Letters for August 15, 2002

Writer Laura Smith states that District Attorney Mike Ramsey is refusing to disclose the cost of the First Amendment Club sting operation and prosecution [“Out of the frying pan,” Newslines, July 25]. I find the arrogance of Ramsey’s statement hard to believe. Doesn’t Ramsey realize he is a public servant and is accountable for every dollar he spends? Does he somehow think he is above the law? What does he have to hide? If Ramsey is unwilling to account for how he spends Butte County’s money, perhaps someone should be investigating him, and maybe the voters need to launch a recall campaign.

Barton Crocket

Poor timing
Mr. Bertagna used the ethnic slur “jewed” in reference to being cheated out of money. This slur has long-term roots in anti-Semitism, and it is an outrage that an elected official used it so readily. I am deeply offended by this comment, and I ask that the Chico City Council and Mr. Bertagna reflect seriously on this matter and consider what action might be appropriate to reprimand Mr. Bertagna, including resignation from office.

At a time when the world is fraught with so much hatred and violence, where do we find the leadership to teach our children tolerance and respect for one another? We assume that our elected officials will set an example of moral integrity. When they do not, we expect that they will be removed from office. It does not reflect well on our community that this comment could be made at a public televised meeting. I ask the mayor to take whatever action necessary to restore the public trust and dignity to our council.

Donny Lieberman

What decade is it?
I was deeply offended by Steve Bertagna’s anti-Semitic remark at the Aug. 6 Chico City Council meeting. He should be ashamed of himself; I certainly am ashamed of him. Equally disturbing was the spectacle of the other councilmembers sitting in silence, failing to admonish Mr. Bertagna on the spot.

Growing up in Ohio in the 1950s and ‘60s, I often heard this and other trashy slurs, uttered by both young people and adults. Whether rooted in malice, imitation or ignorance, such behavior is contemptible. It is shocking and depressing to hear that kind of filth spew from an elected official in 2002.

Although Mr. Bertagna apologized the next day in the Enterprise-Record, he went on to say that this is a common term, which he has heard and used before. I would have hoped for an unconditional apology, not a lame and obnoxious attempt at justification.

Jason Tannen

Lost votes
I am writing in regard to the comment made by Steve Bertagna. I have never before been so shocked and disgusted by a local public official.

My blood boiled for the rest of the meeting thinking about how a supposedly respected member, and loud voice, in our community could say such a hateful and racist remark without remorse. I think it is totally unacceptable, and if he ever again decides to run for office he has lost my vote, and I would hope the vote of Chico’s Jewish community and those Chicoans who thought they lived in an accepting community.

Rachel Krampfner

Boy talk
I think it’s time to get off Steve Bertagna’s back about his mistake in public speech. It was bad, he apologized, let’s get over it.

Steve is a member of our community and a person who has given himself to public life. I rarely agree with his positions on the City Council, but I also appreciate that he is committed to community service in his way. I seriously doubt that Steve is anti-Semitic to any degree. He was simply caught up in a lighthearted moment with the good ol’ boys, always a fertile circumstance for a gaffe.

Dan Carter

Waste management
The city’s ability to waste tens of thousands of dollars will never cease to amaze me. First comes the announcement that it will spend around $40,000 to run statewide ads discouraging people from coming here for Halloween. Talk about a plan destined to backfire!

Now I read that the city has spent $50,000 to discover facts about Chico that are so obvious that the average person on the street would know them [“Chico’s first report card,” Everybody’s business, Aug. 1]. A few gems: Chico’s mean wages are slightly less than Redding’s and much less than San Francisco’s. Imagine that. And who knew that Chico was three hours ahead of the East Coast! And all of this wisdom comes from an out-of-state firm that made a few phone calls and looked up Chico on a map!

If the city insists on wasting our tax dollars, at least it could spend them locally. I would be happy to write up next year’s report about Chico’s economic-development efforts, and would do it for 10 percent of what was spent this year. Or, better yet, why doesn’t the city have its employees make calls to new businesses, ask some questions and write their own report? We’ve got some good and talented people working for the city; let’s use them!

John Geiger

Nuclear reality
I’m writing this letter in response to the Guest comment [“Don’t fear nuclear power,” Aug 1] that addressed the problem of depleted uranium being transported through Chico, and the somewhat unorthodox viewpoint that it not so subtly sponsored. My primary concern was the obvious ignorance regarding the properties of depleted uranium and, further, the inescapable truths of how a fission reactor works.

The article quotes and paraphrases former chemist Galen Winsor, who states, among other things, that nuclear waste more or less doesn’t exist, that “spent” fuel is some sort of oxymoron in the context of nuclear reactors. This is simply not true, and anyone who has taken a single semester of physics should know why: A nuclear reactor must produce energy to be useful. Production of this energy comes from a controlled chain reaction of uranium atoms decomposing into progeny atoms under the influence of their own, and each other’s, radiological emissions. In short, the first law of thermodynamics. There’s no free lunch. Producing the energy (emissions to heat) causes the uranium to turn into not-uranium, or not-useful uranium. This is spent fuel, or depleted uranium. The reactor does not produce new fuel. That concept has no scientific support that I know of or can conceive.

Trent Yarosevich
Received via e-mail

Not worthy
Of course every person his as a right to his or her opinion, but the Aug. 1 Guest comment by Fredrick Earl is so flawed as to constitute an “uninformed opinion.”

His sole source of information seems to consist of four interviews with a 75-year-old chemist who states (according to Earl) that nuclear radiation is just ultraviolet light and “all light is good for you, unless and until it burns you.” Sheer and utter nonsense. Any high school science student would know better.

There are lots of other incorrect assertions in the column, but it is not worth my time to write a point-by-point debunking. My advice to readers is to just ignore the whole column as without merit.

My question to the News & Review is: How do you decide if a Guest comment is worthy of print? What made you think that this one was?

Marvin Gold
Professor of Chemistry
Emeritus (CSUC)