Letters for December 30, 2010

Throw it open to all

Editor’s note: This letter was referenced in my From This Corner column (“Backs to the Wahl”) but inadvertently was cut from the final version of the Letters section.—Robert Speer

I’m hard pressed to recall an appointment of an election loser to fill a Chico City Council vacancy created by death, resignation or other departure. Over the past 25 years I do recall two instances when the council did appoint two individuals to fill vacancies, neither of whom ran in the prior election.

Cheryl Lange completed the term of the deceased Bill Johnston, who won a special election when council was split on an appointment. Jim Owens was appointed to fill a vacancy created when Mary Ann Houx resigned to fill a county supervisor seat. Both served with distinction. Owens ran in and won a subsequent election.

Chuck Nelson and Jim Fletcher were appointed, and I don’t think either ran in the prior election. Coleen Jarvis’ death occurred close to a regular election, so that vacancy rolled into the normal cycle.

History favors an open-to-all appointment process.

Ed McLaughlin

Wind power takes a hit

Dec. 14 was a sad day for farmers’ and ranchers’ rights in Butte County. The Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to implement Wind Turbine Ordinance ZCA10-0004. It will mean the end of small wind power in the county.

The board has also redefined small wind power. Small wind power is classified, in the industry, as 100kw (kilowatts) or smaller. Butte County now defines it as 20kw or smaller. This is an important division because the county requires a major use permit on any wind project over 20kw, an added $10,000 for additional permit fee and consultation.

That, however, will be a moot point, as the small-wind industry will not be able to meet Butte County’s new sound requirements. I took a sound reading of the supervisors’ chambers; with not one person talking, the room was not quiet enough for their 45dba threshold. The new ordinance would require [wind turbines making as much noise as] the conference room to be 1,000 feet away from any residence, other than the owners’.

Small wind is one of the only feasible ways farmers can leverage their energy expense. Sorry, Butte County.

Scott Jackson
President, Power Shacks Inc.


‘Something needs to be done’

Re “Ripped apart at the seams” (Cover story, by Meredith J. Cooper, Dec. 16):

I have been fighting CPS in Glenn County for years, even getting parents to picket the courthouse to get their children back. There should be a society or program set up to protect parents who find themselves in these unfortunate circumstances, so they can get the proper advice and support to keep their families together. The program definitely should not be run by CPS.

You would think parents would get good advice from their court-appointed attorneys; not so. The attorneys are in the game for the money, too, as their caseloads are so full they usually don’t have the time to properly represent their court-appointed clients.

Who loses? The children, who are placed with foster parents who are also in it for the money. Thinking their parents don’t care about them, the children become lost souls as the family unit is left broken.

This abuse is happening not only in Butte and Glenn counties, but all over the nation, as well. What you wrote in your article is the truth. Something needs to be done, and we taxpayers are paying for CPS to take our children and even rewarding them when the child stays in the system.

S. Scheer

Violence and marijuana

Re “Pot shots” (Newslines, by Meredith J. Cooper, Dec. 23):

The first thing I notice about Robert Galia is he looks old beyond his years, most likely due to his substance abuse. And I am really tired of his blanket statements, such as that 99 percent of cannabis users are nonviolent.

If this is the case, why do so many of the pot growers I have come into contact with own an arsenal of guns? And is this statement in regard to the nonviolent cannabis users/growers in our country or Mexico or both?

Cynthia Stevenson

In Panama’s defense …

Re “Potty raid at Panama’s” (Downstroke, Dec. 16):

I am a downtown business owner. I am writing this letter in defense of the Panama Grill and Café family—and yes, it is a family that includes a majority of the downtown community. It amazes me how something can be blown out of proportion so quickly simply because people are never told the facts or simply don’t want to hear the facts and instead are inclined to come to their own conclusions.

Those of us who personally know the management and employees know that all of them are good, honest, hardworking people.

I am not disputing that a bad choice was made, but it amazes me how people can lead their lives making good choices and decisions, but one bad choice can send their world crashing down around them.

If you owned your own business and were constantly subjected to repairing vandalized equipment, worrying about violations for things you couldn’t prevent, and trying to keep your patrons safe, what would you do? I’m sure many of the small-business owners in Chico would agree that installing a surveillance system is reasonable.

If you have ever been to Panama’s and had a burger and a tea or been out to the U-Bar for a night on the town, the people who served you and gave you that experience are good people who deserve the benefit of the doubt, because one day it might be your mistake and you may need the help of your friends, family or community.

Brenda Bergland

Back opinion with facts

Re “Get your facts straight” (From This Corner, by Robert Speer, Dec. 16):

I am like many members of our community, conservative in some aspects, liberal in others. I find myself at odds with any position that relies on twisted facts and misleading information. They have the opposite of their intended effect.

Please, [give] the facts as accurate as possible when expressing an opinion. This trait is known as integrity.

Wayne Rice

Witness to betrayal

Re “A cautionary tale from a local businessman” (Newslines, by Vic Cantu, Dec. 23):

I worked for Dave [Maurer[ from the store’s beginning in 1975. He was a CSUC student who had a vision, a plan and tons of work ethic and energy. For the next 14 years I observed the hardest working (usually six to seven days a week) guy who was extremely honest and trusted everyone he employed and sacrificed a lot to make his business work.

Then a few years later I heard about this [embezzlement] and felt he should be the last person to receive this kind of blow. The worst part was that it came from the person I believe he trusted the most, the one who he trusted deeply to handle his finances.

Now that he’s in his 50s, I see that what he lost would nicely equate to his retirement, which he certainly deserves but will never receive. It is huge shame!

Terry Petapiece

Taxpayer’s view of public pay

Some public employees buy newspaper ads to put forward their case. I am compelled to add to this public conversation.

I am a local businessman, a licensed contractor with 38 years in my trade. I have won national awards and work with some of the leading businesses in the area. I have four employees and pay a significant percentage of my cash flow to taxes.

In 2008 my business income was reduced by 30 percent, and in 2009 reduced again by another 20 percent. In 2010 so far it is down again from 2009.

I am a taxpayer whose income pays public employees’ pay.

Charles Withuhn

No smoking in parks

I am an eighth-grade student attending Bidwell Junior High School. I am also part of the KLEAN organization, or Kids Leading Everyone Against Nicotine.

Learning about secondhand smoke and having recently picked up cigarette butts, I am becoming increasingly aware of the problems connected to secondhand smoke. I am here to ask that we ban smoking from all parks.

Some of the main reasons we go to parks are to run (or exercise), spend time with family and friends or let kids play. All of these can be, and are, affected by secondhand smoke.

It’s a simple solution: no more smoking in parks.

Hanne Henriksen

CUSD’s ‘impenetrable fortress’

I failed. After being told how difficult it was to obtain public records from the Chico Unified School District, I said that had to be preposterous. “It has to be a simple process,” I thought.

I soon learned that when the grand jury said it was a nightmare to request records from CUSD, a single citizen would find it impossible. I was CEO of a large corporation, friendly and had no history of interaction with CUSD. I was told, however, that as soon as I requested records, I would be subjected to retaliation and hostile interactions. Again, ridiculous, I foolishly thought.

Simple requests were ignored. Letters and reminders had to be written and rewritten. When there was no response, I contacted board members. No response. Without ever providing my phone number, I received an intimidating phone call from a district lawyer grilling me on personal questions.

Despite instructions, the district refused to send responses to the requested address. I received a district letter asking me to provide them with my travel plans, when I would be home or not. I likened it to those e-mails from Africa asking to send my bank account numbers. I could see what the grand jury experienced.

After calling the superintendent and also not receiving an answer, or hearing hang ups as soon as requests for records was mentioned, I realize they’d built an impenetrable fortress.

The system is supposed to be transparent and easy. It was a horrible experience.

Lynn Darst