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Thursday’s Letters to the Editor

US democracy faltering

EDITOR: Most of us know American democracy is in trouble. That Donald Trump could run roughshod over our institutions and traditions so easily was indeed frightening.

But we have structural problems besides future Trumps to worry about. Freedom House, the respected international democracy watchdog foundation, has just lowered America’s “Freedom and Democracy” rating to 83. Ten years ago we were 94; now we’re behind Britain (93), Slovakia, (90), Greece (87) and tied with Panama (83).

Why? Three primary reasons were identified: voter suppression, gerrymandering and the influence of big money in politics.

The Democrats have proposed to remedy some of the worst aspects of this with H.R. 1. No surprise, Republicans are adamantly opposed to any reform. Worse, Republicans have sponsored 250 new laws in 43 states to make voting (especially by minorities) more difficult — with even more radical gerrymandering expected this fall. This could put us, the once-proud citadel of democracy, down into the 70s.

It’s been said democracy is a fragile flower. The halcyon days of taking it for granted are indeed over. We must all vigorously fight for it now — or leave our kids with the skeleton of one, like Brazil (74).

RICK CHILDS

Mendocino

Only one race: Human

EDITOR: When it comes to humanity, let me set the record straight. There is only one race. Within the human race, there are many ethnic designations and nationalist sensibilities. Stop calling it race. Doing so implies we are somehow different and adds gravitas to division.

We are one people separated by individuals perceptions of who they are and who their social groups are.

Discrimination and hatred are taught through the ignorance of its perpetrators. They teach their children to somehow believe they are superior to people who don't look like them or who don't believe the way they do. They think they know what God wants and that they are chosen. The ultimate expression of human arrogance.

JACK BURGER

Cazadero

Censorship and freedom

EDITOR: Truth in journalism and our freedoms have been disappearing, as pointed out by Sandy Metzger (“Media gag order,” Letters, April 1). Censorship has always been part of our history. Donald Trump’s efforts to silence and to thwart any and all who dared to fact-check his lies and hate-filled tweets were egregious examples of censorship. Four more years of him would have furthered our march toward totalitarianism.

To compare the summer 2020 protests to the mob storming our nation’s Capitol is off base. Calling out our country’s urgent need for equality through marches and protests against racial injustices that have been perpetuated by law enforcement and our judicial system for decades is quite different from storming the Capitol demanding an abrupt end to a legitimate transition of power in our democracy.

Children housed in cages vs. what Joe Biden is attempting to do, humanely but with great difficulty while cleaning up after our last president’s harsh and inhumane immigration policies, bears no comment.

JOAN COLETT

Santa Rosa

Cutting neighbors out

EDITOR: There is a reason that of 58 California counties only 15 allow outdoor commercial cannabis. Impacts on neighborhoods are just too severe to offset with any mitigations.

Sonoma County started out with a use permit process, as is required by the California Environmental Quality Act, but the county is now attempting to go to a ministerial process to accommodate cannabis industry demands.

This is applying a cookie-cutter approach to land use. Our county is too diverse to assume all parcels are so much alike that you can apply the same imaginary check box solution to each one. Other counties have tried this scheme but have had to return to use permits after years of wasted time and lawsuits.

This attempt to bypass CEQA will not succeed, but county officials surge blindly ahead. Meanwhile the failed penalty relief program allows those who broke the law and avoided taxes for years to operate and even expand without consequences.

The commercial cannabis rollout is a failure and the only way forward is to abandon the Feb. 16 draft ordinance and go back to amending the previous ordinance so that the scuttled neighborhood compatibility phase will finally be fulfilled.

MARCY MEADOWS

Graton

Chavez for council

EDITOR: Oscar Chavez is our choice for Windsor Town Council in the May 3 special election. We like his prepared, responsive leadership within Windsor, in Sonoma County and on statewide social and economic development projects. We appreciate his intelligence and compassion. We’re impressed with his knowledge of public services, budget management, housing solutions and the concerns of employers and small business.

Chavez’s qualifications, which arise from his personal history, professional career and community service, far outweigh those of the other candidates. He is further set apart by the fact that so many of his accomplishments are a matter of public record. We urge our fellow Windsor residents to join us in voting for Oscar Chavez.

MICHAEL P. MERRILL

and MAUREEN McDANIEL MERRILL

Windsor

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