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Disrupting seniors’ lives

EDITOR: With a $14.2 million budget gap, the 6-0 vote by the Santa Rosa City Council to close the Bennett Valley Senior Center Valley is ludicrous (“SR senior center to close amid budget shortfall,” Thursday).

The cost to run the center ($54,000 annually) is just a drop in the enormous budget gap. I don’t use the center, but for those who do and can, it must be a complete upheaval in their lives. Traveling across town may not be a possible.

Shame on the council.

LUCIA B. McNALLY

Santa Rosa

Black market will stay

EDITOR: Your Tuesday editorial (“Striking a proper balance on county cannabis rules”) said that elimination of marijuana’s black market is a good objective when trying to regulate. It will never happen.

I’ve often compared marijuana to the tomato. You can grow it in your backyard, buy it at a dispensary (market) or find it growing wild. There was a time when, if you wanted a tomato, you grew it yourself or bartered with a neighbor for theirs (black market?).

The black market hasn’t been eliminated with the tomato, and it won’t be eliminated for marijuana.

NATHAN ACUÑA

Forestville

Artificial intelligence

EDITOR: We are at a point in human history where we urgently need to understand artificial intelligence. The weaponization of AI is underway, but the consequences of cyber warfare aren’t easily grasped.

Humanity is on defense and has been caught off-guard by the weaponization of AI. The inherent opacity of AI makes the destruction it causes equally opaque, but nonetheless just as destructive to civilization as nuclear warfare.

U.S. democracy has been under sustained attack with the nefarious weaponization of AI. This act of war has damaged our democracy in ways that have yet to be fully realized.

If we can communicate and understand this danger in a way that could be understood, those who are weaponizing AI will have the curtain pulled back on them. But we can’t fight this menace to humanity if we are divided, which is one consequence of cyber warfare that we are painfully experiencing.

Stephen Hawking was prophetic in his warning that AI could be used “for the few to oppress the many.” Hawking also described the enormous good AI could have for humanity, but he warned that it could be the end of us if it’s used for malevolent purposes. I think we are currently getting a good glimpse of both outcomes.

GREGG STAUFFER

Petaluma

Government bailouts

EDITOR: Let’s get some things straight. It is my understanding that Assembly Bill 33 is needed to bail out PG&E. If there’s no bailout, then PG&E would go under, because it cannot pay off the billions that it would owe. It’s similar in one dimension to the situation back when the banks were going under. My question, which I do not have the answer to, is what would happen if government stopped intervening and let companies that should go under, go under?

I suppose the real question that should be debated is how much government should get involved when huge private companies fail the people they serve. Maybe we as a people feel powerless because companies that don’t answer to the people don’t have to because of government protection. And to whom does the government answer? Last June’s state elections saw Sonoma County at 49 percent voter turnout and the rest of the state with an average of 28 percent.

SAMUEL HUTCHINSON

Windsor

A role for Trump

EDITOR: Peter O’Toole played Henry II twice in his acting career: once in “The Lion in Winter” and again in “Beckett.” In both stories, he is controlling and sly. Famously, in the latter movie he mused openly concerning the archbishop of Canterbury, “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?”

Soon Thomas Beckett is dead and a martyr.

When I listen to the president’s communications with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, that question comes to mind. Except this king’s instruction is more direct and less poetic. And if he finds the equivalent of four knights (congressmen) to deliver him of this mettlesome, witch-hunting lawyer (Robert Mueller), expect the consequences to be very different. This time, there will be no martyr, only victims.

American politics has become so contingent and compromised, tragedy is impossible. No one can fall anymore because people don’t rise, they are inflated. And when a movie is finally made celebrating this president’s reign, it would be a missed opportunity not to name it “The Lyin’ ’n’ Winner.” To maintain some sense of authenticity, Donald Trump should play himself. As a fiction, it might be fun.

JEFF ARGENTINE

Petaluma

Voting ‘no’ on taxes

EDITOR: The city of Santa Rosa is constantly asking for more taxes (increased sales taxes and property taxes).

Proposed property taxes supposedly are going to support a housing bond. We already have increased taxes for parks and roads. Has anyone asked where all of the tax money is going? Aren’t taxes meant to pay for libraries, roads, parks, etc?

A huge portion of city and county budgets is going to exorbitant salaries, top-of-the-line medical benefits, illegally enhanced pensions and other perks. Why should the public keep paying higher taxes? Until the city and county are willing to rein in some of these salary and pension costs, I am voting “no” on any new taxes.

Pensions were enhanced behind closed doors, and nobody in government is willing to do anything about it. Why should they? They are benefiting while we are being asked to foot the bill. What will you get when you retire? Social Security and Medicare?

I am voting “no” on new taxes until city and county officials address these illegally enhanced pension benefits. I am happy to pay taxes, but I am no longer willing to support bloated salaries, benefits and pensions that take away from much-needed services such as mental health, smooth roads, libraries and parks.

LYNNE MORIN

Santa Rosa

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