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Thursday’s Letters to the Editor

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Pensions and fire districts

EDITOR: Arthur Horner, who ranted against people questioning over-generous public employee pensions as disrespecting firefighters, clearly doesn’t know what he’s talking about (“Pension critics,” Letters, Nov. 2). The majority of firefighters working the fire lines during this historic and devastating tragedy were either seasonal contract workers from multiple states or volunteers from surrounding fire districts paid an hourly stipend through the state Office of Emergency Services. These firefighters don’t have pension benefits and aren’t the same as the city of Santa Rosa’s unionized firefighters making $100,000 a year, plus benefits.

What Horner doesn’t understand about the pension crisis, which was created by elected representatives who colluded with organized labor to rip-off taxpayers, is that money for services once provided from tax dollars now goes to public employees who can retire at age 50 with lifetime benefits. Shameful.

Volunteer fire districts are under extreme financial strain, and the volunteer model itself is collapsing. Public safety tax dollars, derived from Proposition 172, all go to law enforcement or district attorneys, which isn’t what voters wanted when this tax was passed back in 1993. Pension costs and organized labor’s political influence have taken all of this funding.

So if you want to help firefighters, tell your elected officials to fund volunteer fire departments, not more pension debt.

DAVID RODERICK

Hopland

Be wary of pot

EDITOR: My husband and I moved here 10 days ago, in part because the community we lived in and loved allowed recreational pot use to flourish.

Many old-timers moved to our gold mining community years ago and now find it changed beyond what they ever thought they would see. Fires flourish due to illegal camping by high users in dense forests, downtown reeks of pot on every corner, and every day there are news reports of pot forests discovered in backyards and in the back country. Most days the local paper’s headlines reflect an issue with pot.

I’m a retired oncology nurse, and I administered toxic antineoplastic chemicals to cancer patients — so I know that medicinal marijuana can work. These patients were housewives and professors who only had positive things to say about pot controlling or eliminating the debilitating nausea they experienced. So, yes, I want the drug to be available for them.

The problem is that if there is legal use, there will be illegal growth and distribution. I want to believe that grapes will trump marijuana in this lovely area.

Think carefully and proceed cautiously, Santa Rosa. You don’t want to be overrun with people saying and believing that pot will only be used for medicinal purposes. It will never happen.

SUZANNE RUTLIN

Santa Rosa

Show compassion

EDITOR: It is beyond disgusting that letter writers, columnists and even public officials talk about Coffey Park as if it is some newly discovered available parcel in the middle of the city. Those parcels are owned by people who have lost everything — baby pictures, school photos, family heirlooms, pets. Have a heart. They may simply want to have their houses back. I seriously doubt that they would want grocery stores or apartments or 3-D printer cement homes.

JEANA BECK

Santa Rosa

Unreasonable deadline

EDITOR: The Board of Supervisors is showing no understanding or compassion for the victims of the deadly wildfires. Setting a deadline only five weeks after the fire to file a plan to clean up the debris is ridiculous.

Those of us whose homes burned to the ground were lucky to escape with their lives and not much else. After the initial shock, we were faced with the tasks of finding immediate and long-term shelter for our families, getting some clothing, recovering critical documents, securing transportation, dealing with FEMA and filing claims with our insurance companies — and these are but some of things that needed to be done.

Cleaning the debris of our former homes was the last thing on our minds. And doing all this took time, lots of time, as lines at the local assistance center were several hours long. The same is true wherever you went. Traffic was at a standstill too. Oh, then there were other obligations for most: job, school, children, relatives, pets, commitments.

It’s easy for our local politicians to get on their soapboxes and proclaim “Sonoma strong” without the vaguest idea of what that means to the fire victims. Deadlines need to be more realistic. Fire victims need more time, notice and support to make the right decisions.

JERRY GLADSTONE

Santa Rosa

Get ready for next time

EDITOR: Now in the aftermath, among all the second-guessing about fault and warning systems and how to rebuild, my thoughts turn toward the future — the next one — and fire prevention.

I’m recently retired after 30 years as a firefighter and captain. We were always taught that proactive fire prevention saves far more lives and property than all the valiant suppression efforts after fires start.

I’m curious what the comparison would be in dollars lost and dollars spent between the catastrophic losses and what it would have cost to perform clearing of underbrush and establish barriers to fire spread in open wooded areas.

Targeted tactical annual controlled burns, done during the wet season, to create critical firebreaks are crucial. Now is the time to think ahead, or history will repeat.

DAN COLVIG

Sonoma