Letters for December 5, 2002

Words of Ozz
I am writing to thank Chris Baldwin for his article [“Karaoke dreams,” cover story, Nov. 14]. It was well-crafted, and I enjoyed reading his interpretation of part of my and other locals’ lives in karaoke. The one point I felt the article missed, however, and was part of my being interviewed by him, is how when we perform in Chico establishments our First Amendment rights and our artistic freedom of expression are robbed from us.

I have been told not to say “fuck” or other such offensive words, yet I have attended live band performances at the same clubs, and those bands used all the offensive language they wanted. Why should a live band be allowed to use the words that I and other karaoke performers are forbidden to use? It’s bars and clubs we’re talking about. There are only supposed to be adults there. So what’s the big problem?

I feel like I’m being repressed and censored, and it’s not fair. Sometimes even the karaoke jockeys use the very words that we performers have been told we can’t use. I think either everyone should be allowed to speak freely or everyone should be censored. No one should be allowed “special treatment.”

Michael “the Ozzman” Dracul

Power of the pen
Back in mid-May, the CN&R published a letter I wrote critical of the management of the Chico Food 4 Less store. In that letter, I protested the termination of popular clerk Kyle Knecht, who was fired for creating and displaying a cartoon critical of Fleming Cos., the owners of Food 4 Less.

The editor actually toned down my comments in that letter and removed my direct references to Brian Lee, the Food 4 Less manager who initiated the firing of Knecht. It wasn’t my usual muckraking letter when published but rather a mild protest at best.

Until today, I have not had any direct contact with Mr. Lee since writing my letter. Going through the express checkout today, however, I encountered Lee and his assistant and queried them whether the new Food 4 Less owners (Fleming is leaving the retail grocery business) were planning any management changes. I felt it was a fair question, since our family spends about $500 per month at Food 4 Less.

Mr. Lee then followed me out of the store and confronted me. Mr. Lee told me that I was unwelcome in his store and that if I ever returned he would have his store security folks remove me and have me arrested. This is a normal policy for convicted shoplifters, but not for editorial letter writers. Even Safeway, despite my steady criticism of being asked for a Safeway card, has not thrown me out.

While I really enjoy shopping at Food 4 Less and its friendly non-management staff, I’ll now take my shopping elsewhere as ordered by Mr. Lee. He has created an atmosphere of fear for many employees, and apparently he now considers customers fair game, as well.

During his outburst, my only response to Mr. Lee was an encouragement to continue reading the CN&R Letters.

Ronald Angle

Speech impediment
I was disappointed to read Josh Indar’s interpretation of my speech Nov. 16 at the rally downtown ["The blame game,” Newslines, Nov. 11]. Although I did point out the inequities of how some women are prosecuted in Butte County, the main thrust of my comments was the inequities of justice in Butte County regardless of gender. The inequities I spoke of had to do with different justice for people of different social and economic status.

This is a great concern in the case now being investigated by the District Attorney’s Office. I hope that our community watches carefully who is being charged, who is not and why. I hope that in their zeal to give the community a conviction, the DA doesn’t focus all the charges on one young man and allow others to become witnesses for the prosecution. I truly hope the people of Butte County will not stand for such a ploy. I am strongly concerned that the uproar surrounding Mr. Ramsey and the talk of recall might taint this case and the way it will be prosecuted.

I’m sure he is very anxious to show the community how tough he will be in the prosecution of at least one of the accused. I am also concerned that some of the media continue to print detailed and graphic reports of each new circumstance in this case. There is a way to inform without rehashing what we all know. I’d like to extend my heartfelt sympathy and prayers to all of the families touched by this tragedy.

Loretta J. Metcalf

The Rick and John show
Rick Keene owes an apology to Will Bishop, his family and the people of Butte County for dismissing out of hand the battery charges against Keene’s campaign manager, John Gillander, regarding the incident with Will Bishop, as stated recently in the Chico News & Review [“Political operative arrested,” Newslines, Nov. 21].

Battery is a serious criminal charge, and for Keene to cover up for his employee, who has been convicted twice before, is outrageous!

I would urge Keene to attend the trial of Gillander and apologize to everyone. Keene has become what professionals would call an enabler for Gillander.

And Mr. Keene should refrain from making references to me with John Gillander. Before going to Vietnam with the 101st Airborne, I was stationed at a stockade guarding criminals, including those convicted of battery.

Bob Mulholland

No loyalty
After reading your last column [Inside view, “Words of wisdom, Nov. 27] I became furious that you would refer to owning dogs as “like being the parent of a mentally retarded child.” Saying that offends both dog lovers and parents. If you cannot manage to take care of a dog by feeding it and walking it once in a while, you probably aren’t capable of taking care of children, regardless of their handicaps.

It’s sad that you are comparing a mentally retarded child to a dog. You are an ignorant person who obviously has never heard of the saying “a man’s best friend.” As I gaze into my dog’s eyes, I see honesty, loyalty and respect, which are something I will never see from Tom Gascoyne.

Roger Thomas

Friends recalled
It’s hard when a friend dies. When the friend is also a volunteer it’s hard on the community. Legal Services of Northern California is having to say good-bye to two friends, two of its volunteers, Andy Bushard and Peggy McGinnis. Although Andy died almost two years ago, we are reminded of his death because of this week’s sentencing of his murderer. Andy was someone who, once you became his friend, you knew he was your friend for life. He would do anything to help you out. He would do anything to help out the poor and less fortunate. I remember the Christmas before he died he was out buying Christmas presents for poor kids. That was Andy.

Peggy McGinnis passed away recently due to health problems. Peggy was a friend and volunteer at Legal Services for many years. Less vibrant than Andy, she had just the same effect on people. She was a permanent fixture at the Pro Bono Orders Clinic. Every Thursday, Peggy would be helping people who couldn’t afford an attorney prepare their rders. Whatever the task, Peggy did it with a smile. She liked being a volunteer. We liked having her around.

Both of our friends died young. Both had many more years to contribute to life. They will both be missed by our office, and they both will be missed by the community of Chico.

Shelly Simonin
Legal Services of Northern California Chico