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Thompson’s leadership

EDITOR: As with many of us, Mike Thompson is my congressman. Barbara Lee was my representative for many years, and I was concerned about losing her representation when my husband and I moved to Sonoma County a few years ago. However, I have had many opportunities to hear Thompson speak and to follow his work since moving here, and each time I cast my vote for him, I feel confident that I am represented (“Noncompetitive elections,” Letters, Nov. 27).

One example is his Nov. 17 Close to Home column urging us to learn more about the local and global impact of climate change and become involved in efforts to mitigate climate change; it was like having a conversation with friends (“The political war over climate change”). I applaud his advocacy for gun control and his participation in the bipartisan House Climate Solutions Caucus.

I want to be represented by someone who is smart, honest, courageous and solution-driven. I feel fortunate to have Thompson speaking (and speaking out) for me and for the next generation. Let’s use Thompson as an example as we continue to reach out and speak to our neighbors in California and nationally. November 2020 isn’t far away.

JOANNE M. BROWN

Sonoma

Assisted suicide

EDITOR: Physician-assisted death is legal in five states and Washington D.C., but it should be legal across the country. Arguments against it include fear of abusing the practice or emotional harm to others. However, if we have free will, if we control our actions, then we should have the choice to end our own suffering.

Every day, people make the choice to live and others make the choice to end the pain of their family pets. Yet every day, people must endure their own pain with the knowledge of their imminent and inevitable death.

In California, assisted-death laws require having a terminal illness, mental competency and the capability to self-administer the death-inducing medication. These conditions prevent abuse of the practice and prevent emotional harm to others.

People may also fear physician-assisted death because of the human tendency to hold on to hope. We want to believe in miracles — in the impossible. But if someone is competent and wishes to end their life instead of being in pain and prolonging their certain death, then we should grant them that option.

If we can make this empathetic choice for animals, we should be permitted to make this choice for ourselves.

JENNIFER LE

Santa Rosa

Discouraging immigrants

EDITOR: I propose a simple solution for the current conundrum with the immigrant caravan: Offer them $3,000 each to go home and make a better life, and pay their travel home.

Make the payments secure (from gangs and their government) and metered over a year with the provision that should they return they will be immediately deported.

Next, add schools and training programs for 100 communities in Honduras and Guatemala that give their residents the opportunity to make a better life through modern technology. This will give them hope, the lack of which brought them to our border in the first place. Use the Peace Corps or some other nonprofit, such as Teachers without Borders.

Work with their governments to clean up their act regarding corruption and gangs. Make their countries a better place.

I am positive that all of this will cost less than a military presence at the border or a gazillion-dollar wall. The problem isn’t keeping them out; it is making their own countries a place they want to live.

KAREN NORMAN-BOUDREAU

Sebastopol

The heroin epidemic

EDITOR: There is a larger threat than poor, desperate immigrant families attempting to cross our border. It’s heroin.

A wall won’t stop the flow of illegal drugs coming into the U.S. Mexico now produces more than 90 percent of the heroin that is smuggled into our country. Heroin use and overdose deaths have become a public health crisis. Our drug policies have totally and tragically failed.

The money for the wall would be better utilized starting up an international task force to destroy the poppy fields, which are mainly in Mexico, with a smaller number in Colombia. The illegal drug trade is a much larger problem for the citizens of America than are those seeking asylum from drug violence in their home countries.

The only other alternative, as I see it, is decriminalization of heroin, which could help diminish the gang violence and other crime that follows the sale and use of illegal opiates. This has been successful in other countries, particularly Portugal and Switzerland, where overdose deaths, addiction rates and HIV infections have decreased, as well as prison populations.

We also need much better services for those already addicted and drug education programs to help curb addiction.

We can no longer afford to ignore this huge and growing threat.

HOLLY ORLANDO

Sonoma

Give PG&E credit

EDITOR: Many people have been bashing PG&E in this paper, throughout the media and even in the California Legislature, needing a scapegoat for last October’s and this November’s wildfires. Let’s take a realistic look at what we expect a utility to be capable of doing to eliminate threats from a rapidly changing environment interfacing with electricity, which they have been diligently trying to catch up with.

PG&E’s total workforce is 23,000. They are responsible for maintaining 115,000 miles of distribution and transmission lines. That’s 5 miles of line per employee, in addition to the other tasks they must do to deliver power and gas in a 70,000-square-mile service area. All this must be done without overcharging for their product, since rates are regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission.

Some have even suggested that we would be better off dissolving PG&E and having a government-run utility. I’m betting those are the same people who will be wailing the loudest when they are experiencing power outages, much higher rates and the creation of a giant bureaucracy.

JONATHAN McCLELLAND

Santa Rosa

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