Letters for May 22, 2014

Let the endorsements begin

I wish to endorse Candace Grubbs for re-election as Butte County clerk-recorder. As a historian and educator, I can attest to the outstanding job she’s done during her 28 years in office.

The clerk-recorder is the county’s chief public records keeper. Consequently, the Clerk-Recorder’s Office is a treasure trove for historians, genealogists and others interested in Butte County’s past. Although county documents are public property, experienced researchers can tell you that gaining access to such records can be very frustrating. Fortunately, thanks to Candace Grubbs, Butte County has one of the most welcoming courthouses in California, with records readily available in original, microfilm and computerized forms.

As the vigilant custodian of our documentary heritage, Candace has skillfully met the daunting challenges of the digital age by keeping pace with swiftly evolving information technologies. Working with BMI Imaging Systems, Candace is currently converting hundreds of microfilm spools into electronically stored “digital reels” that will be keyword searchable.

Meanwhile, Candace remains determined to build a modern Hall of Records for Butte County. After years of persistent effort, this urgently needed project is now approaching fruition.

Candace’s dedicated public service merits reward. Please join me on June 3 to re-elect Candace Grubbs.

Michael Magliari

The Butte County Clerk-Recorder’s Office tabulates your votes, in a very insecure way, utilizing volunteers. This is all being done on the honor system that offends my sense of how significant, and private and personal, my vote and your vote should be.

Individuals of all political persuasions get to volunteer to count absentee ballots and are entrusted with our most precious American right to vote—without even a handshake or a requirement to sign a secrecy document or take an oath. This early volunteer ballot counting could start three days to weeks before election day.

I can understand why it is a good idea to start counting absentee ballots as soon as possible, since the majority of Butte County voters vote absentee, allowing most winners to be determined shortly after the polls are closed.

I know that absentee ballots were counted by these volunteers during the last two county elections (2010 and 2012) and this is just not acceptable. This is just one more extremely important reason to vote for Pamela Teeter for Butte County clerk-recorder and bring professional leadership and new energy to this vital county function.

John Scott
Butte Valley

Does Supervisor Bill Connelly deserve a $70,000 raise? Having spent nine years earning a piddly $53,000 to flip-flop on the issues as a Butte County supervisor, Bill Connelly has now set his eyes on a far more profitable and less public position (perhaps he was trying to tell us something at past meetings with comments like “I’m tired of the whining”).

A recent newspaper article states that Connelly said “several people” approached him to run for assessor and that “financial considerations were part of this motivation” because, heck, “the pay will entice anybody to run.” The salary for county assessor, $123,000 plus benefits, assumes that the person who fills the position is qualified to manage 41 employees in three Butte County offices.

Connelly’s qualifications are unclear, as it is unclear who approached him to file for candidacy. His campaign website says nothing about relevant experience, leaving me wondering why he thinks that anyone would vote for him. Is name recognition enough? Since the California Constitution requires the assessor to be an elected position, let’s hope that the voters of Butte County elect a candidate who is qualified. I will be voting for Al Petersen.

Jessica Allen

In Australia there is compulsory voting in federal and state elections, and almost a 100 percent participation rate. I will be coming home from Australia just in time to vote in the June election.

I look forward to the privilege of voting for Maureen Kirk for supervisor. Having served on the Chico City Council with both Maureen, and with Bob Evans during his short appointed tenure, I can say based upon both personal and professional firsthand experience that Maureen is the better qualified candidate.

She is better experienced, shows better leadership, has better judgment, and is by far better in touch with the values of our community regarding the future of Butte County. Maureen has earned re-election based upon a job well done the past four years, and due to her vision and commitment to serve for the next four.

What would be best of all is for our local electorate to match Australia’s voter turnout. Please support what is best for Chico and Butte County, and join me in voting for Maureen Kirk.

Andy Holcombe

I want to give a shout out to all you readers in support of Peggy Moak’s credentials and general wonderfulness as a person. After working her way up in the office of treasurer-tax collector for the last 10 years, she was appointed to serve as treasurer on the retirement of her former boss. Having been in banking the rest of her working life, she clearly knows how to manage money. Her experience is what we need!

After devastating fires ripped through Concow six years ago and our community needed to address issues with the county’s general plan at the same time, I was privileged to work alongside Peggy. Those were challenging years and I was very impressed by Peggy. Her calm reasonableness and understanding of county structure allowed us to successfully voice the concerns of foothill communities.

She worked consistently to get support to our fire-scarred residents and land, all the while keeping up with her job responsibilities. Plus, she was a delight to work with, always opening her home to organizational meetings and keeping her cool with the various personalities involved.

I hope you all will join me in voting Peggy Moak for treasurer-tax collector.

Sarah Salisbury
Concow/ Chico

As past president of Lassen Savings and area manager/1st VP for Great Western Bank, I worked closely with Peggy Moak from 1984 until 1991, and I’ve followed Peggy’s career from the private to the public sector.

Initally hired as a branch manager for Great Western, Peggy was quickly promoted to regional administrative officer, responsible for branches from the Oregon border to Tulare. A consummate professional, Peggy is an articulate speaker, a gifted writer and possesses the ability to analyze complex financial and economic data.

She has extensive experience in human resources. She is honest and ethical. Hard work, integrity and service to community are values Peggy Moak exemplifies. She is what every employer and every Butte County resident wants from their county representatives: someone who is hardworking, loyal, a true team player and most important, someone they can trust.

Since my retirement I have served on two bank boards. Had Peggy been brought before either of those boards she would have had my complete support. That is why I support Peggy Moak for treasurer-tax collector.

Richard E. Moore

We in Butte County must elect officials who will look out for the protection of our residents, by protecting our tax dollars, our personal safety and property.

There’s a candidate for supervisor who says he wants to be elected to “turn our county’s economy into a booming one, using the untapped taxes of pot growers.” His opponent says this: “[It’s] dirty money. The county needs jobs by way of attracting businesses that are honest and law-abiding.”

I’m asking everyone who reads this to support Larry Wahl for supervisor. He’s one of the reasons Butte County is in the black. We need strong conservatives who’ll stand up to the “unlawful pot profiteers,” will protect the foothill residents and all of us from crime. While you’re at it, vote for Bob Evans, who will also stand up strongly against the unlawfulness in the hills.

Loretta Ann Torres

Waste of a corner

Hey, it’s cleanup time! It’s great that the lot at First and Main streets is being developed, but just for parking? Put in a five-story condo with underground parking. Imagine the Chico State faculty and staff falling over each other for premium prices, just steps from our glorious downtown!

Jim Dwyer

Note to the progressives

Re “Council duo strike back” (Letters, May 15):

Chico politics is a fine example of Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine: a state in which crisis, either real or fabricated, can be utilized to stampede populations into accepting right-wing “solutions” such as privatization, poverty-level wages, unchecked corporate influence, etc.

Chico’s “budget crisis”—a ripple-effect of the Bush administration’s Great Recession—has been freely used to shift Chico politics to the right. Councilmen Mark Sorensen and Sean Morgan, along with City Manager Brian Nakamura and the Enterprise-Record, have exerted influence well beyond what should be possible in a city with a progressive population.

Sorensen and Morgan are correct in asserting that some of the issues brought forward by progressives are mostly symbolic. The irony is that this show of progressive sentiment masks the deeper failure of our five-member majority to confront issues of actual substance, as progressives!

Will our council find its bearings and support a sales tax, hire an (in-house) city attorney, rehire tree crews and other staff, get our parks fully open, cut administrative salaries, support the farmers’ market, defend the rights of the poor to utilize the public space, hold the Greenline, etc.? Not as long as it remains blinded by the right.

Patrick Newman

The problem is pensions

What do the mosquito assessment, the garbage franchise, and the water rate increase have in common? Unfunded pension liability.

While Butte County Mosquito and Vector Control has laid off employees and total salary has gone down, they still spent more on pensions and benefits in 2013 than they did in 2011—more than $500,000 a year for 16 employees. Over the same period, annual pesticide expenditure went down by more than $150,000.

Meanwhile, the consultant hired to vet the city of Chico’s proposed garbage franchise says it will “help the city with its current financial condition”—$48 million unfunded pension liability. Councilman Mark Sorensen has called it a “garbage tax.”

Cal Water wants to raise our water rates by 19 percent. The notice I received in my bill specified about $1 million for “employee health care, pensions, and retiree health care benefits.” California Public Utilities Commission Judge Robert M. Mason III has pulled our rate case #1207007 aside, asking for feedback as to whether this hike is “justified or in the public interest.” Write to him at CPUC, 505 Van Ness Ave., Fifth Floor, San Francisco, CA 94102.

Please reject these attempts to leave the burden of excessive compensation packages on the taxpayers.

Juanita Sumner

On that column’s demise

Re “It’s called editing” (Second & Flume, May 8):

Ms. Daugherty explained it’s her job to regulate what’s printed in the CN&R, and she explained that the CN&R’s liability to civil litigation requires that the editor protect it from liability actions, such as defamation claims. An editor’s failure to perform this essential duty would likely result in any publication’s speedy demise. If we call performing this necessary editorial function censorship, we ought to reconsider censorship.

Censorship is a word with a bad connotation. It suggests tyranny, scenes of Nazi book burnings and the truth being muzzled by ignorance. Actually censoring what we communicate to one another is an essential human skill necessary in any civilization. We all learn from an early age not to express everything we think to everyone at every opportunity. If we freely said what we felt about the people in and around our lives we’d soon offend and antagonize everyone, making cooperative activities impossible.

The issue isn’t whether Ms. Daugherty censored Porter but what in his writing she felt was unprintable and why. She explained that clearly and well. Whether some of us loved Porter’s column or thought it was worthless shouldn’t be the issue. The issue here is whether Ms. Daugherty performed her job appropriately. I believe she did, and she has my support.

Dave Weiner

A cop’s prediction

Re “Like a bad penny” (Editorial, May 15):

As the CN&R continues its longtime campaign against the Chico Police Department, I’d like to offer up a prediction. In five to 10 years, Chico is going to be a very different city, Stockton-like in appearance and behavior. The police officers who came to Chico for its quality of life will have left for communities that actually value and respect them.

What Chico will be left with are mercenaries, officers who live 30-50 miles away and don’t consider themselves stakeholders in the City’s well-being. The citizens who’ve long railed against their officers will likely then blame the Police Department for allowing things to get so bad. Good luck with that.

Matt Wolfe

Editor’s note: Mr. Wolfe, a retired Chico police officer, is an instructor at Butte College’s Law Enforcement Academy.

Melting glaciers not proof

Re “Quit the denial” (Editorial, May 15):

The editor does a disservice to scientific investigation with a plea to “quit the denial.” There is no denial that climate changes. It always has. The argument is as to whether the change in climate is due to human or natural causes. This debate continues and is far from over.

Those of the editor’s persuasion have put themselves in the position of the medieval church content with an earth-centric planetary system. The church considered it “settled science” at the time. Dissenters were denigrated as heretics and crackpots.

There is no such thing as “settled science.” Just ask Galileo. The scientific method is dynamic and designed for intense interrogation. The editor demands silent compliance or suffer the specter of hell on earth. It sounds more like an edict from a high priest of the church of environmentalism.

I remain a sinner.

Bill Hooton
Red Bluff

Help break the stigma

This letter is to inform the community about the NAMI In Our Own Voice public-education program to raise awareness of mental illness. NAMI Butte County was established to provide support, education, empathy and advocacy for people with mental illness and their families in the North State. Mental illness is a serious medical illness that affects one in four families. We have engaged in a variety of activities to create awareness about mental illness in our community.

Why is it important? Here in the Chico community, we have several individuals living with a mental illness, many are among the homeless population. It is only fair that we help break through stigma among the community.

The purpose of In Our Own Voice is to give opportunity for those who have struggled with mental illness to gain confidence and to share their individual experiences of recovery and transformation. The purpose of this letter is to get the word out there, and inform individuals about the negative stigma face by mentally ill individuals. Everyone should be informed about breaking the stigma of stereotyping individuals with mental illness, because we all live in the community.

Erica Romero

Hurray for tree-planting

Chico Tree Advocates were on the job last Arbor Day, April 25. Thanks to more than 10 sponsors and our five volunteers, we received a great seminar about tree planting from Dave Bettencourt, city street tree supervisor.

Thanks also to the Butte Environmental Council for their encouragement and help as our fiscal agency and providing the bright orange vests for our volunteers. Thanks also to Grub and Rental Guys.

Our goal was to plant 10 trees. I bought eight, but when the day came, we had just five sites OK’d for planting. So we planted five trees and we’re still looking for homes for the other three. Since this was our first foray planting city street trees, and because the sky was threatening, I was OK with a short day. As it turned out, minutes after we finished, there was a downpour.

Discussing the day, we agreed that you feel something wonderful, powerful, almost spiritual, about planting trees. It felt good. We look forward to getting these last three planted and for an even larger tree planting event in the fall.

To participate call Charles at 343-3152 or attend a meeting, 4 p.m., the second Tuesdays at 526 Broadway.

Charles Withuhn

Speak up for teachers’ resources

I want to share the proposed changes that are happening at the Butte County Office of Education (IRC) Instructional Resource Center, located in Oroville. The IRC allows many teachers to check out literature and instructional books, over 200 puppets, learning kits, models, maps and educational videos/DVDs to enhance the hands-on learning of their students in the public school classroom. The IRC has an Ellison machine for use as well as a laminating and binding machine. Over the years, it has been increasingly down-sized.

BCOE is planning to make changes with the IRC educational materials, as many school districts go digital. The current IRC collection will be reduced into “kits” and the rest outsourced to separate schools. Do schools actually have the display space, or will the educational materials then be stored away?

It is now time to open up a broader community dialogue on this issue, as a deadline before the 2014-15 school year, is approaching.

As a viable library resource for educators and students, especially the economically challenged Butte County children, the IRC is very crucial. Digital screens do not replace hands on learning tools.

I ask the educators and families of Butte County if they feel they and their students benefit from the educational resource collection at the IRC. I request that concerned individuals give timely input to their school districts administration and BCOE Superintendent Tim Taylor (ttaylor@bcoe.org).

Kathy Brazil