Letters for March 14, 2002

Correction: In last week’s Back beat story, “Keep watching the skies,” we listed the wrong phone number for the Kiwanis-Chico Community Observatory. The correct number is 879-0207. We regret any inconveniences this error may have caused.

Double thanks
Thank you to the voters of the 2nd Supervisorial District for re-electing me. And thanks to the voters throughout Butte County for standing up for the Brown Act and against an illegal gerrymandering by defeating Measure B.

Supervisor Jane Dolan

A new dawn
Finally, the campaign and election are over. I wish to take this opportunity to thank the voters of Butte County. I would especially like to thank all of our wonderful volunteers and supporters who worked tirelessly to make our campaign a success. All the hard work and dedication you put forth in our effort is greatly appreciated, and I can never thank you enough.

It is now time to put all our differences aside. It’s time to start the healing process at the Sheriff’s Office and throughout Butte County. As sheriff-elect, I will be faced with many challenges in the coming months. I look forward to working with Sheriff Mackenzie in a transition administration, so that the transfer from one administration to another will be as smooth as possible. I’m requesting that everyone pull together and give us the assistance necessary to make this possible.

We have made a lot of progress in the fight against crime in Butte County. Together, we can continue this effort and make Butte County a much safer place for all of us.

Perry L. Reniff

Fish fertilizer
Recently I found disturbing information about the use of manufacturing and industrial toxic wastes in the making of “fertilizers.” According to the book Fateful Harvest, industrial wastes containing elevated levels of heavy metals have been used in chemical fertilizers since the mid-'50s. Fertilizer manufactures are not required to list levels of contaminants such as mercury, arsenic, dioxin, lead, cadmium and others. Have farmers been using these products on their crops knowingly? Some 110,000,000 pounds of “fertilizer” were purchased for the 1995-96 growing season.

I am concerned because of the elevated cancer rates in this area. I recently heard of a 4-year-old child with stomach cancer. I know that breast cancer rates for Butte County are some of the highest in the nation. In a related alert, the FDA came out with a second warning in January cautioning pregnant women and also children against eating tuna and salmon because of elevated mercury levels.

Now I am wondering if the toxic levels of mercury in fish are somehow related to the use of toxic wastes in the manufacturing of fertilizers, which end up on our crops and then the runoff into streams, rivers and oceans. It is a sad day indeed when we cannot even eat the fish that swim in our vast oceans. The legacy that is being left to future generations is truly fateful.

Mona Martine
Received via e-mail

Who’s counting?
“In the beginning” there were no local school districts in California, only county offices of education, and the county superintendent of schools administered all schools. This year marks the 150th birthday of county offices of education in the California Constitution.

In the “olden” days it was the responsibility of the county superintendent to “open” a school when there were 12 children living in a community. In 1851, Warren Sexton, who was the county clerk and ex-officio county superintendent of Butte, reported to the state superintendent that there were no schools in Butte County because there were not more than 50 school-age children living in the county.

In 1852 he reported that there were 120 school-age children, but they were so scattered that not enough lived in one place to form a school. The first schools were established in Butte County in 1853. They were Bidwell School, at Bidwell Bar, Wyandotte and Oro.

From less than 50 students in 1851 to more than 43,000 in 2002, the Butte County Office of Education celebrates its 150th birthday with the largest student population north of Sacramento. Happy Birthday, BCOE!

Jerry McGuire

Butte County Schools

Mansion freeze
You may be shocked to learn that Bidwell Mansion tours and special programs have been curtailed and may be stopped by the governor’s freeze on hiring. Guide trainees, who are “seasonal employees” hired for nine months per year, lead Bidwell Mansion tours for the public and special-educational programs. They must be rehired every year. (Many of them are very experienced as well as dedicated.)

Since the freeze last fall, the mansion has been open for tours only five instead of seven days per week. Special programs for school children are being discontinued. Unless the governor grants a “freeze exemption,” the mansion will have to be closed to visitors before July. The guides are looking for better jobs. If you care, tell the governor.

John Copeland

Question of ethics
You often hear stories about the difficulties of economic survival for the poor. But I have not seen an article that deals with population levels per household in poor neighborhoods. Here in South Oroville, one household across the street has 16 occupants—four adults, the rest kids. Next to it is a house with four adults and four kids. The house down from it has 10 occupants—mostly adults.

Years ago we saw the phenomenon of middle-class kids having to stay at home with their parents because they could not afford rent. Today, among the poor, adult brothers, sisters and cousins live together.

Today the so-called “workfare” program forces unskilled poor folk into the job market, where an increasingly diminishing number of jobs exist. With the virtual collapse of the welfare system, now the poor in America are living like Third World people—in extremely overcrowded situations. This cannot be good for physical nor mental health.

Government leaders in Washington talk about the “work ethic.” But what about the ethic of charity?

Elmer Sloan

Victors of war
A failing presidency—which could not have existed without the support of our homegrown fundamentalist lunatics—has been redeemed, through crisis, by fundamentalist lunatics from distant lands. And so, to his debased and myopic agenda—further enriching America’s wealthiest 1 percent—George Enron Bush has added the sorry spectacle of what his script writers call a “war on terror” against an “axis of evil.”

Conveniently, for America’s corporate elite, this “war” will result in a highly profitable hardware feeding frenzy paid for by generations of working class Americans.

Contrary to the better judgment of a few sane Democrats, a Republican House, Senate and president enacted a $1.3 trillion tax cut. (One trillion for the wealthiest 1 percent and .3 trillion for the other 99 percent of us.) This same president now insists that we increase our military spending from an obscene $300 billion per year to a more-obscene $380 billion per year (more than all other nations combined). And so, to our national debt of several trillion dollars, we will once again be adding hundreds of billions of deficit dollars.

The friends of George Bush (people very much like “Kenny Boy” Lay) now have a trillion dollar tax cut, an annual opportunity to butcher a $380 billion Pentagon hog (remember the $75 hammers and the $800 toilet seats?) and a guarantee of earning even more interest from an even more bloated national debt.

Patrick Newman