Letters to the editor
Published: Monday, October 29, 2012 at 3:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 3:30 p.m.
EDITOR: In your recent editorial “Clear Choice in the Council Race” you overstepped your authority to write an editorial that seems to endorse three candidates, even though your owner, Halifax Media, has a policy against endorsing candidates.
You attempt to paint an either/or scenario in this election, by grouping candidates into camps based on retail and Rainier positions. However, Tiffany Renée doesn’t fit into your delineation because she is a true independent voice on council representing Petalumans.
Council cannot vote for or against a tenant, only a project. Renée has always supported Friedman’s coming back to town, working hard to bring them back to Petaluma. During and after Regency’s cost over-runs forced Friedman’s out, she worked with staff to find another home that addressed their freeway needs. They were again shut out of a deal. When Lowe’s left, Renée again urged Friedman’s to speak with Deer Creek.
Renée shows fiscal leadership in questioning project approvals that will get mired down in costly legal challenge, by either the developer or private citizen suits, urging the council majority to address unsettled issues before approving projects.
On Rainier, you conveniently left out the work Renée has been doing to address why the undercrossing hasn’t qualified for state or federal funding, and that she voted to fund the environmental studies and design needed for the Rainier undercrossing to be planned with the Highway 101 widening.
Renée has made 101 widening the priority for the entire county planning. With Petaluma contributing a significant portion of Measure M dollars without receiving the benefits of 101 widening yet, Renée has made the case that widening benefits Petaluma’s air quality, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and protects lives with vital realignments that will reduce collisions putting public safety and commuters’ lives at risk, all while getting north county commuters home faster. Widening 101 also opens the SMART trail to points south, bringing needed recreation and tourism dollars to Petaluma.
Renée’s regional expertise is bringing focus and dollars to needed transportation and transit-oriented green living to Petaluma and Sonoma County and deserves our vote.
Melissa Abercrombie, Petaluma Planning Commissioner
EDITOR: There’s weird stuff happening in Petaluma. Neighbors who fought for vital safety measures that the council majority failed to negotiate before approving Deer Creek mall have been spun as “extortionists” when they are actually heroes.
The newspaper made a big deal out of the Sonoma County Democratic Party’s endorsement meeting when everybody knows what transpired was just part of their normal democratic process. And an unknown candidate is running on the coattails of the council’s Machiavelli rather than her own merits, whatever they are. Kathy Who?
You can’t make this stuff up.
Petalumans need to question the ludicrous lies and spin we are being fed. The choices are clear. You can vote for the candidates who think part-time, minimum-wage retail jobs are good enough reason to pave over the rest of Petaluma and stick us all in endless traffic. Or you can elect those who will bring us head-of-household jobs while maintaining the special qualities we treasure about our town.
Please join me in voting for Jason Davies, Alicia Kae Herries and Tiffany Renée for Petaluma City Council. Let’s move forward, not back.
Sheri Cardo, Petaluma
EDITOR: On behalf of Merlone Geier Partners and Friedman’s Home Improvement, we would like to thank the Petaluma community for their overwhelming support of the Deer Creek Village shopping center project and future home of Friedman’s Home Improvement store.
We are so eager to put people to work that we will be pulling building permits in the coming months in order to begin construction on the Friedman’s store in the first months of 2013.
While the community at large has always been accepting of the project, we did face some extraordinary challenges. However, as we begin construction, we are confident that even those who opposed the development will come to recognize the benefits of a project that promises jobs, tax revenue and Friedman’s return to the community that was once its home.
We owe a special thanks to all the community leaders and hundreds of project supporters who championed the project and attended all the public hearings.
In particular, had it not been for the support of City Council Members Mike Healy, Gabe Kearney, Chris Albertson and Mike Harris, the community would not have the benefit of a local home improvement store and more than 800 jobs coming to Petaluma.
We look forward to seeing the community and our future neighbors at the project’s groundbreaking ceremony! Thank you again for your support.
Bill Friedman, Friedman’s Home Improvement and Greg Geertsen, Merlone Geier Partners
No on Measure X
EDITOR: Last week, Mr. Eber submitted a letter stating that the only opposition to Measure X was from outside the city. Well, I have lived in Petaluma for almost 20 years and I am opposed to Measure X. Why? Several reasons.
The City Council has ignored their pension funding shortfalls for years. The “unfunded pension liabilities” of retired city employees in 2009 was $3.7 million. It is now well over $12 million and growing. This is why the city cannot pay its bills and cannot afford park maintenance. Pension costs are over 30 percent of the city’s entire budget. That is total mismanagement of our tax dollars, it is not sustainable, and it should have been fixed long ago. But since they did not solve their pension cost problems years ago, now we have to pony up more taxes for our parks.
Next issue and also related to city pensions. Retirees get a guaranteed retirement amount (regardless of how their retirement investments performed). Who pays that bill? We the taxpayers of Petaluma pay that bill. And, they get to retire at age 50 and 55! Do you get to retire at age 50? When the stock market tanked in 2009, did your employer make up your 401K losses? Of course not, but the city does for city retirees — and you pay the bill. Most of us won’t be able to retire until well into our 60s or beyond and the whole time you will be paying for city employees to retire at 50 and 55.
So I ask again. Why should we pay A NEW TAX that funds park expenses that should be part of your existing taxes already collected by the city? And then continue to fund a city retirement system that is totally flawed?
Lastly, my property tax bill currently has $818.52 of “voter approved taxes and special assessments.” That is enough! Sure, Measure X is only another $52 a year, but that is on top of an already whopping $818. Enough is enough.
The city needs to get its fiscal house in order, control and reduce their insane pension programs and pay for park costs out of the taxes we already pay. I am sure I am not the only person in Petaluma that is voting no on Measure X.
Frank Smith, Petaluma
For Measure X
EDITOR: This is in response to Jack Atkin’s letter opposing Measure X. He is the president of the Sonoma County Taxpayers’ Association from Kenwood.
Wait, Kenwood. Measure X is a grassroots movement for and by the people of Petaluma. We are a proud town that sees a need and does what it can to provide for our own. The Carousel Fund just made a little over $200,000 for sick kids in Petaluma. Petaluma Educational Foundation just made about $400,000 for education in Petaluma. Now, here is Measure X, which would fund recreation for where? Petaluma!
I like to believe there are enough people to support a cause that encourages healthy activities where most of the money goes directly to the projects that are targeted and not diverted to the city’s general fund. We are not giving the city money to spend as they see fit. So why does someone from Kenwood have a say in what we want for our community?
If you are a parent who takes their kids to play on these fields and playgrounds, swim in our pools or avail yourself to the venues targeted, you know how much attention is sadly needed. This is an inexpensive way ($52 a year) to give our kids somewhere to go (instead of just hanging out) and promote healthy choices. Don’t let someone out of town tell us we should do this or should do that. Vote yes on X.
Craig Riddle, Petaluma
EDITOR: The future of Petaluma and our residents matter to me and that’s why I am supporting Jason Davies for City Council.
Jason is the only one I will be voting for this November. Jason has a unique ability to work productively with everyone on our important issues like growing our economy, protecting public safety, fixing streets and ensuring Petaluma remains a vibrant community for generations to come.
I know that Jason will listen to everyone and work towards consensus on the council for the betterment of our city. I have worked with Jason on the Technology Advisory Committee and he has shown me that he is an effective problem solver.
Jason is a family man, as I hope to be one day too, and we both are concerned that our children will face economic struggles and hardships funding their education in their future. I know Jason will work hard for them and our community to ensure access to a decent education and that there are jobs available when we need them.
Jason is not running on a slate — he is an independent thinker and will make decisions that are in the best interest of our community. Jason is a man of integrity and honesty and will be respectful and forthright with the public and fellow council members. I trust him to lead this city into financial recovery and a sustainable future. Please join me in supporting Jason Davies for City Council.
Ryan Williams, Petaluma
Opposing Prop 36
EDITOR: (Editor’s note: The following was written as an open letter to the citizens of Sonoma County, urging a no vote on Proposition 36.) Proposition 36, known as the Three Strikes Reform Act of 2012, weakens the current Three Strikes Law by limiting the application of the third-strike sentence. The initiative also authorizes the re-sentencing of nearly 3,000 offenders currently serving a life sentence. When released, these inmates will become the burden of our local probation department and law enforcement agencies.
Under the existing three strikes law, offenders may receive a life sentence for any new felony conviction if the offender has two or more previous convictions for a serious or violent felony – crimes such as murder, rape, and robbery.
However, Proposition 36 would allow some of these inmates to be released early and not serve out their properly imposed sentence. Historical recidivism data suggests that more than 75 percent of these released felons will re-offend. This will put our communities at risk.
We believe the current law is working well because the District Attorney and judges can use their discretion appropriately in charging and sentencing Three Strikes cases.
Your local law enforcement leaders stand with sheriffs, police chiefs, district attorneys, and victim rights groups across California in opposition of this initiative and urge a no vote.
Bret Sackett, President of the Sonoma County Law Enforcement Chiefs’ Association
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