Letters for August 28, 2014

Two views on banners

Re “Military banner issue punted” (Downstroke, Aug. 21):

I support the intent of Chico Military Heroes to create a sense of pride and comfort for the friends and families of men and women active in military service. But is spending $80,000 to display 500 banners with a photograph of each Chico service member the best means of recognition?

I suggest another way to spend the money. Nearly 50,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans were either homeless or in a federal program aimed at keeping them off the streets during 2013. If the $80,000 were spent on helping returning service members adjust to civilian life, so they would not fall into the despair and hardships brought on by the trauma of war, I believe such a program would do far more to bring comfort to family members and instill a sense of pride to their returning love ones than distracting banners fluttering from light posts.

Daniel Barth

Setting aside the issue of creeping militarization—an argument already well-articulated—there are other sound reasons for opposing the 500-banner Chico Military Heroes project.

Whether conservative or progressive or member of the National Knitting Society, we all appreciate the beauty of nature. We look at the sky and the trees and we feel some kind of deep peace—no doubt this is embedded in our DNA. As we walk or bike or drive down The Esplanade, we see a little slice of sky through the branches of trees. This is mostly experienced subliminally and we mostly take it for granted. Those things we take for granted can be very easily lost.

One way to lose the natural aesthetic, which is available to the eye in any well-designed city, is to clutter the skyline with billboards, wires, towers and, you guessed it, banners. If this sounds unpatriotic, consider our long history of appreciation for nature: as Ken Burns said, “Americans invented the ‘national park.’”

The best “banners” are clouds, autumn leaves, birds, squirrels and puzzles of Sycamore bark. If caring people want to spend $80,000 honoring soldiers, they might consider buying a condo for a homeless combat veteran.

Patrick Newman

Residents are excluded

Re “Voice of the ‘hoods” (Newslines, by Melissa Daugherty, Aug. 21):

Chapman-Mulberry has been a part of Chico for 100 years, but its residents have been excluded from voting in City Council elections because of a gerrymandered city boundary. It “just happens” to be a lower-income, more ethnically diverse neighborhood. If this was in the South and former Supervisor Jane Dolan was a white Republican male, this paper and the Democrats would be alleging violations of the Voting Rights Act.

It is appalling in 2014 right here in Chico that we prevent people in Chapman-Mulberry from voting for City Council members. It doesn’t matter if a majority of the vocal residents of the neighborhood oppose annexation. The Voting Rights Act is to protect the rights of the minority.

Michael Jones

Hit the road, Mr. Mayor

Re “Candidate considerations” (Newslines, by Tom Gascoyne, Aug. 21):

Chico Mayor Scott Gruendl has apologized and taken responsibility for the mismanagement of the city under his 12 years on the council as mayor, vice mayor and chair of the Finance Committee. Now he states he is committed to correcting the situation he has put the city in. He states his institutional knowledge and experience are needed on the council.

To me, this is like hiring a contractor to build your dream home. You question some of his work and are told that you don’t know what you are talking about. Shortly after you move in to your dream home it burns to the ground. Cause of the fire is found to be faulty wiring and workmanship. The contractor then asks to be re-hired to rebuild the house. I now know where I’ve made mistakes and I am committed to correct the situation.

Chico, it is time to change the majority of the council. It would be nice to see our City Council use common sense and not the political correctness/political nonsense we’ve had over the past 12 years.

Scott, you are a nice guy, but common sense tells me you should not be on the council.

Michael Reilley

Admiring persistence

Re “Behind closed doors” (Newslines, by Howard Hardee, Aug. 21):

It’s most often the persistent ability of concerned citizens that achieves positive change in a hostile political climate. I don’t have to agree with all of Jessica Allen’s tactics to admire her productive navigation of the political wrestling ring in bringing accountability to a maligned and often disrespectful Chico City Council governance process.

It takes a keen will of character being the voice of action that few in the room want to hear, let alone act upon. Don’t ever be silent simply because someone wants you to be, or because you are uncomfortable speaking in public. Step forward and be heard or find someone who has that voice to advocate on your behalf. Someone like Jessica.

Bill Mash

‘Grossly unfair images’

Re “Billboard-buyer speaks out” (Letters, by LJ Cooke, Aug. 21):

War is tragic and the loss of human life horrible. Even my brother-in-law in Israel, in between rocket fire, told me that the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be found around the negotiating table.

Adding more fuel to the fire here in Chico helps no one and harms relations in our own community. Sadly, that is what the billboard purchased by LJ Cooke does. The billboard accuses Israel of killing children, accompanied by a picture of a bloodied child. This inflammatory sign has caused pain and alarm in our community. The truth is that Hamas targets civilians while basing its operations among children and families with cruel disregard for their lives and safety.

My relatives in Israel have been running for bomb shelters daily because Hamas—recognized as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, Egypt and other countries—has continually launched rockets at Israeli civilians. Hamas built miles of sophisticated underground cement tunnels with the goal of kidnapping and murdering Israelis. It is not just Israel’s right but also its obligation to defend its citizens. No billboard can capture the full story. This one not only oversimplifies; its grossly unfair images are deeply offensive to our community.

Rabbi Julie Danan

Open the lanes already!

Someone needs to do some thinking “outside the box” about those two new, unused lanes on Highway 99 over Bidwell Park. Some of us older folks who were young when the project started are wondering if we will be around to see them open.

I’m no civil engineer, but I’ve given this a bit of thought anyway. How about doubling the number of hard hats with DayGlo vests who stand around gawking at those sound walls for hours on end? I don’t know why they do it, but the gawking must be needed. Otherwise, why would they be paid to do it? So, if a few gawkers are good, wouldn’t more be better?

Or, how about cutting the number of DayGlo vests in half and doubling the number of people who actually work on the walls? Nah, that probably just shows how little I understand about engineering management.

I’m sure there’s a perfectly bureaucratic explanation for why the sound walls seem to have taken longer to construct than the new bridging and paving. But really? I don’t want an explanation. I just want to drive on those pristine lanes once before I mosey off to my great reward.

Tony St. Amant

Drought observations

Re “Sign of dry times” (Downstroke, Aug. 21):

Hopefully the city of Chico will make sure their water systems are all properly working before they start imposing fines among Chicoans. I have photos of the city wasting water and I have seen many other residents posting photos on Facebook of the city’s broken sprinklers that still have not been repaired! Who is going to be fined when the city itself wastes water? It is important for all of us to conserve. That includes the city!

Sheryl Morrell

Editor’s note: Cal Water is the agency that has the authority to impose fines.

Where’s the meatless?

Re “Savor” (Fall 2014/Winter 2015):

The latest published dining guide [Savor] still does not have a vegetarian section, much less a vegan section. Even though veg(etari)an food and options have become increasingly popular over the years to the point of near-mainstream ubiquity, if not better than that.

Bill Donnelly

Drought observations

It seems to me that as long as men in trendy sports gear are hitting glossy little balls across acres and acres of lush, well-watered green lawn that there can hardly be a drought emergency.

Dave Campbell

Solar leases make sense

Re “The price of solar” (Greenways, by Evan Tuchinsky, Aug. 14):

I would like to address some misguided information that real estate agent Alice Zeissler stated in your article. Leasing isn’t for everyone, neither is buying solar outright. The one big incentive for purchasing solar is a 30 percent tax credit. Not everyone has the tax appetite to monetize the credit. Solar lease programs have made solar available to a broader swath of the population. Prior, it was reserved to those who had liquid capital. For a lease, all you need is good credit.

Concerning Ms. Zeissler’s statement about borrowing power, a lease is “off balance sheet” and is not considered debt. So having a solar lease doesn’t affect the borrowing power. There have been thousands of successful lease transfers and they have never held up the purchase of a home.

Solar is becoming more commonplace and third-party-owned systems are leading the way. Further, I recommend that anyone considering solar should carefully consider the company, the installation methods and the brand of solar panels that they are committing to. It is a long-term commitment and quality matters greatly. The system is going to be there for at least 20 years and the homeowner will be looking at it long after the job is complete. Read the fine print and get plenty of references.

Paul Sullivan

Editor’s note: Mr. Sullivan works for a local solar company.