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<b>Not so smart</b>

EDITOR: I like train travel more than most people I know, but even I'm beginning to admit that something smells fishy with SMART.

After stealing money from the bike path to buy more rail cars ("County shifts $6.6 million to SMART," Tuesday), it's crystal clear that SMART has no intention of ever completing the path. Why would they do this? Could it be because SMART only used the bike path as a ploy to get Measure Q passed? Or is it because they want to reduce alternate transportation choices and have the train be the only option?

The train isn't even running yet, so how can SMART justify the need for more rail cars? They don't know the demand. Saying "the price probably would increase and delivery probably would be delayed" is not very reassuring.

On the other hand, it has been clear for years that there is a great demand for a bike path that connects the North Bay.

This decision is only going to hurt SMART because it limits people's access to convenient and varied transportation choices. And when you limit transit choices, people will continue to go with what works for them — driving on Highway 101.

You're not so smart after all.

BEN GARLAND

Santa Rosa

<b>Fitch Mountain</b>

EDITOR: I am so happy that my City Council members voted to spend a million bucks or so of our tax money to buy the top of Fitch Mountain ("Mountaintop to be park," Monday). This will prevent a few mega homes from being built and will give the public access to this wonderful land in three years.

Now it is true that the citizens have access to this land today. I've hiked up there many times on the trails and fire roads. But now that the city owns it and has farmed out the management of the land to the Land Paths organization, I am sure the hiking experience will be augmented . . . in three years.

Another brilliant bureaucratic coup (using our tax money) for the "no changes necessary to our pensions" City Council of Healdsburg.

TIM McGRAW

Healdsburg

<b>Fair tax</b>

EDITOR: Democrats? Republicans? Who cares? They want equality, yet they make decisions to favor themselves and their super PACs most of the time, I believe.

Income taxation with a sincere equality is a no-brainer: Gross income less $30,000 (for our hard workers but applicable to the rich, too), less all other taxes paid, (mortgage interest, health insurance premium and college expenses will also help for our healthy economy if they can be deducted) equals adjusted gross income times 10 percent (example only) equals income tax due. That would be $5,000 for an adjusted gross income of $50,000 or $50,000 for an AGI of $500,000.

What could be fairest than that? It would also be fair to eliminate the capital gains tax, the estate tax, etc. After-tax dollars must never be taxed again. Actual cash earned and received must be the only meaning of income, nothing else.

LOY C. RAYOS

Rohnert Park

<b>Memo to the mayor</b>

EDITOR: I have two pieces of advice for Scott Bartley, Santa Rosa's new mayor ("Honeymoon over for mayor," Thursday). First, develop a thicker skin. As a public official, everything you do and say will be held up to scrutiny; get used to it. Second, read Dale Carnegie's book, "How to Win Friends and Influence People," and internalize the principles. It might help, Mr. Mayor.

JUDITH MARLEY

Santa Rosa

<b>Holiday hearts</b>

EDITOR: I was out on my "day off" errands and had the occasion to be at Chloe's Cafe, Kaiser, Copperfield's Books in Montgomery Village and Parkpoint Santa Rosa. All these places have kindly agreed to display a Giving Tree with the names of kids and adults in Sonoma County who need help with a gift this Christmas. The Volunteer Center helps to coordinate the gift collection every year.

I could not help but notice the large amount of hearts still on the trees. Christmas is just days away, so please grab a heart or two, and go make that special purchase if you truly want to experience the spirit of Christmas. There are many social workers, foster parents, nurses and teachers who want to get the gifts delivered to worthy families before Santa is due in town. So, be good and make someone smile this holiday season.

MARY LOU ERICKSON

Santa Rosa