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Distracted drivers

EDITOR: Drunken driving and texting while driving are similar crimes. Each involves a decision by the driver to ignore the law and the safety of everyone else. The first has penalties; the second, a mild tap on the wrist with a plastic ruler. Both are crimes, and the driver must be held responsible for the crime.

Several people have been killed or injured in Sonoma County by cellphone-distracted drivers with only mild punishment for the driver responsible, like the “oh, isn’t that too bad” response years ago for DUI accidents with mild punishments.

When a driver is distracted and imperiling others, whether it’s through use of texting, alcohol or drugs, the crime needs to be similarly punished: loss of license, prison time, restitution and loss of voting right.

SOPHIE BETH PETTIGREW

Santa Rosa

Garden party

EDITOR: I, too, am concerned our country is reaching a tipping point where frustrated, scapegoated and disenfranchised citizens push back at the authoritarian ruling class.

However, I couldn’t differ more with Randy Thomas (“Tipping point,” Letters, Tuesday) on who and what’s to blame. President Barack Obama has been hamstrung by conservatives who have worked tirelessly to ensure that little if anything gets done.

Time and again, he has offered to compromise (often against his own party’s base), and they have rebuffed him at every turn. Proposing conservative ideas such as the individual mandate and cap and trade, he has been filibustered and vilified. Meanwhile, far-right state legislatures have used their political capital shutting abortion clinics, expanding gun rights and disenfranchising minorities, the youth and the elderly with strict voter ID laws.

Conservatives have proposed nothing to build up the middle class, put the country back to work or humanely solve our immigration crisis.

The conservative movement seems to be content to hasten the destruction of what little hope we have left that government can offer substantial solutions to the country’s problems. When that hope is snuffed out completely, look out. Ferguson, Mo., will look like a garden party.

PATRICK NAGEL

Ukiah

The pitchfork test

EDITOR: Here’s what we should do about the Courthouse Square remodel. Put temporary barricades on Third and Fourth streets so cars can’t use that section of the street to get from Mendocino Avenue to Santa Rosa Avenue. Keep the temporary barricades up for at least a year. If at the end of that year there have been no groups of people attending a City Council meeting with pitchforks and torches, then rebuild Courthouse Square.

CHARLES THOMPSON

Santa Rosa

Southeast greenway

EDITOR: As a 20-year resident of Santa Rosa and an avid cyclist, I find the push for conversion of the Highway 12 right-of-way in southeast Santa Rosa to a greenway unnecessary, shortsighted, redundant and unaffordable (“Greenway gets closer,” Friday).

We already have designated Santa Rosa Creek as a pedestrian and cycling path. This path is awaiting funding for completion. If and when completed, it will create a beautiful nature trail connecting downtown to Channel Drive and Oakmont.

I object to the Highway 12 conversion for the following reasons:

First, it will detract attention and funds from the Santa Rosa Creek project.

Second, as growth is inevitable, the time will come when Highway 12 will need to become a freeway, connecting Sonoma County to Interstate 80.

Just as it happened in South Bay, during construction of Highway 85, eminent domain may be utilized to create a corridor for Highway 12. At which time the path in discussion could be swapped for an alternate path, avoiding Spring Lake and Howarth Park.

The city of Santa Rosa is cash-strapped to the point it can ill-afford upkeep and maintenance of its streets and sidewalks let alone another greenway, where one is unfinished. Let’s not bite off more than we can chew.

KAMRAN AZMOUDEH

Santa Rosa

Too fast, too sloppy

EDITOR: I have lived in Sonoma County for 14 years now, and I have really seen a change in driving habits — much more litter and people just not obeying the laws. People still talk or text while driving; hello, are you really that stupid? The average speed on the freeway has gone up. The impatience of people in general is really bad.

Is it because of too much technology that everyone expects things to go faster? I do not want my life to go faster.

Do people care when they throw trash out their windows? I have observed this personally. It is really sad.

I believe that officers should be hired to patrol and fine people $1,000 for littering. Look at the money that the state could get.

GAYLE SALTSGAVER

Santa Rosa

Healing and trust

EDITOR: The protests in Ferguson, Mo., remind me of the challenges we still face in our own community after the tragic shooting of Andy Lopez. Many of us continue to question whether justice was served.

What is the status of efforts to move toward community policing, toward forming an independent review board, toward demilitarizing policing policies? Can healing and trust be brought about without implementation of significant change?

I’ve seen several letters to the editor. Why not have a series of articles bringing the community up to date on these issues?

LIZ FINN

Sebastopol