Thursday's Letters to the Editor

<b>County contracts</b>

EDITOR: You reported that 1,700 members of Sonoma County's largest union group are voting on a contract that could be the framework for negotiations with the other 10 union groups ("County workers to vote on contract," Tuesday).

About 3,800 Sonoma County employees and an unknown number of retired employees consume 40 percent of the budget for salaries, pensions and other benefits. As that must be the largest single county expense, and one that affects funding for all other projects, it is expected that democratic transparency would prevail. But the article said county officials wouldn't release any information to avoid interfering with the vote.

The county grand jury recently chided the supervisors for questionable legality of labor agreements made in 2002. Now we find out that the public won't be made aware of details negotiated on our behalf until after the contract is ratified by members of Service Employees International Union Local 1021.

The supervisors should be ashamed for not exerting more effort to keep the public informed. The taxpaying public should be ashamed for not calling out the supervisors. The priority given to the county unions and the weakness on the part of our supervisors is obnoxious.



<b>Murray's lesson</b>

EDITOR: The incredible story of E. Walter Murray in Sunday's Towns section ("An enduring spirit") touched my heart — not only because of his milestone 100th birthday coming up on Dec. 24, or the fact that he looks amazing for a man nearing the century mark, but for his spirit. He serves as a lesson for all of us. How could he not, with such compassionate and generous parents? Their legacy lives on in him and the reason he has so many friends is because he is such a good friend.

As for crediting his longevity to his many friends, I think maybe he has it backwards. He honors and remains connected to his past, he is productive and engaged in his present, and he looks to his future with courage and optimism. What more could you ask for in a friend?

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