Letters for April 2, 2015

Not the public’s burden

Re “Clean, safe and costly” (Newslines, by Ken Smith, March 26):

Ken Smith’s report expressed the desire of the Downtown Chico Business Association to have the community come up with $130,000 to pay for what the business owners do not want to pay for. DCBA Executive Director Melanie Bassett said the money would go to pay for private armed security guards, the Downtown Ambassadors group and advertising.

The Ambassadors are an unofficial arm of the Chamber of Commerce—they greet tourists and travelers and hand out brochures and advice regarding services offered in Chico. Expenses accrued by the Ambassadors should be paid by the Chamber, not you and me.

If proprietors wish to hire guards to protect their properties, they should pay them as part of their business expenses. This is also true of the advertising campaign the DCBA is asking the general public to fund.

The protection of the downtown area is a matter for the police department, which just hired three new officers with more to come. It is inappropriate for the DCBA to take over the City Plaza each week to aggressively panhandle for money when it is a criminal offense for individuals to do the same.

Sandra O’Neill

He likes it locked

Re “Unlocking the park” (Newslines, by Howard Hardee, March 26):

I think it would be more logical to let Upper Park Road revert back to wilderness. This would save the city money on studies and road/design/ drainage work, etc. Make the gate at the diversion dam permanently closed. It is only a short distance to the end of the park road. Just have a good trail/rugged fire access road up from there. If you want to go up farther, hike or bike. Spend all that time and money on something the city really needs.

Byron Fountain

Love for CN&R’s calendar

Here it is Friday evening and I don’t know what to do, because there is just too much to choose from! Activism? Comedy? Music? Theater? Poetry? Or Dancing in the Streets? Thank you, CN&R, for This Week and helping me to remember why I love Chico.

R. Sterling Ogden

More on recent commentary

Re “Two on the commentary” (Letters, by Jaime O’Neill and Allan Clark, March 26):

I read the letters printed in response to Mazi Noble’s guest commentary, “Death to the race card,” expecting a reactionary backlash; my expectations were fulfilled, and then some. The self-righteous indignation evident in those letters only further reinforced the points made in Mr. Noble’s daring indictment of white privilege. It’s been said that when you hear expressions like “playing the race card,” “reverse racism” or “I’m no racist, but,” what follows is invariably micro-racist shibboleths. Those letters amply demonstrated that observation.

In an early interview, First Lady Michelle Obama repeated an observation made by a few of her predecessors: “The Presidency doesn’t change you; it reveals you.” Sadly, this presidency hasn’t changed America; it has revealed us.

Joe Hlebica
Red Bluff

Don’t kill the messenger! Indulging in ivory tower one-upmanship is the same thing the author is being criticized of: invective ploys of pea-brain divide-and-conquer mentality. It’s how we roll. Kind of like the pot-calling-the-kettle-black, told-you-so and so and so ad nauseam!

Six thousand years of trading up to live socially has not produced a cure to remove hardwired herd instincts in a civilized, so-called software world we call modern. So get in touch with your inner hairy barbarian and embrace racism! Yeah, I, too, have a dream that someday—but you have to be asleep to believe it! So wake up by any means necessary, because the revolution will not be televised! Dig? C’mon, everybody? Sing with me, “free your mind and the rest …” Got namaste?

Rick Vagts

I missed Mazi Noble’s guest comment until reading the letters in response. I was dismayed that the letters confirmed his point that “my lens is often scoffed at or mocked as just another black person pulling the ‘race card.’”

I recognize that being called out as “white people” was uncomfortable for the letter writers, but I don’t think a pinprick of discomfort merits the silencing directed at Mr. Noble by “correcting” his language or perspective. His column was not comfortable; I read pain and anger in his words. But I admire and am grateful that his commitment to community leads him to voice unpleasant truths about his experience; it takes courage to be public.

I note that the letters (mine included) focus more on being categorized as “white people” than on confronting his disturbing point that all is not well here in Chico. That members of our community feel unsafe daily means that we have work to do. Even if it were only “five or six” experiences, that is still too many. Telling people to be quiet or change their expression fails to address the safety issues to which our neighbor has testified.

Anne Seiler

It is people like Allan Clark who continue with their exiguous mindset that racism is somehow minimal in America. He says President Obama and Eric Holder “have cried racism so much over these years.” Oh, how I wish this was true.

Over these years, racism has shown its ugly face even more since Mr. Obama’s election. Holder and Obama are very conservative politicians, for an older activist black man as myself. Mr. Clark then goes on about young black kids getting shot down in the streets of America as if this wasn’t a problem at all. The killing of black people by the police in the U.S. is an everyday occurrence.

Mr. Clark should take off his blinders. I notice that he is from Paradise. It was the first “city” I lived in when I moved to Butte County. I had never encountered so much racism, after my return from living in Sweden for 20 years, as I did in my nine months living there. I had a racist neighbor who poisoned my garden, the N-word was constantly shouted by people in passing cars, and I ended up being attacked in the streets of Chico by this same neighbor. I pepper-sprayed him. Guess who went to jail? I did. Racism is a fact of life in America for people of color, and yes, it exists in Chico.

Jerry Harris
San Francisco/Chico

Responding to the takedown

Re “Cock-a-doodle-doo!” (Letters, by Rick Vagts, March 26):

Rick Vagts seems to be making a statement about mortality. Quoting Shakespeare—weighty stuff, those slings and arrows. But, alas, it’s hard to tell what game Vagts seeks to bag with his own arrows. Is my lousy writing style worthy of a hunting expedition? Or, is it substance he’s after? Some blend of the two, I suppose—allowing for a cool, koan-like, synergistic takedown.

On style, I hereby stipulate that Vagts has run me through. I lie bleeding on the field of battle. Slashed by “quotation marks” and impaled on dashes. But, as life trickles into the rhetorical sand, I shall speak—in gasping dramatic voice—to the substance.

I’m deeply sorry that Vagts feels so fatalistically trapped between a Happy Meal and a tablecloth. I once had a similar experience: imagine an al fresco meal among the dunes—with a worn copy of The Stranger at hand. A blast of hot air, throwing a blanket around me and my companions—wrapping us mummy-like for what seemed an eternity. Upon disentanglement, golden fries and triple-thick shakes in our adolescent hair.

Yes, this sort of traumatic event provides rich nourishment for meditations on mortality: to be or not, goddammit! My 12th year was no picnic.

Patrick Newman

‘Dazed and confused’

I have lost a dear friend, Cass Edison. I just saw her downtown two weeks ago with her sweet doggie. She is one of five people I have talked into sobriety and she looked fabulous. My question is, Why would anyone kill such a vibrant, lovely, talented, funny, compassionate person? I am dazed and confused.

Jim Dwyer

Editor’s note: For more on the death of Ms. Edison, see Newslines, page 8.

‘Plenty of corruption’

Re “Money talks” (Second & Flume, by Melissa Daugherty, March 26):

I certainly applaud the CN&R’s effort to fund investigative reporting. After all, newspapers are the conscience of a nation. But any properly educated reporter should be able to do investigative reporting as part of their normal job, so is the foundation just a protective measure for the CN&R to shield it from libel suits? And just what kind of investigative reporting is our local left-wing commie femme newspaper the ChicA News & Review going to do?

And what about protecting the offices of the newspaper—someone could crash a vehicle into the building or firebomb it. (The Sacrameto Bee has steel reinforced cement posts and other security measures, if you’ve ever visited their offices.) On the bright side, there’s plenty of corruption and ineptitude in government, business (will the CN&R investigate businesses that advertise in the paper?) and education (academic backstabbing is the hallmark of education) to probe into, so there’ll be no shortage of stories. But watch out for the backlash.

Mike Peters

A toothy quip

When Ted Cruz smiles, he’s not quite presiDENTAL.

Stephen T. Davis

More Monca, please

Having twice viewed the recent Monca pop-up exhibit at the former Tower Records spot on Main Street, I find it disappointing that this excellent show was not covered by CN&R. All the artists are local and the work includes fine digital photos by high school students. The two animated films by Josh Funk are museum-quality pieces and there are many other interesting works.

The efforts to launch Monca, an exciting addition to Chico’s status as an art-full city, are enormous, and many dedicated art-lovers have responded by volunteering time and money. There are still tens of thousands of dollars to raise before restoration of the former Veteran’s Hall can begin. Chicoans have responded more generously to this important work than their weekly newspaper. I hope there will be another pop-up exhibit in the fall and that CN&R will cover this next event.

Peter Jodaitis

Let’s hear the teachers

I tried to do my diligence this week by watching the CUSD school board meeting. Teachers were picketing and I wanted to hear what they said at their meeting. A potential strike should put their issues at the forefront of the meeting, right? I waited while there was one fluff topic after another before any teacher was allowed to speak.

I can now understand why the teachers feel so demoralized and disrespected. Hundreds of teachers were there instead of planning lessons, but instead of allowing them a voice, they were made to wait for 90 minutes before a single one was allowed to say a word. A presenter about insurance costs was told to speak first, and she droned on for an hour.

Incredibly, the district then told the teachers that they could only talk for three minutes, and only five would be allowed to speak. Why not allow 500 speakers if they wanted? Why not put the insurance lady after the small amount of time allocated to them? The delays all seemed so calculated and punitive.

I want to hear all the teachers speak. What could be more important than that?

Lyndsey Riley

Call for ‘Medicare for All’

The public is justified in roundly criticizing the Obama administration for the cumbersome ACA sign-up snafu. It has been unnecessarily complex and aggravating.

However, the criticism concerning mandatory enrollment is misplaced. It is the insurance companies that insisted on mandatory enrollment and accompanying penalties for free riders. It is furthermore the insurance companies that stanched the public option, which would have made premiums affordable.

The complexity of the law itself is to be attributed to all the players in the health care industry. Specifically: the insurance companies, who insist on protecting their bloated overheads (20 percent as compared with Medicare’s 1 percent; Big Pharma, which insists on gargantuan markups, coupled with a refusal to negotiate prices with Medicare; a health appliance industry that foists upon a gullible public expensive, unnecessary gadgetry; special physician compensation dwarfing that of most other countries; hospitals—both for-profit and nonprofit—whose list prices for services, medications, tests and procedures bear no resemblance to actual costs; defensive medicine, which compels unnecessary tests and procedures, to lessen the likelihood of physicians being sued for malpractice.

If we truly wanted a less cumbersome, more affordable heath care system, we would implement “Medicare for All,” which is the decided preference among most health care experts, including those aligned with the prestigious Physicians for National Healthcare.

William R. Todd-Mancillas

‘They’re poisoning us’

Cancer kills over a half million people a year, yet the media, including this publication, do not seem concerned about why this is happening. Toxins in the environment overwhelmingly contribute to people developing cancer. Each year, farmers in the U.S. spray over 1 billion pounds of carcinogenic chemicals poisoning the foods we eat, the soil they are grown in and the water that is used to irrigate them.

These same farmers are also leading California toward environmental disaster with their over use of water (over 80 percent of California’s total water consumption) and are filling the air we breathe with carcinogenic smoke from burning their waste. The negligent behavior of these conventional farmers is quite literally killing us.

Most commercial farming operations contract with chemical companies like Monsanto and purchase/plant GMO seeds/crops that are much more pesticide/herbicide intensive. According to Forbes, the amount of herbicides/pesticides used has increased 10-fold in the past 15 years.

For our safety and the health of the planet, we must require conventional farmers to stop using these dangerous farming methods that poison our environment and deplete and poison our freshwater sources. We must begin farming sustainably, because right now, these farmers aren’t feeding America, they’re poisoning us.

Sherri Quammen

Stop the aquifer destruction

A few rogue farmers are selling their surface water and irrigating with groundwater, because selling water in today’s water market is more valuable than farming. These rogue farmers are stealing our communities’ future.

Look to the San Joaquin Valley to see the economic destruction caused by depleting their groundwater. These communities have “no” groundwater and must rely on government distribution of water for their existence and everyday use.

Pumping groundwater has created a race to the finite bottom of aquifers across California. Farmers and water districts are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to drill to the lowest possible level of our aquifers to get the last drop. California needs to get real about our groundwater crisis and not allow unchecked and inefficient farming.

The state desperately needs bold water leadership to stop those who have no sense of obligation to future farmers and all generations to come. A good start to protect our groundwater would be to have public access to the names of everyone who sells their water and our future.

We must stop the destruction of our aquifers to enrich a few. Do not elect any politician unless they want to stop water transfers and protect our future and all future NorCal generations.

John Scott
Butte Valley