Letters for January 16, 2014

Stinky is subjective

Re “Bad start” (Newslines, by Ken Smith, Jan. 9):

First, I do not know whether it was Bill Mash or Ken Smith who drew the race card at the beginning of the story, but in our color-blind society, what does race have to do with the story?

Mash and George Gold, who were in close proximity to the individual arrested, claim he did not emit an offensive odor. True, someone’s opinion of what constitutes an offensive odor is left to that individual. I can only speak for myself, however, and as I entered Starbucks that morning, I was immediately assaulted by the aroma of someone lacking in personal hygiene. (The individual arrested was seated in the chair closest to the door.) As I walked to the service counter, the smell continued.

As to the point that the individual was given no chance to respond to the police officers, he did respond, but not in a cooperative manner. Roughly carried out of the store? I saw him escorted, traveling under his own power, past my location and out of the store.

No opportunity to say anything or defend himself? Police officers’ duties do not include determining innocence or guilt. Their function is to enforce laws. You defend yourself in court, not during your arrest.

String of bad luck? More like bad choices.

Bill Martin

Editor’s note: The term African-American was used as a description of the man whom witnesses did not know by name—something that was later determined by reporter Ken Smith through a police report. Nowhere in the story was it implied that the man was treated poorly because of his race.

I have spent hundreds of hours in Northern California Starbucks: Rocklin, Auburn, Sacramento, Marysville and, most recently, Chico—doing my advocacy and blogging work. Starbucks’ attention to customer service is simple: Treat every customer the same, and treat them well.

I was so beholden to the attention and courtesy Starbucks provides to homeless customers that I approached the Starbucks in Marysville to do a piece on that store. The only Starbucks locations where I have been treated poorly and, yes, insulted have been in Chico. My response from Starbucks’ corporate customer service on this incident was welcomed, yet unsurprising: This “shouldn’t have happened” in their store. I’m confident they will assess not only the downtown location but also their entire customer experience in Chico as a whole.

Bill Mash

Pitch needs rethinking

Re “A public-safety pitch” (Guest comment, by Bob Evans, Jan. 9):

In regard to Bob Evans’ guest commentary on firefighters keeping the community safer, I wonder what would happen if, when patrolling a troubled neighborhood, these firefighters received an emergency call?

They would have to stop what they were doing, run to their fire engine awkwardly maneuver their beast of a vehicle and race off to the emergency. Since quick response-time can mean the difference between life and death, precious seconds would be lost. If this measure is enacted, I believe it would greatly weaken Chico’s public safety.

Daniel Barth

Hear, hear!

Re “I nurses” (Second and Flume, by Melissa Daugherty, Jan. 9):

I want to thank providence for loading the dice before my roll, as I came out with two nurses for sisters. I just sent Melissa Daugherty’s column on nurses to them. I hope they are stroked and as stoked as I was to read it!

Nurses are not unsung heroes. But I would wish to call for another verse of praise.

Thanks for your pen.

Jay Bergstrom
Forest Ranch

Two views on booze

Re “Across the booze spectrum” (Newslines, by Howard Hardee, Jan. 9):

Bidwell Park’s 90-year-old golf course is Chico’s only regulation public course. A nonprofit community organization leases the city-owned property and has hired Empire Golf to manage business operations. In more than 20 years of managing multiple courses, Empire has never had an alcohol-related public-safety call to its courses.

Bidwell Park Golf Course has suffered in the past from poor management by the city and various public-private partnerships, and from decades of deferred maintenance and neglect. Just modernizing the antiquated irrigation system and creating a driving range (a revenue source that most courses enjoy) will cost more than $2 million.

In 2013, the course fell just short of breaking even, an untenable and unsustainable prospect. More revenue is needed to preserve and improve this local treasure. A solid majority of our council agreed that this change to city policy is a sensible step forward.

This is not about profiteering or excess. When the course realizes annual operating profits, every penny will go back into the facilities, payroll and trade with local suppliers. There is no private profit involved. As an active golfer and club member who first played there in 1961, I thank and applaud the council for a sound decision.

Dan Casamajor

Annie Bidwell left Bidwell Park to Chico stipulating no alcohol be sold there. While a 1934 court ruling allegedly rendered Annie’s wishes invalid, the city nevertheless honored them—until now.

On Jan. 7, five of seven City Council members decided it would be OK to sell alcohol at the golf course. I disagree.

Annie Bidwell likely reasoned that selling alcohol encourages drinking, drug use and, ultimately, the killing, injury and destruction of property and families. As such, it’s ultimately incongruous with nature and the spirit of friendship, family and fun. In the face of increasing legalization of marijuana, this reality is already far too alien to modern minds.

Essentially the public’s parents, governments should encourage constituents to get high on music, nature, friendship and personal growth—not controlled substances. Tolerating the use and abuse of alcohol and drugs is negligent. Profiting from it is shameful.

In seeking council support, golf-course officials alleged the facility needs alcohol sales to attract and retain players, fund maintenance and encourage socializing. While selling alcohol may be the easiest way to accomplish these goals, it’s neither socially responsible nor respectful of Annie Bidwell’s wishes. The course needs to find another solution.

Nathan Esplanade

Ignoring the occupation

Re “Peace requires new leader” (Letters, by Maurice Picard, Jan. 9):

Multiple letters and a guest commentary in the CN&R in recent weeks concerning the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians have tended to describe Israel as a homogeneous country, all good or all bad. It might be more realistic to describe two Israels, vastly different from each other, and simultaneously intimately connected.

The Democratic State of Israel, the Israel that I love, located within the pre-1967 borders, is a vibrant democracy in which all of its citizens, Arab and Jewish, have the basic democratic right to vote.

The Undemocratic State of Israel, located in the occupied West Bank, is totally different. Here reside more than 2 million Palestinians under Israeli government and military control and without basic democratic rights—specifically without the right to vote for or against political leaders who maintain the system that oppresses them. The Palestinians are not allowed to be citizens in the land they and their ancestors have lived in for many generations.

Mr. Picard discusses peace, but never once mentions the occupation, which is by far the greatest obstacle to a meaningful peace. Serious problems don’t get resolved by ignoring or denying the existence of the predominant issue.

Victor Mlotok

Nothing to do with luck

I hear the phrase “down on their luck” mentioned in reference to homeless people on the streets of Chico. This term is used, hypothetically, to separate the temporarily homeless from those who are chronically on the street, and to highlight the belief that, here in America, bad “luck” is always temporary and a break is just around the corner—for anyone willing to try.

In fact, almost none of the homeless are “down on their luck.” The wheel of fortune does not spin over their heads. A brain-damaged alcoholic does not wake up one morning and find a suit and tie hanging from a nearby bush—and then walk into a bank and get a job. The angry young girl, abused from birth—and mostly unloved, in one foster home after another—does not suddenly stumble on a “positive attitude,” which cleanses her of emotionally disabling wounds that cut to the core of her being.

Nevertheless, when we see the homeless, think of them as heroes more than victims. It’s amazing what they endure just to go on living in a world that has not always been kind to them.

And see that they are not made to endure mindless clichés, along with physical pain and emotional suffering.

Patrick Newman

Note to LaMalfa

I just received a political mailing from Congressman Doug LaMalfa. He shows a breakdown/colorized version of where our tax dollar gets spent. He conveniently lumps Medicare and Social Security under major entitlements. This is a distortion of fact. Working people (that includes the self-employed) pay into this system their entire working lives. This is done to have a minimum monthly amount during their senior years. And the same applies with Medicare. Medicare tax is taken out of an individual’s earnings.

Paying for something is not an entitlement. As far as pure entitlements, I cannot imagine living in a society that would not value assistance for those in real need. What I didn’t find in the Congressman’s entitlement breakdown were the top-10 rice-subsidy recipients for Butte County. During years 1995-2012, the Dsl LaMalfa Family Partnership has received more than $5 million. Mr. LaMalfa, please take me off your mailing list.

Nina Widlund