Letters for June 29, 2017
Notes on the council
Re “Elections for sale” (Newslines, June 22) and “Three strikes” (Second & Flume, June 22):
Great coverage of the campaign finance issue by Howard Hardee and Melissa Daugherty. A crap storm, boiling down to this: Mayor Sean Morgan’s campaign coffers have been filled by developers and landlords from day one. In effect, Morgan believes the rich should exert political influence proportional to their net worth. This we call plutocracy.
On the other hand, no mention was made of item 1.7, the presentation of the Point-in-Time homeless survey by Sherisse Allen and Laura Cootsona. Both did a great job, especially in responding to objections transparently cooked up to undermine a highly credible study. Predictably, Councilwoman Reanette “I stepped in shit” Fillmer succeeded mainly in reminding us of her mathematical limitations.
As to Hardee’s reference to my contribution to the evening’s entertainment: My prepared remarks would have fallen within the time limit, had I not been interrupted by Councilman Andrew Coolidge. And, what’s with Morgan hollering, “Chief! Chief!”? Was Mike O’Brien supposed to tase me for going 10 seconds over Morgan’s conjured-up deadline?
All that aside, we should bear in mind that this council has an execrable and deeply embarrassing record on all homeless issues and basic services for the poor. It’s time we engage.
We stand at a crossroads in Chico politics. Will the future of our community be determined by the will of the people or the power of large political donors?
A case in point: The 2016 City Council elections. Sean Morgan received $64,000 from individual contributors and $31,000 from two PACs funded primarily by real estate, developer, banking and tea party dollars. He came in 231 votes ahead of Ann Schwab, who raised and spent $27,000.
Morgan received 29 maximum limit $500 checks. From January to June 2016, only one of his 35 contributions was under $100. Meanwhile, Schwab received $22,500 from contributors and $4,500 solely from PACs representing working people like nurses, food workers, Chico firemen and Chico police. She received four maximum limit $500 checks from January to June 2016, and 25 of her 45 contributions were under $100.
Does anybody in Chico want more money in politics, fielding only candidates with wealthy friends? Chico deserves candidates who speak to us in community forums, meetings, televised debates and face-to-face as they walk the city’s precincts. We don’t want to adopt the policies that have nearly broken state and federal level politics.
Our community may be small, but this issue is huge!
After attending my first Chico City Council meeting on Tuesday (June 20), I was inspired to write the following poem:
Active Listening In Council Chambers, safe from the heat, Vice Mayor Fillmer whispers when the public speaks. She whispers to Mayor Morgan on the left and Mr. Sorensen on the right. From homelessness to campaign financing, she whispers all night.
Vice Mayor Fillmer, do you not know your whispering distracts from the star of the show? The public speaks to inform you. But, when you are whispering, you are not listening. As our representative, you must be more attentive. Stop whispering and listen when the public speaks.
Three on the commentary
Re “CSU must return to its core mission” (Guest comment, by Susanna Boxall, June 22):
Thank you, Susanna Boxall, for your guest comment regarding CSUC’s underpaid faculty, job insecurity and the struggles of low-income students.
Since the beginning of the Reagan era, quality of life has diminished for all workers. More hours, less pay, more stress. Half of Americans are now dead broke. It’s no surprise employees are abused in our public university system.
The number of underpaid, part-time faculty positions greatly increased in the wake of Proposition 13, which destabilized California’s budget. Making future employment uncertain, semester by semester, adds yet another injury. The fact that students suffer in this system, unable to rely on class schedules (while going deeper into student debt), is outrageous.
From a cynic’s perspective, it makes sense that a corporation like Walmart wants to squeeze its employees. But why must our public institutions descend to the same lack of standards?
California already has fallen off into the ocean as far as education goes: We’re ranked only 42nd out of the 50 states in education. I warned folks for decades, but nobody listened. I remember when I warned that boys were being shunted out of education, and I was right; only 40 percent of college students now are male.
And now the shunting of monies to administrative salaries, away from faculty. Saw that coming, too. Most of Chico State’s professors are part-time freeway profs or grad students. And Chico State still can’t program a four-year graduation rate, even with the help of computers.
Overall, American education is ranked only 17th in the world. We’re sunk.
Susanna Boxall’s guest comment was so infinitely better written and reasoned than the boilerplate routinely issued by the managerial class at CSUC, from the president down, that it demands respect.
As former longtime tenured faculty and briefly (to my great misery) manager, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of the work done by our cheap adjunct faculty, or our shame in exploiting them. But what to do when few students and even fewer parents desire instruction in philosophy, history, literature or indeed anything very worthwhile? Who pays the piper?
Talking about dark money
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce was the largest nondisclosing “dark money” 501(c)(6) contributor in Senate races for 2016. These groups don’t disclose where they get their money. They donated exclusively to Republicans and spent $26 million in 10 Senate races, $30 million total in congressional races. They were second only to the NRA in spending in 2016, and first in spending on congressional races, outspending No. 2 by $15 million, according to Public Citizen (www.citizen.org).
This shows local members who believe they are members of a nonpartisan group how partisan the U.S. Chamber is. The senators you helped support are now ripping up the ACA and trying to replace it with a tax break for the wealthiest in the country and a “mean” take away of Medicaid and Medicare for the rest of us. Ten of the 13 senators doing this in secret are beneficiaries of the Chamber’s $26 million.
Local members should remember business isn’t an inherently partisan endeavor, and at least half of all consumers are likely to disagree with much of the Chamber’s agenda. Why should companies continue to fund an organization that places partisan interests above business interests and risks alienating a good part of their customer base?
The nation I served honorably was always “Great.”
Slavery, Trail of Tears, Monroe Doctrine, Mexican Cession, Grant, Lee, Sherman, Booth, Westward Movement, Manifest Destiny, Civil War, Dred Scott Decision, Andersonville, Custer, Homestead, Teapot Dome, Spanish-American War, Platt Amendment, Imperialism, Depression, Pearl Harbor, McCarthyism, Japanese Internment, Bay of Pigs, Mobsters, Marilyn, JFK, RFK, MLK, KKK, Malcolm X, Hoffa, J. Edgar Hoover, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden, Kent State, Vietnam, Tonkin Gulf, Cambodia, Agnew, Watergate, Iran-Contra, Noriega, Somozas, Shah of Iran, Pinochet, Seko, Marcos, Grenada, My Lai Massacre, Chappaquiddick, Three Mile Island, Santa Barbara/Gulf/Alaskan oil spills, Flint, Keating Five, Milken, Lewinsky, Jim/Tammy Baker, WMDs, Whitewater, Blackwater, Madoff, Skilling/Enron, Sanford, Stewart, Abrams, Goldman Sachs, Lehman, McVeigh, Waco, Jonestown, O.J., Hernandez, Springer, Dr. Phil, Governator, Weiner, Speck, Anthony, Bundy, Peterson, Menendez, Night Stalker, Rader, Son of Sam, Manson, Officer Peterson, Green River Killer, rampant school shootings and campus rape, John Chapman, Jon Benet, Crittenden, Weems, Penn State, homelessness, poverty, gangsters, meth, opioids, Zimmerman, Hastert, A-Rod, Tiger, Armstrong, Bonds, Johnny Football, Limbaugh, 2008 collapse, Abu Ghraib prison, vicious Predator Drones and—golly—even childhood hero Bill Cosby!
It might appear the troubled tycoon fits right in there.
Kenneth B. Keith