Letters for May 9, 2013

Two-wheeled scofflaws

Re “Ranking envy” (Cover feature, by Melissa Daugherty, April 25):

Melissa Daugherty’s piece about Chico’s effort to reach the pinnacle of bicycle-friendly community rankings was a good one. I was especially interested to learn the criteria the League of American Bicyclists applies in rating towns.

The evaluation area in which Chico fails badly is enforcement. I see cyclists every day in flagrant violation of traffic laws. Most of them are riding on sidewalks, but many ignore red lights while treating stop signs and one-way signs as optional advice.

Though it happens all over, downtown seems to have the highest concentration of offenders. I can still see the expression of the young man who zipped just inches in front of my moving car on a blind downtown corner. I had a green light, while he was traveling on a sidewalk at a high speed. Almost a coroner’s case.

Do I think this issue deserves more police attention than, for example, stabbings or alcohol-induced public nuisances? No way, but law-flouting cyclists are becoming a significant problem in Chico. People would be outraged if motorcyclists or cars drove on sidewalks, but high-speed bicyclists are just as dangerous.

I enjoy bicycling and wish more people would do it, but we all need to follow the damned laws. We may be “going for the gold” in terms of being a cycling town, but with a highly visible number of scofflaws, we may only deserve a tin star.

Edward Booth

Words in their mouths

The (expensive) posters in downtown businesses proclaiming “Spare change won’t change my situation”: First person? Really? You had a homeless “spanger” on your design team? Or are we speaking for the homeless again, because they are too far gone to express what they want? I bet they want spare change, ’cause that’s what they’re asking for.

Our culture demands “losers” to define its “winners” and features a stunning lack of social services, which have been under siege since the ’80s. We deliver essentials via nonprofits, churches or us. For me, giving change acknowledges the asker exists; and second, that person gets closer to what they’re after. Whether it’s a burrito, a beer or some dope, that’s their deal.

Are they jerks? Sometimes. They know they’re supposed to feel ashamed. I did too when I was homeless, but only when people were condescending to me.

Organizations that try to solve the problem of homelessness might want us to stop enabling folks who need their services. But face facts: There’s not enough love, tough or otherwise, to solve this problem. Whatever works—but don’t put words in the mouths of folks who don’t have much else to call their own.

Julia Murphy

Political power play

Re “Avoiding a lawsuit” (Editorial, May 2):

Your editorial ignores some troubling facts about Chico’s proposed ban on plastic grocery bags.

Paper bags, even with handles, are difficult to impossible to handle for people in wheelchairs or using a walker. This ordinance would put grocers in the position of illegally discriminating against and denying accommodation to handicapped persons, in direct violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Charging customers for plastic bags, or forcing them to buy reusable bags, could add enough to a monthly grocery bill to put a severe financial strain on people living on low or fixed incomes. This could easily run to $20 or $30 a month, and while the wealthy sponsors of this ordinance might not feel that, many poor people will be hurt. It’s an assault on poor people, and it’s racist to the extent that poor people are disproportionately people of color.

We have enough of this sort of petty tyranny already. California is already way too far down the road to becoming a totalitarian state. It’s obvious the real motive behind this ordinance is to give bureaucrats another excuse to boss people around and inflict hardships on them to demonstrate their power over them, in classic Orwellian fashion.

Chad Wozniak

Discussions by a taxpayers’ group to possibly start a signed petition drive to repeal any plastic-ban ordinance enacted by the City Council are underway.

We have all heard the pros and cons of the ban. That’s not what’s at issue here. The council members should manage city operations and finances as duly elected representatives. The majority did not elect or authorize their political correctness to impede upon the arenas of “personal freedom” and “the individual’s right to choose.”

If five political philosophies can restrict the constitutionally protected right to decide at the ballot box; refusing the 70,000-plus voters whose lives will be affected, to vote for or against a ban that places restrictions on personal freedoms of choice, then that’s communism.

During the ’70s, the liberals below made this same argument. They demanded ballot-box democracy against a conservative council’s decisions constantly. Those liberals were clearly correct then; but today’s council; its left-wing majority, they are wrong. They are clearly afraid that the ballot-box results might weaken or nullify their misused powers. That’s why they never offered up the ban decision for a public vote.

Talk about a hypocritical slap in the face to people like Jane Dolan, Bob Mulholland, Karl Ory and Kelly Meagher. Their coalitions fought for guaranteeing everyone’s personal right to voice their ballot-box opinion on issues that affected everyone. The Greenline and Bidwell Ranch! So who’s power hungry now?

Rick Clements

Hot pistol

Re “Guns’ symbolic sexuality” (Letters, May 2):

I read with great interest the letter by someone who didn’t want to sign their name to it about how guns are “the ultimate phallic symbol” and that using them is like masturbating. I decided to test this tired theory by substituting my penis for my gun.

When my sweet old donkey collapsed and was suffering through the weekend with no available veterinarian to “put her to sleep,” I masturbated on her forehead. Didn’t work. I still had to shoot her or watch her struggle to breathe.

I was biking the logging roads in Manton and confronted by a crankster who insisted he owned Ponderosa Way and that I’d better turn around. I dropped my pants and pointed my tiny little penis at him. Didn’t scare him one bit. He knew I’d never be able to hit him from 20 feet and had no time for a reload. He had an actual gun, so I pulled up my pants and left.

The most embarrassing part of this experiment was when I was cleaning my penis and it just went off. Accidental discharge everywhere.

Your point about women who like guns having penis envy is well taken. My wife’s gun is bigger than mine.

But sometimes a gun is just a gun.

Aaron Standish

Bad people with legal guns

Re “Too many guns to find” (Letters, by Allan Clark, May 2):

Gun advocates often make statements that are conspicuously untrue. Here is one common example: Mr. Clark wrote, “Gangs, drug lords, smugglers, bank robbers, bad people in general do not get their guns from a store.”

One can easily make a long list of “bad people” who got their guns from a store. Here are a few recent and obvious examples:

Jared Loughner, of Tucson, who shot Gabrielle Giffords and others. Cho Seung-Hui, who killed 32 people at Virginia Tech. And I quote the following from ABC News about the Aurora movie theater shooter: “James Holmes purchased four guns at local shops and more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition on the Internet in the past 60 days,” Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates told a news conference this evening, ‘All the ammunition he possessed, he possessed legally; all the weapons he possessed, he possessed legally; all the clips he possessed, he possessed legally,’ Oates said.”

Daniel Griggs

What’s the big hurry?

Re “Put your hands up!” (Guest comment, by Tom Steele, May 2):

Wait a minute!

Isn’t that all Officer Stephen Dyke needed to do? Just wait a minute, so he could confirm the identity of Tom Steele’s car? It was a question of a stolen car, for Christ’s sake, not a homicide! Officer Dyke’s reaction was excessive and traumatic.

A stolen car is not a life-and-death situation or a “high risk traffic stop procedure,” as the police chief claimed. It is an identity issue that can be cleared up in a minute. Why does this situation even require a traffic stop?

If it is “department policy” to pull a gun and threaten a citizen every time an officer has a question about the identity of a car, then our department policy needs to be changed. What kind of a community do we want, anyway? What ever happened to “innocent until proven guilty”?

This seems part of the militarization of our police. We didn’t create our police force because we are at war with ourselves. Has “Protect and Serve” become “draw a gun and disable”?

This is a wake-up call to citizens to call your City Council to modify some Police Department policies to be a little more civilized and a little less militaristic!

Charles Withuhn