Letters for June 6, 2019
Re “Up for grabs” (Newslines, by Ashiah Scharaga, May 30):
Our big issue is that economic forces are forcing so many people into such abject poverty that it has become the most urgent and tragic human crisis to hit the streets of Chico in our lifetime. Our rate of poverty is so severe we appear to be becoming a Third World country. Most of the homeless are powerless. Either we begin to address this issue or it gets worse unabated at a faster and faster rate.
The Orange Street Shelter and tiny home villages will allow people the shelter that’s the prerequisite to rejoining regular society.
If you follow the anti-homeless logic to its natural conclusion, it is cruelty. To isolate and criminalize doesn’t even address the root causes. In fact, the anti-homeless logic just exacerbates the situation. Just be so uncompassionate that they’ll move.
How far is a person supposed to move who cannot afford an apartment or even a bus ticket? There is no “away” for this issue to go. They’re not all going to move to a neighboring town, where there are already so many homeless people, and the services are overworked. Relocation is not a solution. A civil society doesn’t throw people away.
Re “Pot talk” (Newslines, by Andre Byik, May 30):
Chico is going to allow cannabis sales soon. What many people would like to see is a farmers’ market for cannabis. Washington and Oregon both have this type of venue. The startup cost for growers to enter with a store is prohibitive for many. There would be an area for tested and an area for nonstate tested—just like the downtown market on Saturdays. This also allows growers to meet the public and interact with the customers. Let’s give the little guys a chance in this market place. If a horse has his fill of water, it’s time to let another wet his lips.
Threats from the dais
Re “Civil discourse” (Newslines, by Ashiah Scharaga, May 23):
Councilman Sean Morgan made violent threats toward anyone who would call him a white supremacist. Is this an attempt to bully specific community members into silence? Morgan’s Twitter account is rife with the nation’s most notable voices in anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-black conservatism.
During his time as mayor, he regularly silenced discussion on issues important to communities of color, and this recent threat toward his constituents adds to a pattern of intended misuse of authority. Morgan likely associates white supremacy with individual extremism only (think neo-Nazis or the KKK), which explains his fear of being connected to the term. But the culture of white supremacy, where white domination of society is seen as the natural order of things, and the needs of other communities are erased, is very real and continues to be upheld by exactly the behavior he has demonstrated.
Do not let him gaslight us into thinking otherwise.
Churches do enough
Re “Faith community and Walmart: Please help” (Editorial, May 23):
As a member of the “faith community,” I was surprised to read that the author thought we should be doing more to help. Many churches and their members give generously of their time and finances. Perhaps they are not as visible at the Orange Street Shelter, because they are involved in serving food Wednesday nights; delivering sandwiches downtown; providing activities; offering new clothes, shoes and backpacks filled with supplies to school children at the Torres Shelter; not to mention the hundreds of folks that volunteer at the Salvation Army, the Jesus Center, Street Pastors and the list goes on.
Maybe the author isn’t aware that some of the faith-based folks take to heart the words of Jesus from the book of Matthew, in chapter 6, where He says, we are not to make a big show of helping those in need so people will praise them. Or verses 3 and 4: “But when you help a needy person, do it in such a way that even your closest friend will not know about it. Then it will be a private matter, and your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you.”
An offensive title
Re “Trigger happy” (Scene, by Robert Speer, May 23):
Local filmmaker Sue Hilderbrand recently publicly debuted her movie American Totem. Native and non-Native people have been telling her before and after her showing that her appropriation of the word totem for her title is offensive and harmful to Native people. The word is a sacred part of Ojibwe culture that has been abused by white people for centuries. She has ignored the requests of Native people to change the name of her film.
The film also contains transphobia. I supported her making of the film, but I cannot support her continued intentional ignorance of the harm she is doing by clinging to a name that is unnecessary. Native American, black and brown communities continue to experience the highest rates of murder by law enforcement and racist gun violence. Indigenous immigrant communities and marginalized people who experience racial profiling are specifically impacted by forms of institutional gun violence as well.
Good job, council
Re “Chico leaders reject proposed legislation” (Downstroke, May 16):
Tempers flared when our Chico City Council withdrew Chico from the provisions of Assembly Bill 430. Understandable, considering the way the AB 430 supporters sold a false narrative to the public. The fact is, affordable housing for those truly in need—renters and people without enough means—will not result from relaxing building requirements. We’ll just get more homes built to maximize developers’ profits—not affordable housing.
I suggest we all pause and reflect on the 2010 gas explosion in San Bruno where a 30-inch underground gas pipeline exploded, tragically killing eight people and destroying 38 homes. Many years earlier, the Crestmoor development was built in a large field on top of that ill-fated pipeline because local civic leaders failed to regulate the pressure to develop. Sure, PG&E made any number of grievous and disastrous mistakes when its pipeline exploded, but that location should never have been approved for development in the first place.
I support the City Council’s bold decision to withdraw from the provisions of AB 430. Let’s protect our unique and treasured town that belongs to our longtime and newest residents alike. It’s not necessary to compromise our core values to address the actual hardships of fire victims in need.
Editor’s note: For more on this issue, see Newslines, page 11.
It’s the pensions
Re “Chico needs a lifeline” (Editorial, May 9)
Chico has not grown by 20 percent in the wake of the Camp Fire. Like I said in my last letter, the figures the city is using to support the assumption that Camp Fire evacuees are placing a strain on city services are all estimates. Go out at rush hour—the traffic impacts we suffered in the weeks immediately following the fire were temporary. Today there are over 200 houses for sale within the city. Housing prices spiked remarkably immediately following the fire because desperate buyers were very competitive, but prices are now back to 2017 levels.
The city’s financial problem is the pension liability. Ask public employees to pay more of their own pensions. For example, the city manager gets over $225,000 in salary, over $80,000 in benefits, and 70 percent of his highest year’s salary in pension at age 55. He pays 11 percent of his salary toward that pension. The taxpayers are asked to pick up the rest of his tab, including an IRC 457.
If he is sincere about “living within our means,” he needs to pay more of his own pension. New hires pay 50 percent, so why are “classic” employees still paying so little?
Join the conversation at chico taxpayers.com.
Giving Trump props
Doesn’t matter if you love Trump, hate him or think he’s a “danger to our Constitution.”
Paraphrasing Sung Tzu: “Know your enemy before engaging him in war.”
I just read a book written by Donald Trump in 1989 called The Art of The Deal. If you’re any of the people I described above, you’ll know by page 63 just what kind of man our president is. We have never, ever had a president like him in our history. We will never have another. Just saying he’s not a politician is an understatement of his capabilities. To say: “He’ll get tired of the relentless attacks” in the press, in the establishment and Congress just doesn’t know this man’s personality!
He’ll never give up on any goal he sets for this country. He’ll change direction at a moment’s notice to achieve the outcome he wants. Name calling by his enemies doesn’t affect him or his purpose.
Saying he’s a street fighter—rude and crude it’s true. He won’t mind if you say it. It makes no difference to him. Will he tire of his job as president? Read the book. He says anything he does isn’t worth doing if he’s not having fun.
Loretta Ann Torres