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Letters to the Editor, Nov. 24 - 27

Is this the Kremlin or is it the Springs Community Hall? And, asks letter writer, is there any real difference?

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Has Putin gotten to the Sonoma City Council?

EDITOR: I’ve been wondering lately with all this Russian stuff in the news about our own Sonoma City Council being heavily influenced by outside forces. It has always amazed me that during the public comment time at City Council meetings that they allow people who do not live in Sonoma to give their opinions. I ponder why this is allowed when only people within the city limits of Sonoma voted for the City Council. I guess it would be the same as if at the Sonoma County Supervisors meetings having people speak who are from out of county or at the California state level having Nevada or Oregon or Arizona folks chime in with their decisions. As we work our way up the ladder, say, at the U.S. government level in Washington D.C., it would be like other countries get to chime in like Canada or Mexico or for that matter Russia.

I suppose having people from Boyes Hot Springs or Glen Ellen or Schellville give their opinion at Sonoma City Council meetings means that our City Council is listening to people who do not vote, who do not live in the City limits but who want to influence our City Council members. Perhaps it is time for a new rule that allows only city resident members to speak at Sonoma City Council meetings. Why should our City Council be subject to outside opinions from those who don’t vote, pay rent or pay property taxes to the City of Sonoma. I’m scratching my head.

George Thompson

Sonoma

School District’s priorities out

of whack

EDITOR: Reading about the Sonoma Valley Unified School District budgeting bungles and internal strife makes me ask: What are we demonstrating to our kids?

The answer is not one to be proud of - our priorities are off base - we can spend millions on a new downtown stadium and four-season turf with no mention of additional budget costs to maintain it. Not just janitorial, but big future costs - electrical, plumbing, mechanical. We teach our kids to go out and buy a new house or car that they can’t afford to maintain.

As far as John Kelly creating a hostile work environment, I’m not there, so I don’t know. My impression of Mr. Kelly was positive during the town hall meeting approving the Measure E - he was not afraid to be honest. I found it refreshing when he recounted being present when consultants on Measure E advised SVUSD not to include any mention of a multimillion dollar stadium in advertisements or voter descriptions. The board clearly followed that advice.

So, as this drama drags on, I don’t care that Measure E is a “separate pot of money.” Rational people can make adjustments to focus on proper priorities, and I don’t see the School Board demonstrating a strong fundamental approach to this matter. We need a priority reset.

Stewart Saunders

Sonoma

The rebirth has begun

EDITOR: We tried to hose off the grey ash that covered our cars, our bikes, even our pets – comforted by the fact we couldn’t hear sirens in the background and we were able to walk outside without masks. We were comforted by the feeling that life was getting back to normal.

But life hasn’t been normal. It won’t be for some time. Opening the door to my house I still smell the remains of the burnt landscape that surrounds my town.

One Monday afternoon at soccer practice, two weeks after the fire, I was shown how the fire affects us all very differently. Fourteen girls under the age of 10, shared their experiences during the fires. Wide eyed and still afraid, they relived their stories of being evacuated, fleeing their homes, some staying and seeing these huge fires up close for the first time in their young lives.

My heart broke as coach of these girls as I listened to each story, realizing how terrifying it must have been to experience something so traumatic so young. Tears welled in everyone’s eyes until one player described their greatest fear of losing her bed to her Aunt and being shifted to the couch. Laughter erupted and broke the sadness that enveloped us and we quickly retreated to the safety of kicking soccer balls rather than sharing emotions.

Since that afternoon life feels like a bit of a haze. We are all functioning and moving in the right direction, ignoring our numb faces and raw emotions. Everyone is fragile.

Businesses are on edge waiting for patrons to return. Hushed voices talk of slow returns and bleak forecasts. I look at the ground and apologize as parents tell me how they no longer have jobs. What more can you say?

Things will be back to normal soon we say as our children run and play in the park nearby. A grandmother tells me they are still waiting to return to her daughter’s home in Glen Ellen. It has been over four weeks, and the mother is caught up dealing with the insurance companies. Three small children tug on her shirt. They are tired and want to go home. The grandmother looks at me and shrugs, walking away to answer her phone.

Not everyone’s experience with the fire has been so somber. Some speak of the delight in discovering their neighbors. A novelty in this technological age. Another gushes of a rekindled high school romance. Reaching out in these times we unearth people we never knew were there and we also let go of others we’ve seen we no longer need.

Living through a natural disaster brings out the best and worst in us all.

Our area will recover and in time we will too. Although, we will be different. Strangers are talking to each other. The fires have ignited conversation. “Are you a local?” “How did you fare?” “Are you OK?” Words of love, encouragement and support will rebuild our town.

On my drives from Sonoma to Napa and through to Santa Rosa I look at the black scars inflicted on the hillside, trying to suppress the heaviness that creeps into my chest. The rain and regrowth will come and our Valley will return to the beautiful sanctuary it is known for. Fire, while never a friend, will no longer be feared. Instead it will be known as part of our history that will be responsible for the rebirth of this magnificent region.

Belinda Halloran

Sonoma