Letters for January 24, 2008

Abortion issue just a GOP mirage
Re: “A practical matter” (Editorial, CN&R, Jan. 17):

Before reading the rest of what I’m about to write, it should be noted that I am a Republican and have been registered as such since age 18. It should also be noted that it is my opinion that abortion is horrible.

That being said: I really think the abortion issue is a political hot button for Republicans, and nothing more. Not one of the Republicans who have been in office since Roe v. Wade has seen it overturned, and there have been decades of Republican “rule” in which to accomplish such.

Not one of them will change it in the future either. It is used as a political tool during elections, and then forgotten about until it is time to run for office again.

A Republican was in office [as president] when abortion was made legal. He was powerless to do anything about it. The same can be said for any future Republican candidates.

Ah! “But what about the Supreme Court?” you might ask.

We can talk about possible nominees to the Supreme Court until we’re blue in the face, but the reality is that yet another conservative nominee will not change a thing! With seven out of nine justices appointed by Republicans, has abortion gone away? No. Will it? Highly unlikely.

When deciding which candidate I’ll vote for, the abortion issue is not part of my consideration, simply because I know that no matter what the candidates’ opinions on the topic, they will not change anything.

Donny Pauling

Editor’s note: For a different take on Roe v. Wade’s staying power, please see Guest Comment.

Crunching the primary numbers
Re: “Vantage point, voting disappoint” (Letters, by Erica McLane, CN&R, Jan. 17):

As to why Hillary Clinton lamentably won the New Hampshire primary, here’s why: Women are the majority. There’s a quarter of a billion more gals in the world than guys; the single largest voting bloc is older white women, who tend not to vote for minorities.

It’s these older white women who got Hillary the vote in New Hampshire and why she is so confident that she’ll win the presidency. That’s why Obama wants to get out the youth vote. The candidates are working the numbers, that’s all.

This contest is all about race and gender, which unfortunately diminishes the issues.

Michael M. Peters

A case study on health care
Re: “Primary care concerns” (In My Eyes, by Evan Tuchinsky, CN&R, Jan. 17):

As a registered nurse and single-payer activist, your column really struck home. Sadly, too many people don’t realize that the doctor and the patient are both victims of the current system.

For an example of how different it could be, let me tell a little personal story. Two summers ago, my wife and I were on a bike tour in France when the respiratory bug she’d picked up ripened into pneumonia. We were in a small town on a national holiday. I spoke on the phone with physician on call for the area, and we saw her in her office within an hour.

After an exam and two prescriptions, we were on our way for about a tenth of what we would likely have spent going to an emergency room here—which is what we would have had to do if we had been traveling in a strange town in the United States.

The payment process there is so simple that no staffers are needed to handle billing. And since most medical records [kept here] are more for justifying payment than for actual medical need, there’s not much medical-record staffing needed.

There is a better way, but the politicians won’t bring it to us until physicians and patients together demand it in sufficient numbers.

David Welch

Quiz omission?
Re: “Take our budget quiz” (Newslines, by Melinda Welsh, CN&R, Jan. 17):

The quiz was interesting but oddly left out one very telling fiscal problem that California faces and is seemingly unable to tackle: illegal immigration.

Based on data from various sources, if the approximately 3.5 million illegal immigrants now residing in California returned to their countries of origin, $10.2 billion would be available for our overloaded school system, bankrupted hospitals and about-to-burst prison system.

I do not doubt Ms. Welsh’s figures, but considering the amount of money that this state allocates to illegal immigrants, I do feel it should have been included in her quiz.

Steve Wolfe

M&T considerations
Re: “Supervisors put off decision—again” (Newslines, by Toni Scott, CN&R, Jan. 10):

On Jan. 29, our county Board of Supervisors will decide the fate of Baldwin Contracting Co.'s proposed gravel mine operation on farmland by the Sacramento River. The future quality of a number of Chico’s residential and commercial neighborhoods will also be determined by that decision.

At the lengthy hearing Jan. 8, Baldwin stated “the process works” and asked that a decision be rendered in its favor. I contend the following should be considered:

First, since the time when the environmental-impact report (EIR) was completed, traffic has increased substantially in Chico and road conditions have further deteriorated. This will be further exacerbated since the operation isn’t slated to begin until 2014.

Second, when addressing road and safety conditions, the EIR states the impact remains significant and unavoidable.

Third, nowhere in the EIR are road and safety conditions for Eighth and Ninth streets addressed, and these city streets will bear the brunt of the 33,000-plus annual truck trips. This alone should give pause to any decision to move this process forward.

Finally, it is acknowledged that Baldwin’s trucks will accelerate the need for road repair, and as Butte County’s premier road construction company, Baldwin will more than likely be hired to repair those same roads. So not only will it recoup its minor contribution, it will also greatly benefit by the accelerated expenditure of taxpayers’ dollars.

Roger S. Beadle

Editor’s note: The board’s deliberation is a timed item on Tuesday’s agenda, scheduled for 10:30 a.m. in Oroville. Public comment concluded at the previous meeting.

More on M&T
If the county supervisors expect large tax revenues from the proposed mine on River Road, they should remember “a sales tax is incurred only when a sale is made to the public, not when a raw material is sold to a producer who processes a raw material into a salable product” (Butte County General Plan, Chapter 11).

Tax revenues from the Skyway plant will continue as they have, no matter where they obtain raw materials. The only new sales tax revenues will be for gravel sold directly to the public from the River Road site.

Further, damage to Chico’s city roads aren’t part of the cost mitigation. The latest study presented by Baldwin cut its “fair share” of repair costs to about 20 percent, down from the 51 percent promised in the EIR. But even that underestimated Baldwin’s share …

The taxpayers are the losers in this shell game.

Donna Cook

Baldwin has agreed to do several things to mitigate problems, but are the mitigations enough?

What about the damage to our roads?

What about public safety? (The CHP says this mine will create unacceptable traffic hazards for the motoring public, pedestrians, cyclists and slow-moving farm equipment.)

What about congestion? (The EIR states there will be significant and unmitigatable traffic problems.)

What about the destruction of farmland? (The Butte County assessor says, “There are other proximate lands that could be mined without the destruction of prime agricultural land.")

What about impacts on farms? (Neighboring farmers won’t be able to dormant-spray the first 85 feet of their orchards.)

What about job creation? (Negligible to none, according to the EIR.)

Will the supervisors make the right decision?

Ron Jones

My family and I are worried about the negative impact the proposed mine would exert on our quality of life. Destruction of farmland, damage to streets, increased air pollution and dangerous truck traffic hardly add up to what Baldwin would have us believe is a green, sustainable and economical choice.

In the age of global warming, let’s stand up to Baldwin by protecting land that is already green and sustainable from transformation into an industrial wasteland.

Ken Lovgren

If the Baldwin/M&T mine goes through, it will be the largest gift of public funds to a private business in the history of Butte County.

Bob Klang

CAC needs updating
More than a year ago, the Butte County Board of Supervisors appointed a 35-member Citizens Advisory Committee to focus public input during a comprehensive update of the county general plan. The California Supreme Court has characterized general plans as “constitution[s] for future development.” But the public input process in Butte County is in danger of going off track.

Following a drifting downward trend in Citizens Advisory Committee attendance over the past year, the last meeting drew just over half the members—and this was a meeting that none should have missed. Two vital general plan topics were covered: county water resources and regional conservation planning. Both of these issues have been at the forefront of public concern since the update process began.

The problem of declining attendance is compounded by the importance of the next phase of the update effort. The focus through the coming spring will be on recommending specific areas throughout the county for development over the next 20 years.

The Board of Supervisors needs to revitalize this process without delay. The next committee meeting is at the end of February, plenty of time to cut deadwood from the process and appoint new committee members who are willing to put forth the effort required.

Tony St. Amant

Expose politicians’ pay
There has been a lot of ink dedicated lately to the salaries of Chico city employees. Some opinions have been favorable to the employees, and some have been somewhat detrimental. I am one of those who believe that the “safety employee” deserves whatever salary he/she can garner.

The area where I believe the public is being hornswoggled is the total compensation being given to our elected politicians—assemblypeople, state senators, congresspeople. That includes those who have retired.

Is there a newspaper out there that would dare to obtain and print by name their salaries (gross yearly pay if retired), transportation costs, office and staff allowances, health benefits and per-diem allowances?

Richard A. Douglas

Re: “Thinking outside the cell” (cover story, by Kara Platoni, CN&R, Jan. 17): The labels atop the six-slide comparison from Dr. Mina Bissell’s research should have conveyed multiple cells in each instance, rather than “normal cell” and “tumor.” Additionally, for the caption on the four-slide graphic, Dr. Bissell’s lab elaborated on our description by explaining that “normal breast cells can eventually become malignant if they are made to be continuously disorganized” and “when breast cancer cells are treated with a specific antibody to lower their metabolism, they stop growing and behave like normal cells.” These have been adjusted online.

Re: “Shaping his way” (Scene, by Christine G.K. LaPado, CN&R, Jan. 17): Jerry Harris majored in journalism at San Francisco State but did not graduate from there. Also, he lectured at the University of Oregon; Portland State was where he received some of his art education. We have made these corrections online.