Saturday’s Letters to the Editor

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Sideshow battle

EDITOR: The spat between Apple and the FBI is a distraction and a sideshow. While they quibble about whether Apple is going to teach the FBI how to do basic software engineering, the federal government is inviting thousands of immigrants from all manner of jihad hotspots to come live here.

Not to worry, say our feckless politicians, the FBI will spend billions to “validate” them.

So, the FBI doesn’t have the chops to hack an iPhone but would have us believe that they can read minds of completely alien people who want to come in? How did that work out with Mohammed Atta (the 9/11 chief box-cutter slasher), the Tsarnaevs (Boston Marathon bombers), Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik (San Bernardino shooters)?

Federal agencies got it deadly wrong in all these cases, and it was entirely predictable.


Santa Rosa

That’s the law

EDITOR: California law requires that businesses marketing redeemable containers that do not have a recycling facility within a half mile “convenience zone” from their place of doing business, must redeem recyclables at their place of business if they meet or exceed $2 million in annual sales. That is the law.

Now, where do we go from here?


Rohnert Park

Not authentic

EDITOR: Last week the Petaluma Planning Commission voted 6-1 to approve the renovation of the Silk Mill. I was the lone dissenting vote. The big issue was the windows selected to replace the original wood, double-hung windows. The original windows had been so poorly protected since the building was shuttered that they were beyond repair. Restoring them was not an option. So, new windows had to be selected. The architectural team chose to go with a fiberglass window with the same style and dimension as the original. Shouldn’t that be good enough? My answer was no.

The Silk Mill is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, one of only about six buildings, such as the Carnegie Library, so listed in Petaluma. Our community elected to do this because this building is a fine example of our architectural heritage. It has cultural significance for the fine products it produced, and it was built from locally made McNear brick. The architect chose to prioritize the new window’s energy efficiency, low maintenance and exterior appearance over historical appropriateness of a solid wood, double-hung window.

Sure, no one will be able to tell that they aren’t wood windows as they look up from Lakeville Avenue, but what of the guests staying in the hotel?

Without replacing the windows in kind, we are degrading its historical significance. It becomes a simulated historical building, not the real McCoy.

I applaud the Silk Mill being renovated, and I think the proposed hotel is an excellent idea. But to remove the most important elements of the building and replace them with plastic facsimiles is a poor choice.

There is no point in nominating and listing a building on the National Register if we are not willing to maintain it to the standard that qualified it in the first place.


Planning Commissioner Petaluma

Our Atticus

EDITOR: The identification of the remains of Steven Mitchell might seem to be a final chapter in a sad story. Unfortunately, for those who knew Mitchell, a long journey is just beginning. For those who were family and close friends, the personal loss is unimaginable. For long-term colleagues, the journey includes the storing of a lifetime of memories and recognition of the contribution made by Mitchell to the practice of law.

Every lawyer has, at least once, compared himself or herself with Atticus Finch, the fictional attorney created by author Harper Lee. Atticus was highly respected in his community as a citizen and as an attorney. He was dignified and soft spoken. He was the literary representation of good moral and ethical values. He was asked to represent a criminal defendant who was, under the social values of the time, despised by the majority. It was his representation of the accused, and his concurrent commitment to justice generally, that persevered as a beacon of ethics and justice to many lawyers, both then and now. Steve Mitchell was our Atticus Finch.

It is no secret that Steve Mitchell undertook representation of, at times, unpopular clients. Many of these cases have been high profile due to the circumstances involved. Everyone in the legal profession knows that every party is entitled to representation, and that being unpopular is not necessarily the same as being wrong or legally responsible. Mitchell represented such clients, among others. He represented his clients with dignity, class and honor. He was respectful of the court and the court process. He was always prepared. He did not misrepresent facts or state untruths. He was, in court and out, a model lawyer. Just like Atticus Finch.


Superior Court Judge Sonoma County

Burbank gift

EDITOR” For many years, The Press Democrat (Empire Section masthead) reminded us of what we all know and appreciate about our Sonoma County home. It would be a great Luther Burbank birthday gift to include once again his words in our daily newspaper: “I firmly believe, from what I have seen, that this is the chosen spot of all this earth as far as Nature is concerned.” Luther Burbank, 1875



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