It's been amusing, the skirmish incited by a neighborhood advocate accusing new Santa Rosa Mayor Scott Bartley of favoring development that encourages driving, and Bartley responding that his detractor is "clueless."

But count me among those who hope, for the sake of civility and of not fortifying the bad blood that inhibits collegial collaboration on the City Council, that folks would cool the rhetoric.

For the good of the city, adversaries need also to guard against over-reacting as words are lobbed. A case in point:

On the PD's online Watch Sonoma, a reader displeased that Councilman Gary Wysocky and others pressed Bartley to apologize for the "clueless" remark wrote in a post that the advocates of an apology deserve a public flogging.

Presumably, most readers took the flogging remark as a fairly common idiom. But Wysocky complained to the PD for allowing "this type of anonymous physical threat."

Then Wysocky over-pushed — he reported the language in the on-line post to the police.

The newspaper subsequently struck the "flogging" remark from the post. PD Editorial Director Paul Gullixson cut it not because he agreed with Wysocky that it constituted a threat, but because he found it wasn't material to the commenter's argument.

The tone of this power struggle really needs to be dialed back.

Hey, it's the holidays. And this next year, Santa Rosa will continue to face great challenges.

It could only help for all involved to be more selective about how we choose, and react to, words.

A CHRISTMAS GUY: The minute Guy Fieri read that Santa Rosa firefighters fretted over a weak response to their annual Toys for Kids drive, the Food Network star got cookin'.

Guy enlisted his boys, Hunter and Ryder, to accompany him to Target and pick out the sorts of toys and other gifts that kids might like to receive.

Firefighter Jason Clough said it was a sight when Guy pulled up to the city's Fire Station No. 2 on Stony Point Road in his big, yellow truck — full of Toys for Kids presents.

"There were probably over 100 items — guitars, DVD players and sports equipment. It was all quality stuff," Clough said.

He and his buddies in Santa Rosa Firefighters Local 1401 are accepting toys and cash donations from noon to 8 p.m. daily at their booth at Santa Rosa Plaza.

BORN FOR IT: Also on the topic of firefighters, the newest professional member of Forestville's fire company has been an eager, efficient presence at the firehouse since age 14.

That's how old Mike Franceschi was when he signed up as an Explorer with his hometown fire district. Counting the minutes until he could don a suit and respond to calls, he became a volunteer firefighter at 16.

Today the El Molino High alum and son of career Sonoma County firefighter John Franceschi is 22 and admiring the professional firefighter's badge that Forestville Chief Max Ming pinned on him the other day.

"I'm serving the community I live in, and I like that," Mike said.

His chief said he clearly was destined to work in the fire service, the only question was which department would land him.

"Fortunately for us, we did."

ANTIDOTE TO FUDGE: Dr. Robert Mims has trouble believing it was more than 30 holiday seasons ago that he started delivering apples to nurses at Santa Rosa hospitals.

It began with the now-retired endocrinologist going to those wards at General Hospital, Warrack, Memorial and Community on which he had patients, and giving apples to their nurses.

This year, he's dropping off about eight cases of fresh apples from Imwalle Gardens to the nursing stations at Memorial. Over the decades, nurses have told him they appreciate a nutritious alternative to all the sweets.

Mims is 78 now, and he's toyed with the idea of giving up the holiday run. But he knows how much, at this time of year, the nurses anticipate their visit by The Apple Doctor.

(Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.)