Letters for January 22, 2004

Starting point
I am an employee of Caminar, a non-profit organization serving adults with disabilities in Butte County. I follow the California state budget closely as it affects the everyday lives of the people I work with. It’s not about my job—with my education and background I could find another one that pays more and isn’t so contingent upon such an unstable budget. Instead I have found in this field you can’t help but care, and you become an advocate without necessarily meaning to.

With California so far in debt I am not opposed to Health and Human Services taking cuts (we are used to doing more with less). But as someone who doesn’t make much money, I know this reality—you have to make more money if you can’t pay the bills. The reality of California’s budget is that we have to increase our revenue through taxes. The current trend of cutting department budgets while not increasing revenue is seriously compromising the health and safety of California.

To think otherwise is naïve and unrealistic. At one time California had services and programs that were enviable, whereas now we are a seemingly uncaring, irresponsible joke. Taxes have to be raised a small amount, as it is the only long-term solution to this budget crisis. It is time for the taxpayers and Legislature to admit this and begin lining up to take action. I’m starting the line right here.

Rebecca Finn

Gun control assault
Violent crime is down in America. Of course, none of us knows exactly why it’s down, but logical people would agree that rational gun control laws could be part of the reason.

That’s why I am amazed that the gun lobby, led by the National Rifle Association, is campaigning now to gut the Brady Bill and let the assault weapons ban expire.

These are moderate laws that pass the common-sense test. The Brady Bill requires that gun sellers keep records on gun sales for 90 days. The assault weapons ban outlaws guns designed for soldiers to mow down enemy troops.

I hope Congress puts safety first and defends these laws.

Merrie Wales

Big fish
Well. I can’t see over it or around it or through it, so I don’t know what’s coming around the corner. Probably more of the same.

This one’s so loud I can’t hear the others, and what does it carry (other than its own monstrous weight) behind those blacked-out windows? Isn’t that a security risk?

Pedestrians are plankton for these expensive, polluting “wrong whales,” these marks of rugged individuality. These rolling towers of the ultimate me!

Bob Garner

Circle of life
Now you know a little more about what goes into producing the best and safest food in the world, grown right here in our state of California ["The salads of wrath,” cover story, Jan. 15].

Vince Beiser failed to mention that the grower risks his/her family’s house, land and financial future every year to grow this food to feed our nation and the world. We must all work together to keep America self-sufficient.

Kathryn Shimizu

Immersion diversion
Parents were shocked to hear in a recent meeting that the administration is seriously considering eliminating the two-way Spanish/English immersion program from Chapman Elementary School. The administration was evasive as to who was behind the proposal, but more than 100 impassioned Chapman parents who attended the meeting made it clear that they would do whatever they could to prevent it from happening.

Alan Stephenson, the school district’s director of curriculum, said “ratios” were the cause for concern, that because of a higher percentage of Spanish-speaking (as opposed to English-speaking) students in the program, the program was not being implemented “according to its model.” Stephenson neglected to acknowledge that in the early years of the program fewer English speakers were willing to venture into the unknown.

Since that time, support has grown dramatically, and we currently have English speakers on waiting lists. By offering the immersion program, Chapman has provided its immersion students and the greater Chapman community the opportunity for mutual cultural respect and understanding—light years beyond our country’s current social goals of (at best) “tolerance.” Our children graduate from the program with immense skills and confidence.

We parents feel privileged to have our children at Chapman, which we consider to be a true multicultural melting pot staffed by an exceptional and dedicated group of teachers. We are amazed at what our children are achieving, both socially and academically. We are pleased to have our children enrolled in a school that truly represents the community in which most of us live (Chapmantown), and possibly one of the last true communities in Chico.

We demand that the Spanish immersion language program remain at Chapman school for as long as there is a community need for it. We have made a very serious commitment to the program, and we insist that the administration follow through on its commitment to the program as well.

Please show your support for both the immersion program at Chapman and the preservation of the immersion program in the greater Chico community by communicating with the Chico Unified School District.

Jill and Washington Quezada Chris and Sean Montgomery
Chapman Elementary School parents

Park proposal
Dear City Council,

Could you place on the upcoming ballot the question of whether we would prefer spending $28 million for the state-acceptable “in-place” dump cleanup or $8 million to do the state-acceptable “pile-and cap” dump cleanup and $20 million to complete the park system?

Thank you.

Michael Jones

Land of the free
Our government claims we bombed Iraq to defend a free America and continues our military fight in Iraq to establish democracy there akin to our own. However, in our democratic nation, we citizens are thoroughly searched, electronically scanned and our belongings x-rayed at airports, the Statue of Liberty, the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, courthouses and numerous other buildings and tourist attractions. We are regularly videotaped on buses, in schools, in supermarkets, at traffic lights; our telephone conversations are often taped to monitor for security purposes.

We citizens can now be detained in prison indefinitely without being charged with a crime, with no access to a lawyer or to our families.

Beginning this summer, when we make airline reservations, our information is immediately sent to a Homeland Security database. Homeland Security determines our security risk and sends a color code—green (low risk), yellow (unknown risk) or red (high risk)—to the airlines to place on our boarding passes. At our borders we now fingerprint and photograph foreign visitors coming into this country.

Here in our own city our police want to buy Taser guns (stun guns) and obtain Homeland Security funds to expand our citizen identification systems to operate nationwide.

Our government claims these security measures are imposed against our citizenry to safeguard our democracy from those who want to crush it. However, we do not need to worry about terrorists destroying our democratic nation. We are accomplishing that just fine all on our own.

Evanne O’Donnell

Male bonding
Our governor is hoping we’ll bond with him.

Stephen T. Davis

Phasers on stun
I saw a video clip of President Bush the other day and noticed he looked tired or stressed—I don’t know which, but with definite bags under the eyes. This is rare for someone normally so concerned about media appearance. I thought, “Gosh, maybe he is finally seeing the world situation in a different light and how it is affecting other human beings.” The next day I heard his vision quest speech to send a manned mission to Mars, and then I realized it wasn’t the policies of imperialistic powers weighing heavy on his soul. No, he has been up late watching way too many Star Trek reruns.

If he is looking for a vision thing, he need look no farther than our own Earth. There are far too many suffering from famine and malnutrition, inadequate and unsanitary water supplies, ill-treatment and diminishing resources here on our own world. Let the robots do what they are designed for—there is enough for human beings to attend to on this planet.

I find it ironic that someone in such a position of power is willing to devote billions to science to prepare and deliver this mission, while ignoring the vast volumes of empirical data science provides supporting evolution, and yet still give credibility to the literal belief of the metaphorical story of creation.

I can only hope that enough will have evolved their vision to see through this phony baloney and remove it from office in November.

David Foreman
Forest Ranch