Letters for April 7, 2016
Police killing revisited
Re “Butte death rate high” (Newslines, by Meredith J. Cooper and Raheem F. Hosseini, March 31):
The story didn’t mention the fact that Victor Coleman was sitting on the floor with a phone in his lap when he was attacked by Oroville Police Officers Tennegkeit, Nickelson and Cooley. It didn’t mention that a third of the 16 bullets that struck him entered his body from the rear as he lay face down.
District Attorney Mike Ramsey said Victor was standing and attacking. When asked why the only evidence of damage from gunfire was in the floor and only up the wall 13 inches from the floor, Ramsey said: “It’s there all right.” However, he refused to show it to us.
Ramsey has been asked twice in writing under the California Public Records Act to provide us with the crime scene documentation. There has been no response. Attorney General Kamala Harris’ version of open justice was to also refuse.
The citizens of Butte County can reduce the police-involved death rate. First, you must appoint quality people and provide proper training for police positions. Nepotism shouldn’t be a basis for giving someone a badge and gun. And you must have a district attorney who has integrity.
Editor’s note: The author is Victor Coleman’s father.
Six-figure tunnel vision
Re “Money talks” (Downstroke, March 31):
The California State University administration maintains that our budget cannot afford more than a 3 percent bump in faculty salaries. I know where that additional 2 percent can be obtained, at least some of it: Administrators could rollback the most recent 2 percent raises given them.
There is another benefit to the rollback. Morale in the CSU system is at an all-time low. Were administrators willing to share some of the budgetary pain, faculty would respect them for enacting a foundational rule of good leadership, doing oneself what is expected of the rank and file. Why this option did not previously occur to the administrators is evidence of their cocooning themselves in privilege and an impenetrable lack of empathy.
It is not as though the 2 percent rollback would cause the administrators hardship. Two percent rollbacks amount to $2,000 to $8,000 reductions in salary, which can easily be absorbed when they are being paid six figures, many of them in the middle six figures.
I urge the public to contact assembly representatives, the CSU board of trustees, Gov. Brown, the university presidents and anyone else who might support this proposal. Maybe a strike can be averted after all.
Re “‘Home of the homeless’” (Letters, by Michael Bagwell, March 31):
Michael Bagwell asks: Am I “advocating” for “homelessness as some kind of alternative lifestyle?” The term “alternative lifestyle” suggests a creative foray into living on the edge. Would I advocate for a person’s right to live this way? Yes. An American by the name of Henry David Thoreau made the value of this well understood. (Along with Buddha, Jesus, Walt Whitman, etc.)
OK, we have 1 percent of the homeless covered; let’s get to the rest. The other 99 percent are America’s poorest people. Almost all are disabled, compromising their competitiveness in the marketplace. They have brain injuries (about 50 percent of men), PTSD, addictions and other mental and physical health problems. Most come from families hammered by dysfunction.
Am I saying that grinding, painful poverty ought to be a “lifestyle?” No, I’m saying the poor should not be seen as the “problem” and that their living conditions will continue to be a problem, in nearly direct proportion to our societal incompetence. Above all, street people ought to be seen as human beings—just like you and me.
If affirming people on the streets, with kindness and material support, creates an obstacle to addressing systemic injustice, I invite Bagwell to make that case.
Outraged parent speaks up
Re “Pay day” (Newslines, by Meredith J. Cooper, March 24):
As an attorney and parent of a Pleasant Valley High School graduate, I was outraged that Chico Unified School District officials squandered [hundreds of thousands of dollars] attempting to withhold unquestionable public records to conceal their nefarious actions. The administration owed the community a fiduciary duty to keep their conduct above the law rather than circumventing it.
With the heightened awareness of these abuses nationally, how can CUSD officials claim they didn’t know the law? Judge Roberts’ ruling emphasized the district’s outrageous conduct by imposing a substantial 20 percent penalty atop the statutory fees she awarded the prevailing party. One wonders whether district leaders bothered to disclose at meetings the fees they were incurring out of the public coffers to perpetuate this obfuscation of transparency, as well as their liability when they conceivably lost?
I commend Judge Roberts’ brave analysis and judgment. If CUSD officials used “private email” in a misguided attempt to avoid owning up to them as public records, or if any reveal more despicable actions, I would certainly expect to swiftly see more heads roll, resignations submitted, as well as a change in their legal counsel.
Kenneth S. Atterman
‘Follow the money’
Folks in the Santa Ynez Valley, over 600 miles from Doug LaMalfa’s congressional district, can’t understand why he sponsored a bill in Congress to take 1,400 acres out of the voters’ hands and into the Chumash Indian gaming reservation?
Follow the money.
In his current run for Congress, about half of the 20 top contributors to LaMalfa’s campaign are Indian gambling interests. And, 80 percent of his money comes from outside the 1st district. If you find this hard to believe, go to www.opensecrets.org. It has a complete breakdown of who is funding LaMalfa’s campaign.
Go figure. When you have money, you can buy anything. Even your very own congressman.
Voters in the 1st district should take notice. If LaMalfa is OK with eliminating the voters in Santa Barbara County, what will he do, or has he done, in his own district for money?
‘Heartfelt and inspiring’
Re “To protect and serve” (Guest comment, by Bill Mash, March 24):
Bill Mash’s guest comment was excellent. It was a heartfelt and inspiring window into the small everyday vignettes that often take place unnoticed and unheralded. And it was sweet to be reminded of our human capacity for kindness and compassion. Thanks to those who were part of the scene and to Mr. Mash for his thoughtful reflection.
‘No more excuses’
It is time to stop recycling worn-out excuses. It is past time for Chico Scrap Metal to move.
Following the Feb. 18 Planning Commission meeting, CSM spokewoman Kim Scott was quoted as saying, “You can’t vote to tell us to do something, and then vote a different way after we comply with those directions.” I concur, although CSM has yet to comply. It has not moved. It has not done what it was unequivocally told to do.
On July 5, 2011, the City Council directed the commission to set a “drop dead” move date for CSM. On Oct. 4, 2011, the council followed up, and on a motion seconded by then-Councilman Mark Sorensen, it approved a final three-year extension to Dec. 31, 2014, “with no additional extensions allowed.”
Unfortunately, neither CSM, nor current Mayor Sorensen, has kept their word and followed through. The Planning Commission has held steadfast though, and has denied approval of last-ditch machinations and excuses to let CSM stay. It is time to do the chores. No more excuses. No more extensions. It is time for council to follow through and require CSM to move.
Editor’s note: The author is a former Chico mayor.
A close encounter
As I approached the crossroad on my bicycle on a recent morning, a small car appeared to be coming to a stop. They had a stop sign; I did not. As I crossed in front of the car, the driver did a “California stop,” and began accelerating. I was almost creamed. I could see the young lady mouth, “Whoa!” as she slammed the brakes.
She held a cellphone in one of her hands. I’m pretty sure she had been texting. I have been lucky so far, in that I have only had close calls. But at least once a year I encounter a situation similar to this and the driver is either talking on a cellphone or texting.
It is saddening that so many people take cellphone use while driving lightly. It is knowingly and willingly engaging in an activity that impairs the ability to concentrate on the business at hand, which is operating a motor vehicle.