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<b>Living in '1984'</b>

EDITOR: George Orwell said, "If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself."

Let's place Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden in a broader context:

Americans' phone calls and email are logged. Our credit records are owned by private companies. Credit card companies know everything about us. Our health records belong to private companies. Letters and packages in the mail are photographed. GPS devices in autos and phones follow us everywhere. Surveillance cameras scan us in offices, restaurants and stores, watch us on our streets and at public events. Internet companies surrender our private lives to "security" agencies. Social media can reveal our most intimate matters. Online companies sell our purchasing information. Stores record our purchases. Security agencies can seize records from libraries, revealing what books, newspapers, magazines we read. Our financial records are not secure. Drones are on the horizon. Are telescreens next?

The year is 2013, but we are terribly close to "1984."

GENE A. HOTTEL

Santa Rosa

<b>Split the difference</b>

EDITOR: Why all this haggling over the purchase price for land needed to extend the airport runway ("Woman says airport 'stealing' property for devalued price," Wednesday)?

I'm sure the principals will spend a large amount of money on attorneys in their fight for justification of a fair price to all. How about just splitting the difference between the two prices mentioned and concluding the settlement?

Any extra costs would be far less than litigation. I'm sure that an extra dollar or two added to the price of an airline ticket over the next one or two years will not stop people from flying; it surely would be less than taking transportation to SFO.

We the people from Sonoma County have spent more than 30 years waiting for a larger airport. Stop this haggling over a minuscule percentage of the cost of a runway extension. Just spend the few extra dollars, and get it built.

TONY LANDEN

Santa Rosa

<b>Clean fuel, clean air</b>

EDITOR: We were disappointed to read "The state's self-imposed fuel embargo" ("Close to Home," July 21). The commentary failed to mention the tremendous benefits of California's alternative fuels in cleaning the air and protecting public health.

Further, the oil industry-funded report cited by the author was recently peer reviewed and criticized for not only overstating the costs of clean-fuel standards but also for ignoring the benefits of cleaner fuels.

The American Lung Association in California, along with 30 other leading health and medical organizations, supports California's commitment to achieving the low-carbon fuel standard goal of a 10 percent reduction in transportation fuels' climate pollution by 2020 because of the enormous air quality, climate and public health benefits.

Nearly 90 percent of Californians live in areas affected by unhealthy air. Our dependence on oil contributes to billions of dollars in health and economic costs in California, resulting from pollution-related asthma attacks, heart attacks, emergency room visits, hospitalizations and even premature death.

The good news is that there are many alternative fuels on the market today to help meet the standard. California's clean fuels standard will help transition California to a clean air and clean transportation future that will help everybody breathe easier.

FRED LURMANN

American Lung Association

in California

<b>Too generous?</b>

EDITOR: I usually read Jeff Cox's restaurant reviews to find interesting places to eat in Sonoma County, and he is usually fairly accurate. What happened this past Sunday ("Classical cuisine")?

The review was for the Prelude restaurant at the Green Music Center. I have not been there but have heard rumors that have been somewhat negative, so I was interested to see what Cox thought.

The price is "expensive to very expensive," yet he waited "an hour for the wine to arrive" and "an hour and 45 minutes for the entr? to arrive." He goes on to describe a crepe dish that arrived cold because of the wait time. Yet Cox qualifies this as two stars for service and three stars overall?

How about a half-star for service? No food is good enough to overcome poor service (and the food did not seem that exceptional, anyway).

IAN ELLIOTT

Sebastopol

<b>Rising rents</b>

EDITOR: I disagree with the assertion that high occupancy rates and a lack of new housing are to blame for recent rent increases ("County rents rising," Sunday).

The real cause of these rent hikes is the greed of opportunistic property owners who never miss a chance to take advantage of people who lack the means to own their housing — people who will never be able to save enough money to own as long as their landlords keep raising rents.

I think there ought to be a law that prohibits rental property owners from charging rents in excess of 5 percent more than what is needed to cover the cost of ownership (purchase amount, management fees, maintenance, improvements, etc.) as well as a law that prohibits owners from mortgaging a rental property and then passing along to tenants the cost of paying the mortgage, unless the proceeds are used for purchasing, maintaining or improving the property.

Also, there should be a law that requires rental property owners who sell the property for a profit to share the proceeds from the sale with their tenants. Laws such as these would go a long way toward correcting the inequities of the rental housing market.

JOHN SHOLES

Santa Rosa