Letters for December 23, 2004
The new conflict
Developer influence over city government certainly used to be excessive. But that influence has been brought back into balance. The passing of Dan Drake and the concurrent, although perhaps temporary, demise of the local developer PACs, the whistle-blowing efforts of former editor Tim Bousquet and Councilman Steve Bertagna’s motion to reduce the maximum contribution to $500 have all had significant effects.
Looking at present times, a new conflict-of-interest issue has arisen. When lands are acquired with public funds, why are locked gates put up to keep the public out, while the keys are given to the proponents? Dye Creek Preserve, Upper Bidwell Park—Simmons addition, Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve, Bidwell Ranch open space.
The arrogance of power, that is why. That power needs to be reduced to bring things back into balance.
If I can’t generate much holiday spirit this year, it’s because I can’t divorce my own favorable circumstances from the misery that marks the lives of people just like me in Iraq.
In Fallujah and elsewhere throughout Iraq, the U.S. military is bombing and gunning down civilians—including women, children and those too old to flee—as potential terrorists, only to be classified as just so much “collateral damage,” a current euphemism for the violent deaths of the innocent. The wounded languish unattended in hospitals that are themselves subject to being bombed and where doctors and nurses struggle in woefully undersupplied conditions to patch up the torn and burned bodies of those who give the lie to Bush’s so-called “liberation of the Iraqi people.”
What do the supporters of this horrid war do to silence the protest of their conscience? Do they still solace themselves with the stale old lies about hoards of weapons of mass destruction? Do they seek comfort in the myth that Saddam Hussein was somehow involved in the tragedy of 9/11? How does anyone enjoy the greedy little bargains to be gleaned at Chico Mall? Can the latest electronic gadget to fall into their hands give any pleasure when they know the people of Iraq are without the basic necessities of food, shelter, clean water and any semblance of health care?
I’d like to wish my townspeople a “Merry Christmas,” but the words get stuck in my throat—and that’s not likely to change anytime soon.
There is something strangely uplifting yet heartbreaking about a man doing everything he can to protect something he loves.
Such was my sense watching Planning Commissioner John Luvaas at the Chico Planning Commission meeting on Dec. 14. In the balance was the south rim adjacent to upper Bidwell Park. Already several new luxury houses lining the ridge stare into the park like Dracula’s tower. In offering a string of amendments, Luvaas was doing his best to mitigate the unmitigatable effects of another dozen houses along the ridge and the felling of 250 mature blue oak trees.
In the end, to soften the blow of the eyesore, the Planning Commission did agree to ban terra cotta red-tile roofs.
Walking out, I listened to a group of pro-development folks complain about unfair government regulation and the sanctity of property rights. I appreciate John Luvaas for doing everything he could to protect the oaks and the rights of those who love the park.
Pawn in their game
Thank you for your article “Coming Home” [CN&R cover story, Dec. 16]. It is very sad but not surprising to see the lack of support these soldiers and their families are receiving from the Bush administration.
After all, at the same time the Bush administration is sending American soldiers into war with inadequate equipment and armor, it is busy awarding promotions and medals to those in the administration who are responsible for the mess in Iraq. A mess that is costing this country hundreds of billions of dollars it cannot afford. A mess that has killed and wounded tens of thousands of Americans and has killed, wounded and displaced hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. And sadly there is no end in sight.
While Halliburton and other companies make billions off of this war, the Bush administration has even court-martialed and imprisoned soldiers for utilizing parts from abandoned military vehicles in the desert in order to complete their missions.
How can we be surprised at the Bush administration’s lack of support for the soldiers and their families, when this corrupt and immoral administration views them as nothing more than pawns and cannon fodder?
Support the troops
Do we truly support our troops or just pretend? Think a bumper sticker is enough? Well, it isn’t enough. Demand the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld. Call the White House at 202-456-1111 or e-mail President Bush at firstname.lastname@example.org. Call Rep. Wally Herger too. Rumsfeld’s incompetent and arrogant actions, and inactions, clearly do not support our troops.
How in the world can the president keep this man on the team? If we truly support our troops, we will make that call. Otherwise, we can all go on with our comfy lives, pretending we’re patriotic by shopping and waving our flags, while our soldiers over there live with targets on their chests.
Eric M. Hitchcock
More than a ‘treat’
Decades ago, when I first came to Chico, I watched a local theatrical performance. At the end of it, someone said to me, “Not bad for Chico.” Those words rang through my head as I read your reviewer’s comments on The Dresser at the Blue Room.
The headline called it a “well-tailored treat.” A treat?! It was far more than that. Here was Norman, brilliantly played by Joe Hilsee—I hope Chico appreciates how truly talented an actor Joe is—unable to establish his identity separate from the drunken Sir, played with such powerful stage presence by Jerry Miller.
Their onstage synergy, created by Brad Moniz’s delightfully perceptive directing, provided the magnet to draw out the talents of the other actors.
It is a magnificent evening of theater-going. And how joyfully ironic to see Joe Hilsee, who has delighted the Chico theater-going public for years, play Norman, a character afraid to appear in public! We’ve come a long way from that “not bad for Chico” decades ago.
One moment of that performance involved a recitation of the opening soliloquy of Shakespeare’s Richard III. Soon we’ll have a chance to see Joe Hilsee perform the role of that larger-than-life stage villain. So, before she sees it, here’s a hint for your reviewer: Be prepared! Dig out your dictionary of superlatives! You should have taken it with you to The Dresser.
Lynn H. Elliott