Letters to the editor from the week of Aug. 7.

Inept leadership in the city council

EDITOR: Petaluma’s City Council demonstrates its lack of compassion and common sense in their opportunity to bring a prescription-only service window to a pharmacy in Petaluma.

Both the city attorney and the city manager said the item could be approved without a change to the city’s general plan if the council agreed to an interpretation of the plan’s terminology.

Three hours later, the council was still talking about a change in the general plan. The need for the window was fully explained and demonstrated by testimony from people on crutches, in wheelchairs, with walkers and by nurses, concerned citizens and members of the hospital staff, all without public objection.

At one point Mayor David Glass said he would give a positive vote if the pharmacy reps would caucus and approve solar power panels on the roof of the pharmacy. They did caucus and agree to the solar panels and then the mayor went back on his word by not bringing up the vote right then. Glass’ forgetfulness is habitual, I have been told.

The council delayed the matter to a date unknown; if that isn’t ineptness what is? The meeting lasted until after midnight, on a matter that should have been settled in 20 minutes. We need some positive changes on the council.

Byron Fauss, Petaluma

Give SMART a chance

EDITOR: As a taxpayer and long-term Petaluman, I have actively supported the concept of the SMART train since the mid-90s. Then the chair of the city council appointed the Petaluma Bicycle Advisory Committee, and I walked the tracks in the Novato Narrows with Marin County advocates, building support for the bicycle and pedestrian path.

I was ecstatic when Measure Q passed in 2008 and included a bike path, and I highly value its stated goal to “relieve traffic, fight global warming and increase transportations options.” Most importantly, I continue to support the SMART train now and wish the naysayers would stop finding misdeeds where they don’t exist.

The Marin and Sonoma County grand jury reports are only the most current examples of undermining SMART. Follow-up Argus-Courier editorial headlines like “SMART needs to get smarter” and remarks like, “Clearly, this is not the way that a public agency should operate” are riveting, but the facts tell a different story.

Regarding Sonoma’s grand jury report: It’s not fair to imply that SMART should have known that the 2008 downturn would occur. Your editorial simultaneously finds “sound executive leadership” but then advises (with no evidence shown) that SMART’S board “must” do a better job “because the public can be shortchanged;” that a “Citizen’s Advisory Committee” must be created because “greater public input and transparency can benefit the cause;” and that “SMART and its board cannot ignore the publics demand for a higher level of accountability.” Who’s demanding this increased accountability? I see no evidence in the report.

My view is, don’t fix it if it isn’t broken. Even as a strong bike path advocate, with the path currently on hold, and I still say, “Yes” to SMART.

It is so easy to jump on the blame bandwagon. I say, let’s stop the blame and inflammatory headlines, and even praise Farhad Mansourian’s (who was praised in the report) strong leadership. The train is happening.

And yes, our bike path will come, too.

Patricia Tuttle Brown, Petaluma

Against any new taxes

EDITOR: I hope that you all read the letter to the editor by Mr. Robert Casper from San Rafael in last week’s Argus-Courier (“Not a fan of SMART,” July 31). What he wrote is so obvious, it is astonishing that our politicians appear to ignore reality. For $770,000,000 (the cost of SMART, which nobody wants) we could pave Sonoma’s city and county streets with gold leaf, finish the widening of Highway 101, put in the Rainier undercrossing and hire more cops and firefighters.

Instead, both city and county are out to raise taxes – again. Mike Harris and David Rabbitt are my favorite local politicians, but in this case, they have it wrong. We do not need new taxes.

We need existing resources to be reallocated to solving our problems. I’m voting no on any measure that calls for raising taxes. If we don’t allow the politicians to go to the public trough, maybe they will find alternate solutions. I also believe that the city and county can leverage existing assets to generate significant revenue, but will save that subject for another time. Vote no on increasing taxes.

Michael Burwen, Petaluma