Letters for June 18, 2009

Walmart expansion is contraction

Re: “Supercenter: good news, good sense” (Guest Comment, by Bob Linscheid, CN&R, June 11):

I wish I could share Mr. Linscheid’s enthusiasm for the proposed Walmart expansion. I know CEPCO has worked diligently for many years to bring jobs to the city and to assist in Chico’s economic development. We agree on one point: We must act to support projects that increase tax revenue, create jobs and preserve our quality of life. We differ on whether this expansion meets that goal.

The primary difference between the existing Walmart and the proposed supercenter is the addition of more than 50,000 square feet of discount groceries, which do not generate additional sales tax. We already have three large discount grocers within a one-mile radius of the proposed supercenter. We don’t need a fourth.

Even the consultants preparing the project’s environmental-impact report predict at least one of the existing grocers will close if this project is approved. This will not create new jobs. Instead, workers at existing discount grocers, most likely FoodMaxx, will lose their jobs.

Businesses are struggling to survive, and employees are worried about losing their jobs and their homes. We’ve already suffered the closing of Gottschalks, Linens ’n Things, Circuit City and Shoe Pavilion, all in the same general area as Walmart. We should not approve a project that will close another store. We should expand job opportunities that fill vacant stores with new businesses, not another discount grocer.

Expanding Walmart into a supercenter will neither create the new jobs we need nor preserve our quality of life.

Heather Schlaff

Contrary to Bob Linscheid’s article last week, expanding Chico’s Walmart into a supercenter, including a supermarket, is a bad idea. How does putting another discount grocer out of business “increase tax revenues and create jobs”? Chico would then have yet another big vacant storefront.

Linscheid touts a study done by professional expert witness Lon Hatamiya, who was paid many thousands of dollars by Walmart to prepare an allegedly “independent” report. Hata-miya claims a Walmart expansion would increase Chico sales-tax revenues by drawing additional shoppers to our community. With Walmart supercenters in Oroville, Willows, Yuba City, Red Bluff and, soon to be, Paradise, where are these imaginary shoppers going to materialize from?

Another study, recently prepared by credentialed PhD’s and respected economists not on Walmart’s payroll, concluded that a Walmart expansion would have a “devastating impact” on our local business community.

Walmart is a predatory retailer, and abuses of its workforce are legendary. Nationwide lawsuits have been filed by their employees to fight forced overtime without pay and discrimination against women in the workplace.

Bob Linscheid claims to be looking out for Chico’s best interests, but he’s in fact a paid consultant for Walmart.

Ron Sherman

Multiplier effect of cuts

Re: “Too much doom and gloom” (Newslines, by Robert Speer, CN&R, June 11):

I couldn’t help but take a personal interest in your article about Butte County’s budget. The situation facing all of California’s counties is real and perilous. What Mr. Speer missed in the article, and of utmost importance to your readers, is the economic impact Butte’s budget woes will have on the entire community—not just those who are unfortunate enough to have to depend upon those programs.

The $59 million Butte will lose are funds coming from outside the county. Those are taxes paid by someone in Van Nuys or Des Moines coming into this community. A recent study by Beacon Economics found that this $59 million is spent locally on groceries, gas, housing and clothing. For every dollar spent, there is an economic multiplier of 32 cents. So if these cuts come to pass, it will be more like $80 million being sucked out of the Butte economy.

We often hear citizens cry about being over-taxed and government being bloated, that taxes suck the wind out of private enterprise. Let’s face facts: Behind Chico State, Butte County is the largest economic engine in this region. What other business brings $80 million a year into our economy? These cuts will be devastating to everyone—business owners, grocery clerks, doctors, lawyers and salespeople alike.

The people in Sacramento who are making these decisions need to hear from your readers, and they need to hear loud and clear. If they care about the local economy, they need to protect these programs.

Paul McIntosh

Editor’s note: Mr. McIntosh, a former Butte County chief administrative officer, is executive director of the California State Association of Counties.

Why this?

Re: “Operation goat redemption” (EarthWatch, CN&R, June 11):

Again I must question why Farm Sanctuary is continually featured in GreenWays. We’ve established that the farm does not manufacture a green product, is not sustainable and only contributes to environmental damages by overmedicating animals, not treating its own animal waste and encouraging travel to its out-of-the-way location. It in no way promotes or educates about modern agriculture, something that is the very backbone of this community.

Not only did this poor goat from Merced County endure abuse from its original owner, it is now subjected to isolation, which is terrifying to a herd animal. It also stated in the update that this goat is receiving a huge amount of medical attention. Not only is this painful to the goat (perhaps it would have been more compassionate to put it down), it is expensive.

Farm Sanctuary does very little to alleviate animal suffering on a large scale. The thousands of dollars it will likely cost to “redeem” this one goat could have been better used to spay or neuter the hundreds of feral cats in the area, or find homes to the many abandoned animals in our local shelter.

Again, CN&R, in such a rural and agrarian community as this, please inform us of relevant agricultural stories.

Megan Brown
Butte Valley

Good goal, bad means

Re: “Supervisors err with air of superiority” (Guest Comment, by Dennis Ramirez, CN&R, May 28):

I wish for nothing more than the [Mechoopda] tribe to develop a business that will provide adequate income so that its members can improve their standard of living, but I am in complete disagreement that establishing a casino in a beautiful, environmentally sensitive area of Butte County is an appropriate way to achieve that goal.

In addition, to state that “it has been shown time and again that casinos bring money into the local economy” completely ignores the fact the casinos are magnets for compulsive gamblers, alcoholics and criminals. There is a terrible price to be paid for providing “living-wage jobs” through the creation of a business that is detrimental to the character of a community.

Debra Abbott

Juanita breaks it down

Re: “Another plea for single-payer plan” (Letters, CN&R, May 28):

Norm Dillinger’s letter promotes some widely held misconceptions about “single payer.”

“Single-payer simply means that the government pays all the bills from independent doctors and other doctors of your choice,” he writes. Not true.

According to Title II, Section 202, of the American Health Security Act, the program only covers those physicians and services that are sanctioned by the state. If you currently use alternative health care, such as homeopathy or naturopathy, neither your treatments nor your medicines are covered. The notion that you get to choose your own health-care provider or treatment plan is false.

Yes, “the government pays all the bills,” meaning we, the people. We will pay through increases in personal taxes and self-employment tax, in addition to the yearly premium.

Prices and the premium will be set “in consultation with experts in preventive medicine and public health,” by a board “chosen on the basis of backgrounds in health policy, health economics, the healing professions, and the administration of health care institutions”—meaning doctors and hospital administrators, the very profiteers who’ve run our health-care system into the ground, will be running our public health “reform.”

Enloe will still charge $7,500 a day for a room, and they’ll get it. But will we really get better care?

“Single payer” will simply force us to pay for the over-bloated medical system instead of forcing doctors and hospitals to charge reasonable rates.

Juanita Sumner

‘Save our way of life’

Re: “Friends or frenemies” (In My Eyes, by Evan Tuchinsky, CN&R, May 28):

You take license, as a late arrival, in assuming that Bidwell Park should serve as some type of amusement park with disc golfers and paragliders being allowed to legalize activities that they both did illegally for years (akin to amnesty for illegal immigrants).

The Bidwells left the park to the community under agreement to safeguard its wildly natural setting. The Friends of Bidwell Park are merely trying to carry out the covenant’s intent. They have spent years and countless hours of volunteer time trying to preserve Sherwood Forest. They carry the true Chico spirit.

Preservation and protection of Chico’s bucolic environment to save our way of life must replace the “bigger is better” attitude of those who would grow it beyond its capacity to retain uncongested streets, little crime, clean air, blue skies, safe water, a wild park, soft noise levels, neighborhoods of less density and more living space.

All new arrivals have settled here for the same reason: a unique rural community with an unusual environment. Any changes to this picture would only take away what we came for—the Chico lifestyle.

Jerry Olio