Letters for March 14, 2013

Where’s the transparency?

Re “Another one bites the dust: Chico building director gone in a cloud of mystery” (Newslines, by Tom Gascoyne, March 7):

I find it odd that the best person for the position of assistant city manager is an employee who comes from Hemet, the place City Manager Brian Nakamura was last working. According to Mr. Nakamura, Mark Orme competed against 55 other candidates and (with the city manager having the last interview and say) came out the best possible choice. An unbelievable coincidence, at best.

I am curious why, if Mr. Orme is such a qualified employee, he did not become the Hemet city manager? I am also curious why (in tight economic times) Mr. Orme had to be hired at near top step. Additionally, Mr. Nakamura’s admitting that his friend from Hemet was “on his mind” does not indicate an open selection process.

Mr. Nakamura’s management style shows a clear tendency to fail to supply the City Council with timely information as to how he has arrived at a decision. When he brought the recommendation to reduce department heads, he admitted that the full report was incomplete due to time constraints. He did the same thing with salary adjustments of the remaining department heads. Finally, he clearly knew that he was going to hire Mr. Orme, but did not notify council until after salaries were set by the council.

Transparency and professionalism in city government are essential. I hope the city not only encourages these traits, it also demands them.

Dan Tinnel

City Council, it is time to take a very serious look at the city manager you hired. We know he is willing to lie. He publicly stated to his staff, the council and the public in Hemet: “The outpouring from the community, council and department directors really confirmed my decision that ultimately I want to stay in Hemet. I never had a real desire to leave.” That was less than a month before he accepted the job in Chico.

We’ve watched him talk in circles and give non-answers as he unveiled his plan that, as far as I can tell, is a promise to lay off close to a million dollars’ worth of employees with no data as to the real impact on the city. We’ve watched him end the careers of two longtime city employees. You don’t really think anyone is buying this “sudden retirement” nonsense, do you?

Now, after he’s jacked up the salary of the assistant city manager position, Nakamura is bringing in an old buddy to fill the job. By now you are realizing you made a bad hire. You must be. So what are you going to do?

Julie Gao

From the bottom up

Re “Democracy in action” (From This Corner, by Robert Speer, March 7):

I agree with this approach to citizen involvement with their government. One is much more likely to approach someone they know or who is at least local and able to be relatively conveniently contacted. It is also possible to let the “local” world know when the local elected official is not responsive or transparent.

Bottom-up citizen expression and strong, independent local elected officials can provide true leadership.

Abe Baily

What about the hoodlums?

Re “Tackling transiency” (Newslines, by Robert Speer, March 7):

When you target a minority sector under the guise of making an area “clean and safe,” you do an injustice to the entire Chico community. You also send a message that these people aren’t “OK,” giving young hoodlums additional impetus to attack and beat defenseless people during alcohol-fueled rages.

It’s abhorrent to exclude the issue of college students’ behavior while under the influence of alcohol in public meetings to make downtown safe. You might be thinking, “Ah, that’s not fair, it’s just a small minority of college students making poor choices.” If so, understand the very same thing can be applied to the homeless population. Until the issue of alcohol-induced violence and mayhem is addressed, downtown won’t be safe. Period.

Bill Mash

More coyote tales

Re “The coyote hunt” (Cover story, by Allan Stellar, Feb. 28):

My grandfather was a hunter. He took my grandmother hunting in Idaho for their honeymoon. He would track big bucks for days, camping in the snow from Tuolumne to the Warner Mountains. He never shot more than he could carry, and he would probably laugh at what passes for a “hunter” these days, zipping around on four-wheelers in coordinated Cabella’s camo, shooting pre-ordered pheasants in a pen.

He was no environmentalist—he bent sheet metal and shot pool for a living—but he was practical, he knew right and wrong, and he would have seen killing dogs en masse as wasteful since it doesn’t achieve the desired goal of reducing their populations, which is the whole justification for the “hunt,” right? Shooting dogs for fun is not hunting, and it does not make someone a hunter.

I like both city folk and rural folk, and it’s too bad everyone gets so polarized because the majority of folk in both those places are nice, really. My issue is that this particular issue isn’t about “tradition.” “Tradition” is taking your kids into the wild and teaching them how to be patient, how to think like an animal, to track, to shoot and dress a deer, and how to be a good person. “Recreation” is popping coyotes like Now & Laters with a pistol-grip AR on the weekend for prizes.

I have lost many hundreds of dollars to coyotes, so I know the frustration and even considered poison and traps. But in all honesty one could kill a thousand of them today and there would be just as many tomorrow. From a population biology standpoint you can’t make a dent, which is one of the reasons it is high time to do away with this and other legal dog-killing sports.

I don’t anymore feel like I need to control nature, mostly because I can’t. I am smarter than them most of the time, and building cages and not being lazy has reduced losses to near zero, and while bending metal all day is nowhere near as fun as a 30-30, I can hear the coyotes howl at night and look my dog straight in the eye, and there’s nothing more Western than that.

Chris DiVittorio

I must object to Robert Speer’s assertion in his From This Corner column (“Coyote tale,” Feb. 28) that Allan Stellar’s piece was fair and balanced. It seemed to me that he went to Modoc County in search of violence and gore, and, finding none, he resorted to cheap caricatures of bloodthirsty, rifle-toting rednecks instead.

Northeastern California has a predator problem. Adin has found a creative, entrepreneurial way to address the problem. Mr. Stellar may disagree with the coyote hunt, but any valid arguments he may have had are camouflaged by his blatantly biased and obviously fictionalized account of his experience in Adin.

Adin is a lovely community of good, caring, hard-working people who take care of one another and welcome strangers as friends. Hunting is a part of their heritage and livelihood. It is a shame that Mr. Stellar had to denigrate the whole community in a misguided attempt to “bear witness for the coyotes.” It’s an even greater shame that the CN&R had to print his nonsense.

Sarah DeForest

As a rancher who manages to live peacefully with coyotes and other predators, I take issue with these hunts. Not only is it well documented that they are counter-productive in reducing coyote populations, but killing as a part of a contest to see who can kill the most is wrong.

I’m not a hunter, but if I were a hunter who ate what I killed and treated the sport with respect, I would be furious to be lumped in with people who kill simply to win some sort of prize or trophy. Is this really what we want to teach our children? That certain lives have no value, or that our livestock matters more than our wildlife?

Keli Hendricks

Thanks for highlighting the decimation of the coyotes. I have not heard them in the early morning hours for months. They are one of the charms of the Chico area—the wildness with the hominess of the area. The author did an excellent job of shocking me with pictures and descriptions of what he and his brave granddaughter had to endure in the Clampet-like mindset of Modoc County. And these are the yahoos who are protecting their gun rights. We should all be deathly afraid. Bring back protection for the coyotes and run the yahoos out.

M. Mohr

It was deeply troubling to read about Mr. Stellar’s experiences in Adin as he attempted to report on the town’s annual coyote-killing contest. Particularly distressing was the collusion between the hunt sponsors and law enforcement.

The contest supporters must have realized how unpopular this wildlife abuse would be if the public caught wind of it, and that there is no moral justification for it. That a deputy sheriff threatened to arrest a child for her inquisitiveness was disgraceful.

We have a serious national problem when killing becomes a competitive game. At a time when our country is grappling with senseless violence in the wake of the Newtown tragedy, it’s time to reassess our use of lethal force. In the case of coyotes, indiscriminate killing is not justifiable in any practical or moral sense; it disregards what we know about coyote ecology, is counter productive to long-term livestock protection, and is ethically indefensible to kill as many individuals as one can in a weekend.

I commend Mr. Stellar and his granddaughter, Kylie, for using a pen and camera—and a lot of bravery—to bring to our attention what has been too long overlooked.

Gina Farr
Environmental Educator & Communications Advisor

Project Coyote (ProjectCoyote.org)Larkspur

“The coyote hunt” addressed some of the reasons why so many people find this hunt objectionable, yet also outlined some of the reasons why the ranchers in Modoc County find the hunt to be a necessity to prevent predation of livestock and protect their livelihood.

In my opinion, the problem runs much deeper than this. Why is there such a high demand for meat, chicken, and animal by-products? The average American consumes more than 270 pounds of meat every year. The thought that an entire industry can evolve to promote the killing and eating of animals is appalling to me. The lives of all animals are precious, whether they be coyotes, cows or chickens.

Despite numerous studies and data that back the environmental and health benefits of a plant-based diet, we continue to consume animal products with reckless abandon. The next time you pick up some hamburger meat at the grocery store, ask yourself this: If I raised, cared for and fed this animal myself, could I look him in the eye and kill him in order to eat his flesh? If the answer is no, then you have no business eating animals or animal byproducts.

Nicole Pierce

In Allan Stellar’s story “The Coyote Hunt,” I found many of his statements to be misleading at best and some totally false. His information comes from an anti-hunting group called Predator Defense.

Alpha males are the only ones that reproduce in a pack. Not true! Females frequently leave the pack to mate with other males outside the pack. This applies to wolves and coyotes, and this is well documented.

Coyotes do best when left alone. Really? At what expense to other wildlife? Mr. Stellar has never seen a coyote chase down a 2-week-old fawn, kill it and then chase down its sibling and kill it also. Nor has he seen a hen mallard killed and 11 ready-to-hatch eggs devoured. “Coyotes feed mostly on rodents”?

Somehow he thinks the coyote population has spread because of hunting. Across the nation deer and elk populations are higher than they were in 1900. Populations of wildlife are larger because of wildlife management and habitat management. Because of this, predator populations have also increased, not because of “indiscriminate” killing and “persecution.”

Mr. Stellar was right when he said that mountain lions are killed when they become a threat. What he didn’t say is that more lions are killed today than were ever killed by hunters when there was a hunting season.

Like most anti-hunters and anti-hunting groups, Mr. Stellar really doesn’t care about the coyote or other wildlife; he just doesn’t want hunters to harvest or utilize the resource. Instead they would rather see wildlife die from starvation and disease, because that’s “nature” and natural.

Dana W. Miller

Shameful judgment

Re “Our Own Sandy Hook” (Letters, by Susan Birtcil, Feb. 28):

This entire post was subjective and irrational. For a moment I was unsure if it was a satire piece written in poor taste. Can someone honestly compare the abortion of a zygote to the brutal murder of children in a school shooting? Your remarks were beyond odious.

However, I feel like I shouldn’t insult anyone’s intelligence by going into detail about the differences between something that is biologically independent and something that is not.

Ms. Birtcil, your judgment of these individuals who trusted the anonymity of Planned Parenthood is shameful. Also, your assumed correlation between the fact that it was Wednesday and the number of cars in the parking lot shows no logical significance whatsoever. Some of the confounding factors you failed to mention in your little naturalistic observation were: How many of the cars belonged to staff? Were the women who entered the building even pregnant? Were some of the women there to get a birth control prescription, or were they there to get tested for an STI?

Again, your assumption about the significance of your impromptu study is misleading and inaccurate because I highly doubt you received the confidential records of the number of abortions performed that Wednesday.

Anna Bartel

Paws says thanks

Paws of Chico and Valley Oak Veterinary Center honored World Spay Day 2013 on Feb. 23 with a low-cost spay/neuter clinic for cats. A total of 74 cats, 37 female and 37 male, were spayed/neutered. The clinic helped reduce the number of kittens that would potentially end up in our city shelter.

This event was made possible by a volunteer effort from Paws, VOVC, city of Chico, ROP, Chico Hospital for Cats, Yuba College, N.W.S.P.C.A. and three local veterinarians, Dr. Hanson, Dr. McGuire and Dr. Caikoski. The Chico community is fortunate to have these committed agencies and individuals who volunteered their time to help the cats in this area.

Valley Oak Veterinary Center provided the beautiful facility and lunch for all the volunteers. Thank you to all the volunteers involved for being a part of reducing the number of homeless cats. It would not have been possible without your strong support.

Cynthia Gerrie

Small is beautiful

It isn’t like there are many advocates of smaller government who consider it news that growing city, county, state and federal governments seem to be hoping to put more and more people on the dole. But what many of them may not have stopped to consider is the effect these government programs and policies are having on the privately charitable actions of American citizens everywhere.

One columnist wonders what incentive remains for concerned friends, neighbors and family members to help those who are struggling when the government seems determined to take care of each of us from the cradle to the grave. Although it might be a recipe politicians have concocted to get a few more votes, this is hardly a recipe for a better citizenry.

John Salyer

Giant salmon is dangerous

Re The Greenhouse (Column, by Christine LaPado-Breglia, Feb. 28):

Why is the U.S. Food and Drug Administration allowed to have already initially approved the genetically modified giant salmon? They will be playing Russian roulette with this entire planet!

Creating a fish (salmon) with growth genes that never turn off could be very dangerous if let loose on the environment. Will the salmon that get away become as big as whales? Bigger? How much will they eat? It sounds all to easy for an environmental mistake to happen, which makes giant salmon an insane idea to let loose upon our planet.

Betty Credit