A positive influence

EDITOR: I grew up in Sebastopol and went to St. Sebastian's Church with my family. When the Rev. John Crews came to our parish in the early 1970s, he was just out of the seminary. His love of God was at the core of his being. He started a youth group at the church, of which I was a part. He encouraged a youth mass with guitars and upbeat music. As a result, more young people and young families came to church. Families stayed after church to visit with fellow parishioners and Crews. The church grew and became a more welcoming environment.

Crews treated each of us with respect. He encouraged us to do well in school and to respect our parents and each other. He was a positive influence in my life. He was a friend to our family and was welcome in our home. He still is welcome today.

Crews had my respect and friendship as a teenager. He still has it. I personally don't believe the stories in the paper. This is not the person I knew.



Community loses

EDITOR: Many folks who shop at Wal-Mart may be looking forward to the expansion of the store in Rohnert Park to a super center. They shop there because of the great savings they believe they gain. In the short term, they do save. In the less short term, the community loses, and so do they. Wal-Mart detracts from the economic recovery of the world.

Wal-Mart creates a false economy of cheap products by undercutting their workers on wages, health care and manageable secure jobs they can count on to support their families. And Wal-Mart refuses to let workers organize to gain a voice in workplace. The Wal-Mart expansion will create more poverty level jobs as it sucks the life from smaller local businesses. Local businesses cycle profits back into the community; Wal-Mart does not.

Wal-Mart prices do not reflect the real cost of resources, especially human resources anywhere in the world. Stop the expansion of Wal-Mart.


Santa Rosa

Misplaced priority

EDITOR: I read with astonishment Friday's article about fluoridating local water supplies ("County moving ahead on fluoride"). I can't believe Sonoma County officials are thinking of spending this kind of money — $8.5 million in capital upgrades, ongoing upkeep "starting" at $973,000 a year and more than $100,000 just for studies and analysis. Are we rich all of a sudden? I thought Sonoma County was in a mode of frugality. After all, we can't even fix our potholed, choppy roads that even lack clearly painted center lines. That is something that is of benefit to all citizens, whereas fluoridation is a contentious issue and many people think it is unnecessary.

It's obvious to me why there is such a dental crisis among children in our County. Just take a look at what's in people's shopping carts the next time you're in the supermarket. Even the poorest people are buying big bottles of soft drinks, sugary pastries, candy etc. How much water are children really drinking? Why don't we address that issue?

The people who want fluoride can get it in their toothpaste. Let's review our priorities and address longstanding needs that benefit everyone.



Symptoms of gun violence

EDITOR: For several generations we have taught our children that violence is an acceptable, even expected, response to perceived injustice. We have done this at the personal level as parents, in all types of media and on a larger scale at all levels of government.

This is the root cause of the gun violence at which we now express our outrage.

As has been said before, to keep on doing the same thing and expect a different result is the height of insanity. Surely, something must change. We should begin by acknowledging that the prevalence of guns is more symptom than cause of our ailment.

However, our inability to describe a cure for an ailment (such as the common cold, for example) doesn't prevent us from doing everything we can to lessen the discomfort thereof.

We should use every means available to treat the symptom of gun violence, and then, without fail, seriously address the root cause of the problem. It will not be hard to find a good starting point, for there are many.


Santa Rosa

Preschools' value

EDITOR: In reference to David Brooks' column concerning President Barack Obama's preschool plan ("Obama's preschool message is worth a listen," Feb. 17): I feel that Brooks' comments concerning Head Start minimized the numerous long-term benefits of preschool.

While Brooks mentioned briefly the Perry and Abecedarian projects, he chose to focus only on academic achievement. Academic achievement is a very complex topic, and poor academic performance is certainly not the fault of Head Start. If we focus only on academics, what is keeping elementary schools from sustaining the developmental gains made by children in Head Start?

Access to quality preschool is only one small part of a larger conversation about education and poverty.


Santa Rosa