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Divisive tea party

EDITOR: The tea party likes to present itself as being patriotic with roots in our Revolutionary War. I remember a flag from that period on which the following was inscribed, "United We Stand, Divided We Fall." I do not know of any organization as divisive as the tea party. Nor am I aware of any group so dismissive of American ideals.

The idea that tea party members and only tea party members have a monopoly on what is American is much closer to authoritarianism than to anything in the Constitution.

The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech. From what I see, the only speech the tea party countenances is that speech that adheres to positions laid down by the tea party. Liberty is not about everyone marching in lockstep and being consistent with any group of precepts. We need to voice all sorts of positions and discuss them and adopt and adapt the most workable.

TOM BRUNNER

Petaluma

Abusive policy

EDITOR: It seems ironic that a person can drop off a baby at a police station or hospital with no questions asked, but one may not drop off a dog at a shelter without an interview ("A shift at the shelter," Monday). The interview, of course, is to discourage an intake by perhaps making an owner feel guilty, thereby leaving an unwanted animal in an abusive situation.

I cannot think of a worse policy change. It totally promotes "dumping." It is inhumane and fosters abuse from an agency dedicated to the opposite. A merciful death is preferable to a long, slow one from starvation, disability and disease. I will no longer be donating to the Sonoma County Animal Shelter.

DIANE McCURDY

Santa Rosa

Grapes vs. redwoods

EDITOR: I recognize global climate change is threatening our vineyard-juiced economy. I recognize that as temperatures warm, vineyards need to be planted farther north and farther west. I also recognize that this is our fault, and it is not a problem that should be answered by expanding into redwood forests.

When my father moved to Sonoma County in 1970, more than 10,000 acres of apple orchards remained. Today, apples take up less than 3,000 acres, and vineyards are taking over.

The ongoing dispute over Artesa's 324-acre parcel holds 154 acres of redwoods hostage. It is repugnant to me that there is an argument that this grove is not a forest and doesn't matter because they are not old-growth redwoods. It has been stated that the two old-growth redwoods on the disputed property will be saved, but redwoods live in groves because their shallow root system and extreme height make them susceptible to storms and wind. Redwoods need redwoods to survive, and we live in the very small area where this incredible tree grows.

What a ridiculous and irresponsible thing to approve.

CASSONDRA COMBS

Rio Nido

Unpaid 'vacation'

EDITOR: In stark contrast to Jill Johns' ("A paid vacation," Letters, Thursday), I am one of the thousands of "nonessential personnel" who isn't getting back pay. While I agree the shutdown was self-serving (especially for Speaker John Boehner and Sen. Ted Cruz), stupid, ridiculous, unproductive and whatever other negative adjective you want to use, Johns should do some research before she makes a blanket assumption. The shutdown was not a paid vacation for me and many others in my situation. It was the loss of income for me and my household.

CAROLE I. HUYGEN

Petaluma

Fluoridating water

EDITOR: Sonoma County residents and businesses need to be informed that the Sonoma County Public Health Department is pushing to fluoridate our community water systems. The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors will be making a decision in early 2014, and if the board decides to go ahead, we will all be drinking fluoridated water without a choice.

It is important for all to research the pros and cons of fluoridation and let the supervisors know where they stand. I have learned so much on this subject over the past year, and, as a result, I am definitely opposed to fluoridating our water because of the high cost involved and many possible adverse health effects.

JIM JORISSEN

Santa Rosa