Letters for July 31, 2008

Art sensibility in eye of beholder
Re: “Public art should hold public appeal” (Guest Comment, by Richard Ek, CN&R, July 24):

Responding to the fine article by Richard Ek, I’d just like to add that the public art program would be more appealing if more local talent was used. And why couldn’t part of that possibly involve the Chico State Art Department or the art departments of our high schools? Keeping the money local will help our economy.

And maybe we could have a contest for the best answer to: “Where should we move our plow so it can be properly viewed?”

Dennis Rufer

Here we go again—public art. Professor Richard Ek wants “more bang for the buck” when it comes to money spent on art.

There are still philistines in Chico who believe that art should be something “appealing” to the general public. Artists don’t work that way. If they did, we wouldn’t have the great art of Michelangelo, Rodin, or Henry Moore. Dr. Ek, a journalist, would probably put down Balzac, if he has ever read him.

Money for public art might seem out of proportion to the average man and woman on the street, but when the construction costs are broken down, the artist always comes out more broke than when he or she went into the project. Let’s face it: Art in America holds little meaning in most people’s life. As an artist, I don’t have a professor’s salary.

Dr. Ek should use his journalistic talents convincing people that Chico earns its title as being one of the country’s great little art cities.

Jerry Harris

I found Dr. Ek’s opinion amusing. The one industry that brings millions of dollars and thousands of people from all over the world—the university—has a seal designed with words ars probat artificem, which means “art is the test of the artisan.” Maybe Dr. Ek should spend more time observing the public money spent on art at his former campus and support the extension of art throughout Chico.

Jim Friedrich

DCBA explains farmers market call
Re: “Unhealthy closures” (Letters, by Richard Roth, CN&R, July 17):

Downtown Chico’s Thursday Night Market draws upwards of 10,000 visitors weekly from June through September. For the health and safety of the visitors and vendors, recently two dates were canceled on the advice of the Butte Air Quality Management District and the Butte County Public Health Department. Smoke from local fires caused hazardous air conditions that reportedly “could cause permanent damage to lung tissues.”

Occasionally, the market has been canceled for rain and other inclement conditions—a policy all vendors are aware of when applying.

The DCBA does not cancel the market frequently or impulsively. Not only is it an important downtown fund-raising activity, the DCBA recognizes that it is also a source of income for more than 100 produce, commercial and craft vendors—vendors who have helped grow the event into the largest weekly downtown street festival between Sacramento and the Oregon border.

When the decision to cancel any market is made, it is made for good reasons and after significant consideration. In these latest instances, the safety of thousands of downtown visitors and more than 100 vendors was determined to be at risk by public health officials, and at their urging, action was taken. However disappointing that may be to some, ultimately it was the right decision for everyone.

It is the obligation of the DCBA to act responsibly by following direct advice from public health and safety officials. After all, Downtown Chico is much more than a retail destination—it is the heart of our community.

Alan Chamberlain
vice president, Downtown Chico Business Association

First & Main follow-up
Re: “What to do with a big, empty lot?” (Cover story sidebar, CN&R, July 3):

I always thought it might be a way for Collier’s to grow downtown—maybe as many have suggested by doing a community garden, and how about, say, doing how-to workshops, not just about gardening but hardware things and fix-it workshops.

Whatever it is, keep it green. Go solar with it; maybe others on the block [could] pitch in and they’d get solar, too? Let’s give it some good thought.

Elizabeth Daniels

Editor’s note: Ms. Daniels also had something to say about the U.S.-U.K. Deli, which recently closed despite a 3 1/2-fork review in the CN&R last month.

Bummer. No signs on the door saying they have another location. You know, it’s too bad … but, then, the cost of eating out has gotten so ridiculous here in town. We have good [food] growing all over the place, and yet it costs too much to have someone prepare it for us. It’s a silly world we buy into.

Recycle fires’ remnants
Forest fires, past and present, have resulted in many dead trees. Left where they are, they rot, resulting in the release of extraordinary amounts of carbon dioxide and the wasting of wood that could be removed and processed into lumber. This lumber could be stockpiled and used in the future as our economy and building industry recovers.

This resource is presently going to waste, adding to the global warming problem (additional CO2), and exacerbates the forest-fire problem by adding more fuel. I see no good reason, given the aforementioned information, to leave this valuable resource on site.

I understand that present forest-management practices will have to be changed in order to make intelligent use of this resource. Benefiting from this, of course, would be not only future generations of humans but also deer, bears, squirrels and other wildlife affected by the fires and the release of CO2.

Richard Shult

Very slick, Dick …
Dick Cheney glided to political earthly endeavors in his golden parachute from Halliburton. His endeavor was to call together the moguls of petroleum in the still-secret energy conference.

For years, “big oil” has yearned to tap the domestic oceans off California and in the Alaskan wilderness. Politically opposed by the environmentalists, such endeavors were thwarted. The moguls had to keep buying petroleum on the world market. Despite millions in profit, they could use a little more, of course.

How they yearned for ownership of domestic production. How could such a goal be accomplished (for “the good of the American people,” of course)?

The plan emerged: Create shortages of such proportion that gas and diesel fuel will cost so much that the people (even the environmentalists) will demand domestic production. Supply and demand was the mantra of excuses at the recent congressional hearings by big oil. Could a war in an oil-producing nation disrupt supply and cause shortages?

With increased domestic production and lower gas prices, the oil companies and their executives will be seen as the saviors of the American economy. Cheney will probably deserve the Medal of Freedom in his efforts for the American people, with a small profit for his friends and the oil companies.

Perhaps now in the spirit of transparency and the Freedom of Information Act, Cheney will release the minutes of the energy conference. We, the people, should insist on it in order to get Mr. Cheney his just reward.

Hugh Rhodes

‘Dear Arnold’ letter
Gov. Schwarzenegger, I just had to take a minute out of my very busy work day to share with you how very insulting your most recent proposal of putting state workers on the federal minimum wage is. I have never held you in very high regard, and this proposal is a great example of why.

Please understand, the great state of California, of which I am a native, is now truly a national joke. We have run our once-great public education system into the ground, we spend more on prisons than schools, and we can’t even pass a budget each year. Watching you all down in Sacramento is truly painful and embarrassing.

Do us all a favor and put that incredibly incompetent Legislature and yourself on the federal minimum wage. I can’t imagine a more worthy group deserving of this undoubtedly special treatment you are proposing. Of all the things we spend our hard-earned tax dollars on, I think they are the biggest waste of all.

Alicia Trider

Editor’s note: By CN&R’s deadline Wednesday morning, the Legislature had not passed a budget and the governor’s executive order loomed. For more on this issue, see Editorial.

Where and when issues
Let’s take a minute to step away from the argument of partisan issues and instead ask, what are the qualities of an adequate congressman?

When you think about the necessities of the job position, it is clear that such a leader must understand his/her district to some degree. For starters, he/she should have lived in the district long enough to know the area. Additionally, he/she has to spend the time to understand the people who the candidate is supposed to represent, and definitely has to spend more than an hour out the month in the district in order to do this.

It is interesting that despite these seemingly obvious prerequisites, Southern California politician Tom McClintock has the audacity to run in the California 4th District. How can he plan to represent a district that he himself cannot even vote in, especially when he spends more time on vacation than in the California 4th?

Before we even begin to start arguing over whether we want a Democrat or a Republican, we should question a candidate whose stance is most often “missing in action” or “not available to comment.”

It is unclear what McClintock’s motives actually are in this race. It would seem that he is a mere career politician whose goal is to stay in office no matter what office it may be. [Recently] he opened campaign committees for both lieutenant governor and the state board of equalization races in 2010. Where exactly is his head if he is thinking about 2010 when he is running in 2008?

Jordan Harp
Nevada City

Give Newt a gander
Whether you like Newt Gingrich or not, I urge you to read his newest book, Real Change, before the election in November. He is concerned with the way our governments—city, county, state and federal—are headed. He is most insightful as to the changes which must be made at all levels of government.

He focuses his criticism at Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives and independents without playing favorites. I agree wholeheartedly with him when he states that far too much influence is accepted by all politicians from special interests, unions, lawyers groups, etc.

As a citizen of this country, you owe a debt to it to review this excellent book before you cast your vote in November.

John B. Peden

No thanks to him
In an attempt to look and act like the president of the United States, Barack Obama almost had me fooled. His trip across the globe truly got the attention of 200,000 German citizens, and I truly hope he got the attention of the American public.

This candidate will travel all the way to Germany to give a speech, but cannot stop in and say thank you to the wounded troops hospitalized there. He claimed that it was not fair to use the party’s money for such a thing.

Did Obama and the party forget why we are fighting this war? So what does the party do with all that money other than travel, give speeches and try to gain popularity in hopes of gaining votes?

I guess a simple thank you would have been too much to ask of Barack Hussein Obama and the party. So, from my family and friends to the troops and their families, “Thank you!”

Gene Willett

Eye-opening numbers
Interesting information from Iraq:

Pay per day—Blackwater “Protective Security Specialist” (ex-Army), $1,221.64; Gen. Petraeus, $493.91; Army G.I., $71.52.

Provided by private, for-profit companies—load of laundry, $90; can of Coke, $8.

Skill set—employees at embassy, 1,000; fluent in Arabic, 10.

Joe Bahlke
Red Bluff