Letters for November 2, 2006

Editor’s note: Even with extra space allotted in the print edition, we got more letters than we could run and needed to condense some. Here are the longer versions, plus some additional letters.

Note to readers from CN&R’s CEO
After our endorsements for City Council in the Oct. 26 issue of the Chico News & Review, I received numerous e-mails and letters from friends, associates and longtime supporters of the paper complaining about one endorsement and questioning my personal involvement as owner of the News & Review. I’d like to respond to those comments.

Almost all of the remarks that were sent in reflected three different points:

First, there was an assumption that the endorsement was written or influenced by me directly. As some of you know, I own three newspapers—in Chico, Reno and Sacramento. In each of the papers, the editors are given the latitude to endorse whomever they want to endorse. In this particular case, this responsibility went to Evan Tuchinsky and his editorial staff.

In 25 years of running the Chico News & Review, I have never interfered with editorial endorsements. Interesting evidence of this fact is that over the years my three papers have contradicted each other with differing opinions on what they would endorse. I am completely out of the loop when it comes to this; case in point, the first time I knew who my editorial staff had endorsed was when I received the e-mails about the endorsements.

Second, some people thought that I had influenced the endorsements for sales/advertising motives. Let me say simply, this is absurd. First, Evan did not know about Mr. Sorensen’s advertising, and, second, we have received such a minimal amount of advertising from Mr. Sorensen that this accusation is not one that I can take seriously.

Third, some people questioned the role of the News & Review within the community. The mission of the newspaper is to have a positive impact on our community and make it a better place to live.

I believe that reasonable committed individuals who love Chico can and do disagree about different issues facing Chico. Unfortunately, slates, rudeness and political posturing have worked to keep important community dialogue from occurring. In this election, Evan Tuchinsky and the editorial staff from the Chico News & Review moved away from slate politics to endorse the best person regardless of slate for the City Council. It is clearly a controversial step, but I support them.

You can choose to believe that the editorial staff and I have figured out a brilliant way to profit from this CN&R endorsement. I certainly know of no way that this could have been accomplished. Or, you can look at it from my perspective and see that moving away from petty political divisiveness will make Chico a better town.

Jeff VonKaenel
President/CEO, Chico Community Publishing

Some of what he’s talking about
Re: “Now here’s what we think” (Cover story package, CN&R, Oct. 26):

Well, your march to the middle is now complete. I now wade through pages of ads and feel-good editorials about trees, flowers, buildings and the wonderment of the North State to get to the news and politics that has historically elevated CN&R over the daily rag. But, that is mostly gone.

Now, under the guise of not wanting to choose too many candidates from one side, you hand the council over to the developer majority. Do you really think that San Jose is a better model than slow, smart growth? Do you really think that Mayor Wahl is better than Mayor Gruendl? Do you really think a member of the developer slate orchestrated by Rick Keene and friends is better than an independent-thinking, smart-growth safety professional like Nickell?

Shame on you.

Paul Friedlander

In a similar vein …
There is always the chance that this is an over-the-top liberal year, but I doubt it. In the many articles I’ve written for you folks looking at the basis of election outcomes for City Council over the years, the issue comes down to the relative turnout from the east and west sides of town.

I would guess that this is a year where it will be about a 10 percent differential, which means that the election results for council will be mixed. With your endorsement, I would wager that you have given us Sorensen as the top vote-getter and the two incumbents as our [other] winners.

Your suggestion that on most issues there isn’t a liberal-conservative split is, of course, correct. As I used to argue when I was on the local school board, 99 percent of what we did was just getting out of the way and letting what was best for kids reign.

In that sense, anyone who doesn’t come with an axe to grind or who isn’t a complete ideologue could be elected and the results of council actions would be the same.

The problem is there are ideologues out there, and the decisions that are close now are the really crucial ones for the future of this community.

Your stance is like arguing that since most Supreme Court decisions are not 5-4 there isn’t really a liberal-conservative split on the court, or that it doesn’t matter who ultimately becomes a justice. Of course it matters, and your naive perspective has created a strong likelihood that those who run this town are not supporters of your paper or its readers.

Robert Ross

Why not Watts?
I believe the omission of Anthony Watts from your endorsements for Chico School Board is a glaring error.

During my past four years on the board, I was repeatedly astounded with the amount of personal time and energy he contributed to his position. In the heat of public scrutiny, I was impressed with the open-mindedness with which he approached each issue. The education business is rife with academic camaraderie and a way-it’s-always-been-done mentality he has never bought into.

Despite the fact that we are polar opposites on many issues and his quirky thoughts on global warming, please remember that this is a nonpartisan office. Anthony Watts has served this community in a way most of us only dream our elected officials will, by actually rolling up his sleeves and immersing himself in the challenges.

Scott Huber

Why ‘no’ on 1C?
I thought it was a foregone conclusion that the News & Review would endorse Proposition 1C, the housing infrastructure bond measure. So, I didn’t think that I would need to tell the editorial staff that 1C will provide funding for shelters and affordable homes throughout the state.

Proposition 1C will make a long-term investment in housing that will benefit the California economy. The governor has proposed 1C as a part of his comprehensive infrastructure package, and the Chico Chamber of Commerce has endorsed it. 1C will help shelter battered women and homeless families and provide homes for seniors and working families.

Proposition 1C is a critical part of the plan to rebuild California, just as critical as funding roads, levees or schools. All are necessary, and that is why it is a package of infrastructure measures.

All of the Proposition 1C programs are existing programs that have no funds available. One of these programs from the 2002 bond financed 86 new affordable rental homes for families in Chico that are currently under construction. Without this investment, 86 families would not have a new home sometime next fall. CHIP’s Self Help Housing Program, now getting ready to build seven homes in Chico, will be able to use 1C loan funds locally to help more first-time homebuyers.

I’m glad that I’m able to make sure that the News & Review staff (and readers) know how important Yes on Proposition 1C is.

Dave Ferrier
executive director, Community Housing Improvement Program, Chico

Rancher’s response
Re: “Horse sensibility” (Letters, by Joel Felice, CN&R, Oct. 19):

I’m writing in response to the letter criticizing Congressman Wally Herger’s vote against legislation banning the processing of horses in the United States. What that letter failed to mention was that the poorly drafted bill provided no funding or management authority for unwanted horses and was opposed by the country’s largest equine veterinary groups. They warned that 80,000 to 90,000 horses per year would be abandoned or neglected if horse processing facilities are closed.

Mr. Herger’s vote, based on good, sound judgment and sound animal husbandry practices, was appropriate and appreciated in this rural part of the state. His kind of common-sense leadership is something we need more of in Congress.

Myron Openshaw

Herbert on deficit
Re: “Budget monster—fact or fiction?” (Guest Comment, by Andy Holcombe, CN&R, Nov. 02):

During the past four years, the city of Chico’s budget went from having record reserves to falling 40 percent short of meeting reserves required by city budget policy.

Chico Today News, mailed by city staff to every resident last week, featured its front page story on the city’s impending budget deficit. City Manager Greg Jones writes: “If no changes are implemented, [costs] will continue to accelerate faster than revenues, causing continuing budget deficits and allowing no room for increasing levels of service which the community needs.” These are his words to the Chico community, not mine.

Roughly 85 percent of the city expenditures are fixed costs. Those costs aren’t to blame for the recent downturn in the city’s budget. Here are some examples:

While Mr. Holcombe states that creek-side parkway acquisitions have little impact on operating budgets, he fails to mention the City Manager’s warning to Council that we have no funds earmarked for maintenance for any of these parkway acquisitions.

After the Council majority ignored our City Attorney’s warning, the costs to prepare for the predicted lawsuit (the largest in our city’s history) have reached nearly $200,000. The attorney fees to defend the city have just begun to accumulate.

The city has capable staff, yet we pay hundreds of thousands of dollars each year for additional consultants and charettes. Not only do these direct expenses burden the taxpayer, they delay projects for years, adding millions to the city’s total costs.

We must get our fiscal house in order.

Dan Herbert

Editor’s note: The following letter references the same budget information discussed in the Guest Comment.

Support for slate
The city of Chico is facing some major financial difficulties in the coming years. The City Manager is projecting a $40 million deficit over the next 10 years, redevelopment funds have been overspent by millions of dollars with no focus on replacing aging infrastructure, and there are $100 million to $200 million in unmet neighborhood improvement needs. This situation deeply concerns me.

Now, more than ever, Chico needs people on the City Council who understand the gravity of this problem, and have the experience, courage and integrity to make decisions necessary to bring this excessive spending under control.

As a proud member of the Hooker Oak Alliance, I had the opportunity to interview all six of the candidates. I was impressed by all six. They are all good, concerned citizens of our city, and I respect them all.

However, three of the candidates stood above the others. Those three candidates are Mark Sorensen, Dan Herbert and Michael Dailey. I came away from those interviews with the firm belief that these three men are the right people to be guiding Chico in the coming years. So vote for Sorensen, Herbert and Dailey for Chico City Council. It truly is in the best interests of Chico.

Thomas N. Hall

‘Chico needs Flynn’
We are writing in support of Mary Flynn, candidate for Chico City Council. We can vouch for her integrity, open-mindedness, concern for the welfare of all Chico citizens and devotion to the enhancement of the Chico environment.

She has broad experience in business, education and community projects. She was publisher in an innovative publishing company. She is program director for the Chico High Academic Mentor Program. She is a co-founder and past chair of the board of the Chico Community Shelter Partnership, which established Chico’s first permanent homeless shelter.

In addition to her practical experiences are her valuable personal qualities. She is fair and calm, and she works diligently. She listens to people intently and is a consensus builder. Mary is upbeat, smart and has the ability not only to envision a future of Chico where we all want to live but to make those goals become a reality.

Chico needs Mary Flynn on the City Council to bring civility and cooperation among future members. We urge you to cast your vote for her.

Kathleen P. Muldoon

William H. Banaka

More on Mary
I’m writing to add my voice to those who support Mary Flynn in her campaign to win a seat on the City Council. I’ve heard it said that if you really want to know a person, you should travel with them. Well, I’ve traveled with Mary Flynn.

In the spring of 2005, Mary and I were selected by the U.S. Department of State to visit schools in the Ukraine. We lived with a Ukrainian family for the two weeks we were there. At the time we were selected, I only knew Mary slightly. By the time we returned, I could honestly say that I know her well.

She was a great ambassador for Chico, for California and for the United States. Many of the people we spoke to had never met an American. I believe that those people now think of Americans as reasonable, rational, sensible people due in no small part to the way they were treated by Mary.

In those two weeks I developed a genuine admiration and deep respect for Mary Flynn. She is smart, funny, hard-working, decent and honest. She is exactly what she appears to be—there is nothing false about her. I should know: I traveled with her. She will make an excellent councilmember.

Robert Quist

It is my privilege to have known Mary Flynn for over 10 years. Her commitment to the community as a whole, and especially to her students at Chico High School, has been acknowledged by many letters to the editor.

I am proud to add my name to the large and growing list of her supporters.

Mary is someone whose sense of fairness toward all members of our community has been demonstrated throughout her many years of community involvement.

She has the ability to gain the respect of all who come in contact with her.

As one who has worked with Mary on projects such as the development of the Torres Community Shelter, I can say without hesitation: her integrity is beyond question. I encourage all who seek an intelligent, fair-minded city councilmember to vote for Mary Flynn.

Heather Schlaff

I am a local attorney and a former Butte County deputy district attorney and have known Mary Flynn for many years. I can unconditionally say she deserves your vote for City Council on Nov. 7.

Voltaire said that common sense is not so common. Mary not only possesses common sense, but also is compassionate, honest, an excellent communicator, a good listener, and willing to consider all sides of an issue.

She has an impressive business background—at the apex of her corporate career, she supervised a 60-member product development team for an innovative publishing house now part of Macmillan/McGraw-Hill and oversaw the company’s $40 million annual budget.

A pioneer in developing mathematics curricula, Mary presently teaches mathematics at Chico Senior High and is program director for the school’s academic mentor program. As a City Councilmember, she will work hard to ensure that today’s young people inherit a well-planned, environmentally healthy city that is also appreciated for its abundant economic opportunities and strong sense of community.

An active community volunteer with groups including Habitat for Humanity and the League of Women Voters, Mary is also a founding member of the Chico Community Shelter Partnership (and served as the chair of its Board of Directors).

She is a fantastic person, with a great reputation and not beholden to special interests. Please put your trust in Mary on Nov. 7.

Shawn G. Stinson

Nickell valued
The train to a sustainable future for Chico left the station at a recent City Council meeting. The progressive majority skillfully led by Mayor Scott Gruendl is to be commended for vision and positive leadership.

I know of another candidate for Chico City Council who shares these progressive values and appreciates the value of leading Chico to a greener, sustainable future. That candidate is Tom Nickell.

Tom has a distinguished career of public service with the CHP to his credit. He has experience with planning and development in Southern California and appreciates first-hand the danger of urban sprawl. Tom has great leadership skills and a vision for Chico’s future that reflects the values of people who want Chico to maintain its outstanding quality of life, now and forever.

Please join me in supporting and voting for Tom Nickell for Chico City Council.

Corinne Mugley

CARD players
On Nov. 7, the citizens of the Chico Area Recreation District will elect three members to the CARD Board of Directors. I am voting for Jan Sneed and Fred Brooks.

Jan is a three-term incumbent who has accomplished much for our community. She can proudly point to the thriving youth programs, the basketball facility at Community Park, and DeGarmo Community Park, which is in the process of being constructed. Jan’s vision is to complete DeGarmo and continue building programs for youth, adults, and seniors.

Fred Brooks has 45 years of experience in park and recreation planning. He has worked in the private sector and taught at Chico State for 20 years. Fred has won multiple awards for his park planning successes. Fred has the expedience and vision to be a very productive member of the CARD Board of Directors.

Please join me and vote for Jan Sneed and Fred Brooks

Maureen Kirk

No on 90
Proposition 90 would make taxpayers pay if government needed to guide growth and protect the environment through regulation. Deceptively promoted as “eminent domain reform,” the far-reaching measure would allow virtually anyone to sue over virtually any new law, simply by claiming that it had caused “significant economic loss” to their property.

A coalition of more than 200 diverse groups and more than 20 major daily newspapers oppose this dangerous measure. According to Ken Willis, president of the League of California Homeowners, “Prop. 90 is a trap that actually hurts homeowners. It would cost taxpayers billions and erode basic laws that protect our communities, our neighborhoods and the value of our homes.”

I encourage all voters to vote no on Proposition 90.

Roger Cole
Forest Ranch

It’s one thing to bankrupt a Texas oil-rigging company and a Texas professional ball club, but quite another to economically, morally, ethically and spiritually bankrupt our nation, as this current administration and its supporters, such as Wally Herger, have done.

Gary Shallenberger

Flier backfires
I am a lifelong Republican who in 35 years of voting has never cast a ballot for a Democrat, but today I have decided to support Democratic candidate Charlie Brown for the 4th Congressional District. Why? I received a flier from the National Republican Congressional Committee titled “Immigration has become a political football,” which makes some outrageous claims that I have since learned are entirely untrue.

The flier falsely claims that Mr. Brown supports amnesty for 11 million illegal immigrants and Social Security and “nearly $50 billion in taxpayer-funded” benefits for “illegals” as well as higher wages for guest workers than for American citizens. Two officials of the Brown campaign informed me that every one of these claims is false. In fact, Mr. Brown is opposed to granting amnesty to illegal immigrants and is opposed to their receiving Social Security or other taxpayer-funded benefits.

Mr. Brown is an Air Force Academy graduate, retired Air Force officer and pilot, and father of a young man who has served in Iraq. Mr. Brown’s positions on the issues are reasonable, mainstream and consistent with the values that we share within the 4th District. I encourage you to join me in voting for Charlie Brown on Nov. 7.

Matt Williams
South Lake Tahoe

‘False dichotomy’
It seems to be increasingly difficult for the Bush administration to distract American citizens from the issue of its own incompetence and the malfeasance of the Republican Party. This having been said, I am not at all certain that the Republicans will lose control of the House come Nov. 7.

The most pressing issue in my mind, however, is this: Even if the Democrats were swept back into congressional dominance atop a wave of popular discontent, what difference would it make? Just because the Democratic and Republican parties are constantly attacking each other in no way implies they represent distinctly different agendas. This is due in no small part to campaign-finance laws that grant wealthy Americans undue influence on government policy.

Perhaps it’s time we Americans reject the false dichotomy of the so-called “two-party system” and consider alternative candidates.

Patrick O’Connor

Cold reading
Re: “In spirit” (Backbeat, by Meredith J. Cooper, CN&R, Oct. 26):

I was disturbed by Ms. Cooper’s open, uncritical endorsement of mediums. According to the article, the only skeptical viewpoint she’d gotten on this was South Park!

Even the most superficial research reveals that mediums use a technique called “cold reading,” which is a combination of questioning, memory and careful deductions. Magicians like Harry Houdini and James “the Amazing” Randi have devoted a large part of their lives to debunking psychics, after they observed the seers using the same techniques used in magicians’ stage shows. Although cold reading has been known about for centuries, mediums are still popular due to people’s intense desire for proof of an afterlife.

Does this mean all mediums are con artists? No. Many do the techniques subconsciously and actually believe they have powers.

I lost both of my parents to disease a month ago. All I have left is memories, and I would never dream of having those muddied by some third party attempting to speak for them.

Brent Bartlett

Kudos for columnist
Re: “Happy indeed!” (Letters, by Susan Minasian, CN&R, Oct. 12):

I want to support Susan M’s opinion that Anthony Peyton Porter’s column is exemplary. I appreciate his perspective. He represents with simple, succinct, thought-provoking gems.

His words influence. So, “I’m happy” was great, but “I’m senile,” not so good. But, don’t change a word, Anthony. You’re for real. Sounds like truth. No frills. I particularly enjoyed the column on “Proud of what?”

You make me laugh. Make me think. Can you make me cry? I look forward to your columns.

Kathy Ramirez
ChicoI surely do look forward to and enjoy your column—especially the one titled “Happiness” and, also, “Old.” I am collecting them, so keep writing!

Ida Grace Armorr

Editor’s note: His latest column can be found here.

Evaluating artistry
Recently it was my privilege to serve as a member of one of the Public Art Selection panels. It is the task of these panels to assist our Arts Commission by viewing the proposals presented and selecting the artists to receive grants for various public art projects during the coming year.

A high degree of artistic merit and craftsmanship was evident in all the proposals and making a judgment was much harder to do than I had imagined. In the end I felt proud of Chico and was reminded once again why we moved here a dozen years ago. This community is blessed by an incredible wealth of talent in all the arts—music, theatre, painting, sculpture, printmaking—as well as our many writers and poets.

It is easy to take cheap political shots at public art as a “waste of our money.” Sure, we all have our likes and dislikes. Yet numerous studies show the economic benefits that accrue to all in the presence of a vibrant artistic community. And in a long view, what could be more of a “waste” of taxpayers’ money than filling a pothole that only needs to be constantly refilled again?

There is no reason why we cannot support our artists and also fill our potholes - both are the responsibilities of a town that has “grown up.”

Michael Mulcahy

An ideal Palais
We want to thank Jason Cassidy in association with 1078 Gallery for creating and presenting the Palais Ideal Music Festival at various venues throughout downtown Chico last weekend. It was an incredible opportunity to listen to an experimental music line-up the likes Chico has never heard. By our count there was over 53 hours of live performance from over 71 musical groups comprising 170 musicians.

Some highlights were the 24-Hour Drone at Drive-by Gallery, amplified rocks, video projections, laptop music, a 25-foot long stringed instrument, menacing crickets … the list goes on. We usually have to travel to San Francisco and beyond to see such creative explorations in sound and video.

We’d also like to thank 1078 Gallery, Café Flo, Moxies Cafe, Has Beans, Paradise Lost Video, 24 Hour Drive-by Gallery, Tower, The Serenity Center and all the volunteers who supported Jason’s creative vision with giving their time.

Patrick Collentine and Susan Larsen

Re: “Museum moving along” (Downstroke, CN&R, Oct. 26): Because of incorrect information from the Northern California Natural History Museum, two members of the Newberry family were listed incorrectly. Shelley Newberry and her husband made the donation; their son at Chico State is Scott. This has been corrected online.