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A teacher’s mark

EDITOR: I had Lynette Williamson (“I hate all my students equally,” Close to Home, Jan. 1) for two classes during my time at Analy High School, and I can’t say enough about her impact on my writing abilities, from both an academic and stylistic standpoint.

Her teaching helped set me up for using the English language accurately and, perhaps just as important, confidently.

After Analy, I attended Stanford University and have since taught at Stanford and led design thinking and creativity workshops all over the world. I use lessons from Williamson in my work every day, and I’m thankful I had someone that good at her job to teach me.

I was never terrible at English, but it wasn’t my strongest subject. It was the mistakes I made along the way that highlighted opportunities for growth and made me a better writer and speaker. The times I was corrected most are the times I remember most.

Teachers such as Williamson don’t come along very often. If your student has the good fortune to end up in one of her classes, let her work her magic. (This goes for a few other teachers at Analy as well.)

TAYLOR CONE

San Francisco

Power providers

EDITOR: One doesn’t have to be a Sonoma Clean Power employee to see that Ken Fedder’s letter (“Justifiable costs,” Dec. 29) is under-informed. The electric industry consists of three main parts: generation, transmission and distribution. The 2002 state law that enabled not-for-profit community partnerships such as Sonoma Clean Power focused only on the first part — generating electricity.

PG&E is still responsible for the network of wires and meters to transmit and distribute electricity to businesses and homes. That’s why PG&E will always have trucks and crews working to repair power outages, and Sonoma Clean Power won’t. That’s why Sonoma Clean Power customers are also customers of PG&E, since both provide part of the service. Since PG&E is good at invoicing, Sonoma Clean Power’s charges are simply brought into the existing PG&E bill and labeled accordingly.

The state law that enabled such partnerships also required that customers automatically be enrolled in the service but be allowed to opt out. This is not a choice available to most Californians.

Sonoma Clean Power’s CleanStart program saves customers money and its use of renewable and hydroelectric power is much higher on a percentage basis than PG&E’s (more than double in 2014). For me, both of those things are good for Sonoma County and Sonoma Clean Power’s customers.

KEN EGEL

Petaluma

Wolves vs. cattle

EDITOR: We have our second home in Siskiyou County and we know that it is a free-range county. But every other industry has to take out insurance for inventory loss, so why not ranchers (“Ranchers on edge over wolf encounters,” Dec. 27)?

Our home there is within the wolf pack’s territory, and we are excited to have them there. The cows do so much damage. They’ve cost us more than $500. They destroyed a pond on our property and knocked over the marker for the location of our septic tank.

It isn’t fair that the ranchers don’t have to pay for damage to other people’s property that their cows inflict, and yet they won’t accept any damage being done to their property.

KATHY and DAVE BIGGS

Sebastopol

Desalination plants

EDITOR: Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink. Why is that? It’s because 97 percent of Earth’s water contains salt. Seems our kidneys prefer desalted water.

Mother Nature has given us a problem. It’s called a drought. It could last one year, or 10 years, or 100. So Mother Nature believes smart people should be able to solve that problem. Well, smart people worldwide have solved that problem by building 17,000 desalination plants.

Some interesting facts:

Florida leads the nation with 120 plants.

Southern California has two, Northern California zero.

General Electric built a plant in Algiers that supplies pure water for four million residents. It was built in two years for $250 million.

Sonoma County will participate in spending $550 million on a train that will take a handful of its 500,000 residents to San Rafael. Money well spent won by Algiers.

By the way, San Rafael is proposing to build a plant. Santa Rosa is proposing to raise our water rates for the next five years. Another interesting fact. Pliny the Elder wrote how to desalt water in 50 AD. It’s 2016, and our elected officials have their heads in dry sand regarding desalination.

AL COHEN

Santa Rosa

Housing the homeless

EDITOR: In response to the Roseland resident who said that Camp Michela should go, I agree. All of the residents should move into warm, sturdy and safe homes. I’m sure all 19 or so residents would agree. Who would want to live in tents in the freezing cold and rain? As it turns out, at least 60 more people are on the waiting list for Camp Michela. It seems that tents are preferable to sleeping under a bridge or a tree.

Seeing the headline about a shelter being repaired, my heart lifted, but then I saw it was only for animals. Great for the animals but surely a crime that we allow humans to try to survive in below freezing temperatures and pouring rain, and, unfortunately, some don’t survive.

How about a program where each motel would designate one room per winter season for a homeless individual, couple or family who would be followed by a caseworker? This respite might just provide enough time for the folks to get back on their feet. At least they would be safe and warm with access to clean, running water and dignity.

EILEEN BILL

Santa Rosa