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Brown’s commutations

EDITOR: The article about Gov. Jerry Brown commuting sentences smacks of sensationalism (“Brown commutes 20 killers’ sentences,” Monday). I have seen few articles in any paper that reported on prison issues in a straightforward manner.

After 10 years as a facilitator with the Viet-Nam Veterans Group of San Quentin prison, I can state with some certainty that people aren’t being paroled haphazardly. The Parole Board is, by design, biased, and prisoners are allowed a very limited opportunity to be heard. This isn’t hearsay. I’ve read a number of transcripts of parole hearings, and they are a mockery of equal justice.

In relation to victims’ rights groups, no one’s rights are being compromised. Victims have an incredible amount of influence in sentencing and parole hearings. They are obviously not objective, and their input negates the due process that is supposedly sacrosanct.

REV. TERRY L. WOLFE

Rohnert Park

Follow the money

EDITOR: Once again, election season is upon us. Again, candidates will make promises to vote the interests of their constituents when they intend to vote their party’s and their major campaign contributors’ interests. Once again, the media’s income will increase. Voters will, once again, be left without significant information needed to vote intelligently.

Recently, an organization called Project Vote Smart polled senators and House members, asking if they would inform voters of their intentions on important, upcoming legislation. More than 90 percent in each party indicated they would not. Once more, secrecy prevails over transparency.

You’d think this would be an area in which the media could investigate and fill the void. But no, the media are concerned with polling numbers almost exclusively. Why can’t the media inform us of the largest contributors to each candidate’s campaign? Is that classified information? I know that since Citizens United a lot of contributors remain hidden, but there are financial reports that campaigns must submit, and these reports are public.

We’ve forgotten that elections belong to voters, and that lapse could cost us the freedoms our republican democracy provides us.

TOM BRUNNER

Petaluma

Measure M for parks

EDITOR: My childhood was spent outdoors on a ranch in Penngrove. If my brothers and I weren’t working on the ranch, we were tromping around the neighborhood, climbing the neighbors’ fences, going on adventures.

While times have changed and many kids spend their quality time in front of a computer, running free and experiencing nature is still needed. That’s what parks are for. Please vote yes this November on Measure M to improve our regional and city parks and to open new ones.

Honest, watching a slimy yellow banana slug slowly cross the trail will do more for your kids’ head than any video game. Climbing to the top of a Sonoma County peak will do more for their health and sense of well-being than sitting for hours, even if they do get to the next level.

NEAL FISHMAN

Petaluma

Repeal the gas tax

EDITOR: Joe Lieber’s argument against the Repeal the Gas Tax initiative on the Nov. 6 ballot seems to rest solely on the effectiveness of Proposition 69, passed in June, to restrict use of gas tax proceeds generated by SB 1 to transportation projects only (“No on Proposition 6,” Letters, Sept. 7).

Politicians raised the car and gas tax, and, when threatened with taxpayer revolt, offered this window-dressing measure purporting to lockbox the funds. It was a complete fraud, and voters like Lieber fell for it. The measure fails to cover all of the gas tax and car tax funds; billions are left unaccounted for, and millions have already been diverted for nontransportation projects.

Additionally, the money doesn’t get directed to roads but can be used for anything, including a bloated bureaucracy at Caltrans and boondoggles like high-speed rail, transit, bike lanes and light rail.

It’s time for California voters to wake up and say no to the rip-off schemes Sacramento has become so adept at selling us. Vote yes on Proposition 6 this November and send them a message.

RON PARIS

Santa Rosa

The two Oakmonts

EDITOR: There have been several articles lately about Oakmont Senior Living and the problems caused by that company’s allegedly harmful actions/inactions during the October firestorm. I and many other residents of Oakmont Village would deeply appreciate it if The Press Democrat would make it clear that our community is in no way associated with that entity and that we have no issues with the manner in which our community responded to that tragic event.

PATRICIA F. CLOTHIER

Santa Rosa

Yes on Prop 12

EDITOR: I want to know that the animals that are part of my diet have been able to enjoy a quality of life. I just bought free-range chicken thighs, but what does that mean? Proposition 2, passed in 2008, didn’t spell out how much space animals were to be given in cages; it was left vague. There also was no oversight agency put in place to make sure that there were enforceable fines to ensure compliance. Proposition 12 addresses the vagueness of Proposition 2 and adds protection for both animals and consumers.

KATHLEEN BOTTARINI

Penngrove

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