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State pension obligations

EDITOR: Gov. Jerry Brown promised in his first term to tackle the state’s pension funding issue, but when push came to shove, he gave up quickly. It was an issue he didn’t want to spend too much political capital on, as making the necessary changes was almost impossible.

Only when there is a recession and layoffs do public employee unions ever give in on this type of issue. So we are to rely on CalPERS to invest properly and meet a yearly goal high enough to cover obligations. Yet we know that often doesn’t happen.

I would hope that current state employees are paying more and more toward their pensions to make up for the bad politics in the 1990s that led to this pension crisis at the state level. With a booming economy and plenty of money coming into the state’s bank accounts, Brown would rather make larger payments for California than change the future pensions (“Pension loan is promising but needs more scrutiny,” Editorial, Saturday).

And, of course, he gets his own pension, which creates a conflict of interest in dealing with state employees.

ANDREW SMITH

Santa Rosa

Getting off the hook

EDITOR: I can’t help but shake my head at two recent articles regarding lawbreakers and their lack of responsibility. First, juvenile offenders’ parents or guardians are no longer responsible for costs associated with incarceration (“Juvenile justice fees dropped,” June 7). Not only are they off the dime for poor parenting, they no longer are fiscally responsible. Guess who picks up that tab?

Then we have the poor folks “burdened by traffic fines” (Saturday). Ahh. Got caught. Then again and can’t pay the fines. I wonder how many are repeat offenders. And the age-old excuse, “just trying to feed my family.” News flash: that’s what we all are trying to do.

It’s pretty obvious when you are in a car pool lane since there are signs posted every half-mile. And, of course, running a red light should be decriminalized as a minor infraction because nobody gets hurt when some fool runs a red. Oh wait. Ask the families that have lost loved ones about that.

I guess we don’t need no stinkin’ rules. Or the responsibility of following any. I’m certainly not perfect, but I own up and pay.

CHRIS MARTINI

Cotati

SMART’s ineptness

EDITOR: I just read that SMART General Manager Farhad Mansourian has again indefinitely put off the start date of SMART (“Train launch date delayed,” Thursday). Mansourian has no rail transit background, and neither does Debora Fudge, the board president, and it has taken his people more than five years to lay 40 miles of track. One hundred and fifty years ago, the transcontinental railway laid a mile a day.

This little train line that soon will go 40 miles for a cost of about $500 million to serve approximately 3,000 people daily breaks down to a per-person cost of $187,000. The fare will be as high as $11 each way, compared to Los Angeles’ light rail fare of $1.75 for the same distance.

Somehow, Mansourian continues to receive support from the SMART board. I read somewhere that 33 qualified people with hands-on transit experience applied for the general manager job, yet the board only interviewed one other person before hiring Mansourian.

Webster’s dictionary defines ineptness as: “Lacking in fitness or aptitude-lacking sense or reason; foolish; not suitable to the time, place, or occasion; inappropriate, often to an absurd degree.” What’s really going on here?

STEVE EDWARDS

Santa Rosa

PLAs and students

EDITOR: Your Tuesday editorial (SRJC promised to spend ‘H’ funds on students, not labor”) gives the false impression that a project labor agreement will somehow deprive students (“… amounts to a giveaway of funds to benefit local labor groups not students”). To be clear, Measure H funds can only be used for direct construction projects. Direct student support is prohibited.

I can only assume that you are suggesting that the alleged increase in costs associated with a PLA will somehow amount to a loss for students, but you never state how. You fail to state that the study that argues against PLAs comes from the Association of Builders and Contractors, an organization for non-union contractors. You don’t mention another study supporting PLAs by the Construction Trades Council.

It is worth noting that the health science building project wasn’t under a PLA, and the students were deprived for years because of needed building repairs.

TED CROWELL

Healdsburg

Suburban nature

EDITOR: I woke up Monday and raised the bedroom shades. Sunshine was illuminating the redwoods and oak trees. Mockingbirds were flying about catching food for their newly hatched. Over by the Bird Rescue Center, some deer were contentedly browsing the new, green shoots. When I opened the window, I heard the plaintive cries of quail talking to their broods. How glorious it was.

The thought of exchanging the views, smells and sounds of nature for buildings, cars, street lights and barking dogs is depressing. No, Supervisor Shirlee Zane, we aren’t selfish NIMBYs because we want to maintain nature within this suburban setting. We love the bountiful “backyard” that is the county portion of the Chanate Court/Meadow Glen zone.

Please explore with us ways to modify the draconian destruction of our neighborhood environment that the development plan envisages.

PHIL WEIL

Santa Rosa