Letters for July 24, 2014

Three on the cover

Re “Monumental myth” (Cover feature, by Allan Stellar, July 17):

The cover article by Allan Stellar was a joy to read. I encourage you to have more articles about the natural world of our diverse and beautiful North State. People need to know why this crest of the Siskiyous is important to preserve and that is because it is already a wildlife corridor, just like Stellar wrote, and protecting these remaining corridors is critical to species survival, especially during climate change.

The science and securing of wildlife corridors has become a full-time project for many, like the Y2Y folks who are trying to protect a vast swath between Yellowstone and the Yukon for the future. Wildlife corridors are connections across the landscape that link up areas of habitat. They support natural processes that occur in a healthy environment, including the movement of species to find resources, such as food and water, and to maintain genetically healthy populations.

The people who don’t want the Siskiyou Crest Monument may have xenophobic reasons to distrust the government but the wildlife need that monument status and I hope they find their champions. As Stellar mentioned, this is the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. Now is the time to save what is left of the wild.

Chris Nelson

A nice article spoiled by the first paragraph.

Ted Wheeling

Editor’s note: Mr. Wheeling is referring to the F-bomb at the beginning of the piece.

Overall, a very informative and convincing article. It is a shame Stellar had to start it with the immature choices of words in the very first two sentences—almost stopped me from continuing to read. Hope it didn’t stop others from reading this important article.

Julie Harris

Editor’s note: Mr. Stellar used two F-bombs, the second one being “fart.”

The lignin link

Re “Tree Tragedy” (Newslines, by Ken Smith, July 17):

The reason the oak tree limbs fell at the Ide Adobe house in Red Bluff is because in hot weather the lignin (which binds the tree cells together, sort of like a glue) loses its strength and the heavy limbs fall. That’s what I was taught in college. I’ve never met a park ranger who knew what lignin is, however. Lignin is used to make newspapers and is what causes the papers to turn yellow. So you’re holding lignin in your hands right now.

Mike Peters

Two on conservation

Re “Fine the water-wasters” (Editorial, July 17):

California water regulators recently voted to fine citizens up to $500 per day for wasting water. The rationale is Californians have actually increased water consumption by 1 percent instead of voluntarily cutting back by 20 percent as the governor requested.

I just received my second Cal Water bill with a Water Revenue Adjustment Mechanism (WRAM) surcharge. For the past two months I have been charged for conserving water. The California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) gave Cal Water the authority to add a charge if the customer does not use enough water to cover Cal Water’s “fixed and variable costs of providing water service.” However, you will get a credit on your bill if you use enough water to pay their costs. This, of course, is an incentive to use more water.

There is an obvious disconnect. If conservation is a good thing, should we be penalized for conserving?

Mary Brentwood

Yes, we all need to conserve water, but more importantly, we all need to protect our surface and groundwater from the plans of the governor, water contractors and Southern California agri-biz.

Large corporate farms in Southern California continue to plant orchards and water-intensive crops in desert land despite the shortage of water in the San Joaquin Valley. Why? Because they see Northern California water as their bucket of gold. They have the governor and several important politicians in their pockets, money to use the media to smooth talk to the public, and lawyers to block any group that wants to protect our water, economy and environment.

Agri-biz in California brings in billions of dollars. How many more billions are worth the loss of our aquifer, our economy, our rivers and creeks? Agri-biz is the big problem using over 80 percent of water in California. It doesn’t help that some North Valley farmers with water rights sell their water allotments to southern water contractors and then turn around and pump water from the Tuscan aquifer (double dipping).

We all need to get involved in stopping the water pirates and their political cronies. Go ahead, fine wasteful water users, but don’t expect that to solve the big problem.

Caroline Burkett

Response to the conflict

Re “Small world” (Newslines, by Tom Gascoyne, July 17):

I thank Tom Gascoyne for last week’s article about the Israel-Palestine conflict. His interview of Emily Alma was much appreciated.

Mainstream news does not inform Americans about the real cruelty of the occupation of the West Bank, nor the siege of Gaza.

A Jewish American woman went to Gaza and asked the children if there was something they would like to have. They all said that what they wanted most was clean water. In the Palestinian West Bank, women have died in childbirth while the ambulance they were in was held up at an Israeli checkpoint.

Please call President Obama and your senators and Congressional representative and tell them that America needs to stop giving the annual $3.1 billion to Israel, which they then use to buy top-of-the-line military weaponry and weaponized bulldozers that they use to destroy Palestinian homes.

Sharon Fritsch

I am dismayed by the recent Senate resolution approved by all 100 U.S. senators supporting Israel. With dysfunction in Congress on every issue, on this they are united. What is that issue? Unconditional support for Israel.

From July 7-21, more than 600 Palestinians died, 3,000 plus were injured, and 100,000 displaced from their homes. Three hospitals and a home for disabled have been bombed, untold numbers of homes turned to rubble, children blown up while playing on the beach.

“Israel has a right to defend itself” is the repeated message, as primitive rockets are launched from Gaza, striking sand. One Israeli killed until the ground invasion. Now up to 20 Israelis have died.

Not one senator spoke of the suffering of Palestinians, the unending occupation, the IDF rampage through the West Bank bringing terror into hundreds of Palestinian homes, calls on the streets to “Kill the Arabs.” Only “Israel has a right to defend itself.”

How can Israel have such power over our Senate for them to give lock-step approval of such disproportionate aggression, paid for with $8 million/day of our tax dollars? Contact Obama, Boxer, Feinstein. Tell them to end unconditional support of Israel no matter what atrocities they commit in defiance of international law.

Emily Alma

Check out the perks

Re “Who you gonna call?” (Letters, by Jane Martin, July 17):

Chico taxpayers provide police officers with a generous salary package including overtime starting after eight minutes, 10 minutes of paid time to put on and take off “protective clothing,” compensated call-back time, court time (even if canceled), and telephone standby time (three-hour minimum).

“On-call” is compensated at $100/week or compensatory time off. Salary compensation also includes: 5 percent differential if working out of class, alternative assignments earn a basic pay increase between 5 percent and 10 percent and a 5 percent bonus for a bilingual assignment. There is also additional compensation for POST certification: 2.5 percent (intermediate officer) or 5 percent (advanced officer).

CPOA’s basic compensation package includes worker’s compensation and long-term disability. There is medical, vision and dental coverage with minimal employee compensation. The life insurance policy provides full salary coverage. There is a $50/month payment for membership in a qualified health and fitness program with no requirement to show attendance. There is also a uniform allowance of $900/year.

Police officers also serve because of tradition and honor, but they get paid handsomely for it.

Stephanie L. Taber

Adequate shelter needed

Re “Living tiny” (Greenways, by Ken Smith, July 10):

Thank you for the great story on tiny houses. The progress of sustainability is enhanced by embracing simplicity in as many facets of our lives as possible. Tiny homes would not only improve access to adequate shelter for those with modest incomes, but are also a large and logical step toward reducing energy consumption.

If we hope to avoid an expanding and deeply impoverished underclass desperately struggling to survive, we must find better ways of respecting and caring for one another very soon. If we choose instead to continue along this path of escalating greed and alienation, only more jails, more prisons and more militarized law enforcement will protect the fortunate few with anything left to lose from teaming throngs of those on the starving margins.

I beg us all to peer deep into our own humanity and recognize the obligations implied by our siblinghood and to the well-being of our descendants. The revolution of values that Dr. King espoused might find its slow and nascent rotations in the simple generosity of striving to make certain that many more of our neighbors have basic human needs within their certain grasp. CHAT—the Chico Housing Action Team—is determined to improve access to adequate shelter and we need your help.

Dan Everhart
CHAT, Chico

Oil transport knowledge drop

Re “Track talk” (Letters, by Doug Drebert, July 17):

Doug Drebert writes that, “If there is a spill of Bakken oil in the Feather River, the oil will be on the hands of the Environmental Movement, who own this president who will not approve the Keystone XL Pipeline.” It’s a statement that has cropped up quite frequently in the wake of recent train derailments and fires, such as the one in North Dakota that was carrying Bakken oil.

It’s unsurprising, given that it’s pure propaganda. First of all, the Keystone XL pipeline wouldn’t even be carrying Bakken oil. It’s designed for the diluted bitumen of Alberta, not the light crude being drawn out of the Bakken field in North Dakota. Second, the Bakken producers want to ship by rail. They get better prices in California and on the East Coast than they would by shipping to Texas, (and from there, by ship to wherever the Albertan tar sands oil is sold, rather neatly undercutting the notion that KXL represents “energy independence” or “energy security,” rather than simply profit for its producers) .

Peter Goelz, a former managing director of the National Transportation Safety Bureau, calls the linking of rail accidents with the Keystone pipeline “a political idea that’s not particularly well supported by the facts,” which I suppose means we can expect the usual anti-Obama crowd to lap it up.

Nathaniel Perry

Denying equal protection

Re “Hemp in our future” (Greenways, by David Downs, July 17):

It would be a lot quicker for a potential hemp farmer to get into federal court in a declaratory judgment lawsuit and have the court declare the federal classification of marijuana as a controlled substance is arbitrary, unreasonable and unnecessary use of police power and is unconstitutional. To declare the use of police power to threaten to deprive hemp farmers’ fundamental rights is not justified by a compelling state interest. Declaring the use of police power is not protecting the rights of others. Declaring the proscription of hemp is property discrimination and the use of police power is unreasonable deprivation of plaintiff’s fundamental rights to liberty, to property, to privacy, to be secure against unreasonable government intrusion contravening Amendments IV and V of the Constitution of the United States.

Why hasn’t this been done? Ask the ACLU or NORML. Why have the courts reviewed the constitutionality of the marijuana laws by a rational basis? Rational basis is used when no rights have been deprived. The courts are saying being arrested for violating the marijuana laws is not deprivation of liberty.

Marijuana and hemp are property and unlike slavery and alcohol, they are denied equal protection of Amendments IV and V. To change the hemp and marijuana laws by a political process makes hemp farmers nonpersons too.

Sen. Mark Leno of San Francisco doesn’t understand the meaning of Amendment IV when he says the hemp laws are irrational.

Michael J. Dee
Augusta, Maine

Appreciating the efforts

Thanks to the Butte County Branch of the Music Teachers of California for organizing such a wonderful event—the Chico Chamber Music Festival. The last performance of the five-day festival was reserved for the Summer Music Academy students. They were great. Thanks to Bidwell Presbyterian Church for co-sponsoring the festival.

Ali Sarsour