<b>Strident minority</b>

EDITOR: The Press Democrat's recent articles on Healdsburg's struggle to balance tourism and its small-town charm seem to focus on the concerns of a handful of the city's roughly 11,000 citizens. A strident minority garners inordinate press coverage while invoking a tsunami reference ("At a crossroads," Nov. 30) that is embarrassingly inappropriate.

Healdsburg's elected representatives appear to be weighing the concerns of all their constituents — residents, business owners and employees, developers, retirees — when they review new development plans. The spirited opinions of dissenters are, of course, critical to this democratic process.

Yet, as we have seen with our federal government's recent temporary shutdown, minority voices can also be obstructive. A filibuster by a few firebrands convinced of their righteousness does not serve the needs of a community.



<b>Responding violently</b>

EDITOR: My agency's office is in the lobby of the Sonoma County jail. This past Tuesday, there was a demonstration held outside this facility ("Emotions flare in SR," Wednesday). A demonstrator smashed the front door an hour after I left. The next morning when I learned about this violent behavior directed at this building, I felt sad.

There are vulnerable people in this building. Quite a number of the inmates in this facility are emotionally fragile. Imagine how the sounds of people shouting and screaming and smashing the front door might be felt by the inmates imprisoned here.

Although I was ordered to leave early to avoid potential harm, a lot of people who work in the jail couldn't leave — janitors, clerks, deputies, medics and therapists, to name a few. They are essential personnel and must stay even when the building they work in is being attacked.

I think these types of violent actions suggest uncontrolled and unconscionable behavior. If the folks who are demonstrating are protesting violence, how do they justify behaving violently? I think they dishonor themselves and their community.


Executive director, Friends Outside In Sonoma County

<b>Lighting the streets</b>

EDITOR: I think it's time to turn all of our street lights on. Days are shorter now, and well-lighted streets are safer for all, including bike riders, walkers and animals.

Turning on all the lights would expose non-working lights. There is no excuse for one to go more than a week without repair.

How about asking PG&E to cut the power bill by 10 percent? Doing so would help our budget and give us safer streets.


Santa Rosa

<b>Lost opportunity</b>

EDITOR: Southwest Community Park was to be built 10 or 15 years ago. It didn't happen. The people of that community have little say or power. That being said, I'm responding to the three letters published Saturday in opposition to a memorial park because Andy Lopez simply wasn't important enough.

Andy was not "a contributing member of society and not deserving." Nor did he "volunteer his time helping to deliver meals to people, visit rest homes and read to people," nor "do anything good for his community," nor was he "a decorated war hero, public servant, or Pulitzer Prize winner," nor did he "make some form of magnificent contribution to society." You're right.

Andy didn't have the time. He lived 13 short years, not a very long life. He did have a toy gun, as do most boys his age who grow through this rite of passage to adulthood. He paid a high price, an early death and no chance to know exactly what he would have done with his potentially productive years. He was just a boy.

I would not wish to live with this killing of an innocent boy on my conscience.



<b>Money well spent</b>

EDITOR: Don Waltenspiel ("Hidden cost," Letters, Wednesday) complained that we, the taxpayers, will probably spend more than $1 billion to fix the Affordable Care Act website. In my opinion, this will be one of the best $1 billion expenditures of my tax money in a long time. It surely beats the $2 billion per week ($100 billion per year) we spend on the Afghanistan war.