Letters for December 24, 2015
Stop the criminalization
Re “The final kindness” (Cover story, by Ken Smith, Dec. 17):
In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread. —Anatole France.
As an attorney-volunteer for the San Francisco Homeless Advocacy Project in the 1990s, I saw first-hand that criminalizing homelessness doesn’t work. It merely ties up the homeless in endless legal battles fighting tickets, misdemeanors and felonies. It consumes their time and scarce resources, preventing them from breaking the cycle of homelessness.
The homeless are not some “other.” They are us, since so many Americans are only one paycheck away from the streets. One solution that works is Salt Lake City’s, which is to give the chronic homeless housing. The city found it cheaper to provide homes than to criminalize homelessness. SLC was spending $20,000 per year per homeless person, but found it could house them for only $7,800 per year. Chronic homelessness dropped 72 percent.
I urge the Chico City Council to reconsider its ordinances criminalizing homelessness.
Look in the Mirror
Re “In support of dogged reporting” (Editorial, Dec. 17):
The usual kudos for Tim Crews in your paper do not paint a complete picture. For example, the last few years news stories and editorials [in the Mirror] have advocated for, in the Mirror’s words, a waste-to-energy garbage recycling plant by KVB. This, of course, is a misnomer since only 30 percent of the waste stream is potentially used for generating energy.
What the Mirror never disclosed in its writings, but only came to light in an obituary, is that Marilyn Baker, the mother of KVB principal Kara Baker, was a volunteer at the Valley Mirror. The paper also published a propaganda piece by Kara Baker with spelling mistakes not marked by (sic) as is the paper’s habit when printing writings by people they have a beef with. Where was full disclosure? Where was journalistic integrity? Crews rails against the old-boys network all the time, but cannot be forthright about his own entanglements?
Re “Not justified, not criminal” (Newsline, by Meredith J. Cooper, Dec. 17):
I was not at the site of this accident in Paradise, so I can’t pretend to know exactly what happened, but neither was [District Attorney] Mike Ramsey at the scene, and he is pretending to know what happened.
This is why we have jury trials. Let a jury of reasonable people examine the evidence. Ramsey can make his case, and Officer Feaster may still be found not guilty, but Ramsey should not have the power to unilaterally make this decision. The circumstances are far too questionable. We’ve all looked at the same video and apparently most people aren’t seeing what Ramsey claims to be seeing.
We need to have faith in our law enforcement officers if they are going to ably serve and protect the community, and that means when officers make terrible mistakes or behave improperly, those officers need to be held to account, as any of us private citizens would be held accountable in a similar situation.
Right now my confidence in the system is severely shaken. It feels like Mike Ramsey is not wielding the power he holds with the responsibility I would expect from a man in his position.
Editor’s note: For an update on this story, see page 9.
Serviceman speaks out
For nearly 2 1/2 centuries America has attempted Manifest Destiny by slaughtering untold millions of humans in the name of national security and democracy. This country, which I served honorably for six years, is saturated with murder, rape, abuse, corruption and shame.
Our neighborhoods, workplaces, schools and countrysides are in a state of undeclared war and in all wars everyone involved is terrorized. Yet it is only labeled “terrorism” when it is Muslim. Americans refuse to look in the mirror. Most often the “enemy” is us. You are being whitewashed into the darkness of militaristic policies that will only perpetuate increased misery in the world. All we learned from Iraq was the repulsive notion we should have stayed longer, and how to organize, train, then declare war on an organization like ISIS—perhaps manufactured in Langley, Va.
Maybe the U.S. deserves delirious Donald. His atrocious mindset represents most ignorant Americans. Won’t be the first time he moved an Afro-American family out of their home. Please march to the rhythm of your own heart and not to the savage war drum thumping ever so viciously in Washington.
Kenneth B. Keith
‘What’s the … plan?’
Re “Outside the Man Box” (Healthlines, by Mark Greene, Dec. 17):
In this story, we have this oft-recycled thesis: Men are locked into being tough and dominant. The poor bastards, being too ignorant to see how stuck they are, remain mired in “damaging” male behavior patterns. I’ve heard this for 50 years. (Notably, this anti-toughness view exists within a popular culture fixated on promoting ever tougher female role models. Heard anyone say tough women are wreaking havoc on their health and relationships?)
But, suppose we were to embrace men as men and celebrate what makes them different, instead of shaming them? What if their toughness was seen as a valuable characteristic by progressives? What if male energy was channeled in a direction that actually mattered, with more young men becoming warriors for the planet, animals and the poorest people? Are right-wing nut-jobs entitled to a monopoly on toughness, while progressives abandon the Man Box?
Instead of men trying to be the best women they can be, how about men acting like men? Cancel the Super Bowl party and watch Cowspiracy, Earthlings, Blackfish and The Salt of the Earth. Get angry! The team we call “life” is losing and we’re in the fourth quarter. What’s the new game plan?
Ask the rich
A result of our representative’s budget betrayal will be an increased pressure to have Bakken crude come down the Feather River Canyon rails. Sometime back, I wrote a guest commentary warning of the danger of using this route for this highly flammable fracked oil. At that same time, I emailed Warren Buffet via the Gates Foundation asking him to consider California agriculture and not have his rail company use this dangerous route to transport oil, which is upriver from Oroville Dam and the California Aqueduct.
He did not respond to me personally, but this year the Sac Bee reported that this liquid carbon is not coming to the Bay Area via the Feather River Canyon (Butte County has other southerly routes). In light of the lifting of Jimmy Carter’s ban on unrefined oil exports, I have written Mr. Buffet again and I suggest you also ask him and BNSF to not use the Feather River Canyon to transport oil. Let’s face it, our elected officials do not represent us, but rather their biggest campaign fund donors.
As Ralph Nader said in the title of his book, Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!
R. Sterling Ogden
It’s a revolution
This letter is a call, especially to those who have given up on voting because they have lost faith in the system. Bernie Sanders is truly promoting a political revolution! We can count on Sanders’ policy of integrity, supporting the interests of the people instead of mega-corporations, Wall Street and the military-industrial complex. Sanders is not corrupt and he can’t be bought.
Hillary Clinton has already sold out to Zionist extremists and would sacrifice Palestinian rights in support of Israel expanding its oppressive, apartheid regime. She is a hawk who would continue our country’s policy of bombing innocent civilians, sending more Middle Eastern young people into the arms of ISIS, and more thousands of refugees fleeing violence. She would continue shipping U.S.-made arms to violent dictatorships such as Saudi Arabia, who are bombing innocent people just struggling to live their lives in the midst of violent political upheaval.
Hillary is an apologist for Wall Street and would not support regulations that would truly rein them in. For all her rhetoric, she does not adhere to the principles of the Democratic Party. As president, Bernie Sanders will stand true to his principles. Join the political revolution—support Bernie Sanders for president!