Letters for December 26, 2002

Knocking trailheads
The Annie Bidwell Trail is the most publicized, talked about and over-analyzed trail in the history of Chico. Randy Abbott [author of “A trail we otter not build,” Guest comment, Dec. 12] must have been grooving with nature a lot to only now take notice. When the trail was conceptually approved, it was featured on the front page of the local daily paper. For heaven’s sake, the City Council even hiked the route as a part of a public meeting! But, he brings up valid issues.

The issue of impacts to the creekside areas has been resolved by keeping the trail generally outside and above the riparian area. The issue of preserving the wildness of the area is mitigated by my proposal for “no net increase in trails"; that is, the new trail is to replace existing steep, eroding trails that I volunteer to restore and return to nature. We have surveyed the route and adjusted it to avoid any “take” of our rare Butte County checkerbloom.

Environmental impacts from the Annie Bidwell Trail are fully mitigated. The issue at this point is whether people are welcome in their park, or whether our public policies should discourage public use. Do remember that there is a fee charged for every new house in Chico that is paying for the Bidwell Park expansion, and the purpose of that expansion was to provide for recreational parkland for the new homeowners. But as we saw with the establishment of the Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve, there are those who want to use public money to purchase land and then keep the public out.

Michael Jones

Terror U.
At least 18 Chicoans added their bodies, voices and hearts to the almost 15,000 demonstrators at Fort Benning, Ga., Nov. 16-17. This United States Army base operates the notorious School of the Americas (renamed Western Hemispheric Institute for Cooperative Security—WHISC), which has trained Latin American soldiers in all matters military, specializing in counter-insurgency techniques.

As it became apparent to observers that many of these soldiers (fully 1 percent documented, of 60,000 since 1946) return to their countries and use brutal violence against their own citizens under command of their own government leaders (some trained also at SOA) to silence voices for justice or dissent, a grassroots movement to close the school developed.

Since our taxes pay for this training camp for state-sanctioned terrorists, the movement has mushroomed over the last 12 years. Demonstrations and demands for truth and closing of the school occur every year on the anniversary of the assassinations of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter at the university in El Salvador. Nineteen of the 26 convicted were graduates of the School of the Americas.

If the United States truly stands for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, then as a patriotic American I am proud to have joined these voices for the closing of the SOA/WHISC and for the restoration of the lives of the millions of oppressed families in virtually all the Latin American countries. Accurate information can be obtained on the web at www.soaw.org.

Cathy Webster

A man called Merz
This is in regard to the article on John Merz ["The Riverkeeper,” by Devanie Angel, cover story, Dec. 5].

Upon returning home from my travels, I both look forward to reading my hometown papers and expect to cringe at the usual coverage of some band from Seattle that’s pulled into town for a 9 p.m. show (that starts at 11:30) but with only three of its five members (been together six weeks!) and then they play like I did in eighth grade.

My usual wonder is: Why not an article about some of the decent people who live here? (Shall I supply a list?)

I’m overjoyed that you got around to John Merz. He’s not one of those guys with two elbows on the bar who talk, talk, talk about it. He puts in a lot of plain hard work; work that is unglamorous, boring and necessary.

As a son of a farmer on the banks of the “Sac,” I have been surprised and impressed at John’s fair-handedness to listen to all viewpoints in consideration of the use of our sacred river.

He is a man with vision and integrity.

Bravo! Thank you.

Gordy Ohliger

Searching for change
I’m not going to beat around it. Bush is as corrupt a politician as there is. In fact, it seems most politicians are, whether Democrat or Republican. The ones who aren’t die in fiery plane crashes. Bush has brought this country to a state of financial terror with his tax cuts for the rich and multi-billion-dollar corporations while giving the average American nothing but a continuous state of war, fear of retaliatory terrorist attacks and a deficit that our children’s great grandchildren will still be paying for.

Four hundred billion of our tax dollars are spent each year to fund these “wars on terrorism” in the name of greed and oil. This stupid little greedy man squatting in the White House and his demonic cohorts talk about a regime change in Iraq and say that Saddam has weapons of mass destruction. It’s all bullshit. In the past 11 years, our military has bombed anything that would be considered a threat to the United States. They’ve even bombed water treatment plants and pharmaceutical manufacturers. Over 750,000 Iraqi children have died as a result of American- and British-imposed sanctions and endless U.S. bombings. Do these children mean any less in the eyes of the Creator than ours?

What we truly need to save this planet from the rape and pillage of corrupt corporations and an equally corrupt government is a regime change here in our own country. Impeach the evils of Bush and Co. and make our government serve the people that it is supposed to serve. We now have a government of, by and for all campaign-contributing corporations. Let’s turn it back into what it was meant to be, a government for the people. Regime change in the U.S., now!

Emily King

Prop. 13’s loophole
It seems to me that if the Butte County is so strapped for cash that the supervisors need to raid the Tobacco Health Initiative fund, which originally was intended for use in public health, they should be out there beating the drums for the repeal of the corporate property tax exemption.

Proposition 13, the [1978] property tax initiative, placed a cap on property taxes and allowed for re-assessment only when a property was sold. This was at a time when property taxes were escalating out of control with frequent new assessments. At the time residential property owners did not give much thought to the long-term implications of including corporations with residential property owners.

Decades later, while your home property taxes have been re-adjusted upward with every sale, many corporations continue to pay taxes based on decades-old assessments. This is because corporations don’t sell their property as often as homeowners, so corporate property is not re-assessed as often.

If the county wants some more money, here is a ready source of it. The Board of Supervisors should be educating people about this loophole and advocating for a change to Prop 13’s structure and a means for adjusting corporate property taxes in line with current market conditions.

Better to have the corporations paying their fair share than robbing the public health centers of needed funding.

Roger Graham