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<b>Rail, health off track</b>

EDITOR: I wonder how many people have noticed the similarities between the state-run high-speed rail project and federal implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Both are government-sponsored programs, and according to The Press Democrat's Dec. 11 editorial ("Time to put the brakes on high-speed rail"), the rail system is "beset by soaring costs, unfulfilled promises, legal setbacks and a resulting loss of public support and confidence." The same words apply to the Affordable Care Act implementation (or the lack thereof) except that that debacle is far worse since it affects the nation as a whole. What does that lead one to conclude? Think about it — it is our tax dollars at work.

AUDREY J. CHAPMAN

Sonoma

<b>Four to unseat</b>

EDITOR: I am appalled that four Sonoma County elected officials — Supervisor Mike McGuire, Santa Rosa Mayor Scott Bartley and Vice Mayor Erin Carlstrom and Healdsburg Vice Mayor Jim Wood — signed a Nov. 26 letter opposing San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed's plans for a statewide pension-relief ballot measure ("Effort to overhaul pensions draws fire," Dec. 13)

These four want to saddle taxpayers with a long-term tax burden for outrageous lifetime pensions and medical benefits. Some folks already retired are making six-figure pensions and are now working in other jobs for full salaries. And what does the public get? More and more cuts to parks, the needy and other vital services.

Let's make sure these four are not elected. We need leaders who will give us our public services back. We need leaders who will get us out of this tremendous unfunded pension liability debt. We need leaders who work on behalf of the public — not the unions.

Please for the sake of the public, when voting next, say no to McGuire, Bartley, Carlstrom and Wood.

LYNNE MORIN

Santa Rosa

<b>Drive-thru pluses</b>

EDITOR: The benefits of a drive-thru pharmacy outweigh any impact that the Sebastopol Town Council can drum up ("Legal bill in CVS fight hits $300,000," Tuesday). With a drive-thru, sick people can get medication without infecting others. The other plus is the fact that disabled people have one less barrier to cross to fill a prescription. We are talking about medication, not hamburgers here. You won't see lines of cars idling. Most drive-thru pharmacy lanes are empty as the service is that quick. I am sure that the citizens of Sebastopol would love to see their tax dollars spent on real priorities instead of just feeding the pig.

JEFF MAYO

Windsor

<b>Pricey textbooks</b>

EDITOR: While Santa Rosa Junior College has long provided affordable access to a higher education, the cost is rising above the means of many. But costs can be significantly reined in if instructors embrace common-sense policies in adopting required textbooks.

Typically, the price of textbooks exceeds the cost of registering for the classes in which these books are utilized. While the Internet promotes market efficiency by offering access to thousands of used booksellers, publishers employ tactics to ensure that college textbooks cannot be reused.

One strategy involves constantly revising textbooks. While rapidly changing knowledge justifies new editions in certain disciplines, such is not the case elsewhere. What changes in algebra warrant new textbook editions every couple of years? Instructors should only adopt new editions when there is appreciable change in the information to be conveyed.

Another strategy is publisher creation of websites to accompany the textbook. They persuade instructors to require purchase of textbooks plus website access codes. Students could save money by shopping for used textbooks and then purchasing the access codes separately. But the bookstore and publishers resist such a move. Instructors should insist upon these measures to make SRJC more affordable.

RICHIE PARTINGTON

Sebastopol

<b>Schizophrenic society</b>

EDITOR: "County fair raises marijuana's profile" on Sunday's front page. What? Is our society nuts? We suspend and arrest our children for using drugs. We try to educate them not to use drugs, but we hold a county fair event on marijuana?

I feel sorry for our children. We, as a society, are giving them schizophrenic messages. By the way, they know how to read, and the front page is seen from all newspaper machines. I'm sure they can come up with 50 cents to shove this article in their parents' face.

KEVIN PARSONS

Forestville