult problem. “Upstream programs like Head Start may reduce arrests or high school drop-outs,” she says, “but in-home support for frail seniors is also upstream, because it prevents the need for expensive nursing home care.”
Weber says this effort won’t affect the immediate budget crisis. In fact, she says, “the cost benefit of upstream investments is clear, but making the investment in the current budget crisis is difficult.” she says.  “This is a marathon, not a sprint. If we invest today, we won’t see the full effect for years—or even decades, and in the meantime we must be both reactive and proactive. We know we can get a better return on our collective investment by focusing our attention on the prevention rather than the remediation of problems that have already occurred.  

We can help people before they fall. 
We can make a real difference. 
That is certainly worth an investment.”

For more information see: http://


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Sonoma County Bag Ban gets Personal

by Mary Munat AKA Green Mary
At a recent planning meeting for the Public Forum on single-use bags, the group was discussing what to serve for light breakfast fare, and at my suggestion of including fruit, Melissa Bushway said, “No fruit is in season locally now, so what can we have instead?” I lightly jerked back in the eco-chair inside my head, but externally smirked and nodded, delighted to be environmentally headed off at the pass by this principle-driven young woman. Working together on this all-volunteer campaign, I became ever more intrigued by the intelligent, charming activist on the bag-ban path beside me. Melissa demonstrates that relying on reusable bags and habits can be seamless.

The most striking thing about Melissa is her awareness of the impact of her actions and the core knowledge that what she does, what everyone does in every day life, matters, a lot. How does one get to be this way? Melissa grew up on a 14-acre, redwood-covered property in Santa Cruz, with an arborist dad and a gardening mom. The nearest neighbor, still her best friend today, was a quarter mile away and her house had no electricity. She came into the world from the woods and has always deferred to nature when making decisions.While going to school at UC Santa Cruz, her classes as an Environmental Studies major increased the number and complexity of her natural filters.

When she learned about the destruction that shrimp farming wreaked on local eco-systems, she stopped eating shrimp. Then she started asking questions about farmed salmon, sometimes causing eye rolling from her dining companions, but steadily wondering where things came from and what they cost on all levels to get to our plates, homes or lives, and making adjustments to her lifestyle to suit new information… What a good idea!
In casting about for options for eliminating plastic bags from her life, she took her passion for sewing and began making produce bags, mostly out reused vintage fabric with patterns harking back to the 70’s and 80’s, bright and easy to use as we all move away from plastic bags wherever we can. What a good idea! She recently began selling them at the Share Exchange Made Local Marketplace in Santa Rosa.

Growing up, she had chickens and made her allowance by selling eggs to her neighbors. Even today, living in a rented apartment in Petaluma, she’s got five chickens, sharing the eggs with the friends and trading with neighbors for other produce. When asked if she was a rarity among people her age, she said, “among my immediate friends, yes, but I know there are lots of other people out there.” There are increasing numbers of young adults canning, bee keeping, gardening and cooking organic meals at home.

When she shops at a grocery store, Melissa takes her reusable bags, Pyrex containers and glass Mason jars to the store to fill up at bulk bins. The occasional meat she eats is ordered from the meat counter and placed in her glass containers, largely eliminating packaging from her shopping trips. Many people observing her practices declare, “What a great idea!” We can all shop this way. “It does require significant pre-planning,” she admits, “but this is a lifestyle that supports my likes and my principles.” She’s got her boyfriend Matt shopping with an African woven basket, refillable containers and almost always joining her in the “If-I-don’t-have-my-to-go-mug-I-don’t-get-to-go-coffee” commitment.

Melissa says that being an environmentalist is not radical at all, but more a drive to survive. “I step outside and like to breathe clean air. I like to have yummy, healthy foods to eat… We should all care because we want to CONTINUE.” What a good idea…

Americans use 60,000 plastic bags every five minutes! Where do the bags and other plastics end up, and at what cost to our environment, marine life and human health? The riveting film documentary “Bag It!” follows average American Jeb Berrier as he decides to takes a closer look at our cultural love affair with plastics. To see how our crazy-for-plastic world has finally caught up with us, and what we can do about it, come to the Community Movie Night, sponsored by Salmon Creek School’s 5th grade class as part of their ongoing “Plastics are Forever” campaign. The screening takes place at the new, LEED-Platinum Environmental Education Salmon Creek Falls Center on the school campus at 1935 Bohemian Highway in Occidental.

Don’t miss supper beforehand of hearty, farm-fresh soup and salad bar for only $10 ($5 for kids)!

Date: Friday, May 13. Pre-film supper: 5:30pm., cost: $10 adults, $5 kids. Movie: 6:30 pm., cost: free. Childcare is available.

The movie is appropriate for 4th grade and up. For more information about the film, and to view a trailer of the movie, check out the website: For more information about this event, contact Laurel Anderson at


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Sonoma County Family Services

I chose FAMILY as our main focus for the May edition because it's the time of year when we celebrate Mothers Day, Fathers Day and Grandparents Day. I think it would also be a great time to celebrate EVERY member of our family since it takes ALL of us to BE a family. We share responsibility for making our families whole and connected. Aunts, Uncles, Cousins all play a part in staying in touch and offering opportunities to gather in one place at one time. No matter what, we share DNA that binds us together. There's a sweetness in the love that started each story and carries it on into the future.

Below are both personal and professional perspectives on what it takes to BE a family, HOLD a family together, and SERVE our families. There's much to be appreciated and much to learn from how people work together for the benefit of all.

Thanks for reading.

Dear Readers,

This month’s subject is especially close to my I’ve been very fortunate that my family prioritizes staying close and in touch. We’ve been a very disjointed bunch living on two coasts, broken by divorce and so many others. But we bring ourselves together for family reunions often enough for shared experiences that bind us by more than DNA.

Within this past five years we’ve had an avalanche of death which began with my Uncle Bill (cancer), my brother David was killed in an accident...followed by my father A.D from a stroke, my cousin Lucy from old age (yeah!) then my step-mother Janet from cancer. Reuions have centered around death since the one when David brought us all together to his home for what was the last time we would all be together. 

Families are fragile. We think of them as always being there and we often take the love and acceptance we feel for granted. What we learn over time is that friends come and go, but family stays in our hearts forever.

It doesn’t even matter whether we would otherwise know each other. It’s a classic line that we choose our friends, but are born with our family. Yes, that sister we argued with growing up probably wouldn’t be within our circle of friends, but she is within our family. And for that very reason she earns love and respect and an endearment that grows with shared decades of life.
What brings people together as family starts with love between two people. They become a couple and some times have children that brings two gene pools together into one. Whether children are part of the equation or not, that inital love ties two families together and they start sharing life. Our families expand.

This is so much of that makes life precious. The love we share that comes from intermingled lives. Perhaps it’s time we celebrate Family Day..send photographs to each other of times we have been together in one place at one time. And best of all...schedule another one of those reunions before more time passes. Life is short..and then it’s gone.  ~ Vesta


Children Suffer 

from Budget Cuts

Hardly anyone will be spared from the ripple effect of California’s financial crisis, but the biggest victims might be those who don’t know it yet: children.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to take a machete to the state budget hasn’t been settled yet, but up and down the state, child care and welfare programs are already feeling the pain. In his quest to resolve the $26.6 billion budget deficit, he proposes a $577 million cut to the state’s child care program by reducing funding for each slot by 35 percent. The state’s CalWORKS program – or welfare-to-work – would be cut by $851 million.

Another group in the red zone is First 5 California (the California Children and Families Commission), which distributes funds to local communities to provide critical services to parents, caregivers and children from birth to five years. The commissions fund various early childhood programs, such as oral health and child abuse prevention, and other services to keep kids from getting caught in other state systems. Each community has different needs.
Brown initially claimed that state and local commissions had $2 billion in reserves. He wanted to redirect $1 billion from tobacco tax money to children’s Medi-Cal and divert 50 percent of future First 5 revenues to other state services. But lawmakers rejected the proposal, opting for a onetime funding sweep of $50 million from the state commission and $950 million from county commissions. Even so, that’s more than First 5 is ready to give up, says Sherry Novick, executive director of First 5 California.

“This amount that they’re planning to take away is far greater than we had ever anticipated,” Novick says. “It’s going to cause damage that goes beyond what the government and legislators may be aware of.”

Novick says she understands the complexities of California’s financial situation, but almost half of the money that the lawmakers think are in reserves are already committed to multi-year programs. Of course, the new budget would lead to the termination of contracts if the money’s not available, which will put an end to various services.

Now, local commissions must face same challenges of the Legislature in figuring out which programs to cut. First 5 Contra Costa had hoped to have $30 million to work with, but now it’s looking like the commission will have to settle for about $8 million, which could affect its most significant programs that help the neediest families, such as Preschool Makes a Difference.
“That’s funding that we had in place to sustain our programs for the next four years,” says Sean Casey, the executive director. “We have to very quickly scale back everything in time for the new fiscal year in July.”

Likewise, First 5 Solano is in the process of readjusting funding to its major initiatives, including prenatal programs for pregnant women at risk of birth complications, and an early developmental health initiative. “We make sure kids get developmental screening,” says Christina Arrostuto, executive director of First 5 Solano. “We try to reach them when they’re one and two [years old], so they don’t end up in special education, which is a burden on the school systems.”

These cuts could interfere with the benefits that come from valuable child care programs. According to the Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, teens who had attended high-quality child care programs scored higher on academic and cognitive tests than their peers, and had fewer problems at age 15.

Released last spring and authored by UC Irvine education professor and chair Deborah Lowe Vandell, the study is touted as the largest, longest running and most comprehensive analysis of child care in the U.S. Participating families were recruited through hospital visits, and researchers followed 1,300 children from birth.

“Child care experiences are significant not just in the here and now,” Vandell said in UC Irvine Today release last May. “They have long-term implications.”

California lawmakers missed Brown’s self-imposed budget deadline last week, and talks will continue this week. But the delays can’t stop what looks like the inevitable. The good news is that so far, K-12 education has been spared from direct cuts, as Brown said they’ve suffered enough in recent years. But for children, the impact of the massive cuts in other areas will be felt even before then.

“More kids are going to be entering the K-12 system not yet ready,” Casey says. “There’s going to be a greater gap in learning and that means parents and families are going to suffer more.”


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