Union Democrat staff

Courthouse rock?

To the Editor,

I would like to thank the appropriate local governmental agency for their newest art installation. Most counties would not waste time to improve the sonic architecture around us, so I'm grateful to live in one that does.

I'd like to know what the work is called and who the artist is, because whoever thought of having the courthouse bell tower ring a random amount of times every day at 6:50 a.m. is a genius. I'm sure the artist was influenced by the composer John Cage, who would have appreciated having the bells ring 31, 14, 72 or any random number so that everyone who is asleep can start the day with a vivid conception of the beauty of art.

To use such a basic symbol as the small town bell tower for a medium is evocative; akin to dipping the U.S. flag in a different color every day.

And the length of the piece is refreshing. For years it would toll 14 times at 7 a.m. and when people complained, they were told it would be fixed. As if you can fix art.

There is a piece by John Cage that will take 689 years to complete. Who knows how long this local work will last? And if it tolls 72 times on some days now, what ecstasy will next year bring?

Personally, I wish the art was more like Cage's 4'33," which is 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence, but I'm just so proud to live in such an artistic community, I'll wake up happily to the sound of art.

Well, I'll wake up for sure.

Christopher Van Tuyl


Continuing to Occupy Sonora

To the Editor,

Why, passersby, may wonder, does our small "Occupy Sonora" band continue to stand Saturday mornings with our signs at Courthouse Square?

Mainly it's because of our deep dismay about two closely entwined political and economic realities:

1. the impact of extraordinary amounts of money on American politics; and

2. the hugely unequal distribution of wealth in present-day America.

The 2012 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United allowed unlimited private donations to election campaigns at all levels.

Time Magazine projects that $5.8 billion will be spent on presidential and congressional races by the two parties this year (the figure was $4.1 billion in 2004).

Karl Rove's super PAC expects to raise $240 million chiefly for anti-Obama attack ads. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is expected to give $50 million to Republican candidates. The single biggest disclosed donor, Sheldon Adelson, reportedly contributed $50 million and has pledged $100 million all told to the Romney/Ryan campaign.

Government offices and candidates can, and are, literally being bought.

Exercise of political power by moneyed interests over legislative and regulatory bodies has preserved and increased the wealth of the nation's uber-affluent economic elite - the "one percent," as they have been dubbed.

They are able to protect themselves by tax rates and breaks and other financial practices that are questionable legally and, certainly, ethically.

Needing fewer public services, they use their influence to curtail government spending for the general good - on infrastructure, health care and education, for example. Favoritism for the rich, that is, rather than services and opportunities for the overwhelming majority - that "ninety-nine percent."

In short, we "Occupiers" are appalled by money-driven electioneering and the massive concentration of wealth at the socioeconomic top. These twin realities make a mockery of American democracy.

Our objectives are not grand.

Dick Peterson