Letters for August 6, 2009

A frightening near-miss

Re “Homocide, Chico” (Cover story, by Melissa Daugherty, July 30):

Thank you very much for your story about the increase of violent, unresolved crime in our community. Chico is a wonderful town and residents should feel safe, but they should also be aware of the rate of change, especially in regard to gun violence.

My house was the target of automatic gunfire in February, three rounds that I missed walking into by less than a minute. I have lived in the vicinity of downtown for 20 years, and never have I feared for my life like this. The upstairs neighbor was the target of the crime, but we were renting on the ground floor, in the line of fire.

Our local law enforcement has many talented and caring officers who deserve our respect, but they are stretched far too thin. It becomes the citizens’ duty to be the eyes and ears of their neighborhood, whether they want to or not.

To those considering moving about town, evaluate the property owner or landlord carefully, and be sure they do not let anyone with an attitude and a pocket full of cash move in.

Kimberlee Wheeler

Friends of Walmart

Re “Why do people hate Walmart?” (Newslines, by Robert Speer, July 30):

Walmart is not the only store in Chico that has products made in China. When Gottschalks and Mervyn’s were still here, Target, Big Lots, and even the Dollar Tree stores—all of their products came from China. Tens of millions of dollars would be lost from local grocers. Is Chico that big of a city?

And why are we worried about the Chinese government? I live here in America. If you’re so worried about the Chinese, move to China.

Oxford Suites should be ashamed of themselves. When the races come to town, where do they, the racers, park their RVs, trailers, semis? On the side street. Now, that is fun, trying to get through that mess. Oxford Suites, I do believe Walmart was here first.

Chicoans are not the only people to shop in Chico. You have the surrounding areas, such as Durham, Nelson, Richvale, Orland, Hamilton City, Nord, Corning, Gerber, and the list goes on. And these citizens will look for a better price to spend their dollars. And not at a high-price grocery store, either.

Walmart, you rock!! My vote is with you.

Pat McHenry

My beef for this week: the opposition to Walmart’s proposed supercenter.

Consider the following: How can it make sense for local merchants to try to compete head-on with Walmart? The customer pays more than he/she needs to, while the merchant struggles to survive.

Environmental issues? The supercenter will enable shoppers to make fewer trips—in other words, less and not more pollution.

Jobs? At least a couple hundred positions are to be sacrificed on the altar of political correctness.

Chad Wozniak

What’s a fair wage?

Re “Fair wages help small businesses” (Guest Comment, by Kent Ross, July 30):

I was surprised to open the News & Review and find that a person in Oklahoma City wrote the Guest Comment column. I wasn’t aware that the CN&R had gone national.

I’m glad that Mr. Ross’s bicycle shop in Oklahoma City is doing well and he can pay his employees more than the $7.25 minimum wage. I’m not sure what this has to do with Chico. I would rather hear from local businesses and read whether the $8 minimum wage has changed their employee ratio.

I used to employ up to a dozen employees, and now my family and I run it without employees. I get three to five people a day asking for work, and it will be worse when college starts. I have to turn them all away. It’s real tough out there. I have never had so many people looking for work in my 22 years as a business owner.

Economic environments and standards of living are different from one state to the next, as they are from one city to the next. California is too big to have one minimum wage. It should be divided into zones. The minimum wage in East Biggs shouldn’t be the same as in Palo Alto. With the minimum wage being increased during a recession, it has only hurt those it was intended to help.

Val Dean Montague

The article ignores the wide range of industries that are disproportionately affected by mandated wage increases.

Kent Ross’s assertions may be true for his bicycle shop, but they do not address the wage pressures felt by employers in labor-intensive industries (like the restaurant industry) where employees are needed at every level of operations.

Salaries and benefits make up close to 60 percent of a typical restaurant’s costs. A business already running on tight margins will feel the effects of a mandated increase in labor costs much more severely when its operations are mainly labor-intensive.

Ross may claim his business is unaffected, but the experience of one company in one industry is hardly a match for decades of empirical research showing a direct relationship between job losses and minimum-wage hikes, particularly among vulnerable groups like minority teens and adults without a high-school diploma.

Kristen Lopez Eastlick
Washington, D.C.

Editor’s note: Ms. Eastlick is senior economic analyst at the Employment Policies Institute.

Lessons to be learned

Re “He’s flying the coop” (Downstroke, June 18):

Before city official Dennis Beardsley heads into a well-deserved retirement, I’m trusting he’ll share with his replacement ways to prevent certain incidents that took place on his watch.

How to prevent houses from being built in Upper Park?

How to prevent the conversion of a bucolic tree-and-grass plaza into a cement edifice costing millions?

How to prevent groups who use Upper Park illegally from being rewarded with acquiescence for access?

Jerry Olio

Editor’s note: There are no houses in Upper Park. The houses overlooking Upper Park are outside park boundaries and were approved by the Chico City Council.

Dear Vandals

Yes, we did notice that you visited the school garden at McManus Elementary School on East Avenue earlier this summer. We saw that you snapped recently installed irrigation pipes, removed sprinkler heads, and ripped out a quarter of the tomato plants.

I wanted to let you know that the impact you made to this garden is the same as the previous two times you vandalized it: None.

Within 48 hours, the community rallied to replant the tomatoes, fix the irrigation pipes, and replace the sprinkler heads.

The positive impact that this garden, not even 2 years old, is having on the students at McManus Elementary far outweighs anything you can do. It, along with other school gardens in Chico, continues to grow and expand, as does the community’s awareness and appreciation for this joyous space.

There is no locked fence around this garden. Like any community member, you are welcome to walk among the vegetable beds when school is not in session. But know that if you choose to disrespect this garden, to us it is nothing more than an annoyance, a small, insignificant occurrence in the big scheme of things. But also know that you are defined by your actions.

Jeremy Miller

Overlooked achievements

On occasion, an event or situation involving Chico State University becomes front-page news or the lead story in the broadcast media. Unfortunately, this usually involves the display of exuberance by misguided and immature young people and invokes a barrage of odious letters and “Tell it to the ER” rants from individuals who appear eager to display their own lack of education and understanding.

That said, I was pleased to learn of some major achievements by faculty and students that seem to have been overlooked by our local media or simply deemed “not newsworthy”: Political-science professor Diana Dwyre has been named the 2009-10 Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Political Science, one of the most prestigious appointments in the Fulbright Scholars Program; communications design professor Byron Wolfe has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, one of 180 out of 3,000 applicants, and the only professor from the California State University system; CSUC students participating at the Model United Nations Conference in New York won the top two awards; and, for the fifth year in a row, a team from the student chapter of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers won the grand prize in the Western Tool Exposition and Conference Manufacturing Challenge.

As a proud alumnus of our fine university, I challenge those who find smug satisfaction in mocking our institution of higher learning to sign up for a course or two at our local community college. They just might find more satisfaction in exercising their brains rather than their insufferable tongues.

Roger S. Beadle