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Restoring the square

EDITOR: I urge Santa Rosa City Council members Erin Carlstrom, Julie Combs and Gary Wysocky to reconsider their opposition to reopening Exchange and Hinton avenues when Courthouse Square is reunified (“Debate reignites on plan for square,” Saturday).

The square needs traffic movement around its perimeter to bring the sense of energy that creates a core where people want to be. Crossing a street to enter the square actually enhances the experience of being in the core, of having arrived at the heart of the city.

If the historical streets are not re-established, we’ll end up with dead pedestrian zones similar to what we have now — uncomfortable places that don’t invite people to stay — only made worse by the loss of any option to get from Third to Fourth streets by car without going several blocks out of the way. Some people will just keep heading away from downtown altogether.

If the streets are reopened, my only concern is that they will be over-engineered in an attempt to limit traffic movement — making them narrow parking alleys rather than real streets. Please let them function as actual streets and return some of the charm that was erased from Santa Rosa by misguided urban planning.

STEVEN ABBOTT

Santa Rosa

For the birds

EDITOR: The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors is considering raising rates in unincorporated areas of the county for street sweeping and dead animal pick-up. This vote is scheduled for today.

I live close to both rock quarries in Forestville; need I say more about street sweeping?

However, dead animal pick-up is different. Large animals, mainly deer, are taken away on a timely basis, and that is much appreciated. Smaller animals are left for Mother Nature — as it should be. The incredible vultures we have out here are much better at doing the job than any human. They do not pollute with diesel, they do not cost a penny, and they are gorgeous birds to watch.

Those of us in rural communities have no problem making sure that a skunk, raccoon, opossum or some other smaller wildlife that has the misfortune of being hit and killed is moved to the side of the road where the vultures can safely eat the roadkill.

The supervisors should stay out of it. They can do nothing more than screw up Mother Nature by trying to clean up every rural road. I’d rather have my rate increase go for pothole repairs or painting the lines on the roads. Rock trucks do a number on both.

AMY NORRIS

Forestville

Save water, boost yield

EDITOR: A recent editorial mentioned that agriculture can save some 20 percent of water with drip irrigation (“The rising cost of California’s long drought,” Friday). Savings can be much higher. More important, drip irrigation — done efficiently — can usually increase yields compared to any other type of irrigation. The usually increase is at least 20 percent. In one study with chilies, farmers saved 34 percent to 50 percent of the water and got a 33 percent to 48 percent increase in chilies.

ROBERT KOURIK

Santa Rosa

Middle East violence

EDITOR: Israel accuses Hamas of terrorism and insists on the right to defend itself. But Israel hasn’t always been in charge. Sixty-eight years ago, Jews in Palestine felt the oppression of the British Mandate. A group of Zionists formed a military group called Irgun to form a Jewish state by any means. It was commanded by Menachem Begin from 1943 to 1948.

He gave the order to bomb the British headquarters at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on July 22, 1946, which killed 13 British soldiers and 68 civilians, both Arabs and Jews, with 46 nonfatal causalities. Begin was vilified as a provocateur by David Ben Gurion, later Israel’s first prime minister. Begin’s defense was that he gave forewarning of the bomb.

How was Begin later received? His Irgun became the Herut Party and later the militant Likud party under which he became the sixth prime minister. In 1978, he shared the Nobel Peace prize, and, in 2004, the Heritage Center in Jerusalem was named for him. It is his same evolving, once-oppressed Israel that now continues to oppress the Gaza Strip, refuses to acknowledge democratically elected Hamas and kills Gazans with the same defense of having forewarned them of an invasion.

BOB GMELIN

Sonoma

Hypocrisy abounds

EDITOR: Another plane is shot down. The U.S. government condemns the sale of arms by Russia. We are the largest arms dealing exporters in the world — $65 billion. What is the education budget? Homeowners, beware. Reduce your water use or be fined $500 a day. How much water do Southern California resorts and golf courses use? But that’s OK, they are rich folks, they own the water. Thirteen-year-olds are gunned down on our streets, and we cry injustice. Hundreds of children die in unjust wars, and we cry.

The planet is burning down, yet humans continue killing one another and other life forms as there were no tomorrow. Hey, maybe there is no tomorrow. Maybe this beautiful mother of all life will be much better off without the human virus that brings death and destruction. Can we wake up soon enough to see that governments wage war, and most humans would rather get along? I doubt it. Too busy with iPods and iPhones, video-game killing and ignorance.

Hypocrisy abounds in our culture. Our government is the ultimate example. But we, the people, allow it. Responsibility. Time to take it.

LEN GREENWOOD

Cazadero