Letters for August 25, 2005

Editor to editor
As a former editor of the CN&R, I am shocked and saddened at the news that Robert Speer has been dismissed from his position as senior editor. To read that this happened without warning and without much explanation is particularly troubling. After more than 20 years with the paper, Bob deserved better.

I can’t think of anyone who did more for the CN&R over the years than Bob. He helped found the paper and was one of the most important reasons why, by the end of the ‘80s, the CN&R was widely regarded as one of the best small-town weeklies in the country. Many readers will know that Bob was especially active in shaping the paper’s coverage of the local arts scene, and that the attention he gave to local artists, actors, dancers and musicians was instrumental in helping Chico’s art scene to grow. Most are probably unaware that for most of his tenure at the CN&R, Bob also copy edited the paper, news stories and all. In this role, he improved the prose and reporting skills of virtually everyone he worked with, and served to mentor numerous young writers—myself included. I will always be grateful for his influence on me, and I think he had a profoundly positive influence on the Chico community as well.

I can’t pretend to be objective here, as I consider Bob an old and dear friend, but I have to say it is difficult for me to believe that he was not shown more consideration.

Joe Martin
Davis, CA

Corporate manners
I’m not a reporter of any kind and I can certainly agree that “There is much to the story…” of Robert Speer leaving the staff of the CN&R. What is clear is that Mr. Speer is a man of considerable talent and integrity in a profession that should dearly value such qualities. An enterprise, which should not take lightly a public trust in their “product,” especially in a relatively small, folks-tend-to-know-each-other community, is not wise to dismiss such a well-known and well-thought-of person in its leadership. To do so in a cold, cavalier, corporate manner with no real reason beyond, perhaps, saving a few bucks might very well backfire as many who valued the CN&R did so because of Bob Speer.

To compound such a cowardly, inhumane action, on the part of a publication which tries to appear a champion of courage and more perfect humanity by diverting attention to “…more to the story….” and what Mr. Speer might have said to a first-year journalism student or first-year reporter is a cutesy and insulting form of the traditional corporate or political 1,000-yard stare when “the powers that be” don’t have the courage to genuinely address or respond to the real issue.

Oh, yes, I do have a “single source” for the thoughts expressed above. It is a three-and-one-half decade relationship with and observation of Mr. Speer. I’m confident he will continue to be a positive contributor to our community and the quality and purpose of writing therein and elsewhere.

Abraham Baily

No fear
I am delighted with the second chance to read the Goin’ Chico publication, having missed it the first round while on vacation. The suspense was terrific after reading the context of controversy you also provided so generously. Two words after completing Josh Indar’s “The Party Rules": Brilliant! Stunning!

I shall fear no satire.

This means I have my personal bad taste award still available, and I’m giving it to Feather Falls Casino for a really sleazy looking ad.

Barbara McIver
Red Bluff

Corporate tastes
If you are in an unfamiliar town and craving a cup of coffee, you can always depend on Starbucks for a decent cup of coffee.

But this is Chico, and part of its charm are the many small coffee houses with their own special coffees and ambience, owned and operated by locals.

Do we really need a Starbucks in every mall and supermarket? Shouldn’t we be encouraging members of our community to take a chance with their dreams of private enterprise and supporting their endeavors?

Soon “A Taste of Chico” will become a “Taste of Corporate America.”

Barbara Gehring

Script theft
Enjoyed your editorial “Isn’t That Special?” on Gov. Schwarzenegger in the Aug. 11 issue. Arnold divesting himself of a deal with muscle mags is news but everyone seems to be missing the big story: The movie The Terminator was stolen from writings of Harlan Ellison.

When is Arnold going to give all that money back?

This is actually serious business since movie script theft towers into the billions of dollars.

The FBI hasn’t been given a budget to go after script hijackers and the federal courts refuse to uphold American copyright law. Consequently, script theft is rampant and Hollywood studios, to protect themselves from lawsuits, have taken to doing re-makes or old TV shows.

And that’s why Hollywood doesn’t make good movies anymore. And that’s why American literature has been decimated (any script you send off to agents, publishers, movie stars, etc. gets stolen and turned into hack work).

These are real, substantive issues. But Gov. Schwarzenegger seems to have fallen into the politicians’ rut of posing for photo ops.

Michael M. Peters
Red Bluff

Change of address
Next May, in a commencement speech, some professor, dignitary or celebrity will tell us how bright the future is because of the current crop of graduates. They will tell us that the young people of today are our only hope for peace, equality and liberty. They will tell us that we are blessed to have them.

What they won’t say in that same commencement speech is “we had to tell your children that drinking ‘clouds judgment.’ “ They won’t say that there had been meetings among the faculty to consider whether or not a professor should or should not call a student’s parents if they suspect that student of having a drinking problem. Ph.D. hall-monitors is a novel idea, but hardly practical. The administrators will not tell the parents that their now adult, college-graduate children have probably passed numerous Walking Under the Influence tests.

What ought to be said during that commencement speech is this: “We wasted valuable time teaching your children that there are consequences to drinking, consequences to not understanding life threatening situations, consequences to forcing sex on someone. You didn’t do your job so we had to, and at the expense of the university’s reputation and, therefore, the future earning potential of its more enlightened students.”

Kevin Watson
received via e-mail