Letters for March 20, 2014
A slanted survey
Re “Survey sparks suspicion” (Newslines, by Ken Smith, March 13):
The person who created the survey props it up by stating her intern status at the city, only to hide behind her intern status when questioned. It’s like, “Oops, didn’t know better.” The Downtown Chico Business Association flings, “Oh, we sent it along as a favor.” Wonderful editorial review process, DCBA.
The coup de grâce is wording on the survey header: “There is a discussion among the Chico community about the relocation of the market.” It’s a slanted statement that provides one side of the debate front and center: relocating the market. The community discussion deserves credible, unbiased and well-crafted surveys, not a city intern with favorable ties to one side of the debate.
No-Postal, get it?
Re “Paper threat” (Newslines, by Tom Gascoyne, March 13):
Why can we still yell “asbestos” in a crowded theater? It seems that the fire marshal has gone No-Postal.
It’s a punishment
Re “Repeal ‘new Jim Crow’” (Editorial, March 13):
Jim Crow? Not voting, not owning guns, not going near schools are a few types of punishment that come with committing crimes. If votes were so important to blacks or Latinos, you’d think they would not do the crimes.
I really question if that many hard-core felons want to vote. But if your heart is bleeding, why not use guns as an issue? Felons can’t own guns—that means that whites have more guns in an area with large amounts of felons who are black or Latino. Is that right? I think taking punishment away from felons who are black or Latino misses the point. But why just those, because you want more liberal voters?
Editor’s note: The editorial called for an end to the state law barring any ex-convicts from voting while on parole or under mandatory supervision. As was stated, minorities are more likely to be charged and convicted than whites in similar circumstances, so the law affects that population disproportionately.
Opposition harms the poor
Re “Game-over scenario” (Editorial, March 6):
Building the Keystone XL pipeline would facilitate the export of liquefied natural gas to Europe, enabling the Europeans to get out from under dependence on a hostile Russia for gas—just as it would also help the U.S. get out from dependence on hatemongering regimes in the Middle East, Venezuela and Nigeria for oil.
Your opposition to the Keystone helps to put both America and our allies needlessly at the mercy of hostile states. More than this, building the Keystone will bring about a major reduction in world oil prices, as the hate regimes abruptly lose their biggest market for their oil.
Your opposition to the Keystone ensures that poor people will continue to suffer the effect of ever higher gasoline and electricity prices. Higher energy costs, resulting from unreasonable restrictions on production and transportation of energy, kill jobs. Poor people suffer first and worst from high energy costs.
Your opposition to the pipeline does nothing for climate, while helping billionaires get richer and stiffing poor people.
More on that story
Re “Strong-arming the budget” (Cover feature, by Dave Waddell, Feb. 27):
It’s been almost three weeks since the CN&R ran a story in with the subheadline of “Chico’s public safety devours the vast majority of dollars in a city whose employees are among the highest paid in the state.” On the next page was a chart of all city employees to include the city manager who makes more than $200,000 a year in base salary. Comparing him to me is like comparing apples to oranges.
The members of the Chico Police Officers’ Association are some of the finest hardest-working men and women I have ever been associated with and to blame the state of the city’s finances on them is preposterous. This association has taken more than 18 percent in salary and benefit reductions since 2008.
All too frequently, Chico police officers are forced into action to defend citizens’ lives, their partners’ lives, and their own lives, yet some say $34.24 per hour is too much compensation. Remember, we go through that door, place ourselves in danger, and live with the nightmares for the rest of our lives, so you, the citizens of this community, don’t have to.
president, Chico Police Officers’ Association
Editor’s note: The chart in question did not include all city employees. It showed the city’s top-20 highest-paid employees. It was clearly labeled as such and broke down the compensation by fringe, regular pay, overtime pay, etc. Mr. Durfee was not included in that list.
I just had an opportunity to read the Dave Waddell article, having read the many comments in previous weeks’ issues based on the article.
Golly, how did it happen that our public employees (not just public safety) make so much more than our average citizen? Just took that money out of our taxpayer pockets without anyone’s knowledge! How could that happen, you ask?
Easy, I say. Don’t read the memorandums of understanding that previous liberal councils have approved. Continue to vote for council members whose sole focus is on trees, bike paths, plastic bags, diversity, concrete plazas, and nuclear-free zones. Or, going forward, read the MOUs. Pay attention to the 30 percent in guaranteed salary increases that most employees enjoy during the first six years of employment (5 percent step increase each year not including CPI adjustments if any). That needs to change, as does the amount the city/taxpayers pay of the employee medical benefits.
As our assistant city manager pointed out, employees have made significant concessions starting in 2014. But issues remain. Taxpayers must voice their opinions and they can start by weighing in before negotiations start in August with the CPOA.
Stephanie L. Taber
Speaking of compensation
Many people think that Chico firefighters are paid too much. In 2012, average total compensation for Chico’s full-time International Association of Firefighters Local 2734 members was $188,000.
There is an easy solution that should be considered by the City Council. Many cities and counties contract with Cal Fire for firefighter services. All those Butte County fire stations are run by Cal Fire. Cal Fire firefighters are members of IAFF Local 2881 and are paid about 40 percent less than Chico firefighters. We can contract with Cal Fire and save millions.
However, Chico’s current contract (Section 5.7 www.chico.ca.us/human_resources_and_risk_management/documents/IAFF_MOU.pdf) requires notifying the union three years in advance to even consider contracting out with Cal Fire. The City Council needs to promptly notify the union. Otherwise, they are not being serious about reducing excessive public-employee compensation.
‘Restore the research’
Re “Ecological restrictions” (Newslines, by Tom Gascoyne, Feb. 20):
I was deeply concerned to read about the recent cutbacks at the Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve. It has taken years to build relationships with donors and raise support funds for the reserve, for students to accumulate important research data and to create and provide programs for schoolchildren. The safety investigation for a collapsed deck seems to have little to do with these important community, financial and program benefits.
It will take a long time to rebuild these aspects of the reserve that have now been demolished in one moment’s decision. The university’s education mission has been lost in an overemphasis on an investigation that is not even completed.
Big Chico Creek Canyon and Bidwell Park are community cornerstones where we recreate, learn and come together. The reserve is an important part of this watershed that provides accessibility to a more pristine world, and I consider the reserve an invaluable connection to that watershed.
I believe our reach for a more sustainable future will be better served through experiences at the reserve than through another LEED building designation on campus. Please support the reserve management, bring the community into this discussion and restore the research and school programs sooner than later.
Camp will attract homeless
Re “Tent city” (Newslines, by Tom Gascoyne, Feb. 27):
I recently read that a local group is proposing a homeless encampment in Chico. I support agencies such as the Salvation Army that make a concerted effort to help the truly needy who are not on the streets by choice. I willingly pay taxes for government social-service programs. What I do not support is a misguided attempt to create a “tent city” that may help a few individuals but would further exacerbate an influx of “travelers” with a sense of entitlement and no concept of responsibility.
I would refer any proponents of such a campground to Placerville’s “social experiment,” which they closed after 16 months because, while the campground itself was self-regulating, it attracted even more homeless.
According to a Sacramento Bee article (“Placerville homeless ‘Haven’ closes in response to neighbor complaints” Nov. 15, 2013), “the campground also drew an influx of transients, still more illegal campgrounds and increased litter and property crime.” Additionally, police contact with transients elsewhere went up 100 percent, burglaries increased by 25 percent, and theft by 60 percent. Placerville did build it and they did come. We know where this road paved with good intentions leads.
Anyone have this problem?
In the last two months, my brother has received two letters in the mail offering him coverage for California citizens only. Problem is, he died nine and half years ago!
The first letter is “New 2014 Benefit Update.” This is a state-regulated (California) life insurance program to pay for final expenses for just pennies a day. It would pay up to $15,000 tax free. He died already, people. A little late don’t you think?
The second letter is from Anthem Blue Cross saying he may qualify for financial help for health coverage. What the heck? In the years since he passed, he did not collect any wages, state or federal funds/benefits, or Social Security.
Is this another waste of money? If so, who pays to send these notices out to people who have died? Is it the people who pay taxes or from insurance premiums?
If the wrong person got this mail and submitted the application, this would be fraud, which could result in identity theft. Who would be accountable for the prevention of these fraudulent applications? What I would like to know is how these companies get names to send this mail to those that have passed? Has anyone else had this problem?
Support the market
Right now, the members of the Saturday Chico Certified Farmers’ Market are fighting for their right to remain in a location that has well served them and the local community for more than 21 years. How ironic that this iconic, beloved Chico institution, named one of the top-five farmers’ markets in the world by Essential Travel.co.uk, is at risk of being displaced.
How sad that the farmers and artisans who provide us with the nourishing, delicious food that sustains us should fear for their ability to provide sustenance for their families, because of a few downtown business owners who blame these hardworking people for their financial failings.
The least we can do for the people who provide us with the food we put on our tables is to honor them by supporting them in their desire to remain in the best location. By signing the initiative [to put the market’s location to a public vote] that will enable the community to have their say on this important issue, we demonstrate our commitment to preserving that which is irreplaceable.
Fuel cliff on the way
There is an approaching fuel cliff in California. Vehicle registration in 2012 was 32,000,000 (2,662 billion miles driven) and the consumption of transportation fuels was 50,000,000 gallons a day, or an average of about 1.5 gallons per day per vehicle. Vehicle registration is projected to grow 37 percent to 44,000,000 vehicles by 2030 and 3,138 billion miles projected to be driven (18 percent increase).
The fuel demand is projected to decrease slightly, mostly as a result of more fuel efficiencies and a slight impact by the small number of electric vehicles. The impact to California manufacturers of the current laws such as Global Warming Initiative AB 32 becomes acute in 2015 when compliance with the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) becomes extremely difficult. These factors may cause several manufacturers of fuels to be unable to supply compliant fuels, and to export their manufactured products as they will be unable to sell their fuels in the state.
California is a self-sufficient “island” for supplying its own transportation fuels, as few other USA facilities can manufacture the current boutique formula for California transportation fuel, let alone fuels required to meet state laws in 2015. The fuel shortages and higher prices to the public and the resulting cost increases for the limited available fuel will impact the middle class the hardest as we try to maintain our lifestyle and support the mobile economy.