Urge supervisors to back Laura's Law

On Tuesday, Alameda County Board of Supervisors will hold a meeting at 10:30 a.m. at 1221 Oak St. in Oakland to listen to our community and vote on AB1421, Laura's Law as recommended by our county's Behavioral Health Care Department.

Laura's Law was passed in California in 2002 but was left up to each county to adopt. It allows counties to implement court-ordered assisted outpatient treatment programs for some suffering from serious mental illness. To qualify, a person must have a serious mental illness and a recent history of repeated psychiatric hospitalizations, jail, or acts, threats or attempts of serious violent behavior toward self or others.

If criteria are met, a judge can mandate that the individual interact with a treatment team that will help provide counseling, treatment, access to housing and other forms of support. The goal of this program is to engage the individual and to keep the person stable and out of crisis or a tragedy. The law compels engagement but ensures personal human rights. It does not force medication and each individual has a public defender.

Laura's Law is a compassionate and supportive program that helps some of our most seriously and persistently mentally ill who are not able to engage in the many voluntary programs because some individuals are not able to recognize they are ill. Doctors refer to this symptom as anosognosia, and it is the same part of the brain that is ill that does not allow the person to understand they have an illness.

My grandson became ill with schizophrenia just after high school. He did not understand he was ill and, therefore, would not engage in treatment or medication. No matter what his parents did, they could not get the help he needed given our current mental health system and laws.

This young man now sits at Napa State Hospital, accused of a terrible crime he never could have committed in his right mind two years ago this month. His life will never be the same. This other family's life has forever changed, and they have lost a father, grandfather and husband. The many personal losses that continue daily are staggering and terribly heartbreaking and there is great financial cost to our system.

The voluntary programs our system offers are simply not enough. Families and others in our community are pleading for our county to adopt Laura's Law.

We all need our county supervisors' leadership now. We must not wait any longer. Please contact your Alameda County Supervisors and urge them to vote for Laura's Law on Feb. 25 and if possible, attend the meeting and speak.

This opportunity for change will make a difference and it will not come along again any time soon. We have been cruelly turning our backs on these individuals by not providing appropriate care and services.

We are our brothers' keeper.

Nick Cabral

Where will postal service cuts stop?

Our estimable Congress is once again showing its business acumen as it addresses the perpetual red ink of the U.S. Postal Service. California U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, and others know the answer: cut out Saturday mail deliveries and close down inefficient postal offices in remote areas.

But why stop there? If eliminating Saturday service is good for the bottom line, why not go a few steps better: get rid of home and business service altogether. This will result in enormous savings to the service and Congress can pat itself on the back for its creative solution.

Sure, there would be whining by people who actually still use the post office, especially those who live in rural America or are too cheap to buy a sophisticated home computer system and have a FedEx account. And all the postal workers waiting to sort and deliver mail that never arrives may wonder why they are still being paid. That will be Step Two.

Thankfully, men like Issa, a supposedly successful business owner, know how to improve a product that is losing money and customers: give the buying public less and less -- and charge them more and more. Brilliant thinking, sir.

Yes, the Constitution does grant Congress the power to establish post offices, but that outmoded document was written long before the advent of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Folks will learn to get just as excited when they hear a ping announcing arrival of an email as they used to when a surprise letter or package was delivered to their doorsteps. "Progress" awaits, courtesy of our wise Congress.

Joseph W. Campbell

Why do BART cops need cars anyway?

My question is why are BART police in cars driving on city streets and, I guess, driving from station to station? Why do they need cars? Why don't they ride the trains from station to station where their presence is needed? Why not assign police to the stations?

I realize that some of the police probably have to have cars to respond to emergencies, but park the cars at the stations at their disposal. I think a lot of time and money is spent and wasted driving from station to station.

Michael Langsdorf

Oakland

Indigenous people must be considered

The U.S. State Department's report claiming that the XL Keystone Pipeline will not cause environmental risk is not accurate.

The department had not consulted with indigenous peoples in Canada about the health problem that they had to endure because of the dirty oil leaking from the pipeline, which spills into the Athabasca River there.

Indigenous people, such as the Dene, First Nation and Metis, suffer a higher rate of cancer because they have eaten fish that were contaminated by it.

I can see this happening here in this country if President Barack Obama approves the building of the XL Keystone Pipeline.

I urge Obama not to do it. It is too risky, and I don't want to see indigenous peoples here suffer the same fate as their peers in Canada.

Billy Trice Jr.

Oakland