Letters for January 20, 2011

Issues with the issue

Some thoughts on your Jan. 13 issue:

1) The Chico City Council is a moderate council in a very conservative part of the state, and not a “liberal” council, as many right-wingers seem to insist. The notion that Bob Evans is needed in order to provide balance is nothing more than a right-wing fabrication. In making your editorial assertion [in “Do the right thing,” From This Corner, by Robert Speer]—that appointing Evans would “heal” something—you have fallen prey to a canard created in the editorial department of the Enterprise-Record.

2) Putting an article on the “Paleo” diet [“Old is new again,” by Christine G.K. LaPado] in your Greenways section makes no sense. It is bad enough that claims are made without a shred of scientific evidence, but to associate this with “sustainability” is absurd. The environmental impact of a wholesale shift from grains and legumes to meat and fish would be catastrophic.

3) Your lead story on the Enloe expansion [“Touring Enloe’s new tower,” by Robert Speer] could have been written by a public-relations firm. Are we to assume that no one in this community is questioning the decision to borrow $170 million for yet another medical extravagance? How about an article on what affordable and sustainable health care might actually look like in America?

Patrick Newman

Backing Blue Oak

Re “Blue Oak regroups after getting its charter yanked” (Newslines, by Leslie Layton, Jan. 13):

Blue Oak Charter School is a successful charter school model. It is fiscally sound and viable. It has passed every audit by the Butte County Office of Education and an independent audit firm over the last 10 years. Within the last year I have seen more academic assessment tools, a complete realignment of the Waldorf pedagogy with the California Framework Standards, and more time devoted to mathematics and language arts. And yet the school still offers Spanish, art, music, strings lessons and an orchestra—open to the community.

Over the last 10 years Blue Oak has grown from 17 to more than 360 students. It is not the same school it was five years ago. We have new faculty, a new board and new administration. Last year our target growth for the standardized testing was six points, yet we increased more than 50 points. This school is a viable community providing jobs and a sound education to its students.

It is also important to note that, while we went through our charter renewal process, our revised charter was unanimously approved. Also, the committee charged with reviewing Blue Oak and compiling data to support its conclusion unanimously recommended that the charter be renewed. We were surprised and devastated that the BCOE voted in contrast to the committee’s recommendation after approving our revised charter.

It is my hope that CUSD will take a close look at the data available and conclude that this school is not only viable and successful, but also an important part of our community.

Tiffany Wilhelm

Like many North Staters, I was shocked to learn that Blue Oak Charter School was having its charter revoked. I have a met a number of its students here and there—admittedly not a full sample—and found them to be smart and engaged. Not only that, they actually like going to school.

The revoking of the charter exposes huge flaws in the testing and assessment system that California, sadly, pioneered beginning in the 1970s. Charter schools are encouraged to find new directions in education, to explore byways and roads less traveled, but in the end their students have to line up at the state testing parade ground, standing at attention, wearing 19th-century uniforms, and marching to a common drummer.

Charter schools ought to be able to design their own accountability systems based on demonstrated student performance rather than standardized tests. So, for that matter, should all public schools, which are being destroyed by a testing system that, despite four decades of consuming public funds, has yet to show that it has any relevance to school reform, student performance or, most important, the role of education in society.

Stephen Tchudi
Yankee Hill

Two views on rhetoric

Re “Time to say ‘Enough!’ ” (Letters, by David Welch, Jan. 13):

David Welch, you got to be kidding! The “alleged liberal media” did exactly what you did: spouting off, blaming the “right” without anything to base it on. We now know that you all are completely wrong! You’re a freakin’ joke! And so is the mainstream media.

If you really believe what you said, then why don’t you propose the passing of a law that says mentally disturbed people can’t listen to talk radio or watch Fox News or Glenn Beck! People like you don’t seem to have a problem controlling (or wanting to control) every aspect of the lives of people like me, so that seems like a good place to start.

Jimmy Hendryx
Live Oak

Hooray for David Welch for his indictment of the rhetoric of people like Sarah Palin, Sharron Angle, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. Let me add that hate-mongering doesn’t occur just at the national level. Chico’s got plenty.

How responsible is it that our town’s daily newspaper hosts blogs (www.norcalblogs.com) that frequently spew stuff like this: “[President] Obama is a racist, gang-banging communist thug who will do anything to further his agenda of destroying America”?

How responsible is it that, in ceaseless editorials, the same daily newspaper demonizes City Council members by substituting name-calling (e.g., “liberal power brokers,” “strident ideologues,” “lefties”) for analysis?

How responsible is it that our newest wannabe political force in town, the Chico Tea Party Patriots, blogs about “Evil Anti-God Liberals (who) take over America with their Evil ways”?

How helpful and responsible is Congressman Herger when he gives public praise and blessings to a local gentleman who publicly defines himself as “a proud right-wing terrorist”? By the way, Mr. Herger continues, post-Tucson, to whitewash his infamous inflammatory remarks.

As Mr. Welch says, we can no longer tolerate this talk. It’s not fair, it’s not responsible; it’s dangerous.

Bob Klang

Commission and cronyism

Re “Clearing up ‘confusion’ ” (Letters, by Carin Hilgeman, Jan. 13):

Former Chico Arts Commission Chairwoman Carin Hilgeman is correct that there is (or should be) “no uncertainty as to what the roles of the Arts Commission are.” There also seems to be little dispute over the city engineers’ “choice” in local aesthetic treatments.

But what Ms. Hilgeman studiously ignores is the controversy that has emerged over whether the Arts Commission has been fulfilling its “role,” especially under her recent leadership. And her “retirement” still leaves in its wake the appearance (if not the reality) of rampant “good-old-boy/-girl” cronyism, along with many still unanswered questions about what (if any) oversight the commission actually provides in Chico’s so-called “public” art process.

Yes, she leaves behind a proud legacy indeed, or, to paraphrase Dubya’s now famous compliment, “Carin, you did a heckuva job!”

Kathryn M. Lowen
Somes Bar


Several out-of-state readers provided updated information for and corrections of our EarthWatch brief last week, “Animal fat fuels biodiesel research,” about the production of biodiesel from animal fats. Here’s what they had to say:

Tyson Foods did not team up with the synthetic-fuels research group Syntroleum Corp. in October 2010, as reported. That’s when the two firms began production of biodiesel at their Geismar, La., plant; their association dates to 2006.

Production figures given for the Geismar plant, as conveyed in a November article in National Geographic News, were out of date; production had increased since November.

Finally, making biodiesel from soybeans is less expensive than refining diesel from oil, and the resulting biodiesel does not emit airborne carcinogens when burned, as reported.

The errors have been corrected online.