Letters for March 22, 2007

‘the dead’ zone
Editor’s note: Our March 15 issue, memorializing the members of the U.S. military who’ve lost their lives in Iraq, struck a chord with readers. We got praise primarily by phone and critiques in writing. Here is a sampling of the letters:

Thank you for your exposé of the cost of the illegal Iraq war. It is so distressing to find out how many U.S. citizens have/will suffer in service to the Demorepublican imperial agenda.

What is more distressing—and, except for one chart comparing U.S. and Iraqi causalities, totally missing from your discussion—is the price being paid by the “other” peoples (mainly Iraqi and Afghani). While the Pentagon says it doesn’t “do body counts” of “other” folks, it is very precise as to how and where U.S. folks died. It continues a pattern developed by all imperial nations, past and present.

Doubt it? Ask yourself how many civilians died on 9/11. Most of us know it was close to 3,000. Ask yourself how many Afghan civilians died in the first 10 weeks of U.S. bombing. Most of us don’t know, but if you said close to 5,000 you’d be a bit low.

But who’s counting?

Beau Grosscup

How dare you! Those soldiers died with conviction and stood by their call to duty. They did not die so that a sensationalist paper could boldly print their names across pages destined to be pissed on by felines and rodents, recycled, or used as papier-mâché. You cheapened every single person’s death whose name was printed, as well as the veterans before them.

Additionally, you included nothing about dead soldiers in your following articles. No stories of the bravery or heroism shown in combat. No respect or reverence for those who were brave enough to die for their cause.

A memorial? A public apology to all the families that you have embarrassed and taken for granted is in order.

Cameron Shannon

Thank you for the somber reminder. It was enough to give anybody pause.

I would suggest that next time you would not pollute the page bearing the names of our dead with asinine graphics. What would we do with 3,600 teachers for one year? Do we need that many teachers in Butte County? What about the 30 million children we could have insured? Who would run that bureaucracy, and how much would that have cost?

If the war is protecting us from terrorists, is $1,000 per person too much to ask? If the war is not a worthwhile effort, make your point, and quit manipulating uninformed people’s emotions into a frenzy.

Marco Chinchay

Every life is precious. I understand and appreciate why news media of all types (newsprint, radio, TV) give us a daily tally of American lives lost in the Iraq war. What I don’t understand is the absolute avoidance in the media of something far more dangerous than fighting in a war.

During this same four-year period when 3,200 American soldiers died in Iraq, 360,000 Americans died of infections they acquired while in American hospitals. Look at the odds: It is definitely safer fighting in Iraq than going to the hospital.

When will people wake up and start paying attention to the dangers in their local community? Safer hospitals should be everyone’s concern. You never know when you, or a loved one, will become the next victim.

Ann Marie Robinson

Theater fans blue
Re: “Curtain coming down” (Newslines, by Bryce Benson, CN&R, March 15):

Last summer the Enloe administration made a dumb move born of arrogance. They chose to dump a highly respected group of anesthesiologists, assuming they could be easily replaced. In doing so, they sent the hospital into a downward spiral that may not yet have hit bottom.

Recently, the board of the Blue Room Theatre made a similarly dumb move, removing Joe Hilsee as artistic director. Theaters, like hospitals, are not made up of buildings and administrators. They are made up of the people who give the care and create the plays.

This is not an attack on Gail Holbrook, who has done competent work before and no doubt will again. But Joe and the actors working with him created something that will not be easily reproduced.

Unlike at Enloe, no one will die for this mistake, but it’s still a sad day in the history of local theater. The silver lining is that Joe and the rest of the Blue Room company plan to continue to work locally. I and many others will support them.

David Welch

Gail Holbrook’s statement that “when Joe was hired, the company quit and a new one formed” is incorrect. Before Joe Hilsee came to the Blue Room, there was no “company.” There was a loosely assembled group of actors and technicians who filled the many, many roles necessary to put on a show.

Joe gathered these people together, gave them a group identity, and encouraged them to form an even deeper attachment to and ownership of their craft. In addition, many of the people who were involved with the Blue Room before Joe’s time stayed on and eventually became company members.

Her belief that the [current] company stepped down out of “loyalty” is only partly true. Yes, there is loyalty to Joe, but there is also loyalty to the artistic integrity of the Blue Room and its mission statement, something that will be lost in the administrative shuffle and focus on financial success as an indicator of overall success.

Getting “butts in seats” may help the bottom line and is always nice to have, but what makes the Blue Room worth attending is that these people do it for the love of creating cutting-edge theater, not ticket sales.

Delisa A. Freistadt

Anyone who has been attending shows at the Blue Room for the past 10 or so years knows that Amber Miller, Jeremy Votava, Michelle Smith and Betty Burns were all actors at the theater long before Joe Hilsee took over, and they all stayed when he took the helm after Dylan Latimer left. I would like to add that Latimer left voluntarily, while Hilsee has been forced out.

For the actors to take a stand against the board of directors’ decision takes courage, and I offer them my support as an audience member.

Bev Shotwell

Space for skaters
Re: “Catch air elsewhere” (Editorial, CN&R, March 15):

I disagree with your editorial position on skateboarding. To expect skateboarders to stay within the confines of their own little Humboldt Avenue park does not make sense—this is a pastime born of independence and mobility. And to design a City Plaza like the one we have and not expect skateboarders is like planting a garden and not expecting bees, or building a house up in the woods and not expecting to see a cougar or bear.

Skateboarders are community members, too. They practice a unique blend of athleticism, personal independence and communion with an (otherwise harsh) urban environment in an activity that burns no fossil fuels. I’m much more worried about the SUV driver talking on her cell phone than any skateboarder on my sidewalk.

Skateboarding should not be a crime, at the plaza or anywhere. Let the children play!

Mark Wilpolt

It is interesting to note that skateboarding is a popular recreational activity but is not accorded its popularity with the recreational organization formed to provide recreational opportunities in our community. CARD has completely ignored skateboarding (and dirt-bike riding and disc golf) in its development of recreational facilities. The city of Chico had to step in to develop the only skateboard park in the community.

You are right, the skateboard park we have is too small, and it is located off the beaten path, requiring many skateboarders to be driven there.

Why aren’t small skateboard amenities provided in our neighborhood parks so that neighborhood kids can take advantage of them? We provide playing fields for soccer and baseball, as well as basketball and tennis courts and play structures.

Neighborhood parks should be filled with kids doing what kids do, and skateboarding is one of them. So let’s reconsider recreation opportunities throughout the community for all types of recreation while protecting public features from use destruction.

Tom Barrett,
park commissioner


Weatherman’s tip
Re: “Global warming is universal” (Guest Comment, by John C. Callaway, CN&R, March 15):

In response to John C. Callaway’s guest editorial, I thought I’d pass this on to your readers. Last week, the UK’s Channel 4 premiered a 75-minute film titled The Great Global Warming Swindle. Through interviews with prize-winning climate experts and others, this masterful documentary explains the origins of global warming alarmism; factually addresses claims of man-made global climate change; exposes the motivations of organizations, scientists and activists sounding the alarm; and explains why it’s been extremely difficult, if not downright career killing, for scientists to question global warming orthodoxy publicly.

The entire film can be viewed online (http://video.google.com—search for Global Warming Swindle). If you ever had doubts about the veracity of claims being made, this film is worth a look.

Anthony Watts

‘Double shame’
Re: “Abuse of authority” (Cover Story, by Robert Speer, CN&R, March 8):

Let’s review. The [Chico] school district makes outrageous claims of misuse of funds against a student government teacher, and it turns out not a penny is out of place. Every claim is wrong and therefore additional outrageous claims are made.

Dirty pictures are claimed to exist on the original hard drive, but don’t exist on any of the copies. The district deliberately gives [ex-principal Jeff] Sloan one incorrect hard drive after another. The district lawyer who delivers the pictures suddenly has a case of amnesia. The [then-] superintendent shines on the reporter, and his secretary can’t remember whether she had been present at a meeting in which framing someone was discussed.

Shame on you, CUSD—double shame on you.

I am a PV graduate and a teacher in Chicago because of the positive influence of two people: Jeff and Sharon Sloan. This will never be over until the same district publicly acknowledges the horrible actions and makes it right.

Jennifer Atterman

Dog-gone it!
Re: “Newsworthlessness” (In My Eyes, by Evan Tuchinsky, CN&R, March 8):

Anna Nicole Smith’s story does matter. Her early death is the big story. I’m not into “voyeuristic gawking.” This is a wake-up story for women who have recently given birth. (My sister’s hunting dog, Nellie, suddenly died a month after giving birth to eight puppies. The vet said extreme calcium deficiency was the cause.)

I’m curious and waiting to learn from the media if Anna Nicole’s death was related to very poor health. Unfortunately, reviews of her lust life have eclipsed the medical story, which should include this “close to home” message: People who abuse their health may die young.

Nancy Bray


Mixed message?
The March 8th issue of CN&R conveys a very perplexing message.

“Painting a new picture” (Backbeat) is a great article about Lynn Danehy’s efforts to put her life back on track after her automobile was hit by an intoxicated driver. Then I turn to the food review (“A perfect wake-up call,” Chow) and see that Henri not only has a Bloody Mary prior to operating a motor vehicle, but his companion is drinking her Bloody Mary out of a travel mug while they drive to the video store.

Perhaps Michael Erpino, the subject of 15 Minutes (“Drummer on defense”), will be kind enough to represent Henri when his irresponsible behavior lands him in hot water.

I think that you owe Miss Danehy an apology for running such an outrageous food review in the same issue as her story.

James Johnson

Double standard?
Re: “Unnamed potato tossed around” (Newslines, by Robert Speer, CN&R, March 8):

News item—The Chico City Council directed the city attorney to look into whether nonprofit groups receiving city money should be able to back candidates.

As a little background, several years ago, when the Butte Environmental Council was still receiving some nonprofit funding from the city, a slap suit was lodged challenging BEC’s nonprofit status. It was based—in part—on the presence of an innocuous quote from the minutes of a monthly BEC board meeting: an inquiry about the likelihood of a prominent liberal activist running for the City Council in an upcoming election.

Many thousands of dollars in legal fees later, the complainant (a local conservative gadfly) lost in court, and BEC retained its nonprofit status. BEC eventually lost all of its city nonprofit funding.

Every year, the Chico Chamber of Commerce collects tens of thousands of dollars of the city’s available funding for nonprofits—more than any other group. Every election season, the chamber (through the contrivance of its PAC) spends thousands of dollars on a media advertising blitzkrieg endorsing a slate of pro-growth, pro-business and pretty exclusively conservative candidates for the City Council.

What is wrong with this picture? It is high time that the city attorney looked into this issue.

Mark Gailey