Letters for March 25, 2004

Been there
Much has been said and written about the CUSD trustees—our actions and responsibilities regarding the educational environment and leadership at Marsh Junior High School. Please know that we have all been there, we care about all of our schools, and we are committed to resolving the questions and issues there as quickly as possible.

The many statements made at our last board meeting and in the press by members of the public have been unintentionally misleading. One example was when, at least week’s school board meeting, the Marsh 2001 PTSO president challenged the board, asking members, “Have you…spent a day with these teachers…. Raise your have if you’ve been there for one day….”

The facts are that all of us have been there. One raised his hand because he has been there for a full day attending classes with his daughter. This member has been to every school in the district and all but one of Marsh’s back-to-schools nights—visiting nearly all classrooms several times in addition or on other occasions. Other trustees have been there, as well as visiting our 25 other schools.

As representatives of the community, the board will look at the facts and the context of the issues generated at this site next Monday evening. Students at Marsh, like all 13,400 students in the Chico Unified School District, can count on the board to do the right thing as quickly as possible as soon as all the facts are presented to us.

Rick Anderson
CUSD Board of Education

Done that
A question posed at the March 17 school board meeting has been repeatedly misstated by the press and the public. The question put to the board was, “Which of you has spent a day at Marsh Junior High?” I raised my hand thanks to a discipline challenge I had with my (then) 12-year-old, whereby I had informed her that if she didn’t “shape up” I was going to sit with her in class all day—she didn’t and I did. If it hadn’t been for that incident I would never have spent a whole “day” at Marsh. I know for a fact that every board member has visited Marsh; together we all toured the new gym last year, and my guess is that they have all been there on other occasions as well, just not the whole “day” that the speaker specified.

My fellow board members are the most involved, pro-active, out-reaching trustees I can imagine. I hear repeatedly of their visitations to various campuses to participate in events, performances, inspections and graduations. They read to kids, support spaghetti feeds, tour with visiting dignitaries and pass out diplomas. The assertion that these guys don’t get out to visit campuses is just not an accurate representation of how much of their personal time they put into site visits, all the while attempting to balance family time, meeting time and trying to earn a living.

Scott Huber
CUSD Board of Trustees

The union question
I have a few thoughts about the union. I would like to make $20 an hour and have fully paid benefits. What employer in or around Chico pays 100 percent for benefits? Does Oroville? I checked the Service Employees International Union Web site, and yes, Kaiser Permanente’s benefits are fully paid, but what about the vast number of hospitals they represent? The wages listed were for lab, radiological and other techs, LVNs, nurses’ aides and medical records clerks but no other clerical staff.

Can SEIU guarantee 100 percent without a doubt that they will be able to negotiate higher wages and fully paid benefits? Have you talked to the RNs about their union? Are they happy? Their dues have doubled. Are their benefits 100 percent fully paid? How can non-nursing employees expect to get fully paid benefits if the RNs who are in such high demand aren’t?

One thing is 100 percent guaranteed, and that is the 2 percent of our wages will go to dues. How many times will they go up? Is there a strike fund? Will there be enough money in the fund for all of us to be paid a good wage if we do strike? Can the union guarantee that we won’t have to go out on strike if the hospital doesn’t give them what they want?

I am planning to stay at Enloe until the end of my working career, and I don’t want to live with ever-increasing dues and no guaranteed changes. Ask yourself these questions; you will have to live with the results for as long as you are employed by Enloe.

Ruth Phillips

Water rights
On Friday, March 12, I was threatened with arrest if I launched my boat in the Oroville afterbay. Seems my right to be on the water that day was sold to the California Outboard Racing Association. When I was entering the boat ramp, a man stepped up and said, “You can’t be here; we have the lake.”

When I asked who he was, he replied: “If you launch that boat you will be arrested.”

I got on my cell phone and started calling officials. The Butte County Sheriff’s Office responded that the lake was closed; [the racing association] had the permit. I called the Department of Water Resources. Their reply was that [the racing association] jumped through all the hoops and had the permit. Funny, I can’t find out who gave them the permit. I would like to know who sold our rights to be on the water this weekend.

No one seems to have the answers. Not even our elected public officials. I even contacted the Budweiser company to ask why such a big sponsor of Ducks Unlimited was running the Miss Budweiser boat in a duck and geese nesting ground. Their reply was, “Our boat is not there.”

After returning to the afterbay for answers, I watched locals being turned away with their boats for hours; numerous locals told they had no right to be on the lake.

We all need to rethink the next time we vote these people into office.

Joe Pickering

Bush work
In one of President Bush’s newest campaign ads, the White House states, “We can continue to go forward to create new jobs,” apparently implying that America not change horses midstream. But the statement itself is preposterous. “We can continue” suggests that job creation has already begun. But according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2.9 million Americans have been put out of work since Bush became president, the largest job loss since the Great Depression! It just shows that the Bush administration is focused on grossly distorting the truth in its bid to stay in power, rather than addressing the sobering state of our current economy.

Brandon Tucker

Dangerous world
March 15 we were reminded that in our world today there no longer remains a safe haven. Even a hospital, where our mission is life, can be compromised by threat of violence.

We are profoundly grateful that the hostage situation was resolved in a peaceful manner, and deeply troubled that such an act of violence could occur inside the walls of our healing organization.

On behalf of the board and administration of Enloe Medical Center, I would like to personally salute all involved in assisting us that evening. There are no words large enough to thank the security guards, Ben Garrett and Joe Watts, whose courageous and professional actions kept a very bad situation from becoming worse. Their role at the guest desk is to secure the hospital at night, and they were successful in their mission.

We would also like to salute the other Enloe employees, physicians and volunteers who were on duty that night. We are especially proud of the Enloe team, and the professional actions they took that helped calm and inform their peers, patients and guests. We are also extremely thankful for the rapid and strategic response of the Chico Police Department, and other law enforcement agencies, whose work was instrumental in bringing this situation to a peaceful resolve.

Philip R. Wolfe
President & CEO
Enloe Health System

Thought that counts?
It is ironic that a poster at a rally in the Free Speech Area of Chico State proclaimed “We will not tolerate racism, sexism, homophobia, prejudice, sexual assault, hate.” Graffiti, vandalism and sexual assault are criminal actions. Prejudice and hate are feelings. Racism, sexism and homophobia may be injurious actions, such as gratuitous verbal insults, or they may be thoughts expressed among those assumed to share them, i.e., not intended to offend the listener.

Are Chico State students and the administration thought police? Hardly the role of a university or free-speech area. Behavior is the proper concern of society, not thoughts, private or public.

Bill McCord

No one under 18
For centuries this country has conceded the Crackpot Championship on politics to California, uncontested. But the current proposal by Sen. John Vasconcellos and company to extend the franchise to 14-to-17-year-olds tops all cockeyed conspiracies.

I taught American government and history, and more, to thousands of junior-college and high-school students for 40 years in this state and had maybe 100 who had the maturity, sense and desire to vote.

In addition, I worked diligently for 30 years to secure the vote for 17-to-18-year-olds, assuming that their contact with my professorial skills and their nearness to graduation and to life would encourage them to vote. And I was absolutely wrong, as evidenced by their usual 13 to 15 percent turnout in national and state elections, worst of all voting age groups.

Vasconcellos and company seem to be suffering from senility and stupidity. Let them substitute for one week in any junior high, and they will be cured of their silly delusions.

With California facing absolute financial disaster and schools slicing sports, libraries, counselors and teachers, this skunkish sinecure stinks to high heaven and is not even good slapstick comedy. Stuff it into the nearest sewer. I seldom use slang, but this suggestion “sucks.” And the voters of Santa Clara should send their senator to some serene sanitarium.

The only thing more spurious and simple-minded is Assemblyman Ray Haynes’ statement that these youths alone “may be deceived by political charlatans.”

Jack R. Estes