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Incarceration fees

EDITOR: Kudos to Staff Writer Julie Johnson and The Press Democrat for bringing to our attention the unjust practice of levying fees on the families of kids incarcerated in juvenile hall (“Fees crushing families of juvenile offenders,” Sunday).

As the excellent article points out, a kid who has already paid his or her debt to society by serving his or her sentence at the hall is further penalized by being presented upon release with a bill of $32 for every day he or she has spent incarcerated.

For poor families struggling to pay for basic food and shelter, this seems to me to be an excessive burden on those least able to bear it.

Other counties in California have seen fit to waive this fee. It is about time that our otherwise progressive Board of Supervisors does the same. We are blessed with a state of the art juvenile hall in Sonoma County. Let’s fix this policy without delay.

HANK MATTIMORE

Santa Rosa

Not a ‘populist’

EDITOR: I respectfully call your attention to an error on the front page of Monday’s Press Democrat. The headline of the article reporting the results of the French election (“Landslide victory for Macron”) characterized the rival candidate, Marine Le Pen, as a “populist.”

The political term “populist,” according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, has several meanings, including “a member of a political party claiming to represent the common people …” and “a believer in the rights, wisdom, or virtues of the common people.”

Since the values that Le Pen and her political party espouse are hardly populist, as defined above, it would have been more accurate to describe her and her party as “white nationalists.”

As defined in the same dictionary cited above, “nationalism” refers to “(a) devotion to one’s nation; patriotism; (b) excessive, narrow, or jingoist patriotism; chauvinism” and “the doctrine that national interests are more important than international considerations.”

The narrow nationalism and racist overtones of Le Pen (and the current White House resident, who previously voiced support for her candidacy) have no place in a healthy democracy, be it France, the United States or elsewhere.

CHUCK WHATFORD

Santa Rosa

Library chief’s resignation

EDITOR: I was disappointed to read the news of library director Brett Lear’s resignation (“County library director to resign,” May 3). He was a true asset to the Sonoma County libraries, and his leadership will be missed.

He organized some regional “coffee with the director” meetings last year. I attended the one held at the Northwest branch and was very impressed by Lear. He was intelligent and candid and had a wonderful vision for the county libraries. He was open to input from the public and willing to work hard to make progress on behalf of all library patrons.

It’s a shame that his efforts were not appreciated more. I wish him well in his next position.

LAURIE TRAINOR

Santa Rosa

Doctor’s character

EDITOR: I have known Dr. Eric Schmidt for nearly 50 years, ever since we were juniors at Montgomery High School. We have been close friends and medical colleagues throughout this entire time. In light of the recent one-sided front-page article (“Surgeon facing 24 fraud charges,” May 3), I feel compelled to make a public comment about his character.

At no point in the past 50 years have I ever known him to be dishonest or provide anything less than the absolute best in patient care. He has a bigger than life personality and is one of the kindest and most generous people I have ever known.

From a clinical perspective, he takes on the most difficult of orthopedic cases, has consistently excellent outcomes, is one the hardest working physicians in our community and is totally dedicated to his patients and practice.

I would hope that someone who has contributed so much to this community for more than 30 years would receive the benefit of the doubt until the full facts of the situation are reviewed. As Americans, we are all innocent until proven otherwise.

DR. GARY COMSTOCK

Santa Rosa

A reasonable approach

EDITOR: I support Measure C on the June 6 ballot.

My son, who was born and raised in Sonoma County, returned last year to teach middle school in Santa Rosa. He got quite a jolt when he found that apartments for him and his 4-year-old son cost close to $2,000 a month. That is a huge chunk of a teacher’s salary.

We say that we want to attract a well-qualified pool of teachers, but how can we expect to do so when rents are so high and going up unpredictably? Without any stabilization, rents in some cases have increased by hundreds of dollars annually.

It’s not just teachers who are displaced but restaurant staff, child care workers, retirees and young families just getting started. Putting fair limits on the percentage that rents can rise in apartment buildings sounds reasonable to me in this critical time of housing shortage.

TONI EATON

Santa Rosa

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