Letters for May 23, 2013

The value of pawn

Re “The real pawn stars” (Cover story, by Jaime O’Neill, May 16):

This well written article really clears the seedy image of pawn shops. The people who use pawn have nowhere else to turn, so the pawnbrokers are providing a valuable service and employment.

I have been in these shops, and the characterization of the staff and the physical condition of the stores is very accurate. Also, as you stated, the ladies are beautiful and intelligent. Danielle could get me to pawn my house if they would take it!

Brian Norton

The market ain’t broke

Re “Exercise in futility” (Newslines, by Robert Speer, May 9):

Some business owners say that the Saturday market hurts them somehow, but my experience is different. Today I started at the bagel shop, got produce at the market, and then made purchases at the natural foods store and the music store.

On the way to the feed store, I looked around the antique stores. Often I stop at the bike shops, used-record store, bookstores and the hardware store. The nice manager at the thrift store tells me that because of the market, Saturday is her best day every week.

In 30 years in Chico I have never had trouble finding a place to park. Homeless people do not influence my shopping choices. Business owners: Are you offering a reasonably priced product that people want? Landlords: Are you charging an affordable rent, or would you rather see your property vacant? DCBA: Is there any unbiased research that addresses real shopping issues? Fellow Chicoans: Do we need to save a few dollars by shopping online, or could we rather think about the place where we live?

Am I missing something here? The farmers’ market, this gem, this center of community, is not “broke.” Why do we need to “fix” it?

Mark Wilpolt

Shame on you, Chico City Council. We thought you were on our side, but once again you sided with the vocal minority of a few downtown business owners. Once again they are playing the 10-year-old broken record titled “The Farmers’ Market Takes Away Our Customers on Saturday Morning.” (Of course they could join the fun and set up street booths on Wall Street and elsewhere, but I guess that would be consorting with the enemy.)

They brought up the age old “move to the City Hall lot scheme,” but that was discussed before ad absurdum (less space for vendors, less parking for customers, no improvement on restrooms, etc.).

And now Mayor Mary Goloff and Councilman Sean Morgan seek a new venue! Let’s let them have their silly little market on Sunday. Let’s analyze: 1) Most vendors at the Saturday market have church and/or family and/or prior business commitments on Sunday; 2) most of the Saturday-morning customers have the same commitments and do not come downtown on Sunday mornings; 3) most Saturday-morning customers expect to get their fresh fruits and produce on Saturday morning so they can enjoy them over the entire weekend.

Recommendation to Chico City Council: If you cannot do anything positive for us, at least do this—Leave us the hell alone!

Mike Wiedeman

Another leadership idea

Re “Chico’s lack of leadership” (From This Corner, by Robert Speer, May 16):

I appreciate Mr. Speer’s observation regarding a lack of leadership on the City Council. I agree the mayor needs time and support in order to provide leadership. However, the task of leadership must be shared by all council members, and all neighborhoods in Chico must benefit.

Currently we elect council members citywide. The campaigns are expensive, exhausting and won by advertising and phone banking. This system leaves many neighborhoods represented by people who live outside of them. For neighborhoods with council members as residents, too frequently these leaders remove themselves as advocates, stating they are obligated to represent the “entire community.”

Mr. Speer points out that the city of Sacramento elects its mayor citywide and supports it as a full-time position. However, Sacramento elects its City Council members by district, ensuring that all neighborhoods in the city are represented by someone familiar with their needs.

This system should be considered by the people of Chico. It would encourage citizens interested in serving on the council to campaign door-to-door, thereby lowering the cost of running for election. Additionally it would give voters an opportunity to meet and evaluate the candidates. A discussion regarding a change of the city charter regarding elections is long overdue.

Ken Fleming

Beyond badass

Re “Rock on, Beethoven” (Music, by Howard Hardee, May 16):

Thank you for your great review of this performance. I’ve had the good fortune of hearing Beethoven’s Ninth performed live about 10 times, at venues such as the Hollywood Bowl, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco, and the legendary Musikverein in Vienna. In my opinion, the performance of the North State Symphony, coupled with the combined chorus (150 singers on stage), was soaring, epic and heroic.

“Badass” doesn’t even begin to cover the emotion transmitted by this group of dedicated musicians (mostly volunteers). The four soloists absolutely nailed those stanzas of the Ninth Symphony with a clarity and harmony that I’ve never heard before. This one performance in Laxson Auditorium stands shining as The Absolute Best I’ve ever heard from the vocal soloists performing Beethoven’s Ninth. Period. Ever.

Thank you, Mr. Pickett. Thank you, North State Symphony. Thank you to the chorus, with untold hours of dedication to sing Beethoven’s epic words (in German, per the original). Thank you, Chico, to all the benefactors and contributors who support our local musicians. “Badass”? Yes. But to those of us who know Beethoven’s Ninth, with this performance that word falls far short.

Jim Wolcott
Yankee Hill

Flawed findings

Independent university researchers have determined that the Environmental Working Group’s methodology used for creating the fruit and vegetable pesticide “dirty dozen” list is scientifically flawed. These findings are further supported by the fact that the EPA, the FDA, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and every other organization that is responsible for tracking pesticide levels have found all food samples tested to either contain no residues (97 percent) or be within acceptable levels.

I would submit that you are doing a disservice to your readers by using questionable findings generated by a biased organization as fact. Relying on this misinformation may needlessly discourage people from consuming more fruits and vegetables.

Tom Dowd

An undemocratic notion

Re “No lying?” (Newslines, by Vic Cantu, May 2):

This article captured the mood of a handful of City Council members regarding the homeless “sit/lie” issue.

Councilman Randall Stone was quoted as saying, “The majority of the council is against it, so why are we looking into something we have no intention of passing?”

Looking into something is exactly what council members do. Not listening to the public when a topic is already posted on the agenda is a subrogation of free speech. Personally, I cannot recall any council member ever publicly saying such a thing.

If there is a list of pre-approved topics, then let all of Chico see them. Otherwise democratic forums simply become a moving dartboard. Some darts hit and some darts are denied. Every citizen should demand better representation than this. Free speech is our right to communicate our opinions and ideas. Period.

Dave Kelley

Water transfers threatened

Water-hungry San Joaquin Valley desert agriculture views the Tuscan aquifer as the next big water grab. All they need are willing sellers with primary water rights. First, the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District and the Butte Water District proposed 10,000 acre-feet of water transfers. Now state and federal agencies admit the real figure is 190,000 acre-feet! That equates to Chico’s total water use for almost seven years!

The water districts stand to profit big, selling their surface water and then mining groundwater to flood the rice fields. How these groundwater layers interact with surface water is unclear, and GCID’s required “test wells” have provided woefully inadequate information on the potential negative environmental and economic impacts.

We do not know what will happen to foothill creeks and wells as the water table is lowered by the pumping. We do know that:

* Countless agricultural wells already had to be lowered.

* Heritage oaks throughout the region would be at risk.

* Domestic and agricultural wells in Durham went dry during aggressive water sales in 1994.

Butte County Supervisor Bill Connolly states, “I have a concern that groundwater transfers are a slippery slope.” This should be a red alert for all of us!

AquAlliance is preparing to challenge state and federal actions that are a direct threat to the entire region. We need your support and donations to meet this challenge. If you value our water—our way of life—visit www.AquAlliance.net.

Elizabeth Devereaux

Why was Rob canned?

I join so many others in expressing my shock and dismay over Rob Blair’s dismissal! My late husband and I started each day with our favorite weatherman, and his cheerful, upbeat personality could be counted on to provide a smile, whether the weather report was rain or shine. I have continued to rely on Rob each morning and felt a true sense of loss when it became apparent that he wasn’t just on vacation.

I’d also like to point out all the wonderful community support Rob provided through his frequent appearances at local special events, as well as his delightful weekly interaction with a wide assortment of four-footed friends in search of that “forever home”! He is missed, and I for one would appreciate an explanation by new station management.

Priscilla Hanford