Letters for February 12, 2009

Editorial sends vital message …
Re: “Grow up, already” (Editorial, CN&R, Feb. 5):

I appreciated the editorial about the most recent bonfire/riots in Chico. As a night nurse in the ER of the former Chico Community Hospital, I wish I had a dollar for every drunk student I babysat overnight to prevent them from aspirating their own vomit, or keep them breathing through the night. I wanted to videotape them so that I could send them home with a souvenir of themselves moaning and retching like the disgusting, pathetic fools that they were.

Please urge all parents to view every YouTube video to see if they can identify their children and chastise them severely. All students should demonstrate their disdain for such behavior by walking away immediately instead of gawking and hooting “Chi-co! Chi-co!”

Cat Cardinalli

… or is it a hypocritical one?
I was lining the bottom of my squirrel cage when I noticed your recent editorial lambasting those fun-loving students. Boy, talk about a double standard! When a bunch of disc golfers choose to destroy the formally and formerly protected natural conditions of historic Bidwell Park in the name of fun, you back ’em up like they were saints. But when a few exuberant youth jump through the fire—as seen on YouTube—you old fuddy-duddies cry foul.

Personally, I don’t see any songbirds displaced by this urban right of passage. In fact, drunken conflict with the cops has been going on in this town for at least as long as disc golf at Highway 32, so get over it.

What else are these college kids gonna do on a Friday or Saturday night, when their CSUC library is closed? In fact, why don’t you fess up: Throwing bottles at cops is an ideal way to bolster one’s sense of self entitlement so important to our society and is the perfect gateway experience to bashing the ecosystem. Good work, News & Review!

Randy Abbott

Oroville PD should right this wrong
Re: “Caught in the cracks” (Newslines, by Kathy Burns, CN&R, Feb. 5):

The news report about the [disabled] guy who got beat up by the cops was a little heartbreaking because this whole thing could have been avoided through questions like, “Were you part of the fight? Have you been drinking?”

If this is the first time these policemen have talked to the guy, then on what basis did they decide he was drunk? A simple breath test could have stopped this from going any further. Many people have trouble speaking.

I’m sure we can all learn from this that not all policemen are bad. If they drop the charges, we can get on with our lives in a world where mistakes are made.

Brad Davis
Centerville, Iowa

Poverty’s new face(s)
Re: “Hope in hard times” (In My Eyes, by Evan Tuchinsky, CN&R, Feb. 5):

I want to extend my appreciation for your column. I concur with you that people need to look beyond the statistics about unemployment, business closures, bankruptcy, etc., to see that each digit represents a real-life story. More and more of these real-life stories are about our own friends, families and neighbors.

During the past year, the Community Employment Centers in Chico and Oroville have seen a 47 percent increase in the number of people seeking assistance due to job loss, foreclosures, bankruptcy, underemployment, loss of health-care benefits, to name a few. There is a new “face” on poverty as we see people with 10, 15 and 20 years of stable job history now in a position where they must seek temporary assistance for themselves and their families to avoid homelessness and put food on the table.

At the same time that we are seeing an unprecedented demand for services due to the declining economy, state funding for health and social-service programs is being reduced. These services play a critical role in providing temporary assistance, support and training so that families can remain in their homes and find and maintain employment.

Now is not the time to reduce the very services needed to help our community weather this current fiscal crisis.

Cathi Grams
director, Butte County Employment & Social Services

Chief concerns (cont’d)
Re: “More blunt questions about chief” (Letters, CN&R, Feb. 5):

Twenty-seven years have passed since I left law enforcement, so I can’t speak with authority on the current status of Public Safety Retirement. But consider a few things:

If Chico P.D. Chief Hagerty retired from Ridgecrest, what is his yearly income? What would the combined retirements’ income be [Ridgecrest and Chico]? If Hagerty were to instead seek and be awarded disability retirement (complaint of back problems), what percent of salary would he receive (combining disability retirement and Ridgecrest retirement)?

When I used to do research for the Peace Officer Research Association of California, during contract negotiations, we tracked upper-echelon peace officers (lieutenant and above) who retired from one agency and became chief at another agency. Average tenure was a little more than five years, and then many of them retired on disability, most times stress-related.

Did Chief Hagerty have back problems when he left Ridgecrest? If he did, apparently not bad enough to warrant disability retirement. If he did and was hired anyway, somebody blundered for not recognizing the potential claim.

Whether he did or he didn’t have back problems when hired locally, then what on-duty incident in Chico caused his current health issue? Chiefs should be considered generals (they certainly act like them): You’d better be mentally stable enough to deal with the daily bullshit without claiming migraine.

Long story short: Disability retirement pays a helluva lot more and has superb tax benefits. Disability retirements at a chief level should always be scrutinized. In this case, I mix metaphors: Something smells like a dead red herring.

Ray Simmons

Chemistry lesson
Re: “Cleaning green” (GreenWays, by Ted Cox, CN&R, Feb. 5):

This retired chemistry professor has never been enamored by the variety of “cleaning products” seductively packaged. The story has the right intent; it falls prey to the very environmentally harmful ends it is trying to teach us against.

Using baking soda and vinegar are not the best environmentally friendly alternatives if one delves deeper into the manufacture of these products. Yes, these are household favorites, but they [like commercial cleaning products] require very “complex chemical processes” to manufacture.

The manufacture of baking soda deals with hazardous chemicals and large amounts of energy, derived from the combustion of “fossil fuel.” To make vinegar, one needs copious amounts of sugar, containing raw products to be fermented, releasing copious amounts of “greenhouse gas.” Of course, the petrochemical route is available with similar drawbacks.

It is a vicious cycle. The best advice provided in the article: To use any type of cleaning product, one must use the least amounts to be most effective not only cost-wise but also environmentally.

Lastly, it is dangerous to be carried away by words like “natural” and/or “organic"—to always accept that these are best friends of us all on this planet.

Brahama D. Sharma

State’s bane: Prop 13
The fiscal nightmare that is California’s budget situation can easily be fixed by repealing or amending Prop 13, which has capped property taxes for more than 30 years. Long-time homeowners and, to an even greater extent, commercial property owners have not seen a property-tax increase in this time, although their property values have increased immensely.

Warren Buffett advised Gov. Schwarzenegger in 2003 to attempt to amend this outdated law, citing his own homes in Laguna Beach as prime examples. Buffett purchased the first home in the 1970s and it was valued in 2004 at $4 million. It carried taxes of $2,264 in 2003. The second property was purchased in the 1990s, was valued at “only” $2 million and carried taxes of $12,002.

This disparity is ridiculous. Keep our police and firefighters on duty. Save our schools. Repeal or amend Prop 13.

Liz Merry

Change? What change?
Three weeks into Obama’s term, I see that he has made BIG changes: [appointees for] cabinet-level secretaries are looking at jail and tax liens. Believe me, the only thing he has not changed is putting the usual list of suspects to positions of authority and responsibility.

In a way, Obama is a good thing—with so many first-time voters, a real lesson in politics, history, finance and human relations. These voters are like first-time car buyers: They learn from their mistakes and don’t make them again.

If this is the best the man can do in three weeks with a friendly news industry backing him up, the next four years should be interesting. See you on the other side.

Ken Babbitt

Re: “Belt-tightening at local papers” (Downstroke, CN&R, Feb. 5): An explanation of cuts at MediaNews Group papers gave a pay-rate percentage that implied an annual calculation. We should have stated that these furloughs represent a 12 percent reduction over the remaining two months of the quarter. We apologize for the imprecision, which has been corrected online.