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LETTERS to Sonoma County Gazette READERS from Readers - May 2015


LETTERS to Sonoma County Gazette READERS from Readers - MAY 2015

NOTE: When readers respond to articles that could use some clarification by the author - or when letter-writers make statements I feel need a response, I ask an authority on the subject or the author of the article - or - sometimes just respond myself with what I know. I appreciate the following response from Sonoma Clean Power regarding an article and follow-up letters in previous issues.




As Chairman of the Sonoma Clean Power Authority Board of Directors, I’d be pleased to clear up a few misconceptions that have arisen in the Letters section recently.

First, SCP does provide more renewable energy than PG&E, a fact agreed to by both of those parties and shown clearly in 2014’s Residential Rate Comparison, done in partnership with PG&E. No smoke, mirrors, or pieces of paper, just a greener mix of renewables like wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass that equals 33% of what we deliver, large hydropower (also carbon free) at 37%, and general systems power (primarily natural gas) at 30%. And unlike PG&E, no nuclear.

Second, our pricing is less expensive than PG&E, and by a significant amount. When we started, SCP was 4-6% below PG&E. We are now providing cleaner power at rates 6-9% cheaper, and 11% lower for low-income customers. In SCP’s first twelve months, we saved rate payers in Sonoma County about $6 million, while providing one of the largest green house gas reduction efforts in our region as well. 

Third, that investment in cleaner power does make a difference. When we contract for geothermal power, for example, a geothermal unit is turned on and operates on our behalf, with significantly lower emissions.  If, instead, we contracted for power from a fossil fuel plant in the Central Valley, then that plant would increase its output – and unfortunately its emissions as well – to account for our needs. 

So how do we provide both lower rates and pay for cleaner power? 

Simple, we do it by removing the profit margin from the equation. Instead of needing to make a profit on the resale of electricity to provide stockholder benefits, like PG&E, we use that income to keep rates competitive and to invest in cleaner power. That’s a “win” for everyone.

As far as “giving ourselves executive pay”, no one on our Board of Directors, Business Operations Committee, or Ratepayers Advisory Committee makes a dime. Not one. Our employees, less than a dozen, receive market rate salaries with relatively low benefits, another comparison where SCP comes out well. There is no “bureaucracy” at SCP, just a handful of people motivated to bring an exciting opportunity to our county.

The bottom line is after years of careful planning, our inaugural year has proved this model works. We’ve done exactly as we promised; provided cleaner power at competitive rates. We look forward to continuing to do our best to provide benefits for both the environment as well as your pocketbooks in the years to come.

Mark Landman

Chairman, Sonoma Clean Power Authority



EcoNomics - Clover inspired by customers support


Hi Vesta,

It’s refreshing to see the new generation of executives who are also concerned about the welfare and treatment of their animals.

An article in “The Sonoma Gazette” quotes Clover as having it’s “ear to the ground”.  Dan Benedetti mentions “not compromising the well being of their cows” and his son Marcus’ quote “we’re telling a different story by being transparent and showing people where their milk comes from and how their cows are treated”.

With this in mind and in the interest of “clearing the air” about any possible suffering on the part of the dairy cow, I would like to respectfully submit a few fair and honest questions to the folks at Clover Stornetta.

1) People have become Vegan because of their belief that mother cows are separated from their calves and it causes them both extreme stress and in some people’s minds, suffering.  Could you please elaborate on this practice, does it exist on any of Clover’s farms?

2) Does anyone at Clover see any value whatsoever in the intense desire on behalf of the cow and her baby to be together?

3) Is there any measure of suffering endured by any animal during any process of the production of dairy products at Clover’s farms?

4) Do you believe at Clover the dairy cow has any right whatsoever to the milk that she has produced for her baby?

5) Would any person employed at Clover be willing to answer in a public forum questions about  animal treatment on their farms?

Ray Cooper



Dear Editor,

I want to make clear that I am not writing against Clover Stornetta as a company. I applaud them for raising industry standards and trying to improve the welfare of the animals they exploit. I am writing to address the inherent cruelty of the dairy industry as a whole. What I question in this article is the possibility of dairy being “humane”.

The article on Clover Stornetta stated that it was the first dairy to become American Humane Certified. And then went on to say that “the lives of their dairy cows are happy”, and they “are free to express normal behaviors”. 

Last year I did some research on organic dairy farms and spoke to a representative from Clover Stornetta as well as several other small local dairy farms. I wanted to know when the calves were taken from their mothers, what happened to the bull calves, how the cows were bred, how often they were bred and what happened to the cows once they stopped calving. 

The public is outraged when it finds that baby calf whales are stolen from their mothers or baby elephants are taken from their mothers. Yet in the dairy industry newborn calves are taken from their mothers as a normal and necessary practice so humans can drink the milk that was meant for the calves. The most humane thing we can do for cows is to stop breeding them and stop stealing their babies and their milk. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS HUMANE MILK!

Angela Glasser ~ Santa Rosa



Ray and Angela,

I did have a chance to communicate with Clover-Stornetta and they told me that they respond to individuals who have concerns on a one-to-one basis, which is a lot more personal than in the pages of a magazine where a month goes by before there is a response. So I will answer with what I learned.

Yes, Clover Stornetta is American Humane Certified. I looked up what that means and the details that refer to dairy cows are more than 40 pages long in American Humane Certification Animal Welfare Standards Checklist - Dairy Cattle. You can download the entire document online. I think you both will find this encouraging and educational - I certainly did. 

They’ve been studying this subject for more than 130 years in order to come up with what they believe to be standards by which working farm animals can thrive. They use a third party auditing program based on the “principles first developed by the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) “Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare.

• Freedom from hunger and thirst

• Freedom from discomfort

• Freedom from pain, injury, or disease

• Freedom from fear and distress

• Freedom to express normal behaviors

They consider their criteria to be a “living document” where they review their standards and auditing process “using the expertise of our Scientific Advisory Committee to review the most current and comprehensive scientific research and technology.”

...“Our third-party evaluations of production systems in animal agriculture educate, encourage and support producers to adopt human practices. Our program promotes clear, reasoned communication with consumers and retailers about the meaning and value of Humanely raised food and the benefits not only to animals but to people.

Farmers and ranchers in the America Humane Certified® program take pride in being part of the original, most effective, and fast growing evidence-based animal welfare certification program in the nation.”

Personally, I take this to mean that Clover Stornetta also takes pride in their happy cows - which is why we chose them to be an example of Market-Driven show how people can change what they want changed by what they choose to support with their money.

Thanks for asking ~ Vesta


Fluoridating Water

Hi Vesta,

Some related info re your article in the Gazette “Looking Beyond Water Fluoridation”

There is growing evidence that fluoridating water (ingesting FL) is effective enough to justify eating poison. Please check out these links, and more that you can find.  I took the liberty of copying some of the headlines.

JADA Study Proves Fluoridation is Money Down the Drain

New York – October 2009 — Children’s cavity rates are similar whether water is fluoridated or not, according to data published in the July 2009 Journal of the American Dental Association by dentist J.V. Kumar of the NY State Health Department (1).   . . 

Attempting to prove that fluorosed teeth have fewer cavities, Kumar uses 1986-1987 National Institute of Dental Research (NIDR) data which, upon analysis, shows that 7- to 17-year-olds have similar cavity rates in their permanent teeth whether their water supply is fluoridated or not (Table 1).

In 1990, using the same NIDR data, Dr. John Yiamouyiannis published equally surprising results in a peer-reviewed journal. He concluded, “No statistically significant differences were found in the decay rates of permanent teeth or the percentages of decay-free children in the F [fluoridated], NF [non-fluoridated], and PF [partially fluoridated] areas.” (2).

“Dr. Kumar’s published data exposes more evidence that fluoridation doesn’t reduce tooth decay,” says attorney Paul Beeber, President, New York State Coalition Opposed to Fluoridation, Inc.

Analysis of Kumar’s data:


1) “The Association Between Enamel Fluorosis and Dental Caries in U.S. Schoolchildren,” Kumar & Iida Journal of the American Dental Association, July 2009 (Table 1)


1b) something is wrog with this URL so it; not connected - sorry!

1c) And this site is FROZEN

2) Fluoride: Journal of the International Society for Fluoride Research
April 1990 (Volume 23, Issue 2, Pages 55-67) “Water Fluoridation & Tooth Decay: Results from the 1986-1987 National Survey of US Schoolchildren,” by John A. Yiamouyiannis, Ph.D.

3) Slata Magazine, “The American Way of Dentistry, The Oral Cost Spiral” by June Thomas (September 29, 2009)

4) Fluoridation Statistics:

Water Fluoridation: A Critical Review of the Physiological Effects of Ingested Fluoride as a Public Health Intervention- Stephen Peckham1,2 and Niyi Awofeso3                     

3. Adverse Impacts of Fluoride Ingestion on Human Health

The classification of fluoride as a pollutant rather than as a nutrient or medicine is a useful starting point for analysing the adverse effect of fluoride. No fluoride deficiency disease has ever been documented for humans. Indeed, the basis for setting an “adequate intake” of fluoride rests on the alleged ability of ingested fluoride to prevent tooth decay. However, since it is now known that the effect of fluoride is topical, the notion of an “adequate daily intake” is flawed.  See

Thanks much

Len Grosso


Deficit Irrigation

I wanted to weigh in on the recent articles on dry-farming. I think over-all the articles are fair and well-intentioned but there are a few points I would like to make in support of current irrigation practices. 

Ann Maurice points out that world-class wine is grown in Europe, where it is illegal to irrigate. This is true. It is my understanding that it rains in Europe during the summer, whereas in California it does not. Clearly if it rains, dry-farming is a more viable option.  

Both authors point out that not irrigating reduces yields. I’m not sure if it is possible as a non-farmer to understand the importance of this. Most of us grow plants as a hobby. We have the luxury to screw up our tomato crop, because we can still go buy them at the store. For a farmer the difference between 4 tons an acre and 

less than 1 ton an acre means exactly that. Take your current salary and multiply it by 1/4. I personally am not comfortable suggesting that people take such dramatic actions against their own self-interest. 

Both authors are right that dry-farming hypothetically increases quality and potentially increases the price per ton, off-setting any reduction in yield. Grape-growers are very aware of this. Yield is directly proportional to the amount of water applied. And quality is generally associated with low yields. Grape-growers know that the best tool to lower yields and increase quality is less water. A lot of what grape- growers do during the growing season is measure the vine water status and limit the amount of water they are applying to the crop. It is a practice known as deficit irrigation and it is currently en vogue among quality grape-growers. I’m not aware of any other crop where reducing yield by withholding water is desirable. So it is a happy co-incidence that we grow grapes. 

Finally, I have a separate point that I would like to make that I don’t think it would be fair to directly associate with the dry farming articles. To me this whole cry of “why not agriculture” comes across as out-of-touch. Let’s rewind 2000 years and ask our-selves what sort of society wouldn’t water their crops? It seems to me that irrigation has always been the most useful thing about water-- besides actually drinking it. Maybe we have reached a point where we have transcended the need for local agriculture. Maybe I’m using tired old thinking.

But, I would suggest that agriculture and grape growing are fundamental to this region’s vitality and that they are only viable with irrigation. Dry-farming seems cool. Just say it. “I dry-farmed that crop.” I invite everybody to try dry-farming in their gardens and landscapes this summer to find out just how cool it is. Deficit irrigation is realistic and actually way cooler. It doesn’t need to be all or nothing. There is a happy medium that grape-growers have already accepted and are currently practicing. Thank you.

Jesse Hill



Dear Vesta,

I have been marginally involved in supporting detachment from Palm Hospital District for all the same reasons stated by letters published in your April issue.

I find the response in this issue by Jim Maresca to be misleading in that he makes no mention that the  “positive cash flow” relies heavily on parcel assessments.   He also indicates that emergency room treatment for certain conditions needs to be timely. For those along the Russian River corridor, Santa Rosa hospitals can be reached quicker and as many residents do not have the Gold Standard insurance policies to be accepted by the proposed reopened hospital, no benefit is received.  Will the parcel tax we have paid for many years cover our emergency care or elective procedures?  I think not.  Nor, will the specialties being proposed benefit the aging population as I do not believe Medicare or Medi-Cal without a gold supplemental plan will be accepted.

If Sebastopol is so intent on reopening THEIR hospital (it has not, for several years, served lower River residents) then they should be willing to fund it without relying on lower River parcel assessments.

If reopened, I would give odds on a third bankruptcy within five years.  Anyone willing to bet?

Time to get real.

Thank you, Linda Schmidt



Hi Vesta, 

Someone dumped a trailer FULL of trash at the cemetery. You can see it from 116.  There is an oil drum and all kinds of stuff in it piled about 7 feet high. Has anyone has seen who did it? and if so to call the Sherriff’s office @ 565-2511 or the Highway Patrol @588-1400 so they can write them a big fat ticket.  There is some writing on the side of the trailer that someone might recognize. Also if you could mention to people that if they hire someone to take their junk to the dump and pay them to do so that they get a receipt to make sure that is where it goes.  

thank you 




LETTERS are welcome from any perspective on Sonoma County topics. BUT - because page space is limted - if your letter is on a subject outside Sonoma County - I will gladly publish it on our website at  Please send you LETTERS to