Sunday’s Letters to the Editor


Coming together

EDITOR: The fires and all that went with them have hit Northern California hard. The loss of homes and lives and the turmoil these events have caused is like nothing we have seen.

Our local agencies and government entities are trying to figure out where we go from here. They have admitted they weren’t prepared for such an event and were overwhelmed by all that happened.

One thing we now know for sure: They may have been overwhelmed, but our communities were not.

As the fire raged in Redwood Valley, shelters and food were being prepared in Ukiah. As Santa Rosa became a disaster area, restaurants in Healdsburg, Forestville and other towns were strictly focusing on getting meals out to the firefighters and displaced masses.

These things were happening everywhere. Farms were making sure food was getting to those who needed it most, and any church, school, hall or viable resting place was opened for those who needed to sleep or find refuge.

Community is the first and last resource we have when the world around us seems to come crumbling, and this incident shows that we can truly achieve so much when we work together. And when we need it most, we are there for each other.



Housing after the fire

EDITOR: I have a housing rebuild suggestion for the city of Santa Rosa, particularly for Coffey Park. How about preapproving a number of different sets of plans, both single- and two-story homes, in that area? This would simplify the permit process and get homeowners back into their homes quicker without draining the resources of the city Planning Department.

The city can also tackle a public/private partnership and rebuild the area as a new subdivision rather than having each family get a set of plans and obtain the necessary approvals. This disaster will take some out-of-the-box thinking. I hope Santa Rosa is exploring all options.


Santa Rosa

The opioid epidemic

EDITOR: I am a retired emergency physician. I practiced for more than 20 years in Ukiah. I clearly remember when signs were posted in the ER, mandated by the Board of Medical Quality Assurance, stating that patients had a “right” to have their pain relieved. Physicians were at legal risk if they were accused of failing to do so. Predictably, opioid abuse has risen dramatically in the U.S. since the 1990s, in large part, I believe, because of this policy.

Now, we have a related, much more deadly scandal, as has been reported by CBS News and the Washington Post.

I’m not surprised by the actions of the usual, despicable suspects: lobbyists, Big Pharma, some chain drugstores, a few reprehensible physicians and politicians on the take. What is mystifying is how the ordained heroes (Dianne Feinstein, Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, Barack Obama, etc.) allowed this deadly legislation to pass without dissent.

They will claim that they were bamboozled. Maybe so. The best that can be said then is that they were inattentive and incompetent. They owe it to the many dead and addicted to admit it and rectify their mistake.

As the fool who currently occupies the Oval Office would say: “So sad.”



Ignoring the homeless

EDITOR: This is regarding the editorial reporting on Breitbart falsely trying to blame the firestorm on immigrants (“Fake fire news fans flames of ignorance,” Friday). The issue of homelessness goes beyond immigration status. There is currently a hepatitis A outbreak in Southern California that has killed 17 people. This type of hepatitis is transmitted fecal-orally, which means transmission is due to poor sanitation. If you have large numbers of homeless defecating in the street, proper sanitation cannot be met.

With regard to the fires, there is no evidence that any homeless immigrant started them. Yet when you think about it, they have nothing to lose and evacuation shelters to gain.

My point is that we cannot continue to ignore the homeless. We coexist with them, and they affect our health and safety. I deal with them in the emergency department on a daily basis and continue to be appalled by the lack of resources — mainly due to continued decimation of social programs, thanks to the GOP.

I would hope that these issues begin to affect the discussion around how to deal with the homeless, many of whom are mentally ill. Think about that when Donald Trump tries to give tax breaks to the wealthiest among us in a time of deficit spending.



Not global warming

EDITOR: Enough with global warming as the cause of these wildfires. Occam’s razor says you go to the explanation with the fewest assumptions. There is enough explanation in the California ecology to explain a fire that happens in a month when most fires happen in the state: a month with hot days, low humidity, offshore winds and vegetation that has been drying out all summer.

Massive spring growth had been encouraged by the heavy rains we experienced here last winter (oh, wait, that was caused by global warming, too). California’s flora is fire adapted and dependent on fire. Fire has been happening in California for millennia. Redwood trees didn’t become fire resistant overnight. They evolved in an ecosystem that adapted to and relies on fire for propagation, providing a renewed flora for the state’s fauna.

Unfortunately, this time we got in the way. We need to better manage our wildlands to allow for fire, which may help to prevent the kind of fierce wildfires we have all just experienced in Sonoma County.


Santa Rosa