Letters for March 3, 2005

Meghann’s stand
YEAH! YEAH! YEAH! for Meghann Trott! [”Scratch that sniff,” Newslines, Feb. 17.] It is inspiring to hear of a high-school student who took the road less traveled and stood up for her civil rights by refusing to have her backpack randomly sniffed and searched by the dogs at Pleasant Valley High School.

Ms. Trott should be rewarded for breathing life into those government classes and demanding that her constitutional rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure be respected. It is the Meghanns of the U.S.A. who are dong us all a huge service by reminding us what it means to live in a free society and, tragically, how far we have fallen from our true American ideals.

Thank you, Meghann.

Evanne O’Donnell

Civil wrongs
As a U.S. combat veteran, I applaud Meghann Trott’s decision to uphold the Bill of Rights. I put my life on the line for four years for the U.S. Constitution; those who abuse the Bill of Rights are unaware of the severity of their transgression.

The operant factor in Meghann’s case seems to be “surveys that found a significant number of students in the CUSD had tried or considered trying drugs….”

According to Drugs and Society by Hanson and Venturelli (1998), about 40 percent of high-school students nationwide have smoked pot and 60 percent of all Americans have smoked it. I guess we can all be hauled over by the Gestapo anytime now based on surveys and statistics.

Pot became illegal in 1937 because of two political factors: First, William Randolph Hearst made his newspapers out of trees, and his rival Edward Scripps made his newspapers out of marijuana, so Hearst started a demonizing campaign against pot to put Scripps out of business. Second, Mexicans in the Southwest during the Great Depression were supposedly taking jobs away from Americans, so a bigoted, racist movement was started to criminalize pot because it was associated with the Latino community. Thus the Marijuana Tax Act was passed, which said you couldn’t possess or sell pot without a special federal stamp that you had to buy. The kicker is, the feds never issued the stamps.

In the balance, it’s better to support the Bill of Rights than to try to subvert it. Students are going to smoke and drink. It’s better to educate them about substances rather than throw them out of school.

Michael M. Peters

There’s hope
Thank you for the article about Meghann Trott refusing the illegal backpack search. She is a fine example of an American citizen. I love the photo of Meghann and her friend Ashley. These young women give me hope.

S. Zing
Forest Ranch

Where’s the union?
Why through two years of discussion about school closure have teachers unions been so ominously silent while each year we spend $5 million more than we have to pay their salaries of $76 million?

Do they hope “to wait it out” as the board struggles with the insoluble problem they have given them of trying to find cuts of $1.2 million out of the remaining $19 million that’s left to run the school? It won’t work! They must get involved.

Cuts to achieve these savings will be savage; they will close schools, cost jobs and further degrade the quality of education in the Chico Unified School District.

Why do they fiddle while the schools burn?

They could do the right thing and simply offer to set aside their automatic step and column increases of $872,000, and there would be no financial crisis.

This subject sits like a rotting rhinoceros head on the table that nobody talks about. This issue should be on the board’s agenda for discussion and result in an immediate start to negotiations with the unions.

Is the truth that their teachers care only for their own selfish concerns, and the devil take the hindmost? I think not. They already earn twice the average wage of employees in Chico—for nine months’ work.

Of course, it would undeniably help to ease negotiations, raise productivity and improve recruitment and educational outcomes if the CUSD were seen to be a happy place for teachers to work. That, however, would take a revolution in the administration’s leadership style, moving from a culture of fear to one of trust and morale building.

Alan Gair

Dark days of Bush
For progressive Americans, the day George Bush was re-elected was a very dark day for the future of our nation. The dark clouds rolled in, blanketing our domestic liberties and freedom, our ever-worsening economic separation of wealthy and poor and our respect in the eyes of our foreign friends. For many of us progressives, it was like taking a step back into the Dark Ages. All the effort and loss of true American heroes, be they D-Day veterans, firemen and policemen or Dr. Martin Luther King and other visionaries, seemed to diminish in one fell swoop.

This all came to us via the “majority.” This majority is being led by a very tenacious and myopic religious right whose agenda is based on a philosophy of fear: fear of God; fear of the unknown and a very strong fear of those who do not think the way they do.

Bush’s current and future governmental nominations will continue to affect our lives long after he is out of office. He does not nominate free thinkers and educated minds; he nominates those who have been loyal. Condoleezza Rice, the new secretary of state, is terribly unqualified for this highest of diplomatic positions. Knowledge of military strategy does not make a diplomat, and her past stoic attitude certainly emphasizes that point. We need to block these nominations.

Please get involved, and also don’t forget to look through the clouds, for the sun is always shining.

W. Jeff Straub

Fresno not
We are in the process of closing elementary schools, the high schools are over-crowded and we are facing another huge development in the foothills east of town on Highway 32. There is a lot of empty office space and other business buildings throughout town. Something is wrong with this picture.

What is the vision for growth and sustainability for our community? Do you want to see the foothills overlooking Bidwell Park and hills on the east side impacted with more ugly housing complexes, as traffic increases and our roads and other services deteriorate? If not, then let your voice be heard.

We can stop the ugly sprawl called the Oak Valley Master Plan, which is a project to develop 340 acres into a 1,300 single- and multi-family residential and commercial development. How many more businesses can we truly sustain without gutting our unique down town? How much like Fresno do they want us to become?

Luisa Garza