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America’s Rorschach test

EDITOR: It was amusing to see mention of “Trumpism” in the popular press (“Trump vs. Trumpism,” Forum, Sunday). This is chasing a unicorn. The man has no coherent philosophy animating his words or his actions. What he does have is a mishmash composed of a child’s need for adulation, unfocused xenophobia, focused greed and whatever he last heard from “Fox & Friends” or Ivanka.

Pity the Sean Spicers of the world who have to try to make sense of whatever last came out of his mouth, or the James Mattises, H.R. McMasters and Rex Tillersons who have to try to hammer it into some form of coherent-sounding policy.

Face it, there is no Trumpism, only Trump. He is the Rorschach test that America somehow managed to fail.

JIM GALLAGHER

Petaluma

County’s payroll

EDITOR: In your article about the highest paid county workers in 2016, the county administrator excused the exorbitant amounts by indicating the county “had to remain competitive in the job market” to get the best talent (“Deputies top list of highest paid,” Saturday).

These are the same words her predecessor, Veronica Ferguson, used when she justified high salaries. Ferguson was No. 4 on the highly paid list.

The problem is that the competition is other county/city jurisdictions using the same rationale. The bidders are all public authorities rummaging the same employee pool and bidding up the costs with little incentive to be tough in negotiations funded by public money.

Supervisors don’t push back as they are part of the high salary/pension system.

Public employee unions constantly push for more compensation, saying they aren’t part of the top-tier high compensation.

The article cited costs of $439 million in payroll out of a $1.6 billion budget. Future pensions will push the cost much higher. County employees will benefit at our expense.

It’s no surprise that there is constantly a shortage of county funding. Look at the biggest single expenditure, and you will know the reason.

RICHARD LAMBERT

Sonoma

GM crop questions

EDITOR: Charlene Stone contends that genetically modified organisms “are reliant on a product called Roundup, the main ingredient in which is glyphosate — a chemical widely believed to cause cancer” (“Assessing science,” Letters, April 13).

What Stone obviously doesn’t realize is that Roundup is an herbicide and isn’t an ingredient in any GM crop. Instead, some crops are genetically modified to resist Roundup (making it easier for farmers to control weeds as they can spray their entire fields with Roundup without having to target individual plants), while other crops are given different traits such as drought-, pest-, rain- and wind-resistance, among others. These traits have enormous and undeniable benefits, such as leading Earth to produce enough food to support 10 billion people and increasing food security for billions in our changing climate.

So, yes, glyphosate likely does cause cancer, and GM crops may bring up other problems, but I challenge Stone to do her homework and learn more about her subject than is available in the first line of a science-rejecting leaflet.

DANIEL MILLS-THYSEN

Sebastopol

Public infrastructure

EDITOR: John A. Andres expressed the opinion that the recently passed California legislation adding 12 cents a gallon to the gasoline tax and $48 to vehicle registration fees is “onerous and outrageous,” and he went on to say that it “isn’t going to be enough to cover the costs of improving the infrastructure” (“Ignoring the public,” Letters, April 12).

Our roads, municipal water and sewer systems and bridges have been deteriorating for decades while, at the same time, virtually every politician has campaigned on no new taxes or lowering taxes. I cannot reconcile keeping taxes artificially low and, at the same time, demanding that more be done to improve our infrastructure.

It is common to read that the money currently available to our government agencies should be used more efficiently and, at the same time, demanding improvement in our schools, addressing the homeless problem, providing better mental health care, providing free parking downtown, etc.

Government officials cannot work miracles by creating something from nothing. It is only we who contribute to our own upkeep. Our representatives at every level of government need to know we are willing to care for ourselves and one another by paying a little more for what we value in our town, county and state. I am willing.

PAMELA TENNANT

Sebastopol

Reasons to support C

EDITOR: On June 6, Santa Rosa’s voters will have the unique opportunity to aid our fellow residents by voting yes on Measure C.

Here are some reasons to vote yes:

— Half of Santa Rosa’s residents are renters.

— Measure C allows landlords a reasonable rent increase of 3 percent annually.

— Over the past five years, Santa Rosa’s rent increases are among the highest in the U.S.

— Low-income families often have to spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent.

— If approved, Measure C would reset (lower) present rents to levels that they were on Jan. 1, 2016. No rent already paid will be paid back to renters.

— While it wouldn’t eliminate homelessness, Measure C would aid 4,500 of our lowest-earning families who now are on a seven-year waiting list for housing assistance.

Don’t let large Sacramento and Los Angeles landlords and real estate investment trusts get their way any longer. Pass Measure C on June 7.

FRANK BAUMGARDNER

Santa Rosa

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