Letters for June 25, 2015

On the Southern slayings

I am mad as hell about the mass killings of nine church-going people who did nothing wrong, except to pray in their sanctuary, a House of their God. I don’t like to say this, but it is not ISIS, China or Russia that is going to destroy this country, but rather a full-blown race war. It is the hatred of America, whose citizens can’t accept people just as people.

Even in a little town like Chico, I see this hatred every day, but a community paper like the Chico News & Review just glosses over these facts. The editor hardly gives any real ingredients about what is cooking in the black community. She is a snob that hardly has realistic views about this community as a whole. I can see a lot when I am in San Francisco when I am there at my studio, but to see the exiguous and racist things that I have seen in Chico frightens me.

Jerry Harris
San Francisco/Chico

Editor’s note: Mr. Harris evidently missed two CN&R stories in December on the rallies to protest the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, an accompanying editorial condemning police brutality against black men, and this snob’s column on that subject. He also missed two stories in February regarding the flying of a confederate flag locally, and an accompanying editorial. He additionally missed several guest commentaries on the subject of racism, among other write-ups in these pages.

I agree with Hillary Clinton: “Our problem is not all kooks and Klansmen. It is also the cruel joke that goes unchallenged.”

Ali Sarsour

It is time for the white community to open our eyes to the reality of racial disparity and institutionalized oppression that is felt most directly by the members of our human family who have darker skin, is manifest in the perpetration of violent hate crimes, and ultimately damages us all.

I want to live in a society where such an act of violence causes cries of “How could this have happened? Isn’t this a thing of the past?” But to ask those questions would be to ignore the presence of white supremacy in mainstream U.S. society today. For me, that veil has lifted. I can no longer ask “Why?” I can only ask “How can I work to fix it?” The response from allies working for racial justice is, “Work to understand your whiteness. Help to educate about the reality of white supremacy. Confront racism when you see it.”

As a white woman living with the inherited benefits of my race, the path forward feels daunting and narrow, but the alternative of ignorance and colorblindness is no longer an option.

Olivia Schmidt
Chico Peace & Justice Center

What’s with the fountain?

Lately I have been attending the Picnic in the Plaza events at lunchtime on Tuesdays. It’s a gallant effort on the part of the City Parks Division and the Downtown Chico Business Association to reclaim City Plaza from the “bad elements.”

But it doesn’t seem to be working. Attendance is low and even with the 100 degree weather the fountain is not turned on these days. According to the Parks Division, that’s because the restrooms are not up to state of California standards (no soap in dispensers).

It’s just one more strike against the ailing City Plaza. In past years, I have enjoyed taking my kids to play in the fountain during the hot Chico summers. Are we as a community giving up on our plaza? Shall we just give it over to the marijuana-smoking bums with their shopping carts and pit bulls? It’s time for the community and especially the City Council to step up with some solutions!

John Geiger

Editor’s note: According to Dan Efseaff, Chico’s parks and natural resources manager, the fountain is turned on during the Thursday Night Market and, more recently, the Picnic in the Plaza events. He says the restrooms have never been equipped with soap dispensers, so organizations such as the DCBA have brought them in specially for these events, in order to meet public health standards. It is a goal to supply the restrooms at that location with permanent soap dispensers, he told CN&R.

Remembering Mr. Davis

Re “The Davis legacy” (Newslines, by Robert Speer, June 18):

Fred Davis was a wonderful husband, father and friend. My father, former mayor of Chico Ross Lawler, was very fond of Mr. Davis and held him in high esteem. Daddy especially appreciated Mr. Davis’ honesty, loyalty and leadership skills. Mr. Davis was a person who had the best interests of the city of Chico at heart and was well-liked and respected. I am sorry to hear of his passing. God bless his family in their time of sorrow.

Susan Lawler Martin

No speeding, no ticket

Re “Sheared too close” (Guest comment, by Jaime O’Neill, June 18):

It’s funny to think the stretch of road between the Ridge and Chico is a “speed trap.” Mostly because it really isn’t. Is it patrolled by the CHP? Yep. Is it possible to avoid a speeding ticket no matter what your income level? Yep. Don’t speed. Is it somewhat of a situation where a guy who got “unlucky” and got a ticket feels victimized and needs to strike back at those who he feels victimized him? Looks like it, and cloak it in his apparent deep concern for less economically fortunate drivers? Hate to say it but, yep.

Both the poor and the rich can avoid tickets altogether by not speeding. We don’t need no stinking sliding scale. Driving 5 miles over the limit has never been an issue on the Skyway for me or any other “po” folk.

I’m damned glad to have those men and women working the Skyway. Mr. O’Neill, pay your ticket happily and be glad they’ll be there when you have a problem out there. I’m sure the families of all the people who crashed their vehicles out there appreciate them. Have a long talk with your lead foot if you want to point fingers.

Taylor Riley

Standing behind his words

Re “Advice: Seek reflection” (Letters, by Rex Stromness, June 18):

Rex Stromness says I need a timeout; I disrespected eco-superstar Bill McKibben. On reflection, I’d do the same thing again.

Environmentalism is failing badly—and McKibben is exhibit No. 1. We can continue with the charade, believing that we take the fate of life on Earth seriously, but our lifestyles say otherwise.

We are not eliminating the most obvious and unnecessary ecocidal behaviors. (The two examples I’ve beaten to death are recreational plane flights and animal product consumption, but there are hundreds of others.) McKibben needs to say so, loudly, and he doesn’t say it at all. This makes McKibben an enabler, as far as I’m concerned.

In the final analysis, saving vertebrate life on Earth comes down to this: we achieve negative population growth and we consume far less stuff. Somehow, as “environmentalist” consumers, we make the issue just complex enough to paralyze ourselves—right in the middle of our comfort zones. What an interesting coincidence and what a terrible example for the rest of humanity.

It’s very likely too late to avoid environmental collapse, but we can still be honest about how it’s going down.

Patrick Newman

Research needed on e-cigs

Re “Treating e-cigs like tobacco” (Healthlines, by Evan Tuchinsky, June 11):

The American Lung Association in California commends Bidwell Junior High School students for pressing the city of Chico to treat e-cigarettes the same as cigarettes and other tobacco products.

In spite of product claims, e-cigarettes have not been proven to be safe. According to the California Department of Public Health, e-cigarettes contain at least 10 chemicals known to cause cancer and birth defects. And no brand of e-cigarettes has been submitted to the FDA for evaluation of safety. The FDA has issued draft regulations that treat e-cigarettes as tobacco products, but it is time to finalize them.

E-cigarette companies, many of which are owned by Big Tobacco, use colorful designs, candy flavors and cartoon ads to lure and addict children. E-cigarettes are now the most popular tobacco product used by both high school and middle school students. Research points to young e-cigarette users being far more likely to start using traditional cigarettes. The tobacco companies that are aggressively marketing the e-cigarettes stand to addict new generations to these new types of tobacco products. Without federal oversight, we need local jurisdictions to act to protect the community.

Shelly Brantley

Editor’s note: For more on this subject, see Editorial, page 4.

Hurray for Medicare

The nation is getting ready to celebrate Medicare’s 50th anniversary in July. It has been the salvation of millions of 65-year-old seniors and some disabled workers who are under 65. It has saved many folks from financial ruin over medical expenses.

I’m a senior who recently had back surgery. I put off surgery for a long time over concern about the cost beyond insurance coverage. I have Medicare, plus supplemental coverage. To my great relief Medicare covered 80 percent and my supplemental covered 20 percent. The insurances covered doctor visits, surgery, physical therapy and all medicines. Lucky me! I know that not having to worry about the bill helped me recover more quickly.

Here we live in the wealthiest nation in the world and we still can’t find a way to insure all citizens. We need expanded Medicare with additional coverage for physical, psychological and vision plans. We have the wealth! Do we have the heart?

John P. Martinez

Proposed new party

Name of party: Citizens Untied

Political philosophy: Liberty and Justice for all—REALLY.

Economic philosophy: Truly Democratic Capitalism

Motto: If corporations can be people, why can’t people be corporations?

Program: Every citizen will receive from the government $10,000 to incorporate him/herself. If the corporations fail, there will be a $5,000 bailout funded by the government.

Source of funds:

1. Heavy taxation of oligarchs, including millionaires, billionaires, hedge funds, etc.

2. Demilitarization

3. Deprivatization

4. Confiscation of ill-gotten gains

5. Sale of T-shirts


Anne Blake

Now that’s Orwellian

Re “The downside to unearned fortunes” (Guest comment, by Nathan Esplanade, May 15):

Wow, only the government should tell us how to spend our inheritance and we need more regulation to protect us from ourselves? These ideas smack of an Orwellian nanny state and should be resisted.

Bob Callery