Letters for April 29, 2010

No room for racism

Re “A rough walk home” (Newslines, by Leslie Layton, April 22):

The racist attack on Mr. Igbineweka might seem like an isolated incident. In fact, it happens quite a bit in Chico. I have talked to many black and brown people who are afraid to go out at night in this small town.

I myself was attacked in broad daylight at the Thursday Night Market by a racist skinhead. I pepper sprayed him. Guess who got arrested? Me. It took three lawyers and one year for the judge to dismiss my case.

I lived in Sweden for 20 years and never experienced a racist attack. I am waiting to see if DA [Mike] Ramsey will pursue this case as he did mine. Also, it doesn’t help when the Enterprise-Record consistently publishes coded racist remarks in its “Tell It to the E-R.” This “column” is so racist, and it displays people who have exiguous minds. The only relief I get is when I am in my studio in San Francisco.

Jerry Harris
San Francisco/Chico

Chico is a culturally, racially, politically and religiously diverse community. This diversity is the fabric that makes Chico a wonderful place to get an education, to raise a family, and to make a life.

But our town has recently faced several disturbing acts of bigotry. On César Chávez Day, individuals in our community engaged in a mocking display of ethnic stereotyping. Following that incident, CSUC President Paul Zingg appealed to the community for inclusion and acceptance.

Then, ACLU board member and CSUC Associated Students presidential candidate Amro Jayousi’s campaign posters were defaced with ethnic slurs and intentionally destroyed. And just this week CSUC A.S. President Joseph Igbineweka was stabbed in a vicious attack being charged by police as a “hate crime.”

We call on the city of Chico, the county of Butte, the district attorney, the university, the Interfaith Council, the Peace and Justice Center, the Peace Institute, the Human Rights Network, and other like-minded groups to ramp up their efforts to let everyone know that this community does not accept this behavior and will not stand for it.

Because we have the right to express our beliefs and opinions, but not to commit violence, the answer to hateful speech is to respond by expressing our beliefs of inclusion and acceptance.

The ACLU Chico Chapter is committed to the protection, preservation, and enhancement of everyone’s constitutional, civil and human rights. We commit to working with others in our community to promote acceptance and inclusion of all in our community.

William Sheridan

ACLU Chico Board of Directors

Remembering First Street

Re “40 years of Earth Days” (Greenways, by Robert Speer, April 22):

I received a 61st-birthday greeting via e-mail today from my old Chico friend Charlie Brown joking with me about where I was 40 years ago today—April 25th. Well, that was my 21st birthday, and I spent it in the Butte County Jail with 14 or so members of the so-called “Chico 15.”

I decided to see if anybody remembered the events of those few days and went to your newspaper’s Web site and saw that you had written an article about the first Earth Day, the First Street confrontation, etc. Thank you for your article and the good work you still do.

The events on First Street weren’t totally about closing the street. For me it was the culmination of the frustration lots of us felt over the war, Kent State, People’s Park, the invasion of Cambodia, and on and on. Closing the street was just an excuse, I think, for many people to vent frustration at the powers that be.

Thomas Hearn
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Editor’s note: Our story didn’t mention it, but as Mr. Hearn suggests, 15 of the First Street protesters were later arrested, though charges ultimately were dropped.

Take note, Tea Party

Re “They’re ‘peaceful but angry’” (From This Corner, by Robert Speer, April 22):

“Tea Party” take note: Every Republican administration since Eisenhower increased government employees and ran up the national debt. Ronald Reagan, the guru of many Republicans, increased California’s government by more than 100,000 while he was governor here.

Social programs have seen significant cuts, while law enforcement, courts and rates of incarceration have seen dramatic increases in funding and personnel.

Question: Why haven’t the anti-Obama forces like the Tea Party addressed the real issues that are destroying this country? Like Wall Street criminality and the insurance companies gouging their clients by raising rates and reducing services. What about the two wars raging in Iraq and Afghanistan costing billions of dollars and thousands of lives?

Larry Phipps

Immigration and overpopulation

Re “Draconian laws to blame” (Letters, by Robert Grignon, April 22):

Grignon claims U.S. immigration laws “are, and always have been, anti-immigration, designed to favor certain racial or ethnic groups.” Does he mean Europeans? The majority of legal immigrants to the United States come from Mexico, India, China and the Philippines. It’s been half a century since exclusion laws limited immigration by ethnicity.

“Draconian” laws? Hardly. At one time the U.S. admitted more legal immigrants than the rest of the world combined. Perhaps the 1 million legal immigrants of 2004-05 weren’t enough for Grignon. “Insurmountable rules?” Check U.S. Census statistics for foreign-born U.S. citizens. I think you’ll be surprised.

The capper, though, is Grignon’s equating repatriation of illegals with “deporting the Native Americans to reservations.” Native American people are/were in their own country, for crissakes. Grignon’s claim that deportation of illegals is as monstrous as “ethnic cleansing” doesn’t deserve comment.

Ed Schilling’s letter in the same issue reminds us that we are a nation of immigrants. That doesn’t obligate U.S. overpopulation. All nations are nations of immigrants; the cradles of humanity were somewhere in Africa and perhaps Asia. Even Native Americans are immigrants, the first to North America.

The problem is number, not variety. There’s no sustainability without immigration limits. The U.S. population would have stabilized at 270 million without immigration. Continual amnesties for illegal immigrants, each the “last,” have been ineffective. Overpopulation should be environmentalists’ primary concern.

Joe Abbott

Ugly and unsafe

Re “Clean up the eyesore” (Editorial, April 15):

Last year I attempted to open a small business in the only building [at Park Avenue and 11th Street] that “appeared” to be in somewhat decent condition. I dumped tons of money into the whole thing but couldn’t believe that every attempt was overwhelmed with dry rot, huge rats, and other pests.

After three months I was forced to shut down. I took a serious financial loss because I was unaware of my location’s condition before renting.

I would be willing to bet money that these buildings are not safe to be occupied. City inspectors should condemn these buildings from further use.

The Old Taylor’s Drive-in does have some nostalgic, if not historical, value, but the others are more than just an eyesore.

Tracy Taylor

More on ghosts

Re “Real-life ghost whisperer” (Cover story, by Meredith J. Cooper, April 15):

In a world with countless unknowns, especially those involving loved ones and friends, how blessed are we to have someone with such a genuine concern for others’ peace of mind that she is willing to come forward with any relevant information, however uncovered, that could do so much good in the lives of those suffering from great loss and devastation.

Thank you, Ms. Foster, for being such a soul, and putting forth so much effort in the name of closure and solace. Even though the remains of Marie Spannhake have yet to be disclosed, I am proud to know, and even more so inspired, that there is someone in our community willing to go the heroic extra mile.

Donald Monk

Reading the beginning of this article, I thought, “This sounds like a book flap trying to sell me on a story,” and of course at the very end the author, Meredith Cooper, admits to being an editor of the book version.

The perfect miracle is … “to be aware and make choices”? That’s your perfect miracle? Boy, what a waste of everyone’s time. (Including the police, I noticed. I bet they’re overjoyed with the outcome of nothing.) Good luck with your book.

Joe Giannola

Pollution and predators

Re “On the brink of extinction” (Greenways, by Alistair Bland, April 15):

The DFG puts more than 30 million juvenile chinook (king) salmon into California river systems every year. Unfortunately, these juvenile fish have to run the obstacle course of partially treated sewage, agriculture runoff and predators, such as bass, squawfish, seals and sea lions (and, oh yes, pumping) to get to the ocean. Once there, the juvenile salmon are supposed to fatten up on the collapsed inshore fishery, and then migrate into the open ocean. They can’t! There’s no food left.

After three to five years, those few who survive return to the still-collapsed inshore fishery, hopefully to fatten up for their upstream migration. That’s the reason “several boats in the Bodega Bay area have reported fast limits of two fish per person, while other boats fishing farther south, off San Francisco, have been entirely skunked.” There is simply no food to support upstream migration.

If you want salmon in the Sacramento River system, be prepared to control pollution and the predators. Otherwise, be prepared for millions of chinook salmon to be released from the hatcheries and never get back.

Gene Lucas

Killing the messenger

Bradley Birkenfield, the man who blew the whistle on UBS Switzerland Bank, faces prison time after exposing mass fraud by more than 1,900 of the United States’ richest citizens. As a result of Birkenfield’s testimony to a U.S. Senate committee, UBS shut down the entire $20 billion illegal program that existed to solicit and encourage wealthy Americans to hide their pre-tax money in secret, offshore accounts. The tax evaders were compelled to pay billions in back taxes but given no prison penalty. Birkenfield, who paid his taxes on time, is sent to prison for 40 months.

If this stirs any kind of confusion, resentment, or possibly rage in your soul, then do some democracy: write our president to give clemency to this faithful, vigilant citizen; write our representatives to right the wrongs of “killing the messenger” and ignoring the crooks. Check out www.whistleblowers.org.

Cathy Webster

The new American job

It is with growing frequency that one observes young people hired to make a spectacle of themselves by holding, displaying and dancing with an advertising board that touts the products/services of a particular chain establishment. As for me, I refuse to patronize any establishment that displays such blatant lack of respect for the dignity of our citizens and their employees.

On the other hand, with a deteriorating job market, downsizing, unemployment at record levels and no end in sight, these might just be the jobs of the future, celebrated as uniquely American because of their immunity to outsourcing, yet another milestone in our working class’s descent to the bottom.

Joe Bahlke
Red Bluff

Stop outsourcing security

Recent Congressional hearings have painted a dismal picture of military contractor Blackwater’s operations. Employees stole hundreds of weapons meant for the Afghan national police. They billed the U.S. government for a prostitute.

And then they created a shell company called “Paravant” so they could keep getting government contracts after they trashed the Blackwater name.

We must stop giving contracts to businesses like Blackwater—and the only way to do it is to pass the Stop Outsourcing Security Act. Please join me in asking our elected officials to make this act a priority.

Buzz D-L Coy
Red Bluff

First quake, then rain

The recent rains in Northern California remind me of what the people in Haiti are about to face with the weather there. I am hoping that the good intentions of many do not begin to fade away when the people there will need aid even more.

I returned from Haiti last month after three weeks doing clinic work in Jacmel, Kye-Jacmel, and Carrefour. Those living in refugee camps and many other people have little more than plastic tarps being held up by wooden poles. When the inclement weather hits, along with the winds, these people will take another hugehit.

Walking through these conditions and seeing the despair on their faces, I just hope that they do not pass into memory. Donations still need to be gathered through church organizations or NGOs.

The recent rains here are helping the Western states with water production. Picture an area where the rains do not bring relief, but tears and dread instead. The fight in Haiti is not over, just moving to another level.

Mike McCarty

Postal ‘death spiral’

The United States Postal Service is proposing to reduce days of mail delivery from the mandated six days to only five days a week. Mail delivery is not only a vital part of the national economy, but also provides the timely delivery of needed goods and services to all segments of society.

If it’s accepted by Congress, five-day delivery would begin a “death spiral,” with the Postal Service reducing services each time it is faced with economic uncertainty, until universal service to the American people is ultimately threatened.

I urge the Postal Service to take all appropriate measures to ensure the continuation of its six-day mail delivery service and oppose any effort to reduce postal services to the American people. Five-day delivery is not the answer. It will drive customers away. Less frequent delivery is likely to cause a loss in the number of customers utilizing the mail and decrease mail order prescriptions, newspaper and magazine delivery. This will result in an even larger drop in mail volumes.

If the Postal Service doesn’t deliver on Saturdays, other companies will step in to fill the void, which will cost the public even more. The Postal Service needs to look at how to grow and generate new revenue sources. Continued cuts in service and closing our local post offices is not the answer to this temporary problem mainly caused by the current economic recession.

I would encourage the Postal Service to hold town hall meetings to get input from the communities they serve. The Postal Service was established in the Constitution to provide universal mail service to everyone in our great country. This includes rural areas that might not be as profitable.

Chuck Locke