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The decision-makers

EDITOR: This letter is to address recent commentary concerning Sonoma County Emergency Services Manager Chris Helgren and evacuation notifications at the onset of the October fires. As has been reported, when the fires began, Helgren was at a conference in Yosemite National Park and didn’t arrive back in Sonoma County until daybreak.

Conspicuously missing from the discussion about notifications is the fact that, shortly after midnight on the morning of Oct. 9, two key leaders were on the job overseeing and directing notification decisions at the county Emergency Operations Center: Helgren’s boss, Jim Colangelo, the director of the county Fire and Emergency Services Department; and Colangelo’s boss, county Chief Administrative Officer Sheryl Bratton.

The Emergency Operations Center had the authority, capability and personnel to make and coordinate evacuation notifications. As our community continues to work on lessons learned from this tragedy, the dialogue should include what decisions were or were not made at the Emergency Operations Center and why.

BILL ADAMS

Windsor

Hyping the plunge

EDITOR: Instead of informing and educating investors, the media continue to choose to sensationalize stock market activity.

By focusing on the Dow Jones Industrial Average and dollar movement rather than percentage movements, the doom-and-gloom reporting serves only to create fear and uncertainty in investors.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was created in 1896 and consists of only 30 companies, while approximately 2,800 companies are listed on the New York Stock Exchange and 3,300 on the NASDAQ. The S&P 500 Index consists of 500 companies in 68 distinct industries. This brings into question the relevance of the Dow Jones average in today’s markets. Investment professionals generally pay little attention to the Dow and regard the S&P 500 as being more representative of an average investor’s accounts.

The second disservice to readers is to hype the dollar changes in the market rather than reporting by percentages. Monday’s “plunge” resulted in a 4.6 percent difference for the Dow, a 4.1 percent difference for the S&P 500 and a 3.8 percent difference for the NASDAQ. Certainly not catastrophic.

Please help your readers keep things in perspective, and stop sensationalizing the news.

BARBARA CHOWN

Santa Rosa

Oil hearing a ‘sham’

EDITOR: My wife and I attended the protest and public forum in Sacramento on Thursday (“Protests at Capitol: ‘No drill, no spill!’ Friday). The protest was well organized with many state officials in attendance. We then marched to the public library for the public forum. This was a complete sham.

It was a dog-and-pony show put on by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to tout the benefits of offshore drilling. There was a single table with some laptops and forms to make comments. No officials were in attendance. Any illusions that the Trump administration gives a whit about what Californians think were quickly dispelled.

I assume these comments will receive the same thorough analysis as was given to the net neutrality issue (were they even tallied?).

As a witness to the Santa Barbara spill in 1969, I’m encouraged that the state plans to take action to thwart this ill-advised plan.

WILLIAM SPITA

Santa Rosa

Rights, responsibilities

EDITOR: I read David Brooks’ column on abortion (“Internal note to Democrats: Time to rethink abortion stand,” Saturday). I too think that abortion needs to be legal but with serious, honest conditions attached. Abortion is killing a living thing, a child. There’s no way around that, and I don’t think we should distort the truth about it. Abortion is serious business.

I’m also tired of the word “rights.” Everyone screams for their rights, but nobody says a thing about responsibility. I think that maybe that word has fallen out of our dictionary. If truth be told, if you don’t — or won’t — assume responsibility, you don’t have any rights. A decent life just works that way.

In terms of unwanted babies, there are excellent means of birth control today. And, in my view, women — and men — have a right, and a responsibility, to use them.

In general, I think our country needs a serious campaign, much like the one successful campaign against smoking, whereby we tell our men and women: “We don’t make babies we are not prepared to care for. Period.”

JENNY HOUSTON

Santa Rosa

Job opportunities

EDITOR: For those seeking great jobs with excellent benefits (free fully furnished housing, car with chauffeur, usually great yard, health benefits), look no further than the current vacancy list for U.S. ambassadors. My perusal of the State Department’s database of ambassadorial appointments showed 44 countries still without a U.S. representative.

Almost all of these spots are peaches — the nasty places having been filled long ago by regular Foreign Service officers.

So put your bids in folks, and you too might be an ambassador to Australia, Austria, Belgium, Cuba, Egypt, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Jordan, Korea, Libya, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sweden or Turkey, among other small and inconsequential countries.

Think the good old USA might be missing out on some opportunities here?

KATE SCHERTZ

Sonoma

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