<b>Petaluma and business</b>

EDITOR: It is sad seeing Friedman's, a home-grown family business (rather than a national chain like its competitors) having to pay, in effect, a $200,000 bribe to open a store in its hometown of Petaluma, even though there is currently no comprehensive home improvement store there ("$200,000 deal avoids Petaluma lawsuit," Saturday).

Friedman's joins a lengthening list of local companies (among them the Dutra asphalt plant and Roblar quarry) that are being ridiculed for trying to expand. Residents want jobs created but often seem to demonstrate NIMBYism when actual proposals are put forward. It is all reminiscent of the vociferous reaction of Sen. Edward Kennedy, a key supporter of renewable energy, when a windmill farm was proposed that might have been visible from his luxurious Cape Cod estate.

From Press Democrat accounts of Petaluma politics, perhaps the city should seek annexation to Marin County, a more kindred society with high-toned sensibilities that are repelled by the messy realities of mining, manufacturing, physical work, getting one's hands dirty or actually producing what is consumed.



<b>The city's role</b>

EDITOR: Although the deal will no doubt be spun negatively, I have absolutely no problem with the $191,000 to be paid by the Deer Creek Village developers in exchange for the Petaluma Neighborhood Association dropping its appeal.

More than 57 percent of that money ($110,000) will be used to fund "improvements to the Lynch Creek bike and pedestrian trail, traffic calming measures on Rushmore Avenue and crosswalks and pedestrian signals at Rainier Avenue and Maria Drive." Another $30,000 is earmarked for the city's tree-planting fund.

The question for me is why the city didn't insist that these things be included in the first place? I congratulate the Petaluma Neighborhood Association for making those improvements happen. I wish the city had done its job to begin with to ensure plans for the second-largest shopping center in Petaluma included such considerations.



<b>Romney's bad rap</b>

EDITOR: Everyone is giving Mitt Romney a bad rap over his statement that a lot of people pay no income taxes, take from the government and feel entitled to do so. They are forgetting his statement several months ago that "corporations are people." Surely, the people Romney is referring to are those large corporations that do exactly as he described.

Corporations such as GE, large defense contractors, Exxon and other oil companies and large mid-western agribusinesses clearly feel entitled to the big subsidies they receive from the government and often pay little if any income tax. Not to mention the bailouts the government gave to big Wall Street banks, to which they also clearly felt entitled. Indeed, much of American big business feels entitled to, and duly receives, handouts and subsidies from the federal, state and local governments.

So let's applaud, not criticize Romney for having the courage to bring up this very real problem. After all, as a former Wall Street banker and minimal income taxpayer, he experienced it firsthand. I'm sure that, if he's elected, he will do everything in his power to curb these abuses.



<b>Advocate for youth</b>

EDITOR: As a former teacher, I'm impressed with the hard work Susan Gorin has done for children and youth. She sat on the Santa Rosa school board, was president of Court Appointed Special Advocates for Youth and served on the United Way Safe Havens for Youth advisory board. She knows how to tap into the services of nonprofit organizations and city, county and regional agencies that work for the young and their families.

She's worked to expand the regional network of bike lanes and pathways used by our children, and she's served as vice-chairwoman of the Sonoma County Library Foundation and knows the issues facing that public asset.

As you can see, Gorin has been a voice for the community, especially in the areas of education and at-risk youth. A vote for her for county supervisor will be a vote for those whose needs are often lost in the political process.


Glen Ellen