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Wary, but still riding

EDITOR: Matthew Wilson's Close to Home column ("Why I'm no longer a cyclist," Sunday) was a chilling bracer before I headed out for my morning ride. After 30 years of cycling the North Bay back roads, I could easily identify with all of his harrowing encounters. I'd have to extend his list to include my own near misses with erratic cyclists and speeding racers on their fantasy tours. In fact, his depiction of having his hand hit by a car was almost identical to one I had recently, except I was hit by a speeding cyclist who zoomed past with no warning and made no attempt to stop. Cars are a lethal danger but not the only one we face on bicycles.

I've had days when I returned home and wondered if it was time to hang up my helmet for good. I've modified riding times and routes, but so far I've overcome that feeling when another beautiful day dawns in our glorious county. More riding requires more responsibility and more care dealing with the crumbling asphalt patches that pass for rural roads around here. Great responsibility, great care, and the reward is the best exercise in the best place on Earth. That's a trade off I'm still willing to make.

JEFF DORAN

Sebastopol

Bishop's edict

EDITOR: It appears that Bishop Robert Vasa has chosen to disregard recent Santa Rosa Diocese history. Approximately 35 percent of active Catholics left the church after the Bishop Patrick Ziemann mess, after the child-molester priests were caught and after the complicit bishops were exposed. But the rest of us stayed to rebuild our broken church. We've kept the faith. We've reconfirmed our faith in our parishes, in our Catholic schools, in our lay ministries and with one another in our daily lives. We didn't need some out-of-town guy wagging a paper as confirmation of our faith. We acted with deep-rooted faith for our Catholic faith.

Vasa tried the sign-my-document tactic before, with disastrous results, in his previous posting in Oregon. Why would he try it again, especially considering the recent history of the Santa Rosa Diocese? Perhaps this tactic of his is more about intra-Catholic politics than anything pastoral or spiritual.

TIMOTHY PARSONS

Santa Rosa

Tobacco's odd ally

EDITOR: Imagine California legislators at a hearing on Assemblyman Marc Levine's proposal to protect people in multi-unit housing from second-hand smoke. Picture people shaking hands and making introductions. Imagine that after 15 minutes, members of the public pull out cigarettes, light up and continue listening while smoking.

There'd be bedlam. Security would be called. Legislators would exit waving hands in a futile effort to disperse the smoke. Even those who smoke would call it an irresponsible imposition on people's right to breathe clean air.

Consider how hypocritical this seems when, after clearing the smokers, they sit down and, with the blessing of the Western Center on Law and Poverty, vote to keep smokers in multi-unit housing smoking indoors, forcing whole buildings to smoke involuntarily — pregnant women, children, everyone.

The tobacco industry isn't the main rock in the path toward smoke-free air for California tenants, the majority of whom don't smoke. The rock is "social justice" representatives worried about the imposition on smokers to use nicotine gum or to step outside to avoid exposing low-income, nonsmoking renters who can't afford to move. Thousands of nonsmokers die yearly because of the social justice rock in the road, the oddest ally the tobacco industry ever had.

CAROL DENNEY

Berkeley

Rules of the road

EDITOR: OK, let's have an ordinance with road rules for bicycles ("Road rules weighed," Monday). Let's also have bicycles registered, with a license plate large enough to be read on each bicycle. Then, we on the county's country roads can recognize and report the bicyclists who sit in the middle of the road or ride two to four abreast on narrow roads. Bicyclists ride incognito without abiding by the laws of the road, ignoring stop signs and impeding traffic. If we are going to have rules of the road, all should abide by such rules.

GERALD PHILLIPS

Calistoga

Schools fair share

EDITOR: Here we go again ("Windsor could lose 50 teachers," Thursday). This was a well-written article describing the financial difficulties of the school district. However, a small paragraph buried in the middle cites the true reason for the financial mess. It reads, " 'If they (Windsor Unified School District) were fully funded by the state, they would be fine,' (Denise) Calvert (deputy superintendent of business services for the Sonoma County Office of Education) said. 'But they are not being fully funded by the state.' " This is the true reason for the financial crisis.

At the present time, the state is funding Windsor schools with 73 percent of the money that is owed to the district. This means that administrators must find creative ways to pay the remaining 27 percent of the district's bills. They must meet payroll each month, plus pay all their other bills, with slightly less than three-fourths of the money they are due.

Windsor, as with most districts around the state, has cut and trimmed the budget to the bone, and unless the state starts paying its districts the full amount it owes them, we cannot properly educate our children.

JANET MULLIGAN

Windsor