Letters for July 28, 2011

About Briana’s story

Re “Labeled disabled” (Cover story, by Stacey Kennelly, July 21):

I truly appreciate Briana and Faelin sharing their story. I can relate to Briana’s story because I’m the oldest of four girls and our father, Roger Hatton, has cerebral palsy. He has shared many similar stories of the frustrations, difficulties, discrimination and physical pain that CP has challenged him with over the years. He also had a strong mother who never settled and pushed for the very best for him.

He just turned 50 last year and is a proud grandfather of four. He is a very respected man in Shasta County, having volunteered many years of service to Shasta College’s football team, and as a soccer coach for little league in Anderson, and now at West Valley High School. There are many different levels of severity of CP, and each case is very unique.

I wish Briana the best and am confident that her dream of a family of her own will be realized and that she will be as big of an inspiration to her children as my father is to me and my sisters.

Desi Hatton

I am very sorry that Briana Beaver feels that she has been overlooked and marginalized over the years by many people here in Butte County. But I would also like to point out that the picture that Briana and her mother, Faelin, inadvertently painted of our community is not completely accurate.

Over the past several years, the Butte County Coordinating Council for Developmental Disabilities has performed surveys of major stakeholders, including service recipients themselves, regarding a whole host of attitudinal and behavioral barriers to full community inclusion within our region. The results consistently indicate that, while the situation is far from perfect, we nevertheless score very high in offering a welcoming and inclusive living and working environment for citizens with disabilities.

Briana may feel invisible, but I can assure her that our community does not see her that way. On the contrary, she is a well-known personality in various settings around Chico, including fitness centers, service clubs, schools, plus local agencies and businesses. Wherever her dreams may lead her, I am sure that Briana can count on her many friends here for assistance and support.

Carl R. Ochsner
Chair, Public Affairs Committee
Butte County Coordinating Council

During our sophomore year at Durham High School, Briana Beaver and I were in the same Spanish and English classes. I volunteered to help take notes for her. The school provided me with carbon paper so I could give Briana a copy of notes at the end of every Spanish class. I also wrote her weekly vocabulary list separately so she could study it for our English quizzes.

Our friendship was not limited to inside the school walls. I have visited her house and I even attended her birthday party one year.

After reading the article, I was disappointed to hear that she can’t remember the people at Durham High School who cared about her, but can only focus on those who labeled her as disabled.

Alie PetersonChico

I work in a store here in Chico and have the pleasure of having Briana and her mother as customers. After reading this story, I must tip my hat to Briana for her zest toward life, something the majority of us lack these days.

Briana is a beautiful woman with a bright future, and we should all look toward her and her mother for the strength they have. All of us should hope one day to be that strong and inspiring. Thank you both for giving me a little more inspiration to do good in this world.

William Price

What high-speed rail lacks

Re “Track to the future” (Cover story, by Cosmo Garvin, July 14):

High-speed rail can be built at lower cost and efficiently if excessive regulatory and legal burdens are removed. Coming from Europe, and using the rail system when visiting family recently, rather than a car, I can fully attest to the value of high-speed rail. It brings incremental benefits far in excess of the cost.

The issue in California is a lack of local and regional connecting rail services—the European network relies on layers of public transport; bus, local commuter rail, regional rail, and high-speed international rail with a common smart-card ticketing system. For now Californians would have to drive to a high-speed rail station, travel and then rent a car at the other end of the journey—hardly ideal.

Roy Bishop

County districts: two views

Re “Supervisors ignore pleas, split Barber neighborhood” (Newslines, by Robert Speer, July 14):

I and many other people believe that the supervisors should reconsider finding an alternative to Option 4. The lines that have been drawn through Chapman have cut apart one of the oldest neighborhoods in Chico. Clearly something is wrong with the process. The supervisors can take a few more meetings to decide, and they should certainly wait until the statewide districts have been established.

Al Crocker

I attended the special meeting held at Chico City Council chambers July 11. I tape-recorded the meeting so people could hear for themselves what I heard.

Michael Worley, a Bob Muholland and Jane Dolan troll, sent out a mass e-mail dated July 7 wherein he directed all recipients attending the meeting to say the following: “Larry Wahl should not be in charge of drawing his own lines (Fox in the chicken coop)” and “Redistricting should not be done by THE SUPERVISORS—their conflicts are obvious.”

I got my chance at the mic, and I asked the crowd of 100-plus people, “Why was it OK for Supervisor Jane Dolan to vote and participate in the redistricting process in 1991 and 2001?” Muholland helped formulate the gerrymandered 2nd District so that Jane would never lose. But now Worley, Dolan and Muholland say Larry Wahl should not be allowed to participate like Jane did?

The crowd’s answer to my question: “You’re just living in the past.” Huh? Out of 100 people when asked, only 10 said they lived in Barber Yard!

Rick Clements

The cost of public service

Re “Tone-deaf trustees” (Editorial, July 21):

There are countless highly skilled and talented people barely scraping by who would love a chance at public service, especially considering how relatively relaxed the public-sector work environment is. When Trustee Bob Linscheid states, “There’s a shortage of talented people willing to come to California,” that’s just nonsense of the type oft repeated in arenas where pay or bonuses are not commensurate with actual value.

For those curious about local public-sector pay and who gets paid what, take a look at the “Chico Salaries” website (www.chicoer.com/salaries). The site shows only pay, so add 20-40 percent for benefit costs and consider long-term retirement packages. Taxes for public-sector services are great when used well, but it’s not endless free money coming from nowhere—and that need to be respected.

Jay G. Giant

Gay complexities

Re “Making history honest” (Editorial, July 21):

I appreciate your comments about the importance of SB 48, the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful Education Act. However, I’m not worried about the details of its implementation. SB 48 does not change anything about how sex education is taught. It only adds a few LGBT success stories to history books.

When Martin Luther King is discussed, he might be described as African-American, but his sex life isn’t discussed. The same will be true for Billie Jean King and Greg Louganis. Children today know what gay means. In the words of the little boy meeting his first gay couple, “You must love each other.” It’s a few parents who might still be confused.

Brian Anthony Kraemer

It’s not about downtown

Re “Violent crime: Police say this is nothing new” (Newslines, by Meredith J. Graham, July 21):

In spite of the unfortunate incidents that have occurred in recent weeks, our downtown is still a wonderful place to shop, have a nice meal, and gather with friends and family.

The fact that we had a number of incidents occurring almost contemporaneously combined with the media coverage that accompanies such acts may distort and overshadow what is going on in Chico, particularly in our downtown.

In discussions with Police Chief Mike Maloney, we were told that violent crime in Chico, overall, has been steadily declining for the last three years. Taking into account the recently reported incidents downtown, violent crime is still down 2.5 percent over the first six months of last year and projected to be decreased by 5.7 percent for the year.

By no means do we wish to diminish the anguish that was suffered, not only by the victims, but also by those who are close to them. Instead of focusing our attention on where the incidents occurred, our community should be trying to understand why these things happened in order to make Chico, as a whole, a safer place to live and work.

Alan Tochterman
President, Downtown Chico Business Association

Heather Keag
Executive Director, Downtown Chico Business Association

More about Briana

Re “Labeled disabled” (Cover story, by Stacey Kennelly, July 21):

I have a younger brother who has profound physical and developmental disabilities and, from the day he was born nearly 22 years ago, has relied on others for his every need.

When we share Ben with the world, we don’t talk about the hundreds of procedures he has endured throughout the years, including the six excruciating weeks he spent in a body cast after hip surgery, or the months he has spent in intensive care throughout his life, or even how one doctor’s negligence resulted in significant damage to Ben’s brain when he was just an infant.

Nor do we talk about the challenges he faced as our mother fought for his full inclusion in our neighborhood school. We don’t talk about the doors that have been slammed in his face, or the judgmental stares.

Instead, we talk about the number of friends he made in school, and how he is loved by everyone at his programs. We talk about how he wakes up every morning with a smile on his face, and how he loves every minute of his life, and how when someone stares, we just smile back.

When people express pity for Ben, we correct it: Ben is neither pitiful nor a burden. He is a very special, gifted human being who has taught everyone he has met the wonder of each and every day, and how anything is possible. His beautiful spirit and undeniable connection to God radiate from him, and he shows people how to treat him: with love and respect.

Briana has most certainly been through some incredible challenges and bad experiences, but she is not someone to pity. Her life can be such a gift to the world, but no one can benefit when her message is overshadowed by such overwhelming self-pity as expressed through the article. That’s the real pity.

Michelle Erstad

Remembering Scott Teeple

Re “Friends moving on” (From This Corner, by Robert Speer, July 14) and “So long, Scott: Beloved muralist dies” (Newslines, by Tom Gascoyne, July 14):

I came across your article today at lunch, and was so moved by the sensitivity that you and Tom Gascoyne conveyed when writing of Scott Teeple, I started reading some of what you had written to my husband, Marc. Although neither of us knew Scott, the image of him you shared was simply glorious. Your comment about its being a shame “that a man who gave so much beauty to Chico had to struggle so hard to survive here” reflects something eternally true about the life of the artist (of any “type”) as he or she moves about this glorious and maddening world.

Marc and I went after lunch to chat with our friend Mick Needham, also mentioned in Tom’s article. He filled us in on more of Scott’s story, in a loving way. It made your joint tribute all the more wonderful; in the end, our legacy is the beauty we are graced to give the world.

Linda Clark-Borre

It was a sorry morning when I read about the passing of Scott Teeple. My wife and I knew him for more than three decades.

When we brought home photos from a three-month baseball tour in 1977, Scott recreated some of them (Wrigley Field in Chicago) with paint on the stucco wall in our back yard.

His magnificent work is there today, and Scott made sure of that. One time in LaSalles (or, was it Duffy’s?) he said to me, “I came over to your place a while ago, and you weren’t home. So I walked into your back yard to find ivy growing on my paintings.” He had that Scott Teeple tone in his voice and the slight sneer that indicated that he was not too pleased. Since that meeting, I have been more diligent about keeping the creepers off the artwork.

As Tom Gascoyne wrote in his tribute, Scott was his own man. I admired the way Scott consistently was never afraid to tell me his opinions.

He had two daughters he dearly loved, and enjoyed sharing updates about them with us. One time he learned we were driving our own two daughters to Disneyland. He said his brother worked there, and Scott arranged to have our family enter the “magic kingdom” on complimentary passes.

In 1988, I returned the favor and was able to help him find work at Oroville High. He painted a huge tiger on the west wall of the gym, a mural that has since been replaced by another. But Scott’s purple and white block lettering still is on display atop the northern wall of the building.

He lived the life. The drive to Chico will be sadly lacking something: the chance that we might walk into a tavern and find our buddy Scott sitting in there reading a book, sipping a drink and always ready with a smile and chat about his perceptions of the good and bad things he found in life.

Danny Wilson

Gay complexities

Re “Making history honest” (Editorial, July 21):

SB 48 presents perplexities: The California Education Code requires parental consent for sex education in our schools (are there to be two sets of schoolbooks, one gay and one not so gay?). Also, how are gays to be designated in history books—a pink triangle? (Shades of Nazi Germany.)

And who makes the decision on who was gay or not gay? (Shakespeare was not gay, by the way—that fawning floral poetry was just the style of the day.) And besides, we already know that Cole Porter and Oscar Wilde were gay. I think Cole Porter wants to be remembered for his lyrics.

Mike Peters

The dangers of broken glass

Last weekend, while introducing my boys to the magnificent beauty of the waters and rocks downstream from the diversion dam, I witnessed an injury in the making.

A group of college-age women were water-lounging, drinking beer from glass bottles just feet from the old dam. Big Chico Creek and the surrounding rocks are unforgiving to glass. Even the most careful beer drinker could easily drop her 40 golden ounces and create scalpel-sharp shards, difficult to retrieve.

I’ve witnessed the bloody foot injuries and hope to avoid them in the future. I would hope those enjoying our creek would do us all a favor and enjoy their beer from aluminum cans so we can all avoid such dangers.

George Matthews
Native Chicoan
Walnut Creek