Letters for February 8, 2018

Pay to park?

Re “Opening arguments” (Newslines, by Ken Smith, Feb. 1):

While serving on the Park Commission in 2011, we prepared a study identifying approximately 1 million visits to Bidwell Park every year. This number, while huge, was not surprising. We know Bidwell Park is the heart and lungs of Chico.

One million visits means it’s also a regional treasure. Our Public Works Department has now reported that—in 2017—413,756 vehicles entered Upper Park. Again, we shouldn’t be surprised. What we should be, though, is ready to engage in a collaborative discussion about how to care for our parks, greenways and street trees.

Doing so will take the continued passion of our community, scores of volunteers—and money. One proposal recently brought to the table is a $1-per-vehicle, per-day parking fee. So far, Public Works is just suggesting that the concept be considered and a community survey is in the works. I encourage all of us to provide input, and keep an open mind.

When I was a park commissioner, I used to ask people: “What is Bidwell Park and our green space worth to you?” The answer was always, “It’s the best thing about Chico.” Let’s have a real conversation about reinvesting in the heart and lungs of our community.

Rich Ober


I can’t believe people at the city are even thinking about doing this—charging people to go to the park. The city of Chico is looking at getting a bike crossing over the freeway and needs a little over a million dollars to get the grant for the rest of the $13 million cost.

You can bet where this tax will end up, right? Folks at the city claim to want to repair roadways, pay for more employees. Just think, if the city can get away with charging a dollar (gee, just one measly dollar), then a few years goes by and, gee, we need to raise the tax. Add another measly dollar, and now when do you think it will stop? Never.

Don’t allow the city to tax people wanting to enjoy the park. If people at the city need money, they need to find ways to cut their thirst for the almighty dollar. Live within your means. Cut back on your outrageous spending lifestyles. They have a lot of debts right now, the state is after them for a lot of money, too. Do you really think the taxes collected for this park fee will go to anything but fixing the roads and staffing public safety? No way.

Zane Libert


‘Sharp observer’

Re “Death on the streets” (Newslines, by Meredith J. Cooper, Feb. 1):

Thomas Avakian was tenacious, generous and not one to brook an injustice, large or small. He was an erudite consumer of news and opinion. Also, being a sharp observer, Tom was a trove of information concerning life on the streets.

Regrettably, I lost contact when Tom relocated to the West Sacramento Avenue area, a few months ago. I’d like to know why he left 16th and Park, where he lived for years. In that location, Tom experienced the usual mix of tolerance and intolerance, though, ironically, the worst intolerance was experienced from representatives of the Jesus Center—a place he avoided. (In particular, Tom was routinely rousted during the center’s armed guard “experiment.”)

It’s not exactly true that Tom would not accept help. He gratefully accepted anything that helped him survive. And, I have little doubt Tom would have accepted public housing and assistance—assuming he was afforded respect and allowed autonomy. Since no such housing exists, we’ll never know.

In any case, men and women continue to die, perhaps as much from the stress of harassment (being profiled, rousted and arrested) and inexcusable deprivation (lack of tarps, blankets, winter clothing and restroom access), as any “drug of choice.”

Patrick Newman


Scrap metal musings

Re “Broken trust” (Second & Flume, by Melissa Daugherty, Feb. 1):

As a two-term Chico planning commissioner, from 2011 through 2016, I voted on Chico Scrap Metal (CSM) three times. After conducting many interviews, much research and listening to speakers, my determination was amortization of CSM was in the best interest of the neighborhood and the city, and that the city should help financially.

In 2004, the City Council adopted the Chapman-Mulberry Neighborhood Plan, including the amortization of several businesses. Later, Habitat for Humanity began building homes in the area.

In the next five years, all businesses except CSM moved. In 2011, the 2030 Chico General Plan was reviewed and sent to the council. I believe the general plan, the neighborhood plan, the sitting council at that time, the Planning Commission and Butte County Board of Supervisors were all in agreement with amortization.

In 2016, after another extension, a new council on a 4-3 party-line vote said, “Forget about 12 years of multiagency plans, you can stay.” Hence, community outrage.

Were the other businesses who obeyed the city chumps? What about those who invested in Habitat homes built near CSM? Government agencies consistently told Chicoans for over a decade that CSM was moving. Once moved, I seriously doubt we’ll see a community effort to “Move ’em back.”

Ken Rensink


About Chico Scrap Metal: 1. If people would stop using their “services,” their business would close. 2. Wonder how the location was chosen for the new Habitat for Humanity houses next door? 3. And now the news that they put up the money for the court case. Strange stuff!

Suzie Garrett


What about Eastin?

Re “Hot topics” (Cover story, by Ben Christopher, Jan. 25):

The cover story was interesting and informative. Is Christopher a local regular CN&R reporter? I ask because he didn’t mention in the article that Eastin has been up and down Northern California to meet and hear public concerns. She was in Chico last year and in Paradise recently. The crowds in both locations packed the library conference rooms.

Eastin shared personal and political experiences. I checked her online. Her past checked out better than she personally related.

One concern with Christopher’s article is that it displayed pictures of three democratic candidates only. Oddly, Eastin’s photo was absent. I hope this is not an example of gender bias. We don’t need that practice from the Chico News & Review.

I watched the candidates debate on Univision moderated by Jorge Ramos at UCLA on Jan. 25. I was again impressed by Eastin’s solutions for some of the issues mentioned in Christopher’s article and other debate issues discussed there. She drew more loud applause than the other gubernatorial candidates. Gavin Newsom and Antonio Villaraigosa seemed more concerned with mudslinging at each other. The Republican candidates simply showed strong Trump loyalty.

Voters, do yourself a favor: Learn about Delaine Eastin!

John P. Martinez


Editor’s note: The CN&R profiled Delaine Eastin when she came to Chico last May (see “Grassroots governor?” Newslines, May 4, 2017).

Regarding Mr. LaMalfa

Doug LaMalfa’s central purpose as a House representative is the protection of the USDA program of farm subsidies for the rice farmers in the North State. The program is heavily tilted toward the giant farms.

Rice subsidies from farms in the U.S. totaled $15.3 billion from 1995-2016. Rice farmer subsidies in the entire U.S. concentrated in the following counties: 1) Colusa, 2) Sutter, 3) Butte and 5) Glenn.

Such subsidies are a “welfare system.” We pay even for giant rice farmers’ insurance, although farming is no more risky than many other enterprises. The system is riddled with fraud. For example, the giant rice farmers establish other legal entities, or divide their land among close family members, to get around limits on rice subsidies. LaMalfa and his family are big-time rice subsidy recipients.

Giant rice farmers are among the wealthiest of the upper 1 percent of our population. They don’t need subsidies. U.S. producers of other crops, such as fruits and vegetables, receive almost nothing and do well.

LaMalfa voted many times to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement. Such Republican elite are never done with crippling the ACA. They believe in their hardened hearts, “If you can’t afford it, you don’t get it.”

Ralph Slater


Editor’s note: Poinsett County, Ark., was rated fourth among the top U.S. counties receiving rice subsidies between 1995-2016, according to the Environmental Working Group.

Just saw Doug “He’s one of us” doing a quick interview this weekend on the local TV news. What a nothing burger. When was Doug “He’s one of us” in the service? Or immediate family members? I spent nine years in the U.S. Army. Perhaps you could learn something from your California colleague in the House of Representatives, Adam Schiff, about what it means to work for your constituents, not some, but all, not only in District 1 but the entire nation.

Wearing cowboy boots don’t make you a man. Oh, by the way, my lovely wife just finished knitting a pink pussy hat for me.

Ed Pitman


BHS has a proposal

The city of Chico is spending more money and resources on the state mandated animal services than the City Council originally intended. While this increase in cost and resources is detrimental for a city focused on repairing a budget deficit, an equally damaging problem has resulted in splitting animal services between the city and Butte Humane Society (BHS).

The public does not understand why there are two “shelters.” The continuing confusion and frustration around companion animal care in Chico diminish the public’s trust in both institutions; impacting credibility, public engagement and support. While the city is mandated to provide certain animal-related services to the public, it should not serve as animal rescue, adoption agency and humane education outreach at the taxpayers’ expense.

It is time to provide the city of Chico an affordable and efficient option for animal control and sheltering services. On behalf of the BHS board of directors, we would be honored to provide these services for the city of Chico and will perform to the highest standards to meet and exceed the requirements of the contract.

Christy Norton


Editor’s note: The author is president of the BHS board of directors.

‘Hardly reliable’

Re “More on a free press” (Letters, by Loretta Ann Torres, Feb. 1):

A recent letter to the editor complained that people rely on one source for their news. Instead, in an inexplicable twist of logic, this writer suggests relying on One America News (OAN), owned by Herring Networks Inc. Hardly reliable. One example: OAN endorsed Roy Moore, the alleged pedophile who stalked teenage girls. According to Wikipedia, OAN “became a source of both positive coverage [of Moore] and [of] stories that could cast doubt on his accusers.” OAN quoted a noted conspiracy-theory Twitter account claiming these teenage girls made false claims against Moore for money—lies never retracted by OAN.

On the night of the Alabama election, OAN announced Moore defeated his democratic rival “by a large margin.” Not so. Doug Jones overcame Moore in the Alabama Senate race. And this reader wants me to forsake checking multiple sources in my search for the truth and rely on OAN? Sorry, “wouldn’t be prudent.”

Lynn Elliott


‘He’s no kook’

Re “Mother Nature speaks” (Letters, by Patrick Newman, Feb. 1):

Whenever I see Patrick Newman’s name attached to a letter to the editor or on an opinion piece, I feel a sense of affinity. He’s often derided and denounced, but I generally find him to be a voice of sanity in these crazy times. His Feb. 1 letter made an important point about how readily our species descends into categorical judgments and sweeping generalizations on the basis of race, gender, nationality or damn near anything we can use to divide ourselves into groups we can then demonize. He also made an all too rarely made point about overpopulation as a primary source of our current earthly conflicts and woes.

In communities like ours, if you offer an opinion once in a decade, you’re thought to be a good citizen, but if you express your opinion more frequently, you’re likely to be dismissed as a kook. Patrick Newman gives a damn. And he’s no kook.

Jaime O’Neill


Support future scientists

Children and young people are natural scientists who love to create experiments and investigate their world. They will always remember how they discovered the different ways materials mix with water, how they can produce slime of different consistencies by varying the amounts of cornstarch and water, the best ways to combine spaghetti strands to construct a model of a skeleton, and many other activities. These lessons make the scientific method real.

The Chico Science Fair is an annual event where students can share their projects with a panel of scientific experts and with the general public. We are seeking volunteers in many capacities between Feb. 26 and March 2 at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds’ commercial building in Chico. We also invite you to visit this free, thrilling event on Feb. 28 and March 1, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. (closed 1-3 p.m.) and support these young explorers in becoming tomorrow’s scientists! Contact Paul Belz pgb@igc.org or 893-8359 for more information. Thank you!

Paul Belz