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Honoring veterans

EDITOR: There is a lot of discussion lately about patriotism and what it means to be an American. For me, the answer is simple. To be a patriotic American is to believe in, and support, the Constitution of the United States. Our Constitution defines who we are as a country, how our government is run and our rights and responsibilities as citizens. Everyone who serves our country, from the military recruit to the president, takes an oath to preserve and protect the Constitution.

Despots throughout history have wrapped themselves in a flag, calling those who don’t follow suit disloyal to their country. These hypocrites give lip service to the symbols of flag and anthem, but their actions undermine the values that these symbols represent.

I was raised an Air Force dependent, a teenager when my father was deployed to Vietnam. So I have great respect for veterans. But the patriotic act of speaking truth to power, calling out the actions of leaders who violate their oath to the Constitution, is in no way disrespectful to veterans. On the contrary, it honors and affirms the values for which they fought and died.

MYRTLE ROCHIOLI

Healdsburg

Offering support

EDITOR: I received a colostomy almost seven years ago due to a rectal GIST, or gastrointestinal stromal tumor. As a result, I am healthy and the president of the Ostomy Association of Sonoma County. Oct. 7 is Ostomy Awareness Day, and that is the reason for my letter. I will let the United Ostomy Association of America summarize the situation:

United Ostomy Associations of America estimates that 725,000 to 1 million people are living with an ostomy or continent diversion in the United States. An ostomy is a type of surgery that creates an opening in the abdomen that allows for the removal of bodily waste into a pouch outside the body. This life-saving surgery may occur due to birth defects, cancer, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, trauma and other medical conditions.

The Ostomy Association of Sonoma County is a safe place to share one’s fears and frustrations. Adjusting to an ostomy can be a trial, but when stabilized, life goes on, and no one need know or suspect. I witness because I have met folks who feel alone when they have no one with whom to share. You can reach us through www.ostomy.org/asg_pages_asg_023.html

BARRY WATKINS

President, Ostomy Association of Sonoma County

Water conservation

EDITOR: We all know that the drought is never really over here, with limited rainfall most years and increasing population. When California imposed its drought guidelines and reporting system in 2015, most of us did everything we could to reduce our use and comply with the inscrutable reporting requirements.

The problem was and is that business and agriculture were, inexplicably, exempt from the program. Drive the back roads of Sonoma County and observe the ag properties liberally watering fields during the hottest parts of the day. And the schools maintaining lawns that aren’t even playing fields. And the cemeteries (Pleasant Hill is particularly egregious) pleasing the dead with their blinding green lawns.

As long as we continue giving business and ag (and schools) a pass on conservation, we’re wasting our time on ineffective programs that swat at the gnats and let the elephants stomp us to death.

NANCY HAIR

Sebastopol

SSU asbestos case

EDITOR: I have followed The Press Democrat’s coverage of the Sonoma State University asbestos trial with interest and was happy to see that this long dispute has been brought to some closure by the findings of Judge Nancy Shaffer and the jury (“SSU to pay $2.9 million penalty,” Wednesday).

As an employee of SSU’s facilities department from 1998 to 2012, I was involved in remodeling efforts all over the campus and had ample experience working with Thomas Sargent, the claimant in the case. He has always been zealous and uncompromising in enforcing workplace safety, and I’m happy this portion of his ordeal is behind him.

I also know and respect individuals on the other side of the dispute, whom I am certain were doing their jobs according to the wishes of their superiors. From my perspective, this case was largely about the priorities of SSU’s administration and the California State University system during the years these mistakes were made. I see indications that those priorities are changing, and I sincerely hope that’s the case. The safety of students, faculty and staff in a public learning institution should never be an object of spin or compromise.

JEFF FALCONER

Agua Caliente

A tax protest

EDITOR: My suggestion to all taxpayers who feel they are paying too much and are sick of tax cuts for the rich is to go exempt. File a new W-4 and either claim 10 exemptions or mark exempt. Save your tax payments in your savings account so that in April you can pay your taxes as required. This will withhold current taxes from, and hopefully get the attention of, a government that wants to tax the poor to death to give tax breaks to the rich.

CRAIG WARREN

Napa

The bar exam

EDITOR: The state of California is considering lowering the passing score on the test for new lawyers. The bar exam now requires a score of 1,440 out of 2,000 to pass. This is equal to 72 percent. In my high school and college days, this would be a C-minus. What?

The proposed new passing score would be 1,390. This is the equivalent of a D-plus. What the heck?

There are more than 100,000 lawyers in California now. We don’t need even dumber ones.

WM. APPLEBY

Sebastopol

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