Letters for January 23, 2014

What about the birds?

Re “Don’t delay on flu vaccine” (Editorial, Jan. 16):

Butte County Health Department, pharmacies and hospitals are doing a great job getting people vaccinated against the flu. However, I was disappointed to learn that our county and state are not testing dead birds for the flu virus.

My wife found a dead bird in the gutter on Ceres Avenue. I called the county and they aren’t testing dead birds and referred me to the state. The state also isn’t testing dead birds and referred me back to the county mosquito department in public health; this year, they are not funded by the federal government, nor is the state funded, to test dead birds.

That night, my wife reported this on the Internet. She was informed there have been 42 reported dead birds in Butte County (we don’t know the time period). Our case is ID#598740.

My college degree is in public health so perhaps I have more interest than most.

James P. Sweeney

No sympathy for students

Re “Give us a (longer) break, Chico State” (Guest comment, by Michael Fitzpatrick, Jan. 16):

In his plea for a longer winter break, Mr. Fitzpatrick rebuts Chico State’s rationale for shortening the break “from the traditional five weeks to four weeks.” This is a telling position to take, not in reference to the university’s budget standpoint, but from that of the student!

How well-funded must a university student be that he can afford to live for five weeks without his ostensible raison d’etre to be “in gear”? As a graduate of Chico State, I personally could never have financially borne such a period of “time off to recharge.” Most of the students of my acquaint—back in the ’60s—were in the same boat, which is to say that their budgets were largely or entirely dependent upon summer jobs.

In my own case, without my working a long, arduous summer each year—I was a forest firefighter, and eventually a USFS crew boss with a fire station of my own to manage (highest wage: $2.85/hour) for five summers—college would have been impossible, and Vietnam my destination courtesy of the draft, in short order.

It is beyond my experience to understand how a student can survive such a prolonged school year, however stringent his budget.

Wick Humble

Gear up, candidates

The Chico Taxpayers Association, at www.chicotaxpayers.com, is inviting local candidates in the 2014 election to join us for a speaker series. We’re hoping to get candidates to discuss the issues important to city and county voters in the next few years and to tell us a little about the jobs and how they are qualified.

We started this series with Butte County Assessor candidate Alan Petersen, who talked about the function of the Assessor’s Office, organizing it for efficiency, and above all, the importance of keeping the property-tax rolls accurate, so that taxpayers are paying their fair share for public services.

On Sunday, Jan. 26, we’re welcoming Bob Evans, District 3 supervisor candidate, to the Chico library to share his take on issues facing Butte County. The public is welcome, doors open at noon, and Evans has agreed to answer questions after he gives a short presentation regarding his candidacy.

Juanita Sumner

A ride for the rich

Re “Who resuscitated the electric (super) car?” (Greenways, Jan. 9, by Emiliano Garcia-Sarnoff):

The Tesla Model S: a 100-grand, 21st-century KITT Knight Rider. Nice car if you can get it.

Meanwhile, the reality for me on my $877 SSI check is Lady Sapphire, a single-speed tricycle with a maximum speed—depending on my legs on a given day—of a dazzling 12 mph.

Thus, we have the opposite ends of the wheeled-transport spectrum, and hell will freeze over before Tesla tech will become affordable by the masses.

Ah, but there is a sliver of hope. Next month, I may be able to put an electric motor on Lady Sapphire. If that is successful, then maybe I can challenge the Tesla to a race. It wouldn’t be the first impossible dream I’ve tried and failed.

Gary Brune

A valued position

I recently learned that City Attorney Lori Barker is retiring.

I am happy for her, but worried for the city she served so well. Barker’s great sense of fairness and what is right will be missed.

The city was her only client. We were better council members, a better council and a better city thanks to her professionalism.

What worries me is that the position of an in-house city attorney may be contracted out to a private firm. That would be a costly mistake. The cost of an outside firm providing the same level of service and accessibility to it would be more.

The value of day-to-day legal advice to staff may not be quantifiable, but it is huge. An even greater loss if attorney services are contracted out is the intrinsic value of the city attorney position. The city attorney is one of only two city positions hired by the council. The other is the city manager.

The city attorney reports directly to council as an independent legal voice responsible to council on behalf of Chico, its client. The position is an important balance and buffer to the city manager. The in-house city attorney position has a significant procedural and substantive role in the running of our city. Whatever budget balancing may be desired, we cannot afford to lose the systematic checks and balances of a city well-run.

Andy Holcombe

Editor’s note: Andy Holcombe is a former Chico City Council member.

Two on drought designation

Gov. Jerry Brown has suspended the environmental laws that keep Southern California from draining North State water resources. Those laws set tough standards for transferring water south in consecutive years—and this year will be the second consecutive year. Now, there will be no consideration of the impact on the local environment or on local groundwater supplies, which are already trending downward.

But there is a last line of defense. Butte and Tehama Counties have protected their groundwater from unsafe transfers to other parts of the state. Butte County has transfer requirements that probably can’t be met during a drought, and Tehama County substantially prohibits it.

However, Glenn and Colusa counties—dominated by agricultural interests hoping to profit from selling water south—have implemented no protection at all. Groundwater aquifers cross county boundaries and it is possible to suck water out from under neighboring counties as groundwater pumping is increased to profit from the demands of the San Joaquin Valley.

So the big questions are these: Will Glenn and Colusa counties summon the political courage to join Tehama and Butte counties in protecting North State groundwater against unrelenting pressure from influential locals who want to profit from selling water south? And if they can’t, is there anything neighboring counties can do about it?

Tony St. Amant

California’s climate is highly variable. However, the last 150 years have been abnormally wet. Had 20th-century agencies and entrepreneurs been aware of California’s arid average, it is unlikely they would have invested so much treasure in building dams and canals to develop desert agriculture and grassy municipalities.

A balanced Central Valley aquifer system buffered the impacts of the mega-droughts, allowing valley oak groves to thrive, chinook salmon to migrate, and wetlands to endure the dry decades. The charged aquifer allowed Tulare Lake to persist and held Delta salinity at bay.

Surface reservoirs will not fill during multiyear droughts and will be operationally challenged when the wet conditions that California has come to expect recede into memory. “Groundwater substitution” water sales/transfers are irresponsible. Bailing out unsustainable desert agriculture by transferring Sacramento Valley groundwater to growers south of the Delta will only expand desertification north.

Conservative groundwater management is the key to California’s economic future. Aggressive conversion of Sacramento Valley aquifers into empty underground “reservoir” space only repeats the unrealistic expectations of ill-informed investors and water planners.

Jim Brobeck

Duh, it’s climate change

A headline in the Chico Enterprise-Record on Jan. 19 read “Extreme drought continues in California.” Wow, that is breaking news! Duh, really? I didn’t notice that we in Northern California have not had any significant rain in almost 15 months!

Well, actually I have in that I seeded 35 acres of oat hay (the stuff that cows eat so they can give us milk, butter, sour cream, etc.) and none of it came up. I am new to farming, but if you can’t grow a weed in the winter here, there is something wrong.

I know it takes conservatives a long time to figure out there is a problem out there, but at least let’s admit there is a problem (I know it takes a while to finish saying, “Bad science … maybe uh sunspots?”) and work together for a solution [to climate change]. By the way, I can see Mount Lassen from my farm, and believe me, it’s bald!

Mike Wiedeman

Much thanks, from WTC

First, let me just say thank you! The wine-tasting event, which was co-sponsored by the Chico News & Review and Chico Grocery Outlet on Dec. 19, is an important indicator of how community support has long been the backbone of the Work Training Center, and we continue to be grateful to our local partners.

Through this monthly event, Do-It Leisure, a division of Work Training Center, was able to raise $640 to directly benefit its community programs. The face-to-face time we had with all the attendees is integral in allowing us to raise the level of awareness of our Do-It Leisure mission.

Do-It Leisure is unique in Butte County in that it promotes wellness for adults with developmental disabilities through social events and quality leisure time. We also tailor programs to individuals to provide independent-living skills. If you are ever interested in attending one of our events, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Frankly, without community support and interest, we wouldn’t be able to make the kind of difference to our clients that they count on. We, and those we serve, deeply appreciate the generosity of CN&R ad consultant Brian Corbit, and Chico Grocery Outlet owner Chris Hostettler for hosting such a fabulous affair on our behalf.

Andrea Moriarty
Do-It Leisure director of community services, Chico

Talkin’ ’bout abortion

As we enter the 41st year of a woman’s legally protected decision regarding her reproductive rights, please allow me to share what that looks like face to face.

Here in Chico, most of the women who exercise this right to not see their pregnancy to full term are young. Most appear to be in or around their early 20s. It is very probable that, in many cases, neither the decision nor the choice was theirs to make. What do you see in their faces after making the “choice” and as they leave the parking lot? Do you see relief? Do you see a confident face that says everything will be all right now? Sadly, neither their faces nor their body language suggest a good ending.

What do you see? You see someone who is hurting physically. Sometimes you see the comforting hugs. Sometimes you see the tears. What do you see if they make eye contact as they leave the parking lot? Many times, emptiness. Please consider getting a second opinion before you make this life-changing “choice.” If you have already made this “choice,” there are groups that can help you heal.

Rey Martinez