Letters for April 10, 2014

Thoughts on conservation

Re “Let’s get serious” (Cover feature, by CN&R staff, April 3):

Building more dams as the answer to our state’s water shortage just perpetuates the problematic ways we use water, postponing the day when we’re forced to do the hard work of conservation. California already has more than 1,400 dams and nearly that many reservoirs. How many more dams will be enough?

We can never engineer enough water storage to compensate for prolonged drought and the loss of winter snowpack. As taxpayers, do we really want to spend billions of dollars on indirect subsidies to inefficient southland and westlands agribusiness, who grow thirsty crops where they’ve already depleted their own groundwater and ruined their own soils? Do we want to green-light more sprawling development and abet the loss of the prime ag-lands that remain?

This isn’t a farmers-versus-environmentalists issue, or a north-versus-south issue, or a people-versus-fish issue—this is a “face the future” issue. We have to fundamentally change the way we use water, not scramble for destructive and overpriced short-term fixes.

Alicia Springer

Thank you for continuing to publish articles on the critical issue of water conservation. However, neither your main article nor the accompanying “Ten ways to conserve” mention the single most effective change any one person can make to conserve water: decreasing his or her consumption of meat products.

Estimates of the water required for meat production vary by type of meat. It’s also dependent on where the source lives. The most aggressive interpretations estimate that the water required to produce 1 pound of grain-fed beef is 2,400 gallons, or six months’ worth of 10-minute showers. The numbers for grass-fed beef, for chicken, or other forms of livestock are lower, and are subject to argument and interpretation on both sides. By contrast, a pound of potatoes requires 133 gallons of water to produce.

Whether liberal or conservative, dedicated Paleo carvivore or tofu eater, anyone who sincerely cares about our fragile planet and its diminishing water supplies should Google “environmental impact of meat production” and make the dietary changes—however large or small—that they can, based on what they learn.

Chuck Ouimette

There is no water shortage anywhere on Earth. There is a people surplus all over the Earth. How do we reduce the people without killing? One child per female for several generations.

Joseph Robinson

A helpful program

Re “Entitled to a voice” (Newslines, by Howard Hardee, April 3):

I have received funds and services from the California Victim Compensation Program, and I found Howard Hardee’s article to be very informative on the workings of victims’ resources. The highlight after a crime is prosecuting the offender, but in my experience, the victim is left with a lot more to take care of than the criminal. Three years later, I am still requesting days off of work to attend court, all due to a complete stranger.

CalVCP has helped cushion that blow. I was reluctant to take their help at first, but I am really glad that I did. Being the victim of a violent crime is hard on its own, but it is a lot harder if you try to do it alone. I am grateful to hear that Donna Teifer’s family was able to make good use of CalVCP’s assistance as I was able to do, and may their hearts rest easy knowing that justice is being served.

Carolyn Bailey

They love the market

Re “Fooling with the market” (Newslines, by Tom Gascoyne, April 3):

For the love of health and health care dollars, can’t we find it in our collective moral consciousness to promote healthful living in our community? If not a moral issue, it certainly is an economic one.

The health benefits of fresh fruits and veggies have been researched ad nauseam. Our elected officials who are looking for ways to save our tax dollars need to understand the long-term value of the farmers’ market. The problem, as I see it, is one of separation of payer from receiver. That is, the people who have the power to reduce health care costs are not the same ones who can make money from closing the market down.

The business community, who cry about the cost of their employee health care, would do well to turn to the farmers’ market for help. It’s good for public health, good for the community and good for businesses who want relief from soaring health care costs.

Sue Ward
Chico/Grass Valley

I use the farmers’ market every Saturday. I schedule my day around going to market and think it is one of the best Chico community get-togethers ever. Please do what you can to preserve the Saturday farmers’ market.

Candice Lam

Chico is a special place. Hopefully everyone involved in the ongoing farmers’ market discussion starts with that in mind. Part of any healthy community is open and honest discussion that honors every contributor and constituency with all being equally heard and equally valued.

In full disclosure, I have signed the farmers’ market petition and am on the Friends of Farmers’ Market email list. After enjoying the market for so many years and benefiting from the fresh, healthy goods the market provides, I owe my support in this and other ways.

My letter is both to advocate for the market’s franchise agreement to be resolved by the Chico City Council without further delay, and to advocate for all parties to take the higher road and not devolve into an us-versus-them mentality.

Jay Dunlap

I am deeply integrated in our local food system and community and am equally concerned about losing our Saturday farmers’ market. You have the power to protect the heartbeat of Chico.

Both my jobs link me to the farmers’ market. I work for Massa Organics as their market manager, and am an employee of the nonprofit GRUB Education Program.

The business and organization I’m involved with are dedicated to our community. We cultivate awareness and education of healthy food production; eating, preparing and preserving healthy foods; and gaining access to local in-season foods at farmers’ markets. Supporting the farmers’ market grows our local economy through the multiplier effect.

Our beloved Chico Certified Farmers’ Market is on the verge of an eviction by the Chico City Council. I ask the community to stand up and take notice by signing a petition to save our farmers’ market.

Katrina Djberof

We are fans and supporters of the farmers’ market—right where it is. When we moved to Chico a bit over 10 years ago, the Saturday market quickly became a fixture on our calendar. We have come to know many and appreciate all of the dedicated and hardworking farmers who have stalls there.

Banning the market from its home seems entirely misguided. In our experience, most of the people who throng to the market think it is in a perfect spot.

We also love and support downtown and patronize the businesses there. But we think that claims by a few niche businesses that the market hurts them because of parking issues indicate more that they have a business problem than that the market is a problem. The only proposed downtown alternative site we are aware of (the nearby municipal parking lot) would allow fewer vendors with no important benefits.

We support the current ballot initiative to let the voters decide where the market should be.

OJ and Gene Anna McMillan

Bagging on bag ban

Re “Getting personal” (Newslines, by Melissa Daugherty, April 3):

Flying a sustainability expert from Germany to a conference at Chico State consumes 1,232 pounds of jet fuel. In contrast, 102,000 disposable grocery bags weigh 1,232 pounds. In the first case, the hydrocarbons are all spewed into the atmosphere. In the case of the bags, they are mostly sequestered in the landfill for 1,000 years.

We need to use science and reason to save the world, not just feel-good regulations. Reusable grocery bags require laundering, which consumes water, sends detergent into the sewer plant (which drains into the Sacramento River), and utilizes power from fossil-fuel power plants. Adding 10 minutes to my workload each week processing reusable bags is taking a full day off my year from doing more useful things. Like advocating for compact urban form, renewable energy, human-powered transportation, and hiring local sustainability experts instead of ones from the other side of the planet.

Michael Jones

Elections are coming

The new city employee contracts still leave the taxpayer with most of the bill for benefits and pensions for people making three and four times our median income—that is uncivil. The bag ban is not only uncivil but business-hostile. The new rules restricting comments at committee meetings and staff’s refusal to post notices for ad-hoc meetings is very uncivil.

These and other issues need to be vented publicly, but public meetings are seldom conducive to public participation. Chico Taxpayers Association is inviting candidates and the public to the Chico library to discuss these and other city and countywide issues in an informal but civil conversation. Our next speaker is county assessor candidate Diane Brown on Sunday, April 13, noon to 1 p.m., but we also have two City Council candidates, an assembly candidate and a Board of Supervisors candidate lined up and will schedule others as we are able.

Please check chicotaxpayers.com for a full schedule.

Juanita Sumner

Ms. Taber responds

Re “The letters continue” (Letters, by Laurel Heath, March 27):

Just to set the record straight, I was the sole sponsor of Measure A. It is a public record, which can be obtained from the Chico city clerk or perhaps from the Butte County Elections Office.

It cost $151,000 because the City Council refused to just put it out as a “vote by mail” ballot, which would have cost far less. It was their call to make certain it cost the taxpayers as much as possible.

As to why Supervisor Larry Wahl does not list my salary on his website, I don’t know. It’s probably because I’m an at-will employee of the county. But to satisfy Heath’s curiosity, I made approximately $12,000 last year and am on track to make less than $5,000 this year. As to how much I’ll get paid in “retirement”—what a hee-haw that is! I am well beyond retirement age, but the county still takes Medicare out of my meager salary so people like Heath will be able to get hers.

Stephanie Taber

Get in the flow

Re “Got any advice” (Streetalk, April 3)

Vu Nguyen had some great advice, truly. It made me think of when I am in “the flow.” For me, it is when I dance salsa. I have found that no matter how artistic and free-thinking Chico is, [its residents] are very closed to things they just don’t understand.

I agree with Nguyen when he said “step outside your comfort zone.” I truly believe this would solve many a problem among us. It allows us to not only experience something new, but also to see things in a whole new light, to understand others better. Believe it or not, salsa dancing changed my life. Step outside your comfort zone, Chico!

Maria Espino

Survey results revealed

The Paradise Citizens Alliance is publicly presenting the results of its recent “Speak Up for Paradise” quality of life survey at its Paradise Speaks! community meeting on Thursday, April 10, at the Paradise Performing Arts Center. This meeting, which starts at 6 p.m., is free. A reception in the lobby follows the presentation.

For those who can’t attend, the complete survey results, as well as our presentation materials, will be posted after the event on our website at paradiseca.org.

Chuck Rough
Chair, Paradise Citizens Alliance

Stop enabling Israel

The Israeli government has done it again: reneged on an agreement with the Palestinian Authority. And the U.S. media have done it again: The Associated Press presents the most recent collapse of U.S.-brokered negotiations without any context. What is not said is that the Israeli government broke its promise to release Palestinian prisoners from its prisons in exchange for Palestinian agreement not to seek further recognition in the U.N.

Now U.S. spokespeople talk about more incentives the U.S. might offer Israel to keep its side of the agreement, so that these so-called negotiations might not collapse (again).

When will we (the U.S.) admit that the Israeli government has no interest in any outcome other than total control of all of Palestine? The Israeli government has always focused on “facts on the ground,” and continues to expand Jewish settlements in the West Bank, demolish Palestinian homes, and do everything possible to make life so difficult for Palestinians that they will leave and the “problem” of non-Jewish people living in the land of Israel will go away.

When will we (the U.S.) stop enabling this with our constant siding with the Israeli government, against our national interest and our values as a people?

Janet Leslie

The elephant in the room when we talk about Palestinian issues is media consolidation. The number of companies that control most of what we watch, hear and read every day has shrunk from more than 50 to six—six multinational corporations that are all about profit, not balanced reporting. See www.freepress.net.

According to the group Freedom House, the U.S. is ranked 22nd among nations in freedom of the press; Reporters Without Borders ranks the U.S. 46th.

There is no moral or legal justification for the Israeli collective punishment of all Palestinians for the crimes of a few. Collective punishment is a violation of the laws of war and the Geneva Convention. Palestine has been reduced to separate enclaves, nearly concentration camps, under Israeli control. And there is no comparison between the homemade rockets that have lately landed in uninhabited areas and F-16 fighter jet bomb attacks and home and orchard demolitions.

The U.S. aids in these attacks with billions of dollars in aid every year.

Charles Withuhn

Note to Paul Zingg

I recently observed one of your grounds workers applying Roundup around the nursery school area at Aymer J. Hamilton. Current research has revealed a connection between Roundup and autism, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer.

Stephanie Seneff, a senior research scientist at MIT, calls Roundup a “textbook example” of an environmental toxin leading to many diseases. Recent medical reports indicate that 1 in 68 children are now being diagnosed with some form of autism, and Roundup is even being found in mothers’ breast milk. The loss of bees and butterflies has been associated with its use, according to Karen Oberhauser of University of Minnesota.

Monsanto has argued that this product is harmless because human beings don’t have the shikimate pathway, which is necessary for amino acid biosynthesis. However, our gut bacteria do have this pathway, and we depend upon them to supply us with essential amino acids, tryptophan, serotonin, melatonin, tyrosine, dopamine, adrenaline and melanin.

Using a weed eater and/or a hoe would take little more time and would be infinitely safer. If it came down to it, living with a few weeds would be better than risking our health. Please become informed about the use of this chemical at Chico State. I request that the practice be stopped immediately. This chemical can become airborne and affect all of us, our children and our pets.

Jeanne Thatcher

Salaries are unsustainable

Chico Fire’s letter-writing campaign includes letters claiming that their excessive pay is justified by the “danger and courage” needed to perform their job. Why is it implied that courage is unique to Chico Fire?

Every week across America, private-citizen good Samaritans pull people from burning buildings and cars. They do it without training, without equipment, and without backup. And they do it for free. Thousands of volunteer firefighters face the same risks and ask for no pay.

Cal Fire, which also protects Chico, constantly and routinely does extremely dangerous work fighting forest wildfires. Yet Chico Fire’s compensation package is significantly larger than Cal Fire’s. Are Chico Fire personnel that much braver and more valuable than Cal Fire personnel?

During Chico Fire’s last job vacancy, more than 600 people applied for the position, showing they’re willing to take the risks involved.

Chico Fire deserves a good living wage for their skill, professionalism, and courage. But their wages and benefits are at levels that Chico’s small-town budget cannot sustain. Other essential city services, including police protection, maintenance, parks, library, and arts, among others, have had to be severely cut. The entire community is suffering for the benefit of a few.

Ron Sherman

More love for the market

I know a lot of people out there are really tired of the subject of “moving the farmers’ market.” Me too. But that reality is facing us right now. The powers that be are very determined to have us gone by the end of this year. It is not a parking issue for the downtown businesses; that was always a ridiculous excuse.

We really need to get the shout out to the city that we love our farmers’ market where it is and sign the petition for the referendum. Send notice to the city manager. Please, Dec. 31, 2014, is only a few months away.

Mike Wiedeman

Once or twice a month, my wife and I drive from Plumas County down to Chico to get the fresh fruits and vegetables we can’t get here. I am an artist and shop at the art store, and my wife and I enjoy several other stores in your area. Without the Chico market, we have no other option for garden fresh foods and no other reason to drive all the way down to Chico from Plumas County. Keep that regular Saturday morning farmers’ market! We need it; Chico needs it!

Russ and Cheryl Flint