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January 23, 2001

QUESTION: Please find out and let us know where the Imperial Irrigation District is getting the money for the "public benefits program" featured in a Jan. 11 article in your newspaper.

On my electric bill there's a charge for an item called "public benefits."

If this is the same fund, it looks like we are paying for this. Of course IID also may be donating into the fund.

How can the utility district assess us, the rate-payers, for this? As an electricity user I resent having to pay this each month. — Concerned, Imperial

You are paying for it but it won't do you any good to resent IID. If you want to complain, get in touch with your state legislators.


That's a state-mandated program. It covers a slew of programs that benefit "the public." It was recently extended for another 10 years, according to IID spokeswoman Susan Giller.

It's a 2.85 percent levy. On a $100 electric bill that amounts to $2.85.

It pays for a discount to low-income people. For the poorest consumer that can add up to 25 percent.

IID also will help low-income seniors weatherize or insulate their homes to save on cooling bills.

If you don't qualify, you might still get a benefit from the program. If you tune-up your air conditioner, tell your serviceman to send IID a bill for a $25 discount.

If you buy a new energy-efficient refrigerator, IID will give you a $75 rebate and haul away your old one. That's an environmental program to prevent the escape of freon and protect the ozone layer.

TWO COMELY CACTI — Some time ago I came to you for help in clearing away palm fronds left in the street in front of our home by a tree service.

It was a struggle but about six weeks ago, we finally had the street cleared as it should have been months ago. We never could have overcome this problem if you hadn't helped.

But through all the unhappiness, we grew to enjoy the tree trimmer. He has a good heart but sometimes he gets his priorities mixed up.

When he finished the job he brought us two beautiful cacti. — Seeing-clearly-now, El Centro

Shakespeare said, "All's well that ends well." Thanks for sharing with us. You made our day.

IT'S THE BRANDY — Were you confusing "pie" with "pudding" when you cited the "Jack Horner" verse?

Take heart. I have discovered a simple explanation for the absence of plums in the pudding.

We have a box of Crosse & Blackwell plum pudding, "brandied English style … based on an original recipe from 1706."

I searched in vain for the plums among the listed ingredients that included potassium bromate, glycerol monostearate, lactylate, propylene…. I did notice a telling ingredient, "less than 2 percent brandy."

Wonder how much brandy was in the traditional homemade plum pudding? That could explain the English insistence on calling this a "plum pudding."

After eating a helping of plum pudding, you may start to taste and experience the flavor of a fine purple plum. After two helpings you may taste red plums instead of plain old raisins.

No wonder in "The Night Before Christmas," the children slept with "visions of sugar-plums" that "danced in their heads." — Spirited, El Centro

It's the monostearate.

We don't know how to tell the kids there are no plums in sugar-plums, either.

According to our dictionary, a "sugar-plum" is a round or oval piece of sugary candy; a bonbon. Bad for the teeth.

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