Letters for December 2, 2010

Fair play in wine labeling

Re “Battle of the bottles” (Greenways feature, by Alastair Bland, Nov. 24):

I have been making wines organically for 31 years, as long as anyone in the industry. The only difference is my minimal use of sulfites in the form of sulfur dioxide, which is sulfur in its gaseous state, nothing added, nothing removed.

More than 99 percent of the general public does not have a health issue with sulfites. Less than 1 percent has an allergic hypersensitivity to sulfites. The media have misrepresented this for decades and talk of sulfites as if it were a public-health issue.

There are many kinds of personal sensitivities to such natural products as strawberries, walnuts, tomatoes, shellfish, wheat, peanuts, milk, cheese, etc. But this does not make these items a public-health issue or unworthy of an organic seal. Folks with hyper-sensitivities simply have to take appropriate precautions and avoid what they are allergic to.

Wines have adequately addressed the sulfites issue by mandatory labeling that says “Contains Sulfites.” End of story! Yet some organic winemakers want the organic-wine label all to themselves, as if they deserve it more than I do. This is simply a ploy to protect themselves from competition.

It is long overdue for fair play to prevail in the organic-wine movement and consumers to be allowed to make their own decisions by simply reading the label.

Brian Fitzpatrick
Fair Play, Calif.

Nothing moderate about HFCS

Re “Sugar isn’t always bad” (Letters, by Roseanne Rust, Nov. 24)

Debra Abbot and Bridgette Brick-Wells deserve our support and encouragement for their work to improve what our schools feed our young people. Food-industry consultant Roseanne Rust, on the other hand, might deserve further scrutiny for recommending in her letter that we consume high-fructose corn syrup in moderate amounts.

HFCS is in such a staggering number of foods that Time magazine wrote, “Unless you’re making a concerted effort to avoid it, it’s pretty difficult to consume high-fructose corn syrup in moderation.” A single 12-ounce can of soda has as much as 13 teaspoons of HFCS.

Approximately one-quarter of the U.S. population is obese, and yet Ms. Rust wants to protect the Corn Refiners Association, the trade group behind a huge ad campaign to relabel their ubiquitous product as “natural”?! Our children need healthful alternatives as well as protection from greedy corporations and powerful lobbyists.

Daniel Duart
Forest Ranch

Editor’s note: For more on this subject, see the Guest Comment.

Want education? Get a car

Re “How schools have changed” (Guest Comment, by Steven Morgan, Nov. 25):

I worked at a college where entering freshman could not read, write or do simple math. They had no knowledge of their country’s history, which was why our founding fathers set up schools and made them free in the first place—to make our citizens know their history and be prepared to vote.

Well, it sure isn’t free anymore. If you have the money you can shop for a good school where parents know the instructors and it is a joint process of kids, parents and teachers. Get a car so you can drive to different schools and get the best education you can for your daughter; take an active part in her education. It will pay off in her future.

We have thrown millions of dollars at the educational system and we have had one failed program after another, and we have failed our students. Maybe now is the time to rethink how we teach. Are these the students our forefathers thought would keep our country free and the greatest nation in the world?

Pat Pascale

This issue is quality

Re “Arts Commission’s role” (Letters, by Christine Muratore, Nov. 24):

Actually, there seems to be little disagreement over the need for “impartial representation,” or an “advising board,” or that “public funds should be dispensed through a democratic process,” or especially whether “we the people” deserve to have “a voice and transparency.”

If Ms. Muratore has been paying any attention to the recent criticisms, what’s being called into question are the quality, accessibility, accountability and true representation of said “democratic process.” Which, in my opinion, has been giving the appearance of being as self-satisfied, tone-deaf, unresponsive, unquestioning (and ultimately as confusing) as her “explanation.”

Mat DelFave

Support your commission

Commissioning art in public infrastructure reflects a transparent inclusive process of, by and for the people. This is why cities have arts commissions. It takes courage, leadership and hard work to represent the public that pays for and lives with this artwork.

Grand political ambitions to mark territory haven’t changed. It appears as if Chico’s funding and decision-making authority have quietly shifted away from public oversight. Decisions have been made internally, apparently with political complicity. The program has become another Star Maker Machine rather than following its currently approved process.

Whether we like the results or not, this only allows another fragment of our democracy to be given up. This is completely unacceptable. We the People need to speak up, demand compliance with the transparent due process, and restore a balance of power between the policies and the politics. Support open democratic representation. Support the local arts. Support your local arts commission.

Gregg Payne

‘Sanctuaries of sanity’

Many have said that Republicans taking control of the House and other offices across the nation in this past election was a sign of the people’s rejection of Democratic policies. Some have even said they felt the people of California and New York were crazy to vote the way they did. I have to wonder about the sanity and apparent memory loss of all who voted Republican.

They have obviously forgotten that it was the Republicans who lied us into these trillion-dollar wars that never seem to end, and that it was Republican deregulation that allowed Wall Street to profit in the hundreds of millions by deceiving the public, destroying tens of thousands of lives, damaging the economy and creating the contrived need for those bailouts.

It wasn’t the voice of the people speaking out on Nov. 2, but that of U.S. corporations with vested interests in putting patsy politicians in office who will blindly do their bidding. This travesty occurred because of the Supreme Court’s insane decision to allow huge corporations to make unlimited and untraceable contributions, funneled toward deceitful attack ads, outspending Democrats more than 10-1 in many states.

In my opinion, California and New York may be the only sanctuaries of sanity that this country has left.

Sherri Quammen

Remove chip from shoulder

Re “Rationalizing racism” (Letters, by Jerry Smith, Nov. 24):

Mr. Harris sounds like some inane mental midget who cries and whines about every little thing and person that he comes in contact with. His crying downgrades real incidents of brutality that happen with the police.

By the way, he is completely wrong on his stats. Black folk commit a higher rate of murder, rape and assaults than any other group in the country, with Latinos next. Proportionately speaking, that is. Yes, of course we will hear about more Caucasians doing those things up here because, duh, Chico is like 85 percent Caucasian. But on percentages, if we took the same amount of people, say 10 percent each, black folk would be doing more crime, statistically speaking.

The bottom line is that racism is wrong on all sides, so get that chip off your shoulder, Jerry. Not everyone is out to get you.

By the way, I agree with you about the local police. Many of them tend to be highly aggressive and don’t care one bit about your or my rights.

Brit Jones
Tea Partier