Letters for April 3, 2008

‘Pie-in-the-sky planning meeting’
Re: “20/30 vision” (Editorial, CN&R, March 27):

The Chico Planning Department and Pacific Municipal Consultants, under the auspice of “your” future vision of Chico, put on a third-person distortion of participants’ desired input.

The people in attendance were not allowed to give their own opinions. They were smoothly managed and manipulated to “interact” in this planning mock-up, shepherded into and forced to be a pretend interest group. A loud-mouth volunteer, appointed “team captain,” recorded and summarized the input.

Those hallucinatory planning groups included Developers (captained by a student who left before the meeting was over), Decision Makers, Residents and CSUC Students (captained by a guy in a cowboy hat who’s a heavy equipment operator and instructor). Meredith Williams, organizer of this pie-in-the-sky planning meeting, also herded the student group around town.

Participants were forced into answering questions promoting targeted locations that are premeditated for an upscale, sterilized, urbanized, downtown atmosphere similar to the Diamond Hotel, Senator Theatre, City Plaza and the non-operational Black Sea Gallery’s building. After the walk, there was a PowerPoint presentation, voted on electronically.

The locations, grammar, graphics and questions of both the walk and presentation were marginal, strategic, oversimplified and easily mis(re)interpreted by participants, consultants and planners.

Scott Love

Supercenter arguments supercilious
Re: “Follow Wal-Mart’s lead, Chico: Nix supercenter” (Guest Comment, by Heather Schlaff, CN&R, March 27):

Only on the slippery slope to illogic can one have it both ways, and Ms. Schlaff’s comments about the proposed Wal-Mart expansion appear to be making several U-turns.

She states emphatically that Chico does not need a supercenter and then takes off in the other direction talking about how bad the traffic will be and the net loss of jobs that will occur if the expansion is allowed.

If there is no need, then no one will go to it, and there will be no more traffic than we have now and no existing stores will close.

If it’ll take 11 minutes to get from 99 to 20th, then most folks will shop elsewhere, since you can usually drive all the way across Chico in 11 minutes.

If Food Maxx closes because of all the folks going to the not-needed Wal-Mart supercenter, then those of us who seldom go across the freeway to shop will be happier because there will be less traffic on Whitman/MLK.

One can’t have it both ways. If an expansion of Wal-Mart creates all the traffic and economic havoc that Ms. Schlaff believes will happen, logic tells us that there were a lot of people who thought there was a need.

Tim Edwards

I do not understand why we cannot have a Wal-Mart supercenter in Chico. The existing one is too small for the amount of people. My wife and I like Wal-Mart, but we get tired of dodging people every time we go there.

Costco enlarged their store with no problem. How come? The theory that there will be a traffic problem is a lot of hogwash. Unfair!

Tom Kitchen

I know it’s popular to hate the evil empire named Wal-Mart, but let’s make some sense of this issue. I am into saving money; I’m retired and on a fixed income. My bottom line is, with fuel prices eating me and you up, I want a place that can give me the value I need for the price I need—and yes, I also shop at Costco.

Wayne Devoll

Clear the air
Re: “Issue with our air: It’s visible” (Letters, by Carol Passovoy, CN&R, March 27):

I just heard that the Chico area has the third-worst air quality in the state, and I am shocked! We live in the City of Trees, and yet we are filling our air with pollution so small our bodies’ defenses cannot protect us.

The main causes of this pollution is the use of vehicles—particularly diesel vehicles, and I’d like to find out if using biodiesel is an improvement—and fireplaces. I urge everyone to get educated on this issue and to do everything in their power to stop the destruction of our greatest resource: fresh, breathable air.

Meagan Fischer

Editor’s note: For more on this topic, please see Editorial on page 6.

Re: “If drugs are it, acquit” (Editorial, CN&R, March 27):

I certainly think that our local hippie femme save-the-world newspaper is right on this one, but I had jury duty in Corning and told the judge I believed in jury nullification; he told me that the Supreme Court overturned jury nullification and dismissed me from the case.

Michael M. Peters

Editor’s note: The California Supreme Court in 2001 ruled against jury nullification, allowing judges to remove jurors who appear to be doing so; however, double jeopardy prevents a not-guilty verdict from being reversed once entered. The U.S. Supreme Court has not ruled on the matter recently, though past rulings support the right to nullify.

Healthy signs
Re: “Clean up your act” (Backbeat, by Toni Scott, CN&R, March 20):

I am an ex-Sacramentan who lived there prior to and after the restaurant rating system began. I must say that it was the best thing that ever happened to all eating establishments in the area.

For any Chico restaurant owner to be leery and not open to this system coming to our area, he should take a road trip and check into the system. It is wonderfully useful to the public to have ratings posted outside of eating establishments, and ignorance of information is not a viable excuse to use against a system that has been working very, very well for public health in Sacramento.

Lareina Reyes

Some holiday
Each year on Cesar Chavez Day, I read in the paper, discuss in my classes and overhear in the hallways of CSU Chico the various ways students sully a great man’s reputation by selfishly and disingenuously exploiting the ambiguous holiday status of the day in order to get drunk.

I suppose what the students are charged with is exactly what the city of Chico did in deciding to issue parking tickets to all of the people downtown who, in good faith, took Cesar Chavez Day (a state holiday) as included in “Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays excepted.”

I, like the other 57 people whose cars I counted downtown with tickets under their wiper blades (and all those I did not count), will have to pay $15. This was a great take for the city. I wonder if the money will be spent to create good will and unite people, on the model of Cesar Chavez; or, if it will be spent as it was collected, selfishly and disingenuously?

I guess we have taught young people in our town by many examples to profit from loopholes and dodge civic responsibility. Once again, the city of Chico has contributed to their education in the most negative way imaginable.

Matthew Brown
American Literature professor, Chico State

Luckily, no shot fired
On the evening of Feb. 15, I was eating dinner with my family at El Patron restaurant on East Avenue. During our meal, we noticed two Chico Police Department patrol cars circling in the parking lot. One of the officers stopped, talked to a person in a van, then both patrol cars left.

About 10 minutes later, six or seven patrol cars came back into the parking lot with red/blue lights and sirens on. Officers converged on the same van with guns drawn, yelling, etc.

One particular officer with an assault rifle positioned himself with the suspect directly between him and all of us in the restaurant. The officer was at a range of less than 50 feet and was aiming at us. In other words, if he would have fired his weapon at the suspect, he would have fired at us as well.

The suspect was taken into custody without further incident, thankfully.

Now, I do not presume to know what the suspect was accused of, but I found it gravely upsetting that my family and everyone else in the restaurant were put in serious danger. I was taught in a hunter safety course to look “beyond the target,” as bullets don’t have brakes. This isn’t Los Angeles, this is Chico; we don’t like the “shoot first, worry about the bullet later” mentality.

I think the Chico Police Department needs to seriously review its tactics and strategy before citizens get hurt.

Lyle W. Johnson

Protect your kids
I found out that there are several child molesters living in my neighborhood. I looked them up on this site: www.familywatchdog.us/

I actually noticed one of them with a small child next to him. It might be harmless, but the police’s advice is to call 9-1-1 right away to have it checked out.

The truth is it does not take long to get molested or raped. Please teach your children not to go to any strangers, walk up to cars, accept candy or gifts for favors, play with the puppy in the meadow behind the house, etc. Explain these things to them without scaring them, but at the same time be serious about it.

I hope you take my advice and protect your children today.

Name withheld

Cross over crossing
Every day I cross East Avenue at Ceres, and the new camera-based traffic light there infuriates me. It looks so far down the street that if there are cars three blocks down, it still will not change for cross traffic. It amounts to a light set to maximum length for all cross traffic.

But that’s not the really infuriating part. The camera-based light was a very expensive, wrong solution to a real problem: traffic on East Avenue. The right solution is to time the lights from North Street through Marigold at, say, 35 miles per hour. At most times of day, no driver will miss more the one light the whole way. There will be no incentive to speed.

I invite comment from the city Planning Department, or better yet an investigation into the processes that led to the purchase of a very expensive system instead of using their heads.

Eric Sylvia

Ceres Park—yes!
Attention, property owners north of East Avenue, west of Cohasset, south of Sycamore Creek and West of Mariposa Avenue: You will a receive ballot in the mail that will offer you the opportunity to get a neighborhood park.

The money is there to build it (prior development fees paid by property owners). As your neighbors, we are asking for your yes vote to maintain this lovely park at the low cost of $37 a year. At a time when home values are falling, this is a great investment for sellers by increasing your property value 20 percent—plus it is tax deductible!

This park will be a win-win for everyone. Senior citizens, families and singles will enjoy a walking path, benches, two playgrounds, rolling green turf, picnic tables, a water fountain and a place to socialize and enjoy the weather.

Please, when you get your ballot, check the “yes” box and mail it in right away. We will find out May 20 if the park will become a reality. The choice is yours: a rocky, mosquito-prone field, or a park that people of all ages will enjoy.

Lisa Billingsley, Joan Spencer and Michelle McGivern
Friends of the Ceres Neighborhood Park

Saluting the flags
Once again I am overcome with awe at the beauty of the Earth flags flying over the streets of Chico.

Whoever designed and manufactured the flags should be commended for their artistry and depth of feeling toward the planet on which we live.

Thank you.

Robert Woods

More truthful synonym
It is comical to witness the media respond to Hillary Clinton’s faux description of her death-defying, sniper-bullet-dodging 1996 trip to Bosnia, by allowing such terms as “misspoke” or “embellishment.” Why not call it what it really is, practiced by all politicians, regardless of party affiliation: outright lying!

Joe Bahlke
Red Bluff