Letters for November 18, 2010

“Where do Jerry Harris and others get the idea that the Tea Party is a racist organization? If you don’t agree politically with people, are they then racist?”—Wayne Rice

Who is Del Hughes?

Re “The Del Hughes story” (Cover story, by Jaime O’Neill, Nov. 11):

Jaime O’Neill does us a great service by reminding us that most people are neither purely good nor purely bad. Life would be easier—and a whole lot less interesting—if things were black or white. But they’re not.

I once read a memoir about an avowed Nazi who, when dying of cancer, was visited many times by a Jewish neighbor. At first, the Nazi spoke admiringly about Hitler’s “final solution” and the tragedy that befell the world when Germany lost WWII. But eventually the conversations led to a deep friendship. More important, the Nazi discovered within himself the ability to put aside prejudice and observe reality. And the Jewish neighbor confirmed the fact that inside every person—even every Nazi—is the potential for love and understanding. Evil and good existed within one soul.

We don’t have to like the protagonist in Jaime’s story, nor even forgive him. But because he obviously has positive qualities, our knowledge of Del Hughes can be useful to us whenever we’re in a position to judge people, including ourselves.

Murray Suid

You’ve lost your edge, Mr. O’Neill. Trash the town of Paradise; its school district and even make a generalization about the demographics. All to put a rosy spin on your friend’s actions. Talk about one-sided, biased journalism.

Before you call me out to say I missed the point, I will add that I have a 24-year-old son who was just given a two-year vacation to San Quentin. Car theft. Oh yes, he is a Norteño also. I love my son very much, and of my four kids, he is the one who has gone astray. I will not make excuses for him, though.

We are all confronted with decisions each day and then given ample opportunity to consider the range of choices. Should one make a bad pick, it seems fitting to accept responsibility, take the consequences, learn from it and then move on, rather than seek out reasons, excuses and justification.

This reminds me of said son’s reply so many years ago upon a stint in school detention: “My teacher hates me. She is mean to everyone and nobody like her.” By the way, my son also is diagnosed with ADHD and being bipolar. Sad and frustrating, but still not good enough to justify a crime against another.

Mike Butson

I was a student of Mr. Hughes’. After high school, we kept in touch, and he grew to be a friend. He is by far one of the most influential people who actually had an impact on my life. If it were possible, and if I had children, I would still send them to a class taught by Del Hughes. He will remain one of my favorite people of all time.

I loved the truth and depth in this interpretation of his story. I know (which most people lack in understanding) that some of the most brilliant people are in fact … still human. Del Hughes is a brilliant human being, and if there ever were a way that I could help clear his name or stand for him, I would, without shadow of a doubt.

Mr. Hughes taught me more about music, English and life than he knows. I will forever be a supporter.

Amber Sauer

I have never read such a biased and complete full-of-crap story. I am a former student of Del’s, so it is not that I do not know him or do not like him. He is a nice man and good teacher. However, this story puts him in a light that makes what he did OK.

He had troubles in his life and career. Don’t we all? That does not mean that every person who works hard and has a few hardships along the way can steal and can rationalize it.

I don’t care how hard you work and how little you get out of it, stealing money from your students is not an option. This story makes it sound like he deserves an award for his troubles.

Kristina Turner

Racism isn’t the norm

Re “Bits and pieces” (From This Corner, by Robert Speer, Nov. 11):

Is there racism in Chico? Yes, as in all communities of all races. Are the hate-filled rants that teenage boys hurl at members of another race indicative of the feelings of the community in general? No, they are not.

If racism were the norm, we would not have black people in our majority-white town. Is Jerry Harris likely to be killed by a white racist? Probably not. Is our nation racist because we have more blacks in prison than any other nation? We have a large black prison population because we have a lot of black crime.

Many people feel this black crime rate is high because of the 70 percent of black children born without fathers in the home. Does the welfare system support this number? Undoubtedly.

Where do Jerry Harris and others get the idea that the Tea Party is a racist organization? If you don’t agree politically with people, are they then racist?

Mr. Harris, I am sorry you had to experience such hateful words in Chico. The vast majority of folks judge people by their character, not by the color of their skin. I believe the election of a black president in a country with a 12 percent black population shows this to be the case.

Wayne Rice

Bullying in the workplace

Re “Words are killing us” (Guest Comment, by Trudy Duisenberg, Nov. 11):

Well written, Trudy! Healthy Workplace Advocates have said almost exactly this to legislators in California, Illinois, New York and a dozen other states. Our bill to stop harassment for everyone at work gets stalled in legislative committee with help from the mighty nationalized Chamber of Commerce, the educational establishment and other “old-boy systems.”

Right now, workplace bullying is presently legal, so long as the target cannot prove the now virtually impossible-to-prove discrimination. No wonder the bullies are running rampant and we have degraded to a corrupt nation.

We are far behind other developed nations that have better managed to grow up and personally hold the perpetrators legally responsible. Until we outlaw repeated, health-harming mistreatment that disrupts normal productivity, we will remain a “vulture culture.”

Carrie Clark
Co-founder, Healthy Workplace Advocates


Don’t sell our water south

Re “Groundwater at stake” (Guest comment, by Jim Brobeck, Nov. 4):

After reading this article, I realized there’s more to selling our water than the Glenn Colusa Irrigation District (GCID) leads us to believe. Jim revealed the frightening statistics and potential harm that would take place if the plan to sell our water to San Joaquin Valley water districts succeeds.

I don’t want to see our drinking water become a source of “new water” for the southern region. They’re fully aware of the damage to local streams and wells that would occur if their plan goes through. The GCID doesn’t care about the possible damage; they are willing to do whatever it takes to sell our water.

Their attempt to misinform us with the half-truth analysis of water-level slumps was outrageous. I need to know about the possible 40-80-foot slumps, not just the 2-6-foot slumps. I want Lake Oroville to be full while also avoiding a divided local population. The only way this can happen is if this plan is widely rejected.

Rexx Clifton

Van Der Ploeg’s sweet deal

The recent announcement of the retirement, at age 57(!), of Butte College President Diana Van Der Ploeg really rings a bell—as in city of Bell, Calif. Is anyone investigating? I sure hope so, because I have a few questions we taxpayers need answered.

1. Has any Butte College or Chico State administrator ever retired at age 60 or older?

2. Do they all use the same press release? You know, “I promised to stay longer but I’ve decided I need to spend more time with my family smelling the roses, touring Europe, etc., etc.”

3. How much will we be paying Van Der Ploeg during her retirement?

4. When she recently got her contract extended and said she “intended to remain for at least a couple more years,” did her contract get renegotiated to increase her retirement benefits? How much more did she get?

As the scandal in Bell revealed, local newspapers and taxpayers need to start paying much closer attention to public-administrator salaries and especially retirement packages. This not-so-funny business of retiring with big bucks after just seven years on the job has got to stop!

Richard Bateman

Editor’s note: For more on this subject, see the Guest Comment.