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Letters to the Editor, Aug. 11: Little Peter’s big heart

Little Peter, big heart

EDITOR: Kathleen Hill’s recent article on the Melody Club (“Sonoma’s Lost Restaurants: Little Peter’s Melody Club,” July 31) brings back sad and sweet memories for our family.

My husband’s mother and stepfather moved to Sonoma many years ago. Only two years after moving to Boyes Springs they were hit by a car while crossing Boyes Boulevad just before the bridge.

My husband, his brother and I were notified of the accident and traveled to Sonoma within an hour.

Their mother survived but their stepfather Emmett Scharetg died a day or so later.

My husband remained in Sonoma and went to the Melody Club to be greeted with open arms by Audrey and Pete Mancuso. They helped him get through the days after the accident. They fed him and provided with clothes until I returned.

The Mancusos’ extended family and friends continued to help us navigate after the accident. We are grateful for their warm hearts!

Madolyn Agrimonti

Sonoma

Amazon doesn’t rule the world, or Sonoma

EDITOR: I want to thank the Index-Tribune for publishing my op-ed (“Sonoma Can Speak Up About Coming Amazon Warehouse,” July 17) online in time for the word to get out to the people of the Sonoma Valley regarding the July 22 Sonoma Valley Citizens Advisory Commission hearing on Amazon's proposal for a “last-mile delivery” mega-center at the foot of Eighth Street East.

It is gratifying that, in just a few days, the issue went from “that’s news to me” and “it’s probably a done deal” in the community to the point where more than 38 people from both sides sent in letters, many quite detailed, before the meeting and almost as many testified online at the meeting. Given the time that took, that was quite a response for the Sonoma Valley, and it appears there is more to come.

After a lengthy hearing, the commission voted unanimously, nine to zero, both “not to approve the proposal” and to recommend that the Amazon use of Victory Station and the McCaffrey parking lot proposals be treated as a single entity. They also recommended a new EIR for the combined project with a focus on issues of zoning, traffic, greenhouse gases, flooding and the impacts on other public services. And, importantly, that future review be made open to the public.

And now we hear that Permit Sonoma has moved to require Amazon and the building owners to comply with those requirements. This is quite a step forward in terms of public input and review, and it would never have happened had our local media not stepped up to let the people of the Valley know their opinions. Thank you for that. It is the community at work, even in difficult times.

Norman Gilroy

Mobilize Sonoma

Words matter, I-T!

EDITOR: My heart hurt, my soul suffered, and I knew we as a community had a lot of work ahead after reading the unvarnished truth highlighted in Maurice Parker’s letter to Sonoma (“Sonoma Is Not Hallelujah,” July 3). Mr. Parker has started a conversation with us, which we cannot shut down. The Index-Tribune did the right thing by giving his piece a place on the front page – and for being willing to shine a light on our community.

Imagine then, my surprise at the choice of headings the I-T used in Kate Williams’ Friday, July 31 things-to-do column “Go.Do.Now.” The first blurb meant to inspire you to yell your frustrations away, courtesy of a website in Iceland, under the headline “Rebel Yell.” Please, revisit your American history notes and look closely at the Civil War, what was the “rebel yell”? Yes – that yell – the one the Confederate soldiers used in battle against the Union. The Rebel Yell is a Confederate war cry. The late John Lewis heard the Rebel Yell on March 7, 1965, used by state troopers in Selma on the Edmund Pettus Bridge as they charged into kneeling marchers.

This is how the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee website described the scene:

“On the bridge that day, state troopers in gas masks and Dallas County Sheriff Jim Clark’s mounted posse were also gathered. State police confronted the marchers as they started across the bridge and ordered the marchers to halt. Instead they knelt. The troopers then fired tear gas as the posse charged into the ranks of the marchers swinging billy clubs and letting loose with rebel yells.”

The day after Rep. John Lewis is laid to rest, our local paper invites us to partake in a Rebel Yell. Did we really listen to Maurice Parker? Or, to all of the voices calling out from across the country to do better? Have we looked into our own words and actions to make sure we are moving the conversation forward? I urge you, I-T staff and readers to look at your words clearly and understand – they do matter, make them count.

Catherine Wilson Prince

Sonoma

Editor’s note: Thanks Catherine for informing us as to the history of the Rebel Yell; we definitely make it a point to steer clear of Confederate sloganeering – and we’ll add that one to the list. My suspicions that Kate is less about Gen. Lee than she is about Gen X were confirmed when I broached your letter with her and she said her point of reference wasn’t Johnny Reb, but Billy Idol – and his 1983 album, “Rebel Yell,” which contained some of his biggest hits, including “Eyes Without a Face” and the title track. Idol has said he first came into contact with the term in the early 1980s after seeing Keith Richards drinking a bottle of bourbon labeled Rebel Yell and thought it an interesting phrase that fit in with the anti-authority nature of the London punk scene. The bourbon makers, a Kentucky distillery, surely named their firewater after the Confederate battle cry, but it seemed to have reached Kate’s lexicon via a bunch of boozy British musicians unaware of its U.S. context. -- Jason Walsh

Hey Newsom – what the frack?!

EDITOR: Gavin Newsom has quietly approved another 12 new fracking permits for Chevron to drill in Kern County. This is the latest in a total of 48 new fracking permits granted by Newsom since the COVID-19 pandemic began, along with 1,400 new oil and gas permits issued this year!

Newsom has broken his climate promises. During his campaign for Governor, he pledged to oppose fracking. Meanwhile, oil and gas production continues to increase under his watch, and in the middle of a respiratory pandemic.

Overwhelming, scientific evidence that shows exposure to pollutants increases the COVID-19 death rate. Nearly 5.5 million Californians live within a mile of an oil or gas well. Oil derricks are in their backyards, next to their parks and playgrounds, and visible from their schools, especially in communities of color and low-income communities.

If Gov. Newsom is honest about the need to “flatten the curves” of these dual public health crises of COVID and climate change, he needs to follow John Lewis’s call to “get into some good trouble” by stopping, at the very least, the permitting of new fracking and of increased oil and gas production in our state.

John Donnelly

Sonoma

A difficult first step

EDITOR: Thank you for publishing Mr. Parker's piece (“Sonoma Is Not Hallelujah,” July 3), and thank you Mr. Parker for writing it. From the ensuing comments, it seems to have started a conversation, which is exactly what is needed so that the Sonoma community can gain some understanding and enlightenment regarding the systemic race issues and problems that have plagued our country for 400 years. Having an honest conversation about race with people who look like you and, more importantly, those who don't look like you, is the very difficult first step toward understanding and enlightenment.

My wife and I are an interracial couple, married for 34 years. We have lived in Sonoma for five years, and love it beyond our expectations. A co-worker who lives here recommended that we consider Sonoma. We started coming here from Marin on weekends and during the week, walking around the Plaza, getting to know the town and community. Everyone we met or interacted with was so welcoming and so friendly, we knew we wanted to live here. It quickly became obvious that Sonoma is a special place, with a fascinating history, nearly perfect weather, and beautiful countryside. We feel very fortunate to have ended up living in this valley.

The fact that we have not encountered the same kind of covert racism experienced by the Parkers, combined with the various comments printed on your editorial page over the last few weeks, underscore the complex nature of race and racial identity. I know that some white people have been acculturated to be nervous, uncomfortable or worse in the presence of brown, black or other people unlike them. White privilege is a difficult concept to understand, but it exists.

White privilege is a difficult concept to understand, but it exists.

All people need to be aware of, and try to understand their own inherent biases and prejudices. I also know that race and racial identity are social constructs and have nothing to do with biology. Being born white, black, brown or looking different from the ethnic majority is pure happenstance.

It is my hope that the people of Sonoma and beyond, are willing to take that first step, come together and begin the difficult conversations required. Our community deserves no less.

H. Jackson

Sonoma

SMART Board – ‘are they brain dead’?

In 2008 Sonoma and Marin voters approved the 20-year sales tax for SMART trains. The 2008 vision has not materialized; there are not enough passengers in our suburban/rural area. We all know our public transit is subsidized, but what is prudent? Caltrain, on the peninsula, is supported by about 30 percent, BART about 40 percent, what about SMART? We subsidized SMART 91 percent; in other words, for every dollar, the passenger pays for their ticket you and I, the taxpayers, pay $9. The voters will not continue to support this level of waste! One would expect SMART’S board to focus on ridership, or an alternate plan to conserve funds. No, instead, they just budgeted building a $63 million extension to rural Windsor. Are they brain-dead, or do they think voters are idiots?

Paul Garbarini

San Rafael

Thanks to my Sonoma Patients

EDITOR: As an ear, nose AND throat doctor, I've enjoyed Sonoma and the privilege of treating patients here for the past several years. But I have stopped enjoying the weekly round-trip drive from my home in Carmel. So I've closed my Sonoma and Healdsburg offices to focus my medical practice closer to my home. I will continue practicing ENT in Monterey, where I've been invited to share an office with the pre-eminent otolaryngologist and audiologist in the Carmel-Monterey area.

It is with reluctance and sadness that I leave Sonoma. My heartfelt thanks go out to the physicians of the community who have been supportive of my professional abilities, and to the hundreds of patients I've met and treated in my office.

Sonoma, as a community, has many crown jewels. I am especially impressed with Sonoma Community Center: It is blessed with a great Director, John Gurney; an amazing board of directors; and a world-class ceramics department, headed by ceramic artist and educator, Kala Stein. I hope you all will visit, engage and support Sonoma Community Center, and check out its virtual classes, which attract participants from around the nation and world.

Thanks to all patients and friends here who have made my Sonoma practice most pleasant, productive and memorable. (And if any Sonoma patients want to make the 2.5 hour trip to the scenic Monterey Peninsula, I'll be available to you on a priority basis. Remember: Travel for purposes of medical treatment is tax deductible!) Cheers!

Dr. C. Robert Pettit

Carmel

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