On Voter's Guides And Voter Misguidance
by Diana Sevanian
Among the many life lessons I have learned throughout 20 years of nursing and 10 years of journalism, one that is applicable to all professions is this: Our words mean everything.
In the medical field, accurate communication saves lives; in writing, it clarifies and disseminates the truth.
That said, I am compelled to share my views on a recent voter’s guide/AKA “hit mailer” which is worded so as to challenge the character and credibility of City Council candidate Bob Spierer.
The sender of that mailer, “Friends of Laurie Ender” – a young woman who also seeks City Council election on April 8 – misrepresented Spierer, cherry picking parts of a recent newspaper story, then remanufactured reality, thereby creating a glossy piece of malicious and false self-advertising.
It is obvious that Ms. Ender, or perhaps more pointedly, the people who have the biggest stake in her getting elected, are now out for blood.
In the mailer, a claim is made that at a recent candidate’s debate, three candidates “refused” to take a stand on the Henry Mayo Hospital expansion. Only one of “those” candidates was “identified” in that mailer, however. Singled out was Bob Spierer, perhaps someone that Ender sees as her most formidable opponent.
Ender’s mailer stated the following:
“Q. How does Bob Spierer answer critical direct questions about critical issues like expanding the hospital?
A. He doesn’t.”
Having attended a lengthy City Council candidate’s debate (which all five candidates participated in), and keeping up with news articles that have covered subsequent debates, I know that Spierer has addressed that very subject.
Here is an exact excerpt from Spierer’s statements about hospital expansion, expressed during a debate at City Hall on Feb. 15, 2008: “We don’t have the Environmental Impact Report, which of course limits our options on this, but there’s no question, first and foremost, we do need an expanded hospital. Again, the issue is to what it does to the neighborhood. It isn’t sited in the best possible location, but it is our only hospital right now, so I don’t think there is any question that the hospital itself needs to be expanded. What goes along with that: how many medical office buildings are appropriate will be determined by the EIR, and by the impact on the community. …. I’d like to take this opportunity to also say that that’s only a part of the picture; we need to take a look at the health care concerns of the entire valley, the city and the entire valley in the future because even when fully expanded, Henry Mayo (Newhall Memorial Hospital) will only provide 40-50 percent of the medical needs of the community… and I’ll tell you when we look at that alone we are doing a disservice to our community. So I would be in favor of doing in addition to the expansion of Henry Mayo, a comprehensive look at the rest of the health care of the valley and where else another facility, either another part of Henry Mayo needs or another hospital might be sited in the future.” (Note: You may hear this in Bob’s own words by visiting the homepage of the KHTS web site: www.hometownstation.com)
I’d say that was a rather comprehensive answer to the question – so why would Ender’s mailer now deem the man a skater on the issue?
Also in Ender’s recent mailer, she states: “It is unconscionable that some of the candidates for City Council refuse to tell us where they stand on expanding the hospital. The fact is, Santa Clarita needs and deserves a hospital with a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, an improved maternity center, cardiac and cancer “Centers of Excellence” and the other improvements outlined in the revised master plan to expand the hospital. Here’s where I stand – I support our non-profit community hospital.”
Come on. Ms. Ender is certainly not the sole candidate who feels commitment to the hospital and this valley. It is unconscionable to suggest such a thing. Moreover, Bob Spierer has never said he doesn’t support improvements at Henry Mayo.
It’s all about “expansion.”
As a former Henry Mayo R.N., and someone who sincerely supports the hospital, values its place in our community, and applauds the many fine, hard-working medical professionals who work there each day, I have something else to add: Just because you question HMNMH’s current expansion proposals doesn’t mean you don’t support this non-profit hospital. Such “friend or foe” conclusions are unwarranted.
For clarity’s sake, the term “expansion” as it relates to Henry Mayo may be confusing to some voters. Plans currently on the table are focused on building three new doctors’ office buildings on the hospital’s campus, and improving/adding department space to the main facility. But nothing has been inked that quantitatively details or sets a groundbreaking date for adding more beds to the medical center.
Also, and again for clarity’s sake, all five candidates support hospital expansion – but one candidate, Diane Trautman, has said she does not approve of the expansion plan in its current form. Unlike Ms. Ender, who along with her noted endorsers Congressman Buck McKeon and City Councilman Frank Ferry, are in favor of the expansion as-is, the other three candidates (which includes Spierer, Bob Kellar and Maria Gutzeit) believe it’s critical to wait for the revised Environmental Impact Report before making a final judgment. Their concern is to ensure that 10 or 15 years from now, we don’t have more office buildings, more parking structures (and more traffic gridlock) but no additional hospital beds/wings to accommodate the health care needs of our growing community.
Bob Spierer has clearly stated he supports expansion. In fact, he brought members from opposing sides of the issue together in two separate private meetings to try and find a solution acceptable to the hospital and the community it serves.
In another controversial Ender pamphlet, it is made to appear that she has been leading the battle in efforts stop the Cemex mega-mine. Exactly where along the way has Ms. Ender done anything “concrete” to fight the Cemex? I know from speaking with local leaders who have flown numerous times to Washington D.C. (to discuss the mine’s impact on our valley with Senators Boxer and Feinstein, or Congressman McKeon), that Ms. Ender was not on those flights. I also know that leading the charge has been Mayor Bob Kellar, along with the City’s Intergovernmental Relations Officer, Mike Murphy, and other City officials (including City Manager Ken Pulskamp, Assistant City Manager Ken Striplin, City Councilmember Laurene Weste, and Public Information Officer Gail Ortiz).
In my previously meeting Ms. Ender, who is largely known for her PTA leadership and being pro-education, I have found her to be vivacious, idealistic, and self-confident. But at this juncture, I am dismayed at the low road she has chosen to follow. I also believe in my heart that someone who honestly wants the best for our children and community knows that dirty politics (no matter how common they may be today) have no justified role in elections if “progress” is the desired outcome. Nor do such shenanigans speak well of one’s character.
Lastly, I want to say a few more words about Bob Spierer.
A retired sheriff’s chief, Bob is currently an independent reviewer for the Los Angeles County Probation Dept., investigating alleged child abuse cases. With a dynamic background that includes a Juris Doctorate and many years in law enforcement and community involvement, he is definitely his own person – not someone to be pushed in one direction or the other by outside influences.
A truly honorable family man and gentleman who’s opposed to “winning at any cost,” Bob is also one of the most fair-minded, intelligent, non-judgmental, and “whole picture” civic leaders you will ever meet.
As I said at the top, “Our words means everything.” And I certainly hope you’ll consider these words when you cast your ballot on April 8.