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Letters to the Editor, March 16 - 19

No way to run a railroad

EDITOR: Regarding the very good article on the Sonoma Developmental Center in your newspaper (“Shutdown for SDC Still Set for 2018,” Feb. 27):

I was hoping there was a typo in the numbers regarding 149 current residents receiving services there and “nearly 900 full-time employees” (actually 899 care and non-care staff) working there, so I contacted your writer, Christian Kallen.

He confirmed that those were the actual numbers he was given.

This overall expense ratio is about a six full-time employees to one resident receiving care.

I know of no business that can financially remain in operation with a “top heavy/upside down” expense ratio like this. California cannot afford this.

It is already the No. 1 state with the highest state income tax rate, up to 13.3 percent, and we still don’t “make ends meet”!

Alternatively, this is precisely why operations like this are “privatized” or leased out to people or companies that can run them “profitably,” or at least break even as a nonprofit and stay in business.

Wouldn’t a triple-net State lease be a good win-win option here?

It would be very nice to have the SDC remain in operation helping large numbers of residents as it had in the past during its “good years,” especially since it is all built for that purpose and ready to be utilized.

Meanwhile, this current “employee overload” needs to be reduced immediately to a reasonable ratio for the number of residents now currently receiving services.

Gary Germano

Sonoma

Authors Festival a closed book to locals

EDITOR: I was very excited to read the news of the planned authors festival (“Sonoma Valley Authors Festival to Make Its Literary Debut,” Feb. 16).

I am in two book clubs and the thought of meeting Amor Towles, Doris Kearns Goodwin, etc. was so thrilling. However, my excitement soon turned to disappointment and anger when I went to the event website and clicked on “ticket sales.”

What? $750 for the three-day event. No one-day passes; no single-speaker passes. Only $750, take it or leave it.

I am amazed. There are so many book clubs in Sonoma and I am sure a lot of locals would love to attend but this event is priced at only a small part of the people living here. It feels like it is an event for out of towners, certainly the reading wealthy. On the website it then goes on to inform you that you will be able to buy books at the event from Book Passage in Corte Madera. How out of touch can the organizers be? We have a Sonoma treasure called Readers’ Books, the only book store left in town. Nothing wrong with Book Passage, it is a wonderful store. But, seriously, how could Readers’ Books be overlooked for this occasion and a Marin vendor brought in to a self-titled “Sonoma Valley” event?

The final straw was when I considered volunteering as a way of getting close to my heroes. Again, the website informs us that because of space constraints volunteers won’t be able to attend talks. Really? Why else would you volunteer?

I wish the Freemans great success with their event. I am just very sad that no consideration has been made for the “ordinary” Sonoma reader to attend.

Jette Franks

Sonoma