Back on track
“Dear Nancy Pelosi: It’s not about you, it’s about your party and country. Forget being speaker” (Editorials, Aug. 15): The Republican majority is trying to distract the American people from the disastrous, harmful and dark path that they’ve gone down with President Trump. Instead of offering a positive agenda for the American people, they’re attacking Nancy Pelosi. Democrats don’t let Republicans choose their leaders. Democrats, under Nancy’s leadership, have led the expansion of health care coverage, Wall Street reform, economic recovery, environmental protections and more. We need to get our country back on track, and that is why my Democratic colleagues and I are so dedicated to winning the midterm elections in November. The American people want Congress to lower the cost of perscription drugs, take action to raise wages, invest in infrastructure, and provide checks and balances on this president. Instead of playing political games, Nancy Pelosi and our talented candidates are focused on delivering those results.
Rep. Doris Matsui
“Plan to lessen PG&E’s liability for wildfires is dead for the year, lawmaker says” (sacbee.com Aug. 18): If PG&E wants to abolish inverse condemnation liability, its power of eminent domain must be rescinded. It cannot have one without the other. An inverse condemnation action is merely an eminent domain action initiated by a property owner rather than the government. The right to take private property is a tremendous power that demands accountability. The California Supreme Court has stated the guarantee of just compensation “extends to both types of cases and not merely where the taking is cheap or easy; indeed the need for compensation is greatest where the loss is greatest.” If PG&E wants the benefits of the right to take property, it must bear the associated responsibility should its facilities be the substantial cause of damage. The condemnation clause of the California Constitution protects private property owners from government excess, not the other way around.
Having lived in Mendocino County for almost 50 years, I am struck by the change in wildfires from a noteworthy and uncommon event to a commonplace occurrence. The program of creating an 8-foot firebreak from the edge of the road to the wildlands prevented random sparks and discarded cigarettes from starting many fires. The Carr Fire, the River Fire, the Ranch Fire and many smaller ones, visible along almost any stretch of highway, all began at the edge of the road. We have exchanged a firebreak at the roadsides for miles of bulldozed firebreaks all through the mountains and valleys in an attempt to hold back the flames. It is past time to review the environmental impact of stopping the roadside spraying while there is still an environment to save.
“Clear-cutting forests won’t solve California’s wildfire problem. But this will” (Editorials, Aug. 16): This editorial is naive and, if listened to, would lead to further destruction of our huge western forests. I have just returned from 4,000 miles of driving in the forests of the West, including Canada. In Canada, they are harvesting their forests and their lumber industry is providing, at a loss of American jobs and revenue, lumber to USA builders, and the forests are substantially healthier. Even in their national parks, Canadians have reached the conclusion that they must harvest the overabundant trees for their forests to survive. Our American forests through Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and California are seeing tiny efforts by President Trump’s new policies, but unless major efforts kick into gear, it is too little too late. We will watch our forests either die from bugs or burn up.
Amid massive fires, there has been a lot of talk about streamlining requirements for environmental review and cutting down trees as a solution. Thinning forest overgrowth makes sense, but clear-cutting does not. Clear-cut spaces become very hot, adding to the heat of the planet. These sites then are a fire hazard, as their uniform horizontal profile allows flames to spread quickly. Studies by state agencies call for achieving healthy and resilient forests. Resilience means diversity, trees of different kinds, heights and ages. The clear-cut regime does not meet that goal. The goal can be achieved, as The Bee advocates, by selective logging, thinning and the purposeful use of fire.
Leave GOP alone
“Silence is complicity on Trump. California Republicans are guilty” (Editorials, Aug. 22): When will the editorial board stop crudely lashing out at President Trump and other elected Republican officials? According to you, the president is a criminal co-conspirator and a liar, and all Republicans who support him tarnish their oath of office. Rep. Devin Nunes is a stooge, Rep. Rohrabacher represents the Kremlin, Rep. McCarthy demonizes all immigrants because he called the murder of Mollie Tibbets a senseless tragedy. And you subjected Rep. Hunter to ridicule for allegedly paying airfare for a pet bunny. After acting as the undisputed judge and jury, it is ironic you muse about the lack of bipartisanship.
Water tax plan
“Tax on California water revived to clean up drinking water – but it’s voluntary” (sacbee.com, Aug. 17): Providing funding to ensure that all Californians have access to safe drinking water is an important challenge facing the governor and Legislature. Under the voluntary tax plan, several thousand local water providers would need to update their billing and accounting systems – at considerable expense to customers – to become tax collectors for the state. Solve the problem using existing, proven methods. Don’t invent an expensive and inefficient new wheel.