Letters for June 5, 2008

First and Main challenge
Last issue in Letters, John Lavezzi challenged readers to “design a use for the empty lot on the corner of First and Main streets,” which he called “the missing tooth in Chico’s beautiful smile.” Please send your idea in 25 words or less to <script type="text/javascript" language="javascript"> </script> with “First and Main” in the subject line. We’ll publish as many as we can after the July 1 deadline.

Reaction to writer, whoever that is
Re: “Backstory of Israel” (Letters, CN&R, May 29):

To the Holocaust-denying anti-Semite, who gave his version of 20th-century history in Thursday’s CN&R: You did not need to have your name withheld; you evoke a reaction of pity, not anger.

Wayne McClish

… and to editor who let letter run
Your issue of May 29 contained an appallingly ugly and despicably anti-Semitic letter from one of your readers. The CN&R chose aptly to title the defaming letter a “backstory,” a word whose nonexistence matches the claims made in the letter itself.

The letter was perversely diabolical in its claims about 20th-century wars. It odiously and deceptively misused alleged quotations in order to “reveal” the long-term objectives of the fascist genocide of European Jews.

I fully expect that anyone who, in 2008, maintains such warped and hideous views as that letter-writer would naturally be too cowardly to identify himself. The CN&R should be ashamed of itself for publishing such vile and pernicious nonsense.

Charles Geshekter

While I recognize that the CN&R doesn’t have the resources to do adequate fact-checking of letters to the editor, and doesn’t have the editorial ethics to make rational decisions on which letters to publish and which to disregard, I would hope that you would at least publish the name of the misinformed letter-writer. Or is it possible that the letter-writer didn’t sign his or her name, but the editor decided to print it anyway?

Stanley Gottlieb

Editor’s note: Please see In My Eyes for the answer to Mr. Gottlieb’s question and more about the controversial letter.

Another disappointment
Re: “Ready, set …” (Cover story sidebar, by Evan Tuchinsky, CN&R, May 29):

I am extremely disappointed at your recent article about Tuesday’s primary election. You interviewed Butte County’s clerk-recorder/registrar, Candace Grubbs, and she blames Debra Bowen, California secretary of state, for banning the use of electronic voting machines.

What you don’t say is at the heart of my disappointment: that e-voting machines, like the ones purchased by Butte County, have been shown to be riddled with security problems. These machines have failed tests by computer scientists at Johns Hopkins and Princeton universities and most recently the University of California, which was the basis for Bowen’s decertification.

In addition to the above studies, two agencies of the federal government—the GAO and the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (USCERT), a division of Homeland Security—have issued warnings about the vulnerability of e-voting machines.

Grubbs assures us in the article, “They aren’t hooked into anything; the only ones who program ’em are us [registrar staff].” But that’s simplistic, naive, and not the issue. They don’t program the software that operates the voting machines and the server, where the votes are stored and tabulated. That’s run by secret “proprietary” software, not open source, which means it’s not open for inspection by county election officials. The only way this software can be tested is through action like Debra Bowen demanded.

Critical and questioning reporting is the basis for the constitutional guarantee of a free press. You need to exercise that precious right in the future.

Paul Ellcessor

Editor’s note: The story in question is not an examination of electronic voting; rather, as indicated in the secondary headline ("Butte County’s registrar gives her take on Tuesday’s balloting"), it conveys her perspective, including a lawsuit against the secretary of state that she previously mentioned Butte County might join. That said, point taken.

‘Lardy’ without lard
Re: “O burrito, where art thou?” (Backbeat, by Tom Blodget, CN&R, May 29):

My comment is not to discuss our placement at the bottom of your list [of Chico’s veggie burritos]. I completely understand the parameters and personal preferences. To each his own.

My attention was really caught by your comment that the refried beans seemed lardy. I really want you (and maybe your readers) to know that our beans contain no lard and are in fact not “refried.” Our pinto beans are boiled in water with onions and spices, nothing else. In fact, every one of our ingredients is prepared fresh, from scratch, each and every day.

I enjoyed your article, and thank you for including La Comida.

Michael Pavis Jr.
La Comida Restaurants

Clear the air
Re: “Wood-smoke workshop” (Downstroke, CN&R, May 29):

Wood smoke is a violation of property rights! Everything that we know about tobacco smoke is also true of wood smoke. California’s anti-smoking laws protect citizens in bars and restaurants. But in our own yards, we are robbed of the right to enjoy our property when neighbors’ smoke crosses into our “smoke free” zone.

Why wait until the air is already unhealthy to ban wood burning? Ban wood burning every day! It is a severe public health hazard. See www.burningissues.org.

Julie MellumClean Air Revival


This was venomous?
Re: “'Proxy fight” (Letters, by Beau Grosscup, CN&R, May 22):

It is with some surprise that I read that Beau Grosscup, former chief of the local chapter of the California Faculty Association and a man I like and respect, thinks the paper should not give me space to “spew [my] venom about how bad faculty are now compared to [my] campus days.”

Actually, Beau, I thought I just pointed out how Chico State has always been governed by committees, including the Academic Senate, whose collective decisions remove any one person from accountability.

My commentary (”Campus governed by proxy, not prexy” in the May 15 issue) never said nor implied that students sit on personnel committees. Students do have limited input to the personnel process through teaching evaluations of faculty.

Quite a few profs fear the student “evals,” as well they should, and late in my time managed to weight them as only 25 percent of the personnel process. The prof who goes to class every time and teaches well has nothing to fear.

Finally, you suggested, “maybe Ek’s considerable talents [correction: awesome talents] could be better spent on looking into the alleged dirt surrounding a dean’s recent resignation.”

I’d like to spew some venom on that situation, Beau, but I need help. As you know, the administration always stonewalls these things as a “personnel case” that is confidential in all respects. You are well-connected and probably can put me in touch with one or more knowledgeable sources who will talk either on or off the record. Phone me at 343-7462.

Richard Ek

Update on Wright
Re: “Monster in the making?” (Newslines, by Robert Speer, CN&R, Feb. 14):

It is with sadness and little hope that I pen this letter. My expectations for teenager Gregory Wright are dim to say the least.

There is a persistent rumor that he will be sent to the notorious prison Pelican Bay. It seems that his excessive 22-plus-year sentence would send him to a Level 4 environment. What a tragedy that would be! It is a life cut short and thrown away and for what great crime? In July, when he turns 18, he will be sent to Tracy for the usual 90-day observation and then to his permanent prison placement.

Hopes I had for his appeal process are quickly fading. His court-appointed appellate lawyer is so casual and apparently disinterested that it makes me angry yet powerless. I have offered to act as a courier, make phone calls, gather materials, etc., but these offers have been declined.

The 120-day grace period has expired, and Judge Sandra McLean did not exercise her option to recall him and reduce his sentence. It would have been as easy as simply making a phone call. I do not understand her inaction.

No one seems to be happy with the 22-year sentence, including the DA. My surveys of the community reveal a public that is heavily in favor of mercy. Please keep this young man in your thoughts and prayers.

James J. Adams

Editor’s note: Wright, who took Las Plumas High schoolmates hostage at gunpoint, was sentenced under a plea bargain that forestalled his trial as an adult.

Need to plan ahead
As a concerned citizen, I’d like to know if the city of Chico has a task force to plan for “peak oil.” Are there any plans to mitigate any of the ensuing crises: hunger, unemployment, transportation, and resource management?

If not, why not?

Jake Daley

Editor’s note: The Sustainability Task Force is the closest match for a peak-oil panel. Established last year and chaired by Vice Mayor Ann Schwab, the task force is charged with finding ways to reduce the city’s carbon footprint—that includes energy usage and transportation.

Catching up with Joe
• Scott McClellan’s reluctance to speak up during his time as the president’s conduit to the American people is likely to be identified with by many who are toiling in the corporate sector, fearful of expressing their thoughts and feelings. To wit: The ostracism of well-intentioned whistle blowers. Free speech?

• What a brilliant sleight of hand to witness a presidential aspirant dismissed as an elitist, while totally ignoring the fact that we are all controlled by the oligarchical few who pull the invisible strings and insult us by suggesting we vote for “the one we would prefer having a beer with.”

• Imagine the following scenario: Obama chooses Hillary as his running mate and they win the election in November. Pity the poor man who will have Bubba breathing down his neck 24/7. The 3 a.m. phone call might just be him chewing out Barack for dissing his wife the previous day.

Joe Bahlke
Red Bluff

Nostra culpa!
Re: “The price of war” (Sifter, CN&R, May 22):

Specifying the billions are that are wasted on war is a sharp knife that could reach a responsive conscience. Inflating the figures to trillions undermines the credibility of the article and dulls the scalpel considerably.

Thanks for including the source, www.nationalpriorities.org, so we could access their original figures.

J.E. Smith
Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela

Embarrassed-editor’s note: The original figures now are on our site, too. In case you’re curious how Mr. Smith encountered the CN&R, he picked up the paper while he and his wife were visiting friends in Paradise.

Re: “New plan: med staff to stay” (Downstroke, CN&R, May 29): Due to incorrect information presented at a Butte County Behavioral Health Advisory Board meeting, the date when the Board of Supervisors will consider cuts to BCBH’s budget was misstated. Supervisors are slated to hear the matter June 24. This has been corrected online.