Letters for July 8, 2004

Lack of relevance
The News & Review claims to have printed “all the relevant information” on the Jeff Sloan issue. [“Welcome to Sloanstown,” editorial, July 1]. Do you really think your reporting clarified it to most readers? For example, you “reported” Superintendent Scott Brown wrote his thesis on the importance of terminating tenured teachers, on his being forced out of his previous jobs, that school board members voted to back Brown before any evidence was presented to them, etc. etc.

Yet you failed to see any relevance to this and much other information. You didn’t report on the truth of the allegations (just repeating what was said). You failed to draw any conclusions about the deceptions and hidden motives on the one side yet label the other side “cult-like” and suicidal.

I believe the majority of Marsh Junior High School parents and many other Chico Unified School District parents want excellence and honesty regarding this issue. Is that faddish or cult-like also? The main issue as I see it is greater administrative accountability and parental control of the CUSD. That, I feel, is the only reason Sloan went public with this. Please base your weird opinions on some truly investigative reporting!

Please go to www.chicocommunityconcerns.com to get involved.

Mark Lance

Sloan envy
Seemingly the only people more “passionate,” “cult-like” in their behavior, and willing to speak out publicly about their strong beliefs in Jeff Sloan are those detractors such as the News & Review, which just can’t stand to be reminded of his abilities and popularity. For someone’s situation you seem to dismiss and have such disregard for, Sloan seems to evoke a lot of sentiment from you. Through this entire ordeal who among us has not wondered, “If this happened to me, would I have such support, such public outcry on my behalf, so many people affected by my unfair treatment?” Like him or not, I truly believe many, including yourself, have wondered this.

The reaction of all those people you so obviously want to relegate to crazy is simply their reaction to the loss of a devoted educator for no proven reason. It’s the American way; we just don’t tolerate injustice. This “reassignment” is punitive, we all know it, and we “crazies” just aren’t going to go away because the rest of you are annoyed. May I, or you, ever be lucky enough to experience such devotion and belief in our professional worth.

Barbara Black

Why we’re mad
Why are we mad at the school superintendent? Because Marsh was about a standard of education that we have wanted in all our schools.

The outrage was because Marsh was fabulous. It had strong academics, nurturing environment, wonderful staff, high scores and school pride that is uncommon in public schools. The superintendent stated they raised too much money, were too dedicated and “gave their students an unfair advantage.”

Parents were so pleased they were moving into the attendance boundary. Realtors promoted Marsh. Private-school students transferred in droves.

Administrators like Sloan or Bernie Vigallon represent the kind of leaders public education has forever sought. They show the impossible is possible and they think of the ideas that others follow. Superintendents blame problems on the state, but teachers say the roadblocks are with their own district.

I suggest a reality show that places Scott Brown on an island with a thousand students and puts Sloan and Vigallon on another island and see which group could turn it into a thriving school. Is there any doubt? Brown’s group would be fighting, making excuses, and fail. The other would be running smoothly immediately. Brown would probably attack the other island. With better leadership, all schools would take risks that are needed to excel just like Marsh.

The CN&R should be the first to acknowledge a mistake and appreciate that everyone has a right to different opinions and object more when someone claims you don’t even have a right to express it.

Hannah Anderson

Jettison the rocket
I happily attended the first play in Shakespeare in the Park’s (SIP) season. The title suggested a satire, perhaps along the lines of one of the SF Mime Troupe’s gems, a send-up of contemporary culture and mores.

The stage scenery, with cartoon-like rocket ships, seemed perfectly appropriate. And then it started, song after song from the songbook of ‘60s through ‘80s pop. I tried to ignore these, although they annoyed me, since I hadn’t come to hear such stuff, certainly not while attending an SIP event! I attempted to extract from the action on stage a complex, interesting plot, as if the playwrights had written a great play and allowed some nameless impulse to wed it with so-so pop music.

Would that it were so. The play has no wisdom to it, no complexity of character or deviousness of plot. The whole thing is, in a word, drek—garbage, the stuff that my mother tossed out for its unwholesomeness, its over-ripeness.

I walked out at the first-act break, knowing that the playwrights had foisted a miscarriage of acting on us in the name of drama and Shakespeare, of all people. I might have stayed for the second act if I were guaranteed that the authors of this nothing would be hanging from the gibbet.

I’m not sure why this was allowed to happen. I usually spend my Thursday evenings going to the Blue Room, where I have enjoyed nearly a dozen dramas over the last year. Next time, when there’s a two-week drama, I’ll read the reviews first.

Robert Winshall

Genetic questions
Can someone please explain to me how engineering a crop to be resistant to a pesticide does not lead to more pesticide use [“Unnatural Selection,” cover story, July 1]? It seems that if a pesticide no longer affected your crop, you could spray as much as you wanted without fear of burning your crop. Then again, this is probably the intent of companies like Mons-ter-anto as they try to take over the world’s food supplies … er, excuse me, end world hunger.

And how ironic that the dean of the College of Agriculture, Charles Crabb, is unaware of the fact, which your article covered extensively, that the Monsanto crops he is growing can “affect people off site” and do “get away” from you.

Maybe he shouldn’t wait to be forced by a ballot measure to address this issue. I am also curious how Chico State was able to avoid the contracts that you mention farmers of Monsanto crops must sign in order to use their seeds and avoid the conflict of interest Crabb was so clear about.

Ross HuberParadise

Stop the slaughter
Although Gov. Schwarzenegger ran for office with an environment-friendly campaign, he is making sweeping changes to California’s logging rules without legislative approval. Recently, the Board of Forestry suspended timber harvest rules to allow forest landowners to log trees up to 26-inches for fire prevention.

Unfortunately, there is absolutely no science to support logging large, fire-resistant trees to prevent wildfire. In fact, reducing the canopy and logging big trees may increase fire danger. When the shady canopy is reduced, flammable brush, small trees and grasses will grow. Logging 26-inch trees around our homes decreases property values and pits neighbor against neighbor. The Butte Fire Safe Council (butte.firesafe.org, 877-0984) can visit your property, then design a plan to protect your home without cutting old trees.

Behind closed doors, Arnold has also proposed what we call the “No Tree Left Behind Initiative.” The Certified Forest Timber Harvest Plan will approve permanent, enormous logging plans without adequate environmental review. The plan eliminates review by the public or Department of Fish and Game and Regional Water Quality Control.

The timber industry already clear-cuts, herbicides and pollutes our local watersheds. Native salmon, the Tehama deer herd, indigenous frogs, owls, song birds and hawks are struggling to exist.

Please write to Gov. Schwarzenegger, State Capitol Building, Sacramento, CA 95814. Tell him you object to this plan to significantly weaken environmental protection for California forests. The water we depend on and the wildlife and forests we cherish are in jeopardy for future generations.

Patricia Puterbaugh

I want to sincerely thank the Chico City Council for its vision in maintaining the current funding level for the Chico Branch Library and the Chico Friends of the Library for their dedication and advocacy. The library is an umbrella community service that covers the educational, informational, and recreational needs of everyone within the Chico municipal area (more than half of whom hold library cards). The decision to maintain current funding levels reflects the need for these library services and is further enhanced by the thousands of annual volunteer hours, which increases the real value of the city’s investment.

All those who showed up at the City Council meeting affirmed the support behind this proactive institution. I thank everyone for being there. This was truly a committed effort from a diverse and involved community.

Ilona Toko

Poor excuses
I was out of town when Larry Wahl, Steve Bertagna and Dan Herbert voted not to fill Coleen Jarvis’ seat on the City Council. Before I left I meant to write a letter supporting Coleen’s husband, Michael Stauffer, for filling the remaining few months of her council seat.

I never wrote the letter because, on reflection, I saw the handwriting on the wall when Dan Herbert went back on his word to Coleen about how he would vote on the burn dump cleanup. At the time, Mr. Herbert said he was unaware of the alternative he voted for until the proposal was aired at a meeting, but Coleen was aware of all of the alternatives prior to the meeting, so of course the same information was available to Mr. Herbert.

Mr. Wahl is reported to have commented that, after all, when Ted Hubert died, the city council progressives didn’t vote to have Mr. Hubert’s wife serve out his term. Mr. Wahl ignores the fact that Ted Hubert died at the very beginning of his term, while Coleen’s term had less than six months to run.

Mr. Bertagna is reported to have said it “made him sick” to even think about filling the vacancy with Coleen so recently gone. Well, Mr. Bertagna, all of Coleen’s friends and family are sick with grief and sorrow, but honoring Coleen means speaking up for her now that she is silenced, and Michael Stauffer should by rights be serving out her term.

Paralee K. Cooper

Chew on this
Obesity is certainly constitutional.

Stephen T. Davis