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Pot and schools

EDITOR: I’m writing to encourage Sonoma County cities to follow the standard set by the Board of Supervisors and require a 1,000-foot distance, or setback, between schools and dispensaries. In light of the recent legalization of marijuana, the county has implemented new cannabis laws. Local cities will be developing their own policies, as Santa Rosa has begun. Now is the perfect time to establish strong, consistent protections for our students. I urge all cities to adopt setbacks of at least 1,000 feet between cannabis retail stores and schools.

Risks associated with selling or growing marijuana near schools include noxious smells, potential increased crime and increased student access to cannabis products. Studies have shown that selling tobacco near schools increases experimental smoking, and news reports from Colorado show the same is true for marijuana.

California law requires a minimum of just 600 feet separation, which is the distance that Santa Rosa is considering. Other states, such as Oregon, require a more cautious 1,000 feet. Sonoma County requires 1,000-foot setbacks for businesses selling alcohol and tobacco. It makes sense to maintain consistency and stick to this higher standard of protection for our children.

STEVE HERRINGTON

Sonoma County superintendent of schools

A case of two rights

EDITOR: Therese Mughannam-Walrath (“After the 1967 war,” Letters, June 19) asked a fundamental question regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: “Why do we consider some people more deserving of human rights than others?”

The dilemma involves two peoples who claim the same territory. The Jewish rationale is based on a profound religious tradition and the need for a homeland, and Palestinians point to their centuries of habitation. Israel’s first president, Chaim Weizmann, said it wasn’t a case of right and wrong but of two rights. The suffering is wrenching: Jews have a long history of rejection and lack of a homeland, and then the Holocaust horror, while Palestinians have the expulsion of thousands to refugee camps and, for those remaining, an oppressive occupation, theft of land for illegal settlements, the Gaza brutality, an enormous separation wall and daily fear of the military and police. Extremists on both sides aggravate the conflict, while international groups attempt to relieve the misery. The annual U.S. donation of $3 billion to Israel cannot heal this bleeding fraternal wound.

Since we Americans proudly proclaim commitment to liberty and justice for all, could we follow the traditional wisdom of the “people of the book” — Hebrews, Christians, Muslims – and treat others as we ourselves wish to be treated? We need to stand in our brothers’ and sisters’ shoes and start walking.

ROSEMARY H. HAYES

Santa Rosa

Climate concerns

EDITOR: Saturday’s story “President Trump’s ‘America First’ approach receives cold reception at global summit” documented that while 19 of the G-20 members reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris climate agreement, our president stands alone in opposition. In reality, his foolish stance on climate change issues could well be the best thing that could have happened for climate change activism.

Climate change is real, it’s bad, and it’s getting worse. But there is hope: 1. Gov. Jerry Brown has announced several climate change initiatives to work with other states and countries, 2. Groups like Citizens Climate Lobby and the Climate Leadership Council have proposed specific plans to place a fee on carbon emissions and return a corresponding dividend to all Americans; these proposals would lower the carbon in the atmosphere, create American jobs in clean energy and reduce our reliance on foreign oil. 3. Congress formed a bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus that recently blossomed to 46 members. We are proud to support Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, as a member, 4. Globally, emissions (while still high) appear to have peaked, and coal consumption in other countries, notably China, has started to fall. I urge all citizens to counteract the policies of our president. Please support state and federal climate change initiatives and support fee/dividend legislation.

BRIAN TORONE

Kenwood

Don’t forget charters

EDITOR: In David Brooks’ Wednesday column, “How upper middle class is ruining US”, he writes, “We in the educated class have created barriers to mobility that are more devastating for being invisible. The rest of America can’t name them, can’t understand them. They just know they’re there.”

Let me add that many charter schools place the needs of out-of-district, upper-middle-class students above the needs of local students to the detriment of the mostly local poor students.

KEVIN PARSONS

Forestville

Brooks off target

EDITOR: I have great respect for columnist David Brooks. He has provided some of the most thoughtful and astute analysis of our current political and social situations available. But the column regarding upper middle class privilege seems to be much too much mea culpa.

In particular, Brooks’ last example of “insensitively” taking a friend to an upscale sandwich shop and then deciding to eat “Mexican” instead strikes me as an unwitting insult to the very friend whom he endeavors to protect. If I, a two masters degree middle class chap, were taken to a Mexican restaurant, I might be confronted with many terms and dishes unfamiliar to me. But surely my initial puzzlement, even discomfort, would best be relieved by my polite questions met with good-natured explanations.

No one is born knowing what a “Pomodoro” sandwich is. We all had to ask. There is no shame or stupidity in needing to learn; only in failing to ask or snippily answering a puzzled query or (most of all, assuredly) snidely refusing to enlighten.

DAVID W. BROWN

Occidental