Thumbs up: SMART gets closer to Windsor

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission is not known for being particularly generous with its funding this far north in the Bay Area. But we are gratified to see a key MTC committee recommend spending $12.5 million to help SMART rebuild the rail line to Airport Boulevard and possibly add a new station there. The full MTC board will have a final vote on Jan. 23. SMART still would need to find another $2.5 million to complete the project. But as Windsor City Councilwoman Debra Fudge, a SMART director noted, it "gets us closer to the workers at the airport and halfway to Windsor." Closer is better.

Thumbs down: Full-time pay for part-time work

Ten years ago we applauded then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for his pledge to "blow up the boxes," including a dozen or so boards and commissions that pay members six-figure salaries to do jobs of questionable worth. Often these boards serve merely as holding stations for termed-out electeds. But, only one ended up being demolished — the California Integrated Waste Management Board. These positions are back in the North Coast spotlight now that former Assemblyman Michael Allen has been appointed, as an apparent political favor, to the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board, where he will be paid $128,000 a year. We don't see the need to blow up this box, but at least halving the pay for this job, which requires a mere one meeting a month, would be a fine example of waste management.

Thumbs down: Parking pinch at Sonoma State

Forget about nickels and dimes for the parking meter. If you're headed to Sonoma State University, you better bring Abe Lincoln. And maybe a few George Washingtons, too.

Parking in the general lots at the Rohnert Park campus is now $5 a day — up 100 percent since the first of the year. Reserved lots are now $8 a day. Only staying for an hour? Sorry. The new system has only one option, and that's paying for a full day. And parking fees are being enforced seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

Suddenly, parking in downtown Santa Rosa doesn't seem so bad.

Thumbs up: Veterans pitch in for plaque

When thieves stole a bronze plaque from a memorial to Vietnam War casualties in Petaluma's Walnut Park last week, veterans throughout Sonoma County quickly raised $9,000 toward a new, more secure monument.

Typical of the response was this letter we received from Bruce Thomson, a former member of the Army's 10th Calvary Regiment: "Please accept my Purple Heart to be melted down and added to the new plaque to be cast for Walnut Park. We all gave some, you gave all."

Police suspect the plaque was stolen for its value as scrap metal. Besides a thumbs down for the thieves, here's a big thumbs down for any scrap deal who buys a stolen war memorial.