Letters for January 6, 2005

Correction: Last week’s review of the year 2004 in local music, “We sing the city eclectic,” should have said that the band Number One Gun had signed with Tooth and Nail Records. The News & Review regrets the error and apologizes for any inconvenience it may have caused.

Muddy waters
Your recent summary concerning the Chico Municipal Airport was misleading ['Other significant stories from 2004,” Dec. 30]. While the Chico City Council approved the plan submitted by the Chico Airport Commission, the Federal Aviation Administration did not. They ruled that the integrity of Mud Creek was to be maintained and that runway expansion could be achieved by lengthening both ends of the existing main runway, stopping short of both Mud and Sycamore creeks.

We might add that was a compromise solution we suggested to the Airport Commission very early in our negotiations.

John M. Oswald

Cost of incarceration
Richard Ek’s commentary on Proposition 66 and California prisons was right on target [”Judges should take action,” Guest comment, Dec. 9]. However, some additional input might be helpful. California’s prison population is about 162,000, and the total cost of incarceration is huge (more than $5 billion)—especially in light of the state’s difficult budget situation.

Medical care alone for prisoners is nearly $1 billion a year and climbing because of the aging prisoner population. It has been estimated that average annual prisoner costs are more than $50,000 for those over age 50 because of increased medical needs. Some are sick and elderly prisoners using walkers or wheelchair bound; some have terminal illnesses. Yet many have families willing to take them home. Do we really believe that inmates such as these pose a threat to society?

To keep many such sick and elderly imprisoned at great taxpayer expense is to me both inhumane and fiscally foolish. The same terms apply to the misapplication of the three-strikes law—inhumane and fiscally foolish. My hope is that those who disagree with me on the humanity issue might pay attention to the fiscal issue. All California taxpayers should.

Howard L. Stensrud

American pastime
It appears that a number of folks are unhappy with the name given to our new baseball team, the Chico Outlaws. Many would like to see a name more representative of the Chico community. The Chico Oaks would be an obvious choice, but the owners would probably not consider that name adventurous enough. OK, then, I suggest we use the opportunity to memorialize the city’s historic tree that tumbled to the ground some 27 years ago and call our new team the Chico Hookers.

Irv Schiffman

Tone it down
I know it is all very complex and so much preparation has already commenced, but it seems that instead of delivering a lavish and $30-million-expensive political inauguration, our president could be sworn in by a simple ceremony with lots of applause and whistling—period.

Divert all moneys to be spent on fattening food and intoxicating drink, spectacular decorations including fashionable gowns, etc., setups for embellished speeches and grand musical delights to cleaning up of mud and crumbled cities, provision of medicine, food, shelter, clothing, burials, and comfort to the victim nations and peoples of the latest global disaster in South Asia.

On 9/11 the world stopped for the people of the United States: Appointments, grievances, schedules, prejudices, entertainments were all forgotten while humans sought out and cared for fellow humans. In spite of the horrendous circumstances, it was the human spirit of generosity and love and gratitude that was celebrated for months afterward.

The world has stopped again, certainly, for the 100,000-plus from many nations who perished, but also for the 20-fold number of others affected in every manner conceivable. (And, of course, this devastation—human suffering—occurs continually even without the aid of “natural” disruptions, in the form of preventable disease, starvation, homelessness, massacres, etc.)

Can we encourage our leaders to let go of the trappings of prosperity for a time in order to be at least partly in solidarity with those who share another side of our planet?

Catherine and Harry Webster

Jesus, what a liberal
“Liberal” has somehow become a pejorative term, so that even the most liberal candidates for public office tie themselves up in absurd contradictions and evasions to avoid being branded with the term. Instead they call themselves “progressives” or, alternately, “moderates,” terms currently adopted as camouflage for closet liberals.

How did Republican neoconservatives usurp the right to define “liberal” so negatively? They could only do so because liberals abandoned the term and thus forfeited the right to define it for themselves. Yet liberalism is a noble, time-honored social and political philosophy, one I happen to adhere to. I see no reason to allow conservatives to tell me what that means.

While the Christian Right enthusiastically supports Bush’s heartless social policies, Jesus himself was a liberal. Liberalism embraces generosity, and politically it is the willingness to lend a hand to those in need. Jesus identified these qualities as constituting the righteousness of those who “inherit the kingdom of heaven.”

These righteous ones were the liberals of his time who fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, took in strangers, clothed the naked, healed the sick and visited those in prison. These were the ones concerned for “the least of the brethren.” I don’t know where the Christian Right comes off with its scorn of liberals, because Jesus certainly didn’t scorn them.

Neoconservatism is the politics of personal greed and public neglect. “Liberalism,” Garrison Keillor reminds us, “is the politics of kindness.” Anyone should be glad to be branded a liberal.

Lin Jensen

Stop the slaughter
The past year has witnessed major national wins and losses. The Republicans won by retaining political power in the November elections. The Democrats won because they are not stuck with the losing battle for a democratic Iraq.

On the domestic front, we’ve been losing the battle for our health, with obesity assuming epidemic proportions. We’ve been losing the battle for our environment, with more animal wastes dumped in our water supplies. And, we’ve been losing the battle for our collective soul, with more and more animals subjected to factory farm and slaughterhouse atrocities.

Amazingly, each of us can do a great deal to turn this around with one simple New Year’s resolution. A resolution to replace meat and dairy products in our diet with wholesome, delicious vegetables, fresh fruits, beans and whole grains. With every supermarket featuring a large variety of soy-based veggie burgers and dogs, deli slices, ready-to-eat frozen dinners, soy ice cream, and milk, it’s got to be the easiest resolution we will ever keep.

Clayton Scott