Letters for June 28, 2001

Alleged news abuse
I am writing to comment about Laura Smith’s article ["Butte County’s Rodney King?” Newslines, June 15]. It’s been a while since I’ve seen such a one-sided, unobjective and opinionated newspaper article. While I completely agree that law enforcement officers cannot use excessive force, Ms. Smith’s article had the involved sheriff’s deputies tried and convicted. The article causes the reader to question whether Ms. Smith made any effort to talk with anyone other than the person who filed the lawsuit.

When reporting an arrest in a newspaper the article will always use the wording “allegedly.” However, Ms. Smith’s article states “when two Butte County sheriff’s deputies beat Fulton into submission and arrested …” Does objectivity only apply to persons being investigated for criminal activity and is lost when the issues concern law enforcement officers?

How irresponsible of Ms. Smith for her one-sided comments and how equally irresponsible of the News & Review for printing the article. Out of a sense of responsible reporting (fairness, liability issues, etc.) is there any “quality control” provided by the management? If so, it was lacking in the printing of Smith’s article.

Kristin Simpson

Editor’s note: Ms. Simpson is correct about newspapers using the word “alleged” in stories containing possible illegal activity. The word should always be used in news articles based on second- or third-hand accounts. However, key information for this story was taken from a videotape that recorded the deputies’ actions. Laura Smith and the editor both viewed the tape; it clearly shows Andy Fulton being beaten by deputies during the arrest. Whether any laws were broken is a matter for the courts to decide. Though contacted, the Sheriff’s Office did not wish to comment on the case. Please see our update in this week’s Newslines section.

Sheriff suggestions
Suggestion 1: When making personnel decisions, seriously consider the individual’s psychological testing scores that measure impulse control and empathy.

Suggestion 2: Remind all staff members that their boss is an elected official.

Elizabeth R. May

Critical caring
I am responding to the letter, “Beware the Battle,” [Letters, June 14]. I am a registered nurse in critical care—not at Enloe. I believe that we, as nurses, must make certain that the public understands what is at stake.

Our major concern is that nurses work with safe patient-to-nurse ratios. When asked to take an assignment that a nurse feels is unsafe because that would be responsible for too many patients or forced to “float” (work in an area outside her expertise), she wants some recourse. Nursing is very specialized. If you just had open-heart surgery, would you want a pediatric nurse monitoring you?

Nurses often work 12-hour shifts and, with the nursing shortage, sometimes 16 hours a day. They are at your bedside advocating for you. I can assure you that the last thing nurses want is a strike. Nurses need a voice because often the priorities of management and nursing differ. When that happens, the nurses are on your side, and they need someone, in this case the union, to be on theirs.

I am proud to be a critical-care nurse. I love my profession. I would find it very difficult to go on strike, but I would consider it my responsibility if it meant better, safer care for my patients.

Mary B. Jarschke RN

House rules
I whole-heartedly support the expansion of the Esplanade House facility. I recently read in the Enterprise Record of strong opposition to this expansion and recognize within myself feelings I once had when this facility was originated. I have been a homeowner within walking distance of this facility since its conception and had concerns about its influence on property values and the type of people who might be drawn to my neighborhood.

However, I have been driving past the facility daily these past years while going to and from work and have never seen anything to validate need for concern.

Currently I work with Michelle Porter, an Esplanade House graduate. I appreciate how much support this program has given her in making new, life enriching changes for herself, her family and the community. I see Michelle as an example of how the Esplanade House helps people re-establish their personal identity with their integrity and self-worth and become productive community members.

I recognize this process occurs because receptive people are chosen for the program and counseling is provided that includes life skills, job preparation, drug and alcohol prevention and family and child support. I value that this program has strict requirements for participants with well-defined rules and a contractual agreement concerning acceptable behaviors. Non-compliance with these rules results in dismissal from the program.

I encourage you to fully support the expansion of the Esplanade House, knowing this is a positive community action.

Sandy Gohlke

Owe my soul
I knew that we as consumers were on a fast downhill slide when Timex watches only lasted six months to a year. I have stopped wearing a watch altogether. Now, refrigerators, in a effort to be more energy efficient, have an expectant lifespan of 10 years. The reason is smaller compressors that use less energy but have to work harder to get the job done burn out quickly. Now, are we going to have cheap replacement parts for models or just chuck the whole fridge for a new improved model?

I see landfills filling up with burned-out refrigerators and consumers replacing refrigerators for new models on an ongoing basis and putting lots of money into the pockets of large corporations, just as planned obsolesce was intended.

Have you noticed that household goods and goods in general are pretty much the same these days, cheaply made for a short lifespan? In the world of Mall-Wart, if they have their way, there will be one store and one store only. This store will be the “Company Store” like from our pre-union history. We will have no other option but to work in factories that make junk and then like zombies buy goods from those same factory stores. Science fiction?

Mona Martine

Canaries in a coal mine
I know that conservatives and liberals don’t really see eye to eye on many, if any, issues. But one issue that we all should agree with is the scientific fact that we are making our environment unlivable, not only for what I’ve heard conservatives call small, “insignificant” species, but for the human species as well.

The two oilmen in the White House, our local “representative,” Wally Herger, the four conservatives on the Chico City Council and many others do not feel that we have any reason to worry. They call people like myself, who fight to protect the environment not only for my children’s future, but theirs as well, “extremist environmental whackos.”

Can’t they see that we, as environmentalists, do value the human species, but that our well being on this planet is very related to the well being of other species? If we destroy their habitat, then we inevitably destroy ours. Is this being an extremist? I think it’s being extremely rational. There’s this bumper sticker that states, “If you’re not an environmentalist, you’re suicidal and should seek counseling.”

The environment should be everyone’s concern. We all exist in it. We cannot go on at the rate we are and expect things to be OK. We must give back some of what we are taking and all work together toward reversing the damage that we’ve already done.

If not, well, I really don’t think that us “environmental whackos” will take any pleasure in saying, “I told you so!”

Sherri Quammen