Mailbag: Gatto bill pushes the right buttons

Finally, an elected official with some good fiscal sense. This is exactly why I voted for Mike Gatto, and why I am thankful he represents Glendale today ("Bill may provide relief for Bell scandal," Aug. 28).

It is simply wrong for the people of Glendale to have to pay for the lack of oversight in Bell. We Glendale taxpayers have plenty of uses for our tax dollars and paying the inflated pensions of Bell officials is not one of them.

Gatto's leadership on this issue is much appreciated.

Gerald W. Aho


State water system should be explained

Richard Euson is complaining of a water surcharge in the time of water restrictions ("Water rate hikes worthy of protest," Aug. 24).

This happens every time there is a shortage as the water districts have large fixed costs that they cannot change, or recoup, when Mother Nature reduces their sales. The Glendale City Council is to hold a meeting on this problem.

I for one will accept a surcharge, on the basis that the surcharge goes off when the restrictions are removed.

I would like the Glendale News-Press to give an outline of the problems and complexity of California's water system. It is both enormous and unique, and much of the population has little idea of what it is.

It is quite a story.

Frank W. Bunkell


Columnist should have consulted an advocate

Gary Huerta and his son unquestionably suffered great anxiety and anguish ("A Balcony View: Hospital battle ends, but the war ensues," Aug. 26). But at least some of it could have been prevented if Huerta had consulted an advocate.

California law, including the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act, provides many legal rights to people, including juveniles, who have been committed. California law also provides for mental health advocates in every county. I've known and worked with some of these advocates and know they are very diligent about protecting the rights of adolescents in privately owned mental health facilities.

There are nonprofit organizations dedicated to protecting people in mental health facilities. I was on the board of directors of Disability Rights California Inc., one such organization, and I know just how hard its staff works to protect mental health patients.

And there are many dedicated attorneys in private practice who would know how to get a patient out of a facility.

I mention all this because readers of the Glendale News-Press should know that the situation Huerta describes is not the way commitment is supposed to work, or the way it should work. Huerta is not my client. I no longer take private clients. But there are rules indicating who is responsible for paying the costs of the commitment of a minor.

I have sent Huerta information about some of the advocates he might contact. He should definitely talk to someone about the bills he is receiving. Many attorneys are sharks; many are not.

Everyone should know, though, that a situation like the one Huerta has described requires the assistance of an attorney or other advocate. No patient or family member should try to navigate the difficult seas of mental health law alone, not when there is excellent assistance on hand.

Stanton J. Price


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