Letters for January 26, 2012

Problem bigger than bags

Re “Perplexing plastic” (Newslines, by Meredith J. Graham, Jan. 12): The major problem with plastic is that is does not really break down and disappear. The plastic-bag issue is really a symbol but not substantive. If I use a cloth bag, I will fill it with plastic packaging material that will be thrown into the trash. It does not break down. Anything that eats it will not digest it so it will continue to be passed around our environment.

The Pacific Ocean has a large pool of plastic waste the size of Texas that is getting larger as time passes. Get rid of the plastic grocery bags, but don’t stop there.

Charles Donaldson

Big bucks, little seeds

Re “Grow, buy, eat local” (Greenways feature, by Claire Hutkins Seda, Jan. 5): In this time of economic uncertainty and huge national and state budgets, there is a glimmer of Obama’s green hope and change! One-half of a million dollars ($500,000) has been granted to a Chico group to teach people how to plant seeds and hopefully have some produce left over to sell at the farmers’ market.

I’m sure many taxpayers would like to see a detailed disbursement schedule of such a vast amount. Who is pocketing most of the funds? As for teaching people how to plant seeds—perhaps they could try reading the package for planting instructions.

Then there is Jane Dolan’s new taxpayer-funded job at mega-bucks per hour.

We are sick of it! Tea Party, where are you?

Hugh and Jean Rhodes

Postal Service delivers

A few weeks ago I received a phone call from the Susanville Post Office. I had mailed a copy of my book to a friend in Susanville, but the address label had come off. A post office employee used the return address sticker to find my phone number and call me for the delivery information.

During the busy Christmas season, with mountains of mail to deliver to countless destinations, this postal worker went the “extra mile” to assure that one parcel, sent at “media” rate, got to the right place.

Having lived in many out-of-the-way locations, I also have hopes that small post offices are retained somehow in these troubled times, and that these iconic and longstanding postmarks continue to enrich the rural landscape of America.

My thanks to that unknown person in Susanville who cared enough to find my phone number and assure delivery of the parcel I had sent. The U.S. Postal Service is still the gold standard.

Robert Woods

Free-form rant

I want to see where every dime of the money spent on the new parking garage goes. This is the eternal rule for all of us who want to know who, what, where, when and why. Remember Watergate?

And, for all you dummies running the red light, on the wrong side of the road, after dark with no lights, on your bicycle—rules of the road are not some arbitrary oppression imposed by old people. They were worked out over a long time for the purpose of helping us avoid killing each other. Get over the idea that your superpowers negate the laws of physics.

Also, to all you slobs who throw your cigarette butts—and other garbage—on the group: Your mommy obviously never taught you nothin', so it is time to figure it out for yourself.

Finally, one guy shoots someone and now we can’t see a band play without first getting searched. This is not OK. Those clubs don’t get my money, and they shouldn’t get yours. Collective punishment is against international rules of war, and is no more appropriate here.

(Sigh.) I feel so much better now.

Nelson Kaiser

What did Aaron do for you?

Lately in and around town all I have been hearing about is Aaron Rodgers, the quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. Don’t get me wrong, he is an excellent quarterback, appears to be humble, and comes from a beautiful city. But what else does he really do besides throw a football?

I guess the ultimate answer that I am seeking is how he actually makes our lives better. While he can inspire and give us hope, is he providing changes to our lives and the community other than giving us a few hours of entertainment each week? With millions of people out of work and thousands of people living on the streets, is Aaron Rodgers going to provide them with employment and housing?

I think society’s priorities are sometimes backwards and should be more balanced. For example, I rarely read in the newspapers about the incredible things that people do at Chico State or the American Cancer Society in our community. Shouldn’t we recognize and commend those people who work vigorously to make our lives as Chico citizens better?

While Aaron Rodgers can make financial donations to our city or visit to make a brief appearance and sign a few autographs, it’s the people who work and live in Chico who directly impact all of us, and to me that is more important than a football player who simply throws touchdowns for a living. I do not understand why we epitomize Rodgers as our “hero” or “idol” when, in reality, the true heroes are the men and women who serve in the military.

Jennifer Benjamin

School calendar problems

It appeared at last night’s [school] board meeting [Jan. 18] that the board was leaning toward the Aug. 20 start calendar as some sort of compromise. Let me explain to you how this option is not a compromise.

Sure, Aug. 20 looks great when you compare it to the Aug. 10 date we had this year. The current calendar system is designed so that the first day of school is 18 weeks before the winter break. Due to the natural cycle of calendars, Christmas break falls later than normal this year, and therefore Aug. 15 is 18 weeks before winter break. Giving us three extra days of summer is not really a compromise, especially when you factor in that kindergarten and freshman orientations generally happen the day before school starts. They would then be held on Friday, Aug. 17.

Look at a calendar, and what this option really accomplishes is getting to come back only two school days later for many families. Given the cycle of calendars, you have to consider that each year the initial start date rolls back one day, so that in year three of this option the start is Aug. 18. Not to mention the disparity between semester lengths is 16 days with this option instead of the current 10.

So the students now have to learn the same amount of stuff in six fewer days, which further compounds their stress to complete finals before winter break for those students who already struggle academically. This option only compromises students’ education.

Jenni Merrell

When parents don’t buy into the school calendar it can have serious fiscal impacts for the district. This past Jan. 2 is a perfect example. Chico Unified had school, while many parents had the day off. There were 1,199 students absent, 10.1 percent of the district population. The average absence rate is 346 students per day. This is more than three times the average for one day!

Many parents don’t agree with the placement of spring break. They take their kids out of school during Easter week regardless of school being in session. There were 2,311 absences between April 18 and 22, 2011, the “traditional” spring break. This is a 33.6 percent increase in absences, with 462 students missing each day that week.

This trend is also repeated during the first few weeks of school. Between Aug. 10 and 31, 2011, there were 4,967 absences, resulting in an average of 310 students absent per day. Call me crazy but I would expect the absence rate during the first few weeks of school to be substantially lower than the average for the entire year.

At this time of fiscal uncertainties within the state, it is irresponsible for the district to not examine any and all fiscal impacts of its decisions.

The school board seems uninterested in considering the fiscal impacts of their decisions. They underestimate the level of dissatisfaction with the school calendar. If they continue to ignore their constituents, then we will have to change the makeup of the school board in November.

Jeff Merrell