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‘Settlement Day’

EDITOR: On Monday, we celebrated a federal holiday referred to as Columbus Day by most and as Indigenous Peoples Day by a growing number of others. Although there’s a long tradition of celebrating the day Christopher Columbus “discovered” America, an increasing percentage of people find this to be hypocritical since earlier Americans had been living and thriving on this continent for many thousands of years. Both sides have their reasons for honoring these past realities, but the arguments treat this conundrum as an either/or duality.

When we realistically explore immigrant histories, we find that the earliest settlers came in spasmodic trickles over thousands of years that sporadically populated America’s Eastern Seaboard, the Great Plains, the Southwest and our local fertile lands now known as California.

Similarly, Spain, starting with Columbus, explored and populated places including Florida and New Mexico before the English and other Northern Europeans settled present-day Virginia and Massachusetts, setting the scene for waves of migrations from Ireland, Scandinavia, China, Japan, Southern and Eastern Europe and all regions of the globe. All these immigrants (“Americans”) deserve our reverence and celebration.

Rather than arguing whether it is Columbus Day or Indigenous Peoples Day, maybe we should all be celebrating Settlement Day.

STEVE KIRK

Petaluma

Overlooked lesson

EDITOR: Your Sunday editorial (“Memories and lessons from the firestorm of 2017”) was unfortunately light on lessons, particularly concerning rebuilding. Seeing the new construction in Coffey Park, I cannot help but notice the absence of alternative building materials. The Press Democrat has printed all of one article recently featuring those. If folks keep building their houses with matchsticks, what do they expect to happen when the next fire hits?

MICHAEL ROFKAR

Santa Rosa

The overlooked

EDITOR: Corporations, businesses and hotels/motels need custodians, maintenance workers and maids to keep the buildings clean and functioning. These workers clean the floors, sanitize the bathrooms and kitchens, refill the toilet and paper towel rolls, empty the garbage, fix the leaky faucets, dust the counters, replace the burned-out lights, free jammed automatic doors, and more and more. Without these people, the buildings would be uninhabitable, but they are often overlooked and forgotten. Surely they deserve a salary like that of other employees so they can purchase a home or rent an apartment close to their work.

STEVEN GRAY

Mendocino

Alonso for Petaluma

EDITOR: This November, we have to elect Scott Alonso for Petaluma City Council. In the years to come, Petaluma will face a multitude of challenges, including an unstable housing market, homelessness, traffic congestion and an aging public infrastructure. To tackle these issues, we need a leader with vision and a strong commitment to our community. We need Alonso.

Alonso has dedicated his career to public service and social justice. He serves on the Petaluma Planning Commission, the Sonoma County Public Library Foundation and as a member of the citizens’ oversight committee for Measure Y. In recent years, he has worked as a public information officer for Contra Costa County, communications manager at Sonoma County’s Department of Health Service and as a senior aide to Assemblyman Marc Levine.

As a Democrat with progressive values, Alonso believes that everyone should have access to good, well-paying work, affordable food and housing and a clean and livable environment. With his commitment to our community, Alonso will be key to the future of Petaluma and to maintaining a vibrant community. This November, remember to vote Scott Alonso for Petaluma City Council.

JAMES DRESS

Petaluma

Sirens: Simple, effective

EDITOR: Sirens are the simplest and most reliable way to notify a population that a critical emergency exists that demands their immediate attention. You can hear San Francisco test its system every Tuesday at noon and realize that such a system, had it been available, could have saved lives in Sonoma County last year.

Having subscribed to the U.S. Geological Service earthquake text service ever since the Napa quake, I appreciate the value of text message notifications but also see that they shouldn’t ever be used as the primary alarm for life-threatening emergencies.

Aside from the fact that not everyone has a cellphone, text messages simply aren’t designed to reliably get people’s attention or wake people up.

In many areas of the county cell service is spotty and unreliable, and many cell towers are located in areas where they are most prone to wildfire destruction. Text messaging alone simply isn’t an adequate or appropriate primary alarm.

Installing an outdoor siren at each of the county’s existing fire stations, and placing it under the control of the local fire chief responsible for implementing that area’s emergency response, would be inexpensive, effective and can be done before the next major wildfire.

KENNETH GEIGER

Sonoma

You can send a letter to the editor at letters@pressdemocrat.com

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