Lopez case transparency
EDITOR: The Supreme Court has removed obstacles to proceeding with the lawsuit against sheriff’s Sgt. Erick Gelhaus for the 2013 slaying of 13-year-old Andy Lopez. Barring further delays, the case will be decided by a jury or an out-of-court settlement.
Last Sunday, the Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach — established by the Board of Supervisors in 2015 — encouraged public comment into sheriff’s policies. The appeal was made in a commentary by IOLERO Director Jerry Threet and Evelyn Cheatham, chair of the Community Advisory Council subcommittee charged with recommending possible policy changes on use of force (“Have a say on sheriff’s use-of-force policy”).
To make educated comments, the public needs access to the whole Lopez story. The media covered the case extensively with information available. But we can expect discovery of more information in pre-trial investigations by attorneys for the county and the Lopez family, including sworn testimony not yet available to the public.
If the case goes to trial, that information would be revealed in court. If the case settles out of court, history suggests damages will be paid by the Board of Supervisors, the case file will be sealed, and the public won’t be fully informed.
County supervisors decide how we spend our money. If they’re asked to write a check, they should refuse unless the file remains open to all and transparent.
Planning for elder care
EDITOR: The Close to Home titled “Alzheimer’s is No. 3: Are you ready?” (April 8) rings so true. Now I am making decisions for my dad. In 2010, he still envisioned a health directive addressing a singular catastrophic health event — not the progressive decline he’s now living that could easily last a decade. He had challenged physicians’ concerns (and mine) about his declining self-care — “Why would I want to extend my life?”
Two years ago, I had the presence of mind to grab a Post-It note and scribble three things he identified as important: keeping his vision, having company and knowing “what is really going on.” Dementia has since stripped him of this last quality-of-life wish — to “know.” My role is to honor his dignity, coordinate his care and maximize what is joyful.
I am striving to respect what I do know of his wishes, invoking his stoicism to guide care toward a painless, unfussy, limited-intervention demise. Please gift yourself and your family with a thoughtful plan. Get educated. Go to a presentation on advance care planning given by health professionals and My Care, My Plan: Speak Up Sonoma County at 2 p.m. July 17 in Santa Rosa. See “events” at www.MyCareMyPlanSonoma.org.
Proud of resistance
EDITOR: I spent the morning of the Fourth wondering if I still felt proud to be American. And I decided yes. I’m proud of the women who marched wearing pink hats, of the protesters who flooded the airports, of the teens who stood up to the National Rifle Association and of the demonstrators outside of detention centers. Resist.
A supervisorial failure
EDITOR: The primary function of government is to keep the people safe. As reported by Cal Fire and a recent civil grand jury, the government of Sonoma County, or more specifically the Board of Supervisors, failed that responsibility last October — with fatal results.