Saturday’s Letters to the Editor

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Bad government

EDITOR: Measure G is a vote for bad government. I deeply respect firefighters, and for 15 years, I taught fire paramedics and EMTs. The fact is that many firefighters are excessively compensated at our expense. It is easily possible for a firefighter to retire at age 50 with a full salary approaching $200,000 and virtually free lifetime health care. We should pay a half-cent more sales tax to “retain and recruit” for this job? Sign me up! Our cities bought into this union-fired boondoggle, and now we have to bail them out?

There are 41 fire departments in Sonoma County — 41 chiefs in 41 vehicles wearing 41 different uniforms spending 41 different jurisdictions’ money. The answer to this emotional “prevent the next fire” money grab is consolidation. We don’t need 41 fire fiefdoms and 11 volunteer departments in our county. Yes, the county has finally begun to consolidate, but already at the cost of $4.6 million. Cost-saving consolidation over the next 10 years would mean that our citizens wouldn’t have to pay for our cities’ and the county’s poor planning.

The SMART train is a far better idea for our sales tax dollars, and we are already paying it.



SMART for the future

EDITOR: Greenbelt Alliance urges residents of Sonoma and Marin counties to support the SMART sales tax renewal on March 3. If passed, Measure I will renew the existing one-quarter cent sales tax to fund Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit for another 30 years.

Why vote yes on Measure I?

Completion of SMART would usher in a new era of climate-wise growth with equity for the North Bay. Driving our cars is the No. 1 source of climate-changing pollution. With the climate crisis, we need to start investing now in alternatives to single-passenger driving. SMART is key.

Greenbelt Alliance favors a fare structure that makes it easier for people of all incomes to ride the train. And how about following BART”s lead on requiring affordable housing for development along the SMART line?

We need to build stronger links on the ground between jobs, homes for all and transportation to forge more vibrant communities where people can easily walk, bike or take transit to jobs, schools and shops. This takes vision and a long view, just like any good investment.

SMART is at a crossroads. Measure I is critical not just to SMART’s future but to the entire North Bay and the next generation. Greenbelt Alliance is all in on SMART and voting yes on Measure I.


Regional director, Greenbelt Alliance

Graduation rules

EDITOR: Currently, students in Santa Rosa must satisfy entrance requirements for UC and CSU to graduate high school. Known as A-G, these requirements are mandated by a school board lacking knowledge of students and classroom dynamics.

The board’s mandate reflects that lack. To impose this one-size-fits-all approach is absurd because it doesn’t fit all students. Students who are collegebound will satisfy those requirements. They aren’t hindered by A-G.

But the many others? Their secondary schooling has become an ordeal, one the current statistics of failure demonstrate. That failure belongs to the Board of Education. They jettisoned what worked for what does not and what will not.

Before A-G, students could choose to enroll in a challenging class to discover if it fit. If the student found it wasn’t, he or she could go down a level where success was possible. A-G denies students that choice.

With choice, noncollegebound students can find a satisfying future in a vocational area. For all of them, transfer after junior college to a four-year college is possible. Students have even earned graduate degrees that way. They had choices. A-G doesn’t provide choice.


Santa Rosa

A principled vote

EDITOR: Cartoonist Gary Varvel, who favors a right-wing point of view, compared Mitt Romney to Benedict Arnold in a recent cartoon you published. I must speak up to protest this attempt to normalize the worship of our current president.

Conflating one man (Donald Trump) with America is wrong. The chief executive is just that, an elected official (in this case he received fewer votes than his rival). Trump isn’t the state, no matter what his followers think. Moreover, our Constitution should always take priority over a single individual.

Romney took a difficult and principled stand against the sham impeachment trial. That’s what we should expect of our elected officials. Comparing him to our history’s most infamous traitor is something I thought I would never hear. But then, new behavior considered “normal” now shocks me every day.



Homeless costs

EDITOR: Every day there are articles regarding the homeless and the huge costs incurred. I have only seen anecdotal statements that these individuals are mostly locals. What hard evidence does the county and Santa Rosa have that these people are native Sonoma County people? If these people aren’t Sonoma County natives, why are they not sent back to the communities from which they came? Why are they allowed to refuse help to improve their situation?

I am sick and tired of all the expense spent on these individuals who contribute nothing to the community.



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