Letters for February 7, 2013

Will supes break the law?

Re “A grand compromise” (Newslines, by Ken Smith, Jan. 24):

On Feb. 12, the Butte County Board of Supervisors will consider a new medical-marijuana ordinance. Last June, the voters of Butte County rejected a similar growing ordinance by an overwhelming majority. It appears that this fact has been forgotten.

Passage of this ordinance would violate California Elections Code Section 9241, which clearly states that if “a majority of the voters voting on the ordinance do not vote in favor of it, the ordinance shall not again be enacted by the legislative body for a period of one year.”

If the Board of Supervisors cannot see the justice in waiting the full calendar year required by law before passing a similar ordinance, we will have no choice but to use the many political and legal options at our disposal to ensure that the rights of Butte County citizens are not trampled.

Jessica Allen and Kelly Meagher

Good-bye, good friend

Patrick Yang, my friend and neighbor at the Chico Certified Farmers’ Market for many years, passed away early this morning [Feb. 1] surrounded by family and friends. Patrick had fought his courageous battle against cancer for several months now. Patrick Yang—a gentleman and a gentle man. Patrick Haseng Yang, RIP.

Chris Copley
Chris’ Egg Farm


Editor’s note: The CN&R wrote about Patrick Yang in a March 24, 2011, Greenways feature story, “Fresh vs. fast,” by Alastair Bland. See The Greenhouse, page 15, for more on Mr. Yang.

Corruption in the prisons

Re “Unprepared for prison oversight” (Pulse, Jan. 31):

I worked at California Men’s Colony state prison. Reporting abuse was punished by forced resignations and unfair firings. I saw inmates being given instructions to harm state workers’ families and provided with all the intelligence needed to do just that. Supervisors were well aware of the practices but did nothing to stop it. The cost in money, human suffering and even lives does nothing to help California.

Substandard health care is very expensive, creates sick inmates out of healthy ones and was the rule, not the exception. This was the fault of high-ranking corrections officers. Health-care supervisors, unwilling to challenge the long-running unethical practices, also bear responsibility.

Paul Spector
Pismo Beach

He’s her boss

Re “Taber corrects the record” (Letters, Jan. 31):

As a taxpayer in Butte County, I hope that Ms. Taber considers Supervisor Wahl as the immediate supervisor of her part-time employment duties. I also hope Ms. Taber can forgive someone if they use normal verbal shorthand and call Mr. Wahl her employer.

Dmitri Jeziorski

City shake-up: three views

Re “Shake-up at City Hall” (From This Corner, by Robert Speer, Jan. 31):

In the military, officers are held accountable for morale. In the public sector, morale is often viewed with disdain: “Hey, they’re getting paid—be happy.” Poor-morale discussions are relegated to the water cooler, anonymous emails and conversations with news media in hopes the needle will move toward full, or at least be recognized as running on empty.

Mr. Nakamura made a classic management mistake: He let a valued longtime employee leave without recognizing his service or clarifying the situation. Remaining city employees are likely wondering if they will be the next ones treated as train car luggage.

Bill Mash

Chico has a new city manager, one recruited from outside the city. Now the newcomer has announced that he will put the axe to seven department heads in a drastic restructuring of city government.

There has already been one significant casualty of the arrival of Brian Nakamura: the recent abrupt resignation of Assistant City Manager John Rucker. A former Police Department captain, Rucker was one of the more respected people in city government.

His departure may have been a hint of things to come. Clearly, Nakamura is ready to do things his way. Whether he has the unanimous support of the City Council remains to be seen. I doubt if rank-and-file employees are cheering his arrival.

Ron Angle

I respectfully disagree with Robert Speer’s landing point on this issue regardless of specifics regarding Rucker’s departure. His high-level source’s interpretation of “morale” might be interpreted by other reasonably informed folks like me as an entitlement to do “whatever whenever.”

Many city employees at all levels are competent, creative, and willing to collaborate and communicate on a timely basis. I’ve personally witnessed such and have been fairly deeply involved on occasion. However, the most incompetent, least timely, most outrightly dishonest performance I’ve ever witnessed from a “high-level” public employee/manager was from a city of Chico employee who retired a few years back. To read that he was later hired back as an annuitant to perform other duties for the city almost made me sick.

For many of my 43-plus years in Chico I have been supportive of the city and its employees. Starting with the experience above I have been skeptical. I’m an optimist and foresee that whatever comes out of current hard decisions will clearly be better for our community. I agree that the greater the transparency and detail, the better.

Abe Baily

Why no mention?

Re “Gunshots on Gun Day” (From This Corner, Jan. 24):

In your gun-control column, your references paint a one-sided picture. Why not mention the restaurant/movie theater shooting last month in San Antonio in which a gunman was stopped by an off-duty officer before he could kill anyone? Oh yeah, that’s because it doesn’t fit your (or the national news media’s) agenda (that having a gun actually saved lives).

That’s why it was only reported locally, even though the officer was awarded a Medal of Valor for her actions. Now, if she hadn’t been there with her gun, several people may have died. Then it would have been a national story.

Jim Peplow

Editor’s note: The issue isn’t armed police officers, it’s armed civilians. As Mother Jones magazine has shown, not one of the 62 mass killings in America during the past 30 years has been stopped by an armed civilian. And on the two occasions when armed civilians have intervened, one was gravely wounded and the other killed.

Obama: ‘Attila the Hen’

Mr. Obama plans to meet with selected law-enforcement officials to garner support for gun control. Resisting that movement is the Utah Sheriffs’ Association, who sent a letter to Obama opposing any move by federal authorities to take from Utah citizens the constitutional right protected under the Second Amendment.

The sheriffs opined that firearms are instruments, valuable and potentially dangerous, but malevolent souls will always “exploit valuable instruments in the pursuit of evil.” They were unanimous that “lawful violence must sometimes be employed to deter and stop criminal violence.” They cautioned Obama to discuss the issue of gun control openly in Congress and to not use executive orders to silence opposition. Pointedly warning Obama to “…remember the Founders of this great nation created the … Bill of Rights, in an effort to protect citizens from all forms of tyrannical subjugation.”

The sheriffs’ position: “No federal official will be permitted to descend upon our constituents and take from them” what the Bill of Rights guarantees, adding, “We … are prepared to trade our lives for the preservation of its traditional interpretation.”

Wiggly bottomed cartoon liberals elected Obama, but he is not anointed. Rather, he is Attila the Hen, finding trouble everywhere, diagnosing it wrongly, and applying unsuitable remedies. His form of gun control is one.

Raymond Simmons

Money at the top

The GOP and the Tea Party are using popular prejudice, false claims and unrealistic promises to manipulate uninformed and gullible citizens. Their lust for power, insatiable greed and fanatical ambition are self-destructive and will likely take the rest of us down with them.

The systematic autocratic obstruction of democratic principles is destroying the middle class. A productively engaged active middle class is necessary for good government. Those who produce and serve generate the wealth of this nation. The corporate-owned politicians, CEOs, stockbrokers, money brokers and their ilk parasitically siphon off the wealth of those who work for a living.

Our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it. Uncle Sam is so riddled with the aforementioned parasites he’s on his knees gasping for air.

Mother Earth is suffering life threatening disease brought on by irresponsible and reckless exploitation of natural resources and over-population. Atmospheric and terrestrial pollution is a very real threat to life as we know it.

Future generations will be overwhelmed by the insoluble dilemma brought about by these conditions. Those who support arming civilians with military weaponry should be ashamed of their paranoid fantasies.

Jay Young

Pot’s bad health effects

Re “Is marijuana medicine?” (Streetalk, Jan. 17):

Your question might have been more useful if phrased: “Is marijuana good medicine?” All your respondents gave “marijuana as medicine” an unqualified thumbs-up. The most recent (2008) U.S. statistics indicate that one in 21 hospitalizations in this country is due to adverse reactions to doctor-prescribed medication. It made me wonder if marijuana, as medicine, might be an exception to this statistic.

Your Jan. 17 article on the legalization of marijuana [“Taking the high road,” Cover story, by David Downs] describes the legalization efforts being made by numerous organizations, including NORML.

NORML’s website addresses the health issue by referencing the British medical journal The Lancet: “The smoking of cannabis, even long-term, is not harmful to health.” However, this reference is to a November 1995 editorial. Not referenced by NORML is an Oct. 17, 2009 article in The Lancet that reviewed world-wide research.

The article noted that studies in Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany and New Zealand found that 13 percent of schizophrenia cases could have been averted if cannabis use was prevented.

The CN&R might want to report on the known adverse effects of cannabis use.

John Polivka

Distasteful, dishonest and …

Recently, I took the liberty of reminding Congressman Doug LaMalfa of a promise he made during the congressional primary campaign to vote against any proposed increase in the nation’s debt ceiling.

This was a promise I would not soon forget. Turns out, though, Doug’s memory isn’t quite as reliable.

Knowing a vote to increase the debt ceiling would likely be one of LaMalfa’s first important votes, I wondered if he would keep his promise or knuckle under to the pressures of party politics.

To no surprise, Doug choose to cozy up to party leadership when he cast his vote in favor of HR 325, the gimmicky “no budget, no pay” bill.

Perhaps Republican House Speaker Boehner’s attendance at a fundraising event at LaMalfa Farms during the 2012 campaign played into Doug’s decision. Such an endorsement comes with a very high price tag. Obviously, one must be careful not to bite the political hand that feeds you.

Frankly, HR 325 did nothing to implement serious long-term solutions to our nation’s dire financial situation. It simply waived the debt ceiling until May 19, giving the federal government a green light to continue borrowing whatever it needs to cover its insane spending addiction.

No spending cuts. No offsets. No progress in reining in federal spending, leading to a balanced budget. In fact, just the opposite is true.

Reliable estimates suggest HR 325 will add half-a-trillion dollars to our current debt ceiling, raising the total to $17 trillion!

When asked, LaMalfa described his vote as “distasteful but necessary.” Dare I say, I’d call it distasteful, dishonest and disingenuous.

Pete Stiglich

Editor’s note: The author was a Republican candidate in the 2012 congressional primary race.

Fitting tribute to a victim

A kind and gentle soul has passed from our midst. Rick Magee loved his friends and family, loved the outdoors, loved to take a bike ride on a pleasant afternoon.

It was during just such a joyful outing that this peaceful man met a violent end. While cycling near Durham last November, Rick was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver who, despite his seemingly desperate efforts to avoid capture, was later arrested. The driver eventually entered a guilty plea and will be sentenced Feb. 20.

We bring this to the public’s attention once again because there’s something simple you can do right now to help prevent this kind of tragedy from happening again. Send a message to the sentencing judge, the Honorable James Reilley of Butte County Superior Court. Tell him this kind of behavior can’t be tolerated—that we can’t have a world truly safe for cyclists and pedestrians unless behavior like this is met with severe consequences.

What kind of behavior am I talking about? The guilty driver in this case struck from behind, causing Rick to crash headfirst into the windshield. The momentum then hurled Rick helplessly through the air. He landed on the pavement and suffered what turned out to be fatal injuries. The fugitive drove away without placing a 911 call that could have saved Rick’s life.

According to official records, he filed a false insurance claim the next day, stating that his vehicle was damaged by a falling tree limb, not by striking an innocent bicyclist. Investigators also state he tried to obscure the evidence after the car was in a body shop awaiting repair.

This is not the way we treat our friends and neighbors. This is not the way we encourage people to get out of their cars and ride their bikes. This is not behavior the community should accept. This driver, who had a previous record of infractions, including two speeding tickets, now faces a possible six years in jail on the two counts of felony hit-and-run and insurance fraud.

Go to www.nohitandruns.org to send a letter to the judge urging the maximum possible sentence. Just click on the red box at the bottom, sign your name and add a comment if you wish. It might help make our roads a bit safer, and it would pay fitting tribute to an avid cyclist, our loved one, Rick Magee, who was taken from us forever in this senseless act of violence.

The friends and family

of Rick Magee