Letters for June 24, 2010

Reactions to Anecia’s story

Re “Growing up black in Chico” (Cover story, by Anecia Johnson Smith, June 17):

If I, a white, am hushed in any criticism of this perfect town, I can only imagine the courage it took for Ms. Johnson to write her story. Not to say it is the norm—most here are kind people, like those who helped Ms. Johnson after her attack. But the fact that only one of her attackers was prosecuted, and then given only 30 days for such a brutal crime, shows just how institutionalized racism has become. It was 2007 in Chico, but it sounded like the 1950s in Alabama.

Thank you, Ms. Johnson, for telling your story. Until we recognize our shortcomings, we’ll never learn to change them. And isn’t it time? We owe no less to fine people like the Johnsons.

Marvey Mueller

It all reminds me of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, who was arrested at his house as a possible burglar. His credentials didn’t mean a thing. His education had no meaning. In some people’s minds, you are still a nigger, and even when you reach the highest office in the land, Mr. Obama is just a black man.

When I was attacked by a skinhead, I did not get any help from the “black community” here in Chico. Bourgeois American blacks get on my nerves. It takes them many years to even understand their own culture.

Jerry Harris
Chico/San Francisco

I monitor fire and police due to my connection with the National Weather Service as a spotter here in Chico. What I hear via law enforcement is saddening, especially in Chico.

The source is biblical—the fall from grace. The sinful nature will show its ugly face in many ways. This story is one of those faces. The author and others must continue to walk with confidence knowing what happened on Easter morning.

Kenneth Van Der Slyus

This story is very touching, and as a black female in America I can relate to Ms. Smith’s feelings. I have not been in any attacks physically, but verbally, yes. I have learned now how to laugh at people who do things like that.

I was told by a co-worker to say, when I hear something annoying, “I’m waiting for you to come up with something that I haven’t heard yet.” Because it is true that we as black people have heard everything under the sun—the same usual comments and names. Wake up, people: Life is too short, and we are not going anywhere.

Cecelia Scott

Congratulations, Anecia, for having the courage to tell your story. Even more important, thank you for diligently maintaining your positive, loving outlook and being the change you want to see in the world.

Karen Kahn

More moderates? Maybe

Re “Nixing Republican purism” (Editorial, June 17):

As communications director for Sen. Sam Aanestad, I note that you’re correct with one conclusion: The voters who showed up at the polls did choose the moderate candidates. But you just can’t assume right away that Republican voters prefer moderates.

The Tea Party conservatives stayed away from the polls in droves. They had zero impact. A very small number of registered Republicans turned out for the primary—which was a tremendous disappointment for us.

As for Sen. Aanestad: There were a couple of issues working against him. You need to look at the candidates farther down the ticket. Close to 20 percent of the ballots were not cast for Sen. Aanestad or Lt. Gov. Maldonado. Had those candidates not been on the ticket, would their votes have gone to the conservative candidate? You can make that assumption, but it’s just that—an assumption.

William Bird

Actual research shows that California voters who are registered “decline to state” are not necessarily “moderates.” Decline-to-state voters in liberal parts of the state are themselves mostly liberal. Decline-to-state voters in conservative parts of California are themselves mostly conservative.

This is why nothing really changed when California used the blanket primary in 1998 and 2000. The only session of the Legislature in which all members had been elected in a blanket primary was the 2001-02 session. The budget was 61 days late in 2002 and 25 days late in 2001.

Richard Winger
San Francisco

Problems with Ponderosa

Re “Outdoorsman laments state of mountain road” (Newslines, by Thomas Lawrence, June 17):

My family owned property along Ponderosa Way from 1959 till after the 49er Fire in 2009, and the going agreement with the local landowners was that the California Conservation Corps and prisoners on work furlough would keep these roads cleared and graveled for free if the forestry fire crews would use the roads to fight fires.

The problem came in the late ’80s, when new property owners came and threw the fire crews off their newly purchased property, not wanting the service! Well, along came the 49er fire and no kept-up roads, and the rest is history.

Dann Pratt
Los Molinos

It’s all about jobs

Re “Is R&D the key to prosperity?” (Guest comment, by Dave Kelley, June 17):

Mr. Kelley’s comments go to an important issue regarding Chico’s future economic situation, but there is more that must be considered.

Chico is lucky to have an abundant, educated work force in the form of new college graduates. Many would like to stay in the area, but they can’t find gainful employment.

If we are going to have a healthy city economy, the value of our exports must exceed the value of our imports. Whether it’s R&D, software engineering, car parts or kitchen doohickeys, Chico needs to produce more.

I’m guessing the employment situation is a major reason why Larry Wahl did surprisingly well at the polls. Our leaders need to make jobs a bigger priority.

Eric Johnson

Escaping responsibility

Re “Responsibility” (From the Edge, by Anthony Peyton Porter, June 17):

This essay struck home for me. A ruthless corporate entity has a prime directive: increase wealth for the members. The corporation has life but not necessarily soul. It is a convenient veil behind which we the members can escape responsibility and/or put it on others.

Now add to that a quote by [letter writer] Garry Cooper from the same issue:

“This year, wages paid by government will surpass those paid by all small businesses, and now more government workers are represented by unions than those in the private sector.”

It isn’t much of a stretch to see why it is so hard to change the direction or behavior of our government. How can I bite the hand that feeds me? This is the best argument I ever heard for smaller government!

Jim Adams

Code brew

To preface: Beer is important to humans. So it’s not surprising that the Code of Hammurabi, enacted around 1790 BCE by some Babylonian law-loving beer drinker, contained laws concerning the regulation of beer and beer parlors.

I have a tradition. Whenever I get shorted in a pint by at least a finger, I take the glass home. Social justice. So I was a bit nervous when I received the less-than-robust pint at my favorite haunt. I must profess my indignation at my findings: The “pint glass” measured a sad 13.3 ounces. An American pint is 16 ounces!

It’s no secret that in most Chico bars this happens on a regular basis. I can deal with getting shorted once in a while, but this is just a crime. I’m sure King Hammurabi would agree with me.

Carlos Williams Sr.


Our cover story last week (“Growing up black in Chico,” by Anecia Johnson Smith) mistakenly stated that Alois Scott Sr. was in the Army during the Korean War. He served in the Pacific theater during World War II. Also, in our Music feature, “The song project,” by Ken Smith, Will Morebeck’s name was mistakenly given as Moreland. Our apologies for the errors.—ed.