Letters for April 23, 2009

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Speak up to support the library

Re: “Save our libraries” (Editorial, CN&R, April 16):

I am not too happy that they are cutting the Chico branch hours due to budget cuts! I think it will be better if we step up and have better stable funding for our library. The library is one of my favorite places to go! I go most of the time.

Keep our libraries open, Butte Country!

Eric Matlock

The proposed cuts to the Butte County Library budget would create a firestorm, devastating library services for county residents if enacted by the Board of Supervisors at the May 19 meeting.

Contrary to popular myth, demand for library services is not going down in the age of the Internet. In fact, during the previous 10 years, library circulation (items checked out) and usage (citizens coming into the buildings) has increased steadily in Butte County. The increases in library use have actually occurred during a time when the U.S. economy was considered to be in “good” shape, demystifying the idea that our libraries are used only during “tough times.”

The quality and quantity of services and programs for children, teens and adults are truly amazing, considering the tiny amount of money the county provides for library services for its citizens. The excellent performance of Butte County Library employees in providing these services is recognized statewide.

Library hours have already been reduced, reflecting a 25 percent budget cut. Our library represents a public trust, a trust that our forebears valued enough to make a free library part of the Butte County Charter.

I urge all citizens to call their county supervisor before the May 19 board meeting to support the current level of library services. Let’s all honor the public trust, our library; make the call today.

Laura-Lyn Burch
Butte Valley

Another attendee’s account

Re: “Controversial speaker inspires cheers, jeers” (Newslines, by Meredith J. Cooper, CN&R, April 16):

I attended the talk by [Norman] Finkelstein. I believe your article reflects a misunderstanding on many points.

“What happened in Gaza was a massacre” was preceded by a lengthy explanation of Israeli military tactics and the killing of 1,400 people. I followed news from around the world at that time, and the fact that the majority were civilian men, women and children was constantly reported. Many died in hospital, school and U.N. facilities. Finkelstein told the audience where the documentation for his information could be found.

Your article also states, “By keeping up attacks, Israel could maintain the status quo: fear.” It neglected to report that the status quo, according to Finkelstein, is the occupation of Palestine and the events of 1967. Therefore, who is fearful, and has the most to lose, from a two-state solution?

The article also states, “Finkelstein’s views are far from mainstream.” What is the source of this statement?

The format of the event was a presentation with questions afterward. It was not a debate. The questions given Finkelstein were off topic and, I believe, rude. No one was asking about hundreds of dead women and children and thousands wounded. Are we numb to this horror? No one wanted to “debate” Israel benefiting from the “status quo.” No one was asking about the reaction of the United Nations and the international community.

This is a university town. Where is our voice? Can we get more accurate reporting of presentations by well-known authors?

Alice McColloch

Punishment is a crime

Re: “Catch and release” (cover story, by Janelle Weiner, CN&R, April 16):

The story of how Julius Johnson and other addicts were treated by the criminal-justice system shows the bone-deep immorality and mental corruption involved in promoting drug prohibition. The lies begin with a repetition of the notion that people can be “saved from themselves” by a jail term. Needless to say, this theory has utterly failed for more than 90 years.

Punishing where no injury to another has been done goes against the biblical admonition commanding that criminal punishment must equal the injury done and no more (“life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise”).

Julius Johnson has not murdered or blinded anyone, he has knocked out no teeth, and there is no maiming in his record, yet drug crusaders think nothing of sending people like him to prison repeatedly when the man has harmed no one. It’s worth remembering that the Nazis were also great promoters of punishing victimless crimes.

America’s drug crusade is an abomination, a blasphemy and a crime against humanity.

Ralph Givens
Daly City

Flags ‘wave in shame’

Re: “Saluting the flags” (Letters, by Naz Esposito, CN&R, April 16):

They may be making the flags here, but I bet the nylon was spun in China, pouring benzene on the ground and emitting greenhouse gasses, with the poor guy mixing dyes so toxic he can’t see after 10 years; then it’s shipped in a container [ship] spewing tons of diesel fuel on the ocean and in the air just to get it to port, then put on a semi and another bunch of carbon and spew.

Then it hits the print shop—umm, more toxic dye. The press needs to be cleaned—more solvents. Let’s ship it—more diesel spew.

OK, we got them; now let’s get the diesel truck to take them to the poles. Oops, we spilled some hydraulic fluid. Oh, we’re holdin’ up traffic to put them up; let [the truck] idle—I love exhaust.

The oil it took to get this to market killed innocent Iraqis and polluted many environments. To inform, you deform, or add to the oil tyrants’ paycheck. You’re not helping, you’re adding to the crisis.

Dan Whittle

It’s good to see the Earth flags fly over Chico. It’s unfortunate that they wave in shame.

First, I want to state that there are many individuals, politicians and businesses in our community that are changing how we treat our environment. Chico State is teaching sustainability to our future leaders, Sierra Nevada Brewery has set the benchmark on how industry should interact with the environment and there are hundreds of other efforts to fight the “toxification” of our planet.

Yet, every day, our city and county produce one of the worst pollutants man can create. This toxin, formed through fear and misuse, generates tons of CO2, wastes energy and cuts humanity off from our macro environment—the universe. The pollution is light.

Every night, the city of Chico and Butte County emit tens of thousands of kilowatts of energy skyward in the name of public safety. In reality, this excessive lighting actually creates unsafe driving conditions, encourages crime and costs taxpayers thousands of dollars as it robs us of our right to view the galaxy we live in.

Challenge our leaders to create meaningful lighting ordinances, so next year our Earth flags can fly with pride—not as hollow displays of governmental indifference.

Kris Koenig

Better way to ranch

Re: “Benevolence and bacon” (GreenWays, by Christine G.K. LaPado, CN&R, April 16):

Perhaps the problem [of unsustainable ranching] would be better addressed by shifting that $10 billion in subsidies back to the people who provide it in the form of taxes. Those subsidies are a large part of why this kind of feedlot agriculture became profitable in the first place.

Allowing producers to shift the burden of their pollution onto others has been a mainstay of federal agricultural policy since the FDR administration. Externalizing pollution means I get to dump my garbage into the street and you get to pay for its cleanup cost.

Some people think that if there were a law requiring everyone to pay, then garbage and recycling costs would be equally spread among all users. What actually happens is some pollute more than others and use the rest of the people’s forced trash fees as a subsidy for their own excesses.

If these producers were required to pay the actual costs for their own pollution, without preferences or subsidies, they would either choose a better way of doing business or quit and be replaced by others with a better business model.

Not everyone who raises livestock chooses to use public goods (the air, water or adjacent land) like a public toilet or place the animals or their neighbors’ welfare after the bottom line.

Samuel Handley


Re: “Alternative envelopes” (Sustainable Space, by Greg Kallio, CN&R, April 16): A photo intended to illustrate a structural insulated panel (SIP) instead showed an insulated concrete form (ICF). This photo, now in the online edition, shows SIP wall structure.

Re: “Stairways to health” (Newslines, by Ginger McGuire, CN&R, April 16): The story about Club Stairways used the previous name of the organization abbreviated as NAMI. The current name is National Alliance on Mental Illness. We apologize for the discrepancy, which has been corrected online.