Letters for December 3, 2009

How the CUSD screwed up

Re “The $6 million question” (Cover story, by Leslie Layton, Nov. 19):

For me, your article about the history of Chico Unified’s bad financial management focused on one line in particular: “The board came to learn they had been deprived of staff reports that contained useful information, that he [the superintendent] had discouraged his staff from communicating with the board.”

It appears that you had a superintendent who deliberately misled a school board, and his upper staff knew about it and chose to keep silent. It is that exact lack of ethics that a school board should deal with more than the financial implications, because it reflects on the lack of judgment of your staff.

Your school district isn’t in dire shape because of the financial mistakes as much as because of your staff not having the ethics or being afraid to inform the board immediately when they learned of the superintendent’s actions. The bigger question is, why were they fearful or reluctant to report it?

Devannie Barton

First, let me state that I’m one of the silent majority that supported former Superintendent Scott Brown. If you look back in the board’s minutes from 2005, you’ll see that Brown actually advised the board that voting in an 11 percent pay raise was not advisable due to possible state budget issues in the near future. It looks like, in everyone’s haste to bring in an “outside” superintendent, we ended up with someone who had no idea about local economy and state finance.

What’s important here is to look at other school districts around the state. What is happening here in Chico is a statewide issue, not specific to Chico. However, since we are a smaller community than areas like Sacramento and the Bay Area, our local economy can’t make adjustments like they can to absorb some of the hit.

One thing seems to be common for Chico, though. With such small portions of the pie to share and cut, we tend to do the usual practice when it comes time to cut funds: circle the wagons and shoot inward.

Steve Harrington,


Beware of pit bulls

Re “Puppies’ worst nightmare over” (Newslines, by Meredith J. Cooper, Nov. 19):

These [pit bull] dogs have an inbred “reptilian brain” area that is vicious and very dangerous. This is well known!

Beware of these dogs. They can be a great civil liability if they injure someone or a disaster if they attack your children. No matter how kind a home you provide, these dogs are vicious. They should be euthanized, or let Heather Schoeppach keep several in her home—and she better lock her bedroom door!

Hugh Rhodes

Walmart decision: two views

The latest chuckle heard in local government halls is whether Oroville or Paradise bought off Chico City Council members for their votes against the recent Walmart expansion. As cities that support job growth, Oroville and Paradise are poised to profit from Chico’s folly, and one would cynically hope that Chico’s elected liberals were smart enough to collect payment for selling out the working poor and killing new jobs.

It’s said that Walmart saves the average American family $3,100 per year. I wonder if Tom Nickell and Scott Gruendl will look the lower-income families in the eyes and tell them this is for their own good, or maybe help them buy some groceries. I suppose it is more important for council members to spend their time trying to ban college kids from Upper Park or devising a plan to take away everyone’s woodstoves. Ann Schwab even wants to model Chico to be more like Berkeley. Really?

Sadly, Chico was once a business-friendly town. Much was built there with the wealth that business creates; many charitable causes were supported. Now they consider business the enemy and jobs a threat. When the voters of Chico wonder where the money has gone that once supported their schools, fire and police protection, let’s hope they remember the actions of their City Council. Until then, Chico will remain the butt of jokes in every other city hall in Butte County.

Steve Thompson

The Chico City Council should be commended for denying Walmart’s expansion application. Walmart’s supporters say this sets a “ridiculous precedent.” But this is no isolated incident. From Eureka to San Diego, 37 California cities have rejected Walmart attempts to build or expand; 380 cities across the United States have blocked Walmart building plans.

It’s time for the Enterprise-Record editorial page and the city staff to stop spreading the myth that an expanded Chico Walmart, including a supermarket, would increase sales-tax revenues. Grocery items are not taxable. Increased taxable sales at Walmart will be negated by corresponding decreased taxable sales at existing local businesses. Outside area shoppers either have, or will soon have, their own supercenters to shop at.

Somehow, the “knowledgeable experts” on city staff don’t think a new Walmart supermarket, generating gross grocery sales of tens of millions of dollars annually, would lead to layoffs at, or closures of, neighboring stores.

Councilman Tom Nickell took the initiative and personally talked to dozens of workers and managers, finding out firsthand the adverse effects a Walmart expansion would have on other local businesses. Nickell is trying to preserve jobs paying a living wage, not replace them with jobs paying minimum wage. Chico workers applaud his efforts.

This project was never about jobs or sales tax revenue for Chico. It’s about market share for Walmart.

Ron Sherman

Lawmakers’ ‘rank hypocrisy’

Question: Who paid for the college educations of local legislators Dan Logue, Jim Nielsen and Sam Aanestad, along with their predecessors and would-be successors Rick Keene and Doug LaMalfa?

Answer: We did, the taxpayers of California.

Amazingly, not a one of these anti-tax champions of the private sector attended a private college or paid the full cost of his education. Instead, each of them took advantage of the tax-subsidized public option generously provided by the citizens of California under the visionary state Master Plan for Higher Education adopted back in 1960.

Sam Aanestad received his BA and DDS from UCLA, while all the rest are graduates of CSU campuses: Nielsen of Fresno State, LaMalfa of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, Keene of Chico State, and Logue of Sacramento State.

Nevertheless, these same men are now destroying the promise of affordable higher education in California for your children and mine. As part of the fanatical GOP minority in Sacramento, these anti-government ideologues are strangling the UC and CSU systems to death, simply because they do not want to pay the taxes that made their own careers possible. With their personal success safely in hand, the master plan for them is now just ancient history, an old social contract that they are happy to ignore, and to betray.

Such rank hypocrisy must not be rewarded by voters in 2010.

Michael Magliari

Making the hard choices

Re “Zingg: Where’s the vision?” (Newslines, by Robert Speer, Nov. 26):

These cuts in education are absurd and will undermine the credibility of higher education in California. Try explaining these furloughs to an exchange student from another country. Try explaining to anyone why, after two raises in tuition since last year, we students are paying 30 percent more per semester, and with all the furlough days getting 10 percent less education and classroom time with our instructors and professors.

So, while I value the quality of my instructors, with as many students we will be losing, are we trimming any of the dead wood in the forest of education? Are administrators being eliminated? Are tenured professors who sit on their corsets awaiting retirement being eliminated? Or will the students be made to suffer even further by the firing of up-and-coming adjunct faculty and part-timers who, like the students, represent the future of our country, our world, our education system?

Ed McCarthy

Sending help through Heifer

Pyramid Farms would like to thank all of their customers for their purchase of fresh, local, organic vegetables that helped raise a wonderful gift for Heifer International (www.Heifer.org).

This gift will help 56 families in need all over the world to raise themselves out of poverty by providing 21 flocks of chickens, 21 flocks of ducks/geese, four honeybee hives, four groups of tree seedlings, two goats, two sheep and two pigs.

Thank you so much for helping our second annual fundraiser be so successful!

Matthew Martin
Pyramid Farms


‘Something for everyone’

The House and Senate health-insurance reform bills being debated this week have something for everyone.

The uninsured would have the opportunity to buy affordable insurance or get it for free. The insured would get better quality insurance with fewer exclusions at better prices and no chance of being dropped.

Small businesses would get big help buying insurance for their employees. Medicare recipients would get more help buying prescriptions and no longer have to pay extra to subsidize the minority who get privatized Medicare.

Republicans would get their wish to be able to buy insurance across state lines. Taxpayers would benefit from lower deficits and less waste. (Only individuals making more that $250,000 (Senate bill) or $500,000 (House bill) would pay more.) Both bills would provide assistance in buying insurance to people making up to 400 percent of the poverty line, $88,200 for a family of four.

The bills aren’t perfect. Both allow insurers to charge more for older people; as much as double in the House bill and triple in the Senate. The Senate bill allows for charging smokers as much as 1.5 times as much as non-smokers. Both bills exclude coverage for women in need of abortion. These provisions violate the concept of solidarity that is essential in a system of universal health coverage.

Both bills allow for significant out-of-pocket expenses. The House allows for 30 percent and the Senate 40 percent of expenses to be paid in deductibles and co-pays. People would remain at risk of bankruptcy due to medical costs.

The Senate bill allows insurance companies to remain exempt from federal antitrust laws. This makes cartel formation and price fixing a real possibility.

Join me in calling and/or writing Senators Boxer and Feinstein and letting them know what you like and dislike about these bills.

Craig Vivas
Mt. Shasta

Forgotten but not gone

The June 28 military coup in Honduras has faded from U.S. mainstream news. Apparently, since there have been no bombs, no call to war for U.S. soldiers, not even a civil war within Honduras, the media and U.S. populace alike have lost interest.

But the facts are that the military coup continues, with its repression of nonviolent protestors; continues with spraying gas into the Brazilian embassy where ousted democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya remains as a refugee determined to press for his reinstatement before the elections this month; and continues to threaten and deny the rights of the people and their elected president.

Cathy Webster

The wrong kind of cuts

California’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (a misnomer) has been ordered to reduce its budget, so what does it do?

Does it cut waste, salaries, overtime etc? No! It decides to cut the very programs that studies have shown actually help reduce the prison population. In its infinite wisdom the CDCR has handed out layoff notices to 753 academic teachers and 241 vocational instructors.

What are 165,000 to 173,000 inmates supposed to do with their time? As it is, the vast majority of inmates have no jobs in prison. They sit all day every day doing what? I’ll let your imagination answer that.

Educational, vocational and rehab programs cost pennies on the dollar when compared to the cost of incarceration ($40,000 to $50,000 per inmate per year). Since approximately 70 percent are in for drugs or drug-related crimes and are jobless and undereducated, the smart and cost-effective thing to do would be to increase these preventative programs, not eliminate them.

Larry Phipps

Kudos for cancer awareness

As coordinator of the Think Pink Team, it is with great pride I write to say thank you to those in the Chico community who were involved the breast-cancer awareness activities the last few months.

A breast cancer diagnosis occurs in one out of every eight women in the United States. For every 100 women, one man is diagnosed with the same disease, a disease that if it is caught early has a 98 percent chance of a cure.

This message was emphasized over and over by breast-cancer survivors who hit the runway at “The Celebration” fashion show; by the National Charity League and Love Chico workers who made thousands of pink ribbons; the CSUC soccer teams that suited up in pink to play; the Canyon Oaks women with their Pink Ribbon Open; Delta Sigma Pi’s Pink on the Plaza Day; Enloe’s Cancer Center’s Think Pink Reception; the Diamond W “Tough Enough to Wear Pink” Bull Riding Championships; North State Radiology and KALF radio promoting “Udder Awareness,” while “Blaze” Radio and the Donut Nook created pink ribbon donuts, partnering with numerous coffee shops promoting the early-detection message.

Thanks to Dr. James Schlund and the staff at North State Radiology for giving freely of their time and expertise at their free mammogram clinic last month, and to the American Cancer Society for setting the standards of excellence.

You all have made a difference. Anyone interested in promoting next year’s campaign can contact us at chicothinkpink@aol.com.

Wendy Azevedo

Equal rights for all

We supposedly have a separation of church and state, but with the takeover of the Republican Party by the religious far right we have lost that. They will not rest until we all live in a theocracy.

I don’t understand how groups that have declared themselves morally superior to the rest of us say things in ads that they know are completely false. Unless the Bible I was forced to study as a child had several typos, “Thou shalt not lie” is one of the Ten Commandments, and “Thou shalt not bear false witness” is another. These “morally superior” so-called “Christians” do both in all of their ads!

How permitting the gay couple down the street to marry negatively affects any heterosexual marriage boggles the mind. “It just rubs me the wrong way” is simply not a legitimate argument, and neither is “My church said it’s wrong.”

Everyone deserves to have the same rights. We did not permit the voters to decide the civil rights of any other minority, and we should not permit the voters to decide the rights of gays either. It’s simply not the right thing to do.

Toni Carrell

The dollar goes south

Our government is broke … both in its governance and its financial policies.

Money and lobbyists control the governance to the detriment of the individual, and unlimited printing of money by the Federal Reserve and unfunded government spending lead to the loss of value of the dollar.

The greatest risk to your financial future is the U.S. dollar.

I plan to put my savings into tangible assets including but not limited to silver, gold, commodities and natural resources. Any stocks owned will be related to tangible assets (including real estate) in international companies or growing countries and preferably in Asian countries (China and India mainly), South American countries (mainly Brazil) and countries that are resource rich such as Australia, Russia and Canada.

The populace will have to get very politically active to restore the value of the dollar, and it may be too late.

Norm Dillinger