Letters for April 14, 2011

Uke resurgence

Re “Have ukulele, will travel” (Cover story, by Mike Bagwell, April 7):

In this period of high unemployment, it’s inspiring to read a story about one individual’s resourcefulness coupled with his love of music. I’ve seen Bags perform, and he brings a spirit and liveliness with him that is nothing short of infectious.

As an unofficial uke ambassador, Bags has helped popularize the uke in our community, along with several other great performers, such as Uni and Her Ukulele and Chico locals Dick and Jane. In addition, Chi Chi UG (Chico Children’s Ukulele Group) has started a very successful local after-school program that teaches kids the fundamentals of music. It is most gratifying to watch the children’s progress on this mighty instrument from week to week.

For uke player wannabes and experienced players alike, Chico Ukes meets the first Tuesday of every month at Trinity United Methodist Church and welcomes newbies and more experienced players to join us. Our numbers have grown to around 30, and the emphasis is definitely on fun.

Yes, the uke is having a resurgence throughout the country at large, and Chico is definitely on the forefront of this movement! Thanks, Bags, for helping spread the word.

Bill Unger
Past president of Chico Ukes

Get your act together

Although I was pleased that the CUSD trustees approved Blue Oak’s charter petition, I was troubled by the process.

A school’s lifeline was being discussed, and yet the board limited the discussion to three speakers. Why would any board limit input on an item that was so important? Wouldn’t hearing from parents and students be even more important than hearing from CUSD’s paid staff, who read from a script?

At no point did anyone from the audience suggest that the board members not provide their opinions. The same level of respect should have been given to everyone who had comments.

CUSD’s own teachers and staff I know say that they are reluctant to speak against district positions out of fear of retaliation. And we have all heard the stories about the succession of poor superintendents and dysfunctional dynamics.

I strongly suggest that CUSD’s board engage in some honest reviews of its own practices in order to gain greater credibility when discussing other schools’ issues. I hope the next time I attend a board meeting that there’s a noticeable difference in their own governance.

Amanda Brody

Editor’s note: For more on Blue Oak Charter School, see Newslines.

‘Mean-spirited and inciting’

Re “Do they hate Chico?” (Editorial, March 31):

As Republicans and Democrats in the State Legislature try to wrestle with an ongoing, year-to-year budget crisis, it would be nice to think that responsible journalists would give an objective opinion on just what is being discussed. Claiming that Dan Logue and Doug LaMalfa must “hate Chico” because they won’t support tax increases was not objective. It was mean-spirited and inciting rhetoric.

We’ve had tax increases pushed on us every year for at least a decade now, but still no balanced budget. Maybe we should start listening to those who have been saying that high taxes and overregulation are a part of the problem. Maybe California really is unfriendly to business, and this could be the cause of our decreased revenues in the state budget.

We have a lot of teachers in Chico, and they’re very smart people. Their jobs are on the line if we don’t turn our state around. They know you can’t support government jobs without a lot of private-sector jobs that provide tax revenues. Sooner or later they will grow tired of being fed half-truths and inflammatory rhetoric by those who are offering no real solutions.

I for one am glad that Logue and LaMalfa are putting economic growth, and job growth, ahead of the growth of government spending. I think the CN&R owes them both an apology.

Jennifer Lyon

Celebrate Chávez respectfully

Re “Chávez Day shenanigans no surprise” (Downstroke, April 7):

We recognize César Chávez with a state holiday in part due to his sacrifice and struggles to make healthier lives for all people.

He did not fight for this sacred day to be a rationalization for binge-drinking, anti-social behavior. He would certainly be saddened by the corporate and restaurant hijacking of Cinco de Mayo as a reason to go out and get drunk.

The students and others who engaged in such a questionable display and unnecessary tap on the law-enforcement community, I suspect, are much like the mindless, greedy individuals drunk on power and sociopathic ambitions that César Chávez hoped to enlighten. It is difficult to rationalize with a drunk.

César was not a prohibitionist, and I would guess that he would not mind celebrating loudly yet responsibly and with a sincere, heartfelt respect for the real meaning behind the celebration: Every hoot, holler and song!

¡Viva la causa! ¡Viva la alma de don César Chávez!

Alan Ernesto Phillips
Northern Hispanic Latino Coalition

Measure A: views at variance

Re “Measure A: pros and cons” (From This Corner, by Robert Speer, March 24):

I carried a petition to place Measure A on the June ballot. I’m pretty disappointed that this paper chooses to simply spread the arguments of the No on A folks rather than try to present both sides of the issue.

[Editor] Robert Speer claims—what? People were brought in from Florida to collect signatures? No, I collected signatures. I met the folks who organized the petition, and they are all full-time Chico residents.

He writes that Measure A was “paid for by Chico businessman Tom Dauterman, who ponied up $31,500 for the cause.” It’s OK for the Esplanade League and Chico Democrats to “pony up” as much as they want from anonymous sources, but Dauterman is trying to pull something?

Speer says “moving council elections to June cuts the number of voters in half,” but does not offer one shred of proof for this “fact.”

He complains that it will raise the cost of an election by $73,000. I sat at a meeting recently and watched the Park Commission recommend $55,000 to pay salaries at the Nature Center, which has an outstanding loan from the city of $185,000. I watched the council give millions for salaries at CHIP. The taxpayers fund Artoberfest—most of it for one salary. But $73,000 is too much to pay for democracy?

Juanita Sumner

Robert Speer replies: For the record, election cost figures came from the Chico City Clerk’s Office, voting stats from the Butte County Clerk’s Office. Also, I nowhere said “People were brought in from Florida….”

Measure A was placed on the ballot to keep students from voting! I am asking for the students’ help to make sure Measure A is defeated.

At Chico State, when students have been directly affected by the national, state and local political climate, they have risen up to show that we are a powerful voting bloc that has the ability to impact electoral outcomes. For example, nearly 2,000 Chico State students stood together in protest of higher tuition costs during the Action Rally last year.

I firmly believe the students can defeat this direct attack upon us by rising up as a unified group to ensure that Measure A does not pass!

This June there is going to be an election to vote on Measure A. If passed, Measure A would move all city-wide elections in Chico to June. Moving city-wide elections to June eliminates the student vote, since by then most students have gone home.

This is no accident. The proponents of Measure A are deliberately trying to prevent students from voting because they believe they will be able to elect more conservative, anti-student City Council members.

The main proponent of Measure A, Stephanie Taber, is working to keep students out of local politics because she believes that all we do is come to Chico to party and have fun, not for an education. We, the students, need to unite in opposition to this measure and the attitudes behind it to ensure that we are respected as constituents and residents of the great city of Chico.

I’m asking for all students to stand together as one to defeat Stephanie Taber and Measure A!

Erik Taylor
Political science student
Chico State


An addendum to last week’s Newslines story “Want to do good work? Practice mindfulness” was incorrect in saying that Donald Rothberg would be back in Chico on May 21 to conduct a workshop. That workshop will be led by Heather Sundberg.—ed.

Give peace a balance

Re “One-sided blame” (Letters, by Rabbi Julie Hilton Danan, April 7):

The terrible violence experienced by Israelis at the hands of Palestinians must not be minimized or ignored, and it is understandable why security is a high priority for Israelis.

Palestinians have also endured immeasurable violence at the hands of Israelis, yet they have no security, and their plight is routinely ignored by mainstream media and the U.S. government.

Nowhere do Palestinians live in freedom in their own homeland. On the way to school or market or work, they meet checkpoints at every turn; they encounter intimidating Israeli soldiers in their own orchards; homes and orchards are bulldozed with impunity; a frustrated child throws a rock at armed soldiers and pays with broken fingers or his life.

There is terrible violence on both sides, but Israel has the political and military might, empowered by the unswerving loyalty of the United States, which provides $3 billion yearly.

The tiny bit of Palestinian territory continues to be devoured by new Israeli settlements in spite of the UN’s declaring settlements illegal decades ago. Israel ignores all pleas to halt settlement building, yet Prime Minister Netanyahu blames Palestinians for not being willing to sit at the bargaining table.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign seeks to put economic pressure on Israel as a nonviolent strategy to persuade Israel to bargain in good faith, with the ultimate goal of human rights and human dignity for all.

There will be no peace until there is justice.

Emily Alma

I appreciate Rabbi Julie Hilton Danan’s request for balance in her commentary on Israeli/Palestinian relations. I trust we will now see her letters appealing for the same balance in all the U.S. newspapers that regularly carry one-sided pro-Israel commentary. That should keep her very busy for years.

Beau Grosscup

Such a pricey ordinance

Re “Weeding through inspiration” (Newslines, by Meredith J. Graham, March 31):

As I was reading this I was amazed by the size of the fees of the Butte County cultivation ordinance. The ordinance as proposed would allow six plants if the lot is large enough. The proposed amount in new fees for those six plants would equal at least $1,072.

I am on a fixed income and our total monthly household income is close to that much. The benefit of having a 215 [recommendation] is to be able to grow up to six plants on your property. Without it I could not afford to have any. If I was required to pay that much money on top of the doctor’s recommendation, the plant, and all the other materials, I don’t see how I could do it.

State, county and private insurance will pay for many different kinds of medications, but this is not one of them. This would be all cash up front, out of pocket. But my pockets are all empty, just like almost everyone else’s. How would that work?

Gary Vail

Editor’s note: For an update on the ordinance, see this week’s Sifter.

Two won’t do

Re “Yes, pot duopoly does pose problems” (Letters, by Andy Holcombe, March 31):

We should all be thanking Councilman Holcombe for his intelligent, sensible attitude toward medical-cannabis regulation. Out of all the City Council members, he seems the most able to accept the fact that the medical-cannabis industry is something that we should be embracing, both for its economic benefits and also of course for its amazing ability to ease pain and suffering.

Having worked in a medical-cannabis dispensary/collective for more than a year now, I’m here to tell you that demand for this product is rising exponentially. It is here to stay. The only fair and sensible course now is to regulate and tax it just like alcohol, and then get out of the way and let the free market rule.

If our local government is worried about dispensaries popping up on every street corner, then go ahead—if they must interfere—and limit them to, let’s say, 10. Limiting Chico to only two dispensaries is myopic and short-sighted.

Robert Galia
CEO, North Valley Holistic Health Inc.

More on Measure A

Your assertion that that Measure A would cut voter participation in half but raise the cost by $73,000 is misleading. The initial cost of the measure might be $73,000, but that is because our current City Council voted 5-2 against having mail-in ballots only for this election.

After this first election in June, the remainder of elections for City Council will not cost the city or taxpayers anything extra. The City Council elections will be included on the ballot with the other local elections.

You mentioned the fact that Stephanie Taber is a local Tea Party activist. Does that somehow prohibit her from backing the measure? You mentioned the “No” signers, however you failed to mention that those opposed to Measure A were not only funded by several Democratic PACs, but also by the ACLU, and some of the funding for the opposition was coming from the ACLU in San Francisco. How hypocritical is it, then, for you to mention that Stephanie Taber works for Larry Wahl, or that the real work was done by a Florida company?

Let’s be realistic about this. Those who oppose Measure A want to keep partisan politics and money in our city elections. Ann Schwab, Jim Walker and Scott Gruendl benefit from donations from the Democratic Party. That would not happen in June. In June, our elections would be purely local and nonpartisan. What could be better than that?

Sue Hubbard

Logue ‘standing up’ for kids

Tax revenue is not this state’s problem. Simply put, it’s a Legislature addicted to spending. Increasing taxes won’t solve our budget woes because we are not addressing the systemic budgetary problems that make the revenue necessary. Problems such as state employees’ unsustainable salaries and benefits, Medicaid/Medicare, and the never-ending plethora of duplicative and failing programs this state funds, will still be unsustainable.

Soaking taxpayers while increasing the budget has been this state’s strategy for years now. The reviled “rich” in this state now pay almost half their wages in federal, state, and local taxes. Even liberal Hollywood is avoiding these burdens by leaving the state to film. I guess they like big government; they just don’t want to pay for it.

Businesses have alternatives and they are voting with their feet. They’re leaving this state in droves to go places where “profit” is not a dirty word.

Doug LaMalfa and Dan Logue don’t hate Chico; they understand that if we don’t change Sacramento’s ways, the whole state won’t survive. They understand that businesses have been so beleaguered that an increase in taxes will only serve to shrink the tax base further. This won’t help increase revenue one penny and will hurt the budget deficit in the long run.

LaMalfa and Logue should be given accolades for standing up for the children yet to be born who are going to have to pay for the malaise that is this state’s budget.

Matthew Chavis

Writer’s ‘absurd accusations’

Re “Our business of killing” (Letters, by David Keifer, April 7):

Mr. Kiefer, you sound like a very angry man upset with the CN&R, American policies, and I venture to guess everything else. According to you, we (the citizens) are all easily fooled idiots, horribly dumb dullards who are seduced by the colorful media, tricked into sponsoring a killing machine for oil.

I personally don’t give a damn about your thoughts on why America and several other countries are at this time in history struggling toward peace in the Middle East. But your assertion that 9/11 was a staged event with the media’s backing … that BS rhetoric is insulting and stupid.

Fortunately or unfortunately, the world’s agriculture, commerce, health care, education, employment, transportation, research, security, the CN&R, you, etc., are (for now) dependent on oil.

According to you we should sit back and allow a few revved-up, spoiled, rich ideologues take control of this resource and hold the rest of us hostage until we genuflect to their racist, brutal, repressive interpretation of a gentle religion? I think you would be at the head of the line—on your knees.

Mr. Kiefer, no one likes going to war, especially over resources. I don’t. And most military and political professionals would rather not. War is ugly, and so are your claims.

Why don’t you take your higher level of awareness and focus on solving the problems instead of making absurd unsupported emotionally charged accusations that discredit America’s integrity and all the men and women who work every day to support her like all us idiots funding the R&D for alternative sources of energy and the many other Americans who courageously defend and protect millions of people throughout the world from individuals like yourself who promote fear, ignorance and repression.

Thomas York

Gas too expensive?

Don’t warm up your car before you start. It’s not necessary. Just go easy on the gas pedal for the first few minutes. Turn off your engine if you might be sitting still for more than 15 seconds. Modern fuel-injected motors use very little gas starting up. Don’t speed or accelerate quickly. Mileage decreases exponentially over 55 mph.

Gas is still cheap at $5/gallon compared to the awful price we pay to keep it cheap. Every drop you use costs someone a drop of blood. Walk, ride a bike, get a fuel-efficient car.

I live and play in the snow and have never felt the need for a 4-wheel drive. Why lose 5-15 mpg all year for the small chance that you might have to dig yourself out or put on chains once or twice? Get studded snows, and you’ll stop and corner better on ice in your two-wheel drive than in a four-wheel drive without them. When I see people around me stop wasting, I will be convinced that fuel is not too cheap.

Craig Vivas
Mt. Shasta