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<b>A local asset</b>

EDITOR: As a 25-year Bennett Valley resident, driver of local roads, bicycle rider and hiker, I feel qualified to discuss the Highway 12 extension, which Caltrans has decided is no longer needed for a freeway. This field of weeds, which has been sitting fallow for 50 years, can become a "field of dreams" that offers bicycling and hiking paths, community gardens, urban forest and stream restoration and limited commercial amenities.

Whereas a highway might have saved five to 10 minutes of driving time, a greenway would connect with other Sonoma County bike paths and provide safe routes to school and shopping. It would be an urban oasis in an already built-out part of our city, increasing recreational opportunities and property values.

I'm reminded of the vote on San Francisco's Embarcadero Freeway, where residents defeated the road proposal because of the blight it would have caused. Now, the refurbished Embarcadero area is a dynamic and inviting area of that great city.

Aren't we lucky that Caltrans isn't building a road through the heart of our city and a bridge over Spring Lake? And wouldn't an urban greenway be a wonderful asset to have instead?

RICK REISMAN

Santa Rosa

<b>Syria's escalation</b>

EDITOR: Just a thought: Why is Syria stepping up the game when it has been doing so well killing people with bullets? Are the Syrians running out of ammo? Is Iran getting fed up with supplying them? Will Syria maybe flat-line one of these days?

JANET RUSSELL

Penngrove

<b>Power pay</b>

EDITOR: There is a bureaucracy developing within the new power board. No one is surprised. There are not yet any power workers or production, and the news is about disagreements over pay for new-hire bureaucrats ("Power board struggles to set salaries," Sept. 6).

"Comparable" is a word used frequently by management when trying to determine a salary for mid-level management employees. Since there are no other local power agencies, it becomes a guessing game. The county has created a power agency that unnecessarily duplicates the services of PG&E. We should not be surprised that the main questions of the week center on pay for bigwigs.

All the prior talk about "sustainable" and "green" energy were just props to create another bureaucracy with high pay for management. It's a pathetic joke on the public and Sonoma County.

JOHN TRAVINSKY

Windsor

<b>An informed vote</b>

EDITOR: I was bewildered by Phyllis J. Fitzgerald's letter ("Thompson's vote," Monday) regarding Rep. Mike Thompson's position on Syria. She said he doesn't represent his constituents because he hasn't committed to vote against the Syria resolution. Let's see if we can figure this out.

A resolution hasn't yet come before the House for a vote because the resolution hasn't been written. I expect my representatives to read and study legislation before they take a position.

The possible use of military force is a life or death decision. At the very least, I expect my representatives to know all the facts before taking a position or casting a vote.

Thompson has been to war. He was wounded in Vietnam and received a Purple Heart. If you've ever heard him, you know he's anti-war and believes it should always be the very last resort.

But most important, when Congress was asked to vote to begin the war in Iraq, Thompson did the work before casting his vote. He reviewed the facts and intelligence, personally visited Iraq and then voted against the war.

I am confident he'll do the work again when it comes to Syria. He wouldn't be representing his constituents responsibly if he did anything else.

STEPHEN GALE

Chairman, Sonoma County Democratic Central Committee