Letters for October 28, 2004

Class warfare
Unless your child attended Marsh Junior High, you probably won’t feel the loss and outrage. Marsh was a model school. It was kept clean and new looking. Parents participated. Behavior problems were not tolerated. Unproductive staff were pressured to leave or were dismissed. (Imagine that!) School spirit soared. Teachers regularly worked after hours. Test scores were extraordinary.

The leadership at Marsh should have been used throughout the district. But, suddenly the principal and vice-principal are banished. At great expense, the principal is placed where he isn’t needed because charges are simply not true. Teachers at Marsh, and throughout the district, are intimidated and dispirited. At least one of Marsh’s best teachers is forced to quit. Suddenly district boundaries are up for change, in order to bring kids to Marsh from distant neighborhoods. Parents are not likely to be helping in the future like they did in the past. In every way, short of demolition, the school is dismantled.

To his young volunteer campaign helpers, Steve O’Bryan, a longtime supporter of liberal causes, has accurately referred to what happened as “class warfare,” referring to the attack on the upscale neighborhood served by Marsh. The other school board incumbent up for reelection, Rick Anderson, a self-described and verbose conservative, clearly bows to the considerable pressure exerted by a misguided and failing superintendent. This election we need two new school board members who will find a new superintendent.

Marshall Thompson

Keep the incumbents
I have been teaching in the Chico Unified School District for 24 years. I would like to thank our Board of Trustees for the work they do on behalf of the students and teachers of CUSD. Rick Rees, Rick Anderson, Anthony Watts, Steve O’Bryan and Scott Huber have had to make some tough decisions in the past few years. In light of the budgets being slashed, these men were able to keep our elementary music program intact and to retain electives at the junior high level. They listened to the publics’ concerns and kept what the children and parents of CUSD value. They voted to make cuts in areas that didn’t directly affect programs that are important to a well-rounded education.

I have never seen this community so divided and vindictive over the decision made by our school board to move an administrator. Administrators get moved all the time. No reason has to be given. I have worked for eight principals in 24 years.

Our board members serve their community for the betterment of the schools and children of Chico, not for vindictive reasons. They have all been very visible at back-to-school nights, athletic events and concerts. Running for the school board should not be a knee-jerk reaction to one decision, out of hundreds they have made, but rather a long-term commitment by the people who know and understand the needs of all of Chico’s children. I encourage you to retain the current school board by re-electing the incumbents, Steve O’Bryan and Rick Anderson.

Susan Delgardo
Music teacher
Chico Junior High

Mean Keene
What kind of mean and bitter man votes “no” on Safe Routes to School, a program that provides safe bicycle and pedestrian facilities for kids around schools? Rick Keene, that’s what kind of mean and bitter man. The vote for extending the funding for the Safe Routes to School bill was 10 to 0 in the Transportation Committee and 14 to 3 in the Appropriations Committee, on which Keene sits. Thankfully, Gov. Schwarzenegger signed the bill. The money comes from federal funding, the Hazard Elimination Program, and has a miniscule effect on the state budget, only requiring follow-up surveys by Caltrans when projects are completed.

Keene also supported a bill to limit the ability of local jurisdictions to place controls on second units on residential lots. The city of Chico recently adopted such controls. Fortunately, Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed this legislation. Shame on me for thinking that Keene supported “local control.” Keene’s campaign TV ads try to show him sucking up to the governor. I wonder how many other instances are out there where Keene and the governor are on different pages?

Ed McLaughlin

Grandmothers’ hope
As Grandmothers for Peace-Chico, it is our hope that when John F. Kerry is elected president of the United States in November and the Democrats retake leadership of this great country in 2005, there will be funding for health care, protection of our environment, resumption of favorable contacts with the world community and an honorable end to the current unprovoked invasion of Iraq, where over a thousand of our sons, daughters, grandsons and granddaughters are dying needlessly.

Patricia Feldhaus
Local Leader, Grandmothers for Peace-Chico

Keene mistake
I find it absolutely appalling that your paper chose to endorse Assemblyman Rick Keene for re-election ["Keene and McIver for Assembly,” Editorial, Oct. 21]! In your editorial, you correctly state that Keene is a conservative ideologue. If that isn’t reason enough not to endorse Keene, I don’t know what is. Rick Keene is a right-wing Republican in the tradition of Bush, Cheney, Ashcroft, Rumsfeld, etc. Keene, with his positions on the issues, does not serve us well, and there is nothing pragmatic about endorsing him.

I have had the opportunity to meet Robert Woods. Bob Woods has taught in our schools for 30 years. He is a good progressive Democrat, who will fight for adequate funding for our schools, health services, and he will fight to defend the environment. Woods will stand up for the working people and farmers of this district. You should endorse the best person for the office, not who you think is going to win. Bob Woods can’t be elected if people don’t support him. I hope that you will reconsider your endorsement and endorse Bob Woods for the Assembly.

Walter Ballin

Man named Merz
At times one feels that there is little that can be done at a national level to make a difference in our country and that it is easier to be apathetic than to activate. However, our local elections this year have motivated and inspired me to act mainly because I believe there is a candidate running for Chico City Council who will truly make a difference.

John Merz is a man of integrity and intellect. Having lived in our community for 30 years, he knows it well. He has dedicated his career to maintaining and improving our environment and quality of life through his work for the Sacramento River Preservation Trust. I appreciate his willingness to commit even more time and energy to the betterment of our community by running for City Council.

I support John’s vision for Chico that includes the elimination of county “pockets” within the city’s limits, protecting Bidwell Ranch as an open space and his recognition of the benefits of linking public parks and education.

I encourage all citizens to vote for John Merz for Chico City Council on Nov. 2.

Cindy Triffo

Buck the system
Cliff Wagner, a local Republican operative, once said in a local Internet discussion group, “My objective is to support and elect conservative majorities on every council, board and commission or seat in Northern California.”

Recently the conservative majority on the Butte County Board of Supervisors was taken to task by Mary Ann Houx because they “vote against Chico every time.” Earlier this year the conservatives on the Chico City Council refused to do the correct and decent thing by preventing the appointment of someone to finish Coleen Jarvis’ term. The veneer of their stated “principle” could not hide their political motivations.

Two of that gang of three are up for re-election. Larry “Wal-Mart” Wahl and Steve, “developer toady” Bertagna have consistently put partisan corporate and developer interests ahead of Chico’s greater good. Based on what I’ve seen on the Planning Commission, Jolene Francis would likely fall right into the same muddy rut.

In this election we have a tremendous opportunity. We have a chance to solidify a positive and progressive majority for Chico’s future. Please join me in supporting and voting for John Merz, Andy Holcombe, Ann Schwab and Barbi Boeger for Chico City Council.

Dan Carter

Wrong and right
It’s wrong to pull up school board candidates’ signs. It’s dishonest to send a bogus letter to the E-R. And it is outrageous to invoke “Nazism” to what has been occurring in our community.

On the other hand, it’s wrong for our superintendent of schools to misappropriate $337,000 in state funds. The state made Brown aware of this in December 2003. It’s wrong for him to have withheld this information from our school board. And it’s incomprehensible to realize this occurred as Brown engaged in his own witch hunt in our community for suspected misappropriation of school funds.

Our school board becomes more pompous and self-righteous in their responses, choosing to focus on the few who have allowed their actions to get out of hand while doing nothing about the serious breaches of trust that have occurred on their watch.

Brown has breached his contract with our school district and should be terminated for cause.

I’ve heard school board members speak of their high moral standards, their integrity and how in their heart they know they made the right decisions. Just because one thinks they made the right decision doesn’t mean they did. Just because one says they have integrity doesn’t mean they do. The path to hell is paved with good intentions.

Let’s not get side-tracked by the few who speak out inappropriately. Let’s focus on the content of the wrongdoing and what is or isn’t being done about it. And let’s all vote on Election Day.

Dan Irving

Question time
There are many complaints today about rude and challenging public meetings.

Yes, it would be great if democracy were polite; but it isn’t. It might be if justice were not only done but also seen to be done. If you want to see democracy in action, go to Prime Minister’s Question Time in the British Parliament. The “questioning” by politicians there would make your hair curl.

Should we just passively accept the victimization and manipulation of the facts during the troubles at Hank Marsh Junior High? Should we just “doff our caps” to authority when the superintendent is found to have actually done what he demoted the principal for? “What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.”

Are we to stand by and acquiesce when conservatives stymied the council by not allowing a Jarvis replacement? Do we just leave it to the experts to anesthetize us with jargon as a shortcut to cleaning up the burn dump, just so houses can be built on vernal pools and re-mediated land? Do we just let developers and Caltrans cut down our trees because it is more profitable and easier to build? Should we just sell off Bidwell Ranch, as we do need housing?

The increasingly common undemocratic practice of our elected representatives and the media in overtly limiting free speech and devaluing the contributions of those who regularly speak on issues is censorship.

We have to listen to elected officials pontificate all the time. “If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen.”

Alan Gair