<b>Drakes Bay lease</b>

EDITOR: The Drakes Bay Oyster Co.'s owners knew in 2004 when they bought the business that the lease from the National Park Service would expire in 2012. There was no guarantee that the lease would be renewed or extended.

Within Point Reyes National Seashore, Drakes Estero was to be managed as a potential wilderness pending expiration of the lease. Drakes Bay is a federally designated marine wilderness because of the diversity and abundance of wildlife there, including one of the largest breeding colonies of harbor seals in California.

Non-native oysters are grown and harvested by the company. Federal and state agencies have cited the company for dozens of permit violations, including illegally operating in parts of the estero reserved for wildlife and adding facilities without seeking permits. The company is not a good steward of the estero. Of the 52,000 comments on the draft environmental impact statement regarding the oyster operation, 92 percent favored wilderness over oyster production.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar did a thorough and fair evaluation of the information regarding the lease and made a reasonable determination that it should not be renewed. The Drakes Bay Oyster Co. responded with a lawsuit and seems only interested in its business. Hopefully, the ruling on the lawsuit will uphold the secretary's decision.



<b>A civil council</b>

EDITOR: I agree, let's have civility and cooperation on the Santa Rosa City Council. But I believe that the faction that needs to change the most to achieve this is the one that has been the most vocal in calling for less divisiveness.

Even before his first meeting, Mayor Scott Bartley called a neighborhood activist with whom he disagrees "clueless." I know Jack Swearengen well from working with him at citizen committee meetings over the years. He is well informed and reasons well. Calling him "clueless" is unnecessary, divisive name-calling.

Examples of divisiveness that stand out in my memory include John Sawyer's stunning outbursts at the dais during the selection of the current city manager. In the first council meeting after the end of her term as mayor, Jane Bender proposed divisive revisions in the campaign finance ordinance. Mayor Susan Gorin's seating of council members at the dais was inclusive, Mayor Ernesto Olivares' was not. When the council was deliberating recommendations for representatives on regional boards, Councilman Jake Ours said Gorin did not represent the interests of the city.

Let's move past all that and genuinely work toward less divisiveness and more civility and cooperation.


Santa Rosa

<b>Money or lives?</b>

EDITOR: It seems to me that we would have a lot fewer people being hit by cars at night if all the streets lights were on. It's very dark out there without them. I understand there is a cost issue, but what's more important, money or people's lives?


Santa Rosa

<b>Unfair contract</b>

EDITOR: While SEIU members don't want to negatively affect the county, we haven't had a wage increase in five years ("County workers reject contract," Tuesday). We still need more affordable health care, but under the rejected contract Kaiser co-pays would go up to $40. A 2.5 percent county contribution to our pension fund would stop. We would lose the two days comp time we got instead of a raise in the last contract. That's no raises for eight years and less take-home pay.

These are scary times for every working person, and we need to protect our income and benefits. County workers pay taxes, and, like many, we are finding it difficult to pay our bills. I know people who cannot afford even the county's Kaiser coverage and had to purchase their own policies. We pay generously into our health care and retirement plans our whole careers and expect to receive decent and affordable coverage now and in our retirement.

With no raises, and higher health care and pension costs reducing our take-home pay even more, this contract was unfair. While the county may impose a similar contract on us, we could go back to the bargaining table in one year instead of three, resulting in a little brighter future for so many hard-working Sonoma County employees.


Santa Rosa