Letters for October 10, 2013
Governments need intervention
Re “Looking for buy-in” (Cover feature, by Daniel Weintraub, Oct. 3):
Since the repeal of Prohibition, every level of government has been partnering with highly profitable, albeit socially destructive industries. These include alcohol, gambling, insurance, legal, and banking. These partnerships have caused the country to incur a whole host of social problems, and a $17 trillion national debt. Every state, county, city and town in America has become similarly encumbered.
Now desperate to cut costs and fund continued operation, rather than tightening their own belts, governments are resorting to more socially irresponsible measures. These include releasing prisoners early, forgiving illegal immigration, legalizing marijuana and gambling, adopting state-run lotteries, and instituting new taxes. These taxes include the deceptively-named “universal health care.”
Universal healthcare is unfair because it forces those responsible with their money and health to subsidize those who aren’t. At the very least, the premiums a person pays should accrue interest and be refunded periodically if he or she hasn’t had claims.
The American people need to host an intervention. Instead of continuing to enable governments’ addiction to reckless spending, we need to first stop accepting new and increased taxes. Then we need to mandate that governments start living within their means like the rest of us.
Re “Insider talk” (Newslines, by Melissa Daugherty, Oct. 3):
Regarding last week’s story “Insider talk,” that’s exactly what it is—insider talk. How ’bout truth really matters? Why wouldn’t Alicia Meyer answer the question put to her by newly concerned Council member Mary Goloff? Goloff’s question was pretty straightforward—did you work in the office or did you work from home (or something to that effect)? Meyer’s response was, “What has that got to do with what I’m speaking to now?”
I’ll tell you what, Alicia Meyer enjoyed a salary and benefits package of $135,835, Mary Fitch $94,245 and Quené Hanson $101,475, and that does not include the tuition reimbursement that taxpayers kicked in while two were allowed flex time to attend school. As long as the gravy train kept coming they seemed quite content to say nothing about what was occurring at City Hall.
Yes, previous liberal council members—e.g. Andy Holcome, Tom Nickell, Jim Walker and current liberal members Ann Schwab, Goloff and, yes, Scott Gruendl—should have paid more attention to fiscal matters. The latter two spent years on the Finance Committee. No excuses.
Now all live with very tarnished reputations. Personal integrity be damned as long as the money and votes kept rolling in.
Shame on all of you.
Stephanie L. Taber
Rebuttal from the trio
Former watchdog-turned-lapdog Stephanie Taber’s letter contains several flawed conclusions drawn from a slanted perspective that my colleagues and I surmise is being fed to her by city officials. This round of mud-slinging deserves a factual response.
Fact: Tuition reimbursement has been available for at least 15 years to all city employees who choose to further their education in a field of study deemed beneficial to the city. It has never been a benefit available only to a select few.
Fact: Flex schedules require employees either to work a full 40-hour week or use accrued leave time for pursuing their education. Ms. Taber’s assertion that the flex schedule is an additional benefit is absurd.
Fact: Ms. Taber’s conclusion that we did nothing and said nothing about the city’s fiscal situation is false. In addition to having spoken out to the prior city manager, we revealed the entire history to Brian Nakamura over his first few months in Chico. In an email last October, he thanked me for my full explanation of the issues surrounding the Private Development Fund and agreed with me that it should be daylighted.
Ms. Taber should examine the price of her own integrity before she questions anyone else’s. Shame on her.
Editor’s note: Ms. Fitch’s rebuttal came to the CN&R in response to a similar letter Ms. Taber had published in the Chico E-R.
Time is up, Congress
Re “The Recalcitrant Party” (Editorials, Oct. 3):
We need to shut down Congress, and not the federal government, when just a few members can jeopardize our country. This is both a dangerous and costly position to find ourselves in. We need to enact measures to prevent partisan politics from crippling the governing of our federal system’s needs and duties to the people.
These fanatical politicians that can’t either compromise, or work out a timely solution, must strongly be encouraged to dismiss themselves from a shutdown situation, by enacting personal losses upon them. This could be a shut off of their paychecks, health insurance, and other perks that we the people provide. We need to also monitor what our politicians receive from lobbyists—and why not stop that influence, and get back to a true representative democracy?
Let us consider a new form of voting by the people, by reinventing a national referendum democracy. Perhaps it is time to allow personal computers to function, by direct citizen rule, upon all measures that currently require a vote of congress. Time has come for a new paradigm in governing, and party politics is no longer necessary—its time is up.
In all the rhetoric spewing from politicians and reporters over who’s going to blink first in this standoff between the White House and Congress, it seems that everyone is missing the point of the bigger picture. The Affordable Care Act is a signed, ratified law that has been vetted by the federal Supreme Court as constitutional. No one can argue that. Which means the current actions of the Congress are now in direct and blatant violation to the Constitution.
Section 802 of the USA PATRIOT Act (Pub. L. No. 107-52) expanded the definition of terrorism to cover “domestic”—as opposed to international—terrorism. A person engages in domestic terrorism if they do an act “dangerous to human life” that is a violation of the criminal laws of a state or the United States, if the act appears to be intended to: intimidate or coerce a civilian population; influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping.
So, why are the politicians responsible for this intimidation, coercion and destruction of the economy through a government shutdown not being escorted out of congress in handcuffs?
Looking at the dysfunctional shutdown of the U.S. government, there is a larger issue, larger than just the present unnecessary crisis. For more than 200 years, perhaps the biggest strength of the American government was that it worked.
Occasionally something happens that makes us wonder if it is still working. This is one of those times. America is being held hostage to an inside argument within Congressional Republicans. It looks to me like a dispute between a few who are barking mad and a much larger group who are not quite barking.
I think we are allowed to ask if a Constitutional adjustment is not necessary to stop future hostage-taking by small, narrow interest groups. Certainly this is not working, and it’s not a bipartisan lash-up—it’s hostage-taking by a small group of nutty Republicans in the House of Representatives.
Oligarchy? No, thanks
Re “A case for Butte County seceding” (Guest comment, by Joanne Alden, Oct. 3):
As a longtime public school teacher, I must reply to your guest-comment writer. She refers to our public school system’s goal as government mind control. What hogwash!
The goal of our schools is purely education for all of our children, and has been since our country’s inception. America’s education for all our children has set the world standard and is one of the principal reasons that oppressed people around the globe have thought of America as the land of opportunity.
As the U.S. expanded westward, two sections of land (two square miles) of each township surveyed were set aside for public schools to ensure that all children would have access to education. What could be more democratic than that?
Joanne Alden apparently has little concern for people who struggle to attain success in our land. She rode her horse on her father’s property and learned little humility on the way. Now she advocates for the State of Jefferson in our northern region.
I’ve lived and taught in Modoc, Lassen and Siskiyou counties. The people there, and here, deserve better than Ms. Alden’s oligarchy.
On guns and restrictions
Re “America’s sick fascination” (Guest Comment, by Dean Carrier, Sept. 26) and “The armory around us” (Letters, by Jim Lawrence, Oct. 3):
Mr. Carrier’s commentary and the subsequent letter show how quickly some folks are to demean gun owners. This is not by accident. These are planned attacks designed by the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence to create bigotry toward gun owners equal to any based on gender, sexual orientation or skin color.
To understand this viewpoint, a little Second Amendment history is needed. The individual right to bear arms dates back to the drafting of the English Constitution and is based on Natural Law. A natural right is one that everyone has by their birth and is not given by the government. Just like the rights of speech or privacy, everyone has the right to self-defense, including bearing arms.
Restricting anyone’s choice of arms is equal to segregation in our schools or outlawing gay marriage. You can’t pick and choose your civil rights—they come in a package.
I ask Mr. Carrier and Mr. Lawrence to seek out any of the Korean business owners who battled for their lives and property during the L.A. riots and ask if they felt they had enough firepower? You can never predict the future and you have no right to decide for others what they feel is adequate protection.
Props to POTUS
I applaud President Obama for picking up the phone to talk to Iran’s new president and for discussing the importance of U.S.-Iran cooperation to resolve global conflicts. This phone call marks an important step forward in pressing for an end to the vicious cycle of confrontation that has plagued the U.S. and Iran for decades.
Solving problems between countries requires compromise on all sides, and the U.S. and Iran are no different. Iran needs to agree to greater transparency of its nuclear program and other steps to ensure it does not build nuclear weapons. The U.S., for its part, will have to lift some sanctions in exchange for Iran’s concession, in order to prevent war and a nuclear-armed Iran.
Re “From Chuck Berry to Katy Perry” (Music, by Katherine Green, Oct. 3):
I live in Ukiah, and almost two years ago a friend took me to Twin Pines Casino and Resort to hear “this band the Decades,” and after listening to just one song I was hooked! I grew up in the ’50s, so being able to not just dance but also to sing along with the music, I was in seventh heaven!
We soon became friends with this young group, hosting them when they needed a place to stay after playing in nearby Hopland. They now have a good following here in Ukiah, and are working on getting to play in our concerts in the park next summer. I love their energy, their performance on stage. For their young ages, they are extremely talented. Besides that, they are all so cute!
Where’s the money?
President Obama has never explained what the IRS is to do with the penalty fines paid by the uninsured people and I have a huge curiosity about where the money goes to. It’s my guess that a lot of money will be collected at tax time from the IRS by penalty for failure to have proof of health insurance. No one has spoken on this part of the issue, and I would love to learn the fund the collected money will be kept in.