Letters for July 10, 2008

You think those are eyesores?
Re: “10 ugliest spots in Chico” (Cover story, CN&R, July 3):

Hey, great story, but you missed one: the new double-wide—I mean “modular home” —perched like a carbuncle up there on the Skyway overlooking Butte Creek Canyon. You probably will get enough submissions for a follow-up or three. But this one is a winner for sure.

Don Piano

While I agree that those eyesores are all truly ugggggllly, they do not even begin compare to the worst, which looks like something out of South Central L.A. after a riot. That would be the lot at 12th and Elm. It is surrounded by ugly barriers, tires and concrete blocks painted a dingy white, and truly ugly signs. Who’d want to set foot on this trash heap even without them?

What are they hiding—a meth lab, a gang HQ or perhaps even the horrendous Jar Jar Binks? The latest addition is a dented, camouflaged bass boat from hell. One suspects that if both the county and the city quit pretending Chapmantown doesn’t exist, code [enforcement], health, and possibly criminal investigators would have a field day there. I don’t even drive past there anymore, but I suggest that a CN&R photographer and reporter check it out.

Jim Dwyer

As one of the “hippie waitresses” (we actually referred to ourselves as waitrons) from Ruby’s, your “Eyesores” article brought back a lot of great memories. Just to clear up a couple of things: Ruby’s didn’t close till the mid-'80s and served dinner also.

Who will ever forget the Wednesday Night Blue Plate Special? Or Bob K. drinking an entire cup of Lilia’s salsa the moment he sat down on every visit? Or Shelley “Splash” W. quoting Nietzsche while filling coffee cups? Or Stephen marrying the cheese grater, which actually merited an article in this very paper? Or Tom, Dale and Bruce dishing it up fast and hot with a joke for every order? Or the endless parade of artists, freaks, intellectuals, and anybody with a hangover who sat at the mismatched tables and chairs, eating big cheesy platefuls of deliciousness with mismatched utensils, fighting the flies for every bite—all part of a family of which I was proud to be a member.

P.S. You forgot the best part of Taylor’s Drive-In! B.Y.O.C.—Bring Your Own Catsup.

Liz Merry

Council’s odd man out
Re: “City in the black, but councilman still seeing red” (Newslines, by Evan Tuchinsky, CN&R, July 3):

I take great pride in praising the progressive majority on the Chico City Council for their leadership and courage in passing a budget that is balanced for the next six years.

Similarly, my hat is off to city workers who are enduring a 7.5 percent belt-tightening and employee groups who have agreed to wage concessions. Theirs are sacrifices that speak volumes relating to the values and priorities that make Chico a great place.

In addition, Steve Bertagna deserves recognition for his work and contribution through this arduous budget process.

As for the lone naysayer when the vote was taken, I am reminded of a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, which I usually think of as characterizing our lame-duck president and our congressman: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen …”

I am encouraged that while Larry Wahl panders to conservative special interests in anticipation of elections in November, Mary Flynn, Scott Gruendl, Andy Holcombe, Tom Nickell and Ann Schwab are working together for Chico’s bright future.

Dan Carter

Editor’s note: For more on Councilman Wahl’s stance, please see In My Eyes.

Quick fix
Re: “The kid who cares” (Fifteen Minutes, by Sarah Kelly, CN&R, July 3):

Thank you for the article, but I am in sixth grade and I started my project in fourth grade. But that’s OK, it’s still a good write-up—thank you.

Brandon Malarkey

Editor’s note: We’re sorry about the editing error, Brandon, and for the production error that cut off your last answer (about your grades getting better since starting BEEP4Kids.com). The online version is correct.

Easy, reader!
The headline on the [July 3] cover of the CN&R—"Does anybody read anymore?"—gave us a bit of a jolt here at the public library this week.

Circulation for Butte County Library has increased dramatically this year. Chico Branch Library alone checked out 47,051 books in the month of June. Patrons returned 38,283 items that they had previously checked out.

We are a fully staffed branch open 67 hours per week, including Sundays. More than 1,000 people a day walk through the doors of Chico Branch Library. We serve all ages of the community, including the youngest at “Babies Love Books” story times. More than 500 children signed up in the first two weeks for the Summer Library Reading Program “Catch the Reading Bug.”

Yes, people are still reading—they’re doing it for free and in record numbers at their local public library.

Sheryl Hubbard
Chico Branch Library

Editor’s note: That headline, which ended with the statement “We do,” was a teaser to the Backbeat on summer reading. We’re happy to draw attention to the library, too.

Yes, last resort
Re: “Heads-up on heads-up” (Letters, by Brian I’Anson, CN&R, July 3):

Having found one dead Canada goose, the Butte County Mosquito and Vector Control District (BCMD) will soon commence spraying Chico with pesticides. Canada geese are highly migratory birds, and this one could have flown into our area from just about anywhere and contracted West Nile virus just about anywhere, and not necessarily from a Chico mosquito.

We’re told that the BCMD only sprays as a “last-ditch resort when mosquito numbers exceed the threshold for virus prevalence.” But we’re in a drought and don’t have a lot of mosquitoes this year. I question whether the numbers of mosquitoes present warrants spraying Chico at this time.

The BCMD repeatedly explains that they apply pesticides that contain “natural pyrethrins.” But the pyrethrins don’t work without the addition of the highly unnatural, toxic chemical piperonyl butoxide; PBO is known as a “hormone disrupter” that can cause breast cancer. While the EPA hasn’t banned PBO’s use, it has nonetheless stated that it’s illegal for any pesticide to be labeled as “safe,” apparently because no pesticide is safe.

Weighing the comparative risks, the BCMD argues, “If you take the risk of WNV versus the risk of putting a minuscule amount of pesticide out there, it doesn’t even compare.” That’s true. There’s no comparison. I know of only a few people who’ve had WNV, none of whom got very sick, but I’ve known many women who’ve had breast cancer and who, most sadly, have died.

And when the mosquito district talks about “putting pesticides out there,” they mean spraying us.

Karen Laslo

Editor’s note: According to state figures for West Nile virus, Butte County reported two fatalities (from 31 cases) in 2006 and two (from 16 cases) in 2007.

If not us, it’s moot
Re: “Drill down on numbers” (Letters, by Paul Ellcessor, CN&R, July 3):

A recent letter disputed my claims that China is exploring and drilling 50 miles—excuse me, 60 miles—off the Florida coast. I stand by my letter. Google an article written by David J. Lynch 2/27/07 in USA Today concerning Cuba’s active exploration for oil off the Florida coast plus its active investment in refineries for its crude oil.

Does it matter if it’s Cuba, Venezuela or China? Does it matter what country drills off of our shores? After all, they are drilling in international waters.

Will any foreign country be as sensitive to our environment as America’s “evil” oil companies? Don’t bet on it!

As for those nasty futures investors responsible for high oil process, who do you think those are? Answer: Anyone with mutual funds or long-term banking investments—that’s you or me.

Meanwhile, gas is heading to $5 [a gallon], and diesel for farmers and truckers is already there. Food and goods are inflating, while Washington gives pie-in-the-sky reasons for taking us off our “fuel addiction” without giving us the technology to replace it.

Every time you fill up at the pump, get mad and use your voice. Congress is making five times more in taxes on our gas than are the oil companies. They’ll do nothing unless we make some noise to get their attention.

Washington is there to protect us little guys from foreign governments and sometimes from ourselves (environmental extremists).

Loretta Torres

Restudy ‘study areas’
Re: “Making a U-turn on rural growth” (Newslines, by Robert Speer, CN&R, June 19):

On July 29, the Butte County Board of Supervisors will begin the process of deciding which of three alternatives will apply to 35 general plan future areas of development, euphemistically described by the county as “study areas.”

During the Humboldt Fire, proposed residential development surrounding the Tuscan Ridge Golf Course on the Skyway (Study Area 10) was in the midst of the firestorm. If the development had been in place, chances are fire would have destroyed 165 homes. The evaluation of Study Area 10 that the board will receive as part of its deliberations indicates that a Chico fire station is one mile away. The station does not exist.

The board will respond directly to the desires of developers who, by county invitation, submitted the “study areas” as a collective wish list for future development and inclusion in General Plan 2030. There is obviously a need for such a long-term plan. However, this has been the only impetus motivating the general plan process for the past two years and, thus, should be cause for great concern.

Something important is missing: a cohesive, comprehensive study taking into consideration countywide constraints regarding water resources, fire danger, available public services and habitat conservation.

Until a thorough and in-depth examination of constraints is made throughout the county, the Board of Supervisors should postpone any decision concerning the 35 study areas. It seems self-evident that public safety should be placed above developers’ profit.

Mike McLaughlin

Wally, Wally, Wally
It was with scant amusement that I read Congressman Herger’s reasoning for not supporting the New G.I. Bill, cloaking himself in his usual belittling comments about the Democratic Party as the cause for his misguided vote.

What Speaker Pelosi and other responsible Democratic leaders attempted to do was to develop a way to pay for the plan that will ensure educational opportunities for this country’s post-9/11 veterans. In doing so, they insisted on paying as we go—this in contrast to the Bush administration, supported by the likes of Herger, which continues to borrow hundreds of billions of dollars from China to fund our ill-begotten invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq.

What the House leadership proposed in the original House measure included a surtax of 0.47 percent on income of more than $1 million for married couples, $500,000 for individuals. According to Citizens for Tax Justice, this levy would affect three-tenths of 1 percent of taxpayers, who would pay an average of $8,770 more—not much to ask from a group that saved an average of $126,690 last year from the Bush tax cuts. But I guess that’s too much to ask of Herger.

Roger S. Beadle

Re: “10 ugliest spots in Chico” (Cover story, CN&R, July 3): We incorrectly identified the property owner for the old Taylor’s Drive-In as the Van Ert Family Trust. Hal LLC, out of Sacramento, owns that parcel. We apologize for the error, which we have corrected online.