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Some MORE good letters to the editor

More sustainable than thou
by Linda Hauser, Sebastopol

EDITOR: The concept of “sustainability” is being misused by a new group calling themselves “Sustainable Sebastopol.” They support the unsustainable CVS/Chase development proposal and City Council member Kathleen Shaffer and City Council candidate Kathy Austin, both ardent supporters of the project.

True sustainability takes into account the environment, social justice and economic health in determining what is appropriate in a given situation. According to these precepts, the CVS project offers little sustainability. In order for a development to be truly sustainable, it must take every aspect of the Sustainability concept into account in equal amounts; not giving precedence to one over the others, but balancing all three as necessary components.   

As a resident of downtown Sebastopol living on Bodega Avenue, I can speak firsthand about the current nightmare of traffic on the street in front of my home. The CVS/Chase project will further degrade our downtown environment with significantly increased traffic congestion and air pollution. CVS has continued to show their disregard for our environment by refusing to install solar panels, which is one of Sebastopol’s leading edge city goals. Their profits will continue to leave Sonoma County and be sent to Rhode Island. Increased economic benefits are questionable, considering that CVS already generates sales tax revenue and pays local employees at their existing location in Sebastopol.

There are other revenue-generating businesses that are interested in that corner which are more eco-conscious than CVS, thereby meeting the goals of the “Sustainable Sebastopol” group. Let’s consider them.

A meaningful Plan
by Ted Luthin, Sebastopol

EDITOR: I live downtown and support John Eder and Robert Jacob for Council. Our town is planing an update to our General Plan, so it is critical we have a Council that envisions a vibrant, pedestrian friendly Sebastopol, not a suburb of parking lots, drive-thrus, and chain stores.

John Eder donated countless hours illustrating better alternatives for the Chase/CVS development, all superior to what was approved. Many of his ideas became conditions of approval. We need this type of vision and leadership.

Other candidates want “fairness.” I want good design and a meaningful General Plan. One thinks there will be an increase revenues at CVS. I want a Council that can do basic math and knows that any increase in CVS revenue will come from decreased revenues at other stores. Two candidates think CVS/Chase “followed the rules,” so should be approved. I want officials who demand development that makes our town better.

Some think supporting friends is more important than making decisions that benefit the community. I want Council members with the courage to tell their friends when they are doing something harmful. Some candidates are supported by a narrow slice of the community, mostly members of a service club. I want elected officials who represent a range of our community. One sitting member thinks we should avoid offending Rohnert Park. I chose to live here, not there, and am not interested in watching Sebastopol fade into suburban nothingness.

Please join me in supporting John Eder and Robert Jacob.

Another judgement call
by Helen Shane, Sebastopol

EDITOR: Kathleen Shaffer’s integrity is not being questioned. Her judgment is.

Was it good judgment, for her to send, way back in January, an e-mail message “under the radar” (Kathleen’s own words) to a pro CVS/Chase friend in which she enclosed a four- page color brochure that invited readers to contact CVS/Chase agent McDermott for more information?

At the very first hearing at the Council on July 5, 2011, she fought to prevent the Planning Commission denial of the project and voted to grant Council approval of CVS/Chase.

When the town rallied to oppose the design, council member Shaffer organized “her” supporters to turn out for the hearing and many of her apparent followers tried to shout down those who didn’t share their opinion. Is that good judgment?

She conferred openly with the CVS/Chase developer after the last council meeting. She sat with the CVS/Chase folks at public meetings while the matter was still unresolved. Is that good judgment?

Why was she working under the radar? As a Councilmember, she is supposed to be impartial and to listen with an open mind to public testimony. Because she couid not reveal that her mind had been made up before the process ever began. Is that good judgment?

The question now: Does Sebastopol want people with good judgment on the City Council that will oversee the updating of our General Plan?

If your answer is yes, vote for John Eder and Robert Jacob for Sebastopol City Council.


Vote for Sebastopol
by Skye Ashley, Sebastopol

EDITOR: Regardless of the outcome of the Pellini corner development, the issue has turned a glaring spotlight on the vision of the Sebastopol City Council candidates’ respect for and interpretation of our General Plan … long referred to as Sebastopol’s Constitution.

Both City Council incumbent Kathleen Shaffer and candidate Kathy Austin have, from the outset, held that the application of CVS/Chase/Armstrong should be approved and that they be given the green light to move into one of our town’s most prominent and traffic intensive corners, even though some traffic studies predict they would bring more than 2000 cars into the downtown (and more drivers would surely attempt to avoid that corner by driving through our neighborhoods).

Both candidates are good citizens and have made many contributions to the town, but the welcome mat they laid out for CVS/Chase defines their vision as shortsighted.

Two formula businesses plopped on opposite corners of a 2.45 acre site do not translate to a pedestrian friendly or walkable downtown. They do not support local businesses. The bank will not produce any sales tax revenue; CVS will close its successful store on Gravenstein and send its profits out of town to company HQ in Pennsylvania.

Our General Plan, the Downtown Plan and the Downtown Portfolio call for pedestrian friendly, walkable streets and the support of local businesses.

Candidates John Eder and Robert Jacob understand this. They have spoken publicly against the CVS/Chase plan and for local businesses. If you share their vision, please vote for Sebastopol.

Vote for John Eder and Robert Jacob

Local Sellout, Global Takeover
by Dan Gurney, Sebastopol

Editor: In his Aug. 30 column (“Compromise and kindess”), Councilmember Patrick Slayter “publicly admonishes those who cast Rohnert Park in a negative light.”

Slayter must be admonishing me. In my Aug. 23 letter to the Sonoma West Times & News (“Sebastopol at crossroads”), I wrote that Sebastopol can choose to “redevelop our downtown like Sonoma or Healdsburg. Or we can redevelop to resemble Rohnert Park.”

This isn’t casting Rohnert Park in any light other than the light of reality.

Here is my public response to Councilmember Slayter:

Patrick Slayter, Kathleen Shaffer and Guy Wilson made the wrong decision and voted to approve a tasteless, auto-centric, strip mall in our downtown core. These three don’t taste our “Local Flavor.” They are blind to our “Global Vision.”

Boss Armstrong bullied the City Council with their hired attorneys and court reporters. Fear of litigation against the City by Boss Armstrong/CVS/Chase numbed some hearts, shrank some minds, and closed some ears to public comments. The law did not compel approval of CVS/Chase. Developers have sued us before. We have won.

Three council members were wooed or cowed by Boss Armstrong and they voted against the Sebastopol community on Aug. 7.

Worse, despite what Kathleen Shaffer says as she campaigns tirelessly door to door, Shaffer worked, long and hard, for CVS/Chase “under the radar”—her words in an e-mail on Jan. 8, 2012.

Shaffer, Slayter, and Wilson dance to the beat of the developer’s drummer. The tune? “Local Sellout. Global Takeover.”

On Nov. 6, vote for Robert Jacob and John Eder. They have the eyes, ears, hearts, minds, taste, and most importantly, the courage and integrity to fight for Sebastopol’s local flavor and global vision.

Ethics of JPMorgan Chase
by Will Riggan, Sebastopol

Editor: The hoopla in the CVS/Chase debate over parking lots, building designs, and compatibility with the Sebastopol General Plan obscured an important, perhaps in the long run the most important, consideration: the character and ethics of JPMorgan Chase bank.

JPMorgan Chase is not just another bank. It is one of the 10 largest banks which together control 77 percent of the nation’s banking assets. JPMorgan Chase is also an unrepentant monolith that continues its bullying and at times illegal behavior.

“The bank has paid millions in fines for deceiving investors with fake research on the sales of stocks and bonds. Chase was fined $2 billion in a settlement for its role in financing Enron Corp. In 2009 the bank agreed to an almost billion dollar settlement with the SEC to end a probe into sales of derivatives that caused public entities to lose millions. And in 2011, Chase was charged with overcharging several thousand military families for their mortgages, including active-duty personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq” (Joseph W. Cotchett, author of “Greed and the Casino Society,” in the San Francisco Chronicle Aug. 19, 2012)”.

Most recently, in reaction to several regulatory investigations of its $5.8 billion trading loss back in May on wrong-way bets on credit derivatives, the bank has persuaded its most generously funded members of Congress to push for abolition of the relevant regulations.

Also, the bank was recently discovered to be foreclosing on the homes of soldiers posted overseas, a federal crime. The bank’s response? We didn’t know.

In sum, I would not let them expand in this city no matter how lovely and fitting their building. I’d rather deal with the Mafia; they don’t pretend to be honest.

Thoughtful Eder
by Tasha Beauchamp, Sebastopol

Editor: I like my elected officials to ask questions. As a research scientist, I am impressed when my representatives turn to more than the usual suspects of their comfortable advisors and do some original research on their own.

During the CVS/Chase design review process, I was particularly impressed by John Eder’s forwarding of Google Map links to CVS/Chase developments in other towns across the country. He found sites that had exactly the same layout as the first design (so much for their contention that the design was tailored just for us). He also found links to their Buckeye, AZ complex which in fact had a look very much like the multiple-shops design that was intended when the Council asked for something stylistically more like our downtown core. This kind of original research showed me that John is a person willing to do the research to find his own answers.

I also like officials who answer questions. When “interviewing” John, I asked him what he learned most from his experience on the Cotati City Council. He said, essentially, to never discount the possibility of alliances across the aisle. He then went on to tell me about how he and another representative, who on first glance was diametrically opposed politically, found their common ground on many issues and were able to collaborate on meaningful policies for the city.

That’s the kind of thinking I want in the elected officials representing me. I imagine you want this kind of brainpower working for you as well.

Surviving locally
by Bonnie Miller, Sebastopol

Editor: I am extremely disappointed by Martin Webb’s Aug. 30 letter to the editor “City Limits,” claiming that residents outside Sebastopol’s city limits do not have a right to an opinion about issues going on in Sebastopol. Residing l mile outside of the city limits, I had been under the impression for the last 43 years that the merchants and hospital in Sebastopol welcome my business. Mr. Webb’s letter makes me determined to pack up my patronage and deliver it to Santa Rosa and Rohnert Park where it is appreciated. I hope commerce in Sebastopol can survive with only the city residents being welcome there.

No city limits
by Helen Shane, Former Planning Commissioner, Sebastopol

Editor: Martin Webb has been taking pot shots at me for months. I haven’t bothered to respond. I don’t think his opinion is based on facts or very meaningful. However, in his Aug. 30 letter in your newspaper (“City limits”) he seeks to disenfranchise everyone in the community who does not live or own property or a business within the City Limits.

I don’t know if Mr. Webb is aware that of the self-described 20-member core group of the “new” Sustainable Sebastopol, 11 live “in the county” or out of town. We don’t dispute their right to honestly and openly participate in city business. Like so many of our community they work in town, pay sales tax in town, children attend school in town, attend church and sporting events in town, visit the Sebastopol Community Cultural Center in town … well, you get the picture.  

Many years ago when I was a member of the Sebastopol Area Chamber of Commerce, the Apple Blossom Festival theme was “Sebastopol Has No City Limits.” I agreed with the Chamber in that respect, and still do.

Our community, according to the City’s website, which states that Sebastopol serves a trade area population in excess of 50,000 people. This is our community. Mr. Webb, your call to “circle the wagons” is not civil or friendly or even sound economics.

Please stop trying to isolate the group of 7,500 or so who happen to live “in town” from the rest of our great society.

Traffic and blood tests
by Robert Leverant, Sebastopol

Editor: In the recent Sonoma West Times & News, I read in a letter on the CVS/Chase project that the planning board said that no current traffic assessment was necessary; that the most traffic assessments from two or three years ago would suffice. What? This like going in to see your doctor for an annual checkup and the doctor saying, “No need for blood tests. We have some from two years ago on file and these will do fine.”

Don’t be a dope
by Bill Shortridge, Sebastopol

Editor: After attending the Aug. 21 Sebastopol City Council meeting, I was, yet again, quite impressed with the narrow-mindedness exhibited by some of the proponents of the CVS/Chase project. As part of their argument for CVS they railed against Peace In Medicine, the medical marijuana dispensary located in Sebastopol. They disparagingly referred to it as “the Dope Place” and referred to Robert Jacob as “the Pot Guy”.

Though I perceived it as base political posturing, I was personally offended, since my family has directly benefitted from such treatment.

I had an aunt who reluctantly tried marijuana for the first time in her 80th year when she contracted bone cancer. It happened to bring her great comfort in her last remaining months on earth. Comfort that conventional medicine was not able to provide. Around the world, stories like hers are recounted across all strata of society. Those stories span afflictions from various cancers, AIDS, eye diseases and numerous other illnesses that, by a roll of the dice, anyone is subjected to.

Would we rather take the road of love and compassion, or belly up to CVS pharmacists who get commissions for the prescriptions they dole out through a drive-thru window?

By the way, Peace In Medicine provides 50 full-time and season living wage jobs with sick time, vacation time, medical, dental, vision, acupuncture, chiropractic, life, and disability insurances. This stat falls right in line with some of the highest job providers in Sebastopol.

So thank you Peace In Medicine for what you do. Thank you for the comfort you provide to those in pain. Thank you for the jobs you’ve created in Sebastopol. And thank you Robert Jacob for running for City Council. Imagine how much better off we’d be if our local government was injected with such compassion.

It’s our town, too
Brenda and Richard Nichols, Sebastopol

Editor: We live outside the Sebastopol city limits, a place we consider our hometown. We are volunteering on the committees to elect John Eder and Robert Jacob to the City Council. Here is a partial list of where we spend a significant amount of our money: Fircrest Market, Sebastopol Hardware, R’s Automotive, Rite-aide, Hospice Thrift Shop, Sebastopol Center for the Arts (member), Sebastopol Cinemas, Silkmoon, Himalayan Tandoori, Gypsy Cafe, East West Cafe, Taylor Made Coffee, Cultivate, Village Bakery, Copperfields, Rivers End Tea Shop, Sebastopol Cookie Company, Coffee Catz, Farmers Market, Frozen Yogurt, Food Pantry (donation) Coastwalk (donation), Friends of the Library (donation), Subscription to the Sonoma West Times & News, Friends of the Library (membership), Historical Society (membership), Mockingbird Bookshop.

Does this disqualify us from participating in the cultural and political life of the community?

SCCA endorsements
by Dennis Rosatti, Sonoma County Conservation Action

Editor: Sonoma County Conservation Action has announced its endorsements for the two seats available for the Sebastopol City Council 2012. SCCA utilizes a lengthy endorsement process where all candidates are issued a questionnaire on issues facing the city and county at large, and then follows up with a sit down interview with each of the candidates running for office who choose to apply. The SCCA Board of Directors has chosen to grant the endorsement to Robert Jacob, currently vice chair of the Sebastopol Planning Commission, and John Eder, a local smart growth advocate.

“I am honored to have the endorsement of Sonoma County’s largest local environmental organization,” said Jacob. “I will give my all to protect and enhance Sebastopol’s small town feel and environmental policies.”

“The mission of Sonoma County Conservation Action is closely aligned with my goals and concerns.”

“Sonoma County needs strong environmental leadership on the Sebastopol City Council,” said Una Glass, longtime SCCA board member and Sebastopol area resident. “The Council hangs in the balance, therefore we must elect people who will work to ensure that quality of life issues and small town character are at the top of the agenda.”

Sebastopol is often seen as the leader Countywide when it comes to environmental initiatives and policy. It is critical that we maintain an environmental majority on the City Council to continue in that legacy of leadership.

With the strong Planning Commission voting record that Robert Jacob brings to the table, and the smart growth values of John Eder, Sebastopol voters are presented with two strong environmental candidates for the two available seats.