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Housing bond is needed

EDITOR: It is a crying shame that agricultural and business interests are so shortsighted that they oppose the proposed $300 million housing bond, effectively killing it (“County’s plans for housing bond stumble,” Sunday).

The article’s example of a $967 annual tax increase on a $5 million property demonstrates not that the tax is excessive but rather that it would have a de minimis impact on business owners’ pocketbooks.

This county needs affordable housing, and those of us who are fortunate to own land here, both residential and commercial, need to step up to the plate and pay our fair share.

We all benefit from an economically diverse community. The Farm Bureau and the Sonoma County Alliance should rethink their selfish positions and support the proposed bond.

NANCY PEMBERTON

Sebastopol

Grateful winner

EDITOR: I am honored that the voters of Sonoma County have elected me to be your next Sonoma County sheriff-coroner. I am truly humbled to be entrusted with leading the 650 men and women of the Sheriff’s Office into what I consider to be a bright future for Sonoma County and its 500,000 residents.

I commend my opponents, Ernesto Olivares and John Mutz, for raising important issues about the challenges our community faces now and in the future. I believe we agreed on much more than we disagreed on, and I look forward to working with their supporters if we truly want to keep Sonoma County a special place to live and work.

The support of my family, friends and co-workers has been incredible; their support and encouragement from the very beginning is the reason I ran for office. I’ve been genuinely impressed by the hundreds of people I’ve met over the past year for their willingness to get involved in the democratic process, ask tough questions and work to make their community a better place. I am excited to get to work for the people of Sonoma County.

MARK ESSICK

Cloverdale

A functioning democracy?

EDITOR: No doubt many readers were dismayed, as I was, to read that less than one-fourth of California’s registered voters actually voted in the June 5 primary election (“Voter turnout twice that of state average,” Saturday).

This raises a serious issue as to whether the results of that election are valid. Really. The low turnout begs the question as to whether our form of democracy is functioning well. Perhaps we need a constitutional amendment stating that elections aren’t binding or valid if fewer than 75 percent (pick a number) of registered voters actually vote.

Let’s just leave the offices vacant until the citizens of this state decide to participate in selecting candidates and steering the state and local governments.

There is no acceptable excuse for the low turnout. One must conclude that three-quarters of Californians have such a high level of disgust or ignorance, or both, that they have given up on participatory democracy. This is very sad and surely is a frightening situation.

JIM PASSAGE

Sebastopol

The county’s sewer tax

EDITOR: I read with amusement the story saying the sewer plan is a win for Larkfield residents (“Larkfield sewer plan seen as win for citizens,” June 7). I would say, Larkfield residents, beware.

Although sewer hookups are better than septic tanks, look at Guerneville. When I moved to Guerneville in 1999, the fee for sewer service was $399 a year. Today, the fee is just shy of $1,600 a year.

The Sonoma County Water Agency uses the fee as a cash cow. The fee goes up every year, no matter how much water you use. With fewer than 5,000 residents in Guerneville, the fee (really a tax) goes up anywhere from $50 to $150 a year. Unless the Water Agency is going to meter individual households for discharge, which it doesn’t do in Guerneville, it’s a complete rip-off.

Any time a Water Agency mailer arrives, I cringe. These things must cost a fortune — all shiny and happy until you get to the last page, where it says give us more money.

There is no way to contest these increases other than a few lines on the back to lodge a complaint that they never read. Larkfield, be careful what you wish for, because the Sonoma County Water Agency does whatever it wants, and you will get no say as you pay huge increases every year.

ROY THROOP

Guerneville

Reasons to secede

EDITOR: Laura Dilley is right (“California should stay,” Letters, May 18) — California isn’t what the rest of the United States stands for. Add to this the fact that California has been taken advantage of financially and politically, and that is why California should leave the United States and become an independent country.

The Electoral College gives each state a voice in the selection of the president, but it doesn’t provide California an equal voice. Our state has 53 congressional representatives, a ratio of one vote for every 746,000 of us Californians. Wyoming has a 1-580,000 ratio, and another randomly chosen state, Alabama, enjoys a 1-696,000 ratio. If California was treated fairly, it would have 15 more congressional districts, which would also mean 15 more votes in the Electoral College.

Add to this fact that California hasn’t received its fair share of federal funding since about the mid-1980s. California pays hundreds of billions in federal taxes and receives back less than that in federal funding.

California’s benefits from the Union include a lack of representation in Washington, which deprives us of votes in Congress and for the presidency, combined with a lack of deserved federal funding.

LOUIS MARINELLI

Co-founder, Calexit

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