Letters for January 15, 2004

Correction: A story in last week’s Newslines, “Hide the trash cans, rates going up,” inaccurately reported a 47 percent increase in tipping fees at the Butte County landfill over the last three years. In fact, fees have increased only 13 percent in that time. The 47 percent represents the total cost increases for local waste haulers in the past three years. The News & Review regrets the error and is sorry for any inconvenience it may have caused.

What about the kids?
Jaime O’Neill does a wonderful job of presenting evidence of societal deterioration as a result of the steady encroachment, throughout recent decades, of marijuana and other drugs [“A generation of hypocrites,” Essay, Jan. 8]. Unfortunately, not all of his conclusions fall into place in a logical fashion.

Many thoughtful and educated persons share Jaime’s personal history and his view that legal restrictions on the use of marijuana ought to be lifted. Indeed, it has become almost conventional wisdom to believe that pot is essentially harmless and that laws prohibiting its use are silly. However, more and more of us are beginning to rethink our previously libertarian positions as we watch our own children wade through our drug-infested culture and be stripped of much of their health, happiness and potential.

Marijuana legalization advocates never seem to want to discuss how we intend to control access to this drug by young people. Children and teenagers have, by nature, volatile brain chemistry and poor impulse control. While some mature individuals may accommodate occasional drug use within an otherwise functional and productive lifestyle, children seldom are able to do so. Just ask the legions of heartbroken parents who have watched helplessly as their previously well-motivated youngsters spiraled ever downward through school attendance problems, declining grades, missed appointments and a general withdrawal from wholesome youth and school activities.

Whether we choose to regulate adult use of marijuana in a different way than at present, we ought to give our most serious attention to the current unacceptably high levels of marijuana use among young people Any reform package worth considering must include provisions to greatly restrict access to pot for those who are still involved in the important process of growing up.

Carl Ochsner

Moo-moo here
Alan Gair’s letter [“Animal farm,” Jan. 8] brings into print my fears of annexation—people who don’t appreciate your lifestyle trying to tell you how to live.

Gair moved here, into a rural neighborhood, and now he wants the city to get rid of his neighbor’s horses. A neighbor of mine on Burnap raised his own pigs for years, until an apartment house was built over his back fence. We lived next to the pen and never smelled the pigs. But a woman in the apartments could see the pigpen from her back window, and she decided that was indecent. So she called in complaints incessantly, until our neighbor tired of it a few years later and got rid of his pigs.

Off Ceres Avenue, I had a neighbor with chickens, wonderful pets who produced all the eggs we could eat. They were penned next to my fence and never bothered us. But when these people had a fence down for replacement and the neighbor behind saw the chicken coop for the first time, he began to grumble to all the rest of us that “it just isn’t right.”

That’s what happens when you move city people too far out into the real world. Gair complains about dogs howling at fire trucks. That reminds me of a bumper sticker I saw: “The more I know people, the more I like dogs.”

Juanita Sumner

Early detection
Juanita Sumner’s “Charrette charade” Dec. 24, 2003, letter to the editor implies that I wish to replace public hearings with charrettes as “a way to speed up the permit process.” Her claim is unfounded.

First, public hearings are a necessary part of all development projects that require discretionary approval by the City Council. I have never advocated substituting public hearings with charrettes, which would be against state land use requirements.

Second, I have consistently advocated to include the public early in the planning process, rather than to wait for the public hearing before the City Council.

Charrettes and other planning workshops give citizens opportunities to provide feedback on development projects before final plans are submitted. They are not substitutes for public hearings, but rather opportunities for more public participation.

When developers meet with citizens before submitting final development plans to the city, whether voluntarily such as with Barber Yard and Meriam Park or by requirement such as with the Northwest Chico Specific Plan, problems with development projects can sometimes be resolved or addressed prior to a public hearing.

One can conclude that, in most cases, early resolution of problems prior to a public hearing would result in greater neighborhood acceptance of a development plan and, if a project is approved, perhaps a smoother permit process.

Dan Nguyen-Tan

Doctor’s prescription
Do you swallow fudged statistics, questionable “facts” and easily recognizable half-truths whole? Think of Toby Keith as a spokesperson for America? Believe a sound approach to American foreign policy is the employ of “schoolyard taunts” and “cowboy swagger"?

If your answer to any of the above is yes, you may be suffering from a grave condition known as Americentric Delusional Xenophobia, commonly known as “Addix.” According to the Centers for Disease Control, this condition is sweeping America at a pandemic rate. All, however, is not lost. There is a known cure at hand! Directions for a complete recovery follow.

Required regimen: Turn off the TV—cancel cable, disconnect the dish, etc. Turn off Rush, et al. Elective regimen—choose at least 10 of the following: vote, read, paint, sculpt, dance, sing, act, garden, cook, entertain, ride a bike, skate, jog, keep a journal, phone friends and family, write letters, volunteer, join a book club, learn a language. Listen to: your partner; your kids; your friends; strangers; yourself; jazz. Smile … often. Laugh even more. Happy healing!

Dr. Gail

Last trolley
Those whose curiosity was sparked by Robert Speer’s item “Sacramento Northern On-Line” in last week’s “In the mix” section should know that the Western Railway Museum in Rio Vista has the last trolley car that served Chico. Its Web site is http://www.wrm.org/index.html.

Miles Jordan