<b>Were all those officers needed?</b>

There's no such thing as a free march. That's apparent given the dollars spent on overtime for Sonoma County sheriff's deputies and Santa Rosa police officers monitoring the 10 or so demonstrations that have taken place since the shooting of 13-year-old Andy Lopez in October.

Combined, extra officers have cost local communities $225,000, officials said last Monday. The bulk of it, some $207,000, was for the Sheriff's Office, and much of that was spent on staffing the Oct. 29 protest, the largest of all the demonstrations. The Sheriff's Office stationed deputies in riot gear in front of its doors, on the roof and at the neighboring Hall of Justice. The protest ended up being peaceful from start to finish, leaving one to question whether all those uniforms were really necessary.

These costs also don't include the expense of closing the county government center as well as Santa Rosa City Hall on Oct. 29. What did that tally come to? As locals debate reasonable force by those in uniform, there also should be a discussion of reasonable expense -#8212; in responding to demonstrations.<br>

<b>Clearing the smoke on campus</b>

As we noted in this space on Tuesday, it's been 50 years since the surgeon general declared that smoking kills. Much progress has been made in the half-century since the report linking smoking and lung cancer. There are warning labels on cigarette packs, advertising is restricted, smoking is prohibited in public buildings and many private businesses. As a result, far fewer people light up.

California's public universities are taking up the cause. Since the start of this year, smoking is prohibited on UC campuses. CSU discourages smoking, and it's forbidden inside university buildings, but individual campuses are allowed to determine whether smoking will be allowed outside. So far, the San Diego and Fullerton campuses have gone smoke-free. It would be a refreshing development if Sonoma State University extinguished the smoke, too.<br>

<b>Christie's roadblock to public support</b>

Whether New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was directly involved in the George Washington Bridge scandal is almost secondary to the main story -#8212; that a group of individuals would actually come together and agree to shut down two bridge access lanes, stranding hundreds of people including schoolchildren in a traffic jam, merely as an act of political retribution. Who does something like that -#8212; and does it gleefully?

Records show that in August, one of the governor's deputy chiefs of staff wrote in an email to Port Authority executive David Wildstein: "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee." To which Wildstein, Christie's boyhood friend noted, "Got it." And they did. Wildstein and the staff aide are now both out of work while Christie scrambles to persuade the public that his staff engaged in such underhanded politics without his knowledge and without a presumption that it would be OK with him.

Good luck with that, Mr. Governor. It seems pretty clear that you and your staff have been caught on the same side of dirty New Jersey politics -#8212; with no exit in sight.