Friday’s Letters to the Editor

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Fire, power and phones

EDITOR: Our family lives in Cloverdale after losing our home in Santa Rosa during the 2017 Tubbs fire. We’re concerned over the lack of phone and internet service (or the significant potential for losing it) during PG&E’s public safety power outages and wildfires.

In Fountaingrove, where we lived for 17 years, we enjoyed an old-school, copper-wired phone that worked during power outages. The copper wires were able to power our phone from AT&T’s central office. When we resettled in Cloverdale, we learned that copper-based landlines are no longer provided for new residences. As we’ve since discovered, voice-over-internet phones and most cellphones don’t work during a power outage, especially when there is no back-up battery power nor a diesel generator installed at either cell towers or service provider locations.

I’ve asked our state representative and county supervisor to ensure all telecom service providers return to Federal Communication Commission- mandated landline levels of reliability of greater than 99.999%. There is no reason why cellphone and internet services, regardless of how they are provided, should fall below the so-called “five 9s” level of uptime. Residents of Sonoma County should expect no less from our service providers.



Trump’s sentence

EDITOR: If President Donald Trump is convicted of a crime, I would suggest that an appropriate punishment might be 40 hours per week of community service raking the floors of California’s forests until they are clean.


El Verano

Safely evacuating

EDITOR: Contrary to Ron Hennessey’s letter in Sunday’s paper (“Evacuation orders”), I have seen articles about how the range of evacuations was determined. Information about the fire, wind direction, location, etc. was put into some kind of computer model that gave three scenarios about when and where and how quickly the fire spread (“Sheriff defends massive evacuation,” Oct. 28). Based on those scenarios, the sheriff and Cal Fire determined where the evacuations should take place.

When we were evacuated out of Windsor on the morning of Oct. 26, there was no smoke in the air, no wind and no fire in sight. It made no sense to me, but after the loss of life over the past two years, who am I to argue? As it happened, within a day the fire was two blocks from my neighborhood.

So to the sheriff, Cal Fire and whoever else was responsible for the evacuation decisions, thank you. I would much rather be evacuated early and safely than flee for my life as people have done in the past several years.

The firefighters were able to fight for and save our homes rather than having to evacuate people and lose the homes. As far as I see it, everybody wins.



Alternative energy

EDITOR: We are accustomed to cheap, nearly continuous electricity in whatever quantity we desire. The Tubbs fire and then the Camp fire changed the definition of cheap with the tragic loss of life and property, and this year the threat from extreme weather knocked out another leg supporting this platform, the “nearly continuous” one.

The “quantity” leg will be severely tested by our need to shift from carbon dioxide- emitting energy to carbon- neutral energy while we continue to add to the demand by the transition of our transportation fleet as it electrifies.

Fortunately, solutions exist. We can expand our deployment of wind and solar, so there is more regional autonomy and less reliance on distant power sources. Thorium reactors are safe to operate, generate no fissionable weapons grade material and can operate on spent uranium fuel rods from existing power plants. They can also be built in a much shorter time frame, on a smaller scale, satisfying the “cheap” and “continuous” criteria.

There is a TEDxBerlin talk by Michael Shellenberger, titled “Why I changed my mind about nuclear power,” that’s worth checking out with an open mind.


Santa Rosa

A skewed view

EDITOR: Mike Smith’s editorial cartoon in Monday’s edition depicted Rolex watches and Mercedes-Benz autos as the same as “Medicare for All.” For one thing, the luxury items shown are intended for the very rich. Medicare for All speaks for itself.

Second, and no less important, is that paying for this egalitarian plan will be offset by the elimination of costly premiums of current health plans. There is a large proportion of America that either cannot afford these costly plans or on the verge of bankruptcy due to extreme health care costs.

Medicare for All is a fair and humane system. Its only downside is that the very rich will have a tiny bit less cash with which to purchase luxury items.



A matter of safety

EDITOR: We came back home on the afternoon of Oct. 30, with power slated to be restored and the air better out in west county than it had been in Petaluma, where we’d stayed during the evacation. Thanks, Sheriff Mark Essick. Evacuation was the proper choice, although inconvenient for so many. Ask the Coast Guard how many people drown because “who needs a life jacket? They’re too uncomfortable”?



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