Letters for December 9 

Readers sound off on Marcel Diallo, PG&E, and the milk industry.

Page 7 of 8

In concert with East Bay Green Corridor Principles, WEBAIC seeks to balance green tech and green collar in service of maintaining a sustainable and diverse local production economy and culture. We can and will accommodate both if we have the common sense to ignore one-sided, intemperate voices such as Mr. Gammon's that would blind us to the path leading not only to a sustainable future for the planet but an equitable future for its people.

John Curl, WEBAIC chair; Rick Auerbach, WEBAIC staff; Berkeley

"PG&E Wants More Fossil Fuel," Eco Watch, 11/18

Approve the Gas Plant

Robert Gammon's critique of PG&E's natural gas plants is misplaced. As he mentions in one place in his article, "renewables" can neverreplace fossil fuels.

Solar thermal or photovoltaic collectors provide power only when the sun shines. That's it. Effectively that means six hours a day when the sun is high. Wind, ditto. You get power when the wind is blowing, then nothing. This means a huge capital investment for part-time power, and because both wind and the sun's rays are so weak, you need a huge collection area to get anything. Thus, the high cost. Solar and wind apparatus are dependent on fossil fuels to run the factories in which they're manufactured, so they're not "renewable" at all.

The first solar plant up for approval in California in 22 years, in Ivanpah Valley near Las Vegas, is slated to occupy a huge area, 5.3 square miles. It is rated at "400 megawatts," but this is misleading. The sun will shine on the mirrors one-quarter of the time, dropping the output to 100 MW, one-tenth the output of a real power plant. Anatural gas assist is needed to keep the boiler hot at night, so the solar component is even lower. This is mickey mouse by moderns standards;engineers call it "flea power." Solar is good for your calculator, lousy for your washing machine.

The Ivanpah operators have $160 million lined up for their investment, which will cost a billion. They want the Obama administration (YOU)to fund the rest with an 80 percent loan. Our nation is bankrupt. We can't afford solar and wind fantasies in the desert. The gas plant should beapproved as soon as possible.

Steve Tabor, Oakland

"Iranian Hikers Paying Price for US Spy Policies," Raising the Bar, 11/18

How Do We Know?

Jay Youngdahl, just like Hillary Clinton, asserts that "Iranian authorities are surely to blame with regard to these three hikers." Why? Did the Iranians invite them to cross the border illegally? Is it just a coincidence that they picked that conflicted area for a "vacation"?

How do we know when a "journalist" is actually a spy? The best guide is when we see high-level US government's officials claiming that he/she is not, and demand their freedom. That was the case with Laura Ling, Euna Lee, Roxana Saberi, and now these three. Journalist and activist Lori Berenson has been in jail in Perú for fifteen years, accused of being the leader of a guerrilla group when she'd only been in Perú for a relatively short time to be a "guerrilla leader." However, we never heard Bill Clinton (or Hillary and Al Gore), George W. Bush, or Barack Obama speak out in her defense and demand that she be set free.

As for Youngdahl's contention that the three are "progressive" journalists; there are many of these "progressive" journalists, mostly Jews like Dennis Bernstein and Reese Erlich on KPFA, who are rabidly anti-Iranian and they even participated in promoting and propagandizing demonstrations against the Iranian government in the US, just like the US government. Regardless of the facts surrounding the case of the three "hikers" ("journalists"), they should be executed just for coming out of UC Berkeley. This argument is as good as the ones presented by Youngdahl in favor of innocence.

Leo T. West, San Leandro


Grim Outlook

California's fiscal outlook continues to worsen. Concern is mounting over the impact the state's budget deficit will have on education funding.

The California Teachers Association (CTA), along with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell, claims California's per-pupil funding now ranks 47th nationally. In reality, most experts agree California is around the middle of the pack when it comes to school funding, including the CTA's own parent organization, the National Education Association.

But what matters to most California parents isn't how much other states are spending — it's the results their children's school districts are getting compared to other school districts right here in California.

And on that front, California must do better. It's not because there's too little funding. It's because the state's school financing system is illogical and inequitable.

The California School Finance Center database — a new project from the Pacific Research Institute and the Educational Results Partnership (formerly Just for the Kids-California) that compiles data from a dozen California Department of Education sources — helps shed some much-needed light on this reality.

The data show some troubling discrepancies among similar school districts. In Alameda County, for instance, a majority of students in both the Fremont Unified district and the Castro Valley Unified district scored proficient in English and math on the California Standards Test in the 2007-08 school year. Yet Castro Valley, which enrolled a smaller proportion of English learners and low-income students, received $3,400 more per student that year — $13,324, compared to Fremont's $9,908.

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