Letters for October 26, 2006

Editor’s note: Unbound by the space limitation of paper pages, this online edition includes longer versions of some letters, plus others that didn’t make it into print.

‘Loads of great stuff!’
Re: “In case of collapse, stay home” (Newslines, by Robert Speer, CN&R, Oct. 19):

The article promotes a scare-mongering view of the economic future of the North Valley and Chico areas. Citing oil shortages, climate change, trade imbalances and federal debt, this [Mike] Madison guy proposes we all start organic gardening, biodiesel driving and probably basket-weaving as alternatives to jobs.

That’d be nice if the U.S. had a reality-based economy, but it doesn’t. I don’t know why the Chinese send us the great stuff at Wal-Mart in exchange for IOUs, but they show no signs of quitting. At the first hint of flagging investment, we’ll just tender more MySpace, YouTube and Google stock and float the economy.

Because Americans are inventive, we just don’t have to worry about energy, climate or debt. We’ll always have pickups, jobs and loads of great stuff!

John Poteet

Sniffing out reason Indy gone
Re: “Drug dog fails biggest test” (Newslines, by Marisol Salgado, CN&R, Oct. 19):

Your recent story on Indy the drug dog brings up more questions than it answered.

My son attended Chico High School during the time of Indy’s so called “test.” It was common knowledge among the students that administrators hid marijuana and alcohol in the school lockers without telling Interquest. Indy found both items. How is that failing the test?

I understand that the Interquest program is to deter students from bringing contraband on to campus, not to bust them. [Principal Jim] Hanlon states that there were no hits visits after visit. Am I missing something? Don’t the fewer hits she has indicate that the program is working?

At a school board meeting, Pleasant Valley High School Principal Michael Rupp reported a 30 percent reduction in suspensions due to contraband the first year Indy was on campus. Steve Connolly from Fair View High School reported over a 60 percent reduction during this same time.

As a former member of the Chico High Health and Safety Committee, I was part of the team that contributed to bringing Indy to our campuses. Interquest currently works for many schools in the surrounding districts, and when I talked to some of them, the feedback was always positive. The program works if procedures are followed and administrators back the program. Perhaps we need to ask Chico High why the program seems to work everywhere but at Chico High?

Susan Smart

Thanks for tribute
Re: “ ‘Santa Claus’ dies” (Downstroke, CN&R, Oct. 19):

My beloved husband of 20 years, that rascal Franz Cilensek, died unexpectedly last week. He cherished our Chico community, and I would like to thank you all so much for the love and support bestowed on my family and myself during this most difficult time.

My women’s group, the FoxFlames, and my sisters appeared at our door as soon as they heard and never left my side. They organized a perfect memorial to him at One-Mile in Bidwell Park, which was attended by more than 250 friends. Cards, flowers, and food are still pouring in, and it all would have made him very proud to know how much people care. I know that he will be missed by many of you, and mostly by me.

Kate McCracken

Support artists
Re: “The art of valuing art” (Cover story, by Brad Brown, CN&R, Oct. 19):

Thank you for the story. We agree that it is still a best-kept secret in Chico that many of California’s finest artists create from studios located right here.

This third year of existence as an art gallery finds us experimenting constantly with ways to increase support for local art. We offer conversations with artists, roundtable discussions and artists’ demonstrations. We managed the Bidwell Park Centennial Plein-Air Painting competition, which drew crowds of Chicoans to watch artists paint the park. Thematic shows such as Fibers 2006 have provided insight into new directions taken by artists.

On Nov. 17, our second annual “Chico Icons” exhibition will open. The public will have a chance to vote on their favorite interpretation of City Plaza Park. The exhibit will give Chicoans a chance to see familiar Chico landmarks through the eyes of some 30 local artists.

From the growth of our mailing list and spill-over crowds at openings, we know our efforts are helping to raise the profile of the visual arts in Chico.

Giovanna Jackson, Dolores Mitchell

and Maria Phillips
Avenue 9 Gallery, Chico

Agreement disagreement
Re: “Heated debate on global warming” (Newslines, by Robert Speer, CN&R, Oct. 19):

On Oct. 17, the Chico City Council voted that Mayor Scott Gruendl sign on to the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement. The agreement affirms the intention of the city of Chico to engage in continuous improvement in the area of environmentally responsible operations.

As a professor of business, I teach my students that as citizens of this beautiful country, they have a responsibility to educate themselves on issues of global concern. An uniformed citizenry is a threat to democracy. One of the most serious global issues facing us is climate change. We must educate ourselves because without knowledge, you cannot take a position on an issue.

Yet, three of our elected officials claimed that they were not informed enough to vote on the mayors’ agreement. Mayor Gruendl sent each member a copy of the agreement, yet that was not enough.

Steve Bertagna, Dan Herbert and Larry Wahl—where have you been? You consider yourself qualified to serve this city, yet you claim not to know enough about climate change to decide whether to vote for signing the agreement of intention. I can respect a leader if the decision made is informed, even if I do not agree with the decision, but a leader who has not fulfilled (in this case) his responsibility to the citizens by failing to educate himself does not deserve the honor of being in office.

Tracy McDonald

Political ‘F’ word
Some people think we must apply the “F” word, family, when determining the next City Council. We must vote for certain men—yes, all are men—because they are “devoted” husbands and fathers and “parents” who “send their kids to Chico schools.” Added to this admonition is warning not to be “fooled by slanderous mailers with scary words” that the other side might send.

But isn’t there an exceedingly ugly insinuation in the call to vote for “men” with “families"? We are standing on the brink of a foul pit—sexism, homophobia, ageism—here. Let’s step back and ask ourselves: Is the need for a candidate to have a “working family” (whatever that means!) with a wife and children a prerequisite for office?

George Washington married a widow who had two children by a previous marriage. He and Martha never had any children of their own. Sorry, George! You don’t get the Chico vote. Nor do the other six presidents who had no children.

Please, let’s not belabor this only-masculine-family issue in our quest for city council members. Instead, let’s focus on what makes good local politicians: their (his or her) sense of civic responsibility; their vision for the community; their integrity and freedom from hidden agendas; and, their willingness to serve their constituents and not special interests.

Lynn Elliott

A deserving quartet
I attended the county supervisor and City Council candidate forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters. Prior to this forum, I had already decided to support Maureen Kirk for supervisor and Mary Flynn for City Council. I’d had several previous interactions with both of them, which led me to this conclusion.

The opportunity to see them both in the company of others running for the same offices only served to reinforce my decision. They both possess obvious sincerity, thoughtful intelligence, open-mindedness and an ability to consider new ways to look at old problems without being beholden to the status quo.

I was also pleasantly reminded of how much I like and respect Scott Gruendl. That man is sharp! His answers were concise and deliberate, based upon thoughtful consideration, considerable experience, action and a very real conviction to tackle the issues related to Chico’s growth and needs. So many good things are happening in our city, and this man, fellow council members and city staff are to be congratulated for these.

This forum was my first time hearing from Tom Nickell, and I was very struck by his intense and heartfelt conviction that preserving quality of life in Chico requires new ways of envisioning its future, with much emphasis on real environmental consciousness and design.

I appreciate true leadership and feel that these candidates demonstrate a genuine desire and capacity to provide Chico with the stewardship it deserves.

Leslie Mahon-Russo

Inclusive candidate
Running for a City Council seat implies that one is interested in issues that have an impact on the entire community, not just a small subgroup of it. Attributes such as personal integrity, open-mindedness, problem-solving abilities, working cooperatively and implementing changes merit strong consideration.

Mary Flynn is a candidate for City Council and a person who possesses these attributes. I have observed her community work and have heard many positive things about her dedication to and success within her professional work. Mary exemplifies an action-oriented, can-do spirit.

Mary is genuine and places great value on the interests of the Chico community-where it is today, and where it will be heading in the future. Regardless of your political persuasion, if you believe that integrity, careful analysis and problem-solving abilities are important attributes of a city councilmember, then please cast a vote for Mary Flynn on Election Day.

Kris Zappettini

‘Refreshing change’
Though I vote in every election, as a moderate independent I don’t tend to get involved in election-year political activities such as letter-writing or campaigning. However, this year I am writing a letter in support of Tom Nickell, a candidate for Chico City Council.

I have known Tom for around 10 years and consider him to be the middle ground we need on the council. His experience as a CHP officer and in the development sector, as well as his clear stance on environmental issues and investigating alternative energy sources for Chico, will make him a refreshing change.

He has identified several points that are important to me: coupling development with adequate public safety and infrastructure, along with real economic growth, traffic issues and identifying and working with our neighborhoods.

In my opinion, if you like the ongoing sprawl north of Sacramento along I-5 and Highway 99, then Tom is probably not your man. If you want to preserve the quality of life in Chico, then he definitely is.

Greg Taylor

Recreation endorsement
The Board of Directors for CARD may sound like a small, faint whisper in the noisy clamor of our upcoming election. However, fewer elected officials will have the long-term impact than those elected to the CARD board. The future Chico Area Recreation District will experience a varied and positive infusion of competency, experience and integrity with the election of Dr. Fred A. Brooks.

Fred Brooks is a recognized champion of people’s needs, no matter what the age group, to play, assemble and enter competitive sports. His resume exceeds 40 years in city and county recreational planning experience.

Dr. Brooks has frequently noted that Chico does not have a true senior center for use by the growing senior population, as does, for example, the town of Paradise. Initiating a senior center project for Chico is high on his list of priorities.

It is time our recreational tax dollars are managed with the experience and care of a full-time professional who is willing to devote his time and knowledge to careful and frugal planning. Elect Dr. Fred A. Brooks to create a positive change.

Robert Phippen

Bonds? Bah humbug!
Of the 15 measures on the ballot, five are to authorize new bonds totaling $37 billion. Interest costs over 20 or 30 years will double the cost to the taxpayers to about $75 billion.

While bond acts do not specify where the money will come from to pay off the bonds when due, the courts have ruled that bond payments come off the top of the state budget, before state salaries, pensions, etc. Whether the money comes from withholding cost-of-living increases for state workers, new taxes, cutting welfare or elsewhere is a tough political decision only postponed by borrowing through bond issues.

The Legislature keeps spending money it doesn’t have. Having maxed their credit cards, they want us to issue five more pieces of plastic. Legislators won’t sober up until they hit bottom, unable to beg, borrow or steal the price of another program.

Don’t be an enabler—vote no on [propositions] 1B, 1C, 1D, 1E, 83 and 84. NO BONDS.

To add insult to injury, three more of the measures are new or raised taxes: 86, 87 and 88. But at least they are cash and carry, not debt, and say where the money will come from.

Bill McCord

Seize the (election) day
Proposition 89 may be the most important democratic electoral reform of the last half-century. It is supported by the League of Women Voters, American Association of Retired People, California Nurses Association and hundreds of other organizations who want the government of California accountable to the people rather than the corporations.

It goes a long way toward leveling the political playing field and is a vast improvement over the status quo. As a member of a third party (Green), I strongly support Prop 89.

Prop. 89 is financed by a small—two-tenths of 1 percent—increase in the corporate tax. Corporate taxes have been declining as a percentage of corporate profits and as a percentage of the state budget for decades. A small readjustment to fund a major democratic reform is very much in order.

Political candidates and elected officials are invariably influenced by and accountable to those who finance their campaigns. By passing Prop. 89, we can ensure that they are accountable to the people of California, rather than corporate interests. We have an unprecedented opportunity to fight corruption and strengthen democracy.

Tom Reed

Too broad a brush
“Jessica’s Law” (Prop. 83), like the three-strikes law, is a shotgun approach and doesn’t distinguish between minor offenses and serious felonies. It will serve to clog up our courts even further and overwhelm our already overcrowded prison system, not to mention the effect it will have on families.

Since it is known that family members are the vast majority of offenders, this law will force many not to report even minor offenses for fear of losing someone to jail or worse.

Many offenders will go underground and not register. Others will go into hiding, and we won’t know who or where they are. This is not good …

Larry Phipps

Proven service
George W. Bush has proven that the Republican Party is owned by corporate America. This is also apparent in the present California election season.

Every ballot measure that would benefit Californians has big-money ads opposing it and distorting its provisions. Propositions 86 and 87, opposed by big tobacco and big oil, are examples of this.

In contrast, our Democratic candidates have, by years of service, demonstrated competence and dedication to California’s working people.

Phil Angelides, John Garamendi, Debra Bowen, John Chiang, Bill Lockyer, Jerry Brown, Dianne Feinstein and—yes—Cruz Bustamante have all served our state well.

Their opponents, with their corporate connections, cannot be trusted to do the state’s business.

Do your research for Nov. 7.

Robert Woods

One thing is clear
Republican Congressman Wally Herger is either out of touch with reality or has difficulty distinguishing between fiction and reality.

In his recent press release, he claimed to be “heartened” by the September jobs report of 51,000 jobs created, stating “our pro-growth policies are working.” That number equates to a whopping 1,020 jobs per state! Can Mr. Herger tell us if these are well-paying, benefited jobs? Are they permanent or temporary? Government or private sector? Outsourced or on American soil?

A minimum of 150,000 new jobs per month is necessary to keep up with the population growth, yet Mr. Herger is “heartened” with 51,000. In 2003, the Bush administration famously claimed its tax cuts would create 300,000 jobs per month. Somehow, mystery of mysteries, this never happened. Can Mr. Herger explain the discrepancy between the fiction and the reality?

The answer to that question can be summarized by Mr. Herger’s June 15, 2006, speech on the floor of the House of Representatives, when he said “we are clearly on the road to victory and success in Iraq.” How “clearly” convincing.

Eric M. Hitchcock

Ending on a positive note …
The Bidwell Junior High School Foundation is pleased to announce our financial support for several teacher-led initiatives that will enhance student learning in the classroom. We’ve distributed over $1,100 this semester to help fund a variety of initiatives, including art supplies, calculators, computers, backpacks, and other classroom supplies.

The Bidwell Junior High School Foundation is an independent organization separate from Bidwell Junior High School. Our mission is to provide resources for the enhancement of the academic, co-curricular and extracurricular learning opportunities for students.

If you are an alumnus of Bidwell Junior High School, a former teacher or a parent of children who attend or attended the school, our organization continues to look for additional volunteers to lead the foundation. You can call 321-2385 to get involved.

Dan Nguyen-Tan