Letters for February 16, 2006

Out of context
I’m writing to express my heartfelt apology to anyone, elderly or younger, offended by my remarks at Wednesday’s Planning Commission hearing about Enloe Hospital’s expansion proposal. The Enterprise-Record reporter inaccurately quoted me saying, in effect, that I don’t think older people should be flown in by emergency helicopter.

That wasn’t at all what I said or intended. But I used an example that could easily be misunderstood and sound heartless.

I believe that older people (and everyone else) deserve far better access to quality medical care than most can get today, not less access.

What I actually said was to question the wisdom of using any medical procedure costing hundreds of thousands of dollars to save an older person (or anyone) whose life won’t be significantly improved by treatment. My 85-year-old mom recently passed away after deciding against more cancer treatment. Maybe that’s why I chose my example.

These are miserably hard decisions.

I’m upset about Enloe’s proposal to fly 10 loud daily rescue helicopter flights through the “Avenues” neighborhood surrounding the hospital (rated like a bulldozer 50 feet from the house). I consider this an unfair burden on neighbors and proposed moving the helicopter to the old Cohasset Road Community Hospital site, where Enloe bases ambulances. As a planning commissioner, I’m weighing the life-saving medical benefits of having the helicopter at Enloe against the life-disrupting impacts it causes hundreds of residents.

It’s a tough choice and I truly regret any offense I caused by expressing my preference.

Jon Luvaas

Playing politics
With all the bad news we’re subject to daily, how disheartening it was to read that Larry Wahl is attempting to skewer one of our own good men, Jon Luvaas, recommending his removal from the Chico Planning Commission. Anyone who knows Luvaas, even minimally (which Wahl does), recognizes his dedication and zeal to maintaining and improving the quality of life for all Chicoans, including seniors. Certainly Wahl has witnessed Luvaas’ steadfast support for affordable housing projects for seniors and low-income families in Chico. Luvaas is a strong, knowledgeable and outspoken voice on the Planning Commission but Wahl and Luvaas are often at opposite ends of the development spectrum: Wahl is pro-development; Luvaas supports infill development, projects that support the livability of Chico, dislikes sprawl, uncontrolled growth and helicopter noise.

Wahl is using Luvaas’ recent remark to remove a strong, political opponent from the Planning Commission. The disingenuous nature of Wahl’s attack on Luvaas is evident when one looks back in time to the remark Wahl’s fellow City Councilman and political ally, Steve Bertagna, made at a City Council meeting that some felt disparaged Jews. I do not remember Wahl chastising Bertagna as ludicrous, much less requesting he step down from his post. It’s time for Wahl to back off from his blatant political agenda and play fair.

Evanne O’Donnell

Liberation Day
Your recent article about Bert Schapelhouman ["A Good Shepherd,” Feb. 2, 2006] caught my attention immediately. Schapelhouman spent the last year of WWII at Mauthausen–a Nazi concentration camp.

My dad served in the 11th Armored Division (part of General Patton’s army). And it was my dad’s outfit that liberated Mauthausen and saved the 17,000 who were still alive (too late for the 250,000 who perished there).

My dad rarely talked to me about his WWII experience but I remember coming across a shoe box of photos which included the ones from Mauthausen. It was hard to believe as a boy that people did that to other human beings.

Thanks for doing a story on one of the living survivors.

Bob Mulholland

Forced journalism
When I read last week’s article about Mr. Schapelhouman, the Nazi concentration camp survivor, I couldn’t help but picture two eager CN&R reporters walking down the hall toward their editor’s office; one with a compelling human interest story and the other with the weekly Bush-bashing diatribe. They bump into each other and somehow the two stories get mixed together.

My argument is not with the 80-year-old gentleman who obviously experienced and survived what the rest of us couldn’t even begin to imagine; it’s with whoever commingled these two stories and used Mr. Schapelhouman in a very disingenuous fashion. I have seen the pictures of what Nazis did to millions of human beings and it’s horrifying. I see no comparison to that and the humiliating treatment of Iraq prisoners being forced to wear panties on their heads or being told to strip naked and ordered to lie in a pile with other prisoners and have their pictures taken.

I believe you have done Mr. Schapelhouman a disservice by trying to make us think he is really a potential target for the “fascist” Mr. Bush. I think that Mr. Schapelhouman and the many other “Bush haters” concerns would be better focused on the more obvious fascists like the new leader in Iran who claims the Holocaust never even happened.

What this article ends up doing is diminishing Mr. Schapelhouman’s real story and the stories of the countless others who suffered the Nazi terrors.

Chuck Hazzard

Bread beggars
In caricaturing “evangelicals” as intolerant, self-righteous hate-mongers in his Feb. 9, “God Bless America,” Tom Gascoyne ironically caricatures himself as the “nuanced,” “all-accepting,” screaming liberal. The vast majority of the practicing Christians I know are more like beggars who have found a bakery and want to show others where to get some bread, or a music lover who has stumbled across a great CD and wants to share it with her friends. I cringe when a Christian puts his foot in his mouth and misrepresents the Christian community just like I cringe when an American soldier behaves dishonorably and misrepresents the hundreds of thousands of honorable service men and women.

But when Gascoyne paraphrases Dr. McCarthy’s statement that Pastor Lane is “much more thoughtful and complex than she would have expected,” my mind immediately flashes back to the TV commentators of the ‘80s who condescendingly referred to certain African-American athletes as “surprisingly well-spoken.” The prejudice in both comments is obvious and shameful.

With that being said, I can honestly say that five years ago I would have laughed and mocked and caricatured right along with Gascoyne. Personally, I give credit to Jesus for breaking me out of that prison. But it’s not my place to determine anyone’s eternal destination nor to mock people who believe differently than I do. I pray the same epiphany for Gascoyne.

David McKay

Gender bias
I always look forward to reading the News & Review and especially enjoyed your article, “God Bless America.” There was one thing, however, that left me puzzled; you mentioned that Kate McCarthy was attractive and trim, but neglected to reference Pastor David Leeper Moss’ weight or physical attractiveness. Was this an oversight?

Deidra Cross