Letters for October 17, 2002

Fun with animals
There is only one nice non-obscene word that comes to mind after reading the comments of Joel Felice [“Is that a gun?” Letters, Oct. 3]. The word is “stupid.” Equating hunting with masturbation and war is idiotic.

Hunters often dress the way they do because they know that most animals have better eyesight, hearing and smell than do humans. Many hunters scrape off the varnished stock of their rifles and use a dull, oil finish because they know that a deer can spot the reflection of the sun on a rifle stock from 300 yards or more across the canyon. The animals are very far from helpless.

Has Joel ever attempted to hit a fast-moving animal that is zigzagging around and leaping over bushes while traveling at right angles to the hunter 300 or more yards away? Or try hitting a dove that can fly almost 60 mph? When you have done the above, Joel, then write again to tell us all about your masturbation problem.

Maurice Picard

Councilmember Barbi?
Many Chico voters have already decided who they support for two of the three City Council positions in the upcoming election. I encourage all voters to consider Barbi Boeger for the third position. She lives in a modest neighborhood in northwest Chico and owns a small business in southwest Chico, areas that are both underrepresented by the current council. Her husband is a farmer. In the past, she hasn’t hesitated to express her opinions, and they truly are her opinions, not those of a shadowy backer. She could bring a new perspective to discussions about Chico’s future without the financial conflicts of interest that seem to plague Chico’s present council and Planning Commission. She’s a serious candidate. Please take the time to learn her positions on the issues.

Policy decisions made by the new council will directly affect everyone living within Chico’s urban boundaries. These include adequate planning for increased traffic from new developments and infill projects, funding to build neighborhood parks and to buy land for bike paths along our creeks, ways to provide truly affordable housing for those who provide essential services to our community but can’t afford to live here, and realistic planning for Chico’s future growth. Chico deserves to have a council that will thoughtfully consider the needs of all of its residents before making these important decisions.

Susan Mason

Expert advice
There is a lot of confusing information in the media of late about what should be done regarding forest fires. One side says more logging, together with thinning, will reduce the fire danger. Another says let it burn, that is nature’s way. Another says controlled burns are the solution. Yet another says Smokey Bear practices in the past have created a huge fuels problem; get rid of the Smoky Bear policy.

The whole subject has become a political issue as well, with Republicans advocating more logging and Democrats advocating less logging and more protection for wildlife. President Bush recently gave a speech on this subject from a platform in an Oregon fire.

There are two major bills before Congress right now, each with the “solution.” With all the political wrangling, plus other views expressed by environmentalists, what is the general public to believe?

I believe that the best authorities are those who are closest to the issue, the fire fighters themselves. It so happens that the Forest Service employees publish Forest Magazine. Its fall 2002 issue focuses on forest fires. The cover story is titled, “The Annual Emergency.” Title of articles include “Trees Make a Difference,” “Fires in Forests,” “Fire Lessons” and “Finding the Truth about Fire Suppression.”

This issue is devoted to providing information that is not making headlines. Here are the key points: Home loss is the real fire tragedy, simply because it is largely preventable; controlled burns are a time-tested, cost-effective management technique; firefighting does more damage than fire, by cutting and bulldozing trees for fire lines; most of the acreage that burns each year isn’t national forests; weather patterns, especially cycles of drought and lightning, have more to do with fires and how much burns than do people.

There you have it, straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. Better believe it!

Al Braun

Behind the raise
We nurses at Enloe received a raise effective Sept. 29. In fact, a 7 percent raise. This sounds good, doesn’t it?

However, if you look at a few facts, it isn’t as wonderful as it first sounds.

First, Enloe decided on giving this raise based upon a market study it had done six weeks before. In all its previous market studies, it included Marysville Rideout. It must have left them out, because Rideout nurses received a 15 percent raise about one month ago.

Second, Enloe gave the LVNs who make less than RNs a 10 percent raise. Is this because it costs them less? There are much fewer LVNs at Enloe, and again their salaries are lower than RNs'. Maybe Enloe would just like to recruit more LVNs to make up for the lack of RNs at Enloe. Maybe it would like to replace all those RNs who have left recently with LVNs.

Third, Enloe felt it necessary to remind the nurses that this raise would cost the organization an additional $1.5 million. How can that be when it’s changed our insurance so that more of the financial burden is on us? And, just who is the patient population made up of, if not its own employees? And, since Enloe is self-insured, doesn’t that mean that it will have more money in a bank account drawing more interest to use? With a family of five, I pay almost $230 a month to keep us insured. But, on top of that, we are responsible for a $950 deductible and $4,500 co-pay for the year. That makes our [previous] $15 co-pay obsolete.

It makes me wonder just how badly Enloe wants to retain and recruit nurses?

Cynthia Tinker

War on sick
It is with outrage that I read of the 10-year sentence recently given to Bryan James Epis for the cultivation of medical marijuana, legal under California law but forbidden, even for medical necessity, by federal law [“Buzz kill: Medical pot advocate gets 10-year sentence,” Briefly, Oct. 10]. The conviction and inhumane punishment meted out in this case offend my sense of justice to a tremendous degree.

With the 1996 passage of California’s Proposition 215, the people of California have explicitly allowed for marijuana use as a prescribed medication.

Mr. Epis’ lengthy sentence highlights the disparity between the democratically expressed will of Californians and the federal government’s unreasoning “War on Drugs.” It is all too clear that the Drug Enforcement Administration is willing to sacrifice our civil liberties, our autonomy, and even the democratic process to its unwinnable war.

The problem with the War on Drugs is that it is so focused on black and white that it fails to distinguish “use” from “abuse.” Mr. Epis was an example of a harmless user of marijuana; he was not endangering citizens in any way, he openly cultivated doctor-prescribed marijuana for himself and a handful of patients, and he followed state law in doing so. Nonetheless, he finds himself facing 10 years in prison, away from family and loved ones. The federal government’s conviction of Bryan Epis, as well as its recent raids on California’s medical-marijuana dispensaries, should be cause to rename the War on Drugs the “War on the Sick.”

Heidi Lypps
Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics