Letters for December 18, 2008

Better solution to water problem
Re: “BEC’s misguided lawsuit” (Editorial, CN&R, Dec. 11):

Butte County should require full environmental review for the Tuscan Aquifer Monitoring, Recharge and Data Management Study and related projects. The study will test the aquifer to see how much water can be drawn out in order to maximize the aquifer’s use by our thirsty state.

Butte County should not be in a rush to use state money for this research. The existing data from Butte County’s monitoring of groundwater at a number of wells shows that we are already significantly exploiting the Tuscan Aquifer.

Rainwater percolating into the aquifer is a natural system producing clean groundwater. Screwing with this natural system by artificially recharging the groundwater with surface water could pollute the groundwater and further deplete our river system.

The testing is a first step toward that end. The testing is also a first step toward connecting the use of Lake Oroville water with the use of the aquifer. The idea includes a system of pipelines yet to be funded. The infrastructure needed to increase the state’s water supply will cost us more for water.

The very act of the state investing money into the study puts the Tuscan Aquifer’s water into the State Water Project system.

Instead of spending money on testing and building pipelines and such, Butte County and the state need to encourage people to use less water. We should already realize that the ultimate solution as the state’s population continues to grow is for people to find ways to conserve.

Robin Huffman

Groundwater protection is of the utmost priority to Butte Environmental Council. BEC’s many years of leadership on a local and statewide level have culminated in numerous legal challenges in the past year. BEC has used all the professional tools available when advancing protection of area groundwater, and we do not shy away from litigation.

The CN&R’s take on our current lawsuit against Butte County omits some crucial information, both background and legal, that could provide a reader with a better understanding of the lawsuit. We appreciate that the CN&R will allow BEC a guest commentary, but in the meantime we encourage readers to visit our Web site (www.becnet.org) for more information on this and other groundwater activities.

Barbara Vlamis
Butte Environmental Council

How ’bout consequences for cheating?
Re: “When children cheat” (Editorial, CN&R, Dec. 11):

An important concept left out of the article is that children today are no longer taught that there are consequences associated with everything we do. Heaven forbid that today’s children be held responsible for inappropriate actions.

Even the article presents unacceptable excuses. Principals, teachers and school boards are bullied by parents, attorneys and governmental agencies if they take action against a student’s bad behavior. A good example is the ACLU’s threat of a lawsuit against Redding’s plan to randomly drug-test students.

One of the greatest lessons I learned from both my parents and my teachers was that if I misbehaved in school or elsewhere, it reflected on my parents, my school, and my community. Instead of rushing to my defense, my parents cooperated with those in authority to make sure the punishment was appropriate to the offense.

I won’t say that 50 or 60 years ago none of my classmates ever cheated, but it certainly wasn’t anywhere near an appalling 65 percent. If caught, we knew the severe consequences would outweigh any benefits.

Robert Grignon Sr.

Freedom not always fair
Re: “Fairness is an overrated doctrine” (Letters, CN&R, Dec. 11):

In response to a letter from Ruben Leon, there was this Editor’s note: “Freedom of the press and stewardship of the public airways are distinct legal concepts.” They are also mutually exclusive.

Freedom of the press does not allow for the government to mandate any particular line of content. Stewardship of the public airways using a “fairness doctrine” not only does allow the government control of content, it in fact requires the government to review and control the content.

So, you will have to choose: Apply the freedom-of-the-press clause to broadcast media, or in the interest of “fairness” exempt the broadcast media from protection by that clause. Remember: “Life is not fair; and then you die.”

Dennis Swaney

See for yourself
Re: “Disc-ussion continues” (Letters, CN&R, Dec. 4):

On a recent visit to the disc-golf course off Highway 32, I think I got a good picture of what is going on up there. What I saw was a good number of disc golfers drinking beer, cussing up a storm and smoking pot. I also saw severe wear on the ground, a fair amount of litter and branches being knocked out of the trees by disc golfers.

I do not see how this jibes with the frequent assertion that this is somehow a good place to bring your kids. I have seen ads on the Web and videos on public-access television promoting this notion. I hope parents will think twice before taking their children to the course.

Do not take my word for it; go up to the course and check it out for yourselves.

C. Kasey Kitterman

Wright update
Gregory Wright is the local teenager sentenced to more than 22 years in prison. It all began in September 2007 when, in a suicidal state of mind, he took a .22-caliber pistol to Las Plumas High School. Nobody was injured and he surrendered peacefully.

Many of us feel that this lengthy sentence is terribly unjust and no way to treat an emotionally troubled teenager. Regrettably, his appeal has ended with no reduction of sentence. He is now an inmate at Salinas Valley State Prison (Soledad), in the notorious Cell Block C. Our district attorney assured concerned citizens that he would receive the help he needs in the prison system.

Let us take a look at the reality of his situation:

Soledad is the fourth most violent prison in California’s system. In three years, the prison has had seven different wardens. The prison has a tough population, housing inmates convicted of some of the worst crimes in the state, and it is overcrowded. Cell Block C is a war zone; Yard C has carried the dubious distinction of being the most violent yard in California.

Greg is in lockdown and has not seen any family since July.

James J. Adams

Generosity resonates
Friday, Dec. 12, marked the six-month anniversary of the Humboldt Fire. We would like to take this time to say thank you to the people, organizations and groups of Butte County. In a sense, I feel like we have won the Lotto because of the generosity that has come our way.

I have heard the phrase, “The more you give, the more you receive.” I have donated to charities and other groups, as well as helped family members in need with financial contributions, over the years. I now feel we have reaped the benefits of that.

We would like to acknowledge family, friends and strangers who have donated to the rebuilding of our lives since the fire. The help we have received did not end in June; it is still coming our way. We would not be where we are today without all of you.

Nora Burnham and Rob Brunig
Butte Valley

Truth, not pardons
This past Friday, a bipartisan Senate report named former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and other top officials directly responsible for sanctioning torture. Rumors in DC are that President Bush will pardon Rumsfeld and others for these abuses. That means those who might have participated in torture and indefinite detention without charge or trial could go unpunished.

Just as important as accountability is the truth about human-rights abuses. The American people have a right to know what abusive, unjust actions were taken in their name. An independent commission of inquiry should be established to tell this sad chapter of U.S. history, and then close it for good.

President Bush still has a chance to do the right thing. Nine human-rights organizations, including Amnesty International, have called on the president to reject impunity for crimes committed in the war on terror. I urge him to heed their calls and set the stage for the U.S. government to counter terror with justice, not abuse.

Diane Kielpinski Johnson

Relative wealth
Who remembers when $1 million was a lot of money and those who owned it were considered rich? Not too long ago, it took multiple millions to be given the same recognition, only to be swiftly replaced by billionaires, who now have to prove their mettle and validity by aspiring to approach the 100-times goal.

Government bailouts and military expenditures are now measured at levels approaching trillions, though the minimum federal wage languished at $5.25 for almost a decade, only to be heralded as a most generous increase by lately adding the pittance of couple of bucks.

This more describes a system of oligarchs, plutocrats and kleptocrats—far removed from a democracy, and an insult to the concept. What is most upsetting and egregious is that we are powerless to change it and our (mis)leaders have the gall to force it down the throat of other countries via bombs and daisy cutters.

Joe Bahlke
Red Bluff

Re: “Chico’s a Democratic town” (Downstroke, CN&R, Dec. 11): In reporting final election tallies, we incorrectly stated the number of votes by which Barack Obama defeated John McCain in Chico. The correct figure is 9,745 votes. This has been corrected online.