<b>A new course for parks</b>
EDITOR: Your Oct. 29 editorial ("State parks hurts its own cause — again") made several clear points but needs clarification.
The editorial is correct about the nearly 40 percent budget decrease over five years and the $1 billion in maintenance backlog.
As noted, the proposal for parking fees along the Sonoma Coast is not popular. But it is necessary. Even Sonoma County charges fees for its parks, and the rest of the state park system charges fees. Community groups partnering to keep parks open are depending on those fees to help do just that. Abandoning the idea would make a bad fiscal situation worse.
Regarding waived fees at Hearst Castle, over the past 10 years two events out of 120 were singled out. Even with just two, state parks is reviewing its policies for possible change. To clarify, from 2002 to 2012, the department waived $566,100 in fees but for the same period collected $1.7 million in fees and donations. The castle brought in $1.1 million above and beyond the fees waived, more than double the fees waived.
The priorities for the new leadership at state parks revolve around making corrections and setting a new course for how our state park system serves our visitors in years to come.
Deputy director, state Department of Parks and Recreation
<b>Make a statement</b>
EDITOR: Before you vote no on Proposition 30, ask yourself if you are willing to publicly stand up and say, "I do not support public education. I prefer to live in a society where only children with well-to-do parents attend private school and the rest are left to fend for themselves. I want the public schools to be closed because I am not willing to pay for them."
If these are truly your beliefs, publicly announce it and vote no. If you want to keep California's education system from moving any closer to destruction, vote yes on Proposition 30.
<b>A welcome change</b>
EDITOR: Heartiest congratulations upon bringing our local papers back under local ownership. Now I can stop thinking about canceling my subscription.
BERYL F. ZIMBEROFF
EDITOR: I believe that Cotati is hovering (trembling?) on brink of the greatest period of change that we have seen since the 1950s, when Rohnert Park was proposed, to the amazement of the local citizens, or perhaps the 1960s, when the hippie generation discovered that our little town was perfect for their laid-back lifestyle.
The changes on the horizon now come from the opening of the Green Music Center, which could make our area a national Mecca for music, and the construction of the Graton Rancheria casino complex on our outskirts.
Neither is within our city limits, but both will certainly affect our way of life, and Cotati as a city must look at them realistically, and work to adapt to the coming changes.
I believe we need to have the most far-reaching policies we can adopt, and we need City Council members who are experienced, wise and careful.
That's why I will vote no on what I believe is the misguided Proposition U and will give my City Council votes to Susan Harvey, Wendy Skillman and John Dell'Osso.
Resources To Help
North Bay Suicide Prevention 24-hour hotline: 855-587-6373
NAMI Sonoma County warmline: 707-527-6655
Sonoma County Psychiatric Emergency Services: 707-576-8181
For information on Sonoma County support groups, call 707-527-6655 or go to namisonomacounty.org