Letters for February 2, 2012

‘What a loss it would be’

Re “A history of ‘narrow escapes’” (Cover feature, by David Nopel and David Veith, Jan. 26): I thoroughly enjoyed the informative story on the history of Bidwell Mansion.

My wife and I arrived here nearly six years ago from western New York, near Buffalo. We first toured the mansion during the Christmas season of 1966, and we were surprised to learn that John Bidwell was born in Chautauqua County, which is only about 70 miles from where we lived.

What a loss it would be if the state were to carry through with its threat to close the mansion and transfer the contents to Sacramento. It’s a given that many of those items would never be returned to Chico. Such things have a way of becoming “lost.” And it’s anyone’s guess as to what would happen to the mansion and the grounds.

Floyd Stearns

More on Dolan’s new job

Re “Jane Dolan’s new job” (From This Corner, by Robert Speer, Jan. 26): Your assessment is spot on. Jane’s commitment to the environment, to agriculture, and her decades of experience, plus her more recent experience as the executive director of the Sacramento River Conservation Area Forum, certainly qualify her for the position. I am confident she will balance the interests of the public, the agriculture community and the environment in conducting her work.

William Sheridan

The flood will surely come? We live in a big bowl ringed by mountains that has flooded dozens of times over the years? Really, Mr. Speer, are you counting how many times River Road has flooded?

I have lived here in the North Valley for almost 50 years, and I just don’t recall any catastrophic flood that has caused enough damage to require flood insurance. Only once in Durham in 1955, but that was before the Butte Creek levee was built.

Yes, many levees are old and weak, but here in the North State a lot of them have been deemed sound, even though most water encroachments only get to the high-water marks and rarely touch the actual levees.

The reason for my letter was not to take a stab at Jane Dolan, but only to affirm my belief that flood-insurance money benefits those who make money off of taxpayers. In this economy, it is very hard for a family to come up with $1,000 to $2,000 around Christmastime every year, when you know damn well the chances of seeing water outside your front door are slim to none here.

Of course, I know your column was only in defense of Jane Dolan and not directed at me. We all take care of each other; that is how she was handed this “retirement” job by our governor. Hopefully, we don’t see the construction of an ark on East Second Street, but just to be safe, Noah, maybe you should wear your swim vest to work.

Michael Strick

Jane Dolan’s Sac River job was handed to her by one of her rich closest friends, a progressive liberal. She’s an expert after a year on the job? Are you serious? Her appointment was a political payoff that Bob Mulholland got giving both of them those free taxpayer monies. Fat Cat City.

Jane’s never had to apply for or go up against another qualified person for a job ever outside of politics. Democrats want us to pay more taxes to make her richer?

Rick Clements

Those perplexing plastic bags

Re “Perplexing plastic” (Newslines, by Meredith J. Graham, Jan. 19): The proposed ban on plastic bags in Chico places an unfair financial burden on people who are on public assistance or fixed incomes. Also, I cannot see how such an ordinance can be enforced without wasting additional financial resources that the city of Chico does not have.

Instead of banning plastic bags, I suggest the following strategies: 1.) Distribute Chico bags or similar reusable bags to residents of the city, targeting in particular the elderly and residents on public assistance. 2.) Offer financial incentives to bring plastic bags to the recycling center—for example, a penny for each bag returned. 3.) Encourage businesses to offer discounts to customers who bring their own bags. 4.) Create an educational campaign that shows the advantages of returning/recycling/ reusing plastic bags.

I think that all of these would ultimately reduce the volume of plastic bags in the waste stream, and for a much lower cost than enacting legislation to ban bags.

Hope Munro Smith

Re “Bag ban’s bad impact” (Letters, by Michael Jones, Jan. 19): I have read Mr. Jones’ letters to both Chico newspapers with interest for years, and he has made some very good points on occasion. However, his letter concerning reusable bags is a total whiff.

Everyone has room, both in their cars and their homes, for several reusable bags. Further, if one is careful loading and unloading one’s groceries, one needn’t wash ’em more than once per year. Think about the number of trips you make to grocery, convenience and hardware stores each year. How many bags is that?

We all simply must begin to make changes to unnecessary, resource-consuming habits. Sorry, Michael, but this time you sound like just another lazy, stubborn, convenience-addicted American consumer.

Robert W. MacKenzie

Re “Problem bigger than bags” (Letters, by Charles Donaldson, Jan. 26): Mr. Donaldson ends his letter by urging us to get rid of grocery plastic bags, but not to stop there. This retired chemistry professor agrees with Mr. Donaldson’s plea to get rid of grocery plastic bags. It is not clear what he means to not stop there.

Yes, the problem is bigger if one realizes that all plastic material is manufactured from the fossil crude used in refineries to get the gas used in cars. The making of all plastic also releases greenhouse gases. Indeed, why should we not heed warnings not to add to the curse of fossil fuels?

In that sense, yes, the problem is bigger than bags.

Brahama D. Sharma

A dangerous chemical

Re “The cost of clean air” (Newslines, by Vic Cantu, Jan. 19): I was dumbfounded by the whiney story Dave Maurer and Jesse Meyers told about the new health and safety law protecting consumers.

Formaldehyde is one very dangerous chemical that is a known toxin, allergen and carcinogen to avoid even in minute quantities. The International Agency for Research on Cancer and the National Toxicology Program have both classified formaldehyde as a known human carcinogen. Continuous exposure to formaldehyde is associated with the lethal diseases myeloid leukemia and nasopharyngeal cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.

A recent study has found a strong association between exposure to formaldehyde and the development of childhood asthma, which is the most common chronic disease among children in the United States. Almost 7 million children in the U.S. suffer from asthma, and children under 5 are experiencing the highest rate of increase, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC estimates asthma cost the U.S. about $50.1 billion in 2007.

These greedy men are a threat to their customers’ health and to our community. Instead of trying to provide a safe and quality product, they whine and blame the government for exposing their dangerous merchandise. They show no respect for human life by knowingly selling sickening and toxic merchandise and vowing to repeal the consumer law protecting innocent customers. These men should be tarred and feathered and run out of town.

Dave Garcia

Sweet and sour

Re “Sugary-drink tax” (The Pulse, Jan. 19): The statistics from the UCSF study are really shocking, and I believe it is important to document how much of an impact sweetened beverages can have on your health and on the health of our communities.

I work for the Network for a Healthy California, a program that encourages healthy lifestyles. One of our campaigns, ReThink Your Drink, focuses on this exact concern. The campaign educates and encourages individuals of all ages to make healthier beverage choices.

Beverages with added sugar add calories with little nutrition and can cause tooth decay and weight gain. Water is always the smartest drink choice. It’s calorie free, fat free and sugar free!

Katie Wilhelm

School calendar is costly

Re “School calendar problems” (Letters, by Jeff Merrell, Jan. 26): The Jan. 2 school absences Mr. Merrell discusses might have more impact if they were converted into lost revenue figures.

School districts are funded based on the average daily attendance (ADA) of students. Each day a student does not attend is a loss of over $30 in funding. The school district lost $35,970 on just that one day. That could have paid the salary of a couple of classroom aides or a school secretary or the purchase of classroom supplies or for air conditioning.

How much money was lost around Easter 2011, or for the time between the August start of school and Labor Day in 2011, because parents chose to take their children out of school for family vacations? A more family-friendly school calendar would have prevented these ADA losses.

A primary duty of school boards is to be fiscally responsible. Passing up $34,970 in ADA in one day is not being fiscally responsible. Additionally, “The role of the board is to be responsive to the values, beliefs and priorities of its community” (California School Boards Association, School Board Leadership). The community it serves is children and parents, not organizations or employers such as the university. Decisions should be made that benefit the many and not the few.

Linda Dunstan

Story is touching

Re “Bond of brothers” (Cover feature, by Ken Smith, Jan. 12): This is a touching, gutsy, personal story that gives readers insight on a topic that is way overlooked in our society: mental/behavioral health.

As someone looking to become a special-education teacher in the near future, I have visited local classrooms and seen the issue firsthand. More should be done for these people of all ages, because I see abandonment.

Mr. Smith and his girlfriend, Kate, have jobs; looking after Craig is another full-time job that is mandatory. There are no sick days and no vacation pay. I wish them all well and thank Mr. Smith for writing this story and the CN&R for publishing it.

Hector Teran