Cleaning up parks for children's sake

I heartily agree with a Times article reporting that the mental-health needs of children are met by spending generous amounts of time outdoors in nature.

I've spent my entire 30-year career serving the mental-health needs of MediCal families and children, among the poorest in California. Whenever I advise outdoor time, the response is inevitably that families are afraid to let their children out of doors. Their fear's well-founded.

When I planned day-treatment activities for an adolescent boys' group, I chose the nontraditional approach of exposing them to nature.

Once a week, to learn community responsibility and provide a place for children, we would clean different inner-city parks. We would find discarded condoms, used hypodermic needles and pornography. Sadly, those parks are denizens of gang members, drug users and predators.

Since children are our future, we must provide suitable parks in which children can play. This would need a commitment from city planners, law enforcement, local communities and adults, particularly parents, to provide appropriate supervision.

Let's take back our parks and return them to the children!

James A. Erickson

Brentwood

Bike lanes claim is hollow victory


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One of the "touted" accomplishments of the Richmond Progressive Alliance is the creation of bike lanes.

Oh boy, the streets are strewed with potholes and rough, irregular paving that a large percentage of Richmond's taxpaying residents enjoy every day.

The bike lanes I've seen are generally on the side of unswept roadways, where rocks and debris make riding a bike so dangerous that the vehicle lane is the preferred path of travel for bicyclists -- that infinitesimal percentage of the residents.

Kudos to the alliance for a job well done!

John English

Richmond

Crimea's election hardly democratic

Crimeans voted! Really? Russian troops surrounded polling stations, ballot boxes were glass and what was in them was clearly visible.

Armed police inside polling places, protesters harassed and beaten, and some 90 percent of the people voted? Political and military tactics were used to swing this vote. This "election" is no different from Kim Jong Un's receiving 100 percent of the vote in North Korea.

During the Soviet era, Russians were relocated to all 14 republics to dilute the native populations for obvious reasons. Those who pine for Russia should just move back.

The majority of residents in significant parts of several U.S. Southwestern states are of Mexican descent and speak Spanish. And, clearly, the land once belonged to Mexico.

If the Mexican military crossed the border, seized control of these areas and attempted annexation, based on the desires of the majority of the local population, would we be fine with that?

Could Vladimir Putin also have his eye on having Alaska returned to Russia?

Dawn Magnussen

Walnut Creek

Explaining the anti-war protests

In her letter, Cynthia Cerletti wanted to know what became of the anti-war outrage.

The majority of war protests and Lafayette's hillside crosses were directed at the Iraq War, an unnecessary war built on false pretenses.

When President George W. Bush was selling the Iraq War, we weren't buying his claims that the war would make Iraq a "model of democracy;" or the "war would last six days, or six weeks, but not six months" (Donald Rumsfeld); the "war would pay for itself" (Paul Wolfowitz); or we'd be "welcomed as liberators" (Dick Cheney).

There were no major protests against the Afghanistan War, a response to 9/11. Had we known how ineptly that war would be conducted and that Bush would pull 65 percent of troops from Afghanistan to invade Iraq, we would have protested.

Cerletti blames "mainstream media" for silence. Does she remember nonmainstream Fox News declaring the Afghanistan War a success and a reason to re-elect Bush in 2004? Does she remember Fox's outrageously promoting the Iraq War until it became obvious it was a mess?

Charles Locher

Richmond