Letters for November 24, 2011

Protests and the draft

Re “Across the great divide” (Cover story, by Jaime O’Neill, Nov. 17):

Good story. I also was involved in anti-war marches in the ’60s, albeit from a small town in Southern California, and vividly remember Kent State. I am in total agreement with the Occupy goals and reasons for the protest. What I’m confused about is where were all these students and others involved during the Iraq invasion and following war?

There were virtually no protests against this obviously illegal act, and yet the first we hear of any student uprisings is when they raise tuitions. Maybe it’s due to the fact there’s no draft. I’m not sure. But all in all, I’m not that impressed.

Michael Beveridge

The gap between the rich and poor has become egregious—Michael Eisner’s new mansion in Malibu is bigger than some small towns I’ve visited. The robber barons are with us still.

As one of my students remarked when he caught on to my political stance: “We get it, this is the USA Inc.” The USA is not a country, it’s a corporate business, and we are its underpaid, expendable slave labor. We’re going to have to rewrite extensive bodies of law to achieve anything.

As for protests, I was at Berkeley in the 1960s, and we’d go on strike and shut the entire university down. We developed war protest methods that became quite effective. However, when the draft ended, the protests faded away—self preservation was more of an underlying motive than anti-war sentiments, as it turned out.

If we had a draft right now, the anti-war movement over Iraq and Afghanistan would be enormous. Today, poverty, mortgage defaults, lack of proper health care, etc., are primary motivating factors—all the current movement needs is multiple tactics and strategies to keep corporate America guessing, but the rich know that giving us bread and circuses will keep us mollified, so they subdue us with color TV and food stamps.

Mike Peters

Is the tax fair?

Re “Idea to increase local sales tax floated” (Newslines, by Tom Gascoyne, Nov. 17):

Sales tax is regressive (lower-income people pay a larger percentage of their income for it). Proponent Tom Lando was suggesting that larger purchases would have the tax rebated—in effect, a subsidy for higher-income purchasers.

Chico being the regional shopping center, purchasers (often lower income) from outlying communities would pay the tax, but not get to vote on the proposal, and not get the benefit of some of the facilities and services paid for by the tax. Regressive on top of regressive on top of regressive.

Does progressive Chico support taxing the poor to provide Chico with fancy amentities? I might support it, being a higher-income Chico resident, but is it fair?

Michael Jones

Politics and recycling

Re “Recycling loopholes” (Letters, by Treo Benajan, Nov. 17):

Nobody is ripping Mr. Benajan off for his scrap glass (wine bottles) in Butte County, least of all Fair Street Recycling. Rural counties must deal with lower volumes of material and farther distances to market than urban recyclers. Scrap glass does indeed have a value, but that meager amount is lost in transportation to market.

The state does set the base price for scrap glass. It is zero. Wine and liquor bottles are not covered under the California Redemption Value (CRV) system. While beer, soda, water and juice bottles have a redemption value, the wine- and liquor-industry lobbies have effectively excluded these containers from the system.

Fair Street Recycling uses what little they make on scrap glass (if anything) to continue to do the great work they do by hiring our disabled citizens in Butte County. Imagine how many more people Fair Street Recycling could hire if wine and liquor bottles were included in the CRV system (not to mention the increased recycling rates of this material).

More than 600 million wine and liquor bottles are sold annually in California, and more than70 percent of those are either littered or landfilled. If they were to come under the CRV system, the recycling rate on these bottles would likely mirror the current CRV containers and reach to more than 70 percent. That change would result in close to 200,000 tons of glass not going to landfills.

While I applaud Mr. Benajan’s recycling efforts, it is important for him to realize that 1) local rural recyclers have special challenges, and 2) some recyclers do much more than recycling.

Steve Rodowick
Butte County Recycling Coordinator

Many terroirs

Re “Where is your cheese grown?” (Chow, by Bryce Allemann, Nov. 17):

The awareness of terroir (both as concept and element of practice) is already well known to those of us who grow food in the rich soil of Butte County.

One should state right away that a tract of land will likely have many terroirs, not one, and the grower ought to know the precise characteristics of each sector as to its soil, microclimate, exposure, drainage, and other contingent factors. This awareness goes for pasturage and milking routines to produce cheese as well as for all other such enterprises.

At Casa Mimosa, where we live, I can show with my finger an inch-wide strip where the terroir changes drastically: On one side tomatoes thrive; on the other we endure a cover of winter moss only.

Some errors in the piece deserve mention. First, the word is said ter-wahr (not tear-wah). The last ‘r’ is pronounced as it is in miroir, tiroir, pissoir. Next, the preferred term of art is “locavore,” not “localvore.”

Sarkis Shmavonian

Blame the developers

I’m sorry somebody thought they were “doing the right thing” when they vandalized heavy equipment involved in the Highway 99 expansion. Their efforts were hugely misplaced.

It’s not the construction company’s fault; it’s not even Caltrans’ fault. The freeway expansion, including the removal of all those healthy trees, was necessitated by developments approved by the City Council more than five to six years ago, including Meriam Park and Westside Green.

When the city of Chico approved those subdivisions, Caltrans warned them they’d have to widen not only Highway 99 but Highway 32. I sat at these meetings; the Caltrans rep specifically mentioned Meriam Park and Westside Green. I can’t wait to hear you all whining when that Highway 32 project gets under way.

The high-density, new-urban developers promised us their subdivisions would bring fewer cars; they’ve brought more! Put the blame where it belongs.

Juanita Sumner

Caring about vets

As I walked into a local coffee shop with my Vietnam Veteran hat on, the young man behind the counter became rude and pushy. As I walked out I thought not much had changed, but they don’t call us baby killers anymore.

Later my wife and kids convinced me to go out for dinner; reluctantly I went, my 10-year-old son now wearing my veteran’s hat. As we walked into the restaurant, a voice called out, “Thank you for your service.”

After all the years of being called names, being blamed for the Vietnam War, and being told by businesses we don’t hire Vietnam veterans, it was a good feeling to know someone out there cares about veterans and the cost of liberty.

All the staff at the Olive Garden went the extra mile to let us know they honored our service in a warm and honest way. Thank you for showing you do care about veterans, our country and liberty.

Charles Finlay

How to raise $10 mil

Re “Big-wigs talk mansion-saving” (Downstroke, Nov. 10):

If 40,000 Chico citizens, less than 50 percent of the present population, contributed $250 each to keep the mansion open, a community-supported “working fund” of $10 million would be immediately established! A very reasonable investment in Chico for a vast number of Chicoans, that would easily be surpassed by many other community members.

Pete Anderson

Recording disaffection

Re “Choosing the greater good” (Guest comment, by Sandee Renault, Nov. 17):

Ms. Renault clearly demonstrates the quandary of many voters who find the candidates for office from any party unacceptable. Our election system currently has no method of registering that opinion, other than not voting or choosing the lesser of the evils on the ballot.

I propose a change: The inclusion of an optional vote for each office that simply states, “None of the above is qualified,” or words to that effect, could provide a method of recording disaffection.

I would not want to get us involved in a need for a long series of special elections; thus, the candidate with the most votes would still win. But the percentage of voters who voted against a winning candidate added to those who find the winner unqualified would quite often be a large majority of voters.

One benefit is that this electoral change would make it impossible for winning candidates to claim mandates for changes that a majority of the electorate did not support at all. Perhaps this would lead to a return to reason that your editorial in the same issue referred to.

Another benefit would be the ability of the election results to reflect the wishes of the independent voter and perhaps help regain control of parties from the relatively small number of political activists and wealthy of the extreme left and right who all too often call the shots in the Republican and Democratic parties.

Anthony Rosa