Letters for August 22, 2002

War questions
I urge concerned citizens to write to Sen. Joseph Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Sen. Barbara Boxer, who is on his committee, as I have done and ask the following questions regarding their study on the “Possibility of War in Iraq.”

What is the concrete evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction?

Why don’t our allies support the war?

Why is the United States considering attacking without explicit provocation?

Please remind the senators that a possible war will cost thousands of American soldiers’ lives, not to mention the deaths of Iraqi civilians through direct combat and eradication of crucial infrastructure.

In peace,

Patricia Feldhaus
Grandmothers for Peace

I found Steve Thompson’s letter [“Polluting liberals,” Aug. 8] puzzling for several reasons. He writes: “Cities have a choice between building more homes to keep prices down or … becoming elitist compounds.” Cities have many choices in regard to growth. I would argue that Chico’s General Plan, when not bypassed by developer-friendly City Council conservatives, provides a balanced approach reflective of community needs and interests. Sadly, the bulk of new homes are unaffordable to first-time home buyers and will be purchased by incoming wealthy retirees. There’s your creeping elitism.

Yes, some of us “want to preserve open areas filled with dead weeds and rocks…” (and trees, creeks, flowers, birds, animals, etc.). We prefer nature to a landscape cluttered with the beige boxes of chain stores.

Certain conservatives believe that “liberals” are usually elitist millionaire celebrities with no morals or brains. Given the proliferation of business-whore New Democrats, the high visibility of Hollywood personalities, and smear campaigns by the likes of Newt, Rush, and John Gillander, this confusion is understandable. The word “liberal” has so many meanings it’s virtually meaningless, but it has negative connotations. That’s why those who care about the working class, demilitarization, the environment, decentralization of power, civil rights and social justice now refer to themselves as progressives or leftists. If Steve Thompson really cares about the working class and ending pollution so much, let’s call him a liberal.

Sir, you don’t even live here. Next time you presume to lecture Chico, do some research or kindly shut up.

Ross Hertzog

Indar alert
It is guys like Josh Indar, who thinks it is permissible to “just wear sunglasses and keep the ogling to a minimum if you can” when referring to the girls he says “ass-jiggle down Main Street,” who make Chico such a creepy place to live in as a woman [“Getting too comfortable,” CN&R’s Goin’ Chico, 2002].

It is even creepier and more outraging that this paper would think this man’s opinions are worth printing. Indar says he has “no defense” against these women, when really it is women who need to be defensive in a world where men think it is perfectly acceptable to molest them with their eyes and minds.

This town is “far too comfortable” with sexist aggression and violent assault toward women. There is no possibility of feeling safe here as a woman because men like Josh Indar openly admit they cannot defend themselves against their own sexual desires for woman who they see walking down the street.

Danielle Kantrowitz
received via e-mail

Bertagna’s compliment
I never thought the News & Review would fall prey to political correctness, as have many others in your field ["“Bertagna’s comment can’t be ignored,” Editorial, Aug. 8].

I’m no Bertagna fan. I’m not particularly fond of any of our city councilmembers, to be honest with you. But why do you feel the need to make such a huge issue about Mr. Bertagna saying “you jewed me out of a buck”? Give me a break. The man obviously didn’t mean anything by it. Must we all walk on eggshells and carefully guard every word that comes out of our mouths?

And please, don’t answer that question with the lame line you wrote that “bigotry takes many forms, and one of those forms is the racial or ethnic slur that’s allowed to circulate unquestioned among otherwise decent people.” How absurd!

Just for kicks, I called up a friend who happens to be Jewish and is a well-known attorney in our beautiful little town. I wanted to know if he had taken offense to Mr. Bertagna’s comment. I knew the answer before I asked but didn’t want to assume anything. My friend takes that particular phrase as a compliment, rather than as a derogatory remark. His particular interpretation of the “terrible ethnic slur” in question is that it means he is very careful with his money and manages it well.

I think those who decide to make such a big deal out of such a little deal need to find something important upon which to focus their energies. Mr. Bertagna’s comment was of minor consequence, and not even an apology need be issued.

Donny Pauling

Bertagna and Bush
Editor’s note: Last week we edited the last paragraph from the following letter, which changed it considerably. We apologize for the inconvenience.

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.

Consider that we elected a president who joked about the Jews in 1998, “You’re all going to hell.” (Austin American-Statesman, Dec. 1, 1998) Oh wait, we didn’t really elect him did we? That’s all very different, never mind.

Dan Carter


Crews in Iowa?
Tim Crews and Donna Settle are gutsy people [""Ill Wind in Willows,” cover story, July 25]. Their brand of journalism is what makes comfortable people in the community uneasy and the uncomfortable people, or those “out of the loop,” proud to find someone listening to their stories. That the Sacramento Valley Mirror is under attack is no surprise, especially in a small community like Willows.

Here in western Iowa the community’s polite people prevail. The kind of mudslinging reported in the Chico News & Review between the two editors is unthinkable here.

Sioux City was once home to the Sioux Nation. Here Native Americans, the people who once controlled the area, are seldom heard from. The native peoples did not know what to expect when Lewis and Clark paddled past on the Missouri River. They lined the banks to watch, but Lewis and Clark’s mission was simple: win them over. Native Americans controlled the river and, if angered, would stop future expeditions and trade.

Today, there is no fear. And there is no listening. Journalism is polite and practices what the local daily calls a “Celebration of Community Pride.” It is a simple format. The newspaper reports only the stories that tell one side of the issue, the side with power and influence.

Iowa law differs from California law, but you tell Tim Crews and Donna Settle if they get tired of fighting the good fight in Willows, we have a small Midwestern city that could use some serious journalism. Tim and Donna would have a field day here.

Cliff Switzer
Sioux City, Iowa