Letters for January 16, 2020

About forced treatment

“Deteriorating on the streets” (Cover story, by Jocelyn Wiener, Jan. 9):

Though it’s a sad story, James Mark Rippee is fortunate to have such a loving family. Many out in the streets are not so lucky. As one who has worked in a state hospital in the 1970s and who has witnessed 5150s stemming from bad drugs, I have watched the debate between mandated treatment and civil liberties and seen helpful and harmful effects of both.

One concept is at the crux of it: the continuum between freedom of choice and mandated treatment. Freedom of choice is available if one isn’t a danger to themselves or others. Mandated treatment protects one from doing harm and provides medical help. This has always been the stated circumstance for a 5150: danger to self or others.

While civil liberties are a birthright, they stop when one does harm. The concept of freedom always pairs with personal responsibility. Mandated treatment helps an individual to gain the tools of education and self-advocacy leading again to self-sufficiency.

For either the medical community or law enforcement to release someone into the community who has been known to inflict harm is absolutely shirking the very responsibility they have been vested with and sworn to uphold.

Mary M. Nordskog


For many concerned about homelessness and unhoused humans in our community, there’s a profound conundrum: What is most humane?

Is it more humane to leave a mentally ill individual to sleep under a bush in wet clothing, or to compel them into case-managed treatment? Is it more humane to leave addicts passed out in alleys, or to require they enter treatment to overcome their addiction?

To “compel” and “require” are to coerce. Coercion is to wield control over another’s freedom, and as such comes with grave responsibility. Coercion should never be taken lightly or applied as a blanket remedy; it requires careful consideration of an individual’s situation, and the likelihood of them harming others or themselves.

Alternatively, housing first paired with supportive services, adopted by Butte County, the state of California and numerous other jurisdictions around the country, has been proven to assist many mentally ill and addicted individuals in addressing their challenges. Because it removes them from the daily struggle to survive on the street, it allows them and their service providers to focus on recovery rather than where they will sleep that night, how to protect themselves or where to get their next meal.

Scott Huber


Editor’s note: The author is a member of the Chico City Council.

The perilous gap between mental health services and community need is easily witnessed by engaging with human beings in mental health crisis.

Like the panicked-to-terror young woman threatening suicide over the thought of being placed into a mental institution. “No, I won’t ever go back!” Or the young man who tells his case manager he doesn’t want to go to a mental health hospital, who is then released back onto the streets from his Behavioral Health hold. He ultimately bled to death impaled on a barbed wire fence.

It’s often difficult to assess who would benefit from forced care, and for whom this would be perceived as a death sentence. The starker reality is the number of mental health hospital beds are woefully insufficient to address the crisis without incarceration, which is the de facto “forced care” mental health treatment model for the seriously mental ill.

Bill Mash


Iran, etcetera

Re “White-knuckling” (Second & Flume, by Melissa Daugherty, Jan. 9):

Maybe we should look to Iran to see how democracy works. First we escalate tensions by assassinating their equivalent of our secretary of state and defense, with no proof of imminent threat. Anti-American and -Israeli demonstrations erupt in Tehran, a city comparable to New York City in more than just population. A few days later, because of the American escalation, a passenger plane is shot down and Iran’s government equivocates on how it happened, within days admitting it was a mistake. The people in Iran take to the streets again, demonstrating now against the lies the government was caught in.

Over the last three years our president has told over 15,000 verifiable lies and never admitted one, arguably causing more deaths than Iran’s mistake. Where are the demonstrations?

Rich Meyers


Dear Editor: You can come out from underneath your desk. No incoming. Would you agree that Bill Clinton had us on a “white-knuckle flight” when he ordered the launching of cruise missiles into Afghanistan in 1998? Warren Christopher labeled the action a “constitutional prerogative.”

Clinton’s volley was in retaliation to widespread attacks on U.S. embassies. Good job, Billy Jeff! And to you, Ms. Editor, I strongly recommend that even at your young, impressionable age, you become very familiar with your history! More to the point, stop sloshing this liberal horse hockey every time The Donald ruffles your leftist feathers. Balanced, intellectual and salient reporting has forever been a cornerstone of freedom.

Bill Collins

Yuba City

Wag the Dog is a 1997 American political satire film. The screenplay depicts a spin doctor and a Hollywood producer who fabricate a war in Albania to distract voters from a presidential sex scandal. Ironically, that was exactly what Republicans accused President Clinton of in 1998. Clinton, while embroiled in a White House sex scandal, ordered military strikes against Osama bin Laden.

President Trump needed a real “wag the dog” and ordered the assassination of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani, which he hoped would detract from his impeachment; polls showing him losing to Democrats in key 2020 election states; being investigated for insider trading practices on the Chicago Mercantile; and allegations his loans from Deutsche Bank are guaranteed by Russian state banks controlled by Putin.

The assassination of Soleimani is tantamount to a declaration of war and has escalated tensions in the Middle East and alarmed world leaders. The Trump administration’s ever-changing justification for this reckless action shows a White House in disarray. Intelligence briefings have shown no evidence that there was an imminent threat to America.

The world has become more dangerous because of the action of an unstable mind. It is terrifying that Trump has access to the nuclear football.

Roger S. Beadle


Trump’s assassination of Gen. Suleimani was unethical and illegal under international law.

The establishment and its media blame Suleimani for the death of about 600 Americans, a number dwarfed by the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed by the U.S. in its unprovoked war on Iraq.

After Iraqi Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi signed a multibillion-dollar deal with China in late September, Abdul-Mahdi said in a speech to his parliament, translated, “I visited China and signed an important agreement with them to undertake the construction instead. Upon my return, Trump called me to rescind the agreement, and when I refused, he threatened me with huge demonstrations against me that would end my PM-ship … he will station Marines snipers atop highest buildings, who will target and kill protesters and security forces alike, in an attempt to pressure me.”

The protests in Iraq started Oct. 1. The link between the two is that the U.S., outraged with the deal, decided to force Mahdi out of office.

This is the Washington playbook supported by most Republicans and Democrats—think Ukraine and Syria.

President Sanders would have the most sane foreign policy for a better world.

Lucy Cooke

Butte Valley

Donald Trump helped incubate the insane “birther” movement, so I guess President Obama was justified for roasting Trump at the April 2011 White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. If only we could turn the clock back. Obama slammed Trump for having “important things to do,” like claiming the “moon landing was fake,” and mocking Trump for “running for president as a Republican when he (Obama) thought Trump was running as a joke,” etc.

Seth Myers chimed in for another round of jokes that left Trump with a squinting scowl on his oft sad-sack face. Trump’s resolve was hardened by the humiliation heaped upon him at the dinner, and the whole world was warned that same night by Donald Trump Jr. that his dad would “even the score.”

Fast-forward to today’s extremely dangerous world. The current occupant of the Oval Office boasts that the murder of Soleimani was “no Bengahzi.” Seldom do I agree with the pathological liar Trump; however, he was right about that, it was 176 times worse than Benghazi. Collateral damage from the downing of the Ukraine International Airline passenger plane killed women, children and babies in a disaster of what Rep. Jackie Speier recently suggested “Trump was partly to blame for.”

Thanks, Obama.

Ray Estes


“Our President will start a war with Iran because he has absolutely no ability to negotiate. He’s weak and he’s ineffective, so the only way he figures that he’s going to get re-elected—and as sure as you’re sitting there—is to start a war with Iran. … Isn’t it pathetic?” -Donald Trump, November 2011.

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t think much of the prognostication powers of a man who has recited marital vows three times and declared bankruptcy six times, but in this case I’ve got to admit that he really nailed it (especially the “pathetic” part). He was just off by a little more than eight years.

Scott Paulo


Stop kicking the can

Re “Districting drama” (Newslines, by Ashiah Scharaga, Jan. 9):

It’s been nearly a year since eviction for “just cause” was brought up at the Chico City Council the first time and didn’t even make it onto the agenda. This was three months after the Camp Fire, after a wave of evictions took place, displacing those who didn’t lose their homes to flames, but to greed. The council took the initiative to pass an ordinance banning price gouging, then did nothing else to protect renters until June when just cause was finally put on the agenda for discussion.

Our council has kicked the can on this issue for too long. As Steve Breedlove stated at last Tuesday’s council meeting, this should have been put into effect the week after the fire.

I’m particularly disappointed in some “progressive” members of our council, who say they want to solve our homelessness crisis yet refuse to see the issues of renter rights, affordable housing and homelessness as deeply intertwined.

Lauren Kohler


But … the economy

Re “Poor get poorer in Trump’s economy” (Guest comment, by Roger S. Beadle, Jan. 9):

I’m puzzled someone can be so misinformed.

On Friday, Jan. 10, the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the number of employed Americans—158,803,000—set a 25th record under President Trump. Year to year—since December 2018—1,858,000 more workers have been added to American payrolls. The unemployment rate is at a 50-year low of 3.5 percent. Labor force participation is 63.2 percent. There are more job openings than job seekers.

And through the White House’s Pledge to America’s Workers, job creators around the nation have committed to nearly 10 million training, upskilling or reskilling opportunities for American students and workers. Since January 2017, more than 500,000 people have entered the apprenticeship programs. The average starting salary for those completing the apprenticeships? Over $70,000. And the GM workers? Average full-time worker makes about $90,000/year with benefits and received a substantial raise with the strike settlement.

If you can’t land a job in this economy, place blame where it belongs.

John Blenkush

Forest Ranch

More on POTUS

There should be a law prohibiting Donald Trump from calling my telephone three to four times a day asking me to give that 4F, bone-spur draft-dodger money for a stupid wall no one wants but him. The only wall that I know of that even comes close to doing what it was built for is the wall at San Quentin State Prison, and the only reason that it works is because the men on top of it have guns.

Every time you see a picture of Trump’s wall, there are kids all over it—it is a great recreation toy. I’ll bet they even play that game we all played as kids—Handy Andy Over. I admit I have not paid much attention to the Democratic debates, because I don’t care who they put up. I will even vote for Mickey Mouse before I vote for that disaster. Fact-checkers have confirmed that he has lied 15,000 times (average seven lies a day). How does anyone in their right mind believe a word that he says?

Don Rogers


Thanks, congressman

I would like to thank Congressman Doug LaMalfa for his continued support in Washington for issues related to Alzheimer’s research, care and support. Thanks to bipartisan support from Congressman LaMalfa and others, Congress increased federal funding for Alzheimer’s research by $350 million. He co-sponsored the Palliative Care Hospice Education and Training Act to improve Alzheimer’s education in conjunction with local health departments. He also supported a Young Onset Alzheimer bill. This allows people who are diagnosed with dementia before the age of 60 to have access to services previously given only to those over 60.

Alzheimer’s is the second leading cause of death in California and Congressman LaMalfa’s support is our best hope for research and a cure for this deadly disease. For more information on Alzheimer’s/dementia issues, please contact the local Alzheimer’s Association or the toll free number 1-800-272-3900.

Sue Warwick


Editor’s note: The author is Alzheimer’s Association advocate for Congressional District 1.

Water provider sets record straight

Re “Protect our water” (Letters, by John Scott, Jan. 9):

California Water Service (Cal Water) has provided safe, reliable water service to the people of Chico since 1926, almost 100 years.

Water is vital to Butte County’s future. Opinions will vary on the various strategies and tactics being considered to ensure a sustainable water supply. Disagreement can be productive. Diversity of thought and opinion leads to the best solutions.

However, it is unfair to mischaracterize the motives of those working to provide solutions. On behalf of Cal Water, I would like to set the record straight.

Cal Water is part of Butte County. We have been here for almost 100 years. Our employees and retirees live here. Our children and grandchildren live here. Cal Water is not trying to control Butte County’s water, nor have we ever sold Butte County water south of the Delta, as certain parties have alleged.

Cal Water provides safe, reliable water service. We do it well, we do it proudly, and we are here to help ensure long-term water sustainability.

George Barber


Editor’s note: The author is district manager of Cal Water’s Chico and Oroville districts.

Map maker speaks up

Re “Redistricting drama” (Newslines, by Ashiah Scharaga, Jan. 9):

Hi, it’s me, the people’s demographer. I want to give a big thank you to everybody who complimented my district maps! It was wild receiving support from all over the political spectrum, even from folks who previously hated me.

In December, the city of Chico published draft district maps. These maps, developed by a contracted demographer, were obviously created with the goal of preserving the seats of incumbent City Council members. The revised maps are hardly different. Although the demographer said all maps would be given equal weight, he neglected to even show the public’s maps at the council meeting on the Jan. 7 unless their creators showed up and requested it. Good thing I don’t have a family or life outside of local politics, and could therefore make it to the five-hour meeting to show the City Council the maps I spent weeks developing alongside a group of other passionate Chicoans.

Bryce Goldstein