Letters to the Editor, Sept. 22 - 25

Don't let Sonoma add 'weed' to its wine-tourism industry, cautions letter writer.


Up in smoke

EDITOR: I’m writing in regard to what has happened in Colorado since allowing both medical and recreational marijuana.

A local friend recently returned from a visit to Golden, Colorado and vowed never to return there. Apparently you cannot escape the smell of marijuana anywhere in town. I realize there’s an ordinance about public smoking here but, with Sonoma being promoted already as a future “wine and weed” destination, how will it ever be enforced when hundreds or thousands descend upon the Plaza for any number of events and light up?

Please consider only allowing a medical marijuana delivery or dispensary (with Sonoma Valley Hospital as administrator) and not any “head-type” shops in Sonoma.

It’s quite likely marijuana entrepreneurs will get around the laws by having rolling-type tasting rooms (limos, buses) as they have done in other states.

Please think long and hard about the consequences to our town that’s only two square miles. Don’t let marijuana “big money” dazzle you into destroying the peace and social fabric of this wonderful place. The money to be made may never match what we could lose.

Cecilia Ponicsan


Go forth and resist

Editor’s note: The following excerpt from Valley resident Mario Castillo’s address to bystanders during last month’s DACA rally on the Plaza was submitted, with the author’s approval, as a letter to the editor.

EDITOR: I could talk about the anger, frustration and sadness I feel about this new attack by President Trump and his administration on the immigrant community - this time, specifically attacking our youth, the Dreamers, by eliminating DACA.

But I don’t only want to talk to you about how terrible this is for these young people to have to go backward, back to where they were four years ago when they had no rights, an uncertain future, and fear and ambiguity marked their path. When there were no job opportunities, or a chance to help their family economically, and youngsters were denied the right to travel and they were unable to complete the education their parents had so struggled for.

And I don’t want to go into the awful reality that the government has all their information, so now they can be more easily deported. I won’t dwell on this because although it is true and important, we don’t know the details. Sadly, once again the immigrant community is being used for demagogy, to advance a political agenda.

Nor do I want to talk about how the immigrant community has been hoping and fighting for immigration reform for the past 32 years, and how DACA is only a temporary solution, and what we really need is full immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship.

What I do want to talk about today is what we can do to survive this era of racism, discrimination and racial attacks on the immigrant community. It is of the utmost importance that we stay alert and keep united. It is of the utmost importance that we keep creating resistance groups. And it is of the utmost importance that we organize and educate the community about social justice and inequality.

Real change begins at home. It is right here in our community that we need to begin insisting that all our elected representatives really represent us on the pressing issues of social and economic inequality, housing, education and immigration. It is here, locally, that we can begin to make a difference. And the time is now. All the people who represent us – from the School Board to City Council to Board of Supervisors to state and federal office – need to demonstrate that they understand their communities’ issues and the problems that need to be solved. Let us make this moment an opportunity to educate ourselves and get involved.

Let’s make this an opportunity to take the reins of our political system and all the structures that govern us. It is time to ask not only the elected officials, but also the churches, the nonprofits, the businesses, and the wine industry what they are doing to defend the immigrant community; to advocate for the immigrant community.

And then we must ask, what are we doing to defend and advocate for the immigrant community? And more importantly, what are we willing to undertake?

Because one thing is sure, there will be future occasions when we need to defend ourselves, until our representatives and the systems around us truly represent us.

So I invite you to action. Go with the firm intention to get involved, to continue to participate, and to double your efforts on behalf of the immigrant community and our whole community.

Mario Castillo

Sonoma Valley

School ratings site gets poor ratings

EDITOR: A message for the Sonoma Valley Unified School District board: I am writing to follow up on my previous letter to the editor (Failing Schools Shouldn’t Invest in Sports,” Sept. 12). My understanding is that the data I retrieved from has been difficult to locate and/or is not viewed as current and credible by the Board. It is difficult to find data regarding the academic performance of students in Sonoma’s public schools, and I presented the Board with the information that I was able to locate online. I believe that it is in the Board’s and public interest that such data be available in a form that is accessible, current and objective and that this information should be used to guide the management of Sonoma’s public schools.

I suggest that the Board publicly post the academic performance data that the Board believes accurately reflects the current state of our schools. With periodic updates of the performance data, the Board and the public will be able to assess the impacts of Measure E and other initiatives. I believe that this approach would provide a common reference point which would facilitate a convergence of opinions and harmonization of efforts towards the improvement of the academic performance of Sonoma public schools.

Kent Iverson