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Grand jury powers

EDITOR: The 2013-14 grand jury report doesn’t shrink the understanding of the panel’s investigating power. It is evidenced by the many thorough reports published by past and recent grand juries. We never intended to dismiss or degrade any work done by past grand juries, and I’m not sure why Ellen O’Connor (“Grand jury inquiries,” Letters, Thursday) chose to do so.

We wrote the report to correct a public misconception about the role of the grand jury. Over the past year, the sheriff and the district attorney have repeatedly told the public that the grand jury will get the Andy Lopez reports and do an investigation.

Generally, the grand jury reads and reviews the report from the district attorney and then supports the district attorney’s findings that the protocol was followed, the report was done without bias and that no criminal liability to law enforcement was found.

There has never been another finding since the grand jury started its reviews in 2001.

The task force appointed by the Board of Supervisors is doing its own investigation of the grand jury’s critical-incident reviews, and we wanted to be sure the task force and the public understands the role and limitations of the grand jury.

We are not a civilian review board for many reasons.

JACKIE BRITTAIN

Sonoma County civil grand juror, 2013-14

Preventing tragedies

EDITOR: After reading of several incidencts of children and babies dying in cars, I have thought of a means to curb this. However, I do not have the resources or means to implement my idea. I hope car companies will jump in to solve this problem after reading my suggestion.

My idea is installing an alarm in the cars that would be set off by extreme temperatures if movement is detected. Since many cars already have video for going in reverse, I believe this would not be difficult to implement.

I pray someone with the means can help install motion, cry-voice detectors and heat or freezing temperature detectors that set off an alarm that would cause people to come to the rescue.

BELINDA KEMIGISA

Santa Rosa

Reporting rape

EDITOR: As a lawyer representing sexual abuse victims, I was appalled at the July 13 article “Reporting rape — and wishing she hadn’t.” This situation is repeated far too frequently.

A sexual-abuse victim who has semen still inside him or her should call the police, first thing, right now. Then call a lawyer. Get protection, then get an advocate. You need protection — from the abuser, from the college and from other people, and you need an advocate who will handle all the people who want to pretend it didn’t happen.

A college is a business. “Party schools” make money. Colleges avoid prosecuting even the most barbaric athletes who bring in big money.

Schools must be made to fear letting sexual abuse go on. Colleges will become safe when college administrators fear the financial cost of drunken sexual abuse. It will not happen until then.

Don’t get mad; get even.

MARK SWENDSEN

Healdsburg

Israeli provocation

EDITOR: I was in Ramallah when the three Israeli teenagers were abducted in the West Bank. There is no evidence that Hamas was responsible.

We now know that one of the boys called the police, and gunshots are heard in the recording. This information was suppressed in order for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s military to launch an organized rampage through the West Bank and to rearrest those released previously in a prison exchange.

Hundreds of homes and schools were ransacked by the Israeli military hoping to get a reaction from Hamas so the onslaught on Gaza can begin. To date, 230 Palestinians have died, 30 percent children, and one Israeli soldier.

The context is that Gaza has been blocked on all sides since 2007, a brutal Israeli military occupation of Palestinians since 1967, the continued theft of Palestinian land for Israeli-only colonies, an obscene apartheid wall that steals more land and separates Palestinians from their families, work, shopping, hospitals, the indiscriminate killing of a civilian population.

How much more can humans take?

The only way that we can get a lasting solution to this tragedy is to do what we did for apartheid South Africa. Boycott, divest and sanction Israel until the occupation ends.

THERESE MUGHANNAM- WALRATH

Santa Rosa

Democrats and welfare

EDITOR: The Democratic Party leadership has sunk to a new low — pretending to take the high road in helping the people of Central America when its real motivation is to strengthen its voting base. The more people depending on government, the more votes for Democrats. Why do you think Democrats don’t want voter ID?

What about the poor children who are already here? Democratic and Republican governors and mayors are complaining that their schools, hospitals and social services are being strained to the limit. Most of the new wave of illegal immigrants will immediately get welfare, free medical, housing, food stamps, etc. at the expense of the taxpayers and the poor Americans who are already having problems getting jobs.

It’s as if liberals have no sense of logic or common sense. How can any thinking person support mass immigration unless they are intentionally trying to hurt America?

Under President Barack Obama, veterans are dying waiting in line for medical care while illegal immigrants go to the head of the line. Why? Because soldiers who fight and die to keep us free vote mostly Republican. People on welfare vote for Democrats. To the Democrat Party leaders, it’s all about the numbers.

THOMAS F. FEENEY

Santa Rosa