Pensions earned

EDITOR: Pension costs are raising and causing mayhem with local government budgets. Many uninformed citizens seemingly blame the workers for the problem. However, the facts from the past are never reported. During the most of the 1980s and well into the '90s, pension fund balances were so high that nearly every public agency made no contributions to their local pension fund or to CalPERS. Everyone was over-funded.

However, for that entire period, the public employees were required to continue to pay into the funds. So, for about 15 years the employees contributed and the agencies never thought to put their share away for a rainy day. Statewide, billions of dollars were diverted and either spent or went to reducing taxes.

It is important for those who begrudge public employees their pensions to understand that raises and cost-of-living increases were given up to fund pensions. They were given up by those who were out in the storms making sure that roads would be open in the morning, that sewers didn't overflow, that police protection was in place, that fire trucks were manned and that you lived a safe and comfortable life. We earned our pensions. Get over it.



Shabby memorial

EDITOR: Nearly every week I drive on the Frank Trejo Memorial Interchange. I read about Deputy Trejo, about his job, his family and how respected he was by those who knew and worked with him at the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office; hence the memorial interchange in his honor.

Generally speaking, to memorialize someone implies that you are honoring that person's memory, commending them for doing something that is above and beyond what an ordinary person might do in the course of their life. In this case, Deputy Trejo gave his life for the citizens of Sonoma County.

And so, as I drive that weed-infested, overgrown, garbage-strewn interchange, where guardrails are broken and not ever repaired, where trees are broken, dead and dying, I think, "This is not a memorial, it is a neglected, likely forgotten, mess. In no way does it honor that man's sacrifice."



The wrong venue

EDITOR: With reference to Bruce Thomson's letter ("Missing, not forgotten," Tuesday) regarding the Vietnam Veterans of America's float in the Santa Rosa parade.

I am active in the POW/MIA cause locally and at the state and national level for all wars, not just my war in Vietnam. I believe that this nation needs to be more aggressive in the search of our POW/MIAs.

With that said, I am a member of Vietnam Veterans of America chapter No. 223. I was one of many in the chapter who did not approve of the theme for the float. These are my reasons:

; It did not follow the theme of the parade.

; It did not reflect what our chapter does for local veterans in need, homeless veterans and their families in Santa Rosa.

; I felt that the Rose Parade was not the correct venue of this important issue.



Protecting ratepayers

EDITOR: I support Sonoma Clean Power. But there are two issues yet to be resolved: a lack of adequate residential ratepayer protections and the supermajority required to make changes.

When the joint powers authority was formed, the Board of Supervisors joined the Water Agency, offering cities the option of joining as an all-or-nothing proposition. Normally cities and the county would negotiate to resolve concerns before the structure and details were set in concrete. In this case, concerns are being raised in public, and that can cause false divisions: You either support choice, or you're a proponent of the status quo.

As with everything in politics, there are more shades of gray.

The most important issue still unresolved is residential ratepayer protections. Last Tuesday, at least three members of the Santa Rosa City Council voiced this concern. I hope that Sonoma Clean Power will afford protections in the rate-setting process and to resolve disputes that are at least equal to what currently exists through the state Public Utilities Commission and its office of ratepayer advocates. As currently structured, protections for working- and middle-class ratepayers are not up to that standard.

Let's make sure Sonoma Clean Power gets it right.


Santa Rosa