Stay out of Syria

EDITOR: Whether we defeated the British on our own or with help, that was more than 200 years ago and the world is far more complicated now. I would hope that we have learned something from our involvement in Iraq. Syria is a manufactured country with ethnic groups that do not get along. Whoever wins the civil war there, it is unlikely that they will be any more peaceful or democratic than the current regime.

We should stay out because it is a no-win situation. Both the rebels and Bashar al-Assad's regime are enemies of our ally Israel, and Israel can take care of itself. Israel has already taken out missiles meant for Hezbollah in Lebanon. The best we can do is not to interfere with Israel's actions, which are designed to keep Iranian-supplied weapons from reaching Assad's terrorist ally Hezbollah. Let's stay out of this fight.



Finding balance

EDITOR: Your article about residents protesting the conversion of another Sebastopol apple orchard missed the wider picture by a mile ("Residents protest orchard-to-vineyard plan," June 18). The fact that Paul Hobbs winery is "working with local officials" and "following regulations" only points out that regulations need to change, and maybe local officials need to change too.

People protesting this vineyard conversion are talking about our quality of life, just like the people pushing to keep the Farmers Market in the plaza and those protesting the CVS project and its effect on traffic and congestion and the people working to keep the family friendly Gravenstein Fair alive.

Apple orchards, even those whose family farmers used pesticides in the generations before we were aware of their dangers, are part of our community. Their kids go to local schools, they coach Little League teams, they ride tractors in parades, they produce food that we all can eat, and they contribute to the quality of our lives in our community.

Tax revenues from vineyards shouldn't be the ends rather than the means for serving our community. We all need and want beauty, trees, good food, wildlife and biodiversity. We don't have to choose between apples and wine. We need a balance, and we need our elected officials to make sure we have it.



Buying electricity

EDITOR: Kudos to Ken Churchill ("Renewable facts," Letters, June 16), Nancy Hair ("Wrong alternative," Letters, June 18) and others for doing our homework by comparing the different flavors of electricity being offered under Sonoma Clean Power and for suggesting that fees and commissions may actually be what is driving this campaign.

If electric wires were like TV cables so that your "on demand" electricity came to your house and your neighbors' "on demand" electricity went to their houses, it might make some sense to suggest that you can buy greener electricity than your neighbor.

Wikipedia suggests "in economic terms, electricity (both power and energy) is a commodity capable of being bought, sold and traded." Regarding electricity being a commodity means that what's in the pipe (wire) is what you get, so that you actually don't have the ability to buy a type of electricity.

Which brings us back to Churchill's letter. He found that because of where we live, by getting electricity from PG&E we are already well ahead of other areas as to renewables and greenhouse gas emissions. This should make everyone in Sonoma County very skeptical about creating our own utility for electricity and, based on the data, maybe even supportive of PG&E.


Santa Rosa

What about local?

EDITOR: Sonoma County has the Best program and Go Local. A headline on the city of Santa Rosa website said the city teams up with Go Local. Yet The Press Democrat reports the Santa Rosa city manager hired a firm out of Pleasanton to audit the financially troubled Bennett Valley Golf Course ("City seeks audit of golf course finances," Friday).

I am proud to be a long-time employee of a local CPA firm. Our firm is highly qualified to perform the necessary audit procedures, and, to be fair, there are several firms in Santa Rosa and Sonoma County that are also qualified to provide those same services. It is more than disappointing that the city manager and the City Council see no relevance to, or responsibility for, providing jobs for local employees who spend their payroll dollars in the county and on taxes that pay for public agency jobs.

At the very least, they should have sent the engagement out to bid so that qualified local firms would have had an opportunity to propose on providing services to the city. Let's walk the Go Local talk.