Letters for December 30, 2004

Correction: Due to an editorial mix-up, our review last week of the pop-rock duo Peech got the names wrong. Wherever Megan Osborn is mentioned, the name should be Chelsea Doheman, and vice-versa. We regret the error. For a corrected version of the story, go to the CN&R Web site at http://newsreview.com/issues/chico/2004-12-23/review.asp. We apologize for any inconvenience this caused.

Comment vs. opinion
It is interesting to note how some seemingly well-educated persons write the CN&R to complain about election results and other matters. When the results do not please them, they then proceed to indicate that the majority didn’t take the time to study the issue, weren’t so inclined, aren’t well informed or have been victimized my some vicious campaign of misinformation. Richard Ek appears to be one such person [“Judges should take action,” Guest comment, Dec. 9.]

I am wondering if the professor has ever considered that perhaps the majority of voters carefully studied the issue, did some research, cast their votes accordingly and simply disagreed with him. In my opinion, such comments should be prefaced with “in my opinion.” Lord help our democracy when those whose opinions differ from others’ are uniformly labeled “not well informed.” I call the process democracy in action that encourages ideas and differences of opinion. Without such differences, we might as well have Saddam as president.

Maurice Picard

Crime time costs
Richard Ek’s guest commentary on Proposition 66 and California prisons was right on target. However, some additional input might be helpful! California’s prison population is currently about 162,000, and the total cast of incarceration is huge (over $5 billion)—especially in light of the state’s difficult budget situation.

Medical care alone for prisoners is nearly $1 billion a year and climbing because of the aging prisoner population. It has been estimated that average annual prisoner costs are over $50,000 for those over age 50 because of increased medical needs. Some of these are sick and elderly prisoners using walkers or wheelchair bound, some with terminal illnesses. Yet many have families willing to take them home. Do we really believe that inmates such as these pose a threat to society?

To keep many such sick and elderly imprisoned at great taxpayer expenses is to me both inhumane and fiscally foolish. The same terms apply to the misapplication of the three-strikes law: inhumane and fiscally foolish. My hope is that those who disagree with me on the humanity issue might pay attention to the fiscal issue. All California taxpayers should.

Howard L. Stensrud

Pros and cons
As an avid disc golfer, I must say I am divided in my convictions over the Upper Bidwell Park disc golf courses. Let me first say that disc golf is a great community activity. It is free; it is outdoors and generally just a great way to spend a few hours with friends and family. I also want to say a big thank-you to those who have worked so hard to create the Upper Park courses, which are some of the finest disc golf courses in California. All of us who play the Upper Park courses have been doing so because of their hard work and dedication to the sport.

Having taught natural history for years, I have a keen eye for changes in natural settings. I have watched for seven years the destruction that disc golf has caused to trees, soils and shrubs. Unlike hiking or mountain biking, which is limited to trails, disc golf necessitates the trampling of large areas in the fairways to retrieve discs. The disc does not always go where you want it to! (Anyone who plays any type of golf will understand). The result is extensive areas of disturbed soil, which invites invasive weeds or even worse or becomes so impacted nothing will grow.

Part of what makes the Upper Park courses challenging is that you must throw around the blue oak and grey pine trees. I have watched as most of the trees in the fairways and near the pins have become denuded of their fine branches only to struggle a few leaves out of the larger branches. In many cases leaf mass has been reduced to 20 percent of normal, and eventually many of the trees die. The fact is that disc golf has a very significant impact on the vegetation and soils of Upper Park.

Frankly, I do not want to see the courses moved. Quite selfishly, I like to be able to play a round of golf with an awesome view of Chico. But, I also love Bidwell Park, and I recognize that it is community property and we must do the studies necessary and have public meetings to find a way to have our disc golf courses and to protect Bidwell Park from the disturbance it creates.

Mark Kessler

It’s war
Re “Blue Christmas,” Letters to the Editor, Dec. 23:

When I was in the Army I thought of myself as a liberal, until I moved back to Chico, that is. What all of the bleeding hearts crying over the poor dead civilians in Iraq don’t seem to understand is that there’s a war going on over there. People die in wars. Shit happens; people are killed on a regular basis. Soldiers, civilians, rebels, cats, dogs, mice and lice all spill their blood out into the same nasty dirt. It sucks, more than any of the people who sit safe at home and cry about it will ever know.

But what the cozy homefolk don’t get is why those “innocent” women, men and children are killed. It’s a war!

Soldiers and marines patrol and do the best they can. They get shot at and they shoot back. They call in mortars and artillery, air support; they kill to live. The “innocents” don’t die because of politics or some cultural butting of heads. They die simply because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time, like everyone else who dies in combat. If anyone is going to be sad over lives lost in that shithole of a country, cry for our countrymen, kids mostly, who are being lost in this misguided mess. Not someone who doesn’t give a flying fuck about you, let alone even knows you exist.

Garth A. Talbott

Fight back
Currently in the United States, corporate PACs and corporate officer contributions to political parties and candidates are legally protected and sanctioned. Millions of dollars from these entities—which, in turn, essentially represent the corporations themselves—went to both Democratic and Republican candidates this past presidential election season.

To those 57 million disenfranchised voters of a more liberal persuasion—myself included—who seek a powerful strategy involving free will that will enable them to battle back the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” that are continually visited upon them by those emboldened voters of the more conservative persuasion, I have a suggestion. Take it to where it hurts the abusers the most, directly to their pocketbooks.

The top-10 highly visible corporations that contributed the largest dollar amounts to Republican coffers during this past presidential election cycle were (in order from highest to lowest level of contributions): Wal-Mart ($2 million), Anheuser-Busch, Home Depot, Outback Steakhouse, Exxon/Mobil, K-Mart, American Airlines, Chevron/Texaco, Hallmark Cards and Target Stores. Exercise your free will and cease doing business with these corporations. Better yet, also write them a letter and tell them why.

Mark Gailey