Friday’s Letters to the Editor

A Press Democrat reader recalls civil rights pioneer St. John Barrett, and more.|

Inspiring character

EDITOR: One of my favorite childhood memories is going for walks with my sisters and St. John Barrett, a tall and razor-thin young man who made us laugh. Hence my delight in reading Staff Writer Phil Barber’s tribute to one of the most extraordinary products of Santa Rosa and its public schools (“ ‘A true pioneer’ in civil rights fight,” Nov. 27).

Barrett’s father, Roe, served on the school board, and his son starred in the classroom. At Santa Rosa High, he won academic prizes and belonged to the stamp club, the scholarship society and other brainy organizations. His brilliance was known and appreciated by all. He was that rare commodity — a popular nerd — whose classmates fondly nicknamed him “Sainty.” My father, who taught Barrett in a U.S. history class, loved to tell about how whenever a test was imminent several students would call out, “Oh, Mr. Rankin, can I sit next to Sainty during the exam?”

In many ways it seems improbable that Barrett would become a major figure in America’s epic struggle to bring equality to its Black citizens. After all, he came from an insular little Northern California town where there wasn’t a single Black face in his 1938 high school yearbook. His story is remarkable and inspiring, one all Santa Rosans can be proud of.

DAVID RANKIN

Santa Rosa

CPUC solar plan

EDITOR: Those who installed rooftop solar believing it would help the environment are to be lauded. However, the current California Public Utilities Commission proposal to reduce financial incentives for installing new residential rooftop solar is wise because (in addition to those incentives being unfair) residential rooftop solar is three times more costly than large utility-scale solar farms, per unit of electricity produced.

Global warming is such a huge and dire threat that every dollar spent fighting it should be used where it will save the most greenhouse gas. And that’s not rooftop solar. Rather than micromanage solutions, the Legislature should stick with telling utilities how fast to implement renewables (which they have and should probably accelerate), then let utility engineers figure out how best to do it.

RICHARD HARKNESS

Santa Rosa

More new fees

EDITOR: It seems that folks with solar panels are not paying their fair share for use of the power grid and the maintenance of the power grid (“Rate changes may end past rooftop solar deals,” Dec. 1). Just forget about what these folks were promised when making the decision to spend quite a bit of money to go solar. I’m just waiting for the next round of broken promises that will hit electric vehicle owners. They are not purchasing gasoline, so they are not paying fuel taxes for road maintenance. Just guessing new fees on registration are in their future.

RALEIGH CHAIX

Willits

Santa Rosa’s fuzzy plan

EDITOR: Well, we finally got our Homeless Solutions Strategic Plan from the city of Santa Rosa (“Plan aims for ‘functional zero’ homelessness,” Nov. 15). Where do I start? I take exception to the word solutions, defined by Websters as “a bringing or coming to an end.” Big word with big promises. With this plan in four years? I think not.

The city’s homeless services manager described the plan as a “framework to help guide us.” Seems like a big disconnect. The document also uses the word “systems” several times. In reading the plan closely, these systems are integral to bringing the plan to fruition. But nowhere in the plan are these systems described or detailed in any form. In short, an ambiguous document full of the same noncommittal rhetoric the city has been pushing for years concerning this issue.

Even better: $100,000 in consultant fees for this gem. Now that I think about it, I also take exception to the word plan in the title. There is no plan here. Strategic is a stretch too. I don’t think this is what Gov. Gavin Newsom had in mind for agency plans to spend our money.

All is not lost though. Young children might enjoy looking at the pretty pictures and colorful charts.

GREGG GRUBIN

Santa Rosa

Decreasing violence

EDITOR: Murder is as old as humanity, yet firearms did not appear in any numbers until the 15th century. A firearm is merely a tool like a hammer. Banning tools will not stop evil. The root cause of the violence is hearts without God, homes without fathers and discipline, and courts without justice. The only way to decrease the violence is to bring back God, fathers and justice.

ROGER A. FERNWOOD

Petaluma

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