Letters for May 14, 2009

This is the time for insurance reform

Re: “The people vs. health insurance” (Guest Comment, by Walid Faraj, CN&R, May 7):

A single-payer health-care system is a common-sense solution; however, it is often perceived to be some radical change.

I would like to applaud the organizers of this conference [May 9 for Health Care Security Now!] and the writer of this editorial. It is through such actions that people can become informed, and through that information they can unite and move this system forward.

This is our time; we have a president in office who’ll listen, but we must speak up.

Lina Nasr

Monday, the insurance industry and its allies promised President Obama that they’ll cut health-care cost inflation by 1.5 percent a year. Of course, costs are actually rising by more than 6 percent a year, and the industry only promises voluntary efforts to trim that—no actual requirements, please.

The industry knows the same thing we do and doesn’t like it: The only way to make reform work for patients and payers is to allow the option of a public insurance plan. Obama has committed to that in the past, but insurance companies are trying to talk him out of his pledge with these promises to cut some unspecified costs, some years in the future. We need to have our say about that.

Our premiums and co-pays fund the profits of the corporations that met with Obama. So that price increase they’re negotiating is really about how much more money we’ll pay for a health-care system that’s still broken. Even worse, there’s no law to make them live up to their pledge, and no penalties if they fail.

But there is a better way. A fair, competitive public insurance plan will compel the insurance industry to find the savings they’ve promised, and give Americans another choice if they don’t.

If our elected officials waver in the commitment now because of a few flimsy promises, we are sunk. We can’t let that happen.

Steve Kasprzyk

County, take note: Library loved

Re: “Other budget shoe drops” (Downstroke, CN&R, May 7):

People—take notice, take action. After the recent substantial cuts to the county library budget resulting in reduced hours and services, the 2009-2010 proposed budget calls for a whopping 50 percent further cut to library funding. This will absolutely decimate the library system as we know it, affecting computer access, reference desks for students, children services, and literacy programs, to name a few.

Access information from the Butte County Web site (www.buttecounty.net) for budget and library information. Telephone, write or e-mail your supervisors. Show up in person to have your voice heard.

The Board of Supervisors will be hearing department reports and citizen comments on Monday (May 18) at a special budget meeting beginning at 9 a.m. at County Center in Oroville. The Chico Library will have carpools and a bus to Oroville beginning at 8:25 a.m. Call 891-2762 for more information.

Get involved. Get our libraries back to where they belong. As one of our country’s Founding Fathers, Ben Franklin, said, “The greatness of a city is measured by the quality of its library.” Let all of the cities in Butte County with libraries be great.

Bill Frisch

If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a library to keep that community vibrant. Can you possibly imagine a university without a library? In fact, a college is granted university status in part on the side of its library. I personally would be disinclined to go to a university or live in a town whose library doors were closed.

Our public library not only holds the legacy of our cultural past along with a vast amount of amazing and practical information, but it also has evolved to offer a wonderful array of resources and programs reaching out to the young and old, local and cosmopolitan alike.

As with anything organic, the depth and richness of all that is offered has taken many hands and countless hours to achieve, not to mention the tax dollars citizens have invested over the years, which has brought the library to its present high level of operation.

If we want to continue to move forward as a vibrant community, our public library needs to remain open for all to enjoy.

Carolyn Fields

Reefer madness

Re: “Epis ordered back to slammer” (Downstroke, CN&R, May 7):

Bryan Epis was railroaded in a kangaroo court with prosecutorial fantasies about a (now “missing”) spreadsheet being a plan to conspire to grow more than 1,000 cannabis plants. In about two hours, I am going to drive up to Oaksterdam and charge about $800 worth of high-grade cannabis bud on my MasterCard.

Please explain why Epis hasn’t yet been issued an apology and restitution for the obscenities he has already endured in this abominable abortion of justice?

Richard Paul Steeb
San Jose

Given the recent actions of DOJ [Department of Justice] in California and of the U.S. Supreme Court, I doubt that anything can be done for Epis short of a presidential pardon. And there are many other nonviolent cannabis offenders in federal prisons in the U.S. They should all be released if originally charged in states where medical cannabis is legal under state law.

John Chase
Palm Harbor, Fla.

2nd Amendment II

Re: “Stick with the 2nd Amendment” (Letters, CN&R, May 7):

Of course the majority of responses to my commentary requesting a national discussion on how to make our country safer were “in dissent.” The NRA-encouraged and well-oiled PR machine to support guns is always willing to trade others’ First Amendment rights for their defense of the Second Amendment. Let’s examine the NRA talking points raised.

Mr. Monain suggested that I erred in pointing out that 30,000 a year die from firearms by arguing that only 12,791 die annually from gun homicides—which ignores those killed by “accidents” and suicide. Are only 12,791 homicide deaths really that reassuring?

A couple of responses suggested that we are either already in a “police state” or imminently threatened by a totalitarian regime and that gun ownership will be our last defense. Misplaced historical allusion aside, our national history does not justify such a delusion.

Setting aside the hyperbolic and indefensible claim by Mr. Peters that “3.2 million crimes are prevented by privately owned guns,” Mr. Kirklin raised a compelling personal story of the need to defend one’s family and home. He did not, however, defend his family with an assault weapon or a machine pistol, the kinds of weapons so commonly used in mass killings and ardently defended by the NRA.

Finally, a number of responses suggested that gun ownership is already the most regulated industry in the country, unless, of course, you frequent gun shows, purchase privately from nondealers, or have a brother-in-law who has “collected” stockpiles of ammunition and firearms against the impending Armageddon.

Stephen W. King

Regarding the gun nuts’ responses that “Guns don’t kill people”—of course they don’t, people with guns kill people. And if gun purchases are so tightly regulated in California, what in the hell is killing all those kids in Oakland?

Warren Dodge

League of their own II

Re: “Reach out, black leaders say” (Downstroke, CN&R, April 30):

If Pastor Shy and his group of protestors are interested in participating in Little League, they need not wait for a special invitation. Like anyone else, all they need to do is call up their local Little League and sign up.

As Americans who are participants in American culture, they have as much entitlement to enjoy its fruits as anyone else. There are no secret white-people recruiting sessions, and there do not need to be any special black-people recruiting sessions. They are as much a part of this culture as anyone else—all they need to do is believe it, and act like it.

Chiara Brown

Lemonade from lemons

Re: “Disappeared and deported” (Newslines, by Robert Speer, CN&R, April 30):

I know it seems pretty grim right now, but things have a way of working out for the best. Thomas, you can have a fresh start over there without this hanging over your head.

The U.K. is an amazing place and is really very prosperous now—Southern England is richer than this part of California. Your American accent and California upbringing will open a lot of doors for you there.

You’ve got a great adventure ahead of you—embrace it, and you’ll do fine and make your family proud!

Jeff Morse

Smart growth? Hah!

Re: “Council charts new course” (Newslines, by Robert Speer, CN&R, April 30):

First, Ann Schwab and the Smart Growthers told us that narrow streets would “calm traffic.” Now, they tell us just the opposite—narrow streets will snarl traffic sufficiently to bully people out of their cars. Ultimately, unlivable congestion will save us from ourselves!

But precedent shows that congestion kills cities. People don’t get out of their cars; they move out of the core and head for the suburbs like rats jumping a sinking ship. Congesting the core with sardine-can infill development will not stop “sprawl,” it will encourage it.

These “Smart” folks have redefined “sprawl” as a type of development, anything not New Urban. “Sprawl” originally meant a lifestyle choice, living too far from your job. Scott Gruendl, for example, drives from his Doe Mill home to Orland every day. It doesn’t matter what kind of house you live in, it matters how you live in it.

Now the Smart Growthers also say narrow streets are cheaper. The truth is narrow streets give developers more square footage to develop, meaning more money for them and more property-tax revenues for the city.

Schwab and her friends will say whatever it takes to get their way. Chico burns while they fiddle.

Juanita Sumner

Disc-golf derby

Re: “Caper Acres? Highway 32? Who knows?” (Newslines, by Evan Tuchinsky, CN&R, April 23):

Am I in the minority in hoping that the Chico City Council will begin prioritizing and acting on our community’s needs at City Council meetings?

Disc golf is trumping needed action on education, police and fire, the homeless, an overspent city budget, street repairs, traffic and long-term development, business development, etc.

If the disc golfers, and those who so vehemently oppose them, would redirect their time and energies to helping solve those truly important issues that affect the majority of our population instead of the very vocal minority, a lot more would be done to improve our quality of life.

City Council: Make a decision, stick to it (no waffling after the decision has been made), and move on to much more important issues.

Howard Miller

Editor’s note: We agree, Mr. Miller—see Editorial.

The local papers are full of letters criticizing our City Council and the decision to relocate the disc golf short course from Upper Bidwell Park to another site closer to Chico.

The present council was elected because the citizens of Chico felt that these members would be most trustworthy in dealing with the [park’s] master plan and preserving Bidwell Park for future generations. Each time an issue comes up arousing special interests, the council endures heavy criticism.

We need to remember that over several elections, the liberals have dominated at the polls and have the support of the people who elected them. We believe that Upper Bidwell Park should be free of intensive use such as disc golf, and ultimately all such use should be removed and relocated to more appropriate areas near Chico.

We who care about the future of the park extend our deepest admiration to the council members who hold the line against the special interests. We know it isn’t easy for them, but we appreciate every vote and utterance that preserves the park. Chicoans will be forever in their debt.

Robert Woods

Six months and 20 or so meetings ago, I wrote this letter to the editor [applicable again, date aside]:

“The California Environmental Quality Act review process was created to ensure that shifting political biases, propaganda campaigns and territorial personalities don’t interfere with the science and fairness of good planning and decision making. After several years and hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on studies, consultants, master management planning and an EIR, the results remain clearly positive for disc golf in Bidwell Park.

“Every step along the way was approved and funded by the Park Commission and City Council throughout the process. The Citizens Advisory Committee, the press and the public at large have been overwhelmingly in support after several well-attended open public meetings. Many compromises have been made which go above and beyond reason to accommodate every imaginable concern.

“Nov. 18, our City Council meets to decide on final approval of this long process and the hard work done on it. I encourage them to support the recommendations of the city staff, the Citizens Advisory Committee and Park Commission and vote to approve Option A of the EIR.

“Our youth need more safe, healthy, low-cost activities that expose them to nature. Our next generations need better examples of education, recreation and restoration working together in sustainable coexistence. Disc golf in Bidwell Park is part of the solution.

“Anyone who agrees should attend this meeting.”

Gregg Payne