Tuesday’s Letters to the Editor
Finding unity in loss
EDITOR: Thursday’s article about the impacts of COVID was a significant reminder of all we have been through in the past two years (“1 million empty spaces in U.S.”). Despite the great divide on wearing a mask, vaccinations and social distancing, we all have felt the impact of losing loved ones, friends and colleagues, jobs lost and businesses closed.
Too many people are still struggling with regaining economic stability, housing and food security, and mental health challenges. As our country reaches 1 million deaths, I urge people to find unity in our collective loss and to come together to heal and support each other. Slow down and take a moment to let compassion wash over you and emerge with your better self. Take action today to help someone who is in need. No matter how small the action, the ripple of your generosity can change the tide.
EDITOR: Thursday’s article focusing on Sonoma State University President Judy Sakaki’s legal issue highlighted an increasing and troubling trend: Sonoma County public and elected officials using prepared statements, emails and tweets to respond to Press Democrat inquiries into potentially controversial, difficult and embarrassing issues, thus avoiding more rigorous questioning and scrutiny in a live interview with a reporter (“$600k settlement involves SSU president, husband”). Perhaps it would be appropriate to add a tagline accompanying such stories acknowledging those officials declined the opportunity to be subjected to give-and-take questioning. The public demands direct answers and leaders with backbones.
EDITOR: On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors will consider reducing cannabis business taxes by 45%. With no precedent for similar tax breaks, the board initially postponed payment of cannabis taxes while assuring the public the taxes would be paid in full.
Then, at its March 15 meeting, the board received a staff report recommending a 10% reduction of cannabis taxes. That wasn’t enough for Supervisor James Gore who, with no supporting data, used his position as chair to strong-arm the reduction to 45%. He did so without acknowledging his family’s cannabis connections, including his sister-in-law’s Garden Society edibles business in Cloverdale.
His involvement with cannabis is inextricably related to his actions as a supervisor. Something is rotten in Sonoma County, and it smells like cannabis. Gore should recuse himself regarding any cannabis issues.
EDITOR: For months, progressive groups have been having conversations about diversity, equity and inclusion when it comes to Sonoma County government. High-profile resignations and backing out of a hiring agreement by people of color, especially Black people, have been discussed and written about in this paper.
As I have watched the race for sheriff, as a Black resident, I have noticed that almost every progressive group and organization has failed to get behind the most qualified candidate, who also happens to be Black: Assistant Sheriff Eddie Engram.
He promotes public safety, a different response to mental health, effective disaster response, education and drug treatment in the jail, diversity in hiring and oversight. I have not seen one controversial statement or stance from him. The question is, why do groups who purport to support diversity, equity and inclusion not support the most qualified candidate, who is also a person of color?
Sonoma County has a chance to make history by electing its first Black sheriff, and only the second in California history. The actions of progressive organizations in this county put hypocrisy in full view. Vote for the most qualified candidate, Assistant Sheriff Eddie Engram.
EDITOR: A friend was awakened at 5 a.m. one recent morning by pumps starting up at a neighboring vineyard to sprinkle water for frost protection. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s drought information system, 96.5% of Sonoma County is in “extreme drought.” As in, year-around fire season and insufficient water for agriculture, wildlife and people. I’ve been watering my garden with the little rainwater I collected and used frost blankets for much of the winter. The wine industry is acting unconscionably. Yes, it’s been cold, but figure out crop protection without draining aquifers.
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