Letters for June 13, 2002

Whose money is it?
More than 10 years ago, when I was hired at Enloe Hospital, I was told by the recruiter of all the benefits that were to be mine as an employee. Among these benefits were sick time and vacation pay that would accrue on a monthly basis.

From the outset, I was encouraged by my managers to avoid using sick time: “In 20 years, when you retire, you can cash it out.” It was always understood that, if I left, the value would be pro-rated as spelled out in the personnel manual.

For many years, I used zero hours of sick time and was commended as a “good employee” for having done so. Vacation time was allowed to accrue without limit. Along came the new regime in ‘97 and no more vacation and sick time; now it’s PTO [paid time off]. We were told that, “Those of you who have vacation and sick time can ‘bank’ it, to use but not to add to, sort of a savings account frozen to further deposits.” OK, I’m not crazy about it, but at least it’s there if I want to use it.

On May 30, 2002, I was informed by an impersonal letter that my reserve sick time is to be cashed out at the prorated rate, 50 cents on the dollar after 10 years, and that my reserve vacation will be cashed out at half its value, with the other half going to a 401 account that I have no control over. I can swallow the bitter pill of having been lied to about the sick time, but the vacation time is mine; I earned it. Since I earned my vacation time, it should be my decision on how it is to be spent, not Enloe’s administration’s.

Michael Cafferata, RN

Hunting for understanding
Certain individuals and groups are brewing a tempest in a teapot to further their goals of exclusive use of the Big Chico Creek Ecological Preserve ["Ecological reserve or hunting grounds?” Newslines, May 30]. Although they were happy to accept the Department of Fish and Game’s $1.69 million contribution toward the purchase of the property (almost half the total purchase price), now they don’t want to share.

In exchange for its investment, the DFG is proposing that hunting be allowed 52 days a year. For safety purposes, only hunters would be allowed on those days (a system that worked flawlessly this past spring, when turkey hunters were allowed 12 total hunting days within the five-week turkey season.)

“Anti-hunters” are saying that this time-sharing arrangement will interfere with research and education. It would seem that the remaining 313 non-hunting days per year would still allow ample time for these worthwhile activities.

Mr. Lederer’s former students, who now work for DFG, feel that they should be stewards of California’s natural resources and not catering to public hunting. In fact, the two go hand-in-hand. It is hunters and fishermen who fund the department [through license fees]. That money is used not only for game species, but also for non-game wildlife and habitat protection and restoration. Public hunting and fishing have made preservation of much of California’s natural resources possible. The 1.5 percent of the population that hunts (much higher in rural areas; the percentage is brought down by the metropolitan populations) provides 100 percent of the DFG’s budget.

The misrepresentation of sportsmen as “Bambi killers” is an unfair image. The diverse group of hunters in the Chico area is made up of teachers, trades people, health care providers, agriculturalists, journalists and many others, of both genders and various ethnicities, all of whom share a love of the outdoors and a feeling of respect and responsibility toward wildlife.

Some people want their vision of the preserve as an area limited to one particular type of use to prevail. Sportsmen are content to share the resource.

Scott Huber

Just slow down
Give people road graders, pavers and dump trucks and then ask them to solve a freeway traffic congestion problem. Would you be surprised if their only solutions to the problem required the use of these tools?

Well, that was exactly what the public was told at the May 29 BCAG meeting on the congestion problem for Highway 99 between East First Avenue and Highway 32.

The public was presented two choices: either widen this stretch or fill in the median to make two additional lanes at a cost of $15 million to $20 million. Remember, the congestion problem lasts only a few hours a day, five days a week.

It seemed obvious to many of those present that there potentially could be a far less expensive alternative: Namely, slow traffic down to 45 miles per hour in the area and strictly enforce it. This could be done in gradual stages starting at the East 20th Street crossing to the south and the Cohasset exit to the north.

We were told that reducing the speed was not possible because it would interfere with regional commerce traveling through the area. Well, what about that stoplight on Highway 99 just south of town? We are talking about slowing motorists down from 60 to 45 mph for a few miles, not bringing them to a dead stop.

Another objection to slowing motorists was, “We don’t have the jurisdiction to do that.” Really? Can’t we ask the CHP or the appropriate agency to help us try the cheap solution first, before we spend $20 million on solutions that add more asphalt, noise and air pollution and adversely impact Bidwell Park?

Bradley B. Glanville

First flame
The radical-conservative lapdog John Gillander was yapping again on the Enterprise-Record’s letters to the editor page (June 5) with a low and vile attack on a recently announced progressive City Council candidate. I predict this is but an early salvo in what could be one of the dirtiest campaign seasons in Chico since the days when the Caucasian League burned Chinatown.

Why the early vitriol? Because the conservatives are already running scared.

Even with scores of thousands of dollars in developers’ money, they were only able to secure their majority on the City Council by 70 votes in the last election. People are getting wise to the unhealthy impact the excessive influence of the real estate and development interests is having on our community. Our quality of life suffers, while they line their pockets and further their political careers.

The future of our fine town is on the line. As the campaign heats up and the mud storm escalates, stay focused on the issues. We must stop the “sanhosification” of Chico. We must elect leaders who are not beholden to those who would exploit the finest aspects of our community for the sake of money, leaving the rest of us to deal with the sad consequences.

Dan Carter

Bogus claims
Thanks for your continuing coverage of Sen. Barbara Boxer’s wilderness bill ["Boxer wilderness act picks up opposition,” Newslines, May 30]. Opposition from the Blue Ribbon ("Drive everywhere") Coalition was to be expected, but its claims that the act would “negatively affect recreation and prohibit wildfire management” are bogus.

Wilderness status helps guarantee that already public lands will continue to offer excellent hiking, horseback riding, skiing, snowshoeing, fishing, rafting, kayaking, hunting, camping, swimming, sunning and solitude experiences (as well as inholder access) to future generations. Studies have shown that counties near wilderness areas also benefit economically with new jobs, increased property values, and increased local revenues.

As for wildfire management, the California Wild Heritage Wilderness Act of 2002, Section II (5) states, “Wildfire management activities necessary to protect public health and safety and private property are fully allowable in wilderness areas and the Secretary may take any measures deemed necessary to control or prevent fires.”

Stephen Sayre
Yahi Group Forest Committee Coordinator