<b>Israel's callousness</b>

EDITOR: Columnist Richard Cohen wrote that "Israel cares more about sparing innocent lives — including those of Palestinians — than does Hamas" ("The deadly callousness of Hamas," Tuesday). I say that Israel has a strange way of showing it.

Gaza, which is a sacrifice zone filled with seas of pitifully poor people trapped in squalid slums, might as well be likened to the Warsaw Ghetto. All attempts at resistance, however ineffective, are met with the sophisticated weaponry that characterizes modern industrial warfare.

Israel disregards international law to entomb a subject population. Gaza has turned into a sliver of hell, as Israel has defied U.N. Security Council resolutions.

The Israelis have seized 35 percent of the agricultural land in Gaza for a buffer zone, and, I contend, the destruction of Gaza's infrastructure. U.N. sources state that 80 percent of Gazans now rely on food aid, and the seizure of aquifers in many refugee camps, such as Khan Yunis, shows the callousness of Israel more so than Hamas.



<b>Government grows</b>

EDITOR: You have to hand it to the Sonoma County supervisors. They really have their finger on the pulse of public. They found some money in the couch cushions and decided to expand the Human Services Department by 54 workers ("County adding 54 social services jobs," Nov. 18).

No mention was make of county roads that are crumbling into gravel. They don't seem to be concerned with the massive unfunded pension liabilities that are growing at an accelerated rate and that these new employees add to.

Is there no limit to the control public employee unions wield over local elected officials? Do they really think that raising taxes can go on forever?


Santa Rosa

<b>Public transit funding</b>

EDITOR: Part of the Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit agency's planning is to coordinate local bus schedules with the time that trains will stop at a specific station — or that's what SMART's website says.

If SMART is to be successful, bus transportation that works in conjunction with Sonoma and Marin county's newest transit system is a requirement for success. Unless a person is going from Point A to Point B, SMART won't encourage enough riders to be finally successful. Local buses are a requirement for success to take riders to other destinations after arriving at a train station.

Only buses can meet the needs of those using public transportation, as Sonoma and Marin counties are suburban-rural counties with the infrastructure built up. If a person needs to be at a certain place and by a required time, then the bus schedule must be available. Otherwise people will be using their cars or asking friends to transport them to their destination.

One question that I have on the Sonoma and Santa Rosa buses: Are these big buses needed all the time, or should there be smaller buses that are less expensive to buy and operate? Balancing costs, flexibility and ridership is a requirement for success when tax dollars are at stake.


Santa Rosa

<b>Time for new ideas</b>

EDITOR: Cotati does not need roundabouts. The city has been going in circles for so long, why do the same for traffic? Cotati's idea of progress seems to be raising taxes and hiring another administrator. Where are all the new businesses that we need to bring in revenue so Cotati can move forward without raising taxes?

We need positive thinking; nothing should be off the table. No drive-thru restaurants? In today's market, this is wrong. How many businesses has this archaic rule cost the city?

I hope that the council members who have been re-elected and the newly elected council person have some new ideas. I hope that each council member and administrator remembers this: The mind is like a parachute — it functions only when it's open.