Letters for April 5, 2018
Re “Compassion above all else” (Editorial, March 29):
Facts matter, even if not to the editor of the CN&R. Bridging gaps requires careful attention to bothersome things like facts, objectives, mission and virtue, especially virtue.
Fact is, we have not proposed outlawing “food giveaways.” All of our parks, waterways, public places, roads, airspace, etc., are regulated. Even those things that might be prohibited in one place might well be allowed somewhere else. Civilized society imposes rules of conduct. When we don’t obey these rules, we are subject to enforcement. As people find new ways to offend community standards, new laws and ordinances must follow.
Fact: Chico First is not affiliated with any other group, especially Nazis or the KKK. We are exactly what we say we are: a group of community volunteers concerned with matters of public safety and quality of life for the entire community should come first; i.e., “Chico First.”
Unless we get at the root of some of the issues driving the increases in crime, degraded public safety and quality of life, things will get worse. That is not to say that we think we have all of the answers, but clearly we have thought about it more carefully than you.
I am writing to thank you for your well-balanced editorial regarding the activities of Chico Friends on the Street (CFOTS) and Chico First.
Several weeks ago, Chico First set up a booth in the plaza on Sunday while CFOTS passed out food. I was at the plaza with CFOTS, introduced myself to Rob Berry, and invited him and the others to come see for themselves what we were doing. Unfortunately, no one took me up on it; it all felt rather silly, as if we were rival gangs rather than concerned citizens in a public space.
My experience has been that CFOTS leaves the plaza cleaner then when they arrived. The claim that an occasional shared meal is keeping people on the streets is specious as well. There are currently around 1,100 homeless humans in Chico. There aren’t enough shelter beds or housing available for all of them. What is keeping them on the streets is not a PB&J sandwich.
I live in Chico and want it to be clean and safe, but I also seek respectful solutions rather than criminalization for those who are living on the streets. I will continue to seek common ground with any group working toward those goals.
Editor’s note: For more on this, see Second & Flume, page 5.
Re “Under pressure” (Newslines, by Robert Speer, March 29):
I appreciate your coverage and recent editorials concerning the activities and divergent philosophies of Chico Friends on the Street and Chico First.
Over two years ago, Chico Friends on the Street began a protest in response to the further criminalization of homelessness, implemented through the Offenses Against Public Property Ordinance.
Our protest takes place in Chico City Plaza, where we meet and share food and clothing. This has raised the hackles of landlords and members of Chico First. At the council meeting on March 20, we were pilloried for our activities and the council was asked to prohibit us from sharing food.
I found the testimony to be wildly exaggerated. (Especially with respect to managing litter—which we have consistently controlled.) We were also accused of engaging in “political theater.”
There is theater in protest: We are in a visible public space, affirming the rights of all people to coexist. I agree with Mayor Sean Morgan when he says we are “empowering” the homeless—at least I hope this is true. The homeless have at least some power when present among us, especially as the alternative to exclusion through deprivation, criminalization and “consolidation”—the interdependent devices now promoted by our local authoritarians.
Re “More than a doll” (Second & Flume, by Melissa Daugherty, March 29):
I am sorry for those losing jobs when Toys R Us closes, but otherwise I am glad that store is closing. Taking a child in there was guaranteed to start an addiction for wanting stuff, and more stuff.
That addiction may kill our planet.
I have been in Toys R Us, but I would never have taken a child there. Entering the store, I was always appalled at the quantity, and the garish, almost nightmarish, endless aisles of variations on mostly unnecessary stuff, designed to create cravings for more, more, more.
The purpose of the revered U.S. economy is to create constant wanting, also called consumer demand. People froth at the mouth with the prospect of creating more and more new stuff, and creating more and more demand for new stuff, and thus “building” the economy.
An economy so selfishly oriented on creating wants, rather than fulfilling needs, has perverted U.S. society, by undervaluing the public sphere.
With the public sphere undervalued, infrastructure is not built or maintained; education does not have needed resources; there’s a lack of affordable housing; health care is inadequate, and many states are too cheap to have unhackable voting machines.
But people have lots of stuff.
Re “Point of preservation” (Newslines, by Ashiah Scharaga, March 29):
The CN&R seems to be lacking in philosophical consistency in the March 29 issue. It seems people camping in park and trashing it, in violation of many rules, are to be defended. But disc golfers who are following all the rules are to be condemned for minor impacts incidental to using a park for recreation as intended. (I thought the article was overly sympathetic to Friends of Bidwell Park.)
Rules regarding public property are to be applied the same to all of us, regardless of socioeconomic status. If the mayor’s effort to reduce illegal camping is hateful, then what term shall we use for “Friends” of Bidwell Park’s 15-year harassment of the disc golfers? How much tribute do the disc golfers need to pay?
If John Merz of “Friends” is allowed to supplant the city staff and negotiate a settlement with the disc golfers, they won’t just be paying for his friends to do repetitive botanical studies, they will also need to offer up a chest of gold doubloons and their first-born daughters. And it won’t be enough, since disc golfers are lowly people not worthy of park access in the “Friends” way of thinking.
Editor’s note: A representative from the disc-golf group, Chico Outsiders, declined to comment to the CN&R’s reporter and other media.
‘Ahead of the curve’
Re “Maternal mandate” (Healthlines, by April Dembosky, March 29):
Thank you for publishing the important article that addresses the crisis of lack of services for women struggling with maternal mental health disorders. Butte County is a bit ahead of the curve; an organization called Mothers Strong has been working since 2014 to expand screening and services for mothers. Information and resources for families can be found at helpcentral.org/mothers strong and Mothers Strong can also be found on Facebook.
Calling out Congress
The Republicans in Congress are demonstrating a lack of character, conscience and common sense. They refuse to responsibly address the complicated issue of immigration, take sensible action to develop gun safety regulations, or manage funding the government for more than six weeks. They avoid discussions on foreign policy and the defense of our country, other than to throw more money at military contractors.
President Trump recently called Russian President Putin to congratulate him on his sham re-election victory, this against the advice of the adults on his staff. However, he failed to mention Russia’s alleged nerve gas attack on British soil, the attack on U.S. soldiers by Russian mercenaries in Syria, their antagonistic aggression against NATO, or their interference in our presidential election. By staying silent on these critical transgressions, Trump gives Putin a green light to keep it up.
Yet we hear no condemnation by Republicans in Congress, including Trump yes-man Doug LaMalfa, for this un-presidential behavior. Republicans exhibit indifference to the actions of Russia’s criminal dictator. It seems that Mr. Putin has seduced Donald Trump to help achieve his world views.
What does Putin have on Trump? It’s a question many people have and one Trump doesn’t want answered.
Roger S. Beadle
On military spending
Re “Bloat” (Cover story, by Dennis Myers, March 22):
Unfortunately, most people are unaware of the vast waste and true cost of maintaining this monster. We would as a nation have to educate ourselves and become politically active and aware of the plain and simple truth: that the military, industrial, congressional complex is a criminal organization. They are destroying this country.
Speaking of LaMalfa
Pleasant Valley High School students organized the successful March for Our Lives on March 24. Now Chico High students have stepped up to the plate to organize one of the national town halls to be held in every district.
Let’s turn out on April 7 at noon at the El Rey Theatre to discuss gun violence and gun reform with Congressman Doug LaMalfa. Will he show up to face his constituents? If not, a panel of his opponents and experts on the issue will speak so our students don’t have to wonder if they’re the next to be killed.
Missing Dr. King
April 4, 2018, marked 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, and I still remember the moment I heard he was killed. I had just returned to my unit in Vietnam, after several weeks of hospitalization, recovering from wounds.
Just two months after the Tet Offensive, morale was already low and this assassination was a big blow to most of us, as it became apparent that not only was Vietnam falling apart but back home was too.
America finally recognized Dr. King’s contributions in 1983, by creating a national holiday with a bipartisan bill signed by President Reagan. I still miss the man who gave us the “I have a Dream” speech.
Vote for Republicans
How many of you California taxpayers are aware that you pay the highest state taxes in the nation? Additionally, are you aware that California has 25 percent of the homeless population? How many of those homeless could be housed with the $1.3 billion boondoggle called high-speed rail from San Francisco to Los Angeles? Do you really think a train ticket will be affordable by everyday Joes like us?
The spendthrift Democrats (who have been in power in California’s Legislature for more than 60 years) spend our money and then ask for more. This state is broke! It’s time for every liberal who cares about the homeless to rethink their votes this June and November! We need fiscally responsible Republicans running this state in 2019!
Loretta Ann Torres
Editor’s note: Per capita, California’s tax rate is the fourth highest in the nation (behind Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts).
Not above the law
Surely, the recent murder of Stephon Clark of Sacramento, 22, while in his grandmother’s backyard, has to reach the level of “enough is enough.”
Under most “legal” and departmental definitions, officers are allowed to “shoot to kill” if they feel their safety is at stake. This is tantamount to saying a country can attack another preemptively. International law, happily, if not in reality, considers this the ultimate international crime of aggression.
Any officer who fires before being fired upon is not just a coward, but also a criminal. If one is that afraid, he or she should resign before killing another innocent youth. A police officer’s life is not worth more than anyone else’s—regardless of race, gender or citizenship.
As students around the country demand the end of gun violence by criminals, it is time to stand up against gun violence in general. Wearing a badge doesn’t mean you are above the law. In fact, it should mean you are held to a higher standard.
An officer who fires a gun without shots being fired first should be immediately terminated, and then prosecuted. The police were looking into a call about broken windshields. Do they think a windshield is more important than the life of Mr. Clark?
A news story on Peregrine Point and Sycamore Field in the March 29 issue (see “Point of preservation,” by Ashiah Scharaga) requires clarification: The Bidwell Park and Playground Commission denied the erection of a permanent fence around Sycamore Field on a 4-to-0 vote. The tie-breaker vote referred to in the story was regarding an effort to allow a softball league to set up a portable restroom at the site during its season.