Unimaginable devastation barely describes the images coming out of Haiti.
The Haitian earthquake and our own recent seismic activity in Silicon Valley and Eureka are disturbing reminders of what could happen here. Palo Alto is within hiking distance of one of the most destructive faults in North America.
Most choose to think about health care and hospital facilities in generalities until the fever persists, the drunk driver veers, the knife slips or that which occurred in Haiti suddenly happens here.
Fortunately, in Palo Alto, we have immediate access to world-class medical care at the Stanford University Medical Center (SUMC).
The SUMC Renewal Project will provide us with a new, seismically safe hospital, but this project has been under discussion by the Palo Alto City Council for more than three years.
The project deserves careful review, but as a voting resident of this city, I ask the City Council to at least commit to a schedule to complete the review and approval process in 2010.
Time and disaster stand together when action is not taken. The SUMC Renewal Project not only ensures our safety, but it also brings jobs, significant fees to the city, a mitigation package for the community and revenue for local businesses.
I want Stanford Hospital and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital there standing and safe when my family and I need them. Don't you?
Don't delay hospital
In the wake of the Haitian earthquake I experience frustration with the Palo Alto process concerning the Stanford and Packard Children's Hospitals renovation projects.
Stanford Hospital must be rebuilt to meet California's earthquake safety standards. The Children's Hospital regularly turns children away because the need for services has outgrown the bed capacity and as other children's facilities in the area have closed. Stanford has been working toward approval for these vital rebuilding projects yet has hit one obstacle after another.
It strikes me with fear that if a natural disaster or infectious pandemic hit our community, it is our community that will suffer and would shoulder the blame for the delay.
Some objectors fear the hospital's expansion. It is unrealistic to expect to receive world-class medical care in an outmoded and chronically overcrowded facility. Some objectors fear increased traffic, although there are reasonable plans to alleviate this problem. Some objectors seek endless perks from Stanford in exchange for a building permit, as if proximity to two first-rate hospitals isn't benefit enough. Although maintaining the quality of life in our community is very important, we must weigh the minor inconvenience against the possible devastation that might happen for thousands if Stanford Hospital is damaged in an earthquake and cannot provide for all those that would need its services.
How tragic this Palo Alto process would seem in hindsight if life brings us the unexpected. Lets break this logjam immediately and get on with construction!
Thank you for Sam Chapman's informative story on the MediaNews bankruptcy filing, about which I had known very little, but which was worrying me. Now I know more, and I'm still worried, and angry.
I was shocked to see that the Mercury News, as well as the Daily News, is now 80 percent owned by a group of banks and bondholders, not people well known for their devotion to excellent journalism.
I was also horrified to find out that the Chronicle's parent company had invested $300 million in MediaNews so MediaNews could acquire the Mercury, as well as many other Bay Area papers.
And I guess that the final straw was finding out that MediaNews founder Dean Singleton is also chairman of the Associated Press, and that he said in a speech last September that "motives for newspaper ownership have shifted over the years, from those who wanted to cover news and write opinion to those who came to view newspapers as purely financial investments."
None of this augurs well for the future for newspapers and their readers.
Hang in there, guys. The Weekly may eventually be the only genuine newspaper left standing.