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Friday’s Letters to the Editor


What would TR say?

EDITOR: According to a recent wire service article in The Press Democrat, Russian President Vladimir Putin is putting a nuclear plant in Argentina for peaceful purposes and hopes to build satellite bases and cooperate for the use of “military technology” (“Russia, Argentina make energy deal,” Sunday). Members of Congress are busy planning their vacations, so their views will have to wait. I wonder what Teddy Roosevelt would say?

LARRY GUNDRUM

Santa Rosa

Child endangerment

EDITOR: Reading over all the articles about Andy Lopez, I’m wondering why haven’t the parents been brought up on charges for child endangerment. When a 13-year-old is using marijuana and carrying a gun that looks real, why aren’t they responsible? The police have gone through a lot of training to keep themselves and the community safe. They had no ability to know that this was a 13-year-old child who was smoking marijuana. They only knew that he did not put down the gun when asked to do so. We have had many shootings done by children his age. Police have a very difficult job, and it’s up to us as parents to know what our children are doing.

MAUREEN AARDAHL

Gualala

USDA secrecy

EDITOR: As noted in Tuesday’s paper, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has refused to respond to reports of an intimate relationship between a USDA inspector and a Petaluma slaughterhouse employee (“Answers sought in Rancho closure”). Early this year, federal regulators ordered a nationwide recall of 8.7 million pounds of beef from the Rancho Feeding Corp., and they shut the facility down in February. Although Reps. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, and Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, have called on the USDA to provide answers, the agency is using the cover of “pending investigation” to shroud itself in secrecy.

Unfortunately, the animal agriculture industry regularly colludes with government agencies including the USDA to hide operations from the public. Meanwhile, the understaffed USDA often fails to enforce the law, putting the public at grave risk. That’s why the Cotati-based Animal Legal Defense Fund, supported by a broad coalition of public interest groups, filed the nation’s first lawsuits against state “ag gag” laws (in Idaho and Utah) that silence whistleblowers on factory farms and slaughterhouses. The industry talks about transparency while shutting the public out at every opportunity. Taxpayers deserve some answers.

STEPHEN WELLS

Executive director, Animal Legal Defense Fund

Drought rebates

EDITOR. I replaced my back yard lawn a few weeks ago with synthetic turf. I was told that by doing this I could get a rebate from the city of Santa Rosa. Replacing the lawn should greatly lower my water use. When I contacted the city agency that handles the rebates, I was told that because it was synthetic and not natural landscaping it didn’t qualify for the $250 rebate.

Oh, by the way, the synthetic lawn cost $3,900. With the drought, I would think that spending the money I did would help a little on our water situation.

I could have replaced my lawn with rocks and weeds as the city representative suggested. I should have; then, I would have gotten the rebate. I just wish the city would decide that synthetic lawns are a drought-saving measure.

GRANT ELL

Santa Rosa

Clarifying my remarks

EDITOR: I need to clarify my remarks about the Andy Lopez decision (“Wide range of reactions in wake of Lopez decision,” July 9). In no way did I speak on behalf of Sonoma Valley Teen Services and its board of directors, and I regret any embarrassment the article may have caused them or our many supporters.

I presume Staff Writer Jeremy Hay called me because he knew I would have a soft heart for Andy Lopez since I have worked with youth for 17 years. If so, he was correct. I care deeply about young people and agonize with Andy’s parents, friends and family over the loss of his life.

What I must clarify is that my comments were part of a longer conversation, the tone of which doesn’t entirely translate in the article and doesn’t accurately reflect my full viewpoint. I also must add that I have no knowledge on the subject of officer training and certainly don’t have authority to speak on that subject.

I regret that my comments came across as critical of the officers who face real dangers in the process of protecting citizens and that the article may have tarnished the relationship we have worked so hard to develop with our local police force.

CRISTIN LAWRENCE

Sonoma

Pensions and roads

EDITOR: Rich Sonoma County pension beneficiaries but poor public roads. Does anyone see a connection — or a disconnect?

I disagree with supporting the proposed quarter-cent road tax for Sonoma County — at least not until the Sonoma County Employee Retirement Association pension plan is dealt with in an above-board manner. As many will recall, not only did Sonoma County supervisors make significant changes to the retirement plan in 2002, they swept it under the carpet so that it didn’t receive public scrutiny. Why was it swept under the carpet? Because it was designed by those with hidden agendas who stood to benefit the most from it beyond all reasonable expectations.

Until all outstanding issues are addressed with the pension plan, it is insulting to ask the public to pay more taxes. The supervisors might get the idea that it is somehow acceptable to float new taxes and not fix old problems that caused the shortfall.

There’s something to think about next time you hit a pothole.

KATHLEEN ZACK

Santa Rosa