Letters for May 30, 2013

A great loss

Re “Changing of the guard” (Newslines, by Ken Smith, May 23):

Robert Speer’s exit from the CN&R is truly journalism’s loss. I had the privilege of writing a few stories for Robert and the CN&R in 1986-87. The circumstances were quite telling. I had moved from Oroville to Chico to write for the Enterprise-Record, which laid me off three months later. I was among the recently hired employees who were casualties of a cost-cutting maneuver. The E-R and Donrey instead poured money into Off the Record, an attempt to siphon off business and readership from the CN&R.

Off the Record was a free weekly that came and went, a feeble throwaway that could not compete with the CN&R. It did not have Robert Speer or his vision. I grew up in Chico—living there or nearby for all but a year between 1963 and 1987. I saw The Wildcat become the CN&R, which in short order became a must-read every Thursday.

When I read the story of Robert’s leaving, my mind raced back to the stories I wrote for the CN&R about D.A.-in-waiting Mike Ramsey and the late journalist Tony Koester, and the one I regretfully did not write about Pete Mathiesen’s exit as Chico State’s basketball coach. I started to think of my Mount Rushmore of Chico journalism. Robert’s face would be there with the late W.H. “Old Hutch” Hutchinson. I’m still racking my brain for the other two. Good luck to you, Robert. And to the CN&R.

Ron Flatter
New York City, New York

Birds-eye view

Re “The market ain’t broke” (Letters, by Mike Wiedeman, May 23):

Two and a half years ago, I became a downtown business owner. My window looks out on the Saturday-morning market. I would hope that people would give me a listen and put themselves in my shoes.

For me personally, it is not a problem with the market per se, but that the market has become so successful that the competition for parking spaces for our customers has pitted the market vendors and their customers against downtown businesses and their customers.

The market has expanded its offerings beyond just fruits and veggies; they are now in direct competition with our businesses. The impact has gone from being a benefit to a detriment for a majority of downtown businesses. The recent disparaging letters to the editor do nothing to solve the problems.

I’m wondering if the gentleman farmer from Capay is a vendor at the market. His recent letter did nothing but harm the negotiations. I would hate to think that the vendors and customers of the market really don’t give a hoot about downtown businesses. I would love to stay put and build my business, but if the City Council decides the needs and wants of the weekly market outweigh the needs of the downtown business, I’m not sure how long I will stay.

Brenda Bergland

I just wanted to comment on the discussion about moving either the day or location of the Saturday farmers’ market because of the perceived negative impact to the downtown area.

I frequent the market every week. And every week my family and I choose someplace different to eat or go visit. We’ve made it a game almost since we started about 18 months ago. By now, we have definitely doubled and tripled visits to some places.

My point is that the only reason we visit these downtown businesses on Saturdays is because we come into town for the market. If it wasn’t for the market, we wouldn’t make the trip all the way from Durham into town just to eat. The day and location to me are ideal, and I think that the City Council should just leave well enough alone.

Amy Van Vorst

Hear, hear!

Re “Time to annex Southside (Editorial, May 23):

Bravo! Well-written article. The topic of annexation has been an agenda item, surfacing during campaign election years and has helped to “vote” in a candidate.

Unfortunately, this campaign promise has never been brought to fruition.

The status-quo conditions of Southside Oroville without annexation are: No voting privileges in city issues and mayoral elections; no sidewalks for residents who are wheelchair-bound, or for mothers with strollers, and especially for students of all ages who walk to school; poor drainage in the rainy winter months make some streets a virtual wading pool and impassable; little or no county funding for low-income housing; and there is continued disparity for Southside Oroville residents.

Thank God for officials, such as Supervisor Bill Connelly, who are willing to pump the brakes and say, “This far and no more.”

Janet Goodson

A chosen lifestyle

Re “City’s cash crunch” (Newslines, by Robert Speer, May 23)

I’m writing in regard to the “civil sidewalks” ordinance. I too once lived a very nomadic lifestyle, traveling city to city across the country. I can still recall a little coffee shop in San Francisco that we vagabonds spent many hours sitting in front of, most of us with little to no money. That shop didn’t make it, which I feel somewhat responsible for. I was 18 and did not take such matters into consideration.

As a downtown business owner now, I’ve had mixed emotions. I believe the majority of people sitting and lying on the sidewalks and in our doorways have chosen this lifestyle. They’ll move on eventually, and the ones who stay tend not to linger in such ways. This is a respect issue. I believe that if we simply talk to them and ask for their assistance, and explain our dependency on a thriving storefront, then many will respect that. Many, not all perhaps, and that’s when we need the city support.

It’s true what Graham Hutton said about the bathrooms. Who would really feel comfortable sending their child or themselves through a crowd of people lounging around the door? And I wonder what Pastor Ted Sandberg considers the “core issues causing homelessness,” because most of the street dwellers I encounter downtown have chosen this path, or so it appears to me.

Crystena Hemingway

Tender resignations

How can council members Mary Goloff and Scott Gruendl publicly state they were not responsible for the city’s financial problems? In 2003, the City Council was taken over by a liberal majority and has controlled the council since. In 2006/2007, City Manager Greg Jones told the City Council that, without correction, the deficit and the imbalance could lead to the city becoming insolvent. From 2007-2012, Gruendl was the chair of the Finance Committee. Mary Goloff was also on the committee for this time, along with one conservative committee member.

Mayor Goloff stated that council members struggled to get budgetary details they asked for, and faced additional uncontrollable circumstances. I agree the council did not cause the economic downturn.

Over the last seven years, the liberal-majority council was told by both conservative council members and members of the public who spoke at City Council and Finance Committee meetings that the city was going in the wrong direction, just to be told they did not understand city finance. Council members should know how to read a financial statement and know they were being given bad advice.

Once more I ask that [longtime liberal council members Goloff, Gruendl and Ann Schwab] do the morally right thing and resign from the City Council. Had the last seven years been a conservative majority City Council, I would be asking for them to resign.

Michael Reilley

Students need guidance

Re “Where’s the innovation?” (Guest comment, by Mary Goloff, May 23):

Mary Goloff, thank you so much for your guest comment. I especially appreciate this part: “If we want students to learn about activities our community has to offer, then let’s invite them into our community and immerse them in the myriad positive, healthful activities we have to offer.”

When I was a Chico State student a few decades ago, I did not feel especially welcomed by the larger community. Fortunately, I got an off-campus job that introduced me to some wonderful Chico “old timers.” Those people, thank goodness, welcomed me and helped me to discover at least some of what Chico has to offer beyond the campus community.

Robert Scharff

Remember our vets

Hopefully someone in Congress, and in the White House, on Memorial Day remembered that as of May 20, 2013, there are 873,000 veterans’ benefits-claims applications pending, with 584,000 of them pending for more than 125 days. Hope you had a happy Memorial Day. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could make next Memorial Day happy for more than three-quarters of a million of our veterans!

Rich Meyers