Letters for April 21, 2016
Re “Losing our buzz” (Cover story, by Howard Hardee, April 14):
Thank you for calling attention to the absurdity of using César Chávez Day as an excuse to get drunk and wear sombreros. It is a travesty that such a remarkable man and movement have been overshadowed by this offensive behavior.
My daughter, who is 8 and has learned about César Chávez in school, pointed out that their behavior was “weird” because getting drunk doesn’t have anything to do with standing up for farm workers’ rights.
What was missing from the article was encouragement to Chico State to better educate the students on the holiday. University staff and informed students could hold an event that challenges the misguided debauchery. How about a respectful celebration of Chávez’s life with information on how to become politically involved, stand up for the oppressed and join social movements?
Recently, the City Council took courageous action to upgrade The Esplanade. I believe John Bidwell would be proud. Bidwell was an engineer who added such modern amenities to his home as running water, electric lights and flush toilets. He valued using innovation to improve the lives and living conditions of the citizens of Chico.
I believe this is the model the council used on Thursday. The improvements will assure safer usage by all. Chico has grown since the last upgrade 50 years ago and indications from data analyzed by the Public Works Department validates what we all know is a traffic artery that is no longer functional without re-engineering to meet current and future demands.
There are points along the corridor where you are five times more likely to be injured or killed than if you were traveling on a roadway that met federal and state guidelines. The actions taken will bring The Esplanade into compliance while maintaining much of the ambiance of the boulevard. It will allow for our future growth and be a standout feature of a modern Chico.
Last week, the Chico City Council voted for sweeping changes to The Esplanade. While roundabouts may reduce vehicle accidents, depending on design, some can be dangerous to pedestrians and bicyclists. Drivers often just don’t yield to pedestrians. This could open the city up to lawsuits. Some European cities have removed roundabouts due to this safety issue. Other U.S. cities have been sued for roundabouts that are difficult for disabled people to use.
Signal lights really do work better. The proposed bike path is well meaning, however, cyclists will still need to deal with motor vehicle traffic at every block, just like they do now. That bike path will give bike riders a false sense of security and may actually lead to more accidents. This could also expose the city to lawsuits.
These changes will also require the removal of many of the lovely trees that currently line our beautiful boulevard. We should preserve the attractiveness of Chico and save these trees. The problem at the high school is that too many kids are jaywalking. Why not try crossing guards? Instead of such radical alterations, let’s go for simple incremental improvements first.
Rebuttal times three
Re “Challenge accepted” (Letters, by Michael Bagwell, April 14): Homelessness is a complex issue and the result of “systemic barriers and individual/relational factors.”
I believe Bagwell is viewing homelessness from only a one-dimensional position. I encourage him to suspend judgment, invite curiosity and really try to see the perspective of another human being’s life circumstances. Look closely at specific factors such as structural components—lack of adequate income, access to affordable housing and health support. When these systems of care and support fail, vulnerable people are forced into homelessness.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” —Plato
Michael Bagwell argues: “If a guy stinks, tell him he stinks.” Michael Bagwell, you stink.
It’s not the homeless who are trashing our town. It’s you and those with like mindsets. Your sentiment fuels the “systemic” problems that you fail to understand. (Hint: Look in the mirror.) Others have tried to respectfully enlighten you. Clearly, you choose to remain close-minded.
Thus, the only “simple” solution involves your relocating to a place wherein everyone consistently lives in a home; wherein there aren’t any Patrick Newmans to advocate for humane treatment for the disenfranchised; wherein there are no blatantly extreme disparities in resources; and wherein nobody serves you this dose of reality: Your attitude stinks and is downgrading our generally compassionate community.
Robyn Alana Engel
Michael Bagwell offers some helpful homeless advice. When people “stink,” we should “educate” them: Offer a brain-injured man a shower and he’s clean for a day; simply explain the wonders of soap and water and he’s clean for a lifetime! Bagwell says we should solve the homeless problem “once and for all.” Where have we heard that sort of rhetoric?
But, Bagwell’s opinions are not the real problem. There are always the Braunhemden (brown shirt) types around ready to jump on the fascist bandwagon. The question is: Are there enough people in Chico—or the U.S. in general—willing to see and strongly oppose creeping authoritarianism? In this case, the authoritarianism manifested in the criminalization of poverty and mental illness we’re seeing in Chico today.
John Donne said it best in 1623: “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less … any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”
Fab Four found
Re “Changes to the boulevard” (Cover story, by Robert Speer, March 31):
Did anyone else notice the Beatles safely crossing The Esplanade in the renderings for the proposed improvements?
Stop Table Mountain hype
My wife and I have lived in Cherokee for over 30 years. The Saturday before Easter Sunday, Table Mountain could only be described as “chaotic traffic insanity.” I understand that the Table is a beautiful place to bring the family for an outing this time of year, but the advertising and promoting has turned it into a nightmare, both for locals who use the road for an Oroville commute and for first-time visitors.
Whoever came up with the Oroville Wildflower Celebration idea, and running shuttles up the back road (which can be dangerous on a quiet day), should have their head examined! On one ride into Oroville, I was waved around into oncoming traffic, had to avoid vehicles parked out on the road, and had to dodge people walking down the middle of the street. That day, I did call the CHP out of concern for people’s safety. I was informed by CHP dispatch that they had already received numerous calls throughout the day. I was also told, by my neighbor, that the trail to the falls is now horribly downtrodden.
So, to all you promoters and advertisers, do Mother Nature and the locals a huge favor: Ramp down all the unnecessary hype. Seriously!
Ban fracking, protect ag
Despite the major rains in Northern California this year, the drought is not over statewide. Of special concern to us is that while water is a basic human necessity, it is also the most valuable resource in Butte County. Agriculture is our county’s No. 1 industry and is valued at over $869 million annually. This makes water the lifeblood of our county’s economy. Please help us protect our water, our aquifer and our economy by voting yes on Measure E on June 7 to ban fracking here in Butte County.
Speaking of water
So, the Metropolitan Water District wants to buy islands in the Sacramento River Delta amounting to 20,000 acres—without environmental studies. Does anyone—anyone?—recall the crimes committed in order to create and expand that sewer to the south of us? “El Lay,” that is. That translates to “you’re screwed.” Just ask the people of the Owens Valley. At a meeting here in Chico, I saw the head of the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan, Mr. Jerry “the Delta cannot be saved” Meral, present his fact-free propaganda, and then Congressman John Garamendi said this: “In dry years, these tunnels will have the capacity to take the entire flow of the Sacramento River. Don’t believe them when they say they’ll never do it.”
Reader’s dream team
The polls have finally closed! Melinda Gates for president and Bill for vice president, Amy Goodman secretary of state, Ralph Nader secretary of commerce, Jackson Browne secretary of the interior, and secretary of defense: Bono. Until then, we might continue free falling into such rapid and uncontrollable moral, financial and spiritual descent that even the omniscient Dr. Phil will not be perfect enough to rescue us!
Kenneth B. Keith