"Fiduciary responsibility" is the handling of funds of another in a reasonable and responsible manner. In today's Congress, a lack of fiduciary responsibility is painfully apparent to all, including the federal government employees who are suffering devastating financial losses because their "bosses" haven't taken their own responsibilities seriously. It is the money that we and the employees who are suffering the financial losses have supplied that hasn't been properly handled.

We are suffering the same fate in Kern County. The Board of Supervisors and the CAO's office have, for years, thrown money at Kern Medical Center, hoping the money will quit bleeding away. They are just now determining the money they have thrown in that general direction wasn't being put to good use. Their first answer was to fire Paul Hensler. Now the answer is to have the employees pay for the mistakes of management.

Recently, an email was sent from John Nilon to the employees of KMC. One of his cost-saving measures is to cut employee salaries and benefits by 8 percent across the board. All of the employees, from the doctors and pharmacists to the newest hired entry-level position are expected to participate. Although it's a legal requirement of the Public Employees Relations Board, neither Nilon nor anyone else in his office nor on the Board of Supervisors has met with SEIU Local 521, KMC employees' legal representative, to discuss the proper legal channels for this type of change in working conditions. This proposed change has caused a panic among KMC employees.

Many employees at KMC qualify for food stamps and Medi-Cal while working full time for the county of Kern. Now they are being told they will have to do with even less because Nilon and the Board of Supervisors, past and present, have not upheld their fiduciary responsibility with the funds we have entrusted to them; funds in the forms of income taxes, car registration taxes, property taxes and sales taxes.

This hospital has saved many lives, maybe even the life of someone you know. However, it is not the building that has saved lives. Lives are saved by every staff person within the building working hard to make sure you and your relatives and friends are in a clean, well-maintained building and receiving the best care humanly possible.

Don't force the employees of this facility to suffer losses because of the fiduciary irresponsibility of the bosses. Contact your member of the Board of Supervisors and tell them employees should not suffer because of the mistakes of the people in charge. Contact CAO John Nilon at 326-2000 and tell him to not make more employees eligible for food stamps and Medi-Cal while working for your county. Then tell all of them that when the next election comes, you intend to hold the politicians responsible for handling your money to the true standard of fiduciary responsibility.

Vicki Avila of Bakersfield is a retiree member and employee of SEIU Local 521. Community Voices is an expanded commentary of 650 to 700 words. The Californian reserves the right to edit all submissions for length and clarity.