Letters for June 13, 2013
Re “Through the looking glass,” (Cover story, by Ken Smith, June 6):
I would like to say thank you to Ken Smith and the CN&R for his charming, well-written article on Chico community groups advertising on Craigslist.org. It was a pleasure to have him attend our French-bulldog meetup.
The article portrayed the breed very well, but there was one point I want to clarify: The original English bulldog was bred for fighting, bull baiting. The French bulldog was bred from the English bulldog and other small breeds—depending on your source, the pug or a terrier—in England to be a small “lap dog” favored by the lace-makers who migrated to France during the Industrial Revolution. It was in France that the breed evolved further and became known as the Bouledogue Français, and today is known as the French bulldog.
For more information about the breed and its history, visit the websites of the French Bulldog Club of America or the American Kennel Club of America.
By the way, Paris seems fine now. The vet said it is not clear that she had a seizure, but may have experienced syncope, or a faint, from loss of oxygen to the brain from the excitement and possibly overheating at the sunny park, although we met there at 10 a.m. to avoid the heat.
Re “Pulling out of big oil” (Newslines, by Darwin BondGraham, June 6):
First, all so-called renewable energy (except hydroelectric—the only really clean renewable, yet anathema to greens) is dirtier than fossil fuels. Wind turbines kill millions of birds including endangered California condors and whooping cranes, and the turbines and solar arrays despoil landscapes, destroy habitats and emit toxic chemicals. Intermittent and unreliable, to accommodate them more fossil fuel must be burned than would be if there were no wind or solar. Geothermal emits toxic heavy metals—arsenic, mercury, lead, chromates. These are attested physical facts.
Second, pension-fund management is responsible to plan members, not to economically and scientifically illiterate enviro-fascists. Pension managers’ duty is to maximize members’ account values, by investing in consistently profitable companies and not taking venture-capital-type risks. Investing in a Solyndra or a Fisker [Automotive] would be a gross breach of their fiduciary obligation. Renewables other than hydroelectric survive only with heavy taxpayer subsidies and artificially, needlessly high electric rates.
I suggest these people fork over some hard cash to help pay the excessive utility bills and cost of other necessities for low-income people struggling to get by, caused by the policies they push.
I appreciate the coverage of the UC regents meeting and student divestment movement. All around the world students are looking at where their tuition dollars are going, and many do not like what they see.
There are more than 50 individual divestment campaigns in California alone, and well over 200 nationwide. More campuses—UC, CSU and community colleges—as well as city and local governments now have sustainability written into their mission statements and policies; this is while simultaneously the teachers’ and administrators’ retirement, and the schools’ investments, are tied in deeply with the fossil-fuel industries—the largest contributor of greenhouse-gas pollution and drivers of anthropogenic climate chaos.
Figures like “10 percent of the market value of CalPERS stock portfolio is in fossil-fuel investments … or about $1.4 billion in oil, gas and coal” are a chance to ask where our money is invested now, and what genuinely sustainable alternatives we can invest in for the prospects of a livable future.
The homeless need homes
Re “Street stewards” (Newslines, by Vic Cantu, June 6):
Clean and Safe Chico has no correlation to providing a “solution to homelessness,” unless you consider a solution one that makes homeless people disappear. Human beings experiencing homelessness need, first and foremost, affordable housing. Try finding an expert who believes you can successfully treat mental illness and addiction while being homeless. They don’t exist. Recently Chico announced forthcoming cuts to police and fire, and the sound is deafening. Drastic cuts to affordable housing over decades—hardly a whimper.
I take offense to the myopic view that homeless people, including those relegated to panhandling, support the Redirect Generosity campaign. In the work I do on the street advocating and documenting homeless issues in Chico, the clear tone is anger and disgust with this campaign. It’s ludicrous to anticipate the homeless will suddenly lift themselves out of their situation when all direct help including food, clothing and money is removed.
Thoughts on a park fee
Re “How much is the park worth?” (Guest Comment, by Richard Ober, June 6):
Increased taxes and user fees are affordable and worth the cost to keep our civil amenities usable. “You get what you pay for.” Thanks, Richard, for expressing a reality as I know it. How broke does Bidwell Park need to get before we fix it?
Bidwell Park and Playground Commissioner Richard Ober asks, “Is it worth a few dollars” to keep Bidwell Park open and maintained? The park currently enjoys a healthy budget, with salaries well over the median income. The taxpayers also pick up most of these employees’ generous pension and benefits premiums.
Chico Area Recreation and Park District is in the same boat. Receiving more than $6.5 million in revenues, over half from taxes, CARD spends more than $4.6 million on salaries and benefits, mostly for management. A recent $400,000 CalPERS pay-off has led to staffing cuts to balance the budget, leaving a supervisor position vacant and cutting part-time workers’ hours to avoid paying them benefits. At a recent budget session, recreation Superintendent Monya Jameson detailed cuts she would make to CARD programs—impacting 555 kids—if she didn’t get more “worker bees.”
The city has likewise become management-heavy and drained its resources by paying these overly generous salaries and benefits packages. I can’t believe Ober tries to hand the blame to the taxpayers—we don’t pay enough? He and the other commissioners, the city and CARD need to acknowledge their failure, and ask themselves, “How can I make this right?”
Mr. Ober’s guest comment last week was a gentle reminder that we all need to do our part to give back to the park, which adds a rich layer of natural wonder to our urban lives. It’s always worth noting that the park was a conditionally accepted gift from Annie Bidwell (who invoked John Bidwell as co-giver), accepted by the city on behalf of the citizens, and accepted on the conditions laid out in the “Bidwell Deed” (see a copy of the deed at: www.friendsofbidwellpark.org/deed.html.)
I think most every park-user intends to not damage the park, and yet over the years, impacts—both intentional and unintentional—slowly chip away at the park’s beauty. Not to say the place isn’t utterly fantastic, but case in point: This year has seen an awful lot of spray painting—diversion dam, rocks and trees.
All of us should consider volunteering in the park. This can be achieved through the city Park Division, or through various organizations. Get your service organization involved, or just pick up some trash. At the very least, be thoughtful about how you use this beautiful–even sacred—park. It’s one of a kind. How lucky we are!
Work with homeowners
Eminent-domain action should be used only in conjunction with public safety.
Jerry and Laura Douglas have been trying to work with the city of Chico in regard to purchasing a portion of their income property to create a path and install a pedestrian/bike bridge over Little Chico Creek that would connect Humboldt Avenue with Community Park. They actually liked the idea, but the offer for the purchase of this piece of land is ridiculously small in comparison to the project costs.
One problem is that eminent-domain appraisals take much longer to accomplish and the Douglases have had to put up their own money for this. So far, eight months have passed with no appraisal.
At the June 4 City Council meeting, the Douglases asked to sit down with the council or city staff in a small meeting and work through this problem. A motion was made by Councilman Sean Morgan to table this matter until the appraisal came in. Councilman Mark Sorensen agreed, but the others did not. What I find is that five members voted in lock-step, making this a political issue that leaves hurt feelings for the Douglases. This action does nothing to bring the community together.
Listen to the city manager
Re “Dark days” (Newslines, by Melissa Daugherty, June 6):
History has shown that when ego takes the place of responsibility, when personal agendas replace actions for the public good, or when silence replaces the community voice, the public is not well served. Failure of prior and current liberal Chico City Council members to request information or to question actions by the former city manager raises concerns of whether actions were taken for the city’s benefit or for personal/political gain.
Ex-mayor Ann Schwab and the liberal majority preferred to not demand complete and accurate information from management, remaining uneducated about the intricacies of the city’s financial structure and operations. By not asking the hard questions, council members can be more easily swayed by staff recommendations that are not in the public’s best interest. This observation is not new. It has been brought to the council’s attention by current and past conservative council members and members of the public for the last five to seven years.
I want to give credit to the new City Manager Brian Nakamura for hiring his new management team and finally bringing fiscal common sense and transparency to the city. Now let’s see if the City Council will listen and act on his recommendations.
Dave Donnan ran for City Council in 2012.
The market helps downtown
Downtown business owners need to consider the indirect effects of the thousands of people that come downtown each Saturday morning: Some businesses are absolutely helped by the market (food-related especially). This translates to fewer vacant storefronts. This is good for the entire business community.
Having foot traffic gives the entire community positive associations of downtown—that the area is the heart of Chico. This benefits the entire business community. Having the market draw people downtown translates to visibility that is good for all downtown businesses. For example, I had no idea there was an African-goods store at the Garden Walk Mall until I was sitting at the farmers’ market having coffee and saw the sign one morning.
This market is one of the things about Chico that creates a quality of life. It keeps intelligent, creative and talented people in the community—the types that start new businesses. The ramifications of disrupting the market go beyond a couple of sales between 10-1 p.m. on Saturday mornings.
IRS methods are logical
The kerfuffle stirred up by Republicans—and in particular the Tea Party—concerning IRS targeting of organizations with certain words in their names is similar to previous criticism of the TSA (Transportation Security Administration). Rather logically, the TSA initially targeted dark-complexioned young male airline passengers who looked like they were from the Middle East for closer scrutiny on airlines more than they did older white persons. Liberal criticism of this “profiling” was ridiculed by reasonable conservatives. Certainly there is more likelihood that a young man from the Middle East rather than an 80-year-old white woman would commit an act of terror.
By the same logic, there is far more reason to suspect that an organization with the name of a political party in its title would engage in prohibited political activity. Thus, a title including the words “tea party” would be a reasonable suspect, as would a PAC including “Democratic or Republican parties.” By reasonable extension, words frequently used by these parties in campaigning and included in the titles of their PACs would be a reason for suspicion and investigation. The IRS doesn’t have the personnel to do detailed investigations of all PACs; it should be allowed to use reasonable methods to narrow the field.
Victor M. Corbett
Kids and the arts
In 1997, Chico Performances started a program at Chico State called Adopt-A-Class. Adopt-A-Class connects individuals, businesses and schoolchildren together with the arts and education. Local businesses, individuals and service groups adopt school classes so they may attend Field Trip performances at Laxson Auditorium at no cost to the teachers, school, district or students themselves.
Last year, more than 66 classrooms enjoyed music, dance, theater and lectures at no cost, thanks to the sponsorship of 26 businesses and individuals in the North Valley.
Our goal this year is to increase the number of students who attend a Field Trip at no cost by 25 percent. To do this, we will need at least 20 new adopters to sponsor Field Trips for local school children.
We are asking for the North Valley community to help bring the arts to local classrooms. A minimum donation of $250 will allow one class to attend one Field Trip at no cost to the school, teacher or children. This minimal amount could make a maximum influence on a child’s life. After all, who among us doesn’t remember their first trip to a live performance? The stage, the energy, the theater? It’s an unforgettable experience.
More information on the Adopt-A-Class program is available at www.chicoperformances.com. We invite any business, parent or group to adopt a class of your choice today!
Vegetarians live longer
This week’s issue of Time Magazine brings more documentation that vegetarians live longer than their meat-chomping friends.
A six-year study of 70,000 Seventh-day Adventists, published in the current issue of the American Medical Association’s prestigious Journal of Internal Medicine, found that, vegetarians and vegans have a 12 percent lower risk of death. This is but the latest evidence linking meat consumption to diseases that kill 1.3 million Americans annually. It comes only two months after a discovery at the Cleveland Clinic that carnitine, contained in all meat products, is a major factor in heart failure.
Similarly, an Oxford University study of nearly 45,000 adults in last January’s American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that vegetarians were 32 percent less likely to suffer from heart disease than people who ate meat and fish. A Harvard University study of 37,698 men and 83,644 women, in last year’s Archives of Internal Medicine, concluded that meat consumption raises the risk of heart-disease and cancer mortality. Indeed, each of us can find a fountain of youth by adopting a meat- and dairy-free diet. An Internet search on “vegan recipes” or “live vegan” provides ample resources.
Remember the animals
Most Americans are rightfully upset about the fire that killed more than 120 people at a slaughterhouse in China. Almost all of the fire exits were blocked, and panicked workers were forced to trample one another to escape. While many people are calling for the company that operates the plant to be held accountable for the human fatalities, please remember that the company is also responsible for the deaths of countless other sentient beings every year.
Chickens feel pain, fear, love and happiness, just as we do. They, too, have complex social structures, adept communication skills and distinct personalities. They form strong family ties and mourn when they lose a loved one. When they’re not confined to factory farms, hens lovingly tend to their eggs and talk to their unborn chicks, who chirp back.
There’s nothing anyone can do to bring back the poor people who perished in the fire, or the birds who were killed for their flesh, but we can all help save lives simply by choosing vegan foods. Please visit www.PETA.org to find out how you can help reduce the amount of suffering and bloodshed in the world.