Letters for January 22, 2015

Protecting the powerless

Re “Mind unsound, body unsheltered” (Cover story, by Howard Hardee, Jan. 15):

Howard Hardee has done a service to the Chico community with his story on mental illness and homelessness. Hardee brings depth and complexity, the antithesis of simplistic formulas defining homelessness as a matter of personal failure or “lifestyle” choice.

Further complicating the issue: Multiple studies have shown that traumatic brain injuries account for roughly 50 percent of male homelessness. Consider the hundreds of ways a brain injury can occur and the complexity of diagnosis and treatment. Brain-injured people are commonly alienated from family and friends and begin to wander—often “self-medicating” with alcohol.

Additionally, many homeless describe life histories of early childhood abandonment and placement with a mind-boggling number of caregivers. Imagine the effect on emotional stability and mental health of abandonment at 3 years old and a childhood in literally 20 different homes.

Lastly, the impact of homelessness on the cityscape was mentioned in Hardee’s story. The battle for public space—such as City Plaza—will never end. The homeless need public space; they have no private space. Commercial interests want them removed. This is an age-old urban contest between human decency and economic expediency. The powerless will perennially depend on the citizenry for protection of their civil rights.

Patrick Newman

Wow! Can you imagine yourself in any one of these positions for any length of time? It is an entrapped life—so limited, so uncomfortable, so unsafe. And yes, they are us.

Marian Evans

It’s all propaganda

Re “Where’s that education” (Guest commentary, by Dean Carrier, Jan. 15):

Dean Carrier’s guest commentary was amusing, as well as fairly one-dimensional. He speaks of supposedly educated people, with “college degrees” who get their news from Fox News, as though there are many other news outlets where one can obtain the “real” news.

I try not to watch too much Fox. However, it does not stand alone. CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, MSNBC are all part and parcel of the propaganda machine here in the good old USA. I look briefly at all of these networks, but concentrate mostly on RT and Al Jazeera for the truth.

You can’t just get your news and the actual facts with a one-stop location. If you’re serious about knowing what is really happening, then you have to check out everything and once you get all of the info from a variety of sources, then you must exercise discernment. All of the news outlets are largely used for propaganda.

Carrier’s opinion is largely a not-so-thinly-veiled slap in the face at “conservative” types. It is amusing, but I’d rather he talked about the fact that no one gives the full truth anymore—all news outlets are slanted in one way or another. That’s just the way it is and you don’t need an advanced degree to figure it out.

Carolyn Kiesz

Sacrifices for the trees

Re “Felling on hold” (Newslines, by Tom Gascoyne, Jan. 15):

Several of us gathered at Oroville Cemetery last Friday morning. Under old sycamores that have stood for four generations, Bill Caspers played “Amazing Grace” on his bagpipes. I had tears in my eyes. Not just because he plays beautifully, but also because of my friend’s reaction. Hellen Dennis sat in her wheelchair beneath an umbrella in the cold rain and cried; she felt Bill was “playing for the trees.”

She and others from Save Oroville Trees have been on watch by the sycamores for two months. She’s there from 5:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. No matter the weather, she sits in her wheelchair waving at passersby. Every day.

She and others from SOT have attended two City Council meetings. The mayor and City Council members have not been moved by our pleadings, and PG&E will cut those trees if they don’t rescind the encroachment permit. Yet they continue to ignore our struggle, giving no thought to Hellen and the others who sacrifice so much to save those trees.

J.R.R. Tolkien said, “Every tree has its enemy; few have an advocate. In all my works I take the part of trees against all their enemies.” I never realized how true these words are.

Linda Draper
Save Oroville Trees, Oroville

Two on scrap yard

Re “It’s still contaminated” (Letters, by Russ Edmondson—Department of Toxic Substances Control, Jan. 8):

As a longtime environmentalist, I have a soft spot in my heart for Chico Scrap Metal. Back around 1987 or ’88 they were the only place I knew of that took glass, plastic and cardboard. I had been taking recyclables to Butte Environmental Council’s yard at the corner of Seventh and Cherry streets, until BEC stopping taking recyclables and posted a sign advising people to take recyclables to Chico Scrap Metal.

We need to credit all recycling companies with keeping huge amounts of trash out of that ever-growing mountain of trash on Neal Road.

Andrew Coolidge was the only Republican candidate for City Council who responded to the Sierra Club’s list of questions. He had some good answers regarding his support for solar energy and his support of the annual recycled art competition, extending invitations to schools throughout Butte County to participate in an effort to educate students about recycling.

As we learn more about environmental hazards we are finding that practices that were once acceptable can no longer be accepted. I just wish the vitriol could be toned down.

Sharon Fritsch

Let me summarize the story of Councilman Andrew Coolidge and Chico Scrap Metal. In 2006, the city of Chico notified the junkyard that it was out of compliance with Chico’s general plan. The city gave its owners five years to move. Then, in 2011, they were given another three years, with a deadline of Dec. 31, 2014.

Coolidge was sworn in on Dec. 2, and the junkyard showed up and demanded the city overturn the 8-year-old order. Coolidge got that issue on the Jan. 6 council agenda. At that meeting, the junkyard’s attorney stated that there is no toxic contamination at the junkyard. Yet Department of Toxic Substances Control in a letter (CN&R, Jan. 15) stated that was “untrue,” citing that the agency “found elevated levels of PCB on the Chico Scrap Metal location on 20th Street.”

The CN&R reports that Coolidge is threatening the paper with a libel suit. In Paris, signs went up stating Se juis Charlie (I am Charlie), so maybe in Chico we need signs that say “I am the Chico News & Review.”

Karl Ory

Editor’s note: Mr. Ory is a former Chico mayor.

Confused by liberals

Re “Hold strong on free speech” (Editorial, Jan. 15):

Again, I’m confused by the liberals of the world. Last week, the CN&R editors state, “What would it signal to the religious extremists—and to the rest of the world, for that matter—to censor something that offends them?”

Isn’t that why we don’t use words like nigger or fag? Isn’t that why there is pressure to eliminate “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance? If we are to censor ourselves to respect each others’ race or sexual orientation then it is only fair that we censor ourselves to respect others’ religious beliefs. There are other, and better, ways to get your point across than to publish sacrilegious (to some) material.

It appears that offending religions (other than Atheism) is fair game but offending racial, sexual orientation or any other protected group is obscene.

Larry Barrett

Editor’s note: The point was that it would signal to the extremists that their murderous rampage could squelch freedom of expression. We defend Charlie Hebdo’s right to freedom of speech, regardless of whether we would have published the cartoons in question.

‘Half-based analysis’

Re “Pure propaganda” (Letters, by Patrick Newman, Jan. 8):

Really, Mr. Newman? Propaganda? And what, pray tell, are the “science test” and “civics test”? Oh! I see. In order to have any “truth-value,” it needs to be put in context of the corollary that the reverse is also true. This preponderance of half-baked analysis would make me suspicious if I knew you were the guy responsible for reshelving books at the library.

Your comparative allusions of civil demography is impressive: we would see “other cities have very similar patterns.” It just takes my breath away to near exhaustion thinking about all the research, to reach out and touch us paranoid Neanderthals with enlightening commentary.

Why don’t the homeless lovers make an honest argument that they have more compassion than common sense per capita? Because they do and many cities have less. The Bowery Boys of Monogram Pictures fame might have put it another way: “Who died and made you Mother Teresa of Chico?”

Rick Vagts

What about the patients?

So now Measure A has passed. What does this mean for cannabis patients? The Board of Supervisors claim to support patient rights to access, but this is just not true. Collectives have been eliminated. There are no dispensaries in Butte County.

In some areas of the county, you cannot legally grow at all. Large numbers of residents live in apartments and trailer parks that do not permit cultivation. Landlords actively prohibit “420 growing.” Neighbors must give approval. Most importantly, don’t forget those who are unable to grow due to physical limitations.

There was no consideration of the canopy space necessary to farm a marijuana plant that is pest- and disease-free (mold, worms or disease result from inadequate space).

It is 81-plus miles, one way, to find a dispensary. Patients who have to use these dispensaries will be forced to travel several hours and pay for medicine that was provided free by their local cooperatives. The county failed to disclose it would spend millions of taxpayer dollars ensuring there is no legal access to medical marijuana for most patients in Butte County. Is that really what the voters want?

Denice Lessard