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Letters to the Editor, Sept. 19 - 21


Leggo my Sono-ma-Lago!

Editor’s note: An earlier version of the following letter by Larry Murphy was printed Aug. 22. It was, however, mistakenly cut off prior to the end during the editorial production process (yes, it even happens at the I-T, folks). Here’s a more complete version of the letter.

EDITOR: According to at least one reader (“Hotel Foes Should Accept Measure B Results,” Aug. 4), now that the EIR for the downtown hotel is finished, we need no longer talk about the project, we simply need to vote it into place. Sort of like an algorithm selecting medical treatment through artificial intelligence – cross the T’s, dot the I’s, deal done. Trouble is the EIR is not the decider in these matters, it is a tool to help. Elected officials make the final decision. The EIR provides much information, but there are many things it cannot provide and only humans can, like wisdom, measure against other more pressing needs and the longtime effect on the character of our town. That’s why we have a City Council, to represent the legitimate goals of the people who elected them, whether or not those are popular views.

To be clear, I do not oppose this hotel project, I object to it at the present location steps from our beloved Plaza. Were it planned for Broadway and MacArthur, I would be in favor of it.

A recent letter inexplicably argued that a residential project at the downtown site would generate too much traffic, but that the hotel project would not. Presumably a local fourth grade teacher or hospital health worker who would be able to walk to their grocery store, pharmacy and doctor appointments is generating bad traffic but a hotel/restaurant with 18-wheel delivery trucks, food and drink suppliers and salesman, 24 hours crews, limos full of bridesmaids and gigantic tour buses is generating good traffic.

Tourism is a good clean and enjoyable industry. However businesses that serve tourism must be careful not to exploit their product so that it damages its very community that visitors expect to see. Have you been to Sausalito or St. Helena lately? Is that where we are headed? Are we already there?

I’m hoping that the final step in this approval process, the one where officials we trusted to call on their wisdom to manage our town with love and respect for our community will not let big money Trump common sense. Please, no Sono-ma-Lago for our Plaza.

Larry Murphy

Sonoma

Daydream believer

EDITOR: I had a dream, I had a dream, but maybe it was more like a nightmare.

I dreamed it was 10 years into the future and I was in my “driverless” car just approved by the Sonoma City Council for daytime use only. Going through the square I noticed the recently opened new hotel and its residential aspect. The occupants were enjoying a perfect Sonoma day on their balconies, barbecuing shirtless in the sun and enjoying the festive music coming from their units. It was truly a family moment as I saw RVs parked with boats attached. As I peered into the hotel it did not seem to be very busy. I was startled by a roaring fire engine who could no longer use their noisy siren. I needed some peace and tranquility so I headed over to the corner of Broadway and MacArthur and parked. The rusty chain link fence was still there with old campaign posters with hollow slogans and promises and the weeds were at amazon level. I relaxed, closed my eyes and was thankful I had another home in another city where the leadership recognized quality growth.

Gene Daly

Sonoma

Halfhearted half staff

EDITOR: It is disgraceful that the City of Sonoma did not fly the United States flags at City Hall at half-staff on Monday, Sept. 11. The anniversary of 9/11 has been officially designated as Patriot Day. The flag is to be flown at half-staff as a mark of respect for those who died that day. It took me two visits to City Hall before they could find someone to lower the flags to half-staff at 3:25 p.m.

Pamela Personette

Sonoma

Test scores? It’s the ‘involvement,’ stupid…

EDITOR: It is incumbent upon us all to closely follow the continuing public debate about the use of funds from Measure E (“Schools OK $120M Spending Plan,” Sept. 15). Source material in this debate include Gary and Marcia Nelson’s “Open Letter to the Community,” SVUSD Superintendent Chuck Young’s response (“A Message from Chief of the School District,” Sept. 8) Kent Iverson’s letter to the editor regarding low API scores (“Failing Schools Shouldn’t Invest in Sports,” Sept. 12), and the I-T’s own editorial (“Measure E Under Fire,” Sept. 12).

I would like to add the following for consideration – generally, the people who ultimately influence and increase the quality of schools are the “customers” of the product, i.e. the parents and students. Students (and their motivated parents) who wish to obtain a fantastic education in Sonoma are doing so right now. Every day. Within the current conditions. I would draw your attention to the FFA program, and the engineering and agriculture academies as shining examples.

Why do our schools test low overall? And will additional spending raise scores or increase college admissions? Sonoma citizens passed funding measures in 1994, 1997, 2010, and again in 2016. Studies show a nearly zero correlation between “money spent” and “test scores” whereas definite correlation has been shown between “parent involvement” and “test scores.” Not even shiny new technology has been shown to have much of a correlation on test scores and, for that matter, college admissions. And this remains true across every demographic and in brand new and old schools alike. So the public debate may be somewhat academic (pardon the pun). Spend the money on academics and facilities in any combination and percentages you wish. Test scores will remain unchanged only when and until (to reduce it down to its most simple element), parents and students take the bulk of responsibility for their future.

Ken Wornick

Sonoma