Letters for December 11, 2003

Loathsome greed
I found a bit of irony in the last Chico News & Review. An editorial [“Can’t afford college? Blame business,” Dec. 4] was published on page 4 outlining the ever-increasing costs of higher education (specifically referencing the 30 percent hike in costs for state universities in California over the past three decades), while a few short pages forward, on page 8, a little blurb was written about Chico State University’s new president, Paul Zingg, and his compensation package [“Money, honey,” Downstroke]. As if his annual salary of $205,008 (what’s the extra $8 for anyway?) isn’t enough, the article stated that he will also be receiving a “$30,000-a-year-housing allowance.” Furthermore, the article went on to say that both the previous president, Manuel Esteban, and Mr. Zingg did not find the Julia Morgan House (formerly known as the “President’s Mansion") sufficient to accommodate their sheltering needs. Personally, I found this all to be a bit hard to swallow.

Most of the college students I know work long hours and go deeper into debt every year from student loans in their pursuit of higher education while still trying to feed, clothe and house themselves. It is laughable to think that a salary of six figures wouldn’t be enough to pay the rent! Mr. Esteban and Mr. Zingg should be ashamed of themselves. Using their positions to satisfy their greed is loathsome.

Kate Mullins

Editor’s note: Zingg was never offered a home at the mansion, as it has been converted to a reception center.

Old mill stream
I was encouraged to see careful consideration given to the restoration of the Barber Yard this past week as a self-contained village. Doing so would provide Chico with a regional mecca for shopping, dining and arts.

This summer I had the opportunity to visit Bend, Ore., and toured the “Shops at the Old Mill” complex there. I noted that the situation in Bend is almost identical to what we have in Chico with the former Diamond Match property. In Bend, the closed lumber mills complex was converted to an upscale shopping and arts center while preserving the historic buildings. It’s quite well done and has become an economic boon as well as an historical attraction.

I encourage the city of Chico to learn from what was accomplished in Bend as they consider the upcoming proposal for the Barber Yard Project. For those who have an interest in the Bend Old Mill complex, see www.theoldmill.com on the Internet as well as www.barberyard.org for the Diamond Match Property.

Anthony Watts

Capitalist drug dealers
A dear friend came to me distraught over her doctor’s report. He had told her she had 70 percent renal failure. She was worried that the drugs she was taking were somehow causing the problem. I looked up Vioxx in the Physician’s Desk Reference. Turns out there is a problem with long-term use by the elderly. In addition, it can cause renal insufficiency and should not be taken by persons with renal problems. Her doctor did not catch this, and she was not instructed to stop taking the medication. I spoke with a pharmacist, who said that he would not take Vioxx in this case.

Arnold Relman, professor emeritus at Harvard Medical School and former editor of The New England Journal of Medicine, reports that pharmaceutical industries sponsors “educational” programs for doctors that are in fact sales pitches for new, expensive drugs. Furthermore, there is no proof that these new more costly drugs are any more effective than older generic ones.

If you thought medical schools were teaching our doctors how to use drugs properly, they are not. It is the drug industry that is in charge of drug education, which is really sales and promotion of their most expensive products. Bush’s new drug packet is a give away to pharmaceuticals.

Stocks in pharmaceuticals made good gains relative to the passage of the new legislation.

Name withheld by request

Faux conservatives
Conservatives: You have been duped! The Republican Party has preached fiscal discipline yet stabbed us in the back. Our national debt has increased 22 percent since Mr. Bush took office. This is an overall increase of 7.3 percent per year. Since last November, when the Republicans gained total control, the debt has increased 10.5 percent.

Fiscal discipline? The national deficit is now greater than the Department of Defense and the Veterans Affairs Department combined! Want to support our troops? Then get rid of the deficit!

Non-discretionary spending under Mr. Bush has increased 20.8 percent; this is 2.5 times greater than that under Clinton. (These figures are easily referenced from public documents.) Now, they have vastly increased the size of government with the huge medical entitlement program recently passed.

Want big government out of your lives? Don’t vote Republican! Under Mr. Bush, we have the TIPS program for citizens to spy on other citizens, the felony act of the White House administrator exposing a CIA agent, a misnamed Patriot Act allowing the FBI to invade your property without your knowledge, and the potential of dismantling the Posse Comitatus Act, which keeps the military from policing our citizenry.

Now the FBI is monitoring protesters when that manpower should be investigating the felon in the White House who exposed the CIA agent (or at least get Osama Bin Laden). J. Edgar Hoover, revisited.

Out-of-control spending. Debt beyond our grandchildren’s horizon. Government growing in size and power like never before. Republicans no longer stand for conservative principles, in spite of their rhetoric. True conservatives know that voting Republican now has about as much integrity as getting high on Oxycontin illegally obtained from a maid in Florida.

Eric M. Hitchcock
Received via e-mail

Slow down
Speeding is something so many of us do, thinking we must get there faster—or we’ll have a better day, somehow, if we don’t have to go slow in this age of speed.

My friend’s daughter was hit in Chico, in the crosswalk, crossing to school at a green light. She flew 10 feet. Her friend, who was also hit, flew 12 feet. Luckily they’re both alive. I know of others who weren’t so lucky.

There aren’t enough police to control speeding, but why go that route? Speeding isn’t just a matter of what the road can bear or of what we can get away with. What about the experience of the people in the neighborhoods we are speeding through?

It’s up to us to remember that we live in a community and not just on extensions of the expressways. Our community can be a hostile, dangerous place filled with the noise of speeding cars, or we can slow down and become more aware of the impact we are having on the neighborhoods we are passing through.

Cynthia Lovis