Letters for March 24, 2016

Taxpayers burdened

Re “What a hypocrite” (Editorial, March 17):

Congressman LaMalfa shares the same sentiment as many Californians when it comes to road conditions. While the president wants to repair the infrastructure across America, defunding the high-speed rail in our state could cover the cost. At this point, it is clear that the rail will not be built by the original 2020 deadline, and well above the original cost estimate of around $40 billion.

Using state and federal funding to repair California roads would be better for taxpayers, as opposed to a new gas tax. When funding projects, lawmakers must consider alternatives that will be less burdensome on the taxpayers in California.

Braden Pisani


Uncalled for pot-stirring

Re “On to the voters” (Newslines, by Ken Smith, March 10):

Ken Smith did a bang-up job of stirring the pot of dissension between cannabis proponents and opponents. If twisting the truth to suit his own agenda was his goal, I applaud Mr. Smith. If using his position as a CN&R staff reporter to fan the flames of opposition was his intent, I applaud him. However, if presenting a factual account of what actually happened at the Board of Supervisors meeting was the goal, Mr. Smith missed the mark by a mile.

The meeting did not “teeter on the edge of chaos.” Both sides presented their opinions in an orderly fashion. Board Chairman Bill Connelly was able to keep everyone on topic with very little difficulty.

We live in changing times. Change is never an easy thing. People are angry with many of the policies that restrict personal freedoms. There are always two sides to every conflict. This is a good thing if it causes both sides to examine the issues objectively.

In the future, I challenge Mr. Smith and the CN&R editors to report events as factually as possible, and to leave personal biases and opinions out of the press.

Kathy Lawson


This is compassion?

Re “‘Our community cares’” (Letters, by Ron Reed, March 17):

Ron Reed claims Chico is a “town full of compassionate and caring” people. He should share this news with people on the streets; they’ll be ecstatic.

Fact is, the homeless live in a city where it is illegal for them to sleep; this is literally true. At night, the homeless live in a “compassionate” city where they cannot legally urinate or defecate. They live in a city where their possessions can be seized and “storing” necessities on public land is a crime. They live in a city where they are driven from make-shift shelters without notice—and they may be arrested in the process. They live in a city where they are told to keep moving and moving; simply standing in an alcove is a crime.

Michael Madieros and Joe Montes are public figures, publicly supporting homeless criminalization ordinances driving much of the above—apparently on behalf of the wealthiest people in Chico. Reed is free to admire criminalizers and rationalize their positions, as do many in Chico. But, “town full of compassion?” If this is compassion, what do bullying, intimidation, harassment, oppression, exclusion, deprivation and tyranny look like?

Patrick Newman


Voice your opposition

On March 29, the Glenn County Board of Supervisors will hear an appeal from a citizens group for the approval of a waste conversion facility 3 miles west of Hamilton City on the banks of Stony Creek.

I urge anyone who is concerned about this potentially disastrous project to either attend this hearing or write to the Glenn County supervisors to make their views known.

Hendrik Feenstra


About those oil trains

Re “A looming disaster” (Guest comment, by Dave Garcia, March 10):

Dave Garcia’s editorial warning against the dangers of crude oil trains in the Feather River Canyon proved prophetic when, just a few days later, another train derailed in the canyon.

Oil trains are a growing regional concern, with six counties and 20 cities located near Sacramento having gone on record as not wanting oil trains to traverse their boundaries. And that’s in the valley, where falling rocks are not a problem and the route is not designated as “high-hazard.”

Understandably, folks in this area are becoming more concerned. Readers will be interested to know that this very week, at Chico State’s sustainability conference, they can learn much more. On the Wrong Track, a new documentary film on oil trains coming down the canyon, will debut today (Thursday, March 24) at 3 p.m. [in Bell Memorial Union 203]. Along with Garcia, filmmakers will be on hand to answer questions.

Paul W. Rea


The March 10 column “A looming disaster” does not acknowledge that America’s freight rail network is one of the world’s safest transportation networks, and that the industry’s goal is to always make a safe network even safer. Freight railroads have privately invested record amounts in recent years to maintain and improve the 140,000-mile nationwide network and develop innovative safety technologies. Train accident rates have fallen 45 percent since 2000, and 99.99 percent of trains carrying crude oil reach their destinations without incident.

The safety of our employees and the communities in which we operate is the industry’s top priority. In addition to stepped-up track inspections and the use of track-side safety technology, freight railroads train thousands of first responders in local communities across the U.S. and offer online and hands-on classroom instruction at the industry’s specialized training facility in Colorado. Safety is the industry’s No. 1 priority and is built into every aspect of railroading.

Patricia M. Reilly

senior vice president, Association of American Railroads

Washington, D.C.

On March 12, Lake Oroville and California missed another nightmare. There was a landslide in the Feather River Canyon near Pulga that took out the railroad tracks. If a train laden with toxic crude oil had been coming down the tracks at that time and crashed into the Feather River, California, as well as the nation, would be reeling from a preventable disaster. Oil will destroy Lake Oroville and the Thermalito Afterbay and then will leak into the Tuscan Aquifer, poisoning our groundwater from Nelson and Richvale to the Delta. The water from Lake Oroville and our groundwater drive the California economy.

For the sake of California’s economy, our representatives—Doug LaMalfa, Jim Nielsen, James Gallagher, Brian Dahle, Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, Governor Brown, the Farm Bureau, the rice growers associations, U.S. Fish & Wildlife, sport fishing clubs and associations and all of the state water contractors—must demand that all railroads immediately reroute all trains carrying crude oil away from the Feather River Canyon.

It is not “if this disaster will happen,” but when. So far, our representatives have said/done nothing to reroute these toxic railcars.

John Scott

Butte Valley

Commentary comments

Re “Move Chico toward compassion” (Guest comment, by Patrick Newman, March 17):

After reading Patrick Newman’s guest comment and the letters to the editor, I just had to pause and write the editor in praise of the Chico News & Review. It’s always interesting and pertinent. This, no matter who you are or where you’re from or coming from. Decades of fun. Truth. Always something to pick up.

I’m sure loads of folks feel the same. The paper is part of a fabric of town and the county of Butte. Chico goes through cycles and changes over time, so it’s nice to see a true standard carry on though this paper. I always make sure to get mine.

Sure, there are human feces, syringes, litter and pit bulls on the sidewalk, and there are murders here. The Chico News & Review reports this. The paper reports all sides of this issue and thoughts concerning fixes. Prospective parents of kids planning to attend the college should read this paper. Their investment is quite large in this community.

Chris Durniak


Mr. Newman obviously has good intentions with his suggestions for improving the living conditions of Chico’s homeless. However, I believe that a major public relations issue should be addressed to bring the citizenry on board. The literal tons of refuse, clothing and other debris the homeless trail on our streets, sidewalks, creeks and park send a very negative message.

I believe we feel disrespected and violated by this spin-off of their living situation. Chico is many things, but the most outstanding element may be its natural beauty. Mr. Newman, please consider an approach to this issue by changing or in some way correcting this behavior. When you hand out food and clothing, remind them how important not defiling the environment is. Why would we give when we likely will see our efforts strewn about?

John Lavezzi


Commentary comments

I disagree with Patrick Newman’s suggestion that we should “assure [homeless people] they are welcome in Chico.” Why should we lie to them like that? Don’t they have enough problems already?

Being homeless and unwelcome is the same thing. Homelessness needs to be eliminated, not excused, or encouraged, or perpetuated as a more or less permanent “street culture.” People need help getting off the streets, not to become more comfortable there. Is Newman advocating for the homeless or for homelessness itself as some kind of legitimate alternative lifestyle?

After reading his commentary, I imagined some big billboards at the Chico city limits:

Now entering the city of Chico

Home of the homeless—vagrants, panhandlers and litterbugs welcomed!

There might be some nice glossy pamphlets to hand out, too:

• Convenient downtown camping

• Minimal police presence

• Spacious dumpsters for diving and other recreation

• Scenic bathroom facilities in Big Chico Creek and Lindo Channel

• Free food from Jesus

• Remember, Chico is a biking town: Bring your bolt-cutters!

Enjoy your stay! Tell your friends!

Michael Bagwell


Politics and religion

Re “Free speech, part two” (Letters, by Nathan Esplanade, March 17):

I’ve got to get my 2 cents into the discussion about barring any religious-leaning candidates from serving in elected office.

If we could all go back in time to know firsthand the religious strength of our Founding Fathers, we’d find they all had strong religious beliefs. Strong enough to put their fortunes and lives on the line for the freedoms of future generations.

In Thomas Jefferson’s papers, he admitted that the Founders were depending on the honesty and morality of future generations in order for the Constitution to be followed by those future citizens.

Most religions in our country teach children that God is watching them even when they are alone in a room and tempted to steal or cheat—that God will know. That’s called forming a conscience. In our country, most selfish crimes against others are done by people in power with no conscience. Power is a very tempting thing for humans. It has to be monitored by our sense of right and wrong every day. We have too many leaders in high office without one.

Loretta Ann Torres


Bernie’s the one

People sense, from their political careers and their word, that Bernie Sanders and John Kasich are honest men who will fight against what’s breaking down the fundamental nature of our democracy. Because of his long, tireless leadership toward economic and social justice, I think Bernie Sanders is the only person, here and now, who can get this country back on the path it needs to follow.

Linda Furr