If not now, when?

EDITOR: This country has ceased to be "for the people and by the people." It is now controlled by cowardly, spineless, politically motivated representatives who have no moral compass but that which serves their agendas.

The vote in the U.S. Senate against considering gun control leaves one to speculate whatever happened to pride in our country. I wonder, as a senior citizen, if I am alone in this overwhelming disgust and disappointment in a governing body that refuses to protect its citizens.

Obviously, the strength of the National Rifle Association elicits a greater morality than the lives of our children and the American public.

Our Founding Fathers meant in the Second Amendment to protect their homes and families. How anguished those good men would be to see their intentions twisted into today's NRA format, as evidenced into the Senate's political self-serving vote.

Where is their conscience?

This is not about sporting or recreational guns; this is about the use of weapons that sacrifice innocents all across our land. How long and what further massacres must take place before we say enough?

If not now, then when will we be stronger and braver and take back the safety of our people?



Teaching and testing

EDITOR: There's an old Chinese proverb: "I hear, and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand." The words ought to be posted in big letters in every elementary school class room. Judging from Michael Haran's recent op-ed ("Education needs to be retooled as well," Close to Home, Saturday), it seems that some educators are at long last realizing this dynamic.

The old saying underscores the need to address education from the viewpoint of learning, not teaching. Teaching serves learning, and learning happens sometimes with, sometimes in spite of, sometimes in the absence of teaching, but seldom in the absence of doing, especially with young children. Anyone who has been involved in 4-H intuitively recognizes this. Anyone who pays attention to how their own children learn knows it, too.

As for the hot issue of standardized testing, we can say that this judges parents rather than teachers. Anyone with an ounce of sense and attention knows that the single most important factor in students' learning is parental involvement. Dull uninterested parents make for dull, uninterested children. It's not fair to blame teachers for children's home life.



Enforcing the rules

EDITOR: After reading April 14 article concerning the public use of illegal bike trails in Annadel State Park ("Battling the &‘outlaw' trails of Annadel"), I feel that the injured bike rider, Tony Lamperti, who was on an illegal trail that was marked as such, should be fined for violating park rules as well as held responsible, where legally possible, to reimburse all costs incurred in his rescue by Sonoma and Napa counties and the city of Santa Rosa.


Santa Rosa

Big-picture thinking

EDITOR: So Sonoma County Supervisor David Rabbitt chants his slogan, "It's rates, rates, rates" ("Power brokers," Sunday). That is his analysis of the complex choices we are faced with as a community with regard to energy source and consumption?

Do we not deserve people with more thoughtful ideas and careful analysis from our elected and well-paid representatives? Chanting "it's rates, rates, rates" is simply infantile and reminiscent of those who chant such slogans as, "Drill baby drill."

Consider the popular metaphor for the difference between short-term thinking and long-term thinking, especially as it applies to the huge issue of energy. We are playing poker, thinking we are winning with aces in our hand. Backing up for the big picture reveals we are on the deck of the Titanic playing this over confident game.

Looking only at the short-term effects often result in long-term nightmares, such as contributing to climate change and other environmental disasters. Often the short-term approach benefits certain economic interests but ignores other hidden costs. Often the public assumes the burden of this hidden but all too real cost.

People should demand a more sophisticated level of thinking from our representatives.


Santa Rosa

No to car-pool lanes

EDITOR: Car-pool lanes that start at 3 p.m. just don't work. I commute round-trip from Santa Rosa to UC Berkeley. As if the Novato Narrows is not horrifying enough on the way home, I arrive at Golf Course Drive in Rohnert Park around 5:15 p.m. to complete gridlock. Guess what? The car-pool lane is almost empty. Who gets off of work at 3 p.m.? Since the new freeway opened, with a car-pool lane, it has added 15 to 30 minutes to my commute home daily.

I drive a hybrid Toyota Prius, but I cannot drive in the car-pool lane solo. This freeway (or country road, as I call it), doesn't work for the people who use it every day. Is the $400-plus fine really needed by the state enough to inconvenience the average commuter? I am just trying to get home to my family. I vote to abolish the diamond lane and let people just drive. How about you?


Santa Rosa