Letters for August 2, 2001

Corrections: In our July 19 Back beat story, “It takes two to tango,” we misnamed dance instructor Antonio Gomez. Also, in last week’s cover story, “To Hollywood with Love,” an editor’s change suggested that actor Martin Landau was dead. He’s very much alive, in fact. We regret the errors and apologize for any inconvenience.—Editor

Everybody’s loss
Every day men and women say goodbye to their families and quietly go on patrol to assist Butte County residents and sometimes risk their lives to protect us.

On Thursday, July 26, Lt. Larry Estes (someone I have personally known and worked with for years) and Deputy Bill Hunter were out on a “routine” day, and now tragically Butte County and their families have lost them.

Most Butte County residents would not have known these two brave officers, but everyone will feel that they have lost a family member. Butte County will always remember them for their courage and sacrifices. We will miss them.

Supervisor Jane Dolan
2nd District

Teacher funds misdirected
As the school year approaches, it appears that Chico may experience a teacher strike. The Chico Unified Teachers Association (CUTA) has done everything in its power to prevent this and has hope of a fair resolution to the current contract dispute. In contrast, Chico Unified School District administrators are preparing for a strike by advertising for substitutes with no experience at $275 per day and reserving rooms at the Holiday Inn.

The governor stated in his announcement of May 17, 2000, “Even though our economy is booming, teachers are still suffering from the recessionary cutbacks of the early 1990s. Today’s proposal repays California’s debt in full.” CUSD chose to use these 2000-2001 discretionary funds (nearly $6 million) directly against the intentions of the governor. These funds were specifically designated as unrestricted to allow school districts to compensate teachers for their sacrifices in the ‘90s. None of these funds have been passed along to the teachers in Chico.

In bargaining, the CUTA is asking for a reasonable share of this money. Through the mediation process the teachers have made several reasonable offers to the district. The district has been unreasonable and sometimes regressive in its proposals to CUTA.

For more information, contact a CUTA member at upcoming Friday night concerts, the Thursday night Farmers’ Market booths, or the CUTA office (343-0226).

Mark Leach
Bargaining Chair

School district can’t add
Thank you so much for the insightful beginning to your editorial of July 26 [ “Striking out”]. I would add that even though the Chico Unified School District’s yank of the “golden handshake” was ruled illegal, the district is still stalling on the remedy for that violation, making teachers who have worked the longest and hardest for Chico’s children continue to wait for the money they are due.

Clearly, however, it is necessary to explain why teachers have so much difficulty believing the school district’s projection of “$11 million in cuts by 2003-2004.”

First and foremost, the fact-finding “neutral” restated that CUSD did not claim an inability to pay the salaries teachers were asking for. You can be assured that if they could have made that claim, they would have.

Second, CUSD has underestimated its revenue by an average of more than $4 million per year for each of the last six years, including $7 million in 1999-2000, the first year it claimed declining enrollment.

Third, in the early ‘90s, when the district was experiencing growth of 300 to 500 new students each year, teachers were told that cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) should determine raises. Of course, CUSD never actually offered COLAs because the “money’s just not there,” and Chico teachers settled for less than COLA year after year. Now, when the COLA is 10.29 percent, they show no intention of giving teachers their fair share.

Finally, the document you are citing, which projects $11 million in cuts, is a “dummy” of the one that CUSD must submit to Butte County each year to show that it will be solvent for the next three years. The same document submitted just a year ago—before it received 10.29 percent in new, ongoing, unrestricted money—stated that CUSD expected to be solvent in 2003-04.

It appears that figures reported to Butte County and those supplied to the media do not add up. If you can explain to me why teachers should believe Chico Unified School District’s budget projections, I will pass this information along to the 750 teachers who have been losing ground year after year.

Dan Sours

Book challenge
Although the Chico branch library received enough city funding to stay open on Saturdays, more money is always needed to buy books. I am a member of a local book club, and our group recently decided to make a donation to the library. We requested that the library buy a book that would be used by as many patrons as possible, such as a reference book, but donors are free to request that other types of books be purchased as well.

Our book club would like to issue this friendly challenge to all the book clubs in the area: Take up a collection among your members and make a donation to your local library.

Our members each donated $10, but it doesn’t matter how much or how little you give. What matters is that your book club’s donation will be an enthusiastic confirmation of your support of the public library as a vital community resource. And who knows, your donation may help purchase the book that sparks the fire of a new reader.

Anna Farrell
B.O.B. Book Club

Face reality
Exactly what was the purpose of Devanie Anderson’s article [ “Face off,” Lead News, July 12]? Was it the beginning of a series of incisive exposés to air the dirty laundry of our downtown small businesses? Maybe you could dig up some juicy statistics on who had the most bounced checks or who was the latest to not pay their resale tax.

That’s what we really want, isn’t it? To know everything about everyone so we have more people to blame for our gripe-du-jour. It’s so easy to feel better about yourself when somebody else looks bad, right?

In my dealings with Peter Scalise, he’s been nothing less than an extremely generous and considerate person. As any small-business owner can tell you, running your own business is anything but easy. Sometimes things are good, sometimes they’re lean, and sometimes you’ve got to do what you can to keep things going. That being said, the decision to disclose the details of an individual’s business affairs should be left up to the individual, unless there exists some threat or risk to the public, which is hardly the case in this instance.

As for the lawsuits, I’ve been in Pizza Face when the door in the floor has been open. Anderson chose to refer to it as a “trap door"—a term that infers some malicious intent. There is no way you could be in Pizza Face and not know that it was open or hear it being opened while waiting for pizza. It all boils down to the fact that we (the American public) need to pull our heads out of our asses and pay attention to what’s going on around us—watch out for the holes, don’t pet the Komodo dragons, don’t blow-dry your hair in the bathtub, and for god’s sake the coffee at McDonalds is hot!

P.S. If you were walking backwards when you fell into that hole, then you got what you deserved.

Aaron Pico