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<b>Off the mark</b>

EDITOR: I have always liked Amy Goodman; she's a good progressive and is usually on target politically. However, her column in Monday's paper ("Obama's mismatch on words and deeds") was far off the mark in terms of both accuracy and reason for moral indignation on her part.

First, she seems to blame President Barack Obama for the mess in Iraq; it was and will always belong to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. As for Guantanamo, no one in Congress has agreed to accept prisoners from Guantanamo into their state's prisons; blame them, not Obama for the lingering existence of that prison. As for Obama's embrace of the "surveillance state," I am guessing that Obama's deep concern for this nation's safety trumps concerns for phone number analysis by the National Security Agency. None of us is able to fully know the needs of pressures of being president, and it is easy to criticize.

I ask: Would Goodman prefer Bush or some other neocon to Obama? I doubt it.

RICHARD SANSOM

Sebastopol

<b>Excessive pensions</b>

EDITOR: What planet do our city employees come from to deserve the pensions and other benefits we lavish on them? They must all have master's degrees or doctorates in extortion.

Having spent 30 years with a large corporation, with no contract other than a paycheck every two weeks if I continued to perform, and needing to work to age 60 to gain a pension of 40 percent of my average pay for the last three years of employment, I find the present arrangement with city employees to be utterly absurd and something the city taxpayers should no longer have to tolerate. There must be a way to break the existing contracts and start over.

No one should be able to work to age 50 and then retire with a pension reflecting 90 percent of their highest salary. If the mayor and City Council are unable to handle, this they should resign or be voted out of office. Otherwise, people, myself included, will be moving out of Santa Rosa to communities that take a more realistic approach to the pay and benefits they offer their employees.

DON APPLEBY

Santa Rosa

<b>Big contributions</b>

EDITOR: The Redwood Empire Food Bank needs to be celebrated by all of us fortunate enough not to need its services ("Food bank opens grocery," Saturday). We need to raise awareness about just how much it does for our community.

No one should go hungry, and the food bank serves our community with respect and integrity. I've seen families using vouchers at markets where they are met with impatience and disrespect. I get it. We're all rushing, but we need to take pause and imagine for a moment what they must be feeling. When I see a young mother with her children at the store with a look of shame on her face, apologizing to those in line for taking too long, it breaks my heart.

The food bank does amazing, innovative work. Providing our neighbors with a place where they will be treated with dignity is just one way it is making a difference in our community. It provides meals to more than 70,000 people each month, education for the community at large, summer lunch programs, senior programs, incredible volunteer opportunities with dedicated leadership and much more.

The food bank's work may go unnoticed by many, but it sure is admirable.

ALANA M. DE MARS

Windsor

<b>People in need</b>

EDITOR: I was rather annoyed by the reactions of some Bennett Valley residents in the Aug. 4 article "Plan for Warrack site stirs passions." Citizens living close to Warrack are worried that Social Advocates for Youth's project will be detrimental to the area? Since when is being homeless or aging out of the foster system a crime?

Fearing for your personal safety? These young adults seem to be people who had a hard time and could use some assistance getting "back on track" to a home. There is no need to be fearful. Many similar shelters exist, be they for battered women, the homeless or some other distinct group. And they are scattered throughout cities, usually causing no problem (as they are not advertising their inhabitants).

So chill out, Santa Rosa.

LEE SPITZER

Santa Rosa