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You said it: Changing the name of the Russian River is a touchy subject

July 2022 Letters to the Editor

Sonoma County Gazette readers chimed in this past month. More readers added their thoughts to a two-month discussion on whether or not the name of the Russian River should be changed, including on how the discourse should continue (or not continue). The biggest takeaway from this month’s letters? Are we able to engage in big discussions about change with civility and understanding?

Happy July y’all. Send your thoughts to

Great book recommendation


I enjoyed reading Diane McCurdy’s book review of “Estrellas” and will look forward to reading the book. You are your readers may be interested to know that there are in face several routes through Europe of the El Camino de Santiago. There is one originating in the southeast of Spain.

In fact, it passes next to our house there and many pilgrims and trekkers go by.

Best wishes,

N. Lee

Cazadero, CA

Crossword note


Not to Steve O’Rourke: 33 down clue, ‘extinct and flightless’ answer should not be ‘rheas.’ They are happily living in South America, as well as in feral populations in Germany and England. Now if you’d gone with dodos, I’d agree with you!

Mark Mellander,

Teacher at Bellevue School

Change letters policy


Perhaps you ought to eliminate your gag-me-with-a-spoon rules for letters to the editor. That way you might receive some with a little substance. The May letters are a perfect of example of writers spewing out their nonsense, or, in the case of the person who wants an anything goes approach to vacation rental permits, simply displaying a self-centered approach to a community problem.

First, the notion of changing the name of a river because the country for which it is named is currently invading another country. Should Sebastopol residents also vote for a new name? After all, Sevastopol is a city in (gasp) Russia. No doubt there are more constructive ways to support the people of Ukraine (and all the other countries currently under foreign invasion or occupation).

Then there is the person From Utah who has come up with a new way to trash women. Attack us for behaving like men? Tell us we have overstepped our role, which is to be loving and feminine?

And, of course, the Monte Rio homeowner who objects to limiting the number of vacation rentals because — he claims— that would only profit out-of-town resort owners and hotel chains. This fellow ignores the fact that most local resorts are owned by individuals who reside in Sonoma County. Yes, it’s true that vacation rentals used to involve locals who rented out an extra room, or an out-building, on their own property. But now most of them are owned by those out-of-towners to whom he objects.

Lois Pearlman


About time

Dear Editor,

Finally, seven years after the County began work on the Winery Event Ordinance, the Planning Commission approved a draft to go before the Board of Supervisors for adoption in September. We appreciate the efforts involved in developing a balanced Ordinance with clear parameters that level the playing field for new applicants seeking to host events; while addressing noise, traffic and other disruptions to rural character.

We can no longer afford to ignore the limited carrying capacity of our roads, diminishing water resources and degradation or rural character. The Supervisors and the Tourism Board are aware of tourism's external costs and have an obligation to address infrastructure and public safety needs. Sonoma County is at a crossroads: large scale developments, part-time homeowners and vacation rentals are tearing the social fabric of our communities. Rural character is what differentiates Sonoma County from other wine regions. The Board's upcoming approval of this Ordinance will be a positive step toward preventing our County from becoming a victim of "tourism success." After a decade of unfettered growth leading to approval of nearly 500 wineries/tasting rooms, a clear and balanced Winery Event Ordinance will protect the County's scenic, rural qualities for visitors and residents alike.

Padi Selwyn, Co-chair

Neighbors to Preserve Rural Sonoma County


Dear Editor:

Staying at my daughter’s house located near the fault line in Larkfield Wikiup. On either side of their property just off Carriage Lane, two large trees suddenly came down today, a fifty foot plus for on the west side early this morning in perfectly still weather, and a large live oak just to the southeast of their property around 5:30pm in very light breezes. Are there any other reports of trees falling over today without provocation? I’m wondering if this is leading up to an earthquake?

Marilou Hall

Larkfield Wikiup

Thank you!

Dear Editor:

Thank you. I cried when i saw how you acknowledged my pictures. At the time in saw them i had been at a particularly low spot. So wow huge very profound what you did.

J Clemons

On renaming the Russian River

Dear Editor:

You may remember the piece I wrote about renaming the Russian River. I see there was a rebuttal to it in this week's edition of the Gazette. As I mentioned in my article, I was only suggesting a possible name change and that my intention was to generate a county-wide discussion about this proposal.

Well, lo and behold, I see my proposal upset a reader named Barbara Daughtery. That's good in a way as it appears my article sparked some discussion. However, I take offense that this writer stated that I was "discouragingly ignorant" about the way the Spaniards treated California's indigenous people. She seemed oblivious that I only wanted to open up a civil discussion about a name change and would welcome any and all alternative names.

Anyway, here's my response to this snarky reader.

If it's too long let me know and I can edit it if you should decide to print it. I hope this "exchange" sparks further discussion.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Michael O'Looney

Santa Rosa, CA

Watch 60 Minutes

If you have not watched the May 29th Sixty Minutes is the time to do so.

They have described something so horrific that you will be compelled to contact your elected representatives to demand that they get these horrific killing machines out of circulation. I have never felt to betrayed in my life as I do now, knowing that even the police in the latest horrific event, in Texas were unable to do what they knew was their job.

It is time to hold our elected officials' feet to the fire...there has never been a more crucial moment in this country's history that this: will families decide against sending their precious children to schools? Arming a teacher with any kind of revolver is incredibly stupid: that revolver will have little if any effect against the killing machines that they are facing.

Who can have the audacity to declare that a killing machine such as this (watch 60 minutes for the full revelation) should be allowed " in the name of self protection" that is the most absurd thing I have ever heard.

Charlene Stone

Santa Rosa, CA.

Appreciation and questions

Dear Editor:

Thank you so much for the commitment and hard work required to carry the project of informing, including and inspiring us in West County. I miss Vesta so much and celebrate her freedom from this amazing 'baby' she birthed....and so grateful to you for tending the Gazette as you keep it going for all of us. Thank you!

I miss the column by Lynda Hopkins (though I never could understand where she found the time to write it) but I'd like someone who has the larger picture to provide an overview of our District--the 'everything' that impacts our lives like Lynda wrote about. Do you have plans for such a column??

Also, I'm strongly hoping that someone who reflects the Gazette values of kindness and good humor (rather than sarcasm and put-downs) will take up the "Sebastopol Views" column. I'm left with a bad feeling in my heart and sour thoughts in my head after reading John Necker’s criticism of the council and it's actions. Let's have transparency and perspective without making fun of folks with snide remarks---SO unlike the intentions of the Gazette!

Thanks for hearing my question and my lament--I appreciate your heartfulness and vulnerability and your hard work!

Joan Birch


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