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Photograph by Sarah Phelan

Gone to Duck Haven: That's not 'duck heaven,' mind you. The San Lorenzo Park geese are alive and well.

Nüz

This Is How He Gets His Kicks

He became our governor thanks to a right wing-initiated power grab. He stumped for George W. Bush in Ohio. And now he's on the cover of this month's Vanity Fair, having recently told a Munich-based newspaper that there needs to be a big left-turn in the GOP, a party he says belongs to John McCain and Rudy Giuliani.

We're talking of course about Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former bodybuilder who recently said a proposed constitutional amendment allowing persons who've been citizens for 20-years-plus to become president is "long overdue."

All this got Nüz wondering whether misrepresenting a group of nurses at a women's conference earlier this month as being among the special interests who "don't like me in Sacramento because I am always kicking their butts" actually bodes well for Arnie's presidential ambitions.

Now, if we were talking about any other politician we would say, "No way!" given that the group of nurses who were trash-talked represented the 60,000-strong California Nurses' Association, who are now suing him to reverse his recent executive order to roll back patient safety standards in California's hospitals.

Filed in Sacramento Superior Court four days before Christmas, the suit accuses Arnie and his Department of Health Services of compromising patient protections, unlawfully abusing executive authority to overturn a legislative mandate, and setting a dangerous new precedent that threatens decades of health and safety protections for Californians.

"The immediate victims," charges the suit, "will be the patients who suffer serious injury and death as minimum standards of safe care and patient protections are stripped away by the very agency charged under law with responsibility for ensuring the protection of hospital patient health and safety."

Wrong But Strong

How this suit's fallout will play in the realm of nationwide public opinion could be anyone's guess given that over half of the country's guiding mantra appears to be to vote for what's "Wrong But Strong," and whose current president has sold them the idea of permanent tax giveaways for the rich simply by framing them as "tax reforms" and is likewise set to savage Social Security, tort law, abortion rights and equal rights for gays in the next four years.

And then there's the fact that the moviegoing public is so star-struck by Arnie that they don't seem to register his actual political policy.

Take the case of the nurses' protest at the Long Beach conference. As local resident, CNA member and Dominican RN Lorna Grundeman reports, most of the predominantly female crowd was so busy cheering and clapping at whatever Arnie said that she wasn't sure if they even registered that Arnie's butt-kicking comment was aimed at 60,000 mostly female nurses, who as we all know are dangerously underpaid and overworked.

"Perhaps it's because they think of him as a body builder and a movie star and not a politician," says Grundeman, who was one of 15 nurses who infiltrated the 10,000-strong conference to spread the word that as of Jan. 1, 2005, staffing on surgical floors was to change from a 1-6 nurse/patient ratio to a 1-5 ratio.

"But two days after the U.S. presidential election, Arnie announced that the ratio changes would not take effect, that ERs will no longer have to maintain a 1:4 ratio, and that he wants to block improved staffing ratios for another three years, arguing that more studies are needed," explains Grundeman, who was leafleting the crowd when six fellow nurses raised a banner saying "Safe Staffing Save Lives. Hands off our ratios!" That's what triggered the ire of Arnie, who was visible to most of the baseball-park-sized crowd as a talking head on a monitor.

While Grundeman can't understand how nurses "can be considered a special interest group, since everyone's safety is at stake here," it's clear that Arnie knows how to work his Terminator-loving public, even if the honest truth is that he as governor has received way more money from special interest groups than former Gov. Gray Davis ever did, went girlie man around clamping down on teenage dietary supplement abuse--and apparently had a 5-1 nurse to patient ratio at his bedside when he was hospitalized last year.

The good news? To date, Dominican Hospital is planning to move forward with its 1-5 ratios, and Kaiser has already imposed the ratios so far.

In Haven, Everything Is Fine

No, it's not a typo, it's yet more news about geese. Two years ago, Nüz fell in love with a bunch of fuzzy little goslings which had just hatched in San Lorenzo Park. Ever since then, every time we cross said park, we say hello to these birds, who have morphed into a 25-strong gaggle of big white birds who honk in reply.

So it came as a bit of a shock when just before Christmas we got a visit from local resident Dorothy Cecchini, 85, warning us that the geese were about to get the bum rush. Why? Well, shit.

No, really. As in doo-doo.

"I don't know how to say this nicely, they do poop pretty big, but if they could leave a few of them, that would be nice," said Cecchini, who'd just invested in a 40-bag of birdseed, with which to feed her favorite flock of geese.

Curious as to where 25 big white birds could be headed shortly before Christmas, we called Ray Sherrod, of the city's Parks & Recreation Department, who said the city was--we kid you not--"relocating them to Duck Haven, not to be confused with Duck Heaven."

According to Sherrod, "Duck Haven is a lake-based nonprofit up in the Sierras, where an elderly couple take in birds at no cost." As for keeping back a few birds, Sherrod said, "If we left one, it'd be lonely. If we left two, they'd proliferate. And unfortunately, they don't migrate."

Indeed, Cecchini, who was on hand for the Dec. 3 great goose roundup, says the city worker, who presumably was Sherrod, determinedly went after one brown goose, which he couldn't catch at first.

"I wanted to cry," says Cecchini, who has taken to feeding the ducks, instead.

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From the December 29, 2004-January 5, 2005 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Maintained by Boulevards New Media.

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