Sunday’s Letters to the Editor

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A flawed fantasy

EDITOR: Lew Taber fantasizes a very different ending to the mass shooting in El Paso, if only armed “good guys” had been there to take down the “bad guy” (“Protecting society,” Letters, Wednesday). Sounds pretty Wild West, like a 1950s Roy Rogers TV episode — the white hats kill the black hat and nobody else gets hurt.

Here’s the flaw in his fantasy. Texas is an open carry state. With few restrictions, Texans can openly carry handguns, even military-grade weapons, in public. In fact, the shooter himself was within his rights when he walked into Walmart armed with a Kalashnikov-style rifle. He didn’t break any Texas laws until he started killing people. In other words, nothing prevented the 3,000 shoppers in Walmart from being armed, too, and likely some of them were. Yet no good guys came to the rescue.

The image of random, law-abiding gun owners saving the day in mass shooting scenarios is a National Rifle Association fever dream. As long as Americans have easy access to semiautomatic weapons with large-capacity magazines, the good guys will be dead before they can even draw their guns.


Santa Rosa

PG&E’s irresponsible plan

EDITOR: Wednesday’s article about preparing for power outages said “county officials urged PG&E to eventually develop a fire-safety alternative to shutting off power to customers” (“Officials prep for outages”). They need to do more than “urge.” They need to insist.

PG&E says we need to be prepared, as if stocking up on flashlights, batteries and canned beans (don’t forget a manual can opener) was enough to survive a prolonged blackout, especially one affecting 400,000 county residents and 20,000 businesses. They don’t even mention that residents on wells will have no water in the event of an outage. People who have livestock will be especially impacted. For example, a horse needs 10-20 gallons of water a day.

Being prepared for a prolonged outage would require many customers to purchase generators, back-up batteries, solar collectors and/or large, elevated water tanks at a cost of thousands of dollars. People aren’t going to be able to afford to do that, especially on such short notice. And for that kind of money, main transmission lines could be buried.

PG&E thinks it’s off the hook for maintaining its transmission lines by just shutting off the power when fire danger is high, but that is irresponsible and unacceptable.



America in the world

EDITOR: His diplomatic skills having failed again, the White House occupant is provoking a needless trade war with China. The damage to the world’s economy, and ours, will be serious.

Collateral damage is already here in the Bay Area — the federal government is pulling support from a 14-year-old language and cultural exchange program with China (“SF State shuts down language program,” July 31). So far, 13 universities have been forced to close the program, affecting thousands of students.

Thus, White House adherence to ignorance and xenophobia holds firm. When the current occupant is out of office, let’s all look to restore what makes America both civilized and strong — full engagement in the world, including its many peoples, languages and cultures. Something nearly everyone but you-know-who believes in.


Santa Rosa


EDITOR: It’s time to dump SMART after learning that it faces crippling deficits if the voters don’t pass the sales tax extension (SMART: Deficits without sales tax,” Thursday).

There will be major slashing of operating expenses, jobs and service hours. Well, let’s cut SMART General Manager Farhad Mansourian’s wages, dump the police chief’s position (how many officers are working for SMART anyway, and why is a chief needed?), get rid of the bike trail and any position not deemed critical to the operation of the train.

When 70% is funded by the current sales tax, it is obvious the riders aren’t paying their fair (fare) share. And maybe the people sitting on the SMART board can take a cut somewhere.

SMART isn’t cutting it. Throwing more money at a loser makes no sense and should be stopped. We, the voters, made a bad decision the last time around. Maybe we were misled. Let’s not compound the mistake again.



Safeguarding water

EDITOR: Your July 30 article on toxic algae in Clear Lake called the algae “a naturally occurring situation that happens all over the world” (“Public warned of toxic algae”). According to established science and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the cause of harmful/toxic algae blooms is nutrient pollution from farms, landscaping, pet waste, livestock, septic tanks, urban runoff and other sources.

While the species of blue green algae that can produce toxins are indeed naturally occurring and the oldest life forms on the planet, nutrient pollution from human activity causes toxic blooms. With climate change, this will only get worse if we don’t reduce every source of nutrients, from lawn fertilizers to picking up after Fido, even in your backyard. When it rains everything goes into our river.

We need stronger pollution permits for livestock operations and to be far more mindful of how our daily activities pollute the waters we depend upon for swimming, drinking and the beauty of our area. We can act today to reduce pollution or soon we could be the next Toledo, Ohio, where 400,000 people couldn’t drink the tap water.


Executive director, Russian Riverkeeper

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