If this isn't the place to discuss Persona, then whoops. Also, I was barely awake when I posted this and didn't mean to sound confrontational.
Anyway, I seem to remember that the default theme was supposed to be barebone, a decision I fully agreed with. Around the time I joined there was talk about forking Persona into an extended version. I don't think the split ever happened and all the extra stuff ended up in the default theme.
At any rate, I still think the Persona is the best NodeBB theme available and it suits the rest of my site well. I'd prefer not to switch over this.
Also, I can see why you'd want to keep the defaults, but it'd be nice if one could at least turn off these features.
As for the footer navigation,
^ ^ 12/20 v v easily fits next to the logo unless it's really wide. I'm not sure that's aesthetically pleasing, though.