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<b>Group home successes</b>

EDITOR: I appreciated the Close to Home article by Eric Williams and Mary Cone ("Foster care law isn't the solution," April 6). The reality is the one-size-fits-all thinking of the foster home law is unrealistic.

I have been a clinical consultant to a group home for more than 30 years. Children in group homes are there after one or more failed foster family experiences already. This is due to both the children and dysfunctional foster families. These children are severely damaged in ways that make it difficult to manage the expectations of family life.

In the group-home environment they find more focus on their success, development of identity, stability and safety rather than expecting strong emotional connections that are often seen in the family environment.

It is also the case that some of the problems are not going to be solved in six months or a year. Rather, they can be ameliorated over time.

ROGER ROSE

Santa Rosa

<b>Aging isn't all bad</b>

EDITOR: I was deeply saddened by the article about isolated, older citizens ("Older, and alone," April 6). Not just because of the pitiful situations you describe but because you chose to describe them, and that's all. Your focus on hopelessness and helplessness only supports the attitude that holds this cultural mind-set in place. And, to a real extent, an attitude that actually contributes to the misery you describe.

I believe that aging is a gift. And I also know it isn't an easy one to unwrap. There are many among us who are working to change our situation, and the change must begin with rethinking our attitude toward old age. Although I am almost 79, with few resources, cannot drive and spend a lot of time alone, I find old age to be the most rewarding and constructive time of my life.

You may have been motivated by compassion, but please consider using your public platform to report on the positive aspects of aging, which, believe it or not, really exist. Some of us are working toward a profoundly positive, and actually realistic, change. We need to do everything we can to counter the profit-motivated exploitation of a market-driven society that depends upon and reinforces a purely negative view of old age.

RABON SAIP

Santa Rosa

<b>Wasted tax dollars</b>

EDITOR: Place me in the unpopular camp of those not rooting for revival of Palm Drive Hospital. I have had few occasions to visit Palm Drive in the 10-plus years I've lived in the district. Each time I was struck by the ghost-town ambiance, corridors of empty rooms and expensive under-utilized equipment and a ratio of staff to patients that was disproportionately high.

We currently have two assessments on our property tax for Palm Drive, a direct charge of $155 and an assessed value, which adds $31. Meanwhile, we pay for Kaiser. It is unconscionable that those seeking to keep Palm Drive alive would suggest doubling the tax burden, or continuing it in any way, given the quagmire of financial failure tax dollars are already party to.

The idea of a tax assessment is to enhance property values and further the common good. Where is the evidence of this at Palm Drive? A good safety record doesn't mean much when the overall sample size is so small and the costs huge.

Courting Kaiser or Sutter to set up a satellite facility seems to be the appropriate solution, given the historic failure of local management and the miserable waste of taxpayer funds.

PATSY TRUXAW

Santa Rosa

<b>Court of public opinion</b>

EDITOR: Anthony Moreno ("Free speech?" Letters, Wednesday) claims that there is an "attack on every American's right to free speech." His evidence is the recent resignation of Mozilla's CEO over perceived anti-gay comments. Nuts. Free speech is alive and reasonably well, but freedom of expression doesn't happen in a vacuum. Politicians, business and community leaders have long recognized there can be consequences if their public actions are controversial. Is the outcome always fair? Probably not, but that's a different topic.

Moreno also said that "there is a very powerful militant group that only supports free speech if it supports their lifestyle choice." Nuts again. The "very powerful militant group" that organizations take into account is the court of public opinion, and it's a lot bigger than any one lifestyle choice.

MARK MARELLI

Santa Rosa