EDITOR: The Press Democrat's Nov. 24 editorial ("What next? Civilian review board debate") repeatedly uses the word "civilian" instead of "citizen" and reaches the wrong conclusion.
Using the word "civilian" to refer to a "citizen" re-enforces the military mind-set of "us" and "them." Police are supposed to be "peace officers," not soldiers. This military mind-set may not be the cause, but it certainly contributes to the tragic shootings we have seen in Sonoma County, such as the one leading to the death of Andy Lopez.
The purpose of an independent citizen board is to eliminate conflict in fact and appearance when law enforcement personnel investigate one another. There would be no secrecy. Testimony and reports must be public for the outcome to be accepted by the public.
Investigations of police shootings should not be done by the Board of Supervisors, various city councils or the grand jury, all of which are busy enough. It was the county's 1999 grand jury that recommended a citizen review board. Instead we got a Human Rights Commission making the same recommendation. Nothing happened. The time is long past to make the citizen review board a reality.
<b>Facts and opinion</b>
EDITOR: I'm surprised when you publish letters that are factually inaccurate. This doesn't help sharpen the public debate or clarify issues. It simply muddies and confuses them.
A case in point is Francois P. Jerins' Nov. 25 letter ("Shameful maneuver") stating that the Senate's limitation of the filibuster on presidential nominations will cause "the Senate passing nominations without a vote" and "fundamentally changing our government as promised," which will "obstruct votes in the Senate." Not only is that untrue, it is the opposite of the objective truth of the situation. In fact, it is the Republicans who have used this procedural technique to obstruct votes and hold nominations hostage. Limiting filibusters will, in fact, allow nominations to come to an up-or-down vote, which is what the Constitution set out.
Yes, "the administration gets what it wants without being blocked by the GOP." That part of the letter is true — and that is exactly how our constitutional democracy is intended to work. The Democrats won both the presidency and control of the Senate in the last election. Elections have consequences. Jerins may not like that — that is his opinion — but it does not change the facts.
<b>Casino smoke rules</b>
EDITOR: Dr. George Flores' letter ("Sickening smoke," Friday) regarding tobacco smoke in the Graton casino reflects the comments on websites such as Yelp and the casino's own Facebook page. It also draws attention to a little known fact: The state gambling compact by which the Graton Rancheria must abide includes a clause that requires installation of state-of-the-art technology for handling second-hand smoke.
This is from Section 12.2 of the compact: "The tribe agrees to provide a non-smoking area in the gaming facility and to utilize a ventilation system throughout the gaming facility that exhausts tobacco smoke to the extent reasonably feasible under state-of-the-art technology existing as of the date of the construction or significant renovation of the gaming facility, and further agrees not to offer or sell tobacco to anyone under eighteen (18) years of age."
Modern negative pressure technology can effectively create smoke-free zones without using physical barriers. So what happened at the multi-million-dollar Graton casino? The people of California have no way of knowing if the casino used state-of-the-art technology because the casino was built without permits or inspections.