Letters for March 22, 2001

University Economics 101
I was very sorry to see the drive for a new student recreational center fail, though I hope we care much more about students’ intellectual tone than their muscle tone. Imagine students taxing themselves for $65 million worth of labs!

But I was even sorrier to see that, for many in the business community, the university is mostly a market to be colonized. Whether under Robin Wilson, who seemed to disdain this college town, or Manuel Esteban, who courts it, we are like army posts in many American cities—loved for the money we spend, but otherwise a troubling presence that isn’t a genuine element in the community.

The tired old rhetoric pitting tax-free zones against free enterprise is resurrected every time Chico State proposes a creative move that would raise the profile of its excellence and attractiveness to students (and prospective faculty and staff) from across the state or nation. The university’s one responsibility is to provide customers for local businesses. And indeed we do. Imagine a boarded up downtown, if it weren’t for 16,000 students, 1,000 faculty, and another 1,000 staff.

Meanwhile, while some members of the local establishment make their money selling beer to students, others piously denounce student behavior.

This is a failure of imagination. The university is one of Chico’s most precious assets, and Chico is one of the university’s most precious assets. We are integral to each other. The university is an organic part of what makes Chico whole. We have a much larger mission and significance than being an easy market for local business. The tax code is written to recognize that fact. We contribute to the intellectual and cultural life of the North Valley and to the economic and social health of the state.

It is a sad day when only market-driven values count and when great public institutions are wished well—only if they are willing participants in their economic colonization.
Donald Heinz

Punish the public pottiers
This letter may be too late to affect the St. Patrick’s Day Melee this year, but I don’t see our problem being solved by this Halloween or the ones to come until we finally implement a commonsense approach once and for all.

These two holidays specifically are seen by some as an open invitation to this community and cities as far away as Sacramento and Redding to make a toilet of this town. Drunkenness, profanity, public urination, violence and vandalism are not a celebration of anything. It is instead an insult to our intelligence to allow them.

The solution to this dilemma is as simple as controlling gun violence: Enforce the existing laws. Say it and do it! Announce by radio, TV and newsprint that Chico will implement maximum penalties for anyone convicted of these crimes on these days. Say it and do it! No plea-bargaining, no mollycoddling and no money mucking up the water. If they want to use our town for a toilet, let them know the sound of a loud flush. The kind of random violence that now permeates our society will bring death to one of these “celebrations.” It may be called an accident, but it won’t be!
Sid Dart

On the Record
The article ["Secrets of Their Success,” Feb. 22] was a wonderful compendium of Chico history, but I must take strong exception to the account describing the origins and history of the Chico Enterprise-Record.

The Chico Record was published under many guises and locations, as you note, but it did not become a major force in the county until 1897, when it became The Chico Daily Record. Prior to that time, it was known as the Chico Weekly Chronicle-Record (among others) and was largely a small local gossip sheet containing details about people’s trips to Gridley and other locally useful trivia.

On April 2, 1897, the paper was purchased by C. H. Deuel and V. C. Richards, who became the publishers of the paper and proceeded immediately to transform the rag into a respectable newspaper with pretensions to become a major political and editorial force in Butte County. Within a week, they had changed the paper’s name (to The Chico Daily Record) and transformed it into a daily. They also moved it to a new site with new equipment. It was not too long before the paper was published at 119 Broadway, where the Record Building still exists, with that name on the front.

Deuel and Richards owned the paper for 50 years, until just before it was sold to the Enterprise. Over that period of time, Charles Deuel became a major and prominent citizen of Butte County and served as state senator for District 6 for about 30 years; he died in office in 1947. At that time he probably was the most prominent politician in California, after Earl Warren. The front-page obituaries in the Record and the Enterprise at that time reveal what a major influence he represented in the state and Butte County.

I am intimately familiar with these facts, because I am the grandson of Charles Deuel and lived with him for several years near the end of his life. So I can attest with some personal assurance that what I am offering is accurate.
David Lytle

Consider the energy source
The unbelievably disastrous energy crisis is either a scam or the product of incompetence at all levels of government and executives of utility companies.

Warning signs—an exploding population crying for new dams, power generating plants, oil explorations, coupled with environmental constraints—were ignored. The involvement of environmentalists in creating this mess cannot be overlooked.

The governor’s solution is simply a Band-Aid. It is costly and does not solve the energy shortage. He has stated that his plan will not result in a rate increase per se; however, his $20 billion price tag would include issuance of bonds that ultimately utility customers must pay. Utilities have parent companies; the public should not be saddled with the cost of bailing them out.

Deregulation of electricity, although flawed from its inception, has also been mismanaged. It is reasonable to conclude that it should be regulated or, sadly to say, perhaps it is time for the state to take over the system, eliminate the profit and provide service at a price where people need not fret over keeping their homes comfortably warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
Joe Canzoneri

Watt’s up?
I read TV meteorologist Anthony Watt’s diatribe against the Butte Environmental Council in particular and environmentalists in general ["Troubled weatherman,” Letters, March 15]. I take it that Anthony is not from the school of those scientists and other learned people who believe in the theory of global warming and the role that greenhouse gasses, produced by our modern industrialized society, play in it.

My reaction, as an individual with a degree in geography, with all the mounting evidence on hand, and despite the fact that the sun may be shining, is that Anthony Watts is all wet!

Small wonder, then, as I have heard him say more than once in the past, that he has more love for the technology than the science. In addition, I think he probably has his head buried in the sand. Why? I couldn’t possibly know. Maybe he’s a Republican.
S. Jay Castor

Open-heart surgery
If downtown is the “true heart of Chico,” we need a multiple bypass.
Stephen T. Davis