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An empty toolbox

EDITOR: The global economy and financial markets are just beginning to feel the impact of the corona virus outbreak. The next recession might be just around the corner.

You certainly cannot blame Donald Trump for the virus, but his short-sighted, self-serving economic policies have robbed us of the fiscal and monetary tools we need to defend the U.S. economy.

In 2008, the deficit was $459 billion, and the Federal Reserve funds rate was over 5%. Increased federal spending and drastic rate reductions got our economy back on track. Today, in a growing economy, the deficit is $1 trillion and the funds rate is below 2%, leaving much less room to maneuver.

Trump has painted the U.S. economy into a corner.

DAVE STEIN

Santa Rosa

Blame game

EDITOR: In your 3rd District supervisor editorial (“Coursey offers new approach, ideas for county,” Feb. 9), this paragraph concerned me: “Some mental health advocates want a sales tax or a tax on plastic to expand services. (Chris) Coursey says he will insist first on a thorough review of chronic budget issues at the county’s Behavioral Health Department. (Shirlee) Zane expresses confidence that those problems were resolved with the appointment of a new director.”

Anyone familiar with mental health in Sonoma County knows Zane was talking about the recently retired Behavioral Health division director, blaming him for all fiscal problems past and present. The retired director, who worked for this community for 18 years, developed crisis intervention training for law enforcement, designed and implemented the Mobile Support Team and the CAPE team working in all the high schools and was awarded the 2015 most outstanding behavioral health director in California.

Zane takes no responsibility for the problems, even though she approved the health department’s budget for the past 11 years with the county administrator and the health service director. Coursey is right to ask for a full review of the budget issues. Let’s vote Zane out and Coursey in — it’s time for a new approach.

CARLTON HINKLE

Petaluma

Alternative transportation

EDITOR: We have spent much time, effort and money in building a much-needed alternative transportation system along the Highway 101 corridor. SMART was overwhelmingly approved by the voters of Sonoma and Marin counties. We knew full well this system would have to be subsidized. We approved a quarter-cent sales tax to do so. Now a rich and vocal special-interest minority is trying to destroy what we have built. They know that SMART cannot survive without the continuation of that vital sales tax subsidy, so they are doing all they can to defeat Measure I.

Measure I isn’t a tax increase. It simply ensures that the sales tax subsidy already in place is secured for another 30 years.

Let’s not fall for the misinformation paid for by the special interest minority. Let’s not let them destroy what we have built. Let’s not sabotage ourselves. Vote yes on Measure I.

VIC SUARD

Santa Rosa

Compost facility needed

EDITOR: As a member of 350 Sonoma and a teacher working with youth and fellow climate activists, I am concerned that a climate-friendly compost facility faces opposition in Sonoma County. We all have an interest in doing what we can to mitigate climate change. Taking carbon out of the atmosphere and sequestering it in our soil is at the heart of mitigating climate change.

Renewable Sonoma has been selected as the sole company with whom Zero Waste Sonoma is negotiating to bring back our compost facility, which was lost in 2015. Currently our curbside organics are hauled out of the county, resulting in a loss in our ability to put carbon back into the soil. The Renewable Sonoma project is designed as a zero-discharge facility, would reduce emissions by an estimated 85% compared to standard practices, provide green energy and massively reduce the carbon footprint of our organics stream by recycling locally.

We urge local government, agriculture and landscaper interests and environmental and community leaders to stand united in supporting a local compost solution that feeds our soil, protects our waters and is climate-friendly. Make Renewable Sonoma a reality.

SUNNY GALBRAITH

Sebastopol

Time to clean house

EDITOR: SMART management tells us that SMART’s future depends on a 30-year sales tax extension. They tell us severe service reductions will be required if they don’t get it. They tell us current debt service will consume their reserves if voters reject Measure I. All of this even though the current tax won’t expire for another decade.

Let us remember that these same folks told us they would build a train to Cloverdale using the tax approved by voters 12 years ago. They said there would be bicycle and pedestrian pathways the entire length of the route. They said they would reduce congestion on Highway 101 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Let us also not forget that SMART management, in a stunning display of arrogance, refused to release ridership information. They claimed such information was unavailable only to reverse course a month later and provide the data they said didn’t exist when the pressure became too great for them to resist any further.

Has SMART overextended itself? Does it need a tax extension? Given the steady stream of misinformation and deceit coming from SMART management, who knows? What SMART does need, however, is new management. Vote no on Measure I. Tell SMART to clean house and try again.

DAN DRUMMOND

Executive director, Sonoma County Taxpayers Association

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