Letters for August 29, 2013

The new economic meltdown

Re “Diploma and the debt” (Cover feature, by Katherine Green, Aug. 22):

Wonder why college tuition and student-loan debt are out of control? Here are two examples:

• Within UC and CSU systems, featherbedding: Chico State President Zingg’s four administrative assistants versus one for corporate executives at his level.

• About that Proposition 30 money promised to education? All spent on pay raises for bureaucrats and a redundant new layer of bureaucrats at MediCal.

When I enrolled at UC Santa Barbara in 1963, I paid $80 in “incidental fees”—tuition by another name—my first semester. My total tuition for four years at UCSB was about $900. Granted, that’s $10,000 or $15,000 today after inflation, but I paid it easily as I went. No debt after graduation.

How to fix this? Reduce the state bureaucracy by 50 percent and levy a 50 percent special additional income tax on those employees remaining, to cover college tuition and pay off student loans; fire redundant UC and CSU administrators; disband oppressor agencies like the California Air Resources Board. No more boondoggle projects like that fragile, sure-to-fail rebar-and-concrete monstrosity replacing the sturdy Bay Bridge cantilever.

Chad Wozniak

When I went to UC Berkeley in 1966, I paid only $210 for the entire year. In the 1970s, you could attend a California junior college for only $2 a semester. Now, with more than a trillion dollars in student-loan debt, we’re seeing another economic meltdown in the making, similar to the housing-mortgage debacle.

Many students who can’t repay their student loans think about suicide, and some actually do it; some leave the country to avoid vicious debt collectors. A university education has become a “bait and switch” operation. College diplomas have become relatively worthless with the dumbing down of America, and grade inflation; most college grads can’t find jobs after graduation. Cultural Marxism has infiltrated our universities and diluted the curriculum with useless Commie courses, to the extent that students are no longer being educated, but rather brainwashed.

There is a way out of the dilemma: social reconstructivism. When I was at UC Berkeley, we’d go on student strike, all 30,000 of us, and shut that university down to make changes. We reconstructed education.

My dad taught high school for 24 years and he always used to say, “Education is just a racket.” Students should realize that they’re the victims of a shakedown.

Mike Peters

Pot calling kettle black

Re “A trio on Valley Oak” (Letters, by Stephanie Taber, Aug. 22):

I wonder how many police-officer positions could have been funded by the $150,000-plus the city of Chico spent on the special election for the failed Measure A? Was that money taken from the general fund? Oh, holier-than-thou Stephanie Taber, lest you forget your hand in the irresponsible spending of the city of Chico.

Does anyone else find it ironic, or perhaps hypocritical, that both Ms. Taber and Larry Wahl are “tea partiers” and anti-government, yet both are on the county payroll? Dollars to donuts neither will set an example and pass on Social Security retirement benefits or Medicare benefits. Just saying.

Mary Galvin

Two views on sit/lie

Re “Pull up a sidewalk” (Newslines, by Robert Speer, Aug. 22.):

With the failure of the proposed sit/lie ordinance, the City Council has backed away from its responsibility to keep Chico a safe place to raise a family, an ideal location for business, and a premier place to live.

When we decide as policymakers that public-nuisance laws cost too much to enforce, we are in essence telling the Police Department not to bother. We are also sending a clear message to business owners and their customers: Anti-social behavior on sidewalks built with your tax dollars to encourage pedestrian traffic and commerce is allowed, so deal with it.

Deal with it they will. The customers will stop visiting (they have), businesses will start shutting (they have), and investment in the downtown area will move elsewhere. How do we ever hope to return our great city to economic vitality, and restore public safety and essential services, when we reward unwanted behavior and ignore the voices of commerce?

Sean Morgan

Editor’s note: Sean Morgan is a member of the Chico City Council. He voted in favor of the recently defeated proposed sit/lie ordinance.

The business owners in downtown Chico need to start taking responsibility for their own business, good or bad. If business is bad, it is because they are attracting it with their whining and complaining: “It’s the Saturday farmers’ market.” “It’s the transients.”

It’s everything except them.

I would suggest that if the farmers’ market is moved or changed, they would find little difference in their business. If anything, they would probably lose more than they gain. If the transients are cited and fined for sitting/lying on the sidewalk, their business would not improve. The transients do not stop me from entering the stores/businesses whatsoever.

I further suggest that a positive, compassionate attitude of abundance will attract far more business than one of fear and blaming.

Andy Turenne

Motivation questioned

Re “Taking back the foothills” (Guest comment, by Bill Connelly, Aug. 22):

It is obvious that [County Supervisor Bill] Connelly’s problem is with cannabis and those of us who enjoy it, not the pollution caused by a few bad apples.

So, Bill, you’re saying that it is illegal for farmers to use pesticides or herbicides? That’s news to me. I guess I’ve been wasting my money buying organic. I don’t think Roundup is illegal (although in my opinion it should be). When have you spoken out against all of the environmental degradation caused by everything else? The silence is deafening.

What it really comes down to is that the prohibition of marijuana is wrong. If it was legal, people would be able to grow it for themselves, in the open in the valley. There would be no need for big gardens in the hills. But with Connelly and his cronies fighting legalization every step of the way, they are the ones responsible for the harm that a few illegal growers do to the environment.

Bill Stevens

I’m happily surprised by Mr. Connelly’s newfound concern for the environment, but cynical about his reasons. In 2007-10, I was involved with the Dry Creek Coalition in opposition of the new permitting of an illegal mining operation in Dry Creek Canyon (see “Gold Mine Goes to Court,” by Robert Speer, Sept. 3. 2009). Photos of the mine show much worse environmental damage than any of the marijuana grows I have seen.

We ended up in a CEQA suit against the county. Two supervisors, county staff, the California Mining and Geology Board, and the judge all realized that the three-man majority on the board was trying to shoehorn a huge new, illegal operation into a 25-year-old expired permit for a very small operation. This faulty decision ended up costing the county about a half-million dollars in reclamation and court costs.

Mr. Connelly might have taken his arguments about environmental concern directly from our presentations to the board at the time. I agree with and applaud his concerns, but think this is more about marijuana than the environment.

Rich Meyers

Accept the decision

Re “Back at bat” (Newslines, by Ken Smith, Aug. 22):

The only comment that needs to be said is, look at who is showing the lack of integrity in slamming our court-appointed judges and their decisions. [District Attorney] Mike Ramsey and the rest of the citizens had a part in the appointing of our judges, so if they can’t accept the legal and well-thought-out decision to let Adam [Parsons] go, then who do they think they are? God?

The journalism in this article [is not] supported by the truth. I have followed this case and never did I hear of a gas-station armed robbery. Who is making up these lies? It is up to the journalist to find the truth. Come on, guys, get a life!

Diane Nichols

Editor’s note: Butte County Superior Court judges are appointed by the governor of California, not by the court, DA Ramsey or the public. Also, the info about Mr. Parsons being convicted twice of armed robberies at gas stations came from Deputy District Attorney Kurt Worley.

Editor’s note

The CN&R has learned that a source in last week’s Cover feature (“Diploma and the debt,” by Katherine Green, Aug. 22) incorrectly stated that she was currently a journalism and history major at Chico State. In fact, she is a former double major who is now pursuing only a history degree. This information been corrected online. –ed.

Take action now

Earlier this summer, the U.S. Supreme Court erased critical protections against racial discrimination in voting. The damage to the Voting Rights Act must be fixed. Tell your members of Congress to work quickly to repair and restore the VRA.

Recently, both the Senate and the House of Representatives held initial hearings to discuss solutions to discrimination at the polls and a direction for the VRA. Members from both sides of the aisle expressed a need to address the Supreme Court’s mistake, and vowed to ensure our elections are free, fair and accessible to all citizens.

Join with the League of Women Voters and thank your elected officials for starting the process, and encourage them to repair the VRA quickly.

The league will continue to pursue all avenues for voters’ rights, but we need strong action by Congress to restore the VRA protections that have helped us prevent racial and language discrimination in our elections for decades.

The VRA remains vitally important and must be restored. Please, tell your members of Congress to work quickly to repair and restore it to its full strength.

Jane Wanderer
League of Women Voters of Butte County president

Dude, I remember you

I ran into someone from my past who I should have remembered. We weren’t close friends, just cultural and creative acquaintances. The years have gone by and each of us has gotten older, growing with life’s priorities and challenges that direct our attention.

It was a short conversation. Both of us were shopping and he had his kids with him. He knew me and said that I hadn’t changed, but I couldn’t place him. I racked my brain and it wasn’t until later that I had the “I know him!” moment.

In the mid to late ’80s, Chico was awash with a vibrant DIY music scene. College radio was in its heyday then. The enthusiasm and synergy of these two entities is like nothing I have ever experienced.

The local music scene today would not exist if not for these groups from the past. I must give deep respect to bands such as Spark ’n’ Cinder, 28th Day, Vomit Launch and Brutilicus Maximus, as well as all the college radio DJs (KCSC), many of whom are still in town today.

So, Jeff Tracy of The Downsiders, I do remember you and your awesome, awesome band! We are cut from the same slice of time.

Russell Damien

As seen in print

Thank you so much for mentioning Pawprints Thrift store in your Goin’ Chico 2013 insert. We are proud to say we are in our ninth year. We are an all-volunteer-staffed nonprofit thrift store, using our proceeds to help pet owners pay for the spaying and neutering of companion animals. We are located at 1346 Longfellow Ave., open Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Please come in and visit us. It is a fun place to find great values, and you will be helping the animals.

Sue Evans

Managers are helping

Those of you who are picking on our new senior management team’s compensation should really do your homework first before shooting your mouths off. Here are the facts: All three—City Manager Brian Nakamura, Assistant City Manager Mark Orme and Administrative Services Director Chris Constantin—were hired by the City Council by unanimous vote, and all three offered to pay their own benefits (but the union said no).

The data I am using is public record of actual salary plus benefits paid between 2007 and 2012. Since the city reorganized, Constantin, the administrative-services director, now does the job of the four positions listed below.

Finance director: $127,962 + $54,888 = $182,850.

HR director: $143,376 + $14,808 = $158,184.

IT director: $137,517 + $50,230 = $187,747.

Administrative-services director: $132,858 + $47,007 = $179,865

Total compensation: $541,713 + $166,152 = $707,865

Constantin’s salary: $160,000 + $65,000 = $225,000

Saving the city: $ 381,713 + $101,152 = $482,865

The liberal council majority from 2007 to 2012 spent more than $20 million in taxpayer money and left the city broke, and now they hired this new management team to fix the problems and bring Chico back to a safe place to raise a family, an ideal location for business, and a premier place to live.

Dave Donnan

Protect our pensions

Sept. 8 is National Grandparents’ Day. To really show respect and devotion to our nation’s grandparents, let’s start by protecting the pensions and the retiree health-care benefits they already earned and paid for.

The latest trend is companies de-risking pensions. Essentially this means they are selling off retiree pensions to insurance companies, converting those to annuities that lack federal ERISA law and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation protections.

Retirees like me traded decades of loyal service to our former employers by taking lower pay and less time off, in exchange for guaranteed pensions and health-care benefits in retirement. This form of deferred compensation was already paid for by me, over decades working for my former employer.

It is time for our nation’s elected leaders to step up and protect the pensions and retiree health care for our nation’s seniors. It’s time to fight back on behalf of the grandparents of America! Join the fight for the protection of retiree economic rights. Learn more at www.ProtectSeniors.org or call 1-800-398-3044.

Ronald Bowen