Say no to Wal-Mart

EDITOR: All residents of Sonoma County should oppose the approval of the Wal-Mart supercenter again by the Rohnert Park City Council because of the impact on local business.

UC Irvine economist David Neumark in a 2007 study found that for each new supercenter that opens in a county, two local grocery stores will shut down. A 2010 report by Sonoma State University economist Robert Eyler concluded that the proposed super center will not generate any net new sales tax but will capture sales tax revenue from local retail and grocery stores. Eyler predicted that if the super center was approved, local employers could lose as many as 211 jobs.

Pacific Market in Rohnert Park shut down in 2011, in part, because the super center was approved. The old Pacific Market site in the Mountain Shadows Shopping Center remains unoccupied and contributes to urban blight. Competition from the super center could lead to declining sales and job loss over time at other local grocers.

Civic Economics reports that locally owned firms produce two to three times more local economic activity than national chains, including locally retained profits, wages paid to local residents and purchases from local suppliers.



America bashing

EDITOR: David Banister's diatribe ("Right-wing mind-set," Letters, Tuesday) regarding Charles Krauthammer's column ("Obama's address an anti-Reagan manifesto," Jan. 26) actually makes Krauthammer's point — i.e., that the environmental movement is actually more about social engineering than about either the environment or the planet.

If we truly want to discuss environmental issues (especially climate change) intelligently and meaningfully, we need to leave the hysteria to the media and the lunatic fringe.

None of these discussions can have merit as long as they start with the Kyoto Accords or fail to include mass polluters; China, India, Russia, Brazil and other players ad infinitum and try to blame everything on the U.S.

If you want to have a serious discussion about anything, you need to start that discussion with serious assumptions that don't necessarily involve America-bashing as their foundation and sole validation point. Now, I know that approach would involve an earth-shattering departure from the environmentalist's usual modus operandi, but if we're trying to be fair and objective (while actually arriving at potential solutions to whatever problems may exist) it should at least be considered as a rational starting point.



Using roundabouts

EDITOR: Drivers have a problem with roundabouts that they are unfamiliar with. Most roundabouts in Europe utilize a sign that is shaped like a question mark. Exits from roundabout are labeled with the approaching street names, giving drivers a chance to determine which exit they need to take. Better signage would make roundabouts easier to negotiate.


Glen Ellen

Keep court reporters

EDITOR: The statement "state courts must enter the electronic age" (What others say, Monday) is obviously coming from an uninformed opinion. The courts are in the electronic age, with live court reporters daily providing spontaneous real-time translation to the bench officers.

Real-time enables the judge to work more efficiently. When a read-back to a jury is required, the court reporter is able to search for specific areas of testimony the jury is requesting. This service is invaluable to the citizens of California and our jury pool, as it enables them to complete their jury service sooner than with electronic recording where they would they would have to listen to the whole testimony again.

Court reporters are highly trained, licensed professionals whose sole job is making the record. Without that impartial person in the courtroom, no one is concerned about the record. Court reporters control the proceedings and ensure the accuracy of the record for the litigants involved.

Yes, there is a crisis in the California court system due to budget cuts, and year after year, the California Court Reporter Association sponsors legislation to help fund court reporters so the integrity of the court's written record is preserved.


Vice president, California Court Reporters Association