Letters for December 1, 2011

Remembering Rob

Re “Our local heroes” (Cover story, Nov. 23)

As an old friend of Rob Atkinson’s, I was pleased to see him honored as one of the local heroes for all his good work on behalf of the Chico library. In his position as manager of the Sierra Nevada Brewery’s Taproom during the ‘90s, Rob was also a hero to the local blues community, as it was his policy to book blues bands into that intimate setting.

Thus, during his reign, blues lovers were able to see such internationally known musicians as Floyd Dixon, Jimmy Witherspoon and Bill Doggett, as well as such prominent West Coast artists as Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers, Little Charlie and the Nightcats, Tommy Castro, Roy Rogers and Norton Buffalo, and the Lloyd Jones Struggle.

Thanks to a partnership with Chico State’s recording arts program, some of these bands’ performances were recorded and portions of them issued on CDs as well as being broadcast over KCHO’s Blues People program, of which I was host. It was while selecting music for these programs—six of which aired—that Rob and I really bonded.

Although Rob is no longer here, his legacy lives on in the memories of those who were lucky enough to have been present at any one of those magical nights.

Miles Jordan

Birdhouse ruckus

Let it be known there are more than 12 neighbors who have expressed legitimate concerns about the Birdhouse concerts and the county sanctioning a business like this. We oppose the draft ordinance that will be voted on Dec. 6 that could allow county resident to host up to 12 house concerts with 75 people in attendance and for house concerts to be considered a house party.

We live on a very steep and windy dirt road leading to a very narrow dead-end dirt road; both privately maintained. The Birdhouse owners have been less than forthcoming regarding being good neighbors and informing the public they have approval for parking from neighbors on both sides. To create more parking they would have to remove trees. There are numerous other issues.

The owners of the Birdhouse have refused two requests to meet with neighbors. We are not opposed to house concerts; we believe they are wonderful experiences, but location is everything. We believe the county ordinance should remain as it is; however, should it be approved, that private and dead-end roads be exempt.

Luisa Garza

Marsha Christopher
Forest Ranch

Editor’s note: For more on this subject, see Newslines.

No room for hate

Re “Local grandmas experience West Bank and Israel” (Newlines, by Christine G.K. LaPado, Nov. 23):

Why search out and write these stories about the terrible Jewish people terrorizing the Palestinians? With millions of Jews and Arabs I am sure you could find many haters who do stupid things from any group of people.

Like the letter in last week’s News & Review of Jews surrounded by soldiers walking through Palestinian markets yelling “Death to the Arabs” and throwing feces on them. More complete and total B.S. because of a political agenda.

I wonder if any biased reporter from the other side of the political spectrum could dig up some story about Palestinians yelling death to Jews? Ya think?

Find some stories of compassion, cooperation and love between people who have a lot of obstacles in their way. When you choose which stories or editorials to use, choose from your heart. There is plenty of hate and haters in our world. Quit adding to it!

Wayne Rice

Live at OWS

I made my first trip to New York City last summer and spent money enjoying city life. We paid our share of sales tax, city fees, tourist fees, etc. Little did I realize that this would help fund the NYPD to beat my son over the head with a metal club as he was peacefully trying to follow his convictions and help the U.S. people. He was on the front page of The New York Times on Friday, Nov. 18.

My son is a self-employed farmer, a small-business owner, an educator in sustainable farming, and a young man who has helped build houses for Habitat for Humanity in three countries.

As a first-grade teacher, I spend lots of time discussing that it is not OK to hurt others, no matter how mad you are. Lately we have all seen pictures of dictators abusing the people of their country and we are appalled. President Obama said on Jan. 28, 2011, “The people of Egypt have rights that are universal. That includes the right to peaceful assembly and association, the right to free speech, and the ability to determine their own destiny. These are human rights. And the United States will stand up for them everywhere.”

However, the same brutality is being shown to peaceful U.S. citizens. It is time we get appalled and stop it, whether we agree with the OWS protests on all levels or not. Each one of the demonstrators is someone’s son, daughter, parent, brother, sister, etc.

Lori Vest
Mammoth Lakes

Editor’s note: The author and her husband, George Vest, are Chico State grads who lived in Chico from 1973 to 1984.

The front page of the Nov. 18 edition of The New York Times featured a photo of an arrest taking place at the Occupy Wall Street protest. The young man in the photo is an educated, intelligent, productive and principled citizen exercising his right to protest peacefully in the United States. I know this about him because he is the son of two of my closest friends.

The photo shows billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg’s NYPD with one hand on this young man’s collar and another hand holding a club behind his head. Meanwhile, the men who committed the financial fraud that caused Americans to lose their homes, pensions and savings sit comfortably in their Wall Street fortresses. The only hand on their collar is the one that belongs to their Fifth Avenue tailor.

Every day, school children across America recite a pledge that ends with “… and justice for all.” What a concept! Wonder what it would look like.

Robert E. Christensen

A questionable tax

Re “Idea to increase local sales tax floated” (Newslines, by Tom Gascoyne, Nov. 17):

In general, I’m happy to pay my taxes. I care about most of the things they pay for, and the recent raids by the state are upsetting. However, the .75 percent city sales tax proposed by a private consultant (Tom Lando) and head of an engineering firm (Jim Stevens) has me feeling very uncomfortable.

First, there is the regressivity of a sales tax. A bond issue for the proposed capital projects seems more suitable.

Then there are the projects themselves. A minor-league ballpark, previously proposed by a private developer and mostly duplicative of Nettleton Stadium? An aquatic park for large swim meets, to serve exactly how many swim team members not already served by current facilities? Rehab the Veterans Memorial building, which apparently isn’t important enough to veterans to be funded by their organizations? A community center for weddings and such when we have the lovely CARD Center on Vallombrosa, in addition to private venues?

Pursuit of these projects would not address pressing needs I’ve heard widely discussed. And to fund them with a regressive tax when there are actual unmet needs seems egregiously out of touch with the reality of ordinary citizens. I hope the City Council considers very carefully before placing it on the ballot.

Patricia Lindsey


Our Newslines story last week headlined “After 100 years of initiatives, what now?” incorrectly suggested that Butte County voters at one time had overturned approval of a coal-fired power plant. In fact, in 1977 county residents voted against the plant in an advisory measure. The decision not to build the plant in Butte County or elsewhere was made by the state Energy Commission, which was aware of the results of the advisory measure.—ed.

Schools and food

As an organic small farmer, my life’s been committed to healthier foods for children. I was so disappointed in the CUSD board’s decision to use children as financial guinea pigs consuming unhealthy foods at events because of money goals. I felt they acted like Washington politicians who succumbed to lobbyists because they write checks.

I cried last night. It’s an emotional issue and one that doesn’t seem remotely debatable. I heard board members say that “nothing that’s mandated ever works.” Poppycock! Should we only encourage our kids not to drink and drive because mandating it isn’t effective? Should we only encourage seatbelt use, don’t text and drive, don’t bring weapons to school instead of mandating it? “We only encourage you to leave your guns at home.”

Posting fat content doesn’t absolve responsibility any differently than tobacco companies having warning labels on the packages. What the CUSD did was perpetuate all that we know has been awful forever. If you are all about “choice,” then would you sell Western Bacon Cheeseburgers as long as you also have fruit available? Is that the way to justify it?

We all know that using children to make profits on unhealthy food is despicable. Maybe the school board should only encourage students to pass their classes.

No one is stopping parents from independent choices when their children are on their time. When it’s a school function, you should have modeled what you teach. You failed to put children first.

Deanna Briggs

Since the Nov. 16 school board meeting, I have heard from many people who are very disappointed with the board’s decision to lift the ban on using high-calorie food as a fundraising tool to replace the funding shortfall caused by state budget constraints, a change I did not support.

I have a different position about where this process has led us. Because of its concern about both fundraising and student wellness, the community has come together to support the many hours dedicated to fundraising as well as working to encourage activities such as walk-a-thons and similar projects to get kids moving and having fun. Creative ways to fundraise without selling food are being explored.

This new policy direction also urges using local products rather than spending our dollars outside of Chico. We could sponsor faux cookie-dough fundraisers offering reduced-calorie and gluten-free recipes with seasonally appropriate cookie cutters and decorating tips that would be sold at the price currently set for 7,000-calorie tubs of dough, thus increasing the schools’ profit margin and re-establishing the tradition of holiday baking with many hands, both young and old, in the cookie dough.

I am proud to work with a community dedicated so totally to the education and well-being of our students.

Eileen Robinson
CUSD Trustee


America held hostage

“Influence is not government.” Nothing so comprehensively distinguishes the current national scene as that statement, properly understood.

Corporations, the very existence of which is illegitimate, are, instead, interpreted by the highest court of the land to be free “speech” and encouraged explicitly to engage in the buying (to say nothing of influencing) of elections; a certain Mr. Norquist—one single individual—acts as proxy for the greater part of the current Congress, against the explicit and overwhelming and demonstrable will and wishes of the majority of the entire country, which is in effect held hostage.

What should, otherwise, constitute the national rhythm is abused beyond recognition; good-faith application of regulation is contaminated and made impossible: An entire and profound British and peculiarly American tradition of law is traduced at every level. “Influence is not government.” Who said that?

V. Milosevich, Ph.D.

Nonviolence in action

The complexities of the calling for the resignation of UC Davis Chancellor Katehi has shed more light on the brutality of the police, the hierarchical disparities in our institutions, and on the irony and hypocrisy of Katehi’s own history of being involved with Greek protests against military police.

But to me what’s being highlighted is that a new level of the nonviolent movement has emerged.

In the tradition of Gandhi, MLK and Thoreau, a collective silence was called for by one of the pepper-sprayed protesters for the walk of shame that Chancellor Katehi had to move through to get to her car. I am impressed and inspired by this action and recognize that it displays a new level of maturity and has raised the level of awareness in the Occupy movement.

Diane Suzuki

Falsifying records

Re “Cheery and dreary” (Newslines, by Meredith J. Graham, Nov. 23):

Every time a child is adopted, his or her original birth certificate (the child’s truthful documentation of birth) is permanently sealed. He or she is issued a falsified birth certificate called an “amended birth certificate” that lists the adoptive parents as the child’s biological parents.

This falsifying of an innocent, voiceless child’s birth record is discrimination and should be illegal. Do the children know they will never be allowed to possess their truthful birth certificates? Average Joes serve hard time in federal prison for falsifying identity documents, yet it is done legally all over this country in vital-records offices with the permission of judges and barbaric, antiquated state laws.

The U.S. Constitution is violated every single time a person’s birth certificate is sealed and falsified.

Mara Parker

Contract clarification

Re “Police chief grilled on takeover costs” (Newslines, by Robert Speer, Nov. 17):

There appears to be some public confusion over the termination of the contract between Butte Humane Society (BHS) and the city of Chico for the operation of the Animal Shelter during the five-day mandated hold period for animals.

Although BHS did not request that the city take back the contract, we mutually agreed to the arrangement and have worked together to make the transition in February as smooth as possible for both parties. Our main concern is for the health and welfare of the animals.

We look forward to an ongoing relationship with the city, both during the transition period and afterwards. We also trust that the city will maintain the high standards of care the animals in our community deserve.

Funds received by BHS under the city contract were used by BHS to provide animal sheltering services and care during the state-mandated five-day hold for animals brought to the shelter. After February, the city will provide those mandated sheltering services and BHS will continue to provide shelter, care and spay and neuter services for animals waiting for adoption.

It is important to note that this transition will not reduce BHS’ financial needs for the above services. In fact, BHS will now rely 100 percent on the financial support of our community.

Please support our mission by adopting, donating or volunteering. To learn how to get involved, please visit www.buttehumane.org.

Kristen Staggs
President, Board of Directors
Butte Humane Society

Why only two?

Re “Choosing the greater good” (Guest comment, by Sandee Renault, Nov. 17):

Why does Sandee Renault assume that voters only have two choices? Why assume that there are only two political parties in this country? That only two candidates or two parties are on the ballot? Ignorance, willful stupidity or what?

D. Griggs

Parents, speak up!

The youth of America are treated as second-class citizens! The reason the civil authorities are able to get away with the criminal activities as seen on the UC Davis campus is because we parents and grandparents allow it.

The students at Davis are intelligent, brave and well-meaning people. They rely on us as parents and grandparents to defend them until society at large acknowledges they are adults and accorded the same rights as the rest of us.

I once witnessed a superintendent of a school district announce to parents that the children in his district have no rights. If his opinion is correct, which I believe it is not; then the parents and grandparents must stand up for them.

I hear the student outrage and many public officials condemning the civil authorities, but where are the voices from the parents, grandparents and especially the alumni of UC Davis. What kind of a country do we have when we allow our children to be treated as if they are common criminals?

Secondarily, what in the world were the civil authorities thinking? Who thought that the pepper spray was a good idea? Not a single police officer stepped forward to “suggest” that this was a bad idea. Demand that the police control themselves and stop thinking about their paychecks!

Anthony A. Matulich