Letters for July 18, 2013

An invented problem

Re “Keep an open mind” (Editorial, July 11):

I am still trying to figure out why there is a problem (with the Saturday-morning farmers’ market) that needs a solution.

The farmers’ market has been a wonderful and successful fixture in the community for more than 20 years.

After all that time, now a few businesses claim that their business is hurt because the customers of the farmers’ market take up parking spaces that could be used by potential customers of these few businesses.

Where is the evidence that their business is hurt at all by the farmers’ market?

More important, where is the evidence that their customers cannot find parking on Saturday morning? The estimated 3,500 customers of the farmers’ market can find parking just fine. Think of that.

Also, I wonder at the legal theory that says you can shut down a successful adjoining business just because presumably its customers are taking up a lot of public parking spaces that could be used by your customers.

Something is wrong with this picture.

Joe Loomis

Delta plan a bad one

Re “Drop in the bucket?” (Newslines, by Ken Smith, July 11):

I would like to share another point salient to the conversation regarding water transfers: The Bay Delta Conservation Plan will convert more than 140,000 acres of productive Delta farmland to “habitat.” Our vineyards, orchards and fields, which have been farmed for more than 150 years, will be condemned via eminent-domain proceedings. The remaining farms will be irrigated with saltier water, as the diversions from the Sacramento River will draw Bay salt water into Delta channels.

A saltier Delta will mean a changed fishery—another industry that will suffer mightily from the tunnel option.

The state has never run the current projects in a manner that protects Delta water quality or our fisheries. We cannot expect any future operation to benefit us, either.

The economic hit from the BDCP plan is nothing more than a government-endorsed transfer of wealth—from the Delta to points south.

Rogene Reynolds
Roberts Island, South Delta

Discrimination continues

Re “A giant step forward” (Newslines, by Howard Hardee, July 3):

The Board of Directors of the Paradise Center for Tolerance and Nonviolence (PCTN) applauds two recent decisions of the Supreme Court—first, to nullify as unconstitutional the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and second, to uphold a lower federal court’s ruling that Prop. 8, banning gay marriage in California, is unconstitutional. We agree with Justice Kennedy’s opinion that DOMA improperly undermined a state’s decision to extend “the recognition, dignity, and protection” of the marriage contract to same-sex couples.

We are extremely disappointed by the court’s gutting of the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA) by ruling that Section 5 is outdated. Section 5 was a very effective tool in eradicating voting discrimination because it required jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination to have any change in its election laws or practices pre-cleared by the federal government.

Chief Justice Roberts’ decision was based on his opinion that “Our country has changed.” Not really. Immediately upon announcement of the court’s recent decision, Texas and Mississippi vowed to implement voter-identification laws and other discriminatory procedures. How many state discriminatory laws will be passed before Congress acts to review and reinstate protections?

Gwen Nordgren
PCTN treasurer

Injustice served

So if someone is following you at night and he gets out of his car and he hassles you and he happens to outweigh you by 100 pounds and you try to “stand your ground” by trying to fight him off to protect yourself—and he shoots and kills you—then he stood his ground and you didn’t.

Nice so-called “justice” that George Zimmerman was able to buy from our legal system, and much of the money coming from donations. Doesn’t that give you a nice warm, safe feeling inside? What is that quote that people always attribute to a Bob Dylan song? “Money doesn’t talk, it screams.”

And in this case, it screams injustice loud and clear. What we call this in East L.A. is: ¡Que gacho! (Translated: What a bunch of bullshit!)

Phil Elkins
Forest Ranch

Although there were protests against the George Zimmerman verdict across the United States, nothing in Chico. I am not surprised. Outside of the university and the city, Chico is a swampland of racism.

When I moved here five years ago, I had exhibitions of my work, and a lecture and slideshow at one of the only galleries that was prepared to welcome an international artist. I found out later that it was a city not in tune to any black man who was out of their realm of perception.

Even when I had an interest in writing about art for this paper, I was told that, “Well, Bob Speer will be our art critic.” Looking at his first effort, I was not impressed. But this is Chico. The CN&R has their guy—a black dude—who seems to not accept that his wife died, like mine, and many others.

But back to my initial thought: Black people in this town simply do not go out at night. I did in the beginning, but when I am not in my studio in San Francisco, I stay away from the nightlife of Chico. I sure don’t want to be another Trayvon Martin.

Jerry Harris
San Francisco/Chico

Film-review addendum

Re “Hi-yo, silly!” (Reel World, by Juan-Carlos Selznick, July 11):

Conspicuously missing in your review of The Lone Ranger is any mention of the many references, direct and metaphorical, to real aspects of American history: Genocide, the repeated theft of land promised conquered peoples “in perpetuity,” the creating of excuses to go to war, the destruction of the living world putting “nature out of balance,” the greed causing the murderers and thieves to kill each other over their blood-stained booty.

It is often said of reality that “you couldn’t make this stuff up,” and this galloping circus, no matter how bizarre, is still only a pale reflection of our past. Disney is an odd source for revolutionary tracts, but if this is not rhetoric—propaganda, of sorts—then I must be hallucinating.

Nelson Kaiser

Regarding your review of The Lone Ranger, there are two things here that need to be noted. Johnny Depp’s Tonto channeled Dustin Hoffman’s performance in Little Big Man, even to having the older Tonto telling the story.

Hoffman used the same conceit in his performance. But the one glaring error in this otherwise amusing movie that stuck out was the music played at the promontory ceremony. John Philip Sousa penned “Stars and Stripes Forever” in 1896. Now unless somebody injected time travel into this movie (given the crew that put this together, that wouldn’t have surprised me) that was almost four decades after the event depicted. One final bit of trivia: The Lone Ranger and The Green Hornet were cousins, both sharing the last name Reid.

Gary Brune

More discussion needed

Re “Why so high?” and “Overhead overload” (Healthlines, by Evan Tuchinsky, June 20 and June 27):

Our local hospital industry has about a 6 percent profit on $650 million in annual income. The U.S. health industry is the leading reason for personal bankruptcies, responsible for 40-60 percent of them all. The industry billing system is a labyrinth of misleading and unfair practices.

The discussion starts with a fantasy figure—that no can give a rational reason for—called the “charge master.” If you don’t have insurance, this is often when the negotiation ends; for Medicare and insured patients, this charge-master figure is “negotiated” down to 10 percent to 20 percent of the original bill.

In the U.S., we spend 20 percent of GDP on health care—twice that of most developed countries—for care that in most cases is not as good. Health-care lobbies, including big pharma, have spent $5.36 billion in the last 15 years. Compare that with $1.5 billion for the defense lobby and $1.3 billion by oil and gas.

This year, we look to spend $2.8 trillion on health care, 27 percent more per capita than other developed countries, and more than the next 10 countries combined.

Perhaps our local-hospital CEOs could address these issues?

R. Meyers

Blame people, not cattle

With roughly 26 million recreation enthusiasts and 97,000 livestock utilizing California’s national forests annually, our mutual existence on the same land has been claimed to be unachievable. However, recent research out of UC Davis has found that recreation, cattle grazing and clean water are compatible goals on public lands. The study, published June 27 in the journal PLOS ONE, is the largest and most comprehensive examination of water-quality conditions on National Forest public-grazing lands.

Specifically, this study found cattle’s coexistence on public lands is not impacting natural-resource goals or water-quality objectives. I am simply baffled by the position of some that cattle are the culprits for natural-resource concerns.

During a recent trip to my favorite Sierra swimming spot, I filled a sandwich bag with human trash: bottle caps, cigarette butts, and a plethora of fishing line illustrating the impacts of human existence. I think the public should applaud the ranchers who take seriously the well-being of their animals and care deeply for the public lands they utilize to produce the highest quality of safe food for our tables. Together, we can all utilize our public lands for recreation, domestic food production and supporting rural communities.

Cindy Noble

Watch your water

The East Sand Slough fire in Red Bluff should never have happened! This fire showed how broken, corrupt and lazy government is.

Since last October, I had been contacting elected officials and several agencies responsible for the slough, warning about the fire danger. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, along with now-retired federal Judge Oliver Wanger, of Fresno, manipulated law, our judicial system and local officials into stealing our water, with no compensation.

Tehama-Colusa Canal Authority, along with elected officials, like Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, ex-Congressman Wally Herger, Congressman Doug LaMalfa and Sen. Jim Nielsen, helped by pushing an illegal EIR [environmental impact report], schmoozing conservatives and scaring farmers south of the dam, and telling us they would have our backs, when they haven’t. The Board of Supervisors said and did nothing to help or protect our interest.

The city sold our water down the river for 30,000 pieces of silver. All sat by and watched the slough fill up with dead weeds and trees, and watched it burn! Don’t trust them, Butte County—your water is next!

Pat Johnston
Red Bluff