Letters for January 30, 2014

Four on the cover

Re “Out of sight, out of mind” (Cover feature, by Patrick Newman, Jan. 23):

I’m rubbing “eyeball moisture” as the epiphany hits: A small group of well-connected “squeaky wheels” had directed their anger, fear and hate at the most vulnerable and faceless people in our community—those without shelter from the storm, warmth from the cold, and laughter echoing in a safe space they call their own.

Their ethnic cleansing required ruthless tactics including hosing street musicians and threatening homeless advocates outside City Council chambers who challenged a law against sitting on the sidewalk. They needed to convince the good citizens of Chico that the sky was falling at the hands of the unclean and unsafe. Drastic measures were needed, lest Chico suffer more trumped-up roofless atrocities. They needed to numb public tears and to ensure those who dared question their myopic view were silenced and marginalized to the fullest extent possible.

The squeaky wheels are about to be silenced with hope and change from the compassionate people of Chico. They will yell, they will scream, they will throw temper tantrums of how compassion will bring us back to hell. Pay them no heed, for love conquers all.

Bill Mash

Patrick Newman compares the Orchard Church/City Plaza decision to South African apartheid. Not content with this cogent analogy, he accuses property owners of creating a “medieval spectacle.” The homeless, by contrast, are “heroic and amazing,” and any average folk who may differ with his viewpoint clearly think they’re entitled to live in “Pleasantville, USA.”

Mr. Newman concludes with allusions to “social cleansing and genocide” and “the final solution,” thus proving that he’s not at all prone to exaggeration.

He is, of course, entitled to his opinion, but giving him the cover-story soapbox reflects an editorial decision devoid of journalistic integrity. The sidebar, which could have been devoted to a dissenting view, instead featured Newman waxing warmly about the tears he shed while hugging a homeless person, and then waxing glumly that we’ll all be homeless.

Maybe the article is just the CN&R version of “fair and balanced,” but it read more like a National Lampoon satire. It’s not April Fools’ Day, so I guess you guys really have fallen this far. What a shame.

S.K. McCarthy

Thank you for printing Patrick Newman’s essay about the removal of the Orchard Church and Food Not Bombs from City Plaza. He has inspired me to take a long, hard look at my attitude to our homeless citizens.

Blaming people for their problems keeps us in our comfort zones, and allows us to accept them being marginalized and discriminated against. Recognizing that but for the grace of God—or just good fortune—that homeless person could be our mother, brother, or our self, makes it so much easier to dismiss them as people making bad choices or not taking advantage of their opportunities.

I recently heard that the average homeless person in San Francisco is a woman older than 65. Now that hits close to home. Maybe if we keep the homeless in our sights we will also keep them in our minds and hearts.

Hilary Locke

Chico is a community with heart and commitment. Often, Christmas passes as business as usual, but here in Chico a number of groups help with drives for food, coats and sleeping bags. Those who are homeless have advocates who speak for them, people like Beth Fox and Patrick Newman, who actually speak with those on the streets.

What is needed is a day center. I can understand opposition to a tent city that may seem too much like a refugee camp, known for crime and health issues. However, we are an expansive city with many empty buildings. There are grants available to finance such a project. Homelessness cannot be swept under the rug.

Many in the homeless community are mentally ill. Many have health issues or are too old to work. Many are longtime citizens of Chico. The term homeless has become derogatory, demeaning and cruel. I think we can do better. These are our neighbors. Let’s give the issue our best effort!

Crystal A. Mourad

LaMalfa, the flip-flopper

Congressman LaMalfa’s official website says, “Our gratitude is not enough. I will always fight to protect the benefits that veterans earned.”

Hmm, I wonder how he squares that with his recent vote to cut promised cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) to the military?

Oh, well, perhaps he didn’t know. Maybe he didn’t read the budget agreement before he voted for it. Or, maybe he did, but didn’t care. Who can know for sure?

Now, in an apparent attempt to fix a problem he’s helped create, LaMalfa’s supporting bills intended to restore these cuts to military pensions.

Only in Washington can you create a mess and then hope to get credit for fixing it.

Dare I say, “Representative LaMalfa voted for it before he voted against it.”

Pete Stiglich

Or is it nature?

Re “Duh, it’s climate change” (Letters, by Mike Wiedeman, Jan. 23):

Mr. Wiedeman must think that he’s the first farmer to experience crop failure since man first turned the earth in the Fertile Crescent.

Way back in 1973, I took an upper-division biology course at Chico State. (Biology is a science, my liberal friends.) It was a plant-history course of native California plants. Tree-ring analyses of bristlecone pines in the southern Sierra Nevada showed periods of drought in California over a 2,000-year period. Some of these dry periods lasted more than 100 years. Studies of coastal redwoods yielded similar results. California has been and will continue to be a desert state no matter how many sell their cars and ride bicycles.

I recommend the acolytes of Al Gore revisit the predictions set forth in the 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth and ask why the scientific models used have been remodeled and the predictions revised concerning average global temperatures and sea levels.

Could it have been a scare tactic to pass carbon-credit legislation that allowed Al Gore to broker carbon credits to polluting industries and make millions of dollars? Duh!

Bill Hooton
Red Bluff

About the city attorney

Re “A valued position” (Letters, by Andy Holcombe, Jan. 23):

Regarding the letter from former Chico City Councilman Andy Holcombe, there are three positions that report to the City Council, not two. He opined that contracted city attorney services would be more expensive, yet Chico is the rare example of a city its size bearing the payroll and benefits costs of an in-house City Attorney Department, particularly in this day and age, when business is conducted largely via telephone and email.

Payroll and benefits costs for the city attorney alone cost more than $263,000 last fiscal year. That’s on top of the costs for department staff, which brought the total pay and benefits to more than $636,000. An additional $150,000 in specialty outside-attorney fees and other costs brought the department costs to more than $810,000.

This expense continued during the years when the city was burning through millions of dollars more in expense than revenue each year, and took the city dangerously close to insolvency. This further demonstrates the need for far greater levels of city-attorney objectivity and independence from internal management and staff.

The city-attorney proposal process will enable the council to make an informed decision about how best to procure city-attorney services in the future, rather than to just keep doing things the same old way.

Mark Sorensen

Editor’s note: Mark Sorensen is a Chico City Council member. The third position reporting to the City Council is the city clerk.

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