Letters to the Editor: July 3, 2013

Letters to the Editor: July 3, 2013

In Support of Libraries

I use the libraries in Sonoma County and contribute to Friends of the Library in Rohnert Park. I was very disappointed when the libraries closed on Mondays system-wide, affecting school children and people looking for work using the computers. I am in agreement that the libraries should return to the Monday availability—if not every Monday, then perhaps in some areas the first and third Mondays of the month, and in other areas the second and fourth Mondays of the month.

Thank you for running the piece, and hopefully the community and the county supervisors will work with the joint powers to restore at least some of the availability of the libraries.

Santa Rosa

If library is a place where one maybe reads some magazines and gets to take home free books and recordings, then I agree with the county officials, we have more important things to worry about. If library is a people’s meeting place, a classroom for small children, a spot to have short afternoon nap or the most convenient public restroom in town, then perhaps we should rethink the hours.

Via online

Editor’s note: Six days after our cover story on library closures and mismanagement, Sonoma County Library director Sandra Cooper announced her retirement.

Wages and Tips

In the letter titled “Tip Away” from a Ms. Scruggs in the June 19 issue, she refers to “wine stewards,” which is a term normally associated with sommeliers in restaurants. Having worked in the industry in various Michelin-starred restaurants, I can assure you that any fine dining establishment that can have a sommelier does not pay him or her $12 an hour, as Ms. Scruggs claims. They are usually in management and in charge of wine purchasing, inventory, pricing, wine list production and updates, etc., and make a considerable salary—in addition to bonuses and in many cases being in the tip pool that gets divided between waiters, bussers, bartenders and food runners.

If she is referring to tasting room associates and “wine educators” (as they are sometimes called), that is completely different, and in most cases they earn between $15 and $20 as a base salary plus commissions on wine sales. To compare this salary range to that of a typical Denny’s worker (a company often cited for employing illegal workers at below minimum wage) is misleading and disingenuous, to say the least.

If you want to leave an additional gratuity for a sommelier (wine steward) or a tasting room associate that is fine, but it is not the norm, nor is it required.


It Can’t Be That Much Work

I deplore the social psychology of those who are fortunate enough to belong to the Hundred Thousand Dollar Club who feel that they have to automatically defend anyone else in that pay bracket. Is it because they are not sure of their own worthiness?

More to the point: Why does the Marin I-J feel that the Marin supervisors deserve a wage hike? Is it the $35 million they lost on the computer fiasco? Their slavish bowing to ABAG and the MTC? Their tremendous giveaways to the consultant class?

The error of basing one’s pay on the other guy’s pay is what got us on the merry-go-round of astronomical CEO compensation. Public service should be its own reward. Consider all the really talented people in Marin who would be glad to take on the supervisors’ responsibilities. After all, with two or three full-time aides, it can’t be that much work.

The problem with running for the job is the political support purchased by incumbent supervisors with all the slush-fund cash they spread around. How can you beat that kind of campaign funding?

Let’s look at the Marin County median wage before going overboard with supervisor pay hikes. Next you will want to be buying each of them a new house.


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Sonoma County Library