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Letters to the Editor, Aug. 8 - 10


Talk about an education

EDITOR: Let me get this straight. A guy got up at a School Board meeting, lauded the suddenly departing superintendent of schools, threatened one board member with recall, later another, and was chosen interim school superintendent.

Another guy got up, said he didn’t think the superintendent had been all that great, particularly for Latino kids, and the school board should get over its differences, and was fired from his job — which was to empower Latino parents who have kids in school. (His boss says there’s no connection.)

The first guy — 85-year-old Chuck Young — was for 30 years the chancellor at UCLA and a board member at Intel Corp., where he was friends with company founder Les Vadasz, now a wealthy donor to Valley causes.

Young is a recent officer of the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation, which funnels donor money into the schools. Its board includes other sincere, wealthy people with strong ideas about how to educate kids on the Valley floor, Les Vadasz among them.

Vadasz is also a major contributor to La Luz. And, ironically, it was La Luz who let the second guy go — Mario Castillo, for 30 years an activist in the Latino community.

Castillo immigrated into the Valley at age 14, worked in the vineyards, and helped found the predecessor of La Luz. With two kids in the schools, he has helped build the Family Resource Center at El Verano School into a major institution, and he is widely recognized as a leader in both the Anglo and Latino communities.

Warning — though it is tempting to connect the dots, they may not actually connect. More importantly, this is bigger and deeper than the any of the gents involved. It’s a question of who runs things in the Valley and where the money comes from.

Surely, Mario and the other parents should decide how their kids are educated, while Young, Vadasz, and their friends should pay for it. It’s the American way, is it not — progressive taxation and grassroots democracy.

Dave Ransom

Santa Rosa

Fit to be tie-dyed!

EDITOR: Having withstood a plethora of misrepresented versions of the Summer of Love, I can no longer hold back.

As mentioned in Kathleen Hill’s July 28 column, the list of appetizers to be served at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art’s “Summer of Love Night” takes the cake, pun intended. These are some of the very food rejected by those of us who were about 20 then, 70 now.

Instead of the “Mad Men” generation’s ‘50s leftovers, it would be more authentic to serve organic vegetables, homemade bread, brown rice and lentils. We rejected those unhealthy Betty Crocker concoctions, like “pigs in a blanket,” and many of us grew our own food and became vegetarians. The ‘60s – actually the mid ‘60s to mid ‘70s – weren’t just about tie-dye, psychedelic drugs, a healthier attitude about sex, great music and poster art. It was a time of standing up for nuclear disarmament, civil rights, women’s rights and free speech. It was about young men being drafted into a war they didn’t believe in, and attempts to end racism, poverty and war – and also multiple assassinations of our leaders.

Trivializing all of this is bad enough. At least get the food right!

P.S. “… brownies without the funny stuff?” Wrong again!!

Gael del Mar

Sonoma

The ‘Sonoma first’ economy

EDITOR: Buy local, hire local, try to get your needs met within 10 miles of where you live. I have lived in the Sonoma Valley since 1966. Lately I have noticed a lot of services coming in from out of town. Contractors, service providers, domestics, laborers, checkers and wine schleppers -- all commuting to work in Sonoma. Worse than that is people who live in Sonoma are having to commute out of town for a job.

Highway 12 is backing up to, and from, Sonoma. Highway 121 is backed up to Highway 37. Highway 37 backs up to Black Point. Highway 116 backs up to Arnold Drive. No matter which way you turn there is congestion. So what can we do about it?

Hire a local. Give the company or the individuals who live in the Valley the job. Keep the people and the money in the Valley. Kind of a Sonoma-first economy. The Sonoma economy is thriving. The economy is good for the wine industry and tourism. The people who live out of town and own vacation rentals are making big money. So if they are not part of the community, shouldn’t they hire locals?

Niche tourism can create an unsustainable economy. Instead of having an economy based on local goods and services we are approaching an economy based on a transient population. If Sonoma continues to import its goods and services from outside sources, Sonoma’s economy will be based on a transient population. When the unsustainable tourism fails will Sonoma be economically equivalent to a financially unstable country? How does it differ?

The point is: hire local people and contractors. Take advantage of local businesses. Hire local musicians. In doing so you create a more stable economy. The people you hire will have more time to spend with their families. Reduce the cutthroat competition from people who live outside of our community. Reduce the commute traffic and take the strain off the thoroughfares coming into our Valley. Give the neighbors children an opportunity to work locally. Hire local tradesmen, honor labor. We are who they are with respect to others.

Eric Heine

Glen Ellen