<b>Riding the line</b>

EDITOR: From an outward glance, it would seem very reasonable to suggest that cyclists ride closer to the curb and farther away from the white line ("Bikes must share too," Letters, Friday), but I would encourage drivers to get out of their cars every once in a while and inspect the shoulders of our roadways. They would probably be surprised to see the broken glass, gravel, sand, wood chips, nails and other debris that litters our roads. Unfortunately, right next to the white line is often the only safe path without risking flat tires, bike damage or crashing.

Believe me, as a cyclist, and I feel safe to say on behalf of the vast majority of cyclists, we would love to ride as far away from the white line as possible, but we cannot because of the amount of debris and hazards present. I understand that passing a cyclist might seem to be an inconvenience, but please remember that inconvenience is someone's son, daughter, husband, wife, father or mother.


Santa Rosa

<b>Combating hunger</b>

EDITOR: I am writing in response to your Wednesday editorial ("Taking food from the working poor"). In my time as executive director of the Redwood Empire Food Bank, I have come to understand that people are in need of help for one of two reasons, either decisions they have made in life, or circumstances beyond their control. In either case, hunger cannot be the price they pay.

As a community, we can continue to look east for help, but I'm afraid that I have bad news; help is not on the way any time soon. While we support the Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program, I believe the most immediate and, therefore, the strongest solution to end hunger in our community is to care for one another. Without question, we must continue to work for effective public policy and programs. However, hunger is urgent, and every day that we debate the merits of whether to provide help the health and well-being of our neighbors declines.

I think we can all agree that the number of people seeking food assistance is on the rise. Now, let's accept that we can help them and commit to doing so.


Executive director, Redwood Empire Food Bank

<b>Preparing for death</b>

EDITOR: Katy Butler's opinion piece ("Why few of us get to die peacefully at home," Sept. 21) had many good points. However, many of her assertions about aggressive care at the end of life lack scientific citations, reducing their credibility. The focus on money and blaming medical professionals is unfortunate.

I have been a health care chaplain for 39 years — 22 in hospitals and 17 in hospice. I have extensive experience personally and professionally with people dying. A topic that is missing in Butler's essay is the responsibility that individuals have to make known their wishes regarding medical treatment long before there is a crisis.

We have documents to assist us — advanced directives, living wills and physicians' orders for life sustaining treatment. We should be having those difficult conversations with our family and physicians and making our wishes known long before medical treatment decisions need to be made. If we take responsibility for ourselves we will contribute to the alleviation of exorbitant medical bills as our lives come to an end. The time for action is now.


Santa Rosa

<b>Designing the square</b>

EDITOR: Reunifying Old Courthouse Square would go a long way toward righting the historic planning blunders inflicted on downtown Santa Rosa. Yes, traffic and business will be disrupted during construction, but in the long run everyone will gain from a pedestrian-oriented downtown.

Before going forward, however, we all need to take a close look at the beloved town squares of Healdsburg, Sonoma and Windsor. What do you see? Inviting grassy picnic areas. Lots and lots of shade trees. Human-friendly features, such as gazebos and benches. Interactive water fountains where children can splash and play on hot days.

What you'll not see: monolithic pillars, barren expanses of concrete and stone, stairs, walls, barriers; all of which are disappointing aspects of the latest design put forward by planners.


Santa Rosa

<b>Getting it straight</b>

EDITOR: Rick Barr ("Obama's choice," Letters, Tuesday) implores to us to "get our facts straight." He says the tea party wants to return to the Founding Fathers' intent of a smaller federal government that adheres to the principals of the Constitution and is not intrusive in the lives of its citizens. Really!

Citizens in Pennsylvania were making whiskey and didn't want to pay the federal tax on whiskey. George Washington led an army of 20,000 to put down the Whiskey Rebellion of 1791 and forced citizens to pay the tax.

Alexander Hamilton created the First Bank of the United States in 1791. Washington signed the bill into law. There is nothing in the Constitution that says anything about a bank.

John Adams signed into law the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. Twenty-five people were arrested, 11 were tried and 10 were convicted with a law that by today's standards would be considered unconstitutional. Thomas Jefferson used the law to punish some of his Federalist enemies. Wow, talk about federal intrusion into the lives of its citizens.


Santa Rosa