Aug. 3 marks 11 ½ years since the devastating collapse of the City Lot 7 slope, removing the lateral support from my home at the top of the slope. Ironically, eventual destruction of my home and possible damage to the area was predicted in 1980 by a city-approved engineering firm hired to provide a plan for abandonment of its 55-year-old drainage system. The plan called for filling in the 11-inch-deep open dirt channel through its lots and, concurrently, stabilizing the weakened slope. Only the channel work was done, with the incomplete plan buried in the city’s archives. Without the required stabilization, the dire prediction of slope failure occurred on Feb. 3, 1998, during the El Niño onslaught.

Following the 6 ½ years of futile efforts on my part to convince the city to do the right thing (discounting the harsh realities of questionable justice), the city sold the lot in February 2005, giving the buyer three years to complete home construction and slope stabilization. I am still befuddled over the then-Mayor Brian Brennan’s ardent congratulations to me, as if I had won some kind of David/Goliath victory. I am sure that he thought at that time that progress was being made on my behalf and, more importantly, that a contentious matter was being solved for the city. I am certainly not a pessimist, but my doubts about a successful conclusion to this sale confirmed my gut feeling for nonperformance, which happened.

Four years after the sale (and reversionary ownership to the city one year ago), the buyer petitioned the city to reinstate and extend the sales contract. In exchange, he would construct a cement ditch to divert storm water away from my property. No longer desiring to pursue his plans to develop, he felt that his ability to sell the lot to a new buyer would be greatly enhanced if he installed the ditch to prevent further ongoing erosion, requiring a new buyer to complete the needed stabilization concurrently with home construction, all this within three years following resale, the same as in the 2005 contract. Council approved his request at its June 1 meeting.

Since that time, I have received congratulations from various sources on my apparent “victory,” applauding my persistence, my fight for civil and property rights and against bureaucratic power. I sincerely appreciate these supportive claims. However, at this point, I have only reached first base. I still must face three to five years before the game is truly won, which will depend on the city’s fully monitoring the situation. The last chapter of the The Saga of the Slipping

Slope has yet to be written.

Helen Yunker Ventura

More than just a toothache
A friend of mine recently had a traumatic experience with her dentist that needs to be publicized.

She went to a new dentist this spring, and he asked her what she wanted — a bridge or an implant; those were the choices. She selected a bridge because of the price. In June, he fitted a temporary bridge. A week later, she contacted the office because her teeth on either side of the temporary hurt continuously. The receptionist said it was normal and would last a week or two. On her next appointment, she mentioned the pain, and he said sometimes the pain lasts up to four months; and if it didn’t go away, he would have to do a root canal. She said a root canal on a perfectly good tooth? She would have the bridge removed.

The dental assistant showed her the bridge, and she said she didn’t know the bridge would cover her teeth. Her mother had one and it was one tooth on a strip and didn’t cover her other teeth. For several days, that side of her mouth hurt and she could not eat anything. She contacted her insurance provider — Safeguard — and reported that she had a bridge placed in her mouth and she could not eat due to the pain and asked if she should have it removed.

Safeguard told her that the teeth would have to be filed down to place the bridge and that if the bridge were removed, crowns would have to be made to cover the two teeth. She then began crying because none of this had been explained to her. She would not have had a bridge if the procedure had been explained to her and if she had known that two good teeth would
be ruined.

She is devastated. How can it be legal for a medical professional to perform life-altering procedures without explaining the pros and cons? My friend is out more than $1,500, had two good teeth ruined and cannot eat. This is inexcusable!

Reed Miz, Ventura

Picking up trash, a new tourist attraction
Editor’s note: This letter came on a post card of Ventura.

My husband and I arrived here at Ventura beach two days ago. On our walk at the beach, I was disgusted about all the different kinds of trash that was left by beach-goers. No wonder — not a trash can in sight. I got out a plastic bag and started picking up trash that would for sure kill thousands of ocean critters and creatures by getting suffocated and wounded by plastic bags, beer cans and glass.
Whoever came up with this so-called budget cut needs a wake-up call for sure. To leave your beach trashy will also hurt your businesses. Please show some pride. Keep it beautiful and safe for your tourists and ocean creatures.

Mike and Ellen Smith, Spring Lake, N.C.

Support for single-payer healthcare plan
This letter is in response to a recent one by Fred Ziegler (Letters, 7/23). I was reading said letter in a favorite Chinese restaurant and said to my wife, “This has to have been written by someone in the insurance or financial services industry.” So when I got home, I googled him and, sure enough, bull’s-eye. I have no idea how many readers are aware who is writing what they read (or why they are writing it). I think that it is not right that letters like this are published without notice of the author’s self interest. I doubt if many who read this piece would take the time to investigate that indeed he’s in the business.

The real crux of the matter is the incredible amount of misinformation contained in Mr. Ziegler’s pronouncements. Where does he get these facts and numbers? He doesn’t say because they’re total fabrication. He discounts an already underreported number of 50 million uninsured people by 80 percent to 10 million. His rationale for doing so is nothing short of ridiculous. I could also make a good guess as to which they network he gets his television news from. I hope these 40 million-plus people who are simply between jobs don’t happen to need any serious medical care anytime soon. Anyone who has attempted to purchase personal medical insurance knows that rates available from virtually any sort of group are far less expensive those sold on an individual basis. The latest plans offered are, “How much can you pay?” They’ll create a program for which will take your money but won’t pay back anything unless you’ve got lots of it to spend first.

I happen to be a 66-year-old part-time musician who is now fortunate enough to be on Medicare. We have a $5,000-deductible individual plan for my wife, which takes a huge chunk of our income. She has had several medical procedures in the past several years, which, because of the deductible, we have always had to pay for personally.

My experience has taught me that the business of insurance companies is taking money from us. Period. Several years ago, I paid premiums on an individual medical plan to a company for many years. I never had cause to ever even visit a doctor’s office during this period, but I always paid my premium. One day, I got a letter from the company saying they would be going out of business in a couple of months, and if I wanted insurance I’d need to find some other option. Unbelievably, for the next several months I got nasty-sounding letters from them wondering why I wasn’t paying the last couple of months’ premiums.

Now the reader knows a little bit about who wrote this letter, unlike the one I’ve been answering. I consider myself very fortunate to be enrolled in Medicare. I have done much investigation into this subject, and I am convinced that a single-payer plan modeled after Medicare is the only sensible answer to the medical mess we have now in this country. Get the parasitic medicine-for-profit bunch to find a new way to steal from the rest of us. I have traveled extensively and have seen that the rest of the civilized world is doing just fine, thank you, with their mostly government-run programs. We already pay much, much more than these other countries and get far less in results.

Frederic McFadden, Ventura