<b>Benefits aren't free</b>
EDITOR: While I agree with most everything Darryl Fenley said in his letter ("Watchdog needed," Tuesday), I have to take exception to his second sentence. I don't know where he gets the idea that Congress gets no-cost medical benefits.
Congress has the same medical plan available to all federal civilian employees and retirees. It's called the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan, and it and allows congressmen to choose from a menu of providers with varying benefits.
While the government picks up a generous portion of the cost of the individual plans, I have to pay more than $5,100 a year for myself and my family, as would any congressman with the plan I have. I would hardly call that medical care at no cost.
As an aside, under ObamaCare, Congress will lose the federal employee health plan, and members and staff will have to purchase medical insurance from an ObamaCare health exchange.
<b>Living near services</b>
EDITOR: For years, I have lived within a five-minute walk of three centers that serve the disadvantaged: the armory, the James Coffee house (for youth) and the Catholic Charities day center for the homeless. In 17 years, I can recall only four times when I have been affected by the clients of these centers:
One night, two men bedded down in a neighbor's yard; I gave a young girl struggling with a heavy suitcase a ride to the armory; and I gave a lost girl directions to the Coffee House. One night I came home from work to find a boy sleeping on my porch sofa — no coat, head on his backpack. He never moved as I unlocked the door. I told my husband, and he asked him to leave, which he did.
In this time, I have never felt threatened, never suffered any physical harm or property damage.
To those that feel a deep concern about the opening of a Social Advocates for Youth center in their neighborhood ("Plan for Warrack site stirs passions," Aug. 4), I would say that I understand their concern. However, the reality of the presence of the SAY center in their neighborhood will likely be far less than they fear.
<b>Patrons of the arts</b>
EDITOR: I don't agree with Judy Kennedy's opinion that the sculptures installed at Montgomery Village are "schlock" ("SR public art draws fire," Wednesday), and I don't agree with her playing art juror for the community at large.
David Codding fulfilled his obligation to spend 1 percent of his building cost three times over. The fact that Kennedy does not like the art is a moot point. Codding and Melissa Williams should be revered for all that they do for the arts in this county instead of being insulted.
I have been an art advocate in this community for 20 years, and I have not seen anyone rise to the level of support that I have seen from these two. They supported and funded the 5 Camera Arts Festivals, Santa Rosa's first Phantom Gallery and Silver Stone Gallery, and they have promoted dozens of art festivals and countless concerts that this community has participated in and enjoyed for free.
Thus far, the city of Santa Rosa has not been able to afford or produce anywhere near the number of community art events that Williams and Codding and David have been responsible for sponsoring. As an artist, I would like to express my gratitude and thank them for being such great patrons for the arts.