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Is anyone listening?

EDITOR: When Sonoma County’s civil grand jury speaks, does anyone listen? Apparently not. The 2004-05 grand jury, following up on recommendations made after the 1991 Oakland Hills firestorm, found “most of senior management and elected officials interviewed were well distanced from, and in some cases ignorant of, salient pieces of (emergency management) plans.” The report was titled “A Disaster Waiting to Happen!”

Guess what. The disaster happened. It was called the Tubbs fire. The 2017-18 grand jury reports many parallels between then and now. Who is paying attention? Who is accountable? Supervisors and senior civil servants use phrases like accountability, best practices, lessons learned and it will never happen again. The recent grand jury report clearly exposes the myth behind those words.

Why wasn’t the county better prepared, especially in light of recent Lake County experiences with the devastating Jerusalem, Valley and Clayton fires? Why was the county emergency services manager out of the county attending a conference when a red flag warning was in effect during the most dangerous month of the fire season? Who is listening to this grand jury? What will be different this time?


Santa Rosa

Injustice for veterans

EDITOR: As a longtime resident of Sonoma County and a Vietnam veteran, I am shocked that Sonoma County has taken a stance to charge veterans organizations throughout the county for certain uses of the veterans buildings. We veterans strongly oppose this measure, and Sonoma County residents should be made aware of this gross injustice.

I think this issue is especially important, since the use of the buildings in many cases is for fundraising efforts to support worthwhile activities within the county.

I find the county’s lack of appreciation for the services and sacrifices made by us veterans despicable. Frankly, this is a slap in our face, not unlike what I personally and others experienced when we returned from the war zone in Vietnam. We sacrificed our lives to make our country safe; whether that actually materialized or not is not the issue.

I would appreciate The Press Democrat publishing an article about this issue, so that everyone in the county has a chance to weigh in and take a position to support us veterans.



Spanish on July 4

EDITOR: Larry Lappin, Petaluma’s exemplar of American nativism, may find the sound of Spanish-language music on “our” Fourth of July to be offensive, but I find the idea of an inebriated tirade and confrontation to be inexcusable and highly offensive, especially on the Fourth (“Spanish music ignites conflict,” Saturday).

And, I wonder, should we limit our music and speech on the Fourth of July to English only? Can I play Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” for the occasion? No, it’s not in English.



Socialism and capitalism

EDITOR: Edward Meisse didn’t come close to “defining socialism” in his Friday letter to the editor. Communism is a political form of order and is best compared to democracy, another form of political order. Socialism is an economic form of order, as is capitalism, as is clearly defined in Marx’s work “Das Capital.”

Meisse and columnist Richard Cohen before him (“Socialism talk could bring Democrats another defeat,” July 2) missed the mark, if not the entire target.

Accordingly, democratic-socialism is, in fact, a democratic form of government, with a socialistic economy, similar to what Chile had by a vote of its people years ago.

We in the United States have for some time had creeping socialism, and China for some time has creeping capitalism.

Our form of political order is democracy, while China has communism for its political order.


Santa Rosa

A bumpy ride

EDITOR: Why are there built-in bumps on the new Highway 101 roadway between Windsor and Cloverdale? Is it to inform every driver that he has passed over a bridge? Does Caltrans need new rulers and transits? Why does Caltrans make half-mile stretches of flat roadway and then make two significant bumps at every bridge, one getting on the bridge and another getting off?



Avoiding tragedy

EDITOR: Bob Klose wrote that the public needs access to the whole Andy Lopez story (“Lopez case transparency,” Letters, Sunday). Google “Sonoma County district attorney law enforcement employee-involved fatal incident report Andy Lopez.” The 94-page report goes into great detail about this shooting but concludes that “questions will remain with regard to the facts that have been determined through this investigation, and questions will continue with regard to what the community can do to avoid another tragedy like this one.”

The major way we can avoid another tragedy is to institute community policing. If Deputy Erick Gelhaus had been familiar with Southwest Santa Rosa, he would have known Andy and all the other kids who live there. We need only look to our neighbors in Richmond to know it can be done.

And we need to change the military mentality that has invaded law enforcement.



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