Bank bailouts

EDITOR: It was reported that Bank of American agreed, after considerable negotiating, to settle government claims over toxic mortgage securities that helped trigger the Great Recession (“Bank of America to pay $17 billion penalty,” Aug. 7). Previously, settlements were reached with Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase.

When I read this article, the question that occurred to me was who wins when banks fail? Actually the banks didn’t fail; rather their management failed to run their businesses legally. The government kept them from going under.

So were there any winners when the banks were saved? The banks’ borrowers did not win. Many lost their homes. The bank stockholders didn’t win because the value of their investments diminished. We, the taxpayers, lost by having to bail out the banks. The only ones who came out winners were the heads of the banks who created the banking fiasco. They all continued to collect big pay checks, bonuses and retirement packages.

Is there likely to be another banking crisis? When bank executives see that they win regardless of how their risky ventures play out, you can bet they will keep rolling the dice.

Santa Rosa

Unaffordable housing

EDITOR: I am a third-generation Sonoma County resident. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I had to sell the home I have lived in for 16 years and find myself in the rental market for the first time in 23 years. I have pristine credit but am on a limited income. Since landlords can no longer require first, last and deposit, they now mandate that your rent be no more than one-third of your income. A “decent” one-bedroom apartment costs $1,400 a month. If you have pets, add on $30-$40 per month per pet. The tenant is also responsible for all utilities.

I have come to the conclusion that I can no longer afford to live here in my hometown. So I’m moving 110 miles away, to another county, where I can live in a nice two-bedroom, one-bath home with my pets and still live relatively comfortably. I have to leave my 94-year old mother and friends.

It’s a sad situation when locals have to leave Sonoma County to find affordable housing.

Santa Rosa

Bonds and pensions

EDITOR: We have always voted in favor of bond measures for schools. However, anymore, whenever we see a new tax or bond measure on a ballot, we think of the obscene (to us) size of pension benefits public employees receive. We think that if these benefits were sized more reasonably, fewer taxes would be required. We are thinking hard about all new tax measures.

Santa Rosa

Coast grand prix

EDITOR: Anyone traveling along Highway 1 in Sonoma and Mendocino counties knows the road is full of sharp turns, reduced speed limits and no-passing zones.

During a recent trip up Highway 1, I encountered several Ferrari sports cars that may have been part of a sports car rally. Apparently I, or the car in front of me, wasn’t driving fast enough for the drivers of these vehicles. In a no-passing zone with curves, a couple of these cars sped by me and the car ahead while obviously exceeding a safe speed. The remaining two cars did the same shortly thereafter.

On a highway where there are numerous bicyclists and hidden side roads, such maniacal driving can only jeopardize the lives of others.

If these sports car drivers want to feed their egos and impress people with their fancy toys, they should go elsewhere. The Coast Highway is not the grand prix.


Palace of Dreams

EDITOR: We all have great aspirations and hope to achieve greatness and be remembered with fond memories through the legacy of accomplishments.

The Palace Hotel complex in Ukiah was for many years the grandest of accommodations in Northern California, then, over time, fell into disrepair and non-use, laying fallow for a quarter century, becoming a haven for the down and out, a billboard for lost causes.

The eyesore finally was given the opportunity to resurrect itself, to become once again the center of commerce and attraction, if only the web of paperwork involving responsibility and plans for recovery could be sorted out and, most important, acted upon.

The City Council has been lenient, almost to a fault, in allowing the Palace and its current ownership to languish in promises and false hopes (“Palace Hotel gets more time,” Aug. 8).

The time has arrived where it’s fish or cut bait. The Sept. 3 deadline will exhibit the value of a governing body’s concern for its legacy in providing leadership with compassion and foresight.

Whether the Palace lives on in its new innovative renovation or moves on, brick by brick, to live elsewhere, the dream of restoring the heart of Ukiah and, to a larger extent, Mendocino County will not wither and die.

Potter Valley