Letters for March 31, 2016

On those public records

Re “Pay day” (Newslines, by Meredith J. Cooper, March 24):

There’s something happening here/What it is ain’t exactly clear. Those are the lyrics from a popular ’60s song. They seem appropriate given Jeff Sloan’s long battle with the Chico Unified School District to access public records the district tried so hard to keep secret.

Why? The answer given by CUSD officials was that they were protecting student data. I guess it’s hard to keep track of all that confidential material in over 9,000 email pages stored in accounts on servers outside of the district. Wait, not the district account. The district said it was easier to manage correspondence. Really? It looks more like a back door to cover up questionable practices within Chico Unified by some administrators and board members who spent unlimited amounts of money to pay private attorneys to violate the public’s right to examine the district’s operations.

This recent disclosure that Chico Unified spent two years and at least $200,000 brings up this question: If this is what we know, what’s going on that we don’t know?

People have the right to access information concerning the conduct of the people’s business. Well, apparently with Chico Unified, it’s a bit of a chore.

John Kissam


I was shocked to read that Chico Unified School District spent hundreds of thousands of public dollars to sue to stop Chico State from releasing public records. The district paid $200,000 when they lost. I hope those responsible are removed from public office. They should personally pay the cost, not the taxpayers. Shame.

Tim Anselment


What about the beef?

Re “A living wage” (Editorial, March 24):

Excellent editorial on raising the minimum wage, but $15 an hour for patty flippers? There are eight grades of beef, and fast food joints, to hold costs down, use the lowest grades. These burger bars might go out of business or have to morph into another concept altogether.

The first minimum wage in the U.S. in 1938 was intentionally set high by the Fair Labor Standards Act to put low-wage factories in the South out of business.

Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark have no minimum wage, yet they have some of the highest standards of living in the world. Their secret? They have strong unions. Russia and China have monthly minimum wages, which seems more rational and humane. India has a tiered system of 1,200 minimum wage rates. The U.S. might follow suit, say, $37.50 for an ironworker welding steel 40 stories up and $10 for retail sales clerks.

Ultimately, minimum wage is tied to the cost of living, and California is a very expensive place to live—we pay 30 percent more for groceries here than we should, etc. If wages go up, prices go up; simple inflation. It’s a no-win situation. You’ll never get your head above water.

Mike Peters


Cruz is his captain

Imagine you are on a sailing ship in a stormy sea and headed for a rocky shore. That ship is the United States of America and we are headed for disaster! Marco Rubio is gone and Donald Trump, the egomaniac, now predicts riots if he doesn’t get the nomination. Trump and John Kasich refuse to debate with Ted Cruz! Fox has canceled the scheduled debate, the last one before the election!

If you are as concerned as I, please read One Second After, when an electromagnetic pulse wipes out our computers and electrical grid. One year later, 93 million Americans are dead!

Who could or would do that to us? How about North Korea and little Dictator Kim and/or the Iranians and ISIS. Not a peep from any candidate on this issue. Our ship of state is in perilous waters, guided by a possible captain who cannot be trusted and may face criminal charges—ol’ Hillary!

The only captain I trust is Cruz. Look at his platform for real change. If Cruz doesn’t make the nomination, I will vote mentally, “None of the above,” and write in Glenn Beck. On the other hand, please consider a Cruz/Carly Fiorina ticket. Might win the election in November!

Hugh Rhodes


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


Protect the park

Why are we all drawn to Bidwell Park in the spring? The views, those at our feet, up canyon, of the grasslands, meadows and creeks and the vistas from north and south rims. The oaks are leafing out, grasses are fluorescing with chlorophyll, and the wildflowers are colorful gems.

Our park is filled with so much natural beauty, beauty that is valued by our community. The soils in many areas of Upper Park are thin and erodible; many of the habitats and views we flock to, enjoy and anticipate every season are easily degraded and put in jeopardy. Every time we decide to take a new route or go off trail, we jeopardize what we are drawn to. So, next time you step off of a path, think twice. We are out here for the beauty, so let’s preserve the beauty.

The best we can do for our park is to stay on the trails and allow the viewshed to flourish.

Elaine Ellsmore


Of golf and war

Descending the Ridge in the Prius after an imaginary day as a true golfer, “Military Madness” by Graham Nash came streaming through the radio. This masterpiece composition is certainly worth a listen on YouTube. The question arose as to how any young artist could possess such keen insight, whereas countless millions of supposedly highly educated, more seasoned individuals appear to have no concept of the main source of this extraordinary problem. The lyrics are as follows:

After the wars are over/And the body count is finally filed

I hope man discovers/What is driving the people wild

Military Madness is killing our country/So much sadness between you and me

Then, while discussing the painful tee shots and inept 7-iron performance, a news report surfaced that a Pentagon staff sergeant killed two people, including a female police officer, the first day on assignment in Woodbridge, Va. Merely a coincidence?

After a few moments of dizzying silence, veteran bro Lonnie reminded us of the hilarious words of Mark Twain; that sometimes “golf is a good walk ruined.”

Kenneth B. Keith

Los Molinos

‘Home of the homeless’

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

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


Humor 101

A photo’s circulating on the Internet of a large ragamuffin dog gazing wistfully while resting its face against a sleeping newborn’s head. Smartass that I am, I pasted the photo into an email to alma peeps, adding the caption, “I wonder if anyone would notice if I ate this thing?” My guy peeps thought it was funny. My chick peeps—not so much.

I think it’s funny for the same reason a bull walking through a China shop is funny: because the feeling of impending disaster—even though we know it isn’t real—nonetheless triggers release of fight-or-flight hormones, making us tense. When the tension wanes—either from the threat’s removal or from our realizing it never existed in the first place—our brains release endorphins making us smile, laugh and feel good.

Those not thinking my caption’s funny might believe the baby really was in danger. I personally inferred the dog was either Photoshopped in or that it was nice, well-behaved, and wouldn’t harm the baby. I accordingly felt it needed more tension to make it funny. Some felt I crossed the line. Sadly, humor’s sometimes a double-edged sword.

Nathan Esplanade

Tehama County

What’s in the sky?

I teach at Butte College, and as I drive on Highway 32 to go to the Orland campus in the morning, I see one plane going back and forth, leaving a trail of white stuff in the sky. I’ve noticed planes spraying this stuff all over. I don’t believe that I’ve seen a clear blue sky without these lines crisscrossing back and forth. What are these trails and why are we being sprayed?

I can tell you this is not for our health and well-being. What is the point of eating organic food, if the air we breathe is constantly being poisoned? Why is something so obvious (just look up at the sky!) not being stopped or even questioned? I don’t consider myself a political person, but it’s time we woke up and started protecting ourselves, our children, our planet and all the beings that we share it with.

Despina Gurlides