Letters for August 7, 2003

Clarification: Last week’s cover story, John Bidwell reconsidered,” failed to acknowledge the Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park as the donor of two photos that were used, one of a painting by Natalie Bixby and the other a view looking north from what is now the junction where Main turns into The Esplanade. The News & Review regrets the omission and apologizes for any inconvenience that may have resulted.

The big picture
Tom Gascoyne seemed offended that Rick Keene doesn’t want to have anything to do with him or your paper [“Searching for Assemblyman Keene,” July 24]. It is understandable to me why Mr. Keene would feel that way. Your paper has a definite liberal slant to it and Mr. Keene is a conservative. No matter how hard you try, you cannot write an article about a conservative without throwing some mud at him.

Tom wanted to go on about the SUV that Mr. Keene is driving as if he just can’t get it out of his mind. First, you can’t lease a decent vehicle for less than $300 per month, anyway. Second, the amount of gas that Mr. Keene has burned so far this year in that vehicle amounts to peanuts when you look at the Big Picture.

Keene has much larger things to worry about than to be hassled by a biased, nit-picky “journalist.” If it makes you feel better to sue him, then I guess you should, but you need to realize that not everyone wants to hear your whining and personal attacks. It has been my understanding that journalists should be neutral and objective in their story telling. Tom takes things way too personally to be very objective. His articles end up looking more like Op Eds. To get all pissy, because someone doesn’t want you writing trash about them, is not very professional.

Scot Houghton

Council influence?
I agree with your editorial regarding the Enloe Fire: “There is a reason for permits and inspections—to protect public health and safety” [“The fire next time,” July 17, 2003].

For the same reason, we have street standards that allow for the use of large emergency equipment on fires like this. But some developers in our town are trying to water down the safety code for their own reasons. On May 14, Heritage Partners designer John Anderson posted a message on the Web site Context Sensitive Solutions asking for suggestions on how to pressure our public works department into lowering street width standards in Chico. He said a Chico public works staffer had told him that Doe Mill’s 26-foot wide streets are not actually up to code, and that the new Nord Avenue project will be required to have 28-foot streets. Anderson says the staffer, “like many in his position… is content with the existing standards, and is more than willing to have streets designed to accommodate the largest fire truck the city can find.”

Well, the city certainly made use of their largest fire trucks on the Enloe Fire. Would Doe Mill residents complain about that?

Anderson goes on to say that he and partner Tom DiGiovanni had scheduled a meeting for the following week with “a city councilman who wants to take on the issue of street design in our town.” Anderson is unhappy with the code, so he turns to his friendly city councilman and gets it taken care of. Last time I had an appointment to talk to a city councilman, he left me and my family waiting all day and never showed up. How nice for Mr. Anderson and Mr. DiGiovanni to have such easy access to our publicly elected officials.

Have we traded one developer-friendly council for another?

Juanita Sumner

Don’t ignore Dennis
Just when I was about to throw in my towel on the democratic process for a hot air balloon to get back to Kansas, I read Julie Forsmith’s guest commentary [“Please don’t dismiss Kucinch,” July 3] on Ohio congressperson and presidential contender Dennis Kucinich.

Ten years ago, while living and working in Cleveland, I had the rare opportunity to meet him. He was on hiatus from public office, but remained a legendary and heroic figure among many, young and old back there. In 1977 while the city’s steel industry was downsizing and white flight was in full gear, he became mayor, took on corporate power and the public won.

Yes, big media continues to ignore his presidential campaign. But as a congressperson, his compelling and exemplary record of voting against the war last October and questioning early on the Bush administration intelligence and its faulty war cry has proved that for him the needs of the people come first. He stands for courage, foresight, and is willing to say he was wrong about abortion and a woman’s right to choose. This is a world ahead of W’s renegade White House, its weapons of mass deception and an archaic reign of terror we appear to be living under right now. Mr. Kucinich is an exceptional public servant and would no doubt make the same as a United States president. Just check out his 10 key platform issues at www.kucinch.us.

Liz Gardner

The pheasant lives!
Your commentary on Pheasant Run shopping center [“Pheasentville,” Inside view, July 24] was of particular interest. In the late 1990s I rode my bicycle each day past what was an empty field at that location. We had early hours at my dental practice, and I would ride along deserted Forest Avenue at daybreak. The pheasants were often heard and occasionally seen. The pheasants are now displaced two blocks east to the fields destined to become DiGiovanni’s New Urbanism creation. So is it sad? Not really. The Pheasant Run parcel was bulldozed many years ago, and consisted of non-native star thistle (from Eurasia), fillaree (from the Mediterranean), and the ring-necked pheasants (from China).

The development in southeast Chico provides our people with a cornucopia of inexpensive goods and services, and is appropriately dense and non-sprawling. I look forward to developer DiGiovanni’s further contributions to the neighborhood. Consider that since the mid-1990s ranchland formerly impacted by jeep roads and cattle have been converted into an Upper Bidwell Park expansion and the creation of the CSUC Ecological Reserve. Chico is entering the new century with a compactly developing urban core surrounded and traversed by wild-land preserves. It is a time for optimism, but also vigilance to ensure that the vision is implemented. But what about the pheasant? You can hear, and perhaps see him, in the Bruce Road meadowfoam preserves or along the Little Chico Creek Greenway bike path. These areas will be permanently protected, so our descendants can share the joy.

Michael Jones