<b>What's the bottom line?</b>
EDITOR: Before I vote for any more elected officials in Sonoma County ("Wysocky to seek county's top fiscal post," Tuesday), I want to know what their potential retirement package is worth. After being blindsided by the former tax collector, Rod Dole, who retired nearly a decade before us mere workers who are supporting his $250,000 a year pension, I want to know the bottom line. I am sick of elected officials lining their pockets at our expense.
<b>Too many prisons</b>
EDITOR: Chuck Galleta ("Build more prisons," Letters, Thursday) correctly observes the collapse of the American justice system, but his proposed solution is as shortsighted as saying the response to a plague outbreak should merely be to build more coffins.
The number of prisoners in the U.S. has increased a staggering 400 percent since 1980, and beyond lining the pockets of the influential for-profit prison industry, this rampant growth has done nothing to help public safety. In fact, the release of violent offenders (7.4 percent of the prison population) wouldn't even have become necessary if we had not crammed our new prisons with drug addicts and the mentally ill even as we slashed the treatment programs, continuing education and psychiatric care in those same facilities.
Rather than continue down this self-destructive path of locking away historically unprecedented percentages of our society, we should be looking to rebuild the entire system.
Unless we accept a premise that Americans are somehow intrinsically and irredeemably more criminal than the rest of the world, perhaps we should look to our allies — every European country somehow enjoys substantially lower incarceration and recidivism rates at a fraction of the cost to taxpayers.
<b>Neighborhood at risk</b>
EDITOR: We left the East Bay to live in beautiful Bennett Valley. Now it seems the city of Santa Rosa wants to destroy our neighborhood by bringing in troubled youth ("Plan for Warrack site stirs passions," Aug. 4). Once they're here, as with every other city in the Bay Area, our neighborhood is going to experience a major increase in crime — some of it violent. Is this really what we want?
EDITOR: People will be coming to Sebastopol in droves soon to enjoy the Barlow center. But parking and roads feel cumbersome and dangerous to navigate. Are we providing enough parking?
Are visitors going to crowd the current parking lots that accompany places nearby, such as the Rialto theater or Coffee Catz, and impact these merchants?
Also, there are times when traffic backs up almost to Llano Road. What will happen when the Barlow is in full swing?
I have asked several shop owners and potential shop owners in the Barlow, "What do you think about the parking and traffic at the Barlow?" Their response, "We are hoping it's going to work out."
Really? Hoping it will work out? Uh-oh.
It seems unfriendly to invite people to come for a visit and a stay (I hear that a 104-room hotel is in the works) and not provide ease of entry and ease of movement and parking for our guests.
We don't want the Barlow to be a source of frustration for our guests nor our locals. We want it to be a success story.