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Dangerous lapses

EDITOR: I recently read the Close to Home column by Matthew Wilson ("Why I'm no longer a cyclist," Sunday), as well as the editorial that followed ("Drivers must share the road with bicyclists," Tuesday).

Just two weeks ago, while driving home from school, I made an abrupt right turn and caused a bicyclist riding next to me to crash. The biker, who happened to be a friend of mine, went over the handlebars after I unknowingly cut him off. Along with a few others, I cleaned him up and gave him a ride home. I found out the next day that the fall had broken his arm.

Reading those items brought me back to the incident and how careless I had been. My father used to be an avid cyclist, and I had always held a concern for the safety of bicyclists and an appreciation of their uphill battle against automobiles. However many ordinances and laws are passed to protect bikers against road rage and unsafe drivers, a bigger problem is lapses in concentration and simple things like failing to check over a shoulder.

TIM ANTAREE

Santa Rosa

Addressing tragedy

EDITOR: It seems, after a horrible tragedy we must find someone to blame. In the case of my beloved cousin Mark Herczog, I can't tolerate that kind of thinking, nor a prosecution with a political agenda. Houston Herczog suffers from schizophrenia, which was undiagnosed in 2011 when he killed his father ("mother urges judge to commit her son," March 1). This was a random act, no different than a lightning strike that results in death.

Convicting Houston and sending him to jail won't bring his father back, and it doesn't serve the people of California. Those of us who knew Mark well feel that if he were alive today, he would beg that his son get appropriate help he couldn't provide.

Regardless of one's political affiliation, stance on gun control or crime and punishment, don't recent events show that we as a society aren't even close to understanding mental illness? That said, it makes much more sense to focus on treatment over incarceration when three licensed professionals agreed with what the defendant's family suspected for two years: He wasn't of sound mind that horrible night.

I hope and pray Houston can contribute to society (in an appropriate mental health facility) if only to help doctors understand the personal hell he and others go through each day.

RICH HERCZOG

Culver City

Profits over progress

EDITOR: When it comes to our cellphones and Internet, we pay a lot and receive second-class service/access. In Europe, you can get unlimited texting, voice calls and data for about $30 a month. In Hong Kong, you can get an unimaginably fast Internet connection for about $25 a month.

Watch Bill Moyers' interview with Susan Crawford, the author of "Captive Audience" at tinyurl.com/a8rs32t.

As Moyers said, "Our government has allowed a few powerful media conglomerates to put profit ahead of the public interest — rigging the rules, raising prices, and stifling competition. " These corporations, Comcast and Times Warner on the wired side, Verizon and AT&T on the wireless side, choose profits before progress.

Picture this race to our future. On the starting line is a Hyundai (South Korea), a Lexus (Japan), a BMW (Europe) and a stagecoach drawn by six horses representing the U.S. A stagecoach? We don't have a chance.

Take note legislators, mayors and council members — you can take bold measures to provide your citizens with high-speed fiber-optic Internet access at lower fees. Just imagine what a fantastic draw this would be to attract businesses to Sonoma County. This is possible if you have the will.

BILL KRUMBEIN

Santa Rosa

Mistake, not a crime

EDITOR: I am appalled that there should be criminal charges pressed against Mike Krnaich ("Charges in death of boy on outing," Tuesday). Granted, there was poor judgment on his part, but should it result in prison time? We all make mistakes and, for the most part, we get away with them.

To me, this was an honest mistake, and punishment enough should be living the rest of his life with Trevor Smith's death on his mind. Criminal acts should involve intent, and as far as I can see, there was no intent in this case. The district attorney should drop the case and feel sorry for Krnaich having to go through this.

BRUCE SHARROW

Petaluma