I'm a reporter at the Monterey County Weekly, the Salinas-Monterey region's largest circulation newspaper. I cover a range of beats, including politics in small cities like Carmel as well as the county Board of Supervisors, civil justice, the agriculture industry and healthcare.
The healthcare beat has lately been occupied mostly by a potential acquisition of Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System or a merger with the county safety net hospital, Natividad Medical Center. I've been working to make inroads in the Salinas Valley's agricultural towns where providing healthcare to a growing population of non-Spanish-speaking indigenous Mexican farmworkers is a challenge that draws on many threads of national interest: pesticide training and exposure, health disparities, and the Affordable Care Act's exclusion of undocumented immigrants among them.
Before joining the Weekly in Dec. 2011, I blogged about the environment for the Center for American Progress's Campus Progress and was an editorial intern at The Atlantic, in Washington, D.C.
“Simply asking, listening, and implicitly accepting is a very powerful tool,” Dr. Vince Felitti says. The message: “You’re still an acceptable person even though you’ve told me this story you’ve been ashamed of all your life.”
What got me interested in San Lucas was contaminated drinking water there, but my reporting revealed deeper issues like the ability of local government to function, how to do business in a town without water, and tense dynamics between government and the private sector.
In July 2011, when the Monterey County Health Department required residents not to use water from their tap for drinking or cooking, it also said, “Research is being done to find another water source.” Two years later there’s been little progress.
It's a rare instance when groundwater contamination can be linked to a specific polluter and specific practices, but the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board has ordered a Monterey County landowner and grower to provide a drinkable water supply.
I'm honored to be participating in the California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowship in LA later this month. My fellowship proposal is a deeper look at groundwater contamination, with arsenic and nitrates identified as the two worst offenders.