Very belatedly, I want to commend your rant on the American electorate, "Not Ready" (Dec. 30), partly because I agree with it, point by point. But also because I thought it was one of the clearest and most insightful things I've read on current politics. I don't read a hell of a lot and see very little TV news, but I read the New York Times daily. You made your points beautifully.
Before I could get around to writing this, I got hung up reading "Condemned Men Talking" (Jan. 15). That took me a while; because the subject matter is so unpleasant, I set it aside for a bit. Not a fun read, but a fine reporting and writing job on a tough subject.
I did wind up with a couple of questions. You mentioned being issued goggles or face masks as protection against tossed feces or other prisoner responses to the reporters' presence. It wasn't clear if you wore one or whether a pair of eyeglasses was considered protection enough, if you wear glasses. And I don't think you reported the general reception by the prisoners. Did anyone throw feces, spit, curse? It seemed worth mentioning one way or another.
The other question was about the inmate you almost interviewed, only to learn from the escorting officer later that he "was the very inmate who ended those officers' careers."
I'm guessing Lt. Robinson didn't provide any details about how the inmate ended those careers, but it wasn't clear whether you or any other reporter asked him and he declined to answer or whether no one bothered to ask. Minor details in a fine and comprehensive report.
Tom Gogola responds: No inmates threw anything at the reporters. I wore glasses, and the inmate in question had committed acts of violence.
I am feeling pretty angry that our Santa Rosa Council has decided to cut the trees down in downtown. They say the trees need to be cut to make room for more parking and two new streets, which in my humble opinion will create more traffic jams. Was there any plan to even look and see if the trees could be saved? I honestly don't know. And I don't need Chris Smith to tell me the plans to revitalize downtown Santa Rosa have been on the agenda for years. But I don't remember reading about the trees' need to be cut. If this had been mentioned earlier, I am sure many residents would have voiced our concerns long ago. I will no longer patronize the business merchants who said yes to cutting down the trees.
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