Letters for January 10, 2002
What about it, Steve?
Since I live in District 3, where Steve Bertagna plans to challenge Mary Anne Houx for supervisor, I’ve some questions for him. First, has he aligned himself with political extremist John Gillander? At a recent City Council meeting I witnessed Bertagna with his arm around Gillander like good buddies. I found this distasteful based on some of Gillander’s actions in the past aimed at local liberals and progressives. Gillander was ultimately chastised in an open letter signed by many prominent community members. Therefore, I want to know if Bertagna’s apparent affection for Gillander includes approval of his extremist tactics.
Second, what is Mr. Bertagna’s take on Supervisors Yamaguchi, Josiassen and Beeler’s attempt to block Coleen Jarvis’ contract with Butte County Juvenile Court? Does he think the three supervisors are impartial or politically motivated? Does he think Jarvis is qualified and her contracted salary appropriate? Were Bertagna currently a supervisor, would he vote to deprive his council colleague of her livelihood?
Last, will Bertagna take into account the wants and needs of all his constituents? Or will he favor a few wealthy special-interest groups with his votes?
These are ethical questions about fairness and equality. If Mr. Bertagna can’t answer them directly and without equivocation, then I urge my fellow District 3 voters not to elect Bertagna for county supervisor.
Convenience of war
The only readily accessible alternative news is from the Internet in these times, and from it I have come to the following conclusions.
Playing on the fear of the American public, President Bush was able to declare “war” in what should be a criminal action against a relatively small group of individuals. In order to “sell” this war to the public, a large public-relations firm was hired by the government. By declaring it a “war,” it is possible for the government to: Suppress any opposition to the now largest growing sector of our economy, the military-industrial complex; intimidate the press and the public by calling them unpatriotic if they question the policies or the actions taken; curtail civil liberties and give the government more power over individuals; and give large sums of money to corporations that feed the “war machine” and increasing the disparity between the rich and the poor.
The United States in the past and in the present is directly or indirectly responsible for terrorism in many foreign countries. There are more than 3,000 civilian casualties in Afghanistan due to U.S. bombing, which has created many refugees with no infrastructure to return to facing death from starvation, disease and exposure into the near future. In Iraq there are estimated to be more than 3,000 deaths of children per month due to U.S. sanctions and the bombing the U.S. did there. Are these terrorist acts?
In my opinion, it is the disparity between the rich and the poor in the world and the oppression of the poor by the government-aided wealthy that results in the hopelessness that fosters terrorism. War does not bring peace. Ask Israel. Let’s rebuild Afghanistan and not extend this “war” to the 50 or more countries that are purported to harbor terrorists!
Time for public input
The draft environmental-impact report (DEIR) on the widening of Manzanita Avenue near Bidwell Park is available for public review (call 895-4888 for details). The report evaluates the impacts of five different alternatives. The section of Manzanita Avenue involved is from Wildwood Avenue (Upper Park entrance) near the new Chico Fire Station No. 5 through the area in front of Hooker Oak Park and across Big Chico Creek.
I hope that residents will take some time to review the DEIR, as ideally written comments would be made before the public workshop at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 24, at the City Council chambers. Feb. 5 is the end of the DEIR review period.
After the review period, a final EIR will be created, subject to acceptance by the Chico City Council, followed by public hearings and the selection of a road-widening plan.
I see a wide variety of reasons why area residents ought to be involved in this process, as this area contains the gateway to Upper Bidwell Park, entrance to the equestrian center and to Hooker Oak Park, intersections with Centennial and Vallombrosa avenues, the bridge across Big Chico Creek, and a wealth of recreational uses. We have a golden opportunity to maintain and improve upon this road’s path through and alongside of Chico’s crown jewel, Bidwell Park.
In California most voters come from other states or countries and lack strong party or candidate loyalties. Millions are spent on TV, radio, newspaper and direct-mail ads to build candidates’ name recognition and familiarize voters with candidates’ views.
Each member of Congress, state legislator, county supervisor or city councilmember is elected by the voters within a separate geographical subdivision or district of the nation, state, county or city to represent the interests of that district in the governing body. To the extent that his or her political contributions come from outside that district, the winner of an election does not represent that district but represents outside interests. “Outside” money violates the basic principle of representative government upon which our nation is founded.
Contributions from corporations, unions, political parties and other organizations in the district also violate the basic principle of representative government to the extent that their interests lie outside the district, i. e., they do business, have membership or accept funds from outside of the district. Political party organizations at a higher level than the district control the votes of elected officials by threat of financing a rival for the party nomination in the primary election or withholding contributions in the general election, forcing the candidate to represent the interests of the party rather than the district.
Legislation should be enacted allowing candidates to accept contributions only from individuals registered to vote in the district the candidate is seeking to represent. All other sources of contributions should be prohibited.
Pot war rages on
At all levels, from local to federal, the medical marijuana debate is far from resolution. As Robert Raich, attorney for the Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Club, told the New York Times after the adverse ruling from the Supreme Court in May 2001, “The case isn’t over. This is just the end of round one.”
More recently, the feds have cracked down on certain medical marijuana co-ops, patients and doctors, as the Justice Department stated it would not let other law enforcement priorities deter it in the government’s war on medical marijuana, which is a war against the sick and dying. At this point, it might be appropriate to heed the political insight of C. Clark Kissinger when he said, “The only way to stop a police state is to spring to the defense of its very first victims no matter how unpopular they may be.”
If you’d like to help, send donations to the OCBC Legal Defense Fund, PO Box 70401, Oakland, CA 94612 or contact CalNorml at www.canormal.org.