Letters to the Editor


No On Measure Q

If Measure Q passes, its consequences would be felt not only in the North Bay but throughout the North Coast. Taxpayers in Marin and Sonoma would be paying not only for a passenger train, but would share the costs of maintaining the rail line used for freight trains for 300 miles between Marin and Eureka, including 50 miles that runs through the Eel River canyon.

Derailments, track closures and safety problems in the landslide-prone canyon have plagued the railroad here all along, and finally closed the line in 1998. But with SMART, the NCRA can restore service to an otherwise inaccessible gravel mine in the canyon. Six million tons of gravel could be hauled from the canyon annually. Many question whether the operation would be feasible without SMART funds.

Quarry operations are devastating to fish populations. Once the mainstay of the North Coast, the Eel River salmon are today endangered, the result of logging, mining water diversions and development. They can’t survive further damage to their habitat.

Voters need to know more about the connections between SMART and the NCRA, but the railroad has refused to provide an environmental impact report for its operations north of Willits. We recognize the need to reduce global warming and traffic congestion, but we want transportation to serve the public, not subsidize industry fat cats or sacrifice our environment. Let’s get back to the drawing board.


Executive Director, Friends of the Eel River

Is Smart Dumb?

Before you decide to vote yes on Q, here are some facts: The BART and Cal Train services offer more trips and have many commuters that rely on them, but have not solved our traffic problems. Both trains go out to San Francisco. To get to S.F. from Cloverdale, you need to board the train, get off at Larkspur and take either the bus or ferry boat. The ferry service is already packed with commuters, and the distance to walk to the destination is time-consuming. There is a greater need for more bus service rather than a train service that will hurt Golden Gate Transit.

There are only 14 weekday trips planned, from commute time to commute time, and four weekend trips, whereas BART/Cal Train both have extended services. A BART extension to Marin County makes more sense and is truly SMART.

There is talk of Gov. Schwarzenegger adding a 1 percent sales tax to balance the budget, so take a quarter cent sales tax plus a 1 percent hike and you will be paying upwards of 8.5 percent sales tax. It doesn’t sound SMART to me to pay more for a service that nobody is going to use, and you won’t get to San Francisco. Don’t believe the writing that “it’s only for 20 years.” Better think SMART and vote no on Q. You cannot rely on it. Let’s not be dumb on this.

Darren Schivo


Teacher’s Legacy

Thank you for the wonderful article about Holly Vinson (“Stage Sage,” Boho Awards, Oct. 15). I am 26 years old now but began my love affair with theater at age 11 in Holly’s summer camp for Oliver! I went simply because it was close to my home, but found so much more than just something to pass the summer. I went on to join the ArtQuest program at Santa Rosa High School, where passion, fun and high expectations for professionalism continued. I have been in only a few productions in the last several years, but the experiences and lessons I took from being involved with theater have been some of the most important in my life. Holly’s program was the beginning of something wonderful in my life, and in the lives of so many local children.

Reina Martinez

Santa Rosa

The MSG Letters Don’t Stop

Having worked in the media for many years, it is no surprise to me that the writer of your Sept.10 cover feature, “Meet Your Unami,” came back from a very fancy free meal sponsored by a foundation funded by the corporation who brought the world MSG and wrote a glowing article praising this chemical additive. 

What surprises me is that a paper like the Bohemian printed the article, and that your editor did not demand that the writer at least include an opposing or even professionally objective view about the effects of MSG. Instead we get “But it’s since been proven that Chinese restaurant syndrome is bunk and MSG is not the evil it is made out to be.”

Bunk? Tell that to the estimated 10 percent or so of the population who get mysterious headaches from MSG, myself included. I expect this sort of corporate stenography from trade journals, not a newspaper based here in Sonoma and Marin counties, where organic, local and wholesome food is grown and appreciated.

Jonathan Greenberg


From the We Get Letters Dept: Our Oct. 22 slate of recommendations surprised many who assumed that we’d be in knee-jerk harmony on Prop. 2. Alas. And we still don’t support the measure. Here is feedback on our recs, reprinted this week on p10.

The Big Bash

I am very disappointed that the Bohemian will not be supporting Proposition 2, the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act. You folks are really drinking the Kool-Aid of big agribusiness when you claim that Prop. 2 will “decimate” area producers. First of all, Prop. 2 doesn’t even affect those very “cage-free” and “humanely raised” producers that the Bohemian says we should all patronize anyway. In fact, it will help these farmers by removing the competitive advantage enjoyed by companies that have not yet bothered to adopt more humane standards.

Second, if the passage of Prop. 2 presents a hardship for some companies, it’s only because these companies have peen profiting from cruel farming practices all along. We don’t relax labor standards just because an employer might move overseas to exploit workers. Neither should we sacrifice our standards of animal compassion just because such standards don’t yet exist in Texas or Mexico.

While it’s true that no single piece of legislation could solve all the problems of industrial farming, Prop. 2 is an eminently reasonable step in the right direction. That is why it has already been endorsed by so many California individuals, businesses and organizations, including hundreds of farmers, writer Michael Pollan, the Sierra Club and the California Democratic Party. These folks understand that the passage of Prop. 2 will be a modest but important victory for the millions of farm animals living in cages too small to even turn around and extend their limbs. I urge everyone to vote yes on Prop. 2. It’s the right thing to do for California’s farm animals.

Wade Spital


Shame on Us?

Shame on the Bohemian! I am outraged that you would suggest voting against a proposition preventing millions of factory-farmed animals from enduring cruel and deplorable conditions for the sake of profit. Where exactly did you get your “proof” that these factory farms would be forced out of business? It sounds like the staff of this paper has fallen prey to the opponent’s propaganda.

The European Union, as well as four states in this country (Arizona, Colorado, Florida and Oregon) have successfully complied with these or similar bans on inhumane treatment. If you agree that there’s no question that the industrial farm system is an outrage, how then could you condone the continuation of these practices for even a second longer?

I do pay attention to this issue and have adjusted my purchase choices to support those producers that treat animals humanely. Simply standing by and waiting for someone to come up with what you would consider to be a better solution is unacceptable.

The time for change is now. My vote on Nov. 4 will be for the abolishment of these hideous practices.

Kimberly Thatcher


Eggs ‘n’ Bacon Politics

I am appalled that the Bohemian is recommending its readers vote no on Prop. 2. Your argument is primarily about jobs in your statement: “Fortunate as we are to be based in the state’s egg basket, we will instead see area producers forced out of business.” Unfortunately, that is why laws are sometimes necessary to force people to do the right thing. Given profitability vs. humane practices, we have seen an obscene and secretive industry arise. Advising your readers that they should buy “only cage-free, humanely raised organic poultry and pork” is like telling them to shop at Whole Foods for healthier choices vs. Wal-Mart. Given a choice of cheaper alternatives, most people will do so and not give a thought to where their morning scrambled eggs and bacon were sourced. If people have to buy their eggs from producers in Texas, perhaps it will make them pay attention and ask why. This may not be a perfect initial proposition, but it is a vital step in the right direction in generating awareness. To paraphrase Gandhi, “A society will be judged by how it treats its animals.” Let’s do this. Vote yes on Proposition 2.

Lynn Lee


You Wouldn’t Do it To Your Pets

Bohemian, you have been lied to. No farmer, in Sonoma County or anywhere else in the state, will go out if business when Prop. 2 passes. Yes, they are going to have to spend some money to do what is right for the animals in their care, but they will not go out of business. Businesses always cry wolf when they face regulation to make a product safer or life better. The downtown bars blubbered that they would have to close their doors when the smoking ban passed, and that was all hot air, too.

The truth is that Prop. 2 helps prevent cruelty to animals. It’s simply inhumane to confine farm animals in a tiny cage barely bigger than their bodies. The cages are so small that animals can’t even walk or extend their limbs. It’s hard to imagine a more miserable life.Prop. 2 is a modest and reasonable initiative that has been endorsed by the Democratic Party of California and over 100 family farmers. Prop. 2 will make our food safer, help safeguard the environment and relive the suffering of farm animal in intensive production. We would never force our pets to live in filthy, cramped cages for their entire lives, and we shouldn’t force farm animals to endure such misery either. All animals, including those raised for food, deserve humane treatment. California has been given the rare democratic opportunity to cast a vote to alleviate the suffering of millions of animals statewide. Please go to www.Yesonprop2.com to learn more and vote yes on Prop 2.

Hope Bohanec

Sonoma County Coordinator

Yes on Prop 2 Campaign

Nothing To Do With Advertisers

I experienced disbelief when I read your “staff recommendations” re the upcoming proposition. Surely one recommendation, on Prop. 2, is an error. The correct vote is yes on Prop. 2. Factory farming practices have gone on too long. Whatever brainwashing strategies are being used on newspaper people, I can only guess some of them have to do with not wanting to alienate the many businesses and advertising revenue associated with cruel factory farming practices. They can’t work for much longer.

If you ever toured a slaughterhouse or a mega-size chicken farm, you would throw up!

Forget the poor little calves stuck in the wooden pens, the pigs whose lack of sweat glands require them to be near clean water, living in filth, there is no doubt, if you can’t forget, you would never eat flesh again.For those who need their animal protein to sustain their incredible charms, at least insist on clean, happy victims.

Johanna Lynch


Blowing It Big Time

What literature are you reading regarding Prop. 2? The California Egg Board, the Veal Producers of America, Hormel and Tyson? Telling the public not to eat veal is like throwing a deck chair off the Queen Mary, and what about the eggs and pork products?

Where do we start as a civilized culture to start treating sentient creatures humanely? As a native Californian, I am proud of our state taking the lead in raising the consciousness of America and the world on many issues.

Prop. 2 is to give farm animals some rights—like to have a cage large enough to be able to turn around in or spread wings, some time in the fresh air and sunlight, and not to have to live in feces and dead bodies. And it gives producers until 2012 to accomplish the task. Oh, and did you know that New Jersey has a similar set of rules governing their farm animals? I don’t hear about veal, pork or eggs coming from Mexico or Texas supplanting New Jersey’s own farm animals and all the New Jersey farmers selling their farms, etc.

Bohemian, you blew it big time recommending No on Prop. 2.

Karen Zimmerman

via email

Big Box Enviro

Proposition 7 is an amendment to our current California Law AB32 that requires 20 percent renewable electricity by 2010, not 2017 as suggested in your recommendation to vote no on Prop. 7. Prop. 7 increases the annual requirement from 1 percent to 2 percent. We’re talking about a 2 percent commitment to renewable energy each year. This is not hard, nor is it complicated. The goals, regulations, penalties, definitions and market incentives are clearly expressed in the initiative language. It has only become complicated and uncertain in light of a $30 million campaign to make it seem so, which is 100 percent funded by our utility companies (our rate-payer dollars hard at work!). The all-star line up of environmental opposition is also succeeding wildly to spread the misinformation about what exactly Prop. 7 will and won’t do.

I not only disagree with the opposition endorsements of these big box environmental groups because of their misguided and false claims, but I flat out don’t trust these groups to put the public and environmental interest ahead of their corporate investments. I don’t trust the Sierra Club to speak honestly about Prop. 7 when they receive an undisclosed amount of money from the Chlorox Chemical Company to endorse their “green” line. I don’t trust the Union of Concerned Scientists to speak honestly about Prop. 7 when they share board members with the major investor-owned utilities that finance the entire opposition campaign. I certainly don’t trust the NRDC to speak honestly about Prop. 7 when their key spokesman against it, Ralph Cavanagh, is the same fellow responsible for helping ENRON succeed and ensuring the deregulation of the electricity market for profit off of our 2000-2001 energy crisis.There are five remarkable gentleman speaking out for Prop. 7 despite the opposition’s best efforts to recruit them as their own. Donald Aitken, former lead scientist as Union of Concerned Scientists; David Freeman, eco-pioneer and energy expert who not only got the EPA going, shut down nuclear reactors all over the country, and helped get us out of the 2001 energy crisis but was also behind the very first environmental and energy policies in the nation; and three Nobel Prize-winning scientists: Walter Kohn, Herbert Kroemer and Alan Heeger. I trust their independent and professional opinions because they represent an individual analysis free of a commitment to an institutionalized, corporate or group identity.

It’s time we demand our energy independence and support a sustainable and renewable electricity market.

Kelly Rivas

Santa Rosa


Sonoma County Library