Cycling law

EDITOR: I, for one, am in favor of the ant-harassment law ("County backs law to protect cyclists," Wednesday). Pedestrians and cyclists have experienced far too many troubling incidents, and the driver is usually at fault.

On Jan. 10, 2012, I was hit by a car while crossing the street and rushed to the hospital. I have promoted the safety of pedestrians and bikers ever since. The road is a dangerous place, and thousands of people drive through Sonoma County each day. With this law, cyclists can feel secure on their own roads. It's imperative that drivers respect pedestrians and bike riders.

Larry Roberts of Santa Rosa was quoted as saying, "If I want to go by and say, &‘Idiots, ride in single file,' I have a right to do that. As far as I'm concerned, that's freedom of speech." Opinions and statements such as these are evidence that many drivers are uneducated and biased about cycling and pedestrian laws.

Many citizens who cycle or walk do so for environmental purposes, yet drivers have the upper hand because of their size and horse power. Any ordinance that promotes safety is constructive and worthwhile. The people of Sonoma County deserve to feel safe driving, walking or riding their bikes.


Santa Rosa

Memorial nurses

EDITOR: I am a volunteer at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. I have observed the expertise and compassion demonstrated by the nurses. The patients, visitors and the entire community value their devotion to the vocation of nursing. We all appreciate them and know that we truly cannot live without them.

I, therefore, cannot understand the delay in reaching a contract settlement between the nurses' union and St. Joseph Health System. It can't be money because the hospital has built a new heart center, hired new administrators, purchased a free-standing surgery facility and is now expanding its emergency department. Surely, the need for expert nurses has never been greater.

The nurses' union has been in negotiations for many months with little progress. Is it possible that the process is being prolonged to break the union? I find it hard to believe that any hospital would have so little regard for its employees. I urge St. Joseph Health System to honor its commitment to providing excellent health service by respecting the nurses who deliver it.


Santa Rosa

Low-wage work

EDITOR: An article on Monday's front page bemoaned a looming farmworker shortage in California ("As state's farmworkers age, labor shortage looms"). Yet, 9.8 percent unemployment backed by 2.5 million in-state illegal immigrants should translate to a worker surplus. So what's the real problem? Low wages.

Alaskan crab boats, the most dangerous and grueling work around, never have labor shortages because of the potential financial reward. Similar examples abound. Americans are more than willing to get their hands dirty when compensated fairly.

Perhaps it's time for the agriculture industry to wean itself from illegal immigration and let the economic law of supply and demand within the legal labor pool determine wages just as every other job sector. By definition, hard work that few are willing to do should pay more. Artificial devaluation of jobs traditionally held by migrants is both exploitative and racist.

If our society could get past the crippling mind-set that farm work is somehow inferior, the solution would be obvious. People will line up for any job that pays a decent wage.



School schedules

EDITOR: I can relate to Sequoia Rahlfs ("Stressful schedule," Letters, March 5) as a fellow high school student; the workload can be stressful. However, the school year is only 180 days and has been for years. The only exception to the length of the school year is furlough days, the mandatory days of no instruction to conserve money.

Our American school system has the fewest school days in comparison to other industrialized countries. For example, in India, there is a total of 800 instructional hours per year for elementary schools alone. Due to this, many foreign-exchange students come to America thinking the education system is lacking and relatively easy compared to what they are accustom to.

The reality is that school prepares us for the work force in which we will not have summer vacation or spring break. Forty hours a week is not uncommon for a job. This is the same amount of time in a typical school week. School is preparing students for the tiresome hours of work while leaving extra time for extra-curricular activities. This extra time will soon be consumed by increased work hours. One hundred and eighty days is not excessive.


Santa Rosa