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A harsh glare

EDITOR: Thanks for your coverage of how the city is trying to deal with homeless people at the Sixth Street underpass. But I question its focus on squalor, smells, garbage and human waste, not to mention a photo of a scampering rat. I have to ask — to what end is this emphasis? We all know, or can imagine, the conditions of a homeless camp.

My fear is that this graphic, charged language further robs our homeless citizens of dignity while serving the ends of those who would treat them harshly and punitively, rather than those of us who know them as a population of fellow human beings in dire need.

DAVID BECKMAN

Santa Rosa

Inadequate response

EDITOR: Our neighbors, Jose Teniel and Maria Ramos, spent the past week trying to catch a flight to Puerto Rico. Jose’s mother was trapped in a hospital without running water or electricity. His uncle wasn’t able to get his dialysis and is in septic shock.

They sat at Miami International every day, only to see all of the flights to San Juan canceled. They hope to get there next week.

I’m dumbfounded by the inadequate response by our government. I served for 20 years in the Air Force, with 12 years with the 129th Air Rescue Group, so I know firsthand about our military’s ability to respond to humanitarian crises and have always taken pride in it. Stars and Stripes, our military newspaper, published an article comparing our response in Puerto Rico to the immediate aid given to Haiti following the 2010 earthquake. The response to Harvey in Texas and Irma in Florida was just as massive, utilizing all appropriate civilian and military agencies.

Apparently, under this administration, receiving disaster aid requires passing a political litmus test. Florida and Texas voted for Donald Trump. Puerto Rico, with 3.4 million American citizens isn’t allowed an Electoral College vote, disenfranchising all of its citizens.

God help us if a major earthquake strikes California during the Trump administration because it’s unlikely that the federal government will help.

RICHARD DENNISTON

Santa Rosa

Health care costs

EDITOR: Market forces have failed to keep health care costs affordable for most Americans. The lack of price transparency, gag orders written into insurance contracts, the fee-for-service payment system and the use of third parties to pay most bills keep costs climbing ever higher. Health care spending is something that impacts all of us. This is why we all need to keep this issue front and center until meaningful reform is achieved.

We have seen how public sector pensions have squeezed out spending on needed services, but so has health care spending, to a more insidious degree. Every dollar spent on health care is one less dollar spent on education, affordable housing, infrastructure, the environment and wage increases.

We can all play a part by being more prudent. Whenever you visit a health care provider and a test, procedure or prescription is ordered for you, ask a few simple questions: “Is this absolutely necessary?” If so, ask: “Is there a less expensive alternative that would not diminish the quality of my care?”

Just because someone else may be paying the bills on your behalf, it doesn’t mean that you won’t be paying the price in the end.

KURT DUNPHY

Santa Rosa

Honorable demonstration

EDITOR: We fly a flag at half-staff when someone dies. We fly a flag upside down when we are in trouble (SOS). Kneeling during the national anthem is a respectful way, for an individual, to state the above.

I don’t know if you know it, but, man, are we really in trouble. What right does a man who has demonstrated time and again that he has no respect have to declare that respect is an issue in this matter?

LINDA WREN

Rohnert Park

Symphony programs

EDITOR: It’s unfortunate to find a misinformed and disparaging opinion masquerading as fact in a letter regarding the diversity of programming of the Santa Rosa Symphony that has served so many so well for so many years (“Playing the masters,” Sept. 23).

In truth, contrary to that writer’s declarations, works by Joseph Haydn and J.S. Bach have been performed several times by Music Director Bruno Ferrandis in the past decade as have numerous works by Mozart as part of our symphony classical series. Moreover, the referenced 18th century composers typically wrote for smaller chamber orchestras, not for larger symphony orchestras. Since our first vocation is to play the larger orchestra repertoire, the Santa Rosa Symphony presented a separate chamber orchestra concert series from 2003 to 2014 where the repertoire was overwhelmingly composed by Bach, Handel and Mozart performed in smaller venues.

Our ongoing commitment to diversity of programming extends to a symphony pops series, a family concert series and an annual free community concert. As we begin our 90th anniversary season, our goal continues to be to present a transformative repertoire selected by a widely admired and distinguished music director in a captivating and creative mix that can act as a healing force in an increasingly divided world.

ALAN SILOW

President and CEO, Santa Rosa Symphony

Stop the music

EDITOR: It looks like it’s time to stop playing the national anthem at ballgames.

JOYCE WOOD

Santa Rosa

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