Letters for December 20, 2007
Two takes on economic strategy
Re: “ ‘Oh wow’ vs. ‘No duh’ “ (In My Eyes, by Evan Tuchinsky, CN&R, Dec. 13):
Alas, young man, the emperor is indeed naked. To insure no one risks being labeled too stupid and incompetent to appreciate quality, we are employing the city’s economic development manager to galvanize support across the community, for the emperor’s fine new clothes.
If $112,000 a year was invested in researching and implementing actions already found to be successful in other communities, it might lead to actual prosperity, and perhaps a more beneficial side effect (dignity) would galvanize.
Editor’s note: The figure cited by Ms. Ashley represents Martha Wescoat-Andes’ salary.
There may be a lot of material in the economic development strategy presentation that does not exactly qualify as “stop the presses” content. In a PowerPoint presentation that’s 56 slides long, a certain amount of unsurprising observations are inevitable, although they do serve the purpose of establishing credibility for the overall proposal.
What is exciting about the strategy is that it makes a substantial detour from the conventional wisdom about how economies grow. Historically, economic development as practiced by governmental entities has been a “zero sum” approach. The emphasis has been on recruitment and retention. This is essentially a war of attrition, as competing communities throw down increasingly costly incentives.
Chico’s competitive advantage is that it has a knowledge factory as the global economy becomes increasingly knowledge-based. We need to export the knowledge, but keep the knowledge worker. And that is not going to be achieved by bribing production-based businesses to move here, or appeasing existing firms.
The solution is to create the conditions that enable entrepreneurs to start up companies that can tap into an educated workforce and can grow to substantial size while generating higher compensation rates, pumping more dollars into the economy, generating real wealth that can be reinvested, and, most important as the city’s budget crisis looms, increasing tax revenues.
Among the policy-makers and staff who are debating about budget cuts or increased taxes, Martha Wescoat-Andes is the one voice proposing the only truly viable solution for dealing with the mess we’ve allowed the others to get us into.
In reference to “one potential problem that seems to have been averted” (problems with diverting Measure A bond money to “other purposes” by CUSD), the lack of backlash is because the voters don’t realize yet that they’ve been ripped off. The idea that the “public meetings” on CUSD facilities’ needs gave CUSD the right to use the bond money to pay for other things than a third high school is erroneous.
First, the meetings were not really “public.” Almost everyone there had an agenda, including me. I want the bond money to be used to build a career technical education high school, co-located on the existing campuses. I went to the Pleasant Valley High meeting, where the talk was about the gym, the cafeteria, classrooms, etc., at PV.
Second, there was not one word said about the bond money being used for those “other purposes.” Such diversion had never been discussed at a board meeting before, which has led to this being called a “bait and switch.”
There is also the matter of the Performing Arts Center funding being transferred to Measure A money from developer fees, as was originally presented and approved. Not to mention an almost 50 percent increase in cost. I characterize this as a “pea and shell game.”
These actions are at best unethical and at worst illegal—fodder for the Grand Jury. If CUSD wants to use Measure A money for these “other purposes,” let them come to the voters for approval. Otherwise, return the money to the voters by not issuing any more of the bonds!
Re: “Investigate CUSD” (Letters, by Juanita Sumner, CN&R, Dec. 13):
I agree…. Kudos to Andrea Lerner-Thompson for being the lone board member with the integrity to vote no. The others should be recalled if they take the money.
It doesn’t matter if they have 100 things they want to do with the money. It’s not their money.
No one is saying that improvements aren’t necessary. The school district fooled us, made a mockery of the process, and now wants to change the rules.
The voters didn’t vote to give the board discretion on how to spend [the bond money]. It would be fair to say that CUSD’s history of school board decisions has been abysmal. Open, then close a school; hire, then fire superintendents; raises, then cutbacks; decisions, then excuses.
I have a compromise to suggest. If other school board members all think it’s such a good idea to spend $40 million on improvements, why don’t they take it out of their own bank accounts or mortgage their own homes to do it? They would immediately say, “Why should we pay for it? That’s not what was agreed.”
Misplaced article: the
Re: “Breakdown in mental-health care” (Newslines, by Leslie Layton, CN&R, Dec. 13):
Reny Cabral is called “an articulate advocate for the mentally ill, who often land in jails or prisons because of a lack of treatment options.” The stereotype “the mentally ill” has powerful negative consequences. People with a mental illness are no more likely to find ourselves in jails than editors and reporters.
Your intent is “he is an articulate advocate for mentally ill people who land in jails and prisons"—a specific, identifiable group.
“They took the B-line city bus equipped for the disabled …” repeats the stereotype. There are many disabilities; it is equipped for people with specific mobility problems.
An articulate advocate for “the blacks” would not pass muster today, certainly not with advocates in the African-American community. We reveal a great deal about who we are by the people we diminish to a “the,” which changes with time and place.
Harold A. Maio
Fort Myers, Fla.
Stick up for women
Re: “More bumper sticklers” (Letters, CN&R, Dec. 13):
This is in response to Justin Canter explaining “I survived Roe v. Wade.” Do people put stickers like that on their car to make themselves feel superior, or is it a cheap shot at women who’ve had to make tough choices in their lives?
I think it’s funny that it seems like the same conservative people and government that want to overturn Roe v. Wade are also the ones rescinding welfare and other programs for the poor, undereducated women they didn’t want to have abortions in the first place.
I guess it’s easy to preach your opinion on what is right when it’s none of your business, but a little harder when you’re asked to put your money where your mouth is.
Re: “Pre-emptive strikes” (Letters, by Donna Jean Strobie, CN&R, Dec. 13):
Any discussion of forgoing the military option vis-à-vis Iran must recognize that Iran today is a perfect reincarnation of Nazi Germany in September 1938. Iran’s threats to destroy Israel are even more explicit than Hitler’s threats against Czechoslovakia just before Munich.
Iran absolutely intends to obtain nuclear weapons, and if it gets them will use them. Negotiating with Iran is as futile as it was with Nazi Germany. Although Ahmedinejad may be personally unpopular among Iranians, polls show they overwhelmingly support his threats against Israel and Iran’s quest for nukes, exactly as the German people overwhelmingly supported Hitler’s aggressions.
And so, it comes down to whether the resolve is there to stop Iran cheaply while we can, or wait until Iran’s nukes have killed 5 million more Jews, and more millions in Europe and America, before responding.
How much more carnage must there be before “peace activists” are recognized as the facilitators of fascist aggression and genocide that they are? The NIE report so beloved in appeasement circles smells strongly of sabotage by moles left over in the CIA from Clinton’s presidency. Other than that, it is utterly meaningless.
Mama Rose rocks out
Re: “Greatest show on earth” (Music, by Mark Lore, CN&R, Dec. 13):
I was the oldest person at this show, I’m sure. But since my son has played drums for punk rock bands for about 20 years, I was really familiar with the Supersuckers.
A lot of my age-group friends don’t understand my attraction to loud, raucous punk music, and though I find it almost meditative (it’s so loud you can’t focus on anything but the music), I’ve become a little discerning about the genre. And the Supersuckers rocked that night.
I saw them at Farm Aid this year in New York, where they played a country set, and have contacted them for an interview on my KZFR radio show, Mama Rose’s Kitchen. Eddie Spaghetti’s wife, Kriztina, who is a caterer in Washington, will be talking with me on Jan. 15. Hopefully Eddie will put his 2 cents in, as well.
Re: “Dorm debate” (Newslines, by Meredith J. Cooper, CN&R, Oct. 18):
In July, Chico State initiated the CEQA process on the new dormitory project planned for Legion Avenue. Many university neighbors felt the process lacked transparency and inclusiveness, and, through letters in this newspaper, expressed displeasure with some design aspects and anticipated community impacts.
University President Paul Zingg stepped forward to listen to both the concerns and the suggestions of the neighbors, and offered some changes in the design and process. When some concerns were still problematic, he willingly entered into a “tolling agreement,” a legal extension of the CEQA process, for an additional month. During this time, all interested persons were able to voice their issues directly to him.
Last week, the Mansion Park neighbors received a letter from Dr. Zingg outlining additional measures to be taken by the university regarding improvements to the new student housing project, now known as Sutter Hall. This is the latest in a series of communications between university neighbors and Dr. Zingg that have enabled a new foundation for a mutual relationship of cooperation and understanding.
I would like to thank Dr. Zingg for his willingness to acknowledge the project’s impact on the community and his personal involvement in listening to comments and forging solutions. Most of all, I applaud his expressed commitment to on-going dialog with the community on this and all future facility projects, which may have set the stage for a new era of collaboration between the city and Chico State.
Setting things straight
Re: “Needs for protection connected” (Letters, by Irene Cardenas, CN&R, Dec. 13):
Bars sell products. This is OK with me. Last week, I cited reasons for opposing snuff hucksters in bars. A copy editor added the words “in stores” to my letter. This cast the issue as one of buying in stores vs. bars. However, I presented it as one of buying vs. handing out.
Buying (even in bars) activates a far greater level of personal choice. The price consciously informs the buyer that a personal cost is incurred.
That edit changed the position that was attributed to me, opening it to significant objections. From it, one could reasonably conclude that the writer does not realize people can control their own pockets and are responsible for their own choices.
I am keen to protect myself when people attribute such attitudes to me. My issue with this one edit aside, I do like and appreciate the CN&R.
Editor’s note: The phrase “in stores” (inserted for “on one’s own") has been removed from the letter online. We regret if this distinction affected how readers perceived Ms. Cardenas’ position.
Re: “SMASHing success” (Scene, by Christine G.K. LaPado, CN&R, Dec. 13): The spelling of Rodolfo Vazquez’s first name and the name of his family’s business, Vazquez Events, were incorrect. These have been corrected online.