Letters to the Editor, May 1 - 3

Readers weigh in.|

Agents of Shiels

EDITOR: As I have followed the Sonoma Valley Unified School District's important work in choosing our next Superintendent of Schools, including the discussion at the Board of Trustees meeting on April 17, I want to share some comments and observations.

I was impressed by the comments during the public input period at the board meeting on April 17 in support of the hiring of Socorro Shiels. I appreciated much of what I heard from her supporters regarding her emphasis on student needs, her track record for initiating innovative programs, as well her experience with bicultural education. However, I heard little or perhaps nothing from these supporters about how she works with and supports teachers.

I have read comments and have spoken with teachers who worked under Ms. Shiels when she served as Superintendent in Santa Rosa. They expressed grave concerns with her top-down approach to leadership and her perceived disregard and lack of support for classroom teachers.

Also, I have concerns about the salary and benefits package she apparently requested. To many, her salary and benefits expectations are an indication of her character and her priorities as a leader. These expectations suggest an inflated view of her importance and her place in the district. These concerns may well translate into a lack of confidence among dedicated teachers and administrators whose support she will need to be successful.

In light of these concerns, and perhaps as difficult as this may be for you, I recommend you reconsider your recommendation of Ms. Shiels. I recommend that you begin a new search which is much more collaborative and attentive to the needs and concerns of teachers, administrators, and staff.

However, if you decide to hire Ms. Shiels, I recommend that you reduce her salary and benefits package to be in line with districts of similar size. Additionally, our Superintendent's salary should reflect the issues involving current teacher compensation, upcoming reduction in staffing, programs, and increases in classroom size.

Finally, as the Superintendent's employer and supervisor, I recommend developing clear expectations and objectives to measure the Superintendent's performance in general, but especially in the area of teacher support and collaboration.

Rosanne Alexander


The bounty of Sonoma Garden Park

EDITOR: I attended the opening of the Sonoma Garden Park Harvest this morning. What a wonderful park developed under the stewardship of the Sonoma Ecology Center, an incredible organization. The extensive grounds are impressive with the variety of plants and crops planted throughout the property. Color is everywhere. Hidden down Seventh Street East, the Sonoma Garden Park has a quiet serenity that restores one's spirit with the beauty on display throughout the property. In talking with volunteers, they proudly reviewed the variety of programs available not only to our youth but to the community in general.

Part of this visit also gave me the opportunity to really see the Pauline Bond undeveloped lot to the north of the Garden Park. I had not really focused on it before. Its quiet beauty actually took my breath away. It is a serene piece of property that could be used to expand the Sonoma Garden Park. I know that the City of Sonoma owns both properties since Pauline Bond donated all or part of the properties from her estate. I hope that the City of Sonoma/City Council takes the opportunity to authorize use of the Pauline Bond parcel since its value is wasted if just left alone.

I am proud of the support the City of Sonoma has given to parks and green areas throughout our city, many in collaboration with the Ecology Center and other agencies. However, now is the time to expand this support to include the Pauline Bond property, a gem that can be enjoyed by all. I know the Ecology Center is ready and has already demonstrated its effectiveness with other community projects. This is a win-win situation for the City Council vs. divisive issues like hillside development and the number of tasting rooms around the Plaza. So, let's go City of Sonoma. It's a wonderful project just waiting for approval so that our Ecology Center can proceed.

Marilyn P. Kelly


Wing and a prayer

EDITOR: On top of knowing that people are killing birds in the Valley while

drinking – we see a picture of Rep. Mike Thompson with a huge rifle at the

'Wine' and Barrel Club – in Tuesday's Index-Tribune ('Hunt Club Heads to Supervisors for Approval,' April 24). Seriously? This is leadership?

I'll tell you this just makes me feel that our serene place to hang out is gone.

Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue – and the dreams that you dare to dream, really do come true.

Well, I wish our world was peaceful and that we would stop showing kids how to shoot guns.

I would like to say it's for the birds, but it's not.

Katy Byrne


Why are there 'repeat' drunken drivers?!

EDITOR: I was extremely saddened at the death of Estefania Soto and her young daughter, killed by drunk driver Jose M. Lopez-Perez crossing a double line to pass on Arnold Drive on Nov. 14, 2017.

It was very upsetting when it was reported later that he was previously arrested in December of 2016 for driving without a license, unsafe passing (20/20 hindsight pattern here), and driving without insurance. From that newspaper article: 'According to court dockets, (Lopez-Perez) was convicted only of being unlicensed, paid a $220 fine and was released.'

Question 1: Why only one conviction out of three?

I became further exasperated when I later read another article in the Sonoma Index-Tribune that another motorist, Felipe Celis of Sonoma, was arrested two times in three days, March 9 and 11, 2018 on DUI charges. The first time he was weaving in and out of his lane pulling a trailer! The second time he ran into a rock wall and tree on private property and fled the scene. Had the homeowner been doing yard work there, he would likely have been killed. Lucky for our law enforcement he lost his front license plate before he fled.

Question 2: Why was he still driving after the first arrest?

Considering the large number of people that drive under the influence and the relatively small number of law enforcement officers and the chances of catching them, we need to make use of the most restrictive penalties to keep them off the road for the longest period of time. Police and Sheriffs doing a good job must be supported by our laws, and we need fix our laws if they don't support their work.

We need to make (or enforce) at least one law now: impound drunken drivers' cars, at their expense. California DMV states that driving a motor vehicle is a privilege, not a right. There is no legitimate excuse for driving under the influence.

What can you do about this?

Gary Germano


UPDATED: Please read and follow our commenting policy:
  • This is a family newspaper, please use a kind and respectful tone.
  • No profanity, hate speech or personal attacks. No off-topic remarks.
  • No disinformation about current events.
  • We will remove any comments — or commenters — that do not follow this commenting policy.