Letters for May 23, 2002

Baskin books
If the hard work of the employees scooping ice cream was any indication, the free-ice-cream event at Baskin-Robbins on May 1 was a great success. The Chico Friends of the Library would like to thank Steve and Valerie Wong, owners of the Chico Baskin-Robbins, for thinking of us and soliciting our participation during this event.

We raised enough money in donations during the four-hour event to purchase several new books for the Children’s Room. CFOL’s focus project this year is to improve the Children’s Room. Thank you to the Wongs for their support of literacy in the community of Chico.

Joan Olmstead
Vice President

Chico Friends of the Library

Goodbye, Joe Black
I lost a friend today. Joe Black played a major role during one of the most significant periods of both baseball and American history—that era when the Negro leagues were dying and the major leagues were slowly including blacks on their rosters.

I first saw Mr. Black during spring training in 1993 at Timothy’s, the leading jazz joint in Phoenix. I knew who he was and quite a bit about his baseball career but was in so much awe that I did not introduce myself. As I watched him, very dapper in his tailored gray suit and his regal gray hair and gentlemanly manner, I could see why he was so successful, as a businessman—he was CEO for the Greyhound Corporation—a junior-high-school teacher and, earlier, a big-league pitcher. I swore to myself that if we ever crossed paths again, I would introduce myself and chat with him.

Four years later, I got my chance. I introduced myself, he smiled and invited me to sit down and chat. The next hour and a half was absolutely great. We watched the game, talked about baseball, education and the Diamondbacks, for whom he was by then a consultant. From then on, each March while at spring training I would look for him down behind home plate, and if I saw him would say hello. We had struck a friendship that further enriched my appreciation for the black ballplayers of the late ‘40s and early ‘50s.

For the last 11 years, May 17 has been a melancholy day. My friend, former Butte County Supervisor Kevin Campbell, passed on May 17, 1991. Mr. Black’s passing makes the day so much sadder. But I think Mr. Black would be saying that tomorrow is a new day and would probably quote Ernie Banks: “Let’s play two.”

Gregory Brislain

Metal suit
In reading Jennifer Lombardi’s letter to the editor [“Industry response,” Letters, May 16] and her comments about “Patty Martin and company” [“Fields of poison,” May 2], as she put it, I am compelled to ask a few of the questions posed in the article:

While it’s true that zinc is a nutrient that the plant needs for good health, what about dioxins, lead, chromium, cadmium and arsenic that Patty says are being added to the fertilizer? Are these also nutrients for the plants and our bodies?

Patty pointed out that these toxic substances have been added to fertilizers for 20 years without our knowledge and without required identification on the fertilizer packaging. The ingredient list is too long to print on the packaging is the explanation given by the industry. That’s a pretty big type font you’re using there, Ms. Lombardi, for the singular word “zinc.”

I live in Chico, and I invite any and all lawyers to start preparing for a huge class-action suit against any and all fertilizer companies. And you professional environmentalists, you so-called stewards of the land out there, if you’re not out doing independent lab studies on the soils around Chico, especially where there’s been crop failure, then you don’t deserve the title of environmentalist.

David Sherrod
Received via e-mail

Planning for education
I’m writing in response to the letter from Michael Courter [“Education is key” Letters, May 2]. Mr. Courter is on the right track but the wrong train. I went to Butte College, and all of my teachers were fabulous; however, I didn’t get the classes I wanted because of a lack of financial resources.

I’m on Social Security Insurance and could have gotten more education if my payments were higher. I think the welfare system needs to balloon up its payments for those who want to go to school to get the highest-paying jobs. People who want to become doctors, nurses and lawyers should get extra money for school, because they will eventually bring more money into the system.

Michael Marten

Corporate punishment
I was once a co-worker of Mr. Knecht at Food 4 Less and can attest to the family atmosphere of the “earlier” days as well as the support for his artistic humor among co-workers [“That’s not funny,” Everybody’s business, May 16]. Even under Linton and Sagastume, before Fleming’s arrival, it was an excellent place to work and demonstrated genuine care for the welfare of its employees. I still have many friends there, and I hear often about the cheapskate changes that the giant Fleming has introduced. And, to a point, that’s fine. The corporate world doesn’t grow from being nice and giving away dollars that do not need to be given away.

But this is a matter of respect for employees and composure of a corporation. Mr. Knecht, an employee for more than seven years, made a questionable statement that is well within his rights of freedom of speech. Mr. Knecht didn’t steal. Mr. Knecht didn’t harm anybody. Mr. Knecht didn’t mistreat anyone. He merely wrote down a statement that was already on the tongues of many of his co-workers and did so in frustration.

Termination seems very extreme. To further deny the man unemployment [insurance] while he’s forced to find another source of income is completely heartless and disgusts me to no end. Yes, Mr. Knecht perhaps should have left that cartoon out of the workspace, but couldn’t Fleming show just an ounce more of compassion for a man that has dedicated seven-plus years of customer service?

Eric Siegel

Ceremony of peace
On Friday, May 3, Chico High School students and staff, as well as Chico community members, came together to dedicate a peace pole on the school’s campus. The Peace Pole Project was inspired by Chico High senior Ka Lee, who wanted to do something positive in response to the tragedies of Sept. 11.

The dedication ceremony was an uplifting, powerful event driven, coordinated and supported largely by local students. The Madrigal Choir as well as a student/teacher duo provided entertainment, and students read the message, “May Peace Prevail On Earth,” in 11 of the 12 languages represented on the pole. More than 100 students and staff members and nearly 75 community members attended the ceremony.

As Ka Lee’s advisor on this incredible project, I would like to thank every person who took time out of his or her day to join us for this event.

The Youth Nexus branch of the Butte County Department of Behavioral Health largely funded the cost of the pole and related expenses. The Youth Nexus is a youth philanthropy board directed by Dominik Pelso that makes decisions about granting monies to youth-initiated, youth-driven programs. On behalf of Ka, myself, Liz Metzger, and Chico High School, we give tremendous thanks to the Youth Nexus for their generous grant donation, without which the peace pole at Chico High School would not have become a reality.

Carrie Watson
Mediation/mentorship coordinator & teacher,
Chico High School