Letters for December 18, 2003

An annex wish
This newest issue of development of county land that is clearly within the city of Chico’s sphere of influence is yet another reason that our supervisors and council must get together and transfer control of all the county land that is within the city’s sphere [“Butte braces for big boxes,” Newslines, Dec. 11]. I know that there are residents in the county who want to continue to have more dogs than the city will allow and be able to have a bonfire weenie roast in their back yard, but the best interest of all the citizens of this urban area take precedence over these desires to still “live in the country.”

I know that the county does not want to forgo the tax revenue that they would lose, but the confusion caused by the hodgepodge of city/county areas needs to be changed to benefit law enforcement, fire protection, zoning, planning and building.

Dear elected officials: Please annex all of the county areas within the city’s sphere of influence.

Tim Edwards

No mastermind
I have known Derek Rickmers for a number of years now [“The fall guy,” cover story, Dec. 11]. All I can say is, every time he has ever attended a party at my home he has always been respectful and did not “mastermind” anything. I realize that there is likely some guilt on his part for not stopping the circumstances of that night, but enough is enough!

The fact that this girl has been portrayed as an innocent victim is ridiculous. You cannot expect, even at 16, to sleep with five or more men in one night, get completely inebriated, pass out on a pool table and not be taken advantage of.

It’s more than unfortunate, and I pray she’s learned her lesson, but for this to all be focused on one person—much of it based on information from a few drunk teenagers trying to dodge their own charges—is preposterous. Derek Rickmers is not a hardened criminal!

Elaina Dart

Governmental slog
Both sides in the debate over whether to have an elected mayor for Chico understand that the current power balance keeps the elected City Council weak. As far back as my memory goes, the council has been split 4-3 or 3-4 along a liberal-conservative divide, and every few years it flips. Skillful bureaucrats learn that they can usually reverse council policy by delaying implementation for a couple years until the new council is elected.

Relatively simple decisions are dragged out for years. Many people like this system in that it prevents hasty decisions, but others of us think that it is designed to wear down the common citizen so that the real power is retained by the unaccountable city manager in consultation with a very few community heavyweights.

In my brief, unhappy stint as a park commissioner, it was made very clear that the city staff considered the public meetings as window dressing, and that the city charter provisions empowering the commission and especially the council to make policy were often ignored by the bureaucrats.

Change is coming to Chico; we can let it overwhelm us or we can try to manage it with a more nimble and responsive form of city government. With an elected mayor you know where the buck stops, and you know who to praise or boot out depending on their quality of service to the community.

Michael Jones

Parking lot comfort
Here is another hidden perk of having Wal-Mart in our community.

I have lived across from Wal-Mart for the past seven years. Every morning I do a walk passing Wal-Mart’s lot. They have an unwritten but well-known word-of-mouth policy that travelers can camp in their parking lots without worry of enforcement of the local laws.

Transient campers who are too cheap to stay in a licensed campground can bring negative aspects to the surrounding neighborhoods.

Through personal observation, I’ve seen a percentage of these RVs, campers and cars (in which people are sleeping) are the same vehicles returning, periodically. Do some of these campers just rotate Wal-Marts and live in these parking lots? Wow, what a great idea for Mal-wart business!

After two years of several attempts in talking with Wal-Mart management, I am now dealing with the city of Chico regarding the matter. If you live or will be living near a Wal-Mart, pay attention to what goes on in the parking lot. Contact your city officials and attend any meetings regarding new development requested by this corporate neighbor.

Nina Widlund
Received via e-mail

Drug defense
The letter writer in the Dec. 11 issue [“Capitalist drug dealers,” Letters] takes a simplistic view of the Physicians Drug Reference and medicine safety. The PDR, like drug product information sheets, contains a list of all possible contraindications. What it does not tell you is the probability of a bad effect occurring. Whether a drug should be used is a judgment call based on a discussion between the doctor and patient about the risks versus benefit of taking a medicine. In fact COX2 inhibitor anti-inflammatory drugs like Vioxx are significantly safer with respect to kidney function than the older NSAID drugs (like Ibuprofen) that they replaced.

All medicines carry risks; the patient needs to decide advised by a doctor if this is acceptable in return for a benefit, e.g. pain relief. To say that doctors are bought by drug companies is glib. The drug companies marketing efforts are now so limited by regulations that they in fact complain they find it hard to get doctors’ attention at all.

Name withheld by request
Chico physician

Better-laid plan
There are two (not one) plans for widening a section of Highway 99 through Chico; adding lanes to the outside vs. the inside. The outside plan in a nutshell guarantees that the freeway will be widened to six lanes through all of Chico eventually—the reason the Butte County Association of Governments has endorsed this plan. While improving safety, it will also encourage growth and sprawl.

The inside plan will also improve the safety and congestion problems where needed, without greatly encouraging urbanization. It is also less invasive to the nearby neighborhoods, cuts down almost 50 percent fewer trees and is comparable cost-wise. Concurrently, slowing to 55 miles per hour and enforcing the speed limit on the freeway through all of Chico and better long-term surface traffic planning are also imperative.

Mark S. Lance