Letters for January 1, 2009

Where there’s smoke …
Re: “Year in review” (Cover story, CN&R, Dec. 24):

Wood smoke pollution has been a significant problem in many communities, and there have been some creative solutions to reduce it.

Santa Clara County offers up to $500 to residents to replace their old wood stoves or $300 to replace their fireplaces with a gas heating unit. If Butte County limited this program to 500 units a year, it would cost the county only between $150,000 and $250,000 per year, and over 10 years it would remove 5,000 old wood burners.

This solution has been used in many communities, along with wood-burning bans on high-pollution days. The burning ban addresses those who burn for “aesthetic” reasons, and the rebate addresses those who rely on wood as their sole source of heat.

Fact is, the majority of Butte County residents do not burn wood but have to suffer the harsh effects of its pollution. Oddly, we have smoking bans in public places to protect non-smokers from secondhand cigarette smoke, but no burning ban to protect the non-burners from secondhand wood smoke.

Hopefully the Butte County supervisors and Chico City Council members will find a fair and creative way to remedy this inequity.

Marc Kessler

‘Does history count for so little?’
In your list of top stories of 2008, I was a little shocked to see you overlooked the abandonment of the Bidwell Deed’s vision by the city when it adopted the new park plan. Does history count for so little?

Randy Abbott

Editor’s note: We focused on the high-profile rift over the disc-golf element of the plan as one of the 10 leading stories of the year. In fact, the City Council will reconsider the matter Tuesday (Jan. 6)—which, not surprisingly, prompted a fresh batch of letters.

Disc-ussion reheats up
Two of the biggest problems concerning the current disc-golf issue are:

1. The increased use of the course over the years has created a devastating impact on the area. I am surprised that not many players seem to acknowledge this irrefutable fact in their letters to the editor.

2. The nature of disc golf is to throw your disc toward the hole, but the discs fly in every direction, and each player must follow his to take the next shot. As the players fan out, the whole area becomes trampled over time.

This part of the park, as well as many others, is especially delicate, with the lava cap just below the surface; even after many years, the recovery is very, very slow.

Over the last 20 years, this special area has been taken over by one group at the exclusion of others who enjoyed picnicking, hiking, wildlife and the solitude atop the cliffs at sunset. I can certainly see why it’s hard for the players to accept letting go of this site—what an awesome place to play this wonderful sport.

Bidwell Park is a special gift the city was given just over 100 years ago with very specific provisions to protect its wild nature for future generations. I believe it’s truly in everyone’s best self-interest to honor and protect this sacred trust. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. I want to thank all council members for dealing with this very emotional community issue.

John Peters

I went to the site to take a look around the day of the City Council decision [to revisit disc golf], and I have a few comments.

1. Somali pirates have been in the news recently, and it’s hard not to make a connection. Just because an energetic group of individuals has claimed one of the most beautiful and rare places in Northern California for disc golf at some time in the past does not make it right.

2. The analogy that the bikers, hikers and other park users “do as much damage” doesn’t fly, since a responsible goal of these users would be to stay on existing trails, whereas by definition the game of disc golf eliminates the idea of a trail.

3. Compromise possibilities?

a. Eliminate the short course. Everyone agrees.

b. Abandon and restore the fairways along the edge of the bluff where the soils are thinnest.

c. Establish a shorter version of the longer course in areas of deeper soils away from the bluff line.

d. The big one: Restrict the use of the site for disc golf to May through November—leaving the natural recovery of the native grasses, wildflowers and blue oaks to happen over the winter months, and leaving the impact to the dry season.

e. Find one or two more appropriate and less vulnerable course sites that would be closer to town that would receive the bulk of the impacts.

So, people, now let’s come up with a workable plan. We’re more reasonable than we appear here.

Robert Speer

Editor’s note: This is the Robert Speer who doesn’t write for the CN&R.

I have written about my anecdotal account of what I saw at the Highway 32 site [in Dec. 18’s Letters] without offering my two cents for a solution. I think I have come up with a new idea that is workable and pragmatic.

My idea is to deed the 40-acre site to Gregg Payne. At some point, we have to face the fact that a lot of disc golfers are never going to give up the 32 site or on playing their sport in Upper Park. If the city blocks off access, then disc golfers will use and abuse some other area of the park. The passion and popularity of this activity is not going to be deterred by bans, rules or laws.

There are many good reasons for deed transfer. If the course is privately owned, the city would probably be off the hook for any legal issues with the Friends of Bidwell Park. Private ownership would also free the city from restoration cost, patrols and liability.

Mr. Payne, who says he likes my idea, has been at the course from the beginning and is a permanent citizen of Chico. If he is made responsible for the site, I feel he would make sure the course would be held to its current size.

Many people will balk at this proposal, but this fight was over before it got started. The real crime is spending another penny on this malarkey.

C. Kasey Kitterman

Free-market radio
Re: “It’s only right to give the left some air time” (Guest Comment, by Dan Gordon, CN&R, Dec. 4):

Dan Gordon stated that AM 1290 needs diversity of opinions. I strongly disagree. Listeners of Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Lars Larson, Michael Savage, etc., listen for the simple reason that they relate to these personalities. This is not a communist country, and the government should not be allowed to mandate what is or is not broadcast.

Until the market demands (by way of ratings) that AM 1290 have a more diverse spread of opinions, they should be allowed to operate as they see fit. They have selected a target market and should be allowed to provide services to this market. This is a basic economic principle. People listen to AM 1290 because they like what they hear.

Differing opinions are readily available on FM stations such as NPR and on television and in newspapers such as this one. Conservative viewpoints are a minority in this country and should not be blotted out by socialist, draconian legislation.

Barey Jones

Praising fellow scribes
As an avid letter-to-the-editor reader of both the weekly and daily papers in this town, I must extend a heartfelt “thank you” to Michael M. Peters for some of the most well-thought-out and enlightening letters I have read in some time. Always to the point and refreshing. Thanks again, Mr. Peters.

I also have to thank Juanita Sumner for her sharp witticisms on how outside influences and governmental bungling are constantly eroding our small-town/rural way of life in this area. Thanks, Ms. Sumner.

Last but certainly not least, thanks to Anthony Peyton Porter for the fantastic column each week. It’s one of the few things left in the CN&R that make it worth picking up anymore, other than the aforementioned letters. Keep on keeping it real and non-politically correct as possible, Mr. Porter!

Happy New Year to you all.

Perry Fox

Setting things straight
I want to thank the City Council for the commitment to fair-trade principles. The passage of the Fair Trade Resolution brings us one step closer to being designated a Fair Trade Town, where fair-trade products are extensively available to local consumers.

I also want to respond to a few irresponsible and inaccurate allegations thrown out by Councilman Larry Wahl.

He completely misrepresented the fair-trade purchasing resolution at the last council meeting by suggesting that the resolution requires fair-trade products be purchased from the Chico Peace & Justice Center. In fact, the resolution states that the city will serve fair-trade products “whenever such products are available and comparably priced to noncertified products.” The city is free to purchase fair-trade products at any of the growing number of small businesses in Chico that offer those comparably priced products.

Councilman Wahl also wrongly stated that the center does not pay taxes. As a federally recognized nonprofit organization, any donations to the center are tax deductible. Our records prove that we pay all sales and employee taxes as required by federal, state and local governments.

As a longtime councilman, Larry Wahl should know that nonprofit organizations, such as the Chico Peace & Justice Center, are exempt from the requirement to pay a license tax for a business license under city code 3.32.300. Any organization that has received tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service is exempt from payment of license taxes.

Sue Hilderbrand
Chico Peace & Justice Center