Letters for May 15, 2008

Do citizens a favor: Don’t run again
Re: “All around Steve Bertagna” (cover story, by Evan Tuchinsky, CN&R, May 8):

So, Bertagna might ride off in to the sunset, eh? I’ll bet. What better time for a politician to jump ship than right before it hits the iceberg he’s helped set a course for.

The city will go bankrupt in the next two to four years, and our City Council has not lifted a finger to stop it. They’ve wrung their hands, delayed the issue, tossed it to the Finance Committee, and to date have accomplished precisely squat. Then, despite the financial hardship, despite the fact that public-safety employees are swallowing up the majority of the city budget, the council approves a huge raise for firefighters.

What we are experiencing here is politics at its finest. Councilmembers don’t want to upset public-safety employees because of the money they receive from those employees’ unions during campaign season. Councilmembers don’t want to upset voters by “reducing public safety.” How safe is our city going to be when we declare bankruptcy and those contracts with all of those cops and firefighters become worthless?

Of course, last week, they couldn’t possibly address the budget while the all-important “basketball hoop controversy” was looming [detailed in the Newslines story “Make fast-breakers, not law-breakers”].

I wouldn’t worry about running again, Steve. Or you Mary, Andy, Tom, Scott, Larry and Ann.

Our city is in real trouble, and this council is a failure. Instead of leadership, we get impotence and pandering. It will be our duty as citizens in upcoming cycles to remove every one of these people from the City Council and replace them with vertebrates.

Ruben Leon

Chill out, fellow Dems
Re: “Take a hint, Hillary” (Editorial, CN&R, May 8):

From WWII through 1992, California held its presidential primary in June. If California’s presidential primary was on June 3 [this year], all of us would be quite angry with any East Coast people telling us to “cancel” our election.

The same goes the other way—we have six elections to go. In 2004, New Jersey had the last primary in June; the turnout was about 10 percent. And whatever happened to President Kerry!

This primary so far has about 35 million Americans voting on the Democratic side—we’re happy with that. It is the best organizing tool in decades. Just relax.

Bob Mulholland

Editor’s note: Mr. Mulholland is a superdelegate who’s married to one of Hillary Clinton’s pledged delegates, county Supervisor Jane Dolan.

‘Perfect example of futile cycling’
Re: “Sowing the seeds” (GreenWays, by Michele Bechard, CN&R, May 8):

I must protest your article about GRUB, the highly publicized “nonprofit” garden group.

First, GRUB is not an organization that one can join; it is four people who want to play farmer and some “volunteers.” These four have arranged for access to free land, free water, donated seeds and tools, and volunteer labor. Then they sell the “farm shares” for well over the market rate at the farmers market, and where does the money go? They keep it.

How’s that nonprofit?

My favorite part of their plan is that they use volunteers (again) to peddle the boxes of veggies around town to purchasers, and then other suckers… er, volunteers … spend days biking around town collecting compost. Any organic farmer will confirm that you can never collect enough compostables on a bicycle to feed a half-acre plot profitably.

A nonprofit that’s for profit. A community organization that can’t be joined. Free land to produce overpriced veggies and volunteers peddling their grass all over town.

I’m as green as the next guy, but I’d say GRUB is a perfect example of futile cycling.

John Yaya

Editor’s note: Along with being a nifty play on words, “futile cycling” is a scientific term for opposing reactions that consume energy without a tangible effect. As for the other sort of cycling …

More from Mr. Yaya
Re: “BikeChico! Week” (Newslines, by Stephanie Maynard, CN&R, May 8):

I want to say that I’m all in favor of biking. Would it be too much to ask the bicyclists in Chico to use bike bells? Particularly when riding in the park, avid cyclists are getting to be a hazard.

Bellowing “on yer right” a fraction of a second before you flash past my shoulder just doesn’t cut it. I’m dyslexic, and it takes me longer than that to figure out which side is my right.

Get a bell and give pedestrians a friendly ring at least 50 yards back. That way I’m not surprised and you don’t get clotheslined with the dog leash. Fair’s fair.

John Yaya

Right on—write on
Re: “Straight from the source” (Letters, by Chad Wozniak, CN&R, May 8):

We’ve got to get behind Chad Wozniak! He has really hit the nail on the head. And, the liberals are that nail.

Like you, Chad, I am also “saddened by the ignorance of history and economics” demonstrated so often in letters to this unflinchingly liberal publication. And, wow, do you ever do a great job with all the economic and historical references!

You cite the policies of FDR and JFK. Does it matter that populations have doubled since FDR and the U.S. economy has changed from manufacturing to service-based? I think not! Does economics say anything about a dramatic shift in market size and what’s driving it? Who cares? I just know you’re right about this stuff.

Your use of “Lysenkian theories of anthropogenic global warming” is a thing of beauty. I had to look that stuff up. Who cares if all the national academies of science of every major industrialized nation disagree with you?

My favorite part, though, is when you call out the liberals as “anti-free speech,” “anti-free enterprise,” “anti-Semitic” and, best of all, “anti-American.” Word, dude!

Who was it who said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it"—maybe Joseph Goebbels? Maybe he was the one who said, “[T]he people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.”

Anyway, keep up the good work!

Jason Reisinger

The truth comes out
Re: “Ranting and raving” (In My Eyes, by Evan Tuchinsky, CN&R, May 1):

Thanks for placing my interesting, insightful, and penetrating (although humourless) e-mail in your column. It was great to see my work, which I believe to be brilliant and evocative, in the News & Review. It did, however, sting that you reported to the entire North State that I can’t spell.

I also want to apologize for calling your columns boring and humourless. Actually, I really don’t believe this. I think you’re a damn good columnist. Additionally, I must report to you I wrote the e-mail under the assumed name Richard Johnson, my old algebra teacher who flunked me in 1970.

The reason I wrote that nasty e-mail is to provoke a crisis of confidence in your own abilities as a columnist. After I planted this in your brain, which I did skillfully (as you must admit), I was hoping you’d become all tortured and then resign as a columnist. After this happened, you would then go out and hire somebody to take your space, somebody such as myself.

My plan was not very well thought out—I sort of cooked the plan up over beers at Duffy’s. But what am I supposed to do? Have you tried to get a job as a journalist in this town? It’s almost impossible. The job market is so weak, reporters have to start up their own papers.

Anyway, sorry about the nasty e-mail. I’ll be sending my résumé soon.

Richard Woulfe

… Sorry, Mr. Peters
I was reading the May 8 issue of the CN&R, and it suddenly occurred to me what the acerbic critic was “ranting and raving” about in the editor’s column of May 1: They expect hard-hitting investigative journalism, not puff pieces.

Here in Chico we have limited newspapers. That leaves the CN&R to do in-depth investigative journalism and uncover corruption in government, education and business (there’s plenty to go around).

Unfortunately, the CN&R has taken on the appearance of a PR newsletter, which makes it seem sycophantic and servile. I strongly urge a change in editorial direction. Too many times recently I’ve skimmed through the CN&R looking for a good news story and been disappointed.

I suppose at fault are our lackluster journalism schools.

And take [Meredith J.] Cooper off movie reviews—they read like eighth-grade book reports. Craig Blamer is a terrific reviewer; he should be the gold standard.

‘Nuff said.

Michael M. Peters

Imminent domain
I, like many other citizens, attended the Butte County 2030 planning meeting, and it’s a good thing we did.

When I asked whether eminent domain was going to play a part in this futuristic plan, many in the audience did not know the impact of eminent domain. The gentlemen holding the meeting were very confident in their response, that I was speaking of an incident that happened 15 years ago, and assured the audience it had no place in this plan.

Now, eminent domain is on the ballot of the June 3 primary [Propositions 98 and 99]. What else are we missing, and are we playing the political deception game again?

Gene Willett

Listen, it’s a hearing
I have been attending county Citizens Advisory Committee meetings as a concerned citizen throughout the new general-plan process, though my schedule did not allow me to attend the Oroville meeting [May 8]. I want to add my outrage to that expressed by the two speakers who were allowed to speak only after all decisions were already made.

If it is true, as he openly admitted, that [Development Services Director] Tim Snellings only added the 10-minute public-comment period because he was advised that otherwise he was breaking Brown Act rules, that means he was using a “loophole” to subvert the process. This means that, at the very least, even if only simply to adhere to a schedule, Snellings was subverting the spirit of the law.

This kind of behavior in a process that is supposed to be positive, fair, and open, does nothing except erode people’s confidence in government. The Planning Commission and/or the Board of Supervisors should order Mr. Snellings to allow full and appropriate discussion on each area of discussion at CAC meetings, and to allow public comment to be heard in a timely manner—before decisions are made—the way it works in any other legislative group or chartered club.

It is not enough to say that people will have an opportunity to come up before the Planning Commission later. How many meetings must we attend? How much work or family time must we miss? Why not hear us when we are there?

Bob Klang

Best doorman to Wally
Three things are converging that point to the delightful possibility that we may be able to unseat Wally Herger in November. The first two have to do with changing demographics in the 2nd Congressional District and the general dissatisfaction Americans have with the Bush administration. The third is that the Democrats are positively positioned with three strong candidates leading up to the June primary.

To me, the strongest is Trinity County Supervisor Jeff Morris, the only one who has won election to a public position. Jeff’s leadership on the Trinity County Board of Supervisors has been impressive. Please visit his Web site—www.jeffmorrisfor congress.com—to see for yourself.

It’s time the voters ended Wally’s reign in the House of Representatives. His lockstep devotion to the Bush/Cheney administration and his do-nothing political ethic are out of step with regular people’s needs and do not serve this district.

Please join me in supporting Jeff Morris for Congress on June 3, and let’s show Wally the door in November!

Dan Carter

Mention of milestone
Israel is a friend to the United States and is celebrating her 60-year birthday. She is the only democracy in the Middle East and is on our side. That is enough of a reason to mention it in your paper.

Carol Peet

Editor’s note: Consider it done!