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SSU overlooked

EDITOR: I am really surprised by the lack of support for our local college, Sonoma State University. Rohnert Park isn't your average college town with rallies and lots of college spirit. In fact, unless you were specifically looking for Sonoma State, you could easily drive through town without even knowing it existed. You rarely see anyone wearing SSU gear, and you cannot buy it anywhere in town (except on campus).

Perhaps if there were more events for the locals hosted there, more support from local companies, more local press, more sporting events publicized. I imagine that Rohnert Park will soon be known for the casino, rather than the world-class university we have right in town.

Sonoma State should be a university that you aspire to be accepted by, not something that is hidden away from the public. Go Seawolves.

JULIE MAGER

Santa Rosa

A flat tax

EDITOR: When I was growing up during the Cold War, President John F. Kennedy said we would beat Russia to the moon, and we did. For most of my life, our nation tried to beat Russia at everything. Well, it is time to bring back at least one goal. We should beat Russia by implementing a flat tax at 12 percent. If the Russians can do it at 13 percent, then the United States can and should do it at 12 percent.

The French want to raise their highest marginal tax rate to 75 percent. At least one French citizen applied for and received Russian citizenship ("Depardieu, facing French tax hike, gets Russian citizenship," Friday). It seems we are heading in the French direction by taxing the wealthy.

Do we really want our wealthy citizens jumping ship, leaving behind only the poor? I'm not wealthy, but a flat tax rate would be nice.

KEVIN B. PARSONS

Forestville

Wine and marijuana

EDITOR: The Press Democrat recently reported that a major wine company intends to deforest 280 acres of Mendocino County wildlands for vineyards. A few days later, the paper chronicled the environmental damage caused by North Coast marijuana growers. I couldn't help but comment on the irony.

Locally, certain greedy and unscrupulous marijuana growers are clear-cutting forests, poisoning and dewatering streams and killing wildlife that threatens their crops. My neighbors, colleagues, the local press and regulators from every level of government join me in lamenting this destruction. The only thing preventing us from stopping it is a shortage of resources to patrol the woods.

Meanwhile, certain greedy and unscrupulous winegrape growers are causing exactly the same forms of environmental damage but somehow largely avoiding public and institutional criticism. Why is ecosystem annihilation legally and morally acceptable when the perpetrator is a grape grower? Could it be that our Neolithic minds can't perceive threats originating within our "tribe"?

Can we agree to hold industries we like (e.g., wine) to the same standards of conduct as those we don't like (e.g., marijuana)? I implore our elected officials and my fellow citizens to start protecting our natural environment from threats wherever they arise.

CHRIS INEICH

Potter Valley

Guiding kids

EDITOR: Parents, please take heed. Know what your children are doing. The state of California thinks that young people need guidance until they are 18 years old, but they need it longer than that. The legal drinking age is 21 for many reasons.

All parents and young people as well should read the paper daily to learn that drinking and driving is not the only way that drinkers and such die. They have all kinds of accidents — freezing to death, bleeding to death, drowning in their own vomit. There are many, many glamorous ways to die or be injured.

Again, our hearts are broken by the senseless loss of a young life just started ("A family's &amp;&lsquo;worst news,'<TH>" Saturday). My prayers and sympathy go out to Alyssa Byrne's family and friends, for that is all that I can do for them now.

BARB HULING

Petaluma