EDITOR: It's a very big deal that Santa Rosa resident Jeff Westbrook had a gun pointed at him twice in what was supposed to have been a pretty routine traffic stop by Deputy Erick Gelhaus a couple of months ago ("Multiple portraits of deputy in shooting," Nov. 1). Westbrook, cooperative and unarmed in the encounter, describes himself as having been very concerned about the stability of the deputy who would go on to shoot Andy Lopez on Oct. 22.
It was disturbing therefore that Westbrook's account was buried in a story about various community members' differing perspectives of Gelhaus. I'm glad that some people think very well of Gelhaus, and I am very appreciative of his important acts of service for our community, as detailed in Staff Writer Julie Johnson's reporting.
But the central question that readers are concerned with right now regarding this deputy is whether he was trigger happy, whether he was prone to overreaction. Westbrook's reliable account goes a long way toward giving us a disturbing answer to that question. Unfortunately, your journalism goes a long way to distract readers from that issue.
EDITOR: The right-wing Republican clamor over Obamacare is telling, and it does not have anything to do with the unfortunate website failures, which will no doubt get fixed. It's all about greed from insurance companies that, along with big conservative contributors, lost the debate that brought the Affordable Care Act into law.
Their kicking and screaming, and a government shutdown, should be ample evidence that Obamacare is good for millions of Americans. Sometimes the decibel level of the squeaky wheel gets so high that it makes us wonder if it really is worth listening to, or more importantly, believing.
EDITOR: This coming Sunday is the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Night of the Shattered Glass, which led to the Holocaust in which more than 11 million people, including 6 million Jews, were murdered by the Nazis.
A special event organized by the Jewish Community Center, Sonoma County and co-sponsored by many community groups is being held at Congregation Shomrei Torah in Santa Rosa from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Three eyewitness survivors will share their stories. There will be poetry and music, and a special guest speaker, Sergio La Porta, a professor from Fresno State University and a specialist on genocide.
This week, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors presented a gold resolution proclamation in honor of the event. Why should it matter in Sonoma County? As a reminder that bigotry and discrimination cannot be tolerated in our town and that genocide is part of a process that begins years earlier.
Executive director, Jewish Community Center, Sonoma County
EDITOR: Terry Leoni's statement that her client, Deputy Erick Gelhaus, acted appropriately to protect himself makes me wonder ("Multiple portraits of deputy in shooting," Nov. 1). Is it a police officer's priority to "protect himself" rather than protecting innocent people? When an officer shouts a command, does he or she consider that the person addressed may be wearing ear phones (very common), may be hard of hearing and may not be wearing a hearing aid (also common), may be a foreigner who did not understand the command or may be intimidated by the shout and freezes and doesn't know how to react?