<b>Aid and stereotypes</b>

EDITOR: A Press Democrat reader expressed her anger at the fact that individuals interviewed about their loss of CalFresh (food stamp) benefits were smoking cigarettes, sporting decorated nails and lamenting that Carl's Jr. wouldn't accept their benefit card ("Food money," Letters, Thursday). As a hunger relief worker in Sonoma County, I can assure you that these poor choices are dismaying to me as well. But, what is even more upsetting is the reader's use of "these people," implying that all people receiving help make similarly poor choices.

CalFresh supplements an eligible household's food budget, and is a safety net for households with low incomes. In 2012, more than 33,000 individuals received CalFresh benefits each month; and more than half of the recipients were children.

What your reader witnessed on the newscast was three individuals. She would have to meet all 33,000 individual recipients of CalFresh help before she could accurately evaluate how "these people" manage their finances.


Executive director, Redwood Empire Food Bank

<b>The tao of Measure B</b>

EDITOR: Now that the House of Representatives has answered Hamlet's query — to default or not to default — with the answer "it's not my cup of tea," I shall address another banality found plaguing the city of Sonoma.

I have around me a swarm of "no bees" and "yes bees" trying to pollinate my flower-power vote. They are working with the same puerile tenacity that we all witnessed in recent Beltway behavior.

Since I prefer to be bemused and not befuddled, I want to clearly articulate how to vote. I shall not vote "no" on "No on B," and I will not vote "yes" on "Yes on B." Follow these simple rules, and you will be able to walk to the Plaza with a smile on your face and in a sublime state of ambiguity.



<b>Find a better spot</b>

EDITOR: The design of the proposed five-story hotel in Healdsburg is beautiful, but that's about the only positive comment I can make about the possibility of it being built in the middle of town ("Plans for new downtown hotel unveiled," Oct. 11). It would be over-sized, crammed into the middle of the busiest area of town, not only eliminate a parking lot but adding even more cars to a saturated area.

The City Council should carefully consider the impact this hotel would have in our lovely plaza area. The size and location is not appropriate on Healdsburg Avenue, but it would be wonderful on the outskirts of town or in any spacious area that would show it off and be accountable for all the cars that would accompany it.

We won't be able to reverse a decision to cram this beautiful building into an inappropriately small lot just for the sake of appealing to tourists and the town's growing reputation as a designated location. The writers of those glowing stories will soon write us off if/when they see that we are just another Napa. Let's keep Healdsburg an authentic town in which to live and work. We can share what we have with others, but let's not fashion ourselves for them.

Viva Healdsburg.



<b>Creek restoration</b>

EDITOR: Staff Writer Kevin McCallum highlighted a fact no one is addressing: A flood control channel is just that, a channel to prevent floodwaters from damaging property ("Flood work resulted in bare banks," Saturday). It will never be a restored creek.

Why? As Jon Niehaus, the manager of the Sonoma County Water Agency's stream maintenance program, explained in the article, the creek is confined to a channel so it can't redeposit sediments as a natural creek would. Trees and brush are removed so water will flow unobstructed, the opposite of what a natural waterway does.

So maybe the Colgan Creek restoration project should be renamed the Colgan Creek balance project, as it cannot be a restoration, for to restore the creek, it would have to be abandoned and allowed to meander and carry its sediment load wherever, including flooding fields and eroding banks, etc. It is not and can never be a creek-restoration project as long as it's also a flood control channel. They cannot coexist, and the Sonoma County Water Agency is aware of this. Whether the taxpayers who donated to the various creek projects are aware remains to be seen. As Neihuas said, "Honestly, it's kind of a challenging situation."


Santa Rosa