Letters for November 22, 2007

Constitution vs. events ordinance
Re: “Putting up their dukes” (Newslines, CN&R, Nov. 15):

First Amendment says: “Congress shall make no law … prohibiting the free exercise of the right of the people peaceably to assemble …”

Ordinance says: Any event can be shut down if police allege it has “behaviors likely to … provoke a violent reaction from another person.”

Logic says: Your right to protest must be protected regardless of reactions from bystanders.

Fourth Amendment: “The right of the people to be secure … against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause …”

Ordinance: “… circumstantial evidence shall be sufficient …”

Logic: No burden of proof.

Fifth Amendment: “… nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy … nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Eighth Amendment: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed …”

Ordinance: “A separate offense is committed for each and every hour or part of an hour … punishment shall be cumulative …”

Logic: One must pay the fine to gain the right to appeal. The appeals process is through the Police Department. Additionally, police can issue fines of infinite size by fining you for each “part of an hour,” which can be as short a time as they want.

Tenth Amendment: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved … to the people.”

Logic: The ordinance is too broad and is an overregulation of your exercise of freedom. Leave the power in the hands of the people.

Benn Davenport

Degrees of separation
Re: “Education gap a matter of degrees” (Letters, by Martin Sudicky, CN&R, Nov. 15):

It seems there may be a misunderstanding regarding the issue of No Child Left Behind and the article that was written opposing its re-authorization [”Give failing grade to law, not schools,” Guest Comment, by Debra-Lou Hoffman, Nov. 8]. The article was not written to be a slam against accountability; it was written to expose some of the shortcomings of the bill.

English learners and learning-disabled students make up a combined 37 percent of California’s public school population, which means, by and large, those 37 percent have little chance of succeeding with the mandatory testing. Is it fair for 37 percent of California’s students to fail a test they have no clue about how to take? Or to deny the schools the money they so desperately need to educate these children specifically because they are labeled as “at risk” or “under performing"?

Granted, the bill requires that teachers be effective at what they do, which is why many of the teachers mentioned by Mr. Sudicky are now being required to retrain or recertify in order to keep teaching, which is a good thing.

The budget for education in the country today is roughly $550 billion. The amount of federal funding is a grand total of $14.3 billion. Why is it that the federal government is allowed to dictate the way testing and education should be handled when the amount it gives for education is less than 10 percent?

Maybe we should give the teachers the tools to teach effectively and allow them to do the job they have been trained to do.

Richard Gray

End times for rhymes?
Re: “Fertile minds” (Poetry 99 winners, CN&R, Nov. 15):

When did rhythm and rhyme die in poetry? All the adult poems chosen for publication were essentially blank or free verse. Equal rights in poetry! Give us some harmony in sound and time.

English profs scoff at Emily Dickinson. Her thoughts could be set to music! If Shakespeare submitted a sonnet, would it be rejected because it’s fit for a tune?

Artists whose inner sensations flow into linguistic expressions naturally write in rhyme. Are the sounds of their happy bounds forever barred by contemporary critics? Yet, natural rhythms are timeless!

Missing a message’s depth simply because it’s melodic is distracted at best. Rhyming is not just cutesy—it’s enchanting word wizardry. (By the way, the adult poems that struck me most powerfully were “Lindsay Lohan Doll” and “Spare Parts 3.")

Irene Cardenas

Editor’s note: The two poems cited by Ms. Cardenas were free verse, illustrating not only that she appreciates that style, but our editors do as well. Writing rhymes that flow freely, rather than sound forced, is hard to do. Had a sonneteer of Shakespearean ability entered our contest, rest assured that he or she would have gotten judges’ votes.

Re: “Online classes: yay or nay?” (Campus, by Tang Lor, CN&R, Nov. 15):

While it is nice to be able to take courses online, the question is this: Who is really taking the course? I know of a person who took online courses to get his bachelor’s degree and then his master’s, but the person who did the courses and took the tests wasn’t him, but his mother and girlfriend.

I would hope that a university or college would have safeguards to prevent this, but it seems that the university he chose didn’t, and he has his degrees and no one is the wiser …

Dennis Klamfoth

Thanks for your help!
Re: “Fighting the wild” (15 Minutes, by Tang Lor, CN&R, Nov. 15):

Hey you guys [Butte County firefighters], you do not even begin to know how grateful we are for you being down here in Southern California helping protect our homes.

Sure, 25 percent of Deerhorn Valley lost its homes, and there were no fire trucks or sheriff or border patrol [officers] anywhere when we left our home at 11:30 p.m. and with the orange glow of the fire in sight. We live in the Chaparral, or rural area of San Diego County, on a dirt road, and the fire came through three times in some places and totally wiped out homes and other buildings.

Some residents who stayed behind to protect their homes never saw a fire truck. We lost most of our buildings but were excited to meet the guys from Marin County who helped to save a portion of our home. We love them for what they did and are grateful for their willingness and [that of] others from up north to come down here and help out.

If you were on or near Mother Grundy Truck Trail and its many side roads, an extra special thanks to whoever you are, and to your families who shared you with us.

Phyllis Dozier

Appeasement’s cost
Re: “Wars’ hidden costs” (Editorial, CN&R, Nov. 15):

In fairness to your readers, we should examine the cost of appeasement and the history of terrorism.

1979: Iran hostage crisis; Jimmy Carter fails to take decisive action and radical Islam is born.

1983: Bombing of Marine barracks Beirut, Lebanon.

1985: TWA hijacking; again, appeasement.

1988: Pan Am 103; no military response.

1993: First WTC bombing; no response.

1998: U.S. Embassy bombing in East Africa.

2000: Attack on U.S.S. Cole; no response.

9/11/2001: Finally time to respond.

Perhaps if the hero of the pacifists, Bill Clinton, would have done more then toss a few cruise missiles into the desert and bomb an aspirin factory, the growing threat of Islamic extremism would not have had the capability or courage to carry out 9/11.

I may not agree with the way President Bush has conducted the war, but I do know we have the enemy busy in Afghanistan and Iraq, not New York or Los Angeles. So I ask you, what price do you place on the lives of a few thousand Americans? We can spend now and win, or we can embrace surrender and appeasement and pay much more in the future—both in lives and dollars.

We did not start this war, and not one of us—Democrat or Republican, left or right—wants war. We should all want victory, whatever the cost. The price of surrender would be much greater.

Gary Lapple

Flip side of that coin
One of the sad results of the Iraq War is that we have created a private, unaccountable army of more than 180,000 mercenaries.

There are now more mercenaries than American soldiers in Iraq. It is believed they are better paid and armed than our soldiers. This makes it much easier to conduct wars, as these armies are even more secret than our government and they will go wherever they are paid to go.

Another sad result is that we have armed so many people in Iraq that an unending war there is a likely possibility, whether we remove all our troops or not.

Norm Dillinger

Editor’s note: News reports cite 180,000 as the amount of contract workers in Iraq.

Health-care query
Here’s an interesting question: “Why is it that we spend more than $6,000 per person per year for health care in this country and still have close to 47 million people with no coverage, while Canadians spend about half of what we spend, yet have longer life expectancies, lower infant mortality rates, and all their people have equal care available to them?”

Where is this question to be found—a radical magazine? Hardly. Dan Kanoza provided this question to be asked of presidential candidates in an American Association of Retired Persons presidential forum.

I have just asked our congressman [Rep. Wally Herger] the same question. I await his response.

Lynn H. Elliott

This in Chico?!?
Very recently, my mentally challenged brother was waiting for a bus, in broad daylight, on a weekday, in downtown Chico, when a pack of 10 or so youths about 13 years old stopped and threatened to beat up my brother (for no given reason). My brother responded telling them they would get in trouble. Luckily for him, the youths stared at him a minute, then took off.

When I was told of this incident, I immediately reported it to the non-emergency police number and was told the police department would make a note of it so that “they know it happened.” Given the news about gratuitous “violence for fun” among juveniles, this development frightens and angers me.

Maybe we are not paying our police enough while our City Council members are overpaid and allowed to put up ugly projects like the hands at City Hall and that horrible-looking downtown city park.

I’ve lived in Chico a long time, and I’ve never seen things get this bad.

Apparently Chico has a huge underclass of young juvenile delinquents who live in ramshackle apartments around Chico kicking around and committing crimes. Their parents are prevented from disciplining them by a broken child welfare system that doesn’t allow these kids to be made responsible for their misbehavior.

It’s too bad citizens can’t get any police protection for themselves or family unless police happen to witness a crime in progress. Maybe we all need to hire personal bodyguards, just so we can be safe in our own neighborhoods.

I never thought Chico would offer such a frightening quality of life.

John Lorenz

Editor’s note: Chico councilmembers are paid a monthly stipend of $600, the mayor $720.

Re: “Fertile minds” (Poetry 99 winners, CN&R, Nov. 15):

In “Hamilton City,” the poem by Moira Gravier that received an honorable mention, the third-to-last line got printed with an “a” not included in her submission. The line should have read: (one in bored and dirty organdy)—as it now does online.

Also, in “Windsong,” by Emerald Behrens, the last line should read: when all the trees are gone?—which also has been corrected online.

We apologize for both entry errors.