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<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.

ROY STEARNS

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.

S.R. DONNER

Santa Rosa

<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

Santa Rosa

<b>Cotati's horizons</b>

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.

PRUE DRAPER

Cotati

<b>Misleading readers</b>

EDITOR: I was astounded by the headline given to Paul Krugman's Sunday column: "Vote Romney, or the country gets it." Because the headline contradicts the heart of what Krugman was saying, and because we know busy people might only read the headlines, I think it was irresponsible, especially two days before a presidential election. The headline made it appear that Krugman was promoting Romney, which is false.

JOYCE HIGGINS

Rohnert Park

<b>Nasty politics</b>

EDITOR: In the 35 years I have observed — and sometimes participated in — Sebastopol politics, I have never seen a campaign as vicious and negative as this one. I am proud to count Kathleen Shaffer, Robert Jacob, Kathy Austin and John Eder as friends, and I have great respect for each of them. They are all thoughtful, honorable people who deeply care about our community and whose core values are practically indistinguishable.

Unfortunately, the negative campaigns being waged by some of their supporters (including current City Council members) are doing great harm to our body politic. The candidates themselves are all conducting honest races, but I am appalled and disgusted by the name-calling, innuendo and demonizing others do in their names. Shame on them.

I hope that whoever is elected today finds the courage to do what is best for the whole community, even if it means sometimes disappointing the people who supported you. A good leader takes people where they want to go; a great leader takes them where they need to go.

I also hope that whoever is not elected this year will run again in 2014. A council composed of Shaffer, Jacobs, Austin, Eder and sitting Councilman Patrick Slayter would serve Sebastopol well.

LARRY ROBINSON

Sebastopol

<b>System failure</b>

EDITOR: Propositions 30 and 38 are poster child examples of what is wrong with our California political system. Neither of these measures should have wound up on my ballot if the Legislature would have done its job. Gov. Jerry Brown said months back that he would only resort to a tax increase to save our schools if he could get the Legislature to adopt major pension reforms. But because our elected officials would not risk their political futures by offending their financial supporters they refused to do what is necessary. Now our schools are being held hostage.

If we, the voters, go along with the demands to save our suffering education system we have no guarantees that our legislators will not continue with their propensity to spend without needed budget reforms. I find myself looking at the two propositions and trying to decide: Do I pay the ransom or take the risk of letting our schools suffer the consequences?

WAYNE SEDEN

Santa Rosa

<b>What's at stake</b>

EDITOR: This election comes down to two things: Either you want freedom and liberty or you want statism. Vote carefully.

DON WALTENSPIEL

Santa Rosa

<b>My choice</b>

EDITOR: I am disappointed that you have recommended no on Proposition 37 ("No on 37: Label this one overregulation," Oct. 2). While most people would agree that Proposition 37 is not perfect, it is definitely a step in the right direction.

My main reason for working day and night for yes on Proposition 37 is because I simply have the right to know the contents of the food which go into my body. This personal choice is an issue of freedom from being bullied by multinational corporations whose bottom line is profit, not concern for my health and well-being.

For what other reason than profit would major food companies invest millions of dollars to campaign against Proposition 37?

BARBARA CHRISTWITZ

Clearlake