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Cut federal gas tax

EDITOR: The new gas tax in California would be much more palatable if it didn’t add on to existing taxes, state and federal, on gasoline. Now is a good time to renew the call to reduce the federal gasoline taxes.

The federal tax was put in place to fund construction of the interstate system. Now that the system is mostly done, why is there still a federal tax? The federal government collects the tax, spends a portion on the Federal Highway Administration and doles the rest out to the states. That’s where the problem comes in: the allocation of federal gas tax dollars is a political football. California typically comes up short in that game, usually coming away with around 70 cents for each dollar we paid in.

The federal gas tax should be pared back to what is required to run the Federal Highway Administration. That agency still does research into highway safety and publishes standards that the states can follow. But the remainder of the tax should be repealed, to be replaced with state taxes. The states would then be in control of their own highway programs, answerable to their own voters.

Of course, I remember what Ronald Reagan said: “Nothing is harder to kill than a federal program.”

JOE GAFFNEY

Rohnert Park

Fears for the planet

EDITOR: In his sermon “Growing Up,” the theologian Frederick Buechner expressed my concern this week of Easter/Passover:

“For years now, the meek of the Earth have been scared stiff at the power we have to blow the Earth to smithereens a thousand times over and at our failure year after year to work out with our enemies a way of significantly limiting that hideous power. In this richest of all nations, the poor go to bed hungry, if they are lucky enough to have a bed, because after the staggering amounts we continue to spend on defending ourselves, there is not enough left over to feed the ones we are defending, to help give them decent roofs over their heads, decent schools for their children, decent care when they are sick and old” (“Secrets in the Dark,” 2006).

Let us keep this in mind in the debate over the federal budget.

JACK WIKSE

Santa Rosa

Cycling events

EDITOR: The loss of life of a fellow cyclist is devastating, as reported recently (“Questions lingering on after cyclist’s death,” April 9). I truly hurt for her family and friends. Yet after reading that no blame had been found against the driver, with evidently intensive and outside investigation, it seems that many cyclists immediately jump to a very one-sided conclusion: the driver’s fault.

As a cyclist and having lived in the west county for 23 years, I have experienced the position of both the cyclist and driver. When we choose to ride these narrow roads, we are taking the responsibility of knowing the risk of dealing with even responsible drivers. There are many curves and simply not enough room. Yes, there are mean-spirited drivers, and, yes, there are obnoxious cyclists, but the majority of both are conscientious. Let’s not jump to blame during a sorrowful time.

My greatest concern is the ever-increasing number of cycling events on these narrow roads with no shoulders. Is the constant danger worth the money to those who issue event permits? Percentages of these horrible accidents will only continue; innocent lives ruined on both sides.

Was the extra money for another cycling event on these dangerous roads worth her life? Is it time to rethink cycling event locations?

LYNN FISCHL

Santa Rosa

Paying for services

EDITOR: I am sorry to hear that John R. Andres will experience such economic pain paying 12 cents extra gas tax, but I find his argument against the tax difficult to understand (“Ignoring the public,” Letters, Wednesday). We all face a number of problems that can only be addressed by the community as a whole — education, infrastructure, public safety, etc. That is why we have a government.

Nobody wants to work for nothing, so the people addressing the needs of the community must be paid. The money to pay them doesn’t come from heaven. Some of it has to come from Andres, and while he is objecting to this burden, he is simultaneously saying that the added tax won’t be enough. Government services, like everything else, are imperfect, but they are generally a pretty good deal.

America will be great or not depending on our willingness to support it.

STEPHEN HAWKES

Healdsburg

Dangerous drivers

EDITOR: I write in support of Brian Tuite’s letter (“Highway enforcement,” Tuesday). On April 3, at approximately 7 a.m., on my way toward Forestville, a car passed me (driving the speed limit) by using the center turn-only lane in front of Fiesta Market in Sebastopol. That same car also passed two other cars by using the center lane.

The next day, at approximately 5:30 p.m., traffic approaching Occidental Road from Sebastopol was bumper to bumper and moving slowly. In front of Andy’s Produce, a car driving in the center turn lane almost collided head-on with a car leaving Andy’s and heading toward Sebastopol. A fraction of a second later, the same car had to force its way back into the westbound lane to avoid colliding head-on with a truck making a left from the center lane toward Andy’s.

As Tuite wrote, “A head-on collision is imminent.” I almost witnessed two such events close up and personal. It’s beyond time that the area be patrolled.

TOM ORIGER

Rohnert Park