It's nice that the Holbrooks chose to spend their ample vacation money here locally ("Abroad at Home," Jan. 28). Many wine buffs seem to think that mountain vineyards are so great, with their "lean" soils, etc. Those of us who live in those mountains see a different picture. A good example is the Petroni vineyard that Holbrook crows about. Many acres of mature forest were clear-cut for this, so that a wealthy man can make fancy wines. Those lean soils are delicate and very vulnerable to erosion.
Then there are the pesticides and fertilizers that find their way into the forests and streams. If it becomes un-economical, as often happens with such vineyards, it is likely to be abandoned to erosion. Even after the vineyard is gone someday, it will take many decades for the forest to recover. Do we really value forest so little that we should allow it to be destroyed for any agriculture? This is really no different than what Paul Hobbs has done in Forestville, but without the publicity.
We have made a good living servicing the wine industry, but we feel that there is plenty of farm land available, such that we need not destroy forests to make more.
I have read, with particular interest, a response to Tom Gogola's article on the Rohnert Park Walmart expansion. To read Delia Garcia's letter ("Strikingly Uninformed," Jan. 28) could lead one to believe that not only is Walmart the greatest corporate citizen on the planet since the dawn of time, but that many of us "uninformed" haters have had it completely wrong all these years.
Delia, I am sure you are a very decent and compassionate person. However, reading your letter brings a Shakespearean quote to mind: "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." If you had been allowed (I presume you are not) to point out any areas at all where, just perhaps, Walmart could focus efforts to legitimately improve the lives of its low-level employees, it might have lent some credibility to your claims. Instead, you attempt to engage our respect by overwhelming us with a perfect set of statistics that I sincerely hope Mr. Gogola will not leave unchallenged.
Frankly, it is not what you say that disturbs me, but what you clearly omit. For instance, $244 million paid in state and local taxes sounds impressive but tells us nothing about the actual tax rate incurred by your company. And thank you, Walmart, for collecting California state sales tax, which is required by law. It may also shock you to know that most working people do not aspire to become managers. They simply want to put in a good day's work for a living wage. Can you talk about that?
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