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Letters (October 28, 2021)

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It is Sunday afternoon and it is raining and I am glad for that. Perhaps this means that we can stop worrying about fires for a while, but just now I want to focus on the rain, and the overblown hype about it. It rained in the 70’s and in the 80’s while Peggy and I were building our place on the Holmes Ranch. We worked outside in the rain building fences and mucking out the barn, taking care of the pigs and the goats. We came into our house and dried out near the wood cookstove, we fixed dinner and settled in for the night with our kerosene lamp. One afternoon during an especially heavy downpour TJ Nelson and the guy who subdivided the Guntly Ranch came slogging into my yard on foot, looking like the drowned rats they were, because their pickup had sunk into a spring in the middle of the road that nobody had noticed. I do remember a winter when we had EIGHT feet of rain at our place, and I do wonder what the grape growers who have planted up and downhill will do when that happens again. 

My point is that it rained back then just like it is raining today, and nobody mentioned “Atmospheric River” or “Bomb Cyclone.” There is all this fear being created, and all this hype around it—but folks it is just rain. We will get through this just fine. Go and look at how your garden loves it. 

Tom McFadden


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Boonville historical rain records…

I’m looking for anyone who has knowledge of the Boonville rain records. Paul Meilleur had been curating and updating before he died last Spring. The records go back through at least the 1930s. I never learned how Paul became responsible for them, but the process in recent years involved Rich Ferguson sending his daily totals from Boonville to him, to keep the old records ongoing. Rich and I were friends and neighbors, and we always compared our rain gauges before he sent his numbers to Paul. When Rich died in early 2020 I continued sending Paul my rainfall numbers from Farrer Ln. Now they’re both gone and I am carrying on without the old data to link to. Last January Paul had told me through an email that he would be getting the records put together (apparently they were in some disarray) and would send a copy of the result to me. But that wasn’t to be as he suffered a fatal accident on Clow Ridge sometime after. 

I’m hoping somebody who knew Paul better (we only communicated by email) might know a way for me to acquire the old records, and perhaps donate the originals to the AV Historical Society. 

Paul wrote in reply to my request for records last January: 

“Yeah, they go back to the 1930's. For decades they were kept by folks who worked at the Cal Trans yard, among them was Johnny Pinoli who was husband to Philo postmistress Thelma. There were several years of overlap between Ken (Montgomery) and Cal Trans and somehow we merged those numbers. Emil Rossi used to have dozens of year's hand written of the CalTrans yard numbers. It is on my to do list to dig it all out of the archives and add your stuff.”


Brian Wood


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Dear AVA,

Just a little note to say how much I miss Lauren’s. It really was a community center for the whole Valley — New Year’s Eve, the Variety Show after-parties, the great live music — all of it. But what I miss most about Lauren’s was Lauren.

Fred Wooley


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It seems like Election Day has become the most important day of the year with the partisan atmosphere we live in. Why not make it a federal holiday so people can vote in person, even in the great state of Texas, where you may have to drive 100 miles to vote? If the calendar is too full of federal holidays, maybe we could skip one of the others every other year. I suppose it would take an act of Congress to do so. Ha, ha.

Mike Davis

Santa Rosa

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Whenever the proud new owner of an all-electric vehicle sanctimoniously collars me to expound upon the virtues of his/her decision to buy the car, I counter with the same question: Did the car salesperson tell you where the electricity comes from to charge it? In new car owner has turned a blank stare my way - a reaction that needs no further explanation. He or she clearly did not receive any such info and did not think to even ask the question. O critical thinking, where art thou?

If all you care about are the vehicle tailpipe emissions that befoul your own little corner of the world then brag away. But don't pretend that you've struck any kind of blow to climate change. Because you haven't. 

California imports 25% of its electricity, more than twice as much as the second largest net electricity importer: Virginia. That electricity zaps at the speed of light along the transmission lines that connect all or part of 14 Western states, along with B,C., Alberta, and Northern Baja. The electricity that powers your computer as you read this could in any given second have originated in any of these states, including the heavy coal-producing states of Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado. the extent that electricity demand in California continues to grow, imports have to date and are likely to continue to grow. So the tailpipe emissions you have avoided in your uber-expensive new car (which only the wealthy can afford: this is America, so the real winners in all this are the car manufacturers) in your pristine suburb have increased the coal-fired pollution that so heavily contributes planet-wide to climate change; emissions do not recognize state or national borders. 

To be sure, California has made great strides in developing renewable resources. But baseload power - the big plants that operate reliably all the time - remain predominantly fossil-fueled. After all, here in entitled-land, if reliability were even slightly compromised in the name of all-renewable generation, Californians would be the first to shout "Off With Their Heads" to renewable energy producers who cooled their hot tubs. To be sure, California is admirably expanding intermittent sources like wind and solar. But we ain't there, yet. 

Marilyn Davin

Walnut Creek

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Since law enforcement is under constant review and scrutiny, I would like to see the same for public interactions with law enforcement. Respect for law starts at home. Perhaps a free dictionary included with all the free benefits could define what “stop,” “don’t run” and “show me your hands” actually mean. It’s not always police.

Virginia McCann


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In about two weeks, world leaders will meet in Glasgow, Scotland for the U.N.’s COP26. Their focus has been to secure every country's plans for net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 (to limit global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius). Yet this summer we learned 2050 is too late.

California is a leader on climate change issues, yet even our current targets are insufficient, according to the best climate science today. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who will attend COP26, has the opportunity to set a bold new goal more consistent with current science: net negative emissions by 2030.

The Climate Center, a local organization with a statewide reach, has communicated an ambitious but achievable plan for reaching this goal to the governor. It includes 100% carbon-free electricity by 2030; zero-emission transportation by 2030; a 70% reduction in building emissions by 2030; ending new fossil fuel permits immediately and phasing out production and refining by 2035; and sequestering 100 million metric tons of carbon dioxide on California lands by 2030.

It is clear not every country can do this now, but California can. Please join me in urging Newsom to take this important stand for us all in Glasgow.

Chris Thomas

Santa Rosa

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I worry that Democrats aren’t taking Republicans’ efforts to end our democracy seriously enough. Texas Republicans now want an audit of their 2020 election results (joining dubious audits in Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin). But Texas? Which Donald Trump won handily?

Why would Republicans want an audit in Texas? There can be only one explanation: This is an ongoing campaign to keep the words “election fraud” on the front pages and in the public’s mind, a purposeful drip, drip, drip to erode confidence in America’s election integrity.

Why? Republicans are writing legislation in swing states to allow overruling of the popular vote by giving their legislatures and governors the ability to claim fraud and appoint different (Republican) Electoral College delegates. A major part of pulling this off is convincing the public that fraud readily happens (as, unfortunately, 66% of Republicans already believe).

Thus, the groundwork is getting laid for a real election steal — an electorate misled, confused and duped into accepting fraud, and therefore numbingly docile when Donald Trump (or a Trump wannabe) claims fraud and exploits the many inanities in our archaic Electoral College laws to turn an election defeat into a chicanery-rigged capturing of the presidency.

Democrats need a serious battle plan — now.

Rick Childs


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Dear Editor,

Once again, as the GOP has successfully done so many times during the past thirty-five years, united Republican senators in Congress pulled another fast one on the American people’s Constitutional right to the pursuit of democracy here in America. Today the Senate’s ten Republicans, with the aid of a pseudoDemocratic US senator traitor to his party, namely Sen. Joe Manchin, thwarted the will of the people by stopping consideration of the national Civil Right to Vote Law.

One has to be blind not to notice how state legislatures in states like Georgia, Texas, and elsewhere have passed laws abridging citizens’ rights to vote. This will adversely affect voters in future local, state and national elections across the nation.

If you don’t think this is a big deal, think again. Manchin successfully made some naive Democrats believe that he would convince one or two Republican Senators to vote in favor of the bill.

Frank H. Baumgardner, III 

Santa Rosa

PS. One of the most disturbing recent trends is the use of mass media cable networks like FOX News to castigate politicians on the opposite side of the political aisle. Today Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson smeared Rep. Eric Swalwell, who happened to be a liberal representing the East Bay. Rep. Swalwell took a position in favor of the criminal charging of Steve Bannon for his refusal to comply with a Congressional subpoena to testify in the Jan committee investigation.

As soon as Carlson ended today's broadcast, Rep. Swalwell’s office received a death threatening phone call from one of Carlson’s listeners who, according to the representative, used racial epithets threatening not only Rep. Swalwell’s life but also the lives of the representative’s wife and children. Hasn't politics reached a new low?

Representative Swalwell is calling for an end to the kind of dangerous hate-inducing vitriol that Carlson spews out almost every day (on MSNBC, N. Wallace's show). While Carlson may have great intellectual gifts, if the results of his broadcasts are civil unrest where police officers and, probably next time, lawmakers’ lives are taken, is this worth it?

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To the Editor:

Little scares me about Halloween or trick-or-treating. Ghosts, zombies, skeletons and witches have nothing on all the milk ingredients in candy and the frightening truth about the dairy industry.

This is the industry that has spent billions convincing humans that drinking the milk of another species is okay.

This is the industry that feeds millions of dairy cows in favor of feeding starving humans.

This is the industry that creates pastures for dairy cows which accounts for a substantial reduction of forestland and other wildlife habitats. Add to this that the digestive system of cows discharges large amounts of methane, and their waste discharges nitrous oxide, both contributors to global warming.

This is the industry that perpetually impregnates cows in order to keep them lactating to produce milk meant for their offspring and then kills them off after they are “spent.”

The dairy industry is more frightening than any Halloween nightmare.

But, we’re lucky. Our local supermarkets offer a selection of plant-based milks, cheeses, and ice creams, as well as a colorful display of fresh fruits and veggies. And the dairy industry reporting slumping sales is just the treat we need this holiday season.

Lawson Jenkins


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Along with 99% of the Bay Area’s population, I am angry about the way Major League Baseball runs the playoffs. When I was young, we had two leagues, National and American. Teams in those leagues did not play one another, except for exhibition games. Thus, the best teams in each league qualified to play in the World Series.

The best teams in the National League this season were the Dodgers and Giants. These teams should have played one another in a best-of-seven series to determine which team deserved to win the National League pennant (a series now called the NLCS, ugh).

It seems to me that MLB and the players’ union are intent on destroying the game that was once called America’s pastime.

I’m also furious that a bad call that ended the last game of the Dodgers-Giants series was allowed to stand. MLB is doing the game and its fans a great disservice.

Michael Burwen


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Daily we read and hear of the ravages wrought by years of drought. And what solutions are being proposed? Even partial ones. No one is even asked to pray for rain or do a dance.

If Israel can get over 50% of its water by desalination from the sea, why aren’t we building desalination plants up and down the coast?

And why aren’t ego-driven billionaires, instead of promoting circus rides into outer space, investing in solutions to rescue our great agricultural economy, refurbish our drained-dry aquifers and refresh our beautiful lakes? After all, these billionaires need to serve the very people that made them wealthy.

It is time to quit whining and find workable solutions.

John D. Poynter

San Francisco

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