Letters for March 21, 2013

Volleys in the guns battle

Re “Notes from a gun nut” (Cover story, by Jaime O’Neill, March 14):

When I began reading this article, I thought it was going to be a fairly objective piece, which would be a refreshing change from the usual left-leaning material commonly found in these pages. Of course it was not to be. It quickly degenerated into the predictable tripe about gun owners in general being fat paranoid drunks who carry a lot of “free-floating anger.” Really? How do you arrive at such a conclusion?

And where did you come up with that list of “Cold, hard gun facts”? Are they simply “facts” because you say they are? Exactly who “predicted” that by 2015 gun deaths will exceed auto deaths? Just because something conveniently supports your position doesn’t make it true.

Finally, with regard to your concerns about alcohol being served at this event, I hope you are equally concerned with any restaurant that serves alcohol. Every restaurant patron who chooses to drink is going to leave that restaurant by getting behind the wheel of a deadly weapon. Hopefully they’re not wearing camo.

Perry Bronner

Mr. O’Neill seems to prefer shooting fish in barrels more than blasting tin cans. How about digging into the story that most of these mass killers were using antidepressants?

Collin Ross

Jaime O’Neill missed one bit of data in his story: the fact that according to the Department of Justice (really easy to look up), Americans use guns in self-defense 2.5 million times per year. I’m not citing the Kleck study. I’m citing the DOJ.

What would happen 2.5 million times per year if law-abiding citizens were to lose their right to keep and bear arms? Lose countless wallets? Cars? Lives? Good thing we will never find out.

Tony Chinchay

For a liberal paper that even as a conservative I enjoy, I was surprised by this story, which seemed pro gun. As usual, and typical of liberals, the end of the story (“Cold, hard gun facts”) used statistics he must have made up to scare people.

The lies start with a prediction (a prediction is a hard fact?) that gun deaths in 2015 (average deaths from all guns is about 8,500 per year) will surpass automobile deaths (32,310 in 2011) by 2015. Really?

How about the “fact” that 1 million have died from gun violence since 1960, when it is around 600,000 at most. Six million guns are sold without background checks—how did you come up with that number? More American soldiers have been killed (1,326,612) than gun deaths from 1960 (425,000). Seriously?

I don’t have to even look at his other indisputable cold hard gun facts to know I don’t need to look at his other made-up claims. I would be embarrassed to publish this pack of lies. Guns need to be kept from unstable people. Guns are for stable Americans to protect themselves and to have fun shooting. Please turn your guns in, Jaime!

Del Stuermer

Editor’s response to Mr. Stuermer: The 6.6 million figure is an estimate that comes from the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, founded by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. It has been cited in numerous cases, and there is general consensus that it is reasonably accurate, but nobody knows for sure because of a lack of data. According to The Washington Post’s “The Fact Checker” site, that shortage of data is because “foes of gun control have thwarted extensive research on guns.”

According to the site dosomething.org’s “11 Facts About Guns,” close to 33,000 Americans were victims of gun-related deaths in 2011, about the same as the number of auto deaths. The number may already exceed the number of auto deaths.

About the claims that “more than a million Americans have died of gun violence since 1968” and that all U.S. war deaths don’t equal gun deaths since 1960: According to the Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking site Politifact, the number of deaths caused by guns—homicides, suicides and accidents—from 1968 through 2011 is 1,384,171; the total number of deaths in all U.S. wars is 1,171,177.

For Mr. Chinchay: Our Internet search found no DOJ figures regarding defensive gun use, nor, in fact, any consensus on what constitutes DGU. Estimates ranged from Mr. Kleck’s 2.5 million, now largely debunked, to Bureau of Justice Statistics numbers indicating that, each year from 1987 to 1992, about 62,200 victims of violent crimes used guns to defend themselves, while another 20,000 annually used guns to protect property.

Feeling the pain

Re: “It’s union vs. union” (Newslines, by Ken Smith, March 14):

It is not only a financial burden for Butte County employees, who now have to pay all of their retirement contribution benefits and absorb rising costs of medical benefits, but it also has had a profound effect on the local economy.

If you take the average of the cuts to the take-home pay and multiply that by the total number of Butte County workers, it adds up to about a $15 million annual loss to the local economy.

One worker said she gave up her cable TV. I have made many cuts in local spending because I now have $300 a month less take-home pay. I don’t buy my morning coffee at Bidwell Perk anymore; I brew some at the office. I go to Pelican’s Roost restaurant only once a month now. Same thing for Sierra Nevada, which I used to frequent once a week.

What has the county done with the $15 million a year they save by not paying for employee benefits? We see new shiny vehicles, many new employees, a new big solar project and remodeling projects going on as well as other empire building. Butte County workers as individuals certainly have already felt the pain of “sequestering,” but indeed so has the rest of the county.

Name withheld

Water rates going way up

I received a notice in the mail about Cal Water raising their rates for customers. It said that “rates would increase the typical residential customer’s monthly bill by $9.37” in 2014.

I pay $32.86 a month. If my rate increased by $9.37 a month, I would pay an additional $112.44 a year (plus sewage), which adds up to $405.72 annually!

I am concerned about this rate increase.

Cal Water can increase rates in 2015 and 2016 without further notice to customers, and 2015 and 2016 rates may be higher, due to inflation.

Cal Water wants to increase the rate by about 38 percent in a three-year period!

If Cal Water followed a five-year set plan, with only a 7.6 percent increase each year ($29.96), it wouldn’t be so hard for people to pay.

There will be a hearing at the April 15 meeting at 6:00 p.m. in the Chico City Council chambers (421 Main St.).

I don’t think many residents know about this decision to raise the rates, nor do they know by how much. The public should know about this, and it should be published in all the local newspapers.

Emerald Behrens

Parking-meter ‘money grab’

I have to park in downtown Chico as part of my job, and I am disgusted with the “parking war” going on every weekday. The city of Chico is conducting all-out war on parking-meter violators.

The city employs several people to walk the streets of downtown and inflict, sometimes with glee, $29 worth of misery on people trying to do business or shop. I guarantee there is a line item in the Chico budget for projected income from parking tickets.

Parking violations are easy money for cities, but in Chico it’s a “money grab.” If I came downtown to buy something and I got a $29 parking ticket, I would never come back. Simple as that.

Any time Chico really wants to do something to provide safety to citizens, how about enforcing the crosswalk laws, enforcing the stoplight laws and protecting the sidewalks? But that would require a peace officer, not a city employee on a power trip.

Rick Anderson

Council turns a blind eye

Re “Nakamura backers step forward” (Newslines, by Robert Speer, March 14):

Given the recent actions of the city manager and the City Council, these three employees who came out to speak up on behalf of Nakamura cannot be more trustworthy than he is showing himself to be. Not only is it reprehensible that he hired his former associate in what appears to be a blatantly underhanded and unprofessional manner, but the fact that the mayor and “most of the council members” support this is appalling.

That city employees would be so unsupported by council is saddening, and the lack of integrity of the council.

I am disappointed that I voted for all but two of the sitting council members. They appear to be incapable of recognizing that no data demonstrating that Nakamura’s plan for restructuring provides any useful benefit to the city of Chico. The restructuring chart he showed to council was incomplete; the projected deficit information used to bolster the need for terminating city employees was out of date; the staff report the city manager was to prepare for council regarding the restructuring was incomplete; and still, council has not asked for actual numbers that show that the city is in the financial condition the city manager assures them it is.

As bad as Nakamura seems to be at managing the city, the City Council is even worse at making informed decisions.

What’s next? Is the city manager planning to also hire a friend of his to run the city’s engineering department? Will City Council continue to turn a blind eye?

Name withheld

Don’t trust these people

As the nation prepares to entrust the government and insurance industry to administer a historic expansion of taxation and power via universal health care, I feel like I’m watching a train wreck in slow motion. If every innocent in America shared my experience with the corruption and inefficiencies of these entities, they’d be organizing resistance to this advance, not passively acquiescing to it.

While driving home from work one night in 2005, I endured $500,000 in injuries in an assault by a drunken career felon. Upon learning of my injury, the state arbitrarily revoked my driver’s license and effected the confiscation of my car, van, and work tools. Since I live alone in rural Tehama County, this precluded me from earning a living.

To prolong embezzlement of interest from my settlement, the defendant’s insurance company’s been filibustering compensating me for my injuries for more than seven years now. This has caused me severe and increasing financial hardship and enormous legal fees. Astonishingly, the insurer’s been doing this with the Tehama courts’ full knowledge and cooperation.

I’m an intelligent, responsible, clean-living person. If such injustices can happen to me, they could happen to anyone. For the sake of your readers and the country, I pray you’ll start publishing more pieces that explore the corrupt alliance between the insurance industry, the courts, and our local, state, and national governments. Citizens could then resist its continuing advancement. Such is precisely why our forefathers bestowed us freedom of the press.

Nathan Esplanade

Banks, insurers wary of fracking

Re “Farmers getting fracked” (Guest comment, by Dave Garcia, March 14):

Due to the 400-word limit I was unable to include [in my guest comment] vital farmer information involving the risk industries of insurance and banking saying no to fracking.

Rabobank, the world’s largest agricultural bank, no longer sells mortgages to farmers with gas leases. Nationwide Insurance, the seventh-largest company, is refusing to insure landowners whose land has been leased to lessees with fracking operations. The company determined that the exposures presented by fracking “are too great to ignore.”

Part of these industries’ concerns over fracking may be based on the oil industry’s own research, which reports a 6 percent well-casing failure rate on all wells drilled, with the Deepwater Horizon being the world-renowned example. The same reports state that after 30 years an average of 50 percent of well casings leak. No wonder insurance companies and banks are backing away from fracking operations.

Dave Garcia

Cardinals show the way

At present, the media are engaged in a reporting frenzy about the papal conclave in Rome, describing the Cardinals as locked in a room, with only bread and water as sustenance, until they have elected a new Pope. This strikes me as a perfect solution to the ongoing budget gridlock in Washington.

Let’s deprive those stubborn miscreants in our nation’s capital of the luxuries they are accustomed to and subject them to the same spartan conditions until a consensus has been reached, which would more than likely occur within the span of a few hours.

Joe Bahlke
Red Bluff

Another reasons to avoid fish

According to an unsettling new study, radiation is still being detected in bluefin tuna that migrate to the Southern California coastline from waters near the damaged Fukushima Nuclear Power Station in Japan.

Radioactive sushi rolls are just one reason to leave fish off your plate. During a seven-year study, U.S. Geological Survey scientists found mercury in every single fish they tested. More than a quarter of the fish had mercury levels that exceeded the EPA’s safety limits for the average fish-eater.

Other studies have found that fish in rivers across the United States are tainted with medications and common household chemicals. And last month the ocean-conservation group Oceana revealed that one-third of the fish sold in the U.S. is mislabeled. In some cases, fish known to cause gastrointestinal distress or to contain often dangerous levels of mercury were sold as safer species.

None of us would dream of drinking water tainted by sewage, pesticides, heavy metals, and other contaminants. So why would anyone risk their health by eating the fish that are pulled from this toxic brew? To find out more, please visit www.PETA.org.

Paula Moore
The PETA Foundation

Norfolk, VA