Letters for March 31, 2011

Yes, pot duopoly poses problems

Re “Pot duopoly poses problems” (Editorial, March 24):

Your editorial endorses the concept of not imposing an arbitrary limit on dispensaries, but rather letting the land-use/zoning regulation self-regulate, so to speak, in that it will allow only a certain number of dispensaries due to setbacks required, etc., and the marketplace or willing landlords of such parcels/buildings would likely limit or reduce the practical number of potential sites further.

At the March 1 meeting I made the motion to do just that, but it received no support.

My recollection of what [Mayor] Ann [Schwab] advocated for was the “on-site closed-loop” concept, a concept I do not support. As you noted, ultimately the on-site closed-loop concept was rejected in substance, even though first passed in form. [Councilman] Jim Walker was the vote switch, or vote for both on that issue. Otherwise we were three for and three against on those two votes (closed-loop and subsequently closed-loop in name but allowing satellite growing anyway).

I concur that the city engaging in the selection of who gets to be the chosen two is the wrong way to go, or certainly not the best way to go.

I voted for a numerical limitation after my motion to have no imposed limit other than that of the ordinance and marketplace failed, so I can ask that it be revisited when it comes back from the Planning Commission. As indicated above, however, I do not believe there presently is council support for the “let the zoning ordinance decide” concept.

Andy Holcombe

Editor’s note: Mr. Holcombe is a member of the Chico City Council.

NPR leans left

Re “Don’t let Wally kill NPR” (Editorial, March 24):

I would be happy to ask Wally Herger to support NPR just as soon as NPR provides balanced coverage and balanced opinion. As it stands right now, NPR is the same for the left-leaning folks as Fox News is for the right-leaning folks. The main difference is Fox News does not get government funding; NPR does.

I can imagine the flood of panic that would occur on the left if the government decided to help fund Fox News. Funding for NPR comes from taxes collected from both conservative and liberal taxpayers. Isn’t it wrong for the political content to be predominantly liberal? Wouldn’t you complain if the reverse was true?

The answer is to make NPR apolitical. Let’s keep all the great shows that are not made of political content and eliminate the ones that are, or at least present both sides of the issues so people can make their own decisions. If NPR wants to keep their liberal format, they should do it without government funds!

Tom Hall

Equality in sports—and life

Re “Leveling the playing field” (Newslines, by Melody Gutierrez, March 24):

Thank you to Ms. [Cindy] Wolff and all of her AAUW friends in Chico! You are appreciated and admired for all of the great work you are doing.

We are working on the same issues here in Ventura County, and our AAUW chapters are great too! Title IX is all about opportunities for both genders; it is not for females exclusively. Boys need to be encouraged to be yell leaders (even George Bush was a Yale yell leader) or on a competitive dance team, for example.

How many young girls who are playing baseball at the elementary age are still playing that sport at the high-school level? How many superior female soccer kickers are also point kickers on football teams? Maybe these young people might like to have the opportunity to try these sports!

Sally Hibbitts
AAUW, Thousand Oaks

Whether the Chico Unified School District is technically in violation of Title IX requirements—as is alleged by Cindy Wolff—I have no idea. But, when these issues of “gender equity” arise, it seems important to put them in a slightly wider context than simply looking at the nickels and dimes being spent on girls’ volleyball or boys’ soccer. I think we have to look at who is winning and who is losing—off the playing field.

In the 1930s boys committed suicide at about 1.5 times the rate of girls. Today, for every 100 girls who commit suicide, there are 450 boys. Boys are incarcerated at about five times the rate of girls. Measuring ultimate academic performance—as evidenced in graduation statistics—we find that for every 100 women receiving a bachelor’s degree, there are just 73 men, and for master’s degrees, the numbers are even more skewed: 100 women versus 62 men.

At age 18—usually in their senior year of high school—boys are required by federal law to register with the Selective Service; girls are not. And whether you agree with our various wars, it is the men who do 98 percent of the dying. Roughly paralleling this phenomenon is the rate of on-the-job fatalities: 93 percent male. And, just to put some icing on the cake, men can expect to die about six years before women do.

If slightly more money is being spent on boys’ sports than girls’ sports, who gives a damn? It seems to me that boys and men need more genuine support and less nitpicking competition in every aspect of life.

Patrick Newman

Where’s the proof?

Re “The torture of Bradley Manning” (Guest comment, by Caroline Kittrell, March 17):

The headline should have read “alleged torture.” The author, an active member of the Peace and Justice Center, tells us Pvt. Manning was made to stand naked outside his cell for up to seven hours on several occasions and he’s kept in solitary for 23 hours a day, but nowhere in her story does she cite any evidence.

Even Manning’s lawyer has not raised torture as an issue. Surely there would be a writ filed on his behalf if there was anything to it, right? Now, logic compels one to think: Why no writs, why no statements by his lawyer to the press about torture?

The Pentagon has repeatedly denied everything Kitrell says is true. A spokesperson for the United States Marine Corps said they are “keeping Manning safe, secure and ready for trial.”

For now I guess we’ll just have to take Kitrell’s word for it, but I sure would like to know where she got her information. Was it Code Pink, A.N.S.W.E.R., or perhaps it was the group called Courage to Resist, which supports soldiers who refuse to be a part of (alleged) illegal wars and occupations?

I really don’t expect you to answer, but then, why should you? The kangaroo court by Judge Kitrell has already found America guilty … again.

Jack Lee

Editor’s note: The New York Times and other media have reported that Pvt. Manning has been kept in solitary confinement for nine months, allowed just an hour of exercise a day, and been forbidden to mingle with other prisoners. His attorney has complained that he was forced to stand naked outside his cell for seven hours. It should be noted that Pvt. Manning has not been tried, let alone convicted.

‘No on A’ has a site

Re “Measure A: pros and cons” (From This Corner, by Robert Speer, March 24):

“A” is for asinine. There is a good website for No on A: www.StopMeasureA.org. We really have to stop this foolishness.

Jennifer Fisher

Students are transient

Re “Anti-democracy in action” (From This Corner, by Robert Speer, March 17):

The opportunity for a June vote is, in fact, a community issue. The discussion is about transient-student votes—their past and continued effects on our community. For decades, we’ve watched as various political groups round up the student population, who cast their newly “influenced” votes for some particular cause.

Democracy is a system in which consensus is reached by the actual people who bear the outcome of their decisions. Its territorial limits can be characterized as our country, our state, our county or, in this case, our town.

Democracy even resides in our own homes, where challenging issues are dealt with every day by family members, not by the neighbors who visit for coffee. When votes are cast in our town, through our elections, it must be our decisions determining our outcome, and not the votes of those who are transient!

Your allegation that it would make it harder for students to vote is correct, and perfectly stated. To quote you, “Most students are gone in June”… yes, back to their real homes—the whole point! A June vote will help assure the real pulse of our community. If this means fewer voters, so be it—at least they’ll be our local voters who are steering our helm!

Dan Hays

‘Nuke plants are dinosaurs’

Re “Hard lesson from Japan” (Editorial, March 17):

Nuclear power is the most expensive, polluting energy there is (why do you think your electric bill is so high?). Nuclear power plants last only about 30 to 40 years, then they have to be replaced at a cost of billions of dollars, leaving vast amounts of highly toxic nuclear-waste pollutants behind.

The U.S. has 104 nuclear plants, half of which are more than 30 years old and are nearing the end of their lifespan—that’s why President Obama wants to build more of these living hells on earth despite the disaster at Fukushima.

And of course our nuclear-defense and nuclear-energy industries are inextricably woven together. (By the way, 23 of our nuke plants are Mk I boiling-water reactors like at Fukushima.) The U.S. has conducted more than 900 nuclear-bomb tests. Look up “Yucca Flats, Nevada,” on Google Maps and you’ll see hundreds of nuke craters—it looks like a lunar landscape.

Downwind of this area John Wayne made a movie in St. George, Utah, in 1955 called The Conqueror. By the early 1980s, of the 220 people who worked on the film, 91 had cancer, of whom 46 had died. Half the population of St. George had cancer. The U.S. has the Price-Anderson Act, which limits nuclear liability (now you know why).

There are 439 nuclear-power plants worldwide. Close them all down now. We can get energy from solar, geothermal, hydro, tides, wind, Sterling engines, etc., and store the energy in phase change materials (PCMs) such as sodium acetate, which release the stored energy when changing from solid to liquid state or vice-versa. We don’t need batteries. Nuke plants are dinosaurs.

Michael Peters

‘Pot’s an answer to prayer’

Re “A proliferation of pot” (Editorial, March 3):

I read this editorial with horror and anger. The powers that be keep looking at this issue through impure motives: 1) the desire to control and 2) fear of reprisal.

Anyone who’s been in the cannabis industry in any form will tell you that it’s effective, safe and potentially the earner that small farms and individuals need to feed their children, send them to school, develop into community, etc. We’re not the ones who are fighting each other—it’s the people in charge who are lording it over suffering people, mentally and physically ill as well as financially suffering people.

It’s not unlike the revolts in places like Libya, where people are crying out for freedom and the establishment is coming with guns drawn at peaceful, honest, hardworking people who are simply trying to make a living. The only difference is that instead of actual shooting, they hold a gun to your face and threaten to.

It isn’t fair to have big pharmaceutical companies sell so-called meds that are subject to recall because of side effects while cannabis has never killed anyone! How many deaths are attributed to Vicodin, Oxycodone, etc? How many of these side effects have led to homicides, suicides, etc? None of these deaths can be attributed to the use of cannabis, which has been proven to be a very effective medicine.

It’s past time for the legalization of cannabis, both federally and locally. It’s time to open it up for tourists to come and spend freely—do you hear me? Freely. At a time when we need resources so badly and our state is in such financial straits, we should take advantage of every opportunity we’re presented with. This plant is an answer to prayer—not a plague to fear!

Heidi Hameed

Not only should medical marijuana be made available to patients in need, but adult recreational use also should be regulated. Drug policies modeled after alcohol prohibition have given rise to a youth-oriented black market. Illegal drug dealers don’t ID for age, but they do recruit minors immune to adult sentences. So much for protecting the children.

Throwing more money at the problem is no solution. Attempts to limit the supply of illegal drugs while demand remains constant only increase the profitability of drug trafficking. For addictive drugs like heroin, a spike in street prices leads desperate addicts to increase criminal activity to feed desperate habits. The drug war doesn’t fight crime, it fuels crime.

Taxing and regulating marijuana, the most popular illicit drug, is a cost-effective alternative to never-ending drug war. As long as marijuana distribution is controlled by organized crime, consumers will continue to come into contact with hard drugs like methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin. This “gateway” is a direct result of marijuana prohibition.

Robert Sharpe, MPA
Common Sense for Drug Policy

Washington, D.C.

More on Café Culture

Re “Running on empty” (Newslines, by Stacey Kennelly, March 17):

Yes, it is sad that Café Culture can’t get a beer and wine license. I have been in there only two times, but I felt that it was something new and exciting for Chico.

I have been away from Chico for a month now, visiting in New York City, and it has made me understand that Chico is a great little town. Café Culture brings in diverse music. Let us try to help them out.

The Big Apple? It is really not so big; in fact, most people I talk to about Chico/San Francisco would love to live there. Home soon.

Jerry Harris
San Francisco/Chico

Seems to me that Mr. [Greg] Fletcher is running up against the heavy hand of government that you progressives love so much! He admits that he didn’t realize that not having an alcohol license would be so “crippling.” Well, you made a bad business decision; live with it and move on. Stop acting like a little spoiled brat!

Or, you can just go ahead and serve alcohol, and when you get caught, in typical liberal fashion, I’m sure you will have a litany of excuses for not following the law.

Jimmy Hendryx
Live Oak

Greg [Fletcher] and Praveen [Ram] are true community-minded and kind-hearted beings creating a unique artistic haven for the creative and culturally adventurous. The city should be supporting their efforts, not making it difficult for them to stay in business.

The Chico Police Department’s attitude in all this has been particularly troubling—from their careless comments to the newspapers that the March 5th shooting was connected with the open-mic event (which I hosted and which ended four hours earlier), to their dismissive comments that they do not distinguish between what goes on during business hours and what occurs after private events, when the building is rented out after hours.

That they would ignore this crucial distinction in recommending that the business not be allowed to serve beer and wine, like so many other cafés in Chico do, strikes me as discriminatory. In fact, all of the actions of the powers that be in this case seem disturbingly likely to be based on fear of The Other—people who don’t look like the majority of Chicoans.

Come to any event during Cafe Culture’s business hours, and you’ll see people of all shades and ethnicities mingling, talking, playing all kinds of music for each other, dancing, and learning about cultures they may not have been exposed to before. It would be a real shame if this multi-hued gem were tossed away through misinformation and misunderstanding.

Susan Dobra

Aydin’s courageous life

Re “Transcending gender” (Cover story, by Stacey Kennelly, March 17):

When I saw the cover of the CN&R I was smiling so big I thought my jaw would ache for days.

I worked a short time with Aydin right after he changed his name. As far as I knew Aydin was a gay woman. I had no idea he had chosen to take this journey, but it doesn’t surprise me.

Aydin is one of the most articulate and courageous people I have met.

He was an advocate for those in society who needed a voice, whether it was racial injustice, homelessness, gender issues, gay bashing, etc. He spoke the truth and managed to educate with humor and kindness.

It did sadden me to hear he “struggles with his lack of place in the gay community.” The gay community—and the entire community of Chico—owes this man a lot.

James Youngblood

I cannot let the opportunity go by to thank the News & Review and Aydin Kennedy for sharing that wonderful, courageous personal story.

I had the privilege of working with Aydin a few years back. Evident then as now, besides his humble honesty, caring, and leadership, was his committed intent.

He was then and remains a natural communicator, unboxable and self-directed, with mind, body and soul open and directed to fulfilling his unique contributing role in our community and using his journey to open vistas for those who feel in some terrible and potentially tragic way trapped by physical or social constraints, real or imagined.

Stories such as his spawn the courage that moves us forward.

Richard Roth

A story about real people

I am writing in response to Christy Madeson’s letter to the editor [March 24] where she writes that he/she is “appalled” by the “Transcending gender” article published on March 17.

The fact that “children are present” all over Chico where this article was visible gives me hope for our future generation. Gender-variant children look around the world and often don’t see anyone who “looks” like them. Much like Aydin expressed in the article, trans children grow up with few to no models of transgender people in their world; and the few role models who might be present in the media usually do not accurately represent the trans experience to the world. No wonder trans children grow up isolated, depressed and silenced.

This article probably brought a sense of relief to children struggling with their gender identity to see an amazing person such as Aydin Kennedy, who is successful, strong and beautiful and continues to open minds and hearts every day. I think about those children’s friends, who read about the incredible friendship one can give, such as Christia Currie-Kennedy, who is loving, caring and supportive. If there were more people like these two human beings, this world would be a more peaceful, loving place with space for all people.

Thank you to the CN&R and the journalist [Stacey Kennelly] for publishing a well-written story that reflects real people.

Jackey Humphrey-Straub

Castle case is a waste

Re “Castle set for court” (Downstroke, March 24):

Hello, why waste money and time on this case? The barter system has been going on for hundreds of years. I know that the [Proposition] 215 law was not set up for that, but times have changed and we need to change also! Marijuana is not the gateway drug that the government wants us to think, so think for yourself!

Bill Peace

The rich are winning

Welcome to the new United States, ruled and controlled by the richest Americans. These folks control the politicians; they get all the tax breaks, and they evade even a small portion of tax. They are the Republican Party, but then a Democrat is just another rich Republican with an occasional twinge of social conscience. Both parties’ No. 1 goal is to maintain their wealth and stay on top of the masses.

They would gladly dismantle Social Security and Medicare. Why else did they give you a 2 percent tax holiday on your contribution to Social Security the year after the fund went into the red. They are not concerned with public education, and they are working to dismantle health-care reform. Social Security is just pocket change for them, and they would never stoop to use Medicare or public education.

The Republican leadership would have us believe that big government, unions, pensions are to blame for our financial mess. Why? Because all of those programs divert money from the military-industrial complex that lines their pockets and protects their interests abroad.

If you fancy yourself a Republican, you might rethink that position; you probably don’t even know any real Republicans. When was the last time you were invited to a $10,000-a-plate fundraising dinner?

Here’s a solution: six years of public service max. It was never meant to be a career. Zero campaign contributions, equal print, radio, TV time appropriate to the post. No more lobbyists! You and I don’t have a lobbyist. In fact, we are not represented at all.

Gary Janosz

Under the rich man’s thumb

So what is it like to be a middle- or poor-class American citizen anymore? If most people are like me, it is stressful and depressing. What do we have to look forward to in the future? About the only thing I know is that the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer.

For a long time now the rich and the politicians have controlled our lives. The rich give money to the politicians to get them elected, and when they are elected they owe their soul to the rich and their party leaders. What do they owe the people for voting them into office? Nothing! Once they are elected, promises falsely made to the people during their campaign are swiftly turned into excuses.

Almost every day for a long time I have sent letters and e-mails to my representatives in Congress, other representatives, political talk shows and all different forms of the media. I have finally come to the conclusion that this has done nothing but stress me more. The only way this would be effective is if millions of people started doing the same thing.

Unfortunately, even though our economy is in the toilet and millions have nothing, including a job, the people still seem to have some sort of faith that politicians will help. Well, as we can see, they will help—the rich!

The only way I see to get politicians thinking for themselves and helping the people is with extreme political campaign reform. If the power of the rich was taken away from the politicians, maybe they would start thinking about the rest of us. Unfortunately, only Congress can enact campaign reform, so what’s the chance? Zero! If they ever did campaign reform, it would be well disguised and improve nothing. The politicians and the rich will not give away their power to the people.

The American leaders have their whole concentration right now on how many of the Middle Eastern countries will end their uprisings with having a democratic political system in place. Will their democratic leadership forget about the people and be as corrupt as ours?

I will continue to send letters and e-mails, and if this letter gets printed and at least one person joins me, maybe I will have done some good. We truly deserve better than what were getting. Good luck to you all.

Bud Twilling
Vietnam veteran