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War on whistle-blowers

EDITOR: The Obama administration's war on whistle-blowers is a hazard to our democracy. Time and again the people who expose government misdeeds have gone to prison while the perpetrators go free.

Bradley Manning is a hero, a whistle-blower, not a traitor or a spy. He's the Daniel Ellsberg (who released the Pentagon Papers) of our time — as Ellsberg himself has said. His mistreatment and persecution/prosecution is a warning to others not to reveal government misdeeds.

We see now why President Barack Obama was unwilling to prosecute Bush administration officials for allowing torture. He didn't want a precedent to be set that might endanger his own administration — or even himself, since he has claimed the right to make decisions about who can be assassinated by drone.

I expected better from a constitutional lawyer. I mistakenly hoped he would rein in the abuse of presidential power rather than extending it.

ELAINE COOK

Rohnert Park

Volunteers and schools

EDITOR: In response to Steve Fenner ("Put the kids first," Letters, Saturday), the issue at Santa Rosa High School isn't kids cleaning up their school or learning "life skills." It's a teacher who didn't follow procedures and unilaterally created liability for the school district by breaking a legal, binding contract.

The California School Employees Association represents classified employees, such as maintenance and operation workers and groundskeepers. Those jobs belong to CSEA. If the chapter president did not file a grievance, he would have exposed himself to a civil lawsuit by CSEA members for not doing his job in good faith. If the teacher had followed district procedures, there would not have been a problem. School districts have a procedure where if someone wants to do CSEA work, they must submit a form to the district. It is forwarded to the CSEA chapter and, if approved, then the volunteers can do the work. This is a common practice.

Can I go to Fenner's employer and "volunteer" to do his job for free, even if I'm not as qualified? That's what people are suggesting CSEA employees do. Now it's not such a good idea, is it?

TEMPLE O. SMITH

Cloverdale

Pull the plug

EDITOR: After reading your May 24 editorial ("Doing power agency right the first time"), I thought it would be helpful for all of Sonoma County's city council members to read the Marin County grand jury's analysis of Marin's clean energy program since Sonoma County's system is largely modeled on it. Go to marincounty.org and find the grand jury's Dec. 2, 2009 report, "Marin Clean Energy: Pull the Plug."

A. C. GALBRAITH

Windsor

Fixing bridges

EDITOR: Responding to Saturday's editorial ("Deteriorating bridges risk lives and jobs"), I agree that this needs to be a priority. This is exactly what "promote the general welfare" means in our Constitution as opposed to the other type of welfare that seems to gobble up huge sums of our various government budgets.

With proper and reliable infrastructure, the economy flourishes, jobs are created and maintained, and additional tax revenue is generated to continue to promote the general welfare.

Why are gasoline taxes siphoned off instead to underutilized public transit projects and operations? Why do our public works projects include all sorts of requirements, such as to pay the prevailing (i.e., high union) wage and require set-asides for minority and women owned businesses?

The motives behind these are noble, but they add 15 percent to 20 percent to the cost of the projects, which means we could be doing five upgrades instead of four.

Let's get our priorities straight and engineer our infrastructure instead of our society.

D.E. JOHNSON

Ukiah

What do we do?

EDITOR: As a former registered psychiatric technician, I have to ask, what do we do with the people at the Developmental Center — formerly Sonoma State Hospital? ("End of an institution?" Monday).

These people are effectively physically and mentally helpless, with IQs of 30 to 40 or less and virtually unable to move voluntarily. Asking their families to resume or pay for their care is an impossible burden except for the financially able one percent. They require 24-hour care and observation, including feeding and cleaning up the results of their bodily functions.

In Third World countries, they are often simply euthanized. This is America, and we are morally unable to use that solution. I ask my fellow Californians — including our politicians — how do we solve this problem?

JOHN A. McDONALD

Sebastopol