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America’s promise

EDITOR: Today is America’s birthday. It’s also mine. I was born in Ohio on the Fourth of July. I love baseball, apple pie, freedom and the democratic values this country was founded upon. I’m a patriot. What I’m patriotic about is the real civility that American democracy promises — not the empty slogans of our wrong-headed president and his semi-Republican enablers.

I’ll be damned if any fast-talking, flag-waving, money-scamming, diversity-hating, dictator-loving fascist and his minions are going to take those values away. I want to live in a nice country where people are decent to one another and aren’t subject to an authoritarian regime of anti-American ugliness.

In my teens, I stood up to bullies who demanded our basketball court. On the way home afterward, I was jumped by three of them. They beat me up and threw me into the bushes. As I lay there, bloodied and bruised, I realized something.

I’d do it again.

When bullies threaten, I will always stand up for the rights of decent, nice people to conduct their lives in peace. I’m old and weak, but if a war for civility is coming, I’m ready with more than my vote.

BILL TRZECIAK

Santa Rosa

Risky exceptions

EDITOR: The California Environmental Quality Act protects fragile natural resources, as you acknowledged in Sunday’s editorial (“Cutting red tape to build needed housing”).

Far from being “red tape,” CEQA helps keep Sonoma County an attractive place to live. Regarding housing near the airport, it would pinpoint areas with unhealthy levels of noise.

The bill discussed in your editorial is opposed not only by the Sierra Club but by the state Judicial Council, which objects to giving this type of case preferential treatment and says the expedited judicial review provision is impracticable.

The Senate Judiciary Committee’s analysis of the bill says: “The weight of the evidence undermines the perception that CEQA is a major impediment to housing and other important projects in California.”

While we may approve of local planning efforts, it is important to recognize that one exemption from a law often leads to another. Would we want the exceptions in this bill to be applied all over California? I think not.

STEVE BIRDLEBOUGH

Santa Rosa

Fourth of July fact

EDITOR: Before adjourning on July 4, 1776, Congress appointed Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams as a committee to design a seal for the new country that was essentially formed that week. Out of this committee came the concept of a two-sided seal, with E Pluribus Unum on one side and, on the other, the radiating eye of providence that we all see on the one dollar bill.

PAUL ZAMARIAN

President, the Great Seal Foundation Santa Rosa

Mare Island cemetery

EDITOR: This is in response to Friday’s article about the Mare Island Naval Cemetery (“History or soldiers’ shrine?”). The Mare Island Historic Parks Foundation also volunteers at the cemetery and supports passage of Rep. Mike Thompson’s HR 5588 because the cemetery’s deplorable and worsening condition can best be improved by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Mare Island Shoreline Heritage Preserve wants lawmakers and veterans to coordinate their efforts with the National Park Service. The Mare Island Naval Cemetery is a national historic landmark, which requires a greater level of preservation diligence under federal law. But the park service isn’t mandated or funded to restore the cemetery to such lofty standards.

The Mare Island heritage preserve states that an endowment would be a better approach. But in an April 21, 2017 article in the Vallejo Times-Herald, it implied that for full-on restoration, we should be spending around $15 million, which could take years to raise.

Federal agencies, such as the VA, are responsible — per the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 — to account for their undertakings on historic properties. We are confident that once the VA is mandated and funded, it will make the Mare Island Naval Cemetery “all shiny and new” and honorable again for our heroes.

NESTOR ALIGA

Vallejo

Assessing education

EDITOR: I have been concerned for some time that a growing national dysfunction in our country is influenced by the fact that our system of education is in disarray. The salient features of our democratic and free society have always been transmitted by means of an educational curriculum that has been the vehicle for teachers to guide students to responsible adulthood.

I witnessed dramatic change during three decades as a teacher and administrator in secondary and community college education. What we are dealing with today is a federal/state-sponsored core curriculum that narrows the scope of the curriculum. One usually judges the end product, so I ask: By what sign shall we recognize an educated person?

First is correctness and precision in the use of our national language. Second is refined and gentle manners. Third is the power of habit and reflection. A life that asks no question of itself, that traces events back to no cause, and forward to no goal, serves no purpose. Fourth is growth. The impulse for continuous study and self-education are conditions for intellectual growth. Last is efficiency — the power to do and do it well.

In closing, I ask, when judging the end product, today’s educated student, does the curriculum and related instruction have the quality to prepare students to be responsible, contributing members of our society?

THOMAS HANNAH

Rohnert Park

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