Letters for June 19, 2008

Unconscionable; unconstitutional?
Recently, Clerk-Recorder Candace Grubbs announced that Butte County will no longer be performing civil unions due to economic restraints. What a bunch of rubbish. Just recently, I believe, she was interviewed on Fox radio stating that [she was] preparing the paperwork to comply with the “gay marriage” law. Conveniently now, out of all the services the clerk-recorder performs, marriage is the only one that has been financially impacted.

How? The county, according to its Web site, charges $77 a pop to perform marriages, which can’t take more than a few minutes to perform and probably in total less than two hours to complete the documentation process. Is it costing the county more per ceremony? I find that hard to swallow.

I feel it’s more likely the decision is based on discriminatory factors and personal beliefs rather than economics. I know many gay people who think Butte County would be a beautiful place to live, but because of the right-wing beliefs so strong in our local government they would never live here.

I’m truly embarrassed to live in a county that places blame for cutting equal-rights services on economic reasons rather than take the step forward and do what it should to support all its citizens. Is this county ever going to join the present and stop living in the past?

Raymond Mestas

I learned on NPR that the place of my birth, Butte County, where my family has lived for more than 100 years, is so hateful and intolerant that it will stop [performing civil wedding ceremonies] in order to avoid being involved in gay marriage. Someone in county government told NPR that the step was taken for budgetary reasons. What a pathetically and laughably lame excuse.

Is Butte County choosing to align itself with repressive theocracies and turn its back on the Constitution envisioned by our founding fathers?

Joe Roberts
Rohnert Park

Editor’s note: For more on this issue, please see News and Editorial.

Blurb for book cover?
Re: “Letting it flow” (Newslines, by Katie Booth, CN&R, June 12):

I consider myself extremely fortunate to be Daniel and Marilyn Thomas’ neighbor and friend. In his books, Dan opens a much deeper understanding and appreciation for familiar things, as well as new prospects, that are all around. Spending time on “The Ten” and reveling in their friendship is truly a remarkable experience.

I’ve always read, with great anticipation, each of Dan’s books, and I look forward to his next.

Russell Smith

Delineating views
Re: “My, what ‘pro-Israel rhetoric'” (Letters, by Richard Meyers, CN&R, June 12):

One can deplore the treatment of the Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli government and still love Israel. Indeed, some of Israel’s severest critics are Israeli citizens. True pro-Israel rhetoric advocates human rights for the Palestinians.

On the other hand, to blame the founders of Israel for both world wars is anti-Semitism, and hurts both Jews and gentiles.

Wayne McClish

Rock-headed tribute
Re: “Global allegiance” (Letters, by Emily Alma, CN&R, June 12):

The reason Old Glory does not “fly respectfully below” the Earth flag is simple.

The American flag is a symbol of blood, sweat and tears put forth by generations of human beings. It represents the common goals and sacrifices of people who have worked, fought and died for the belief that every individual is endowed with certain inalienable rights.

Your Earth flag is nothing. It is a farce put forward by collectivists who would have you believe that the Earth somehow cares for you. The Earth is a rock. Americans are people.

The Earth flag represents extortion put forth by semi-coherent environmentalists. The Earth flag represents ignorance by coddled white liberals who believe America is the cause of suffering on Earth. It is a pathetic symbol of Communism and has no place in our town.

Ruben Leon

High-flying bias
Re: “Putting flags in their place” (Downstroke, CN&R, June 5):

Your report on the City Council decision to discriminate in favor of a group of U.S. jingoists, whose private campaign is to push the flag down our throats as the single symbol of patriotism, caused me to ask: What part of public property (flag poles) do the public servants not understand?

Support for nationalism is a personal decision, a private belief, as is one’s support for peace, war, internationalism or a clean environment. Yet, the City Council has designated public funds be used to support only one cause (nationalism) and only one symbolic representation of it (the flag), thus discriminating against all other private beliefs.

They did so, according to your report, after one “grizzled veteran” admitted that he decided to push his private belief in the superiority of U.S. nationalism over U.N. internationalism. Good for him! But why does his private belief get to guide public policy at taxpayers’ expense? How is it that supporters of international peace or clean air have to pay out of their pockets and the U.S. jingoists don’t?

Even within the nationalist community, there is no consensus on which symbolic demonstration of patriotism is most important. Some prefer the flag, others the lapel pin, still others camouflage clothes. For me, it is wearing red, white and blue boxer shorts all day, every day.

What if a group of private citizens who think wearing patriotic boxer shorts is the most important demonstration of patriotism and wanted taxpayers to … hmm, now that’s an idea: boxer shorts for all! When is the next council meeting?

Beau Grosscup

No ‘small’ fires now
On June 11, the Paradise Post reported about two quarter-acre fires—one on Coutolenc Road, the other on Skyway and Powellton Road.

Any other time of the year, these two briefly mentioned fires would not be considered a threat. Maybe someone would inquire as to how two fires could start so close to each other and at about the same time; but, other than that, no big deal. Any other time of the year, four lines of information, as much effort as it takes to turn on the evening news, would go largely unnoticed.

But this is not any other time of the year. For us who live on the Ridge, this is the most dangerous and most feared time of the year: fire season.

There are no small fires. Not really. All fires begin as small fires; with luck, and if the weather conditions and terrain cooperate, small fires don’t become big fires.

What if the two fires had occurred the previous day when a red-flag warning was in effect due to dry, windy conditions? And what if Skyway, leading out of the Upper Ridge toward Stirling City, needed to be closed because these two small fires suddenly became large ones? And what if on that same day, the Lower Paradise fire did reach the town, which would have been very likely considering the winds?

One would not have to be a military tactician to realize we were a day away from quite possibly being outflanked by fire on both ends of the Ridge.

Michael Dutton

Editor’s note: For another Upper Ridge perspective on the Humboldt Fire, please see Jaime O’Neill’s essay. Meanwhile, Paradise Town Councilwoman Robin Huffman shares her views below:

Firefighters, law enforcement, government and health-care workers, churches, clubs, schools and many wonderful volunteers helped keep the fire disaster to a minimum. Still, we were lucky the winds were not worse. This was not “the big one.”

As people began evacuating voluntarily from Paradise, the only way open to the valley was clogged with traffic. People were stuck on Pentz Road for hours with the smoke and fire coming their way. Many used the unpaved roads in and out of Magalia. Gas stations ran out.

We definitely can do more to achieve fire safety. The Town of Paradise is assessing lessons learned. The county supervisors must get more county roads graded, widened, paved, and bridges built to serve our communities. It is not enough to pave FH171, a road not yet fully funded.

Robin Huffman

Updating needs update
The people running the Butte County general-plan update have developed an elaborate process that gives the impression that input from the citizenry is important to them and is integral to the development of the new plan. There is a Citizens Advisory Committee; there are Planning Commission meetings, designed to feed into this process, and there have been a series of workshops where non-CAC members can participate.

This all sounds great. Unfortunately, as this process has played out, it has become clear that there is a fundamental flaw in the approach, because the CAC’s input has been largely marginalized and, as usual, the viewpoints of some citizens are valued much more than those of others.

The fundamental flaw is that these forums, rather than focusing on the policies that will be the heart of the new general plan, usually center on discussions of specific land-use proposals. The developers championing specific projects are given much more emphasis and time than even the combined inputs from individual citizens.

For example, one of the earlier workshops featured developers promoting their projects using the maps of the proposed study areas as a means to organize the discussion—clearly not an emphasis on policy. And at a recent Planning Commission meeting, a developer was allowed to present his proposed project for at least 30 minutes, while input from members of the public was limited to one minute each.

The new general plan is important—and the process to develop it isn’t working.

O. J. and Gene Anna McMillan

Editor’s note: For more about the county general plan, see News.

Oil tradeoff
Does paying $4 for a gallon of gas make you mad? Enough to make a phone call or send a letter? Enough of us demanding that Washington do something to get us out of the mess they’ve made for us will get our senators and president to act.

Here’s how: Get the president to demand that Congress put a five-year moratorium on environmental restrictions on exploration, drilling and refinery building.

Hold on—I know environmentalists are already saying, “No way!"—let me finish. The moment Congress does this, OPEC will immediately find enough oil to supply our country at much lower prices.

Are you thinking this idea will give those evil oil companies just what they want to ruin our planet? Well, who do you want drilling oil 50 miles off the coast of Florida: China, or U.S. companies using modern technology? Who do you want to buy gas at the pumps from: China, Venezuela, OPEC or the U.S.?

Remember, when our country drills in our country, we all benefit (lower gas prices, lower consumer-goods and food prices, more money in the U.S. treasury from gas leases).

Don’t take inaction from Congress without a fight. Our California senators played key roles blocking drilling in ANWAR, off the California coast, in shale in Montana. They’re in bed with radical environmentalists who have sold us on everything from global warming to [the notion that we’re] killing the polar bears when we explore.

Drill in America! Write a letter and make a call; I have.

Loretta Ann Torres

1st & Main challenge
If you have a suggestion on how best to use downtown Chico’s vacant lot, please jot it down in 25 words or fewer and e-mail <script type="text/javascript" language="javascript"> </script> (with “1st & Main” in the subject field). We’ll put ideas we receive in the July 3 issue.