Letters for December 11, 2014

Two for the trees

“A canopy imperiled” (Cover story, by Tom Gascoyne, Dec. 4):

Your cover story on tree advocacy is much appreciated.

When I see a picture of Mark Herrera, I am reminded of his act of civil disobedience—chaining himself to a sycamore slated for destruction. It is a very rare person who invites arrest and prosecution on principle. I remain inspired by his action. (In the same issue, there is a story about Chris Nelson, another such hero.)

I notice that our new sound walls—on the fattened section of Highway 99—are decorated with about a hundred precast concrete oak trees. I’m not sure how many real trees were destroyed during construction, but I was simply elated to see that the massacre had been tenderly memorialized in a thousand-foot-long bas-relief.

This sort of thing reminds me of the buffalo nickel—first minted in 1913. It honored the American bison—which had been reduced in number from 60,000,000 to 750—along with the American Indian, a population decimated during a 400-year reign of terror.

In the unlikely event that humans can survive the destruction of all other life on the planet, I suppose we will commemorate the achievement with a suitably nostalgic Earth nickel.

Patrick Newman

Three more of Chico’s beautiful trees, a trio of majestic, heritage trees near the corner of Oleander and Memorial Way, are in jeopardy. Chico Unified School District has announced plans to cut down the trees to make way for a new science building at Chico Junior High.

Teachers at Chico Junior chose a design that would have put the new building in close proximity to the existing science classrooms at the northeast corner of the school, making the sharing of equipment and movement of teachers between classrooms more convenient and efficient.

To the surprise of the science teachers, district personnel chose a more expensive design and plan to place the building far from the science department, on the opposite corner of the campus, where the three trees currently reside.

The reason: exposure—so that taxpayers can see how the bond money is being spent.

The trees will be cut down not out of educational necessity, not because of fiscal responsibility, but simply for political posturing.

I hope the school board will step in to protect the trees, the teachers and the students from this misguided choice.

Michael Christopher

Family wants answers

Re “Unjustified” (Newslines, by Ken Smith, Dec. 4):

District Attorney Mike Ramsey has not given us the information we requested in our Oct. 10 letter. When we met with him on Sept. 2, Mr. Ramsey told and showed us only what he wanted us to see. We have a right to examine all the evidence. He can call us names. We still want to see the evidence.

If you have the “truth,” you tell it. If your evidence supports the “law,” you show it. If you’re covering up a massacre, then attack the victim’s family. If he has nothing to hide, Ramsey will give us the evidence. It is public information.

Mr. Ramsey says we are looking for an external force to blame for our son’s death. Vic was in a closed room, minding his own business, threatening no one. The police created a scene of terror, broke in, and attacked and killed him. All the violence in that room was brought in by an external force, the police. They are the external force that is to blame and should face the consequences.

Hershel R. Coleman
Bartlett, Tenn.

Dueling views

Re “Predictability and generosity” (Second & Flume, by Melissa Daugherty, Dec. 4) and “Battle lines being drawn” (Newslines, by Robert Speer, Dec. 4):

For 16 months, only after the liberals damn near sank Chico’s financial ship, did the liberals work with the conservatives?

What about the remainder of the 12 years liberals held the power on the council? Did they work harmoniously and share power with the conservatives? Hell no, they didn’t. Even when they went on their drunken spending spree and the conservatives warned and pleaded for them to get a grip, they told them (audience members) to shut up and sit down. Next to go is Ann Schwab and Randall Stone, the most worthless council members of them all.

Rick Clements

Sixteen months ago, in the midst of severe city financial problems, the liberal-majority City Council reached across the aisle and appointed conservative Councilman Mark Sorensen as vice mayor. During the recent City Council meeting, liberal council members again extended a nonpartisan hand by supporting Sorensen for mayor.

These demonstrations of nonpartisan politics are welcomed by most citizens of Chico, regardless of their political affiliation. With that in mind, the current and new conservative council members embraced the partisan politics that has become the conservative party’s mantra by rejecting out of hand the appointment of a liberal member to serve as vice mayor.

This display of petty, selfish politics is a great disservice to our community and won’t be tolerated for long. The new conservative council members need to keep in mind that the votes they received represent a small percentage of Chico’s total population. The election is 1 month old and already it’s time for a change.

Roger S. Beadle

More on the Middle East

Re “Peace for Israelis and Palestinians” (Guest comment, by Michael Leitner, Nov. 20):

Michael Leitner, someone who studies and promulgates ways to lessen tensions in the Middle East, has provoked the ire of the local “Boycott Israel” crowd by daring to say something positive about that country.

I suggest it is time to give up the Palestinian victimhood narrative, a leftover from the Cold War, and move on. Stop treating the Palestinian Arabs as children who cannot be called to account for their actions.

For almost a century, the significant barrier to a negotiated peace has been Arab intransigence, aggression and antipathy toward other religious traditions—including “heretical” Muslims. The Palestinian Arabs are still being used as pawns by the Arab states that have kept them hostage for all these years through the incitement and manipulation of hatred. This is an energetic and talented people who need to get free of the murderous ideology that is the official policy of their woeful leadership. They do not need enablers.

The UN counts 200,000 killed in Syria and 2.5 million as refugees. Israel has nothing to do with this carnage, aside from transporting wounded refugees to Israeli hospitals—incidentally, where Hamas leaders also go for treatment.

Michael Mulcahy

Many, if not most, American Jews have a desperate and nearly absolute need to believe in a just and righteous Israel.

Facts show Israel to be a brutal oppressor of the indigenous Palestinians. Understandably, the Palestinians react with violence. Nonviolence by Palestinians is met with violence by Israelis. Remember American Rachel Corey? She was bulldozed to death while trying nonviolently to defend a Palestinian home.

Israel has a right to live in peace. But to live in peace Israel has to work with Palestinians to find a just solution to sharing land, water and Jerusalem. Israel wants it all, and wants to crush the Palestinians into submission.

Violence is never a solution. It always creates more violence. Certainly, if I were a Palestinian, treated the way Israel treats Palestinians, I would choose violence—if the only alternative was a degraded submission.

Terrorism by Zionist Jews, who hanged British soldiers and booby-trapped their bodies, bombed the King David Hotel in Jerusalem and massacred whole villages, is a part of Israeli history.

Israel continually uses the excuse that Palestinians/Hamas are enemies of Israel, therefore Israel cannot make peace with them. Insane.

Lucy Cooke
Butte Valley

Michael Leitner has devoted years to actually working for peace in the Holy Land through co-existence activities between Israeli Jews and Palestinians. He continued his work this summer while under fire from Hamas rockets.

As Leitner points out, Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, forcibly evacuating many settlers, in the hopes of furthering the stalled peace process. The result, rather than peace, was Hamas’ rise to power, killing of rival Palestinians, and shelling of Israel. This summer, Israel responded with military action to 4,500 rockets that Hamas fired on Israeli civilians. In such a case, any nation has not only the right, but the obligation to defend its citizens. Israel takes extraordinary care to avoid civilian deaths, but when war is deliberately waged from among civilians, as by Hamas, there will always be terrible casualties.

I am heartbroken for the parents and grandparents, children and spouses, who have been caught in this conflict over so many years. Heartbroken as well as for the seemingly forgotten Arab victims throughout the Middle East, in conflicts with no relationship to Israel. Rather than the scorn shown by opposing letters (some reasonable and some rambling), let’s all resolve, like Leitner, to work for peace.

Rabbi Julie Danan

Obamacare’s a Ponzi scheme

Socialism—government production of goods and services—can be very efficient. In Social Security and Obamacare, however, it’s not implemented intelligently, efficiently or fairly. Since government lacks spending and borrowing limits, both programs facilitate inflation and embezzlement.

Congress spent the Social Security fund and now pays benefits with current receipts. Obamacare funds are used by private insurers to pay extravagant salaries, overhead and shareholder dividends. Only a portion pays medical claims, which themselves aren’t entirely legitimate. Hospitals billing $10,000 a night for care indicates charging for losses treating indigent patients and also embezzlement.

Yes, embezzlement. Say instead of paying 23 percent of your $50,000-per-year earnings (raised 3 percent per year) to Social Security and Obamacare for 40 years, you invested this money privately for a 5 percent return. Living a clean, healthy life and accordingly needing negligible medical services, you’d have $2,226,000 + $111,300 + per-year interest forever, retiring at age 65. Under Social Security and Obamacare, the insurers accrue interest on the principal, pay maximum $31,704 per year when you’re eligible, and keep it all when the surviving spouse dies. Accordingly, for many (if not most), these programs are nothing more than Ponzi schemes.

Some links of interest: www.calculatorsoup.com/calculators/financial/future-value-annuity-calculator.php and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ponzi_scheme.

Nathan Esplanade

Be wary of “leaders”: A shepherd’s ultimate goal is a good lamb roast.

Stephen T. Davis