Letters for March 19, 2020
A critical need in difficult times such as those our community is experiencing now is confidence in our leadership; part of confidence is trust. There is a time for diplomatically choosing each word, and a time for speaking clearly and frankly. For myself, a time calling for clarity and frankness is when someone is speaking untruthfully about me.
On Monday, March 16, in an interview with Action News Now, Mayor Randall Stone made an outrageous accusation about me: that “Congressman Doug LaMalfa, Councilmember Scott Huber and Assemblymember James Gallagher were all pushing these billboards out to the end of town talking about communicable diseases…”
This statement about me is a bald-faced lie, with no basis in any reality or fact. It is far-fetched to the point of suggesting that Mr. Stone has become delusional.
Whether out of vindictiveness, political strategy, absence of research, or psychosis, Stone’s fabrications add up to a profound loss of trust and my confidence in his ability to lead this community.
Editor’s note: The author is a member of the Chico City Council.
‘Real leaders would have…’
Re “Councilman’s comeback” (Letters, by Scott Huber, March 12):
Scott Huber’s quip echoed a private letter. He wielded ad hominems and straw men to deflect from my legitimate criticism of City Council policy. He poisons the well, too, asserting that if solutions arising from deep analysis transcend pragmatism, they shouldn’t be respected. I do encourage your readers to “consider the source.”
On Oct. 2, 2018, 37 days before the Camp Fire, I addressed the council (starting at 04:46 in the archive) and explained that if we can’t acknowledge the converging economic, ecological and sociopolitical crises beginning to unfold, “we’re fucked.” Again, on Jan. 7, 2020 (about 00:37 in the archive), I took stock of how things had progressed. I warned of structural instabilities and imminent financial collapse simply waiting on a trigger like a pandemic.
My exasperation lies in the council’s failure to understand the historical moment we are in and recognize there’s a clear choice ahead: socialism or barbarism. Real leaders would have found temporary space for hospital services, suspended rent and utility payments, and initiated food production across the city before suspending the legislature. This is just the beginning of a long and painful readjustment. There’s still time for emergent leadership. Together we can thrive.
More on the mayor
I was recently informed of a rather bizarre message that was posted by our town’s mayor referencing the coronavirus. In a time where our community and country are encountering a dangerous disease and a potentially more dangerous streak of unreasonable and irrational panic, we need our leaders to set a better example. We need our leaders’ words and actions to embody and encourage empathy, compassion, consideration, understanding and the need to be useful to one another.
Pompous and petty posts only perpetuate problematic predicaments. With our community still recovering from the trauma of the Camp Fire, emotionally reckless social media posts during yet another traumatic event only deepen our wounds and slow the healing our community so desperately desires.
Mr. Mayor, please publicly apologize to your constituents and rise up to be the leader we need and elected you to be.
A call to action
Open letter to the Chico City Council and staff:
We can reasonably anticipate the intersection of two phenomena: widespread homelessness and the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, the following suggestions are made with a view toward minimizing suffering and fatalities among the homeless:
1) The city should immediately deploy as many portable toilets and hand-sanitizing stations as possible. All restrooms should be open 24 hours, providing access to soap and water.
2) The homeless who “shelter in place” should be allowed to remain sheltered—especially in locations least visible to the public.
3) All enforcement of “social crime” violations should cease, along with arrests/jailing on infraction-generated failure-to-appear warrants. Policing should pivot to a focus on serious crime, welfare checks and health-oriented assessments only.
4) The homeless should be monitored for adequate caloric intake. Staple/survival foods should be delivered to the streets if needed.
Though providing services to the homeless in various high-density facilities has been routine practice, dispersion in the public space is likely a more sensible approach. At very least, dispersion and self-sheltering/self-reliance should not be discouraged, either through lack of material support or law enforcement practices.
Help homeless seniors
I recently met Janet, a reasonably dressed, sober, fully gray-haired woman who appeared to be 60. She had all her belongings in a torn trash bag beside her. Her husband had recently passed away, and she was tired of being homeless.
We’re so focused on COVID-19 that we may have forgotten about the uptick in hepatitis A outbreaks. As long as we keep housing and shelter on the back burner, our community has more than one disease to be concerned about.
What about the conditions that increase our vulnerability to outbreaks of diseases?
Tiny home villages have the best potential to house the most amount of people—with distancing—for the least amount of money, in the least amount of time.
If more of our seniors were housed this way, we would be more pandemic-resistant. Leaving so many seniors on the street—170 by last count—makes us more vulnerable to outbreaks of disease.
We have a shelter crisis! The city has land. Chico Housing Action Team (CHAT) has a plan.
If you really want a “clean and safe” Chico, help the city help CHAT start a tiny home village before next winter.
Lock gate at Bear Hole
Re “Pay to play” (Newslines, by Ashiah Scharga, March 5):
The recent City Council decision to use the fees from parking and a grant to improve Upper Park Road seems like a good idea for emergency and fire personnel. As as far as opening up the road to the end for the general public, it is not. I can see having vehicle access as it is Tuesday through Saturday, but the gate should remain locked above Bear Hole.
Upper Park used to have a live-ammunition shooting and archery range. That seemed OK when Chico’s population was under 30,000, but it’s not with 100,000 or more people now living in the area. Anyone who has to deal with speeding, alcohol-related issues, broken bottles and trash knows this to be true.
Who will be there to police the area? Who will pick up the garbage along the creek? Maybe another fee, eh?
‘This insanity must end’
Much to the delight of his Deliverance, banjo-playing followers, Donald Trump pirated late President Ronald Reagan’s successful 1980 campaign slogan: “Let’s make America great again.” Apparently sometime before 1980, America was a great place.
I’m sure Reagan wasn’t talking about the 1930 stock market crash that led to then-President Herbert Hoover’s Great Depression. How could Reagan call the attack on Pearl Harbor great? Was it the Korean War that saw thousands of American soldiers die? The disastrous Vietnam War?
Flash-forward to Sept. 11, 2001, and the attack on the World Trade Center, resulting in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (which still linger), and then to Trump’s “Great America” starting in 2016.
Trump has given huge tax cuts to his billionaire friends and corporations, resulting in the worst stock market crash since 1987. Trickle-down economics didn’t work then, and it doesn’t work now. Republicans are quick to blame the coronavirus crisis for resulting in the cancellation of MLB, NBA, MLS and the NCAA tournament, as well as the closure of Disneyland, numerous schools, churches, etc., but I beg to differ.
Why do these blind sheep follow this incompetent holding the Oval Office hostage—even to the edge of a cold civil war? This insanity must end. Vote.
Hopefully President Trump is starting to realize that you can’t B.S. a virus like you can the American people.