Letters for July 5, 2007

Open letter from O’Neill to Oroville
Re: “Orovillians rant …” (Letters, by Nancy and Jim Jones, CN&R, June 28):

A recent story I wrote about an evening spent on police patrol in the city of Oroville (”Mean Streets,” CN&R, June 14) has some business people in that community rather upset. Those people are concerned that my piece smeared their community, and cast an unfair light on their city. That was, most assuredly, not my intent.

Much of their displeasure traces to one paragraph in the story. That paragraph reads:

“There are places on Oroville’s south side that would not look out of place if they were magically transported to the Third World, would not look much different from a favela in Brazil or a barrio in Honduras. These are places bred of extreme poverty, with tattered cloth serving as curtains covering cracked windows, where parolees live next door to children neglected by crack-addicted mothers. Hope has little chance for survival in places like this, where even the pets are furtive and scruffy-looking. This is where the American dream goes to die, or where it arrives still-born. It is an America where urgent needs at home have been neglected while billions are squandered each month overseas.”

The readers who are most upset about these lines seem to think I was writing that Oroville, in particular, is where “the American dream goes to die,” but that is neither what I intended to say, nor what the words say in context. Oroville, like many other towns and cities in Butte County and throughout the nation, is home to pockets of extreme poverty, and it is those pockets where “the dream goes to die.” Oroville is in no way unique in being home to extremely poor or extremely troubled people, but any honest story about police work is going to turn up images that will not be popular with those who would prefer to mask social problems in their communities in the interest of civic pride and boosterism.

There is much to praise in the city of Oroville, but that was not the story seen through the windshields of those police cruisers on the night I rode along, or on most other nights in most other cities. Police work, by its very nature, deals with some of the darker issues in any community where that work is done. Oroville is lucky to have such fine young police officers who are willing to do that vital work at a disadvantageous pay differential when compared to neighboring towns where the crime rates are not quite as high.

Anger toward the messenger does nothing to deal with the problems generated by that crime rate, and the poverty that breeds it.

Jaime O’Neill

Not such a crazy idea after all …
Re: “Craziest thing that you’ve ever done?” (Streetalk, CN&R, June 28):

Brilliant! I haven’t had this much enjoyment from reading Streetalk in a long time. More!

Tina Fleischer

Work vs. energy—discuss
Re: “Power counterpoint” (Letters, by Brahama D. Sharma, CN&R, June 28):

Professor Sharma claimed I believe the same work uses less energy when electricity is used. However, he also notes electric cars are more efficient. This means they do less work. Less work uses less energy. This produces less pollution, even though it is emitted elsewhere. Some electric cars are recharged from pure or partial green energy, reducing total emissions (wherever they are) from 75 percent to almost 100 percent compared to combustion engines.

What amounts of fossil fuels must be used to make solar panels? Silicon, which has been a main ingredient, is abundant. After the panels are made, don’t they provide solar energy instead of burning fossil fuels? This reduction may not be absolutely perfect, but it’s a lot closer.

Current culture involves busy parents who whisk children about to meaningful activities. How can we respect this culture if we suddenly transform to a culture that picks wild plants in close communities that dance and sing? People currently depend on jobs miles away that may not allow telecommuting. As we re-organize our lives, electric cars can lighten the load on a future that will hopefully involve less driving—and more dancing!

Irene Cardenas

I am going to enter the fray of the discussion between Brahama D. Sharma and Irene Cardenas by making a simple global statement whose truth can be verified by using common sense: A world fleet of electric cars will burn way less fossil fuel than a world fleet of gasoline-powered cars.

Ms. Cardenas advocates that we move toward electric cars, and in her letter ["Power point I,” CN&R, June 21] seems fully aware of the fact that, yes, the electricity may come from burning coal elsewhere (or hydro or nuclear, etc., thus already proving my point; but there’s more). And Dr. Sharma admits that gas engines are not as efficient as electric engines—yet, it can be gleaned from Dr. Sharma’s letters that he thinks that electric cars pollute equally, because it takes the same amount of energy to do “work,” regardless of the source.

Surely the doctor knows that on the electrical grid, during the wee hours of the morning, a lot of electricity (40 percent-60 percent) is generated that is simply wasted, since power plants cannot simply be “turned down” during the night (try “turning down” a bonfire). Electric cars—ideally—are plugged into the grid during these wee hours, sopping up excess supply.

Voila! Millions of cars could tap into this currently wasted energy, and it would not increase demand on the system one single watt.

So let’s work smart, not hard. The argument is not about “work,” but about “efficiency.”

Tom Blodget

Money/mouth disconnect
Re: “It’s a CalPERS world” (Cover story, by Ralph Brave, CN&R, May 31):

How can CalPERS claim that they don’t do business with China when they have nearly 20 million Wal-Mart shares? What a blatant, ugly, atrocious, hypocritical lie!

Wal-Mart is one of the largest single traders with China. An investment in Wal-Mart is an investment against American labor and the environment.

I call on my fellow CalPERS members to demand that CalPERS end this toxic investment. If they don’t, I certainly plan to drop out of their long-term care program. No more premiums from me!

Jim Dwyer

Getting carded
About a month or so ago, I drove through one of Chico’s DUI checkpoints and received for my trouble a bit of DUI literature and a police trading card. I understand why the need to appeal to younger community members makes trading cards seem like a good idea, but I don’t understand why the police would distribute a photo of a police officer wearing a shirt advertising beer (Sierra Nevada, if you’re curious).

I’m actually not sure which is more inappropriate: that the picture is handed out to children or that it is handed out to adults both over and under 21 years old at a DUI checkpoint …

Anna Smith

FYI on Iraq
The issue of how to extricate ourselves from the quagmire in Iraq is front and center, while we quietly are in the process of building the largest embassy in the world there—the size of 80 football fields. Beyond that, 14 military bases are also under construction.

Joe Bahlke
Red Bluff

Election proposition
To make our elections democratic, the following changes should be made:

Outlaw contributions to candidates exceeding $500 per year by anyone. This includes corporations, nonprofits, political parties, PACs, unions, associations and individuals.

Eliminate the Electoral College and primary elections.

Outlaw any political ads by candidates (including incumbents). Outlaw free mailings by incumbents.

A set number of signatures should put any potential candidate on the ballot everywhere and give him/her access to all debates.

Starting six months before the general election, any TV media outlet that has a license from the government should provide free of charge a set number of hours per month for media-organized debates including all candidates.

Voting should be by freely stamped absentee ballot only.

Norm Dillinger

Craving knowledge
It’s time for me to save the world again, or at least help out a little. Scientific American Mind magazine uncovered that coke heads, meth freaks and fat people all have 10 times the normal amount of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens of the brain.

What this means is that obese people are addicted to food. Rather than go on a diet, overweight people need to go to rehab to break their addiction. It’s that simple. Food is addictive; it’s a drug.

Michael M. Peters

Police chief’s praise
In light of some negative press about the level of care at Enloe Hospital in the recent past, I feel compelled to write about two very positive experiences that my wife and I had.

In March, I had serious back surgery at Enloe, and my wife had extremely serious vascular surgery last November. I must admit after reading these negative reports, I had some questions, but was assured by many that we would receive top care by the staff at Enloe. Well, the advisers were 100 percent correct. Both my wife and I experienced the most professional staff, from those who clean the rooms to the doctors and nurses who display their awesome talents in the operating room.

It’s time someone stood up to praise the many dedicated people at our own Enloe Medical Center. My wife and I decided that we should take such a stand.

Bruce and Myrna Hagerty

Re: “In good company” (Feature Story, by Meredith J. Cooper, CN&R, June 28): The medication recommended to calm Capt. Don and ease his breathing was misidentified. It was Lorazepam. Also, Juliette Rossiter’s name was misspelled, and the month during which Enloe holds its night of remembrance was misidentified. It is in December. These errors have been corrected online.