Petaluma squabbles

EDITOR: My wife and I moved from the Bay Area to Sebastopol 25 years ago. We have found the politics of Petaluma not just amusing but entertaining. They spend a lot of money on environmental studies and then decide against the reason for the study. They litigate each other on issues and disagreements. While they complain about Petaluma's problems, they vote against the solutions. Sales tax dollars go to surrounding towns, but it only took more than four years and a possible lawsuit to get the finial permits to develop the old Kenilworth Junior High School on Washington Street.

Now it is the Dutra asphalt plant. The City Council and county impose many conditions, Dutra agrees, and now Petaluma litigates. Why would they want to buy asphalt from Marin County or Santa Rosa and add the high cost of hauling the long distance when they can have it all in their own back yard? If any town needs asphalt for street repairs, it is the pot-holed streets of Petaluma.



Not worth the price

EDITOR: Reading about the horrible accident on Highway 12 that caused serious injury and the deaths of two women was unbelievably painful. Many lives have been forever changed, unnecessarily so.

Later, backing out of my driveway and looking into the rearview mirror, it became chillingly personal as I saw the car seat there, a car seat where a treasured child often sits. I am reminded how vulnerable we are as we travel and of the enormous responsibility we share as drivers.

Let's respect all who use our roadways and never be arrogant enough to drive while impaired, or to think that a phone call, text message or any distraction could possibly be important enough to risk a tragedy such as this.


Santa Rosa

Magical thinking

EDITOR: Louise Udall ("Is it worth it?" Letters, Friday) flatly states that marijuana had nothing to do with the horrific crash that killed two local women. "The problem was not the pot," she writes. "It was the cell phone. Period."

The letter reflects a kind of magical thinking about marijuana: that, unlike alcohol or other drugs, the use of this particular consciousness-altering substance doesn't increase the risk of an accident. It's a common belief, but one that has been shown to be untrue.

In 2012, an extensive review in the British Medical Journal found that driving after smoking pot more than doubled the risk of being involved in a fatal traffic accident. Other studies have shown that marijuana slows a driver's reaction time (including braking time), increases distractibility and unsteadiness and generally worsens driving-related mental function. As with alcohol, the more an individual smokes before taking the wheel, the worse the effects.

It's too early to know whether pot smoking, cellphone use or a combination of factors was to blame for this crash. Regardless, it's important that drivers clearly understand the dangers of smoking and driving. It isn't just harmless fun.


Santa Rosa

Sister city in peril

EDITOR: Santa Rosa's sister city, Cherkasy, in central Ukraine is in danger of becoming part of a war zone. The White House says it looks as if a Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine is imminent. If that happens, many Cherkasians may be in harm's way.

First Stalin in 1932, then Hitler in 1941 invaded the city. Many Ukrainians were murdered by both.

Cherkasy is a city of 287,583 (according to a census in 2011), located 124 miles south of Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, the scene of the recent protests that ousted the Russian-installed puppet oligarch, President Victor Yanukovych. At least 88 protesters were deliberately shot dead before Yanukovych gave up.

Cherkasy was founded in the 13th century. It was the center of the Cossacks' and peasants' rebellions. It is located on the right bank (south) bank of the Dnieper River, one of the principal waterways in Ukraine. The citizens of this industrial town deserve our support and prayers in this, their time of need.

Even it fighting doesn't involve Cherkasy, its people are involved with the Crimea since the water supply of Crimea comes from the Dnieper.


Santa Rosa