Letters for April 5, 2007

CN&R called to account
Re: “Breaking the bank” (Cover Story, by Richard Ek) and “Time for a reckoning” (Editorial, CN&R, March 29):

Your two hit pieces on the city’s payroll take you down to the level of your across-town rival. Personally, I am proud that our city thinks well enough of its employees to pay them a dignified wage. If the average for non-management staff is, in fact, $68,000, that’s OK with this taxpayer. My guess, however, is that this figure is skewed by the salaries of several expensive managers. I wonder what the average for the office staff is.

If the city of Chico’s benefits packages outstrip those in industry, that’s good: One of the great immoralities of contemporary corporate America is that increasingly it no longer assumes responsibility for the health and welfare of its people. Rather, corporations use their human resources to develop ideas and then discard them as the specs are sent to offshore jobbers.

Mr. Ek argues that “Chico has long been known as a minimum-wage town.” Is that the standard you’re looking at for City Hall? As each city employee retires on that well-earned pension, we could hire part-time workers to take their place!

We would no longer have city electricians, plumbers, carpenters, plan-checkers and engineers. We’d just have a bunch of managers orchestrating a team of “contractors” with no health insurance and, best of all, no retirement pay. We might call them civil mercenaries instead of civil servants.

By the way, if you’re an established tradesman and not grossing well over $100,000 a year—even in this minimum wage town—you’re doing something wrong.

Bob Klang

While I must agree that we Chico police officers are well-paid in comparison with some members of this community, I would encourage your publication to focus on raising the level of our community workforce’s compensation to a standard that is comparable with the rest of this state rather than blaming the police officers and city staff for the potholes in our streets.

Chico police officers are far from the best paid in the state. In fact, due to our extremely low level of staffing, they must work harder, faster and smarter than many of their brothers and sisters in other agencies in order to maintain a similar level of service. I want the community to know that we are thankful for our compensation and we take great pride in serving and protecting this community.

Lastly, I want to correct the impression given in Dr. Ek’s article that being a Chico police officer is not a dangerous job. Due to outstanding police work, teamwork, tactics and training, we have managed to maintain a strong level of safety over the years. Still, we all recognize that this has been largely in the hands of God. Many of our neighboring agencies have not been as fortunate.

I do not know any Chico police officer who has not been injured by a combative suspect several times in their career. Amazingly, every one of them comes back to work every day, on time, ready to do it all again.

Capt. John Rucker
Chico Police Department

Naïve notion
Re: “Imagine … living life in peace” (Guest Comment, by Tom Blodget, CN&R, March 29):

I sit slack-jawed at the naïveté of Tom Blodget calling for yet another Cabinet-level office for the federal government!

We have a Cabinet office that is supposed to do all that you claim you desire from a Department of Peace and is staffed with the type of individual that you require for your new bureaucracy. It’s the State Department, and it’s out there right now, as I type this missive, embarrassing the taxpayer and wrecking the reputation of the United States without your help and without your new bureau!

You see, Tom, your statement that “we’ve been trained to expect very little from government” is exactly backward. We expect far too much—and regrettably, the government attempts to deliver, and does so badly in virtually all cases.

In addition to believing in these misguided notions, you’re also late! The current administration is infested with would-be “world improvers” like yourself. The very same policies that you espouse are in practice in Iraq with less than stellar results.

Dave Larsen

Watts up
Re: “Also not so hot” (Letters, CN&R, March 29):

David Linzer’s comment—"Anthony Watts and other conservatives are so skeptical about global warming. On this issue, they demand absolute, iron-clad proof before any action should be taken"—is emotional and false. Watts has been lampooned because of healthy skepticism, an attitude that should be celebrated, not mistaken for denial. In contrast, a case-closed attitude in the face of even one dissenting scientist is both folly and bad science.

The position [in Brahama D. Sharma’s letter] that average citizens, particularly those with a healthy interest and background in science, have no business commenting on the subject is absurd, as is the position to dismiss scientists who disagree with man-made warming. One such scientist is Dr. S. Fred Singer, an atmospheric physicist who leads the Science and Environmental Policy Project. Opinions from a man of such eminence cannot be dismissed.

In closing I’d like to offer this from another scientist of distinction, Albert Einstein, who when asked how he felt that some 200 German scientists assembled by the Nazi regime had declared his science was bad, replied that all it took was one scientist to prove him wrong.

Tina Grazier

Brahama D. Sharma, in his letter, cites me as “not competent” to discuss the global warming issue, but makes errors himself.

He says that I “cite non-original references” in my letter, and thus have committed a scientific faux pas. I’m quite certain “letters to the editor” aren’t required to follow the rigorous rules of scientific journals; if they did, this paper would never make it off the press.

He takes me to task for using the word “thermodynamics” incorrectly, implying that it has no relevance in meteorology. Mr. Sharma, I respectfully suggest reading Atmospheric Thermodynamics, by Craig Bohren, or do a journals search on the topic.

Sharma, in his letter, follows a pattern some have taken in criticizing those who question the headlong dive into “scientific consensus on GW” by attacking and attempting to discredit the person to deter them from further debate.

David Linzer in his letter says “they demand absolute, iron-clad proof before any action should be taken.” That’s never been my position, as I have advocated for alternate energy and installed solar on my home and within Chico Unified School District. It’s policy change via panic that I don’t advocate.

Anthony Watts

Attractive lure
Re: “Fishing the word stream” (Backbeat, by Jaime O’Neill, CN&R, March 29):

When I saw the headline to Jaime O’Neill’s story, I almost skipped it since I am not a fisherman. But then I read the subhead, realized this was not sports but literature, perused the photos and there it was. Wow! The cover of the book, in living color, hooked me. Talk about poetry!

I realized almost instantly that I knew the artist of that cover and quickly skimmed the article to confirm his name—which wasn’t there. So: His name is James Kuiper, professor of art at our very own university, and he needs to be credited.

I, like many of your readers, am a little afraid of poetry. But I’m running out to get the book because since reading the article I now feel the courage to enter Troy Jollimore’s world—and also because, I confess, I can’t resist the bait on that cover.

Maria Phillips

Re: “Breaking the bank” (Cover story, by Richard Ek, CN&R, March 29): One of the statistics regarding police staffing was incorrect. The Chico Police Department has 102 sworn officers, which would make its ratio 1.19 officers per 1,000 population—slightly below the average of 1.3/1,000 for California, Oregon and Washington in the FBI Uniform Crime Report. CPD has 1.83 employees per 1,000 population.