Wednesday, February 06, 2008

local politics, correct spelling of pomegranate, and what witches know

I want kids to have safe places for getting healthy as much as you do. Really. And the idea of seismically retrofitting a hospital, well, it's tough to argue that's a bad idea. Especially when it's a hospital for little ones, for God's sake. Still, when (privately held) Children's Hospital Oakland does an end run around county supervisors, their capital-crusaders gathering signatures like money-hungry worker ants, what that means is the hospital administration is trying to shift an estimated $300 million+ in renovation costs from their spreadsheets and foist it instead onto the public citizenry of Alameda County.

That it's even come this far is strange. It's a story of massive institutions taking the counsel of big-time, slimy consultants. As is to be expected with such a coupling, by the time government officials got wind of the scenario, the hospital had already been out there circulating petitions for eons. Their agenda item was assured to makes its way onto the ballot from the get-go. Amazing what Safeway shoppers will sign just to get inside, get their Totino's, and get out.

I'm just saying. I pay an effity eff lot of money for my health care even with decent health insurance. So I'd like a little quid pro quo. That health services are even an enterprise is ethically uncomfortable (at what price wellness?), so the least a profitable institution can do is pony up to keep the doorway up around my head while I'm stuck wearing a backless paper smock.

Or so I reason as I vote an emphatic "no" on the measure. Good call, Kennedy. Make them accountable, says I. And I fall asleep pleased as punch that I've protected the old pocketbook there. Then comes morning. I'm anxious. Why? Because I've doomed little hypothetical Bobby to wander down unsafe, quaking corridors en route to his already daunting vaccinations. I get to work. I sit at my desk. I try to edit. Somehow, the live-food cookbook does not keep my attention.

I read: Tropical Trade Wind Smoothie
Think: My god, what if the roof caves in?
Read: Romaine Pomegranate Salad
Think: Oh, I am for sure going to hell if anything happens to cute, hypothetical Bobby and his friends Jessica and Edgar.
Read: Un-Chicken Noodle Soup
Think: Is the building really that run down?

I grab the keys and bail on the cookbook. I know my authors would approve. Fresh can wait. Think of the children! Yes, that's what I'm doing. Looking out for the children!

As I make my way there, I come to appreciate the stupidity of going on a drive-by to estimate the risk to Bobby and Suzy and little Leticia in the event of this hypothetical earthquake. I am not sure if I was expecting massive cracks or leaning storeys or what. Well at the least, I resign myself, it would be a memory lane expedition. Because I know this hood. I once lived about five houses from this building.

I pass my old homestead. Looks exactly the same, only the crazy cactus out front is even bigger and pricklier. But turn the corner, and I find dazzling change. A mural has sprung up. It's on the block that would have been razed if the measure went through. Wouldja look at that! Witches, giant dogs, and tiny houses—they're all against hospital sprawl. No surprise. Witches have strong ethics. Bobby can ask his doctor daddy to throw down some cash, suggest the witches on their brooms.

p.s. I did attend to the cookbook enough to know that pomegranates apparently increase red blood cell count. Who knew? Probably the doctors in the perfectly sufficient Children's Hospital. Maybe I'll give them a gratis copy of Fresh. But that would mean going into that building. And no one but the witches knows when the big one's coming. I head back to the office and just plan to mail it from there.