Letters for December 26, 2013

Blame the governor

Re “A destructive ‘solution’” (Guest comment, by Nani Teves, Dec. 19):

I fully agree with Nani Teves’ stance on the water-diversion tunnels in the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, but another huge factor—if not the main driving force—in our governor’s adamant support of this project must be recognized.

Governor Brown and the Democratic Party’s main powerbase by far are the union and public employees in our state. This multi-year, multibillion-dollar project and the multibillion-dollar high-speed rail project—both of which are being rammed down our throats—assures that these financial supporters are rewarded for many election cycles with prevailing-wage jobs, therefore assuring that the Democratic party remains in power in our state.

Until we all take our heads out of the sand and realize that the Democrats are bought and paid for by the unions and the Republicans are bought and paid for by big business—and we quit buying into the polarization that they both promote and prosper from—we will continue to be thrown to the wolves.

In this age of social media, we have the tools to break their selfish strangleholds on our society. We must stop buying into their propaganda and remove ourselves from their manipulation of us.

Garry Cooper

A closer look at SodaStream

Re “Stop the one-sided blame” (Letters, by Julie Hilton Danan, Dec. 19):

Rabbi Julie Danan objects to the Palestine Action Group advocating a boycott of Soda-Stream. In her letter, she claims that SodaStream employs 900 Arabs for fair wages, and that the company’s CEO is an advocate of peace, supporting the dignity of all his workers.

An Israeli human-rights organization, Coalition of Women for Peace, disagrees with her summation. It points out that SodaStream built its factory on land that was taken from Palestinians by military force, and Israel gives SodaStream substantial tax deductions for locating there. Palestinians must get special permits to enter these factories.

For Palestinians, involvement in a labor dispute constitutes a security risk and can result in the loss of the worker’s current job, plus his or her ability to work in settlements in the future. When workers protested that they were being paid less than half the minimum wage and were forced to work 12-hour days, they were fired.

On another occasion, when workers who had been fired and were still owed a month’s wages went to the factory to request their pay, SodaStream had them removed from the factory and banned from the entire industrial park.

For more information, check Jewish Voice for Peace.

Sharon Fritsch

More on that protest

Re “Protesters target Target” (Newslines, by Ken Smith, Dec. 12):

I have recently spent three months in the Middle East, mostly in Bethlehem. In the small village of Wadi Foquin, I was shown the hillside where the settlers, eerily close to this village, toss their garbage and wastewater down on the people, their crops and their olive trees. I met a 91-year-old Palestinian man, living in a shack, who was given a two-week demolition notice if he did not vacate.

I volunteered for two days with Daoud Nassar at his Tent of Nations. Outside his gate rests a huge stone, and written on it—in Hebrew, Arabic, German and English—is We refuse to be enemies. His family has ownership papers dating back to the Ottoman Empire. Some of his olive trees have been uprooted, but, on a positive note, 30 Israelis came to help him with the olive harvest.

I was proud to be a part of the National Day of Protest last Sunday at Target. The gentleman who held up his SodaStream purchase got one thing right: It’s about property rights. Target will do just fine, but the Palestinian people are looking into the ghastly face of extermination if something is not done to prevent it.

Jane Casa

Council comedy

Re “Ship-righting continues” (Newslines, by Melissa Daugherty, Dec. 5):

I got a kick out of a recently published article [about a recent City Council meeting]. The statement that made me giggle like a school girl was provided by the subject of the article, Chris Constantin, the city of Chico’s administrative-services director.

The article stated that Mr. Constantin had given a preview of the upcoming budget for fiscal-year 2014-15, and implied that his department is well ahead of where it was last year in the budget process. Ha! As shown on the city of Chico’s website, Mr. Constantin’s department never even completed a final budget for fiscal-year 2013-14! Rather, they have stuck with the proposed budget, allowing any supplementals or modifications to be completed in a manner that makes it more difficult to analyze actual impacts to the budget.

Sticking with the proposed budget apparently also means they don’t have to complete quarterly reports, as I have yet to see one of those presented this fiscal year. Maybe I have ingested too many holiday cookies, but you can’t really be ahead in a process if you never completed the same prior process.

Quené Hansen

Props to the undersheriff

Re “Sheriff announces retirement” (Downstroke, Dec. 12):

When I was the county administrator for Butte County, Kory Honea was the president of the local Deputy Sheriff’s Association. We may have disagreed, but he was never disagreeable. I know him to be a man of integrity and honor.

I moved on to be the executive director of the California State Association of Counties and worked with state sheriffs to design and implement what has been called “realignment” throughout California. I was impressed by how Butte County, under Honea’s leadership as undersheriff, eagerly took on the new challenges facing our public-safety agencies.

Given my positions in public service, I have never endorsed a political candidate. Now that I have retired, however, I wholeheartedly would endorse Honea as the best candidate for Butte County sheriff.

Paul McIntosh

Words from a candidate

Look around and you will see good things happening throughout Butte County. Economic recovery is happening in our cities and towns. Local government is increasingly accountable and purposely directed. Citizens are more optimistic than in the past five years. In the holiday spirit, donations and selfless acts flow through our community.

I have a vision of prosperity and charity continuing through 2014 even as political campaigns arise for the June election. That vision begins with a new way to campaign, because our politics are driven too heavily by money.

Instead of asking our community for donations to fund my election, I’ve asked my supporters to actively seek out and involve their social and professional contacts, to act as ambassadors for my qualifications and abilities.

In this way, the people retain their own hard-earned money and voters learn of my strategy to improve the way the Butte County Assessor’s office serves its residents in a sincere and mutually beneficial way. Let’s all rethink our election habits and start anew locally, choosing a path that moves away from the current “money equals votes” strategy.

Al Petersen

Editor’s note: Al Petersen is a candidate for Butte County assessor.

Note to the City Council

Lemon juice or chicken soup? I have given this matter less than considerable thought, yet as I hiccupped the ideas, lemon juice made the most sense. When one seeks to find an explanation regarding the City Council’s continued toga-esque behavior protocol (olive-branch excluded), or a critical accounting of the discretionary use of city funds (as noted in the grand jury investigation and massive city-wide layoffs), it has to be lemon juice!

The liquid exhibits an unclear lucidity that blurs the ability to be transparent. The very color of the peel itself has often been associated with debilitating courageousness. Invisible messages were written in lemon juice to keep secrets hidden until enough heat was applied to reveal a codified message. A distinction should be made here between invisible ink and disappearing ink—as in continuity of council minutes or the ongoing fund-’scapade debacle.

A popular adage suggests that when one is given too many lemons, a concoction should be prepared that allows the bitterness to be made less sour, more palatable. Why then did the City Council, in its infinite wisdom, purchase an orchard?

Rick Vagts

Another take on homelessness

Re “A homeless encounter” (Guest comment, by Michele French, Dec. 12):

My recent experience with homelessness shed a very different light on the subject than the one offered by Ms. French.

The man under the bridge down the street from my house prefers solitude away from downtown. He is very polite, humorous and friendly. He’s in post-surgery, recovering outside under his own terms. He chooses freezing nights and his own medicine.

The man is also an eight-year veteran of our military. While I was celebrating high-school graduation, he was bucking for gunnery sergeant in Vietnam. That particular job, at that particular time, was brutal. Today, nearly 40 years later, this is the outcome. This modest, humble man is homeless in the very same country he served.

Something tells me that Ms. French crossed paths with the entitled homeless. They do indeed demand attention to their plight because they are of the generation who got everything without working for it.

Nile Ferns

How to outlaw bicycles

This idea is not original with me. A blogger called “Bike Snob” posted it some time ago. In Chico, it would work like this: We take the number of people who choose not to use the bike lane, even when it’s available, and then add the number who ignore stop lights and pedestrians, along with those who ride on sidewalks, as well as those who ride the wrong way on one-way streets or in the wrong lane of traffic. Each such rider could easily endanger, annoy or infuriate 20 people in an average day.

It will take only 100 of such riders, each fulfilling their daily quota of 20 people, to, within a month, create 60,000 voters ready and eager to outlaw bicycles entirely. We could then make the bike lanes into free parking and the bike shops into more bars, which we truly need. Too bad about the responsible bike riders, but the voters will have spoken. A modest proposal.

William Martin

What about my rights?

For public school students, Jan. 1 brings with it a new type of education system in the state. It’s one in which boys can’t be boys and girls can’t be girls—or that is at least the hope of the progressive left.

Earlier this year, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1266, the transgender students equal-rights bill, which proponents claim will help reduce discrimination. At the same time, in the opinion of [local Christian radio station] KKXX, AB 1266 will actually do harm to young and vulnerable students in the California school system.

Now, most all people believe in equal rights as a principle. But not when your rights are being taken away to give someone else rights that never existed before. My rights to have my children in a safe environment are considered unimportant, or as a noble and appropriate cost to giving others full control.

Specifically, K-12 children, as young as 5 years old, will be exposed to Jimmy coming to school as Janie and wanting to use the toilet like a girl, and even to exhibit him/herself as a girl in front of other young impressionable students. Calling their obvious male parts a vagina, because “mommy told me I can be a girl.”

Andrew Palmquist

Hurray for Uruguay

Viva Uruguay! There, President José Mujica will soon sign legislation making his country the world’s first to re-legalize cannabis. But you ask: What about all those lovely children? The children in Uruguay will grow up knowing that their government is not lying to them about cannabis, as is the case here in El Norte. I’m so glad to finally see these crumblings in the wall of global cannabis prohibition. I love the herb, and I’m a good person.

Jay Bergstrom
Forest Ranch

Thanks, birders

I would like to extend a huge thank you to all 40 people who came out to participate in the annual Chico Christmas Bird Count! These great folks volunteered for a full day of birding, and together we counted 125 species of birds and 17,799 individual birds.

All these birds were seen within a 15-mile circle centered in Chico. We had a great day, and Altacal Audubon Society appreciates everyone’s help.

Mary Muchowski
CBC compiler, Chico