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.
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
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
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?