Letters for October 24, 2013

A few bad apples

Re “Downtown” (Second & Flume, by Melissa Daugherty, Oct. 17):

Ironically, Oct. 22 [the day of the City Council’s study session on downtown issues] is also the National Day of Protest Against Police Brutality. Perhaps you’re thinking, “How dare anyone question our beleaguered, beloved and overworked police force? Clearly, it’s just a few bad apples. Most police officers are just like you and me—good, decent and honorable people.”

The same applies to our community members experiencing homelessness. The biggest difference in the discussion is that it’s cool, acceptable and great fodder to pick on those facing horrific experiences every day. The other, not so much. Which one is which to whom?

Bill Mash

On homeless youth

Advocating for homeless youth is a risky venture in the current sociopolitical/economic climate of Chico. Some consider this population a nuisance, others see [advocating efforts as] charity, and still others see a wildness to control.

I personally think it is important to realize that this is a diverse population within itself. Young homeless people are diverse in personality, as well as in levels of vulnerability. Both of these aspects—personality/culture and vulnerability/personal history—are susceptible to public opinion. I would like to take the opportunity to present a positive picture of Chico’s homeless youth, while emphasizing the power of personal choice and the impact of personal history.

Chico’s youth services’ attempts to keep this population safe often go unnoticed. Specific agencies aside, Behavioral Health youth services and youth drop-in centers are collaborating in a positive way. Behavioral Health provides a connection to local homeless youth through the local youth drop-in center. Drop-in centers provide safety, food, counseling and positive role-modeling. With respect to choice and freedom, I think those who access these services deserve recognition. Despite the difficulty of sharing personal history, these youths are choosing to access a system that is invaluable.

Michael Chavis

Peaceful panhandling

Re “The cost of free speech” (Newslines, by Tom Gascoyne, Oct. 17):

As a former employee of a busy downtown bakery, I came into contact with Thomas [Lake] and Spot every day. Matter of fact, if I did not see them, I became concerned. I gave Thomas money from time to time. I gave Spot cat food. I was and still am impressed by how Thomas cared for his feline companion.

Never has Thomas been rude or disrespectful to me or anyone else. Patrons of the bakery would buy him soup, coffee and pastries, and from time to time a gift certificate, so he could choose his own likes. Never did I see him use the bathroom to “clean up.” He speaks softly. And if you take the time [to speak with him], he can carry on an intelligent conversation. And he has a quick wit. Thomas is far from aggressive, which isn’t always the case [with homeless citizens].

I applaud the Shalom Free Clinic for caring for Spot and for caring for Thomas. If all the panhandlers were like Thomas, I do not think there would be so much fear surrounding this topic. I wish him well. I do not see him as much anymore. I hope when I do it’s not in the paper about being arrested for “peaceful panhandling”—or for something worse.

Mary Hayden

Changes needed at Chico PD

Re “Outside review needed” (Editorial, Oct. 17):

I see two distinct questions regarding the use of lethal force against Breanne Sharpe. First, if she had been a college student with no record whatsoever, might the outcome have been different in the eyes of the Butte County District Attorney? Second, if a citizen had shot this young woman as she was stealing his or her vehicle, would the citizen be brought to trial for use of lethal force for what amounts to a property crime?

There isn’t much equal justice under the law these days, unless you are a cop. That is the bottom line here. Law enforcement officers are “itchy” to use all those tools they carry around, and this situation was what they considered a good excuse to do just that. Male, female—it just didn’t matter. It is time for an outside review of this shooting and some changes in protocol for Chico police.

Carolyn Kiesz

Opinions from retired judges and DAs after the fact won’t bring back the dead. Their opinions serve only to justify, distort or condemn the killing. There’s a big problem, and it’s not the public’s perception of facts that needs fixing. Police who brutalize and kill unnecessarily should be punished like regular people. Otherwise, police become exceptions to the laws. Unfortunately, they’re held to the lowest standards conceivable.

Since Rodney King was brutally beaten to a pulp, things have gotten worse; the media just learned to ignore it. At least King survived his high-speed chase—barely. Now police play judge, jury and executioner, mirroring U.S. foreign policy. Power has corrupted America into a fascist police state.

Media outrage? It’s been replaced by opinions from warmongers seeking to explain away, with abstractions and warped ideologies, the inherent fascism driving our inhuman wars against entire races of people. Iraq, Afghanistan, etc., might have a weapon, so we wage war against them—killing millions. An American may have a weapon, so police kill him. However, neither had weapons. Rather than apologizing, the character assassination of the victims continues.

David Kiefer

A letter to Doug LaMalfa

I am writing to express my outrage at your vote last Wednesday on the debt-ceiling authorization. By aligning yourself with the lunatic fringe of the Republican Party, you do a disservice to your constituents and reveal yourself to be unworthy of the position you currently hold.

I am appalled that you and the other intransigent Republicans in Congress would be willing to send this country spiraling into default just to satisfy your desire to give legitimacy to a far-right agenda that is clearly out of touch with public sentiment.

The ludicrous spectacle of political grandstanding has diminished our standing in the world community and brought real suffering into the lives of countless Americans. You’re certainly not “One of us,” as your campaign slogan so proudly proclaimed. You and the others of your ilk are holding the Republican Party and the nation hostage to your ideological extremism. You have all but guaranteed that Congress will be paralyzed by political infighting and rancor while the real problem of the people you were all sent to Washington to fix will continue to go untended.

When you are up for re-election, I will do everything in my power to make sure you lose your seat.

Robin I. Tripp

Paradisians, take note

With notable exceptions, most of the local elections held in Paradise are personality-driven rather than issue-driven. The result is that our citizens, as a whole, rarely have the opportunity to weigh in and voice their opinion on the substantive issues facing our community.

The Paradise Citizens’ Alliance’s “Speak Up For Paradise” survey means to change that. This community-wide, quality-of-life survey is only the beginning of our group’s efforts to increase informed citizen involvement and engagement in our community.

The results of the survey will determine what issues the non-partisan Paradise Citizens’ Alliance focuses on in our advocacy efforts. So, please go to www.speakupforparadise.com and complete the survey. This is your opportunity to speak up, to voice your opinion on the issues facing Paradise, and to help make a difference for our community.

Christine Boyle, Jim Broshears, Glenn Bruno, Chris Buzzard, Kelley Conner, Scot & Jacky Hoiland, Cliff Jacobson, Melissa Schuster, Al McGreehan, Chuck Rough, Doug Speicher and Craig Woodhouse

Paradise Citizens’ Alliance