Letters for June 18, 2015
Will readers take action?
Re “Watchdogging patrons” (Second & Flume, by Melissa Daugherty, June 11):
Adding an investigative reporter to CN&R sounds great, but the paper has already informed its readers of major issues and the public has failed to take significant corrective action. So will readers take action on additional new issues?
CN&R covered the fact that Chico pays its police and firefighters more than most other well-to-do municipalities in the state, virtually three times the median income received by residents of Butte County. Yes, Chico has a new mayor and City Council members, but we still have a regime willing to support any project brought forward by police or fire at the expense of all other public service considerations. Now the sheriff is asking for more money because he is losing officers to the police in Chico and Oroville! Are citizens taking action to stop this inequity?
Second, CN&R covered the fracking issue and readers know that the Board of Supervisors approved issuing permits for this highly destructive industry that uses prodigious amounts of water, in the face of a severe drought! For those interested, the state water board has authority to cancel any permits issued if a complaint is made and it determines water, which is a public trust, is being misused, and it may use the courts to assist it if necessary (see www.waterboards.ca.gov/waterrights/board_info/water_rights_process.shtml#complaints).
It’s more than money
Re “Deputies, please” (Newslines, by Howard Hardee, June 11):
Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea complains of losing local deputies to higher-paying cities like Sacramento, the Bay Area and even Chico and Oroville. Although he also neglects to mention the big differences in the cost of living in some of those places, or the fact that even a Butte County dispatcher already makes over $120,000 a year, including benefits (three times the median household income for Butte County).
Yet most folks change jobs or even relocate often for many other reasons, including quality of life, cost of living, local leadership, schools, crime rate, etc., which begs this question: Is money really the only—or even primary—factor affecting retention these days in our local police departments (Butte County, Chico or otherwise)?
Two on Bidwell Park
Re “Put up or shut up” (Editorial, June 11):
The city’s alleging it can’t keep Bidwell Park open is likely a ploy to extort public acceptance of increased taxes and borrowing. That is, to fund $200,000-plus-per-year salaries and benefits for life to Chico police and fire personnel typically retiring at age 50.
The city alleges it can no longer afford to maintain 36 picnic areas, 25 restroom stalls, 10 porta-potties, three shower facilities, six special-event areas, 10 miles of paved roads and bike paths, dirt trails and Sycamore Pool. Notwithstanding the absurdity of this allegation considering the salaries and benefits it pays, maintaining most of these facilities isn’t even strictly necessary.
Further, closing the gate to Middle Park creates a parking nuisance in adjacent neighborhoods and needlessly deprives residents access to Horseshoe Lake, the shooting range and Upper Park. Accordingly, it should remain open.
The road to Upper Park, however, primarily facilitates students driving to Bear Hole to drink and party. This is not only hostile to wildlife and others enjoying Upper Park, it also facilitates injury and drownings. The road and porta-potties there are also costly to maintain. Accordingly, the gate to Upper Park should be closed permanently.
We are saddened that the city will open the gates of Lower Park seven days a week. We felt that Friday through Sunday was an excellent compromise for those desiring vehicular access while giving those of us who prefer the park without cars, Monday through Thursday, to enjoy our park too.
We visit the park nearly daily. We have never had a problem finding a parking spot and gaining access. My wheelchair-bound mother often joins us. My kids know the names of each tree on the World of Trees path. They know where the redwood groves are and we hug them. They know that at Site 6 they can go down to the creek and splash because it’s shallow there. My twins are 3 years old and they have literally grown up in Bidwell Park.
Opening the park to vehicles daily also reopens it to a darker element of petty crime. I’ve had men expose themselves to me from their cars in Lower Park before; I’ve also witnessed people in sexual acts parked at picnic sites, and I’ve seen a lot of drug use there.
The safety, quiet and peace of the park are ruined for this Bidwell-loving family.
‘Patsies for Big Ag’
Re “Water scheme jeopardizes valley” (Guest comment, by Jim Brobeck, June 11):
People don’t seem to realize that agriculture uses 80 percent of the water in California, so all these efforts by ordinary citizens to save a pail full of water here and there won’t amount to a drop in the bucket.
Citizens are being played for fools. Big Agribusiness farmers are millionaires and have tremendous political clout—and they should be the main focus of water conservation. Instead, they’re allowed to drill as many wells as they want to grow their expensive crops, so they drain the aquifer and cause ground subsidence. Gov. Jerry Brown needs their tax revenue to fund his bloated government, so he cuts their allotments but that’s about it.
The answer is to let the land lie fallow during the drought with drought-resistant groundcover to prevent another Dust Bowl. Big Agribusiness can grow their crops elsewhere, where it’s raining. Overseas for instance. Why should ordinary citizens be the patsies for Big Agribusiness? We don’t work for them.
Advice: Seek reflection
Re “Goading the guru” (Letters, by Patrick Newman, June 11):
I attended the recent Bill McKibben event and feel compelled to respond to Patrick Newman’s one-sided and, in my opinion, irresponsible letter. First, the question Newman asked was an important one—and if he would have asked it, sat down and allowed McKibben to answer, we all might have benefited from the exchange.
Instead, he disrespected him and everyone in the audience by continuing to shout, not allow an answer and take up valuable time so that others didn’t have an opportunity to ask questions. I believe McKibben when he said he would much rather be home in Vermont with his family doing what he loves best: writing books. Instead, he’s out on the road repeating the same dire message—not to mention getting arrested, sleeping in different hotels and, yes, flying around the world in airplanes.
I respect him for doing what he does; doesn’t sound like fun to me. So, Mr. Newman, instead of the self-righteous stance you took, perhaps this can be an opportunity for you to reflect on the effects of your actions rather than claiming to be a victim and attempting to demean those who called you out. You do great community work. Maybe a bit of respect and humility is in order.
Correcting the record
Re “A warming world” (Newslines, by Claire Hutkins Seda, June 11):
Your story on environmental superstar Bill McKibben inaccurately describes my exchange with McKibben as a “lengthy admonishment” for his failure to promote plant-based diets.
I listened to McKibben’s presentation on “big solutions,” as he avoided any mention of the role of consumers in the environmental holocaust. I then objected to McKibben’s failure to address the question of “lifestyle.” When asked for an example, I mentioned animal food consumption—this being the No. 1 driver of climate catastrophe (and misery). This led to an exchange on the general subject of consumer responsibility—not just diet.
Long ago, mainstream environmentalism turned away from organizing and empowering the populace in collective, radical anticonsumerism. As we burn down the planet, environmental leaders continue to promote the notion that personal sacrifice is nothing but a quaint gesture. Tragically, without sacrifice, environmentalism is bereft of a moral core.
Consumerism on steroids, aka the American dream, is Earth’s worst nightmare. If I appeared “upset,” as I was booed out of the auditorium, it was not because McKibben failed to shill a “350.org” brand of veggie burgers. It was this: Any environmentalist worshipped by his audience is saying less than what needs to be said.
Rubbish deal stinks
Could you explain to your readers why Butte County decided to hand a virtual monopoly to three rubbish haulers? The county is being divided into three districts and each district is assigned to one hauler. What is the advantage to us?
As a resident of the Canyon Oaks development, our property owners association negotiated rubbish hauling services with Recology at a reasonable price. Now residents will have to arrange rubbish service from the assigned hauler on an individual basis without the advantage of competition to maintain reasonable rates.
From what I’ve read, the county will receive a franchise fee from each hauler and more tipping fees (garbage dumped) at the landfill. The other theoretical advantage is less garbage truck traffic in each district. The additional fees most likely will be passed on to the customers in the form of higher rates. I don’t know why our county representatives believe that handing any business a monopoly is a good thing.
A health care scam
Re “Obamacare at a premium” (The Pulse, June 11):
My family’s premiums for Covered California would be $800 per month, with a $12,000 deductible. Only certain medical visits would count toward our deductible.
And then there’s the debacle of finding a competent doctor who accepts Covered California. I’ve seen ads in the Chico News & Review for doctors who boldly state they do not. Does Enloe accept Covered California?
The “Affordable Care Act” was a scam. Covered California is run by the former CEO of an insurance company, Peter Lee. Lee was unable to sell an earlier plan to businesses because it is a scam. Locally, businesses have said they will pay the fine and give their employees small pay raises instead of participating in Covered California.
Three years ago, this paper advocated the “individual mandate,” by which anybody who was not living below the poverty level was forced to pay premiums, whether or not they could afford them, whether or not they would ever get anything for their money.
But no mandate for doctors? How could that work? It doesn’t. The ACA is a disaster. Get rid of it.
We’re new serfs
This month marks the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta, making this an appropriate time to consider the fact that absent eight centuries of liberalization, we are all still subject to “divine right of kings.” The royal signature initiated the movement to make government representative of, inclusive of, and responsible to the governed. This inclusiveness is the real import of liberalism. Post-Reformation societies became generally more inclusive, with the notion of hereditary rank losing ground before a more liberally organized society.
The process was painful, frequently bloody, with a savagery enhanced by the certain knowledge of moral rightness, which all sides shared. Now the new feudalists are clamoring for a more insular society dominated by a theology based largely on the writings of Ayn Rand and Machiavelli, where people are subject to dominion by corporations that have no genuine relationship to the land or the lives they impact. While management gets bonuses for enhancing shareholder value, they are the feudal lords and we the new serfs. If we are not a liberal society, we will shortly be a feudal one, looking back on thin gruel in a cold hovel as the “good old days.”
Medicare is a blessing
Personal memories underscore for me the importance of the Medicare Act of 1965. My hardworking grandparents did not have the benefits of Medicare, and were essentially left without proper medical attention in their later years. My parents were just young enough to qualify for Social Security and eventually Medicare. When my father lay dying in a Sacramento hospital, my mother was grateful that her only expense on his behalf was the box of Kleenex she kept at his bedside. What a blessing was conferred on the aging population of America by Social Security and later the Medicare Act of 1965. Many thanks to those far-seeing legislators who gave us this legacy.
Library fact of the week
Chico Library has movies: free Sunday family matinees twice a month in the conference room; new-release DVDs are $1 for three days (money is used to purchase new DVDs); older DVDs are free to check out. They include feature films, TV series, Shakespeare plays, documentaries, how-to and kids programs.
Our library is more than books. Comments from patrons include: Travel to other worlds and times within a single visit to the library; Reading makes you smarter; I’ve seen many libraries in my life, but I’ve never seen one better than yours; I love finding new series that I like; Read a book every day. The library has great movies, but the books are even better!; I love to read, and it helps you spell and write!; I read a book, and it was fun. (We readers often forget the wonderful feeling of enjoying a book for the very first time.)
We continue highlighting an interesting library fact weekly through June on a poster at the Chico Branch Library (Sherman and First avenues) or on Facebook (Chico Friends of the Butte County Library) or Twitter @cfobcl.
Chico Friends of the Library, Chico
Proud of local gal
Re “Dogs and diagnosis” (Healthlines, by Howard Hardee, June 4):
Thank you so much for following up on Dina Zaphiris and her work with Stewie and friends. I am so excited about her research. It will be wonderful if we can find cancer early. I am so proud of Dina. Chico will benefit by her return to the city she grew up in.
Change your own light, save money
Automotive book-rate repairs are a rip off! Repair shops, dealers included, use a book for flat-rate repairs. The prices are outrageous, a total rip off and waste of your time. I needed my headlight bulbs changed in my Prius. The dealer wanted over $400 and a local shop quoted me $380. Both said I needed to drop off the car because it took several hours to do. What a crock! It took me 20 minutes to change both of them (would only take 10 minutes next time) and the bulbs were $38 each.
What makes me so mad is that they wanted me to waste half a day to drive my car in there, arrange for other transportation, and then have to pick it up again. They don’t want you to wait for the job, because you would find out that it only took them 10 minutes to do that “three-hour job.” The Internet is full of how-to videos that can save you tons of money! Without that video, my headlight change would have taken a long time.
Alumnus on Chico’s filth
As a returning alum showing my young son my favorite college town last week, I was struck by three things. First, the university looks fantastic! What an incredible accomplishment. Second, downtown Chico merchants and property owners need to step it up a bit. Chico’s sidewalks are dirty. The third thing, and what really hurt to see, was the student housing areas. Take a walk along West Seventh Street, around Ivy or Hazel. Code enforcement has gone out the window. How long should a sofa be allowed to sit on a front lawn? It broke my heart to see the trash and lack of care.
Chico State, class of 1985, Palo Alto
Plea to the community
Last week, my wife of 26 years was broadsided (thank goodness on the passenger side) by what she recalls as a blue blur out of the corner of her eye. The driver of the car that hit my wife’s apparently never saw the signal and never hit the breaks. It was a high-speed collision, according to all sources. Our car that was bought new 14 years ago was totaled. Luckily, nobody was seriously injured, but my wife was in shock.
I am relieved to begin with the good news. That bad news is that I regularly see drivers running reds, speeding and texting. We are all guilty of this kind of risk at one time or another. The officer that attended to this accident stated it was the fourth accident that day. A good friend checked in the next day to tell us she was just in an accident. The Esplanade, Main Street, Broadway and Mangrove are all very dangerous locations, not to mention Highways 99 and 70.
I am very much practicing all forms of safe driving, holding back from every urge and impulse that tempts me to take chances. I trust everybody gets the message. Please help keep our community and families safe. Life is precious. Take care of each other. Drive safely and responsibly. Thank you!