Letters for November 15, 2007

Education gap a matter of degrees
Re: “Give failing grade to law, not schools” (Guest Comment, by Debra-Lou Hoffman, CN&R, Nov. 8):

It always amazes me when “teachers” feel resentment when they are held accountable for our children’s education.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, one-quarter of English teachers do not have a major or minor in English, literature, communications or journalism. One-third of life-science teachers do not have a major or minor in biology or life science. Fifty-six percent of physical-science teachers do not have a major or minor in physics, chemistry, geology, or earth science. More than half of history teachers do not have a major or minor in history. Fifty-nine percent of math teachers do not have a major or minor in mathematics.

More than 4 million students take physics, chemistry, and history from teachers who are not prepared to teach these subjects. Those are the cold hard facts about our teachers. As for our children, 40 percent of students across the nation cannot read at a basic level.

Accountability is essential, and accountability follows money. California applied to the federal government for Title I funds. In return for these funds, California agreed to test all children in grades 3-8 annually and report these test scores.

It’s time politicians stop taking the powerful teachers’ union contributions and give every child in our state the education they deserve.

Martin Sudicky

Better luck this time …
Re: “Reinventing hospital care” (Newslines, by Robert Speer, CN&R, Nov. 8):

Here we go again! Another consultant, another outside group brought in. Has Enloe learned from past experiences with Navigant, JACHO, Compass and Crothal that the administration made unfortunate choices?

Planetree sounds like progress toward patient safety and fair treatment for staff. But does the ‘Tree realize what it’s getting into? Can it put its ideas in practice at our medical center? Can Planetree effectively persuade our administration to be different—for the better?

We hope so. But why in the name of morale didn’t our administration listen to the staff, who has already asked for the same changes and treatment? No, we’re not Sacramento, Mercy Medical or even St. Elizabeth’s. But now we are Planetree at Enloe and should also get the same considerations with attention to safety and staffing, not to mention respect.

Peter Calo

Thanks from Zhang’s Chico family
Re: “Chico singer clings to life in China” (Newslines, by Robert Speer, CN&R, Nov. 8):

Your piece on Mike Zhang was so beautifully written. Thank you for getting Mike and [his wife] Abby’s story out to your readers. We encourage the Chico community to continue to support them with prayers and gifts.

Royce and Joyce Delmatier

Editor’s note: A benefit concert will be held at 7:30 tonight (Nov. 15) at the Trinity United Methodist Church in Chico.

Volleying responses
Re: “Two responses to Gore-bashing” (Letters, CN&R, Nov. 8):

Well, the responses you printed to my letter of Oct. 25 (”A Convenient Lie“) are about of the caliber one would expect from people who are obviously uninformed as to the relevant history or physics of climate change.

The sort of delusions indulged in by Gore are not mere trivialities. They do real harm through the resultant adoption of destructive public policies. The whole object is to cripple the U.S. economy. The European reactionaries who originated the anthropogenic global warming theory know it’s balderdash. Why do you think the Kyoto signatories are even more out of compliance than the U.S. is? It’s all about their inability to keep pace with us.

Sorry, but I don’t feel guilty about the material success of the most free, most energetic and most humane society ever to emerge on this planet. If you hate yourself for being American, you can always go whine about it in such wonderfully libertarian venues as Iran or Cuba.

Chad Wozniak

Literally to the editor
Re: “What’s News & Review worthy?” (Letters, by Bill Strom, CN&R, Nov. 8):

Several things, to wit:

• Though I thoroughly enjoy reading of your personal comings and goings, Baron, I suspect it may be better for you in the long run to be a bit less so …. um … forthcoming. We’re not looking for Ozzie and Harriet here, we’re looking for Lou Grant.

• The reporting and articles on CN&R are first-rate. Good job, Baron. Every week is an exposé into democracy and a reliably respectable read—rare in these days of corporate journalism. Your coverage of Chico’s governmental operations and machinations is second to none. Chico is very lucky to have a newspaper of such quality, and most important, vitality.

• Anthony Porter … Where do I begin (sigh). Anthony is like a petulant child, his emotions so vivid and fluid. One minute he pisses you off with some flippant remark; the next you think he should be nominated for a Pulitzer. Anthony’s Nov. 8 piece, “Booze,” left me scratching my head, though …

T. Bass

Editor’s note: For another critique of Anthony’s recent work, keep reading.

Too wide a dragnet
Re: “Cops” (From The Edge, by Anthony Peyton Porter, CN&R, Nov. 1):

Mr. Porter, I have never been in Minneapolis, and from the description you present, I do not want to visit. It does not sound like a healthy place to live. I knew a chief of police from Minnetonka, Minn., and he drank a full bottle of scotch, all by himself, every night. So it is quite possible that your description of the “cops,” in the territory we are discussing, could be “cowards, bullies and paranoids.”

But that was Minnesota, and you are no longer in Minnesota. We then read a little further into your diatribe to see if we can uncover your feeling toward law enforcement in general, and you seem to be placing all law enforcement into this one bag. You also bring the prejudice of the deep Southern states into your sights as further evidence of the bigoted nature of “cops.”

You could have also talked about the massacre at Kent State [by National Guardsmen in 1970] and made a case that they, too, were gun-happy “cowards.” And I am sure California had some clashes with the anti-war types during the Vietnam War, but I am not aware of any deaths involved in these confrontations.

So, if you were including all of law enforcement (including California) into your intolerant and prejudiced harangue, I take pity on you. I wonder: Does it feel good to have someone point out to you that you are as bigoted (if not more) as the group you are trying to castigate?

Richard A. Douglas


Shocked? OK, conserve
Re: “State of shock” (Cover story, by R.V. Scheide, CN&R, Oct. 25):

I would commend your story to anyone with a serious interest in our energy future. The one point that I missed in this very comprehensive article deals with conservation, and that it makes a difference how we orient our buildings.

If heating and cooling buildings are indeed 30 percent to 40 percent of total consumption, even small improvements could pay large dividends. Pointing our house in the right direction, minimizing windows on the west side, and adding some thermal mass have all made a big difference for us.

While it is true that we can’t move buildings already constructed, we could set standards for new construction. While I can hear the wails and outcries over choice and freedom, is this really a worse option than expanding coal, oil, gas, or nuclear facilities (which, as the article points out, will only be more expensive and difficult)?

Tom O’Mara

Get our money’s worth
Re: “Civilian oversight” (In My Eyes, by Evan Tuchinsky, CN&R, Oct. 11):

How about we dock the Chico Police Department’s payroll and bring a class-action suit for every ordinance violation that is not currently being enforced, and then hire rent-a-cops to enforce every ordinance violation that Chico police are being paid to enforce? This would solve our current and future deficit, plus bring justice to those whose public safety was stolen to bankroll the privileged class.

I recently asked Chico’s city manager to investigate and publish all ordinances not currently being enforced. No response yet. Wonder why? Shouldn’t we know what we are paying for and not getting?

A good place to start the class-action suit would be with homeowners who filed insurance claims to recover damages, only to be penalized with higher premiums, with not so much as a police report or investigation. The second could be the lower-income homeowners who pay a high deductible and absorb damage costs directly out of their own pocket. Next, residents who suffer irreplaceable loss.

We could pool and put the proceeds in a fund for future public litigations against the city of Chico. That would even the playing field with the city attorney, and that is justice.

Ann Ashley

Remember El Chorrillo
This weekend (Nov. 15-18) will be the annual demonstration advocating closure of the CIA’s School of the Americas. Perhaps the most notorious graduate of the SOA was Manuel Noriega, the Panamanian dictator and drug-cartel strongman, who was ousted by U.S. military force in December 1989.

While the official American estimate of the number of people killed in that invasion was 515, residents of El Chorrillo barrio believe that the actual number killed was closer to 4,000. Before the invasion El Chorrillo was home to some 25,000 people; afterward it was a huge vacant lot.

Information about the attack is extremely difficult to find because of the news blackout. However, Chico filmmaker Al Mitchell went to Panama and reported information via the Chico News & Review that was rarely mentioned in other news sources.

When will we the people of America start holding our government accountable for the bombing raids carried out for our “security"? How long can we avoid retaliation for such action?

Sharon Fritsch

Plan for no growth
Chico cannot be improved upon. What captivated us about Chico disappears a little each day. Our way of life must be preserved and protected.

Overgrowth has brought houses to Upper Park, a cemented city park, traffic congestion, serious crime, neighborhood destruction, gray air, noise pollution, gated enclaves, park degradation, etc.

Those who have prayed, low these many years, to keep the status quo await a City Council, a Planning Commission, a city staff or a chamber to take a stand for Chico other than greed. (Read The Lorax by Dr. Seuss to learn the history of Chico.)

The general plan’s heart and soul should be the preservation and protection of Chico’s unique environment. This uniqueness cannot survive the overgrowth that’s taking place. Keeping the status quo now makes sense.

Jerry Olio

Parting shot
A portion of Romans 1:22—"Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools"—seems to describe our representatives in Washington collectively to a T. It also pertains to all of us who are unable or unwilling to acknowledge the validity of that passage.

Joe Bahlke
Red Bluff