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GOP tax ‘reform’

EDITOR: That sound you hear is the popping of champagne corks in the yachts, penthouses and boardrooms of America, and it should make you sick to your stomach. Our faux populist president and his merry band from the Grand Oligarchical Party have successfully perpetrated the most shameful upward transfer of wealth in our nation’s history.

We’ve heard time and time again of the rapturous benefits of trickle-down economics, even though these claims never have been substantiated in previous iterations of tax “reforms” that favor the rich.

We’ve heard these politicians righteously rail against the recklessness of increasing our national debt when a Democrat is in the White House, but we’ve seen these same deficit hawks become gleeful songbirds when it’s they who proffer giveaways that pillage the nation’s coffers.

And let us not forget the underlying assumption that drives their actions: If you’re not rich, it’s your fault. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley said it best when defending the virtual elimination of the estate tax: “I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing — as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.”

MARK WARDLAW

Santa Rosa

Seeing and healing

EDITOR: I have to thank Andrew Hadas for his excellent Close to Home column (“Another view on fire ‘looky-loos.’ ” Nov. 26).

Watching the hills burn around my home in Rincon Valley while driving out at 3 a.m. was horrifying, yet we escaped tragedy without loss of one hour of electricity and returned to everything. The first word I heard of a friend’s home in Kenwood being gone is forever burned in my memory. The firestorm was hard for me to grasp, and I couldn’t get a handle on my feelings; it was too surreal and numbing.

Recently my husband took me through Fountaingrove, and I wept. My heart ached with helplessness. I grieved for my neighbors and friends. I had to see it to feel it.

Thank you, Andrew. Your words justified my visit to the devastation. I wasn’t a tourist taking a selfie. Instead, the firsthand images helped me understand and heal so I may be softer, kinder and gentler and more understanding to those whose lives were changed forever. May God be with us all as we rebuild and restore physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally.

CHRISTY HOSS

Santa Rosa

A league of their own

EDITOR: As I read the results of high school football playoff games, one thing really stands out. Marin Catholic and Cardinal Newman were in the finals. Middleton lost to St Patrick-St Vincent. Three of those four are private schools.

Mater Dei of Santa Ana is ranked first in California, and storied De La Salle is No. 5. De La Salle had an incredibly long winning streak and became the subject of a movie by beating up on public schools whose players they had recruited.

It’s ridiculous to have schools that can recruit and provide scholarships play against regular public schools. Private schools need to have their own leagues where their highly financed programs can compete against one another.

KEN GOOD

Gig Harbor, Washington

Due process in action

EDITOR: I am shocked at your editorial criticizing the verdict of the San Francisco jury in the Kate Steinle case (“No justice or peace in death of Kate Steinle,” Sunday). Her death was a tragedy, but the verdict wasn’t a travesty to those of us who still believe in our judicial system.

Jose Ines Garcia Zarate was accorded exactly what our judicial system requires — the due process due anyone whom the state seeks to incarcerate. That he was acquitted speaks to the integrity of the jury system.

That is not a travesty, as you so wrongly claim. You didn’t hear the evidence, and to assert that you know better than the jury undermines our system of justice.

Moreover, that Garcia Zarate was undocumented has nothing to do with the facts of this case, and for some to argue otherwise shows the depths of our society’s prejudice against immigrants who have arrived here without the benefit of our Byzantine immigration laws.

The real travesty is that someone who was given the privilege to own a lethal weapon treated it so carelessly.

NANCY PEMBERTON

Sebastopol

Universal design

EDITOR: As residents, builders and architects work to rebuild homes that were lost in the October fires, it’s a good time to think about universal design — modest design changes that make homes livable throughout all life’s stages.

Wider doorways to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers, at least one ramped or level entrance and backing in the bathroom walls for the later installation of grab bars are design features that cost less than 1 percent of new construction costs. The cost of retrofitting a home when someone becomes disabled is much higher.

Think about the increasing elderly population in Sonoma County to understand why universal design is so practical. Adding a small electrical connection to make the house lights flash when the doorbell is activated accommodates those who are losing hearing. Breaking a hip would no longer mean spending months away from home, so think about the benefits of aging in place. Think about family and friends with disabilities who could visit if your home is universally designed.

The web has many articles on designing homes to accommodate everyone, and many universally designed house plans, so the design costs are nominal. Planning ahead — now’s the time.

HOLLYNN D’LIL

Graton

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