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Refugees at the border

EDITOR: I was glad to see the July 9 article saying “those displaced by armed conflict deserve more consideration” (“Treat as refugees, urges U.N.”).

If I were a child or a mother of young children desperate enough to leave my loved ones and culture to escape violence and/or hunger and to brave danger crossing a border into any other country, I would hope to be received with compassion and be given an opportunity to live, wouldn’t you?

This truly is a huge regional problem, and I hope that the U.S. will work with others in the region toward humane solutions.

Meanwhile, let us open our hearts and minds.


Rohnert Park

Private property

EDITOR: I read Marie Gewirtz’s letter (“Transplanted fears,” Friday) in disbelief. I am not a “transplant.” We are the second generation living on family property in Sonoma. Perhaps we don’t “use” every bit of our property, but it was purchased by my family, we pay the taxes, insure and maintain it. Nowadays, the lack of respect is appalling.

No matter how respectfully someone hikes or bikes on another’s property, they are trespassing. No private property owner wants to assume liability for the public. I asked a woman who was walking her dog on my property if she would like it if she found me in her backyard. She responded that no, she would not.

We are very fortunate in Sonoma County to have lots of open space, parks and beaches for public use, so people need not trespass.

As to Lisa Lawley “claiming” property (“Rural crimes,” July 4), I am sure she purchased it or manages it, and she apparently chooses not to make it a commune.

As to why Lawley is devoting so much time, energy and money to cameras and fences, however she wants to spend her money is her business, isn’t it?


Boyes Hot Springs

Hardly wild

EDITOR: Now that the oysters are being evicted from Drakes Bay, we can fully enjoy the restoration of wilderness to the area. We can walk the trails, carefully sidestepping the piles of horse manure seeping into the muddied track where the stream crosses and meanders into the lakes on whose shores the young cavort.

Meditatively contemplating the Cheez-it wrapper gracing the shore, I smile with satisfaction, knowing that all this goodness will be delivered into the bay where the oysters will no longer be filtering the water and cleaning it up. If we want wilderness, then remove the people. If we tolerate the people, then tolerate the whole cycle of life.



Grand jury inquiries

EDITOR: Recent press (“Grand jury may not review Lopez case,” Sunday) and the Sonoma County civil grand jury’s 2013-14 report shrink the understanding of the jury’s investigatory powers.

Past grand juries have done original, detailed research on law-enforcement-related deaths (e.g., “A death in custody,” 2010). They also reviewed procedures and practices such as the use of force (“Use of less than lethal force,” 2010) and the training and professionalism of certain functions (“Investigating the investigators,” 2003). They asked if justice was served in particular cases by correctly applying the law as well as standard policy and procedure (“Is justice being served in our county?” 2003; “Was justice served?” 2012). See http://www.sonomagrandjury.org.

Also, attention has focused on whether the grand jury could serve as a civilian review body or should routinely review the district attorney’s reports on law-enforcement-related deaths. But there is another tool in the public’s hands whereby the jury investigates law enforcement: the citizen’s complaint. This action brings up matters on a one-time, case-by-case basis. The Penal Code restricts the jury, but the decision may in fact be a judgment call. The exercise of that faculty shows in the contrast between past and recent juries.


Sonoma County civil grand juror, 2013-14

Two sides

EDITOR: I want to commend Staff Writer Guy Kovner and The Press Democrat for including the observations of Therese Mughannam-Walrath in your July 12 article that featured Rabbi George Gittleman’s observations on the “normalcy” he is experiencing in Israel (“In Jerusalem, SR rabbi sees normalcy amid conflict”). It is rare if not unheard of for a mainstream newspaper to indicate that there is another side to this story.

I recently returned from Israel/Palestine where I observed a brutal military occupation largely fueled by fear and racism. As a Jew, I was appalled at what the state of Israel is doing in the name of the Jewish people.

I believe that if the rabbi spent an equal amount of time speaking to Palestinians in the occupied territories and Gaza, he would understand that the primary barrier to peace is not “Palestinian militants” but rather the unwillingness of the state of Israel to acknowledge the legitimate rights and aspirations of the Palestinian people on whose land Israel has been built.



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