<b>Have and have-nots</b>

EDITOR: After reading David Brooks' Jan. 19 column ("Income inequality debate muddies issue"), I was left with the impression that, in his view, the widening gap between haves and have-nots will continue (it better not) due to our failure to truly understand what causes it.

To back his claim, he cites the conclusions of a couple of college professors. So what? Brooks knows very well that in the blessed American educational system, no matter the issue, contrary views are the rule. What should be troublesome to us all (it certainly was to no few members of the sociology department in my Cal days) is the destructive outcome the increasing disparity may (will?) bring.

Though born and raised in Spain (thus not unfamiliar with social outbursts), I lived in Southern California when the Watts and Rodney King riots erupted. Both made me hold my breath and hope that nothing unrelated but similar could coincidentally develop in other parts of the country.

My fear then -#8212; still alive -#8212; was that the issue might turn into a haves vs. have-nots confrontation of national dimensions.

Yet, if in my deathbed I'm proved wrong, I'll smile and depart in comfort.


Rohnert Park

<b>Bad neighbor</b>

EDITOR: I don't live in Sonoma County, so I don't have a dog in the Dream Center fight. Nevertheless, I can't help but ponder the situation of the young adult housing program projected for Bennett Valley in Santa Rosa.

Of all the people who support Social Advocates for Youth, I wonder how many actually live in Bennett Valley? I'd bet darn few, if any.

I wouldn't want a huge housing complex for at-risk youth in my neighborhood. Wait and see. Crime will definitely go up in Bennett Valley and, of course, property values will go down.



<b>A pittance, not a success</b>

EDITOR: Sonoma County's self-promoting supplement in Friday's paper featured County Administrator Veronica Ferguson flaunting how well the county was managing its $1.3 billion budget.

Cited as what appeared to be a major success was negotiations with employees that resulted in $170 million savings over 10 years. Do the math and you see this is $17 million in annual savings, barely 1 percent of the county's budget. With their salaries, benefits and pensions, county employees take $500 million, or nearly 40 percent of the total budget.

It appears that the county bureaucrats are beholden to and in bed with the employees. In my book, a 1 percent savings is a pittance, not a success.



<b>Why erect barriers?</b>

EDITOR: Although many of us who are lucky enough to reside in beautiful Bennett Valley may not have had perfect lives, we have had support systems along the way to foster our successes through quality education and encouragement from our families. I would imagine very few of us had to worry about food, shelter and clothing. However, not everyone in Sonoma County has been so lucky.

Isn't our moral obligation as fortunate human beings to do what we can to help those who haven't had our breaks in life? When a magnificent gift has been offered by Sutter Health to Social Advocates for Youth. Shouldn't we be joyful that thousands of young adults will be given a chance to have successful lives and to become positive contributors to our society?

For those who oppose the Dream Center, I implore you to examine the successful programs offered by SAY for the past 43 years and see that the organization boasts a wealth of human successes, all without compromising neighborhood safety. Then ask yourself, "Exactly why am I putting up barriers to this once-in-a-lifetime gift which will give the youth of Sonoma County who need our help, the support they deserve?"


Santa Rosa