Letters for April 18, 2019

‘Business as usual’

Re “Drastic measures” (Cover story, by Judy Lin, April 4):

CN&R’s recent cover story on the coming wildfire season included comments by California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Picker. His comments were so incredibly casual and stupid they should have activated the CN&R editor to write something about the role and power of the CPUC and how strong CPUC leadership could force PG&E to be more responsible so that their equipment sparks fewer horrendous fires.

PG&E’s equipment was responsible for 17 of the 21 major fires in 2017. And PG&E said that its equipment probably caused the Camp Fire.

The state Public Utilities Commission has the responsibility to regulate services and utilities, protect consumers, safeguard the environment, and assure Californians’ access to safe and reliable utility infrastructure and services.

The CPUC is known for enabling PG&E’s focus on profits and its lax safety culture.

With Picker president of the CPUC, it is likely business as usual, and people should care, unless they just want to accept wildfire tragedies as inevitable.

I doubt that the large majority of people blaming climate change for the Camp Fire acknowledge their role in climate change, nor are they willing to make the sacrifices to stop climate change.

Blaming climate change for the Camp Fire is just too easy.

Lucy Cooke

Butte Valley

CSUC pres disappoints

Re “Unbelievable opportunity” (Newslines, by Ashiah Scharaga, April 11):

As a 20-year employee of Chico State, I have been proud of the efforts the university has made toward transparency and progressive engagement with the community.

President Gayle Hutchinson’s bombshell letter opposing the location of a homeless center on Orange Street leaves me questioning that progress.

After a week spent promoting “courageous conversations” and community engagement through Great Debate events, this administration, without campus consultation as far as I am aware, has shamed us all, with this NIMBY condemnation of the efforts to provide a safe and dignified alternative to sleeping on the streets, in the name of public safety. Clearly, the homeless are not the population whose safety is of concern.

I have close family and friends who volunteer their time and energy at the Safe Space Winter Shelter, and I know from them that those needing these services pose no more danger to the community than do other citizens. I am appalled that despite the claim to not “disparage a population as criminals,” this is exactly what this letter does. Demonizing the homeless for society’s problems is no solution.

The homeless are here, they live in our neighborhoods, the need is present, but alas compassion is not.

George Thompson


Another diss from TV

Action News ran a hit piece last week intended to raise fear within our community by conjuring dangers to local schools with having a low-barrier shelter near downtown. Meanwhile, every location mentioned to alarm residents is located in the midst of low-barrier frat houses, dormitories and residential housing.

This was a thinly guised mob attack on community members based on economic status and the disabilities many of them endure. Plain and simple. You see, when a mob sends its people, it is not sending its best. It’s sending people with lots of xenophobia and rhetoric, and they’re bringing those callous, unclean and unsafe, views with them. They’re bringing lies, they’re bringing innuendos. They’re pawns. And some, I assume, thought they were do-gooders.

I’m reminded of The Poseidon Adventure, where well-intended people angrily dismissed the heroes who had calmly and accurately figured a way to safety. The way forward and off the sinking post-Camp Fire ship is the Orange Street Shelter. Thank you, Safe Space, the Jesus Center and the city of Chico, for leading the way.

Bill Mash


Speaking of the Camp Fire

Understandably, survivors of the Camp Fire want to rebuild fast, those with money that is. However, if we are to learn from our past mistakes of the previous fire footprints where building standards were always lowered to rebuild faster, we really need to slow down and get it right this time: fireproof concrete, steel frames, six-lane evacuation routes are what’s needed. Paradise could be the model Green New Deal city.

Instead, Assembly Bill 430 (aka Camp Fire Housing Assistance Act of 2019), introduced by climate denier Assemblyman James Gallagher, is another one of those hurry-up-and-lower-building-standards mistakes. It is an end-run attempt around CEQA, which puts environmental screening standards on all proposed projects.

“Since 1999, 13 large wildfires burned within the footprint of the Camp Fire,” said Chris Folkman, a disaster analyst. “I think there needs to be a frank conversation about rebuilding and fire resilience. The good news is there are measures to be taken to make a house less susceptible to a wildfire. In the end, we have to face the fact that the climate is changing and a lot of houses are built in dangerous areas.”

Mary Kay Benson


Editor’s note: For more on AB 430, see Ashiah Scharaga’s report on page 9.

Beware of mail snatchers

If your mail is delivered to a multi-address mailbox in Chico (typical for an apartment complex or newer subdivision), beware of mail thieves. Someone either has a USPS key or a tool that can pop open those boxes. Although all mailboxes of that type are equally vulnerable, the USPS doesn’t stop delivering mail to your box until it’s actually broken into. Then, besides possibly losing something valuable, deliveries cease, and you must start picking up your mail at the Vallombrosa post office.

Our box was hit early, and we’ve been doing that for the past six weeks. If your box hasn’t been hit yet, some recommendations: pick up your mail every day to minimize your loss when it does happen; don’t use the box for your outgoing mail; be careful ordering valuable merchandise that might be delivered by the USPS; and keep an eye out for any strange activity at your mailbox.

The USPS doesn’t seem to have the capability or the will to solve this problem, or even inform other patrons that a problem exists.

Steve Kennedy


No more animal cruelty

Who doesn’t love the beauty and mystery of an exotic cat or a wild bear? Who wouldn’t want to cuddle an adorable lion, tiger or bear cub? Many people do when offered the opportunity without knowing the consequences to the cub.

In someone’s backyard—legal or not, depending on the state—tigers, lions and bears are being bred in cages because someone thinks exploiting animals is a good way to make money. Like puppy mills, the animals suffer; adults are breeding machines so cubs can be sold for photo opportunities. Cubs are taken from their mothers and are subdued with slaps, tongue pulling, and other cruel physical tortures to make them compliant for photo ops.

Please stop the cycle and support California SB 313, the Circus Cruelty Prevention Act. No more cub handling or exotic animal breeding and exploitation.

Dawn Garcia


Israel’s influence

I’m all for befriending countries. But when a country tells our government to pass laws—in ignorance of America’s Constitution—that tell you who to hang out with, and specifically discriminate against peace-loving Americans, the friendship has gone too far.

If Israel wants the Golan Heights, and Trump gives it; while lobbying giant AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee] assures all talking points are pro Israel; when Florida holds its cabinet meetings in Israel, effectively preventing Floridians from attending; and Israel prevents BDS [boycott, divestment, sanctions] founder Omar Barghouti from boarding a flight, then America bars him from entering the U.S., you might be heavily influenced by Israel.

BDS informs people what their money is used for, since many don’t support fascism. Shame doesn’t inhibit Israel’s fascism, but a boycott targets its budget. America shouldn’t write discriminatory laws criminalizing peace. Jimmy Carter doesn’t like it, and neither do I.

Similar to the 1933 worldwide Jewish boycott of Nazi Germany, the world is boycotting Israel today. However, that same freedom to speak out against oppressors that America fought for has been written away in 26 states. The remaining United States is goose stepping that direction, sickeningly being force-fed legislation requiring allegiance to Zionism. It’s Nazi Germany all over again, but bigger.

David Kiefer



Last week’s Second & Flume (see “Debunked,” by Melissa Daugherty) conflated Robert F. Kennedy’s conspiracy theory about vaccines causing autism with that of Andrew Wakefield, a British man who falsified research on the subject and was stripped of his ability to practice medicine. The column has been corrected online. —ed.