Letters for October 9, 2008

Set your criteria for local officials
The forthcoming election again includes assorted candidates for both the Chico City Council and the Chico Unified School District board—two local governing bodies that have, as part of their purpose, the establishment and oversight of large operating budgets.

In order to do this job properly, each must be able to negotiate in a rather disciplined fashion with various public-employee bargaining units. In this process, the school board and councilmembers act as responsible guardians of the taxpayers’ dollars as well as agents of the public interest.

Because of the critical functions mentioned above, voters should be careful to choose individuals who have no personal interest in the fortunes of public employment. Irrespective of political leanings of the individuals involved, it would be wise to select candidates whose own livelihoods are not dependent on any government or public education system. For obvious reasons, it can be very difficult for a public servant, whose own compensation and retirement package is derived from the public treasury, to remain objective and apply the countervailing force needed to deal with very well-organized and quite powerful public-employee groups.

It is probably no accident that the expense sides of the budgets for both the city of Chico and CUSD got away from us during an era when a significant number of members of both governing bodies were themselves engaged in public employment of one type or another.

Carl Ochsner

[Monday night] I attended a forum for the eight candidates in the upcoming Chico City Council election. There was a clear distinction among the candidates’ messages.

Jim Walker, Ali Sarsour, Andy Holcombe and Ann Schwab all spoke with conviction and honesty about their ideas. I heard a consistent and compelling message that included a thoughtful approach to growth, practical ideas for maximizing our existing resources to maintain public safety and honest answers about the city’s budget.

From the other four candidates, I heard a lot of criticism, but not one practical idea for executing a new idea for our community.

I don’t know about the rest of the voters in Chico, but I’m looking for councilmembers with ideas for addressing the issues facing our community. How do we grow while maintaining Chico’s sense of place? How do we attract employers who will offer people good salaries? How can we maintain our city’s streets and roads?

Chico needs to elect councilpeople who are willing to do more than spout rhetoric. I want elected officials representing me who have both ideas and solutions for the issues facing our community.

Mary Flynn

Editor’s note: For another take on this and other candidate forums, please see In My Eyes.

Anonymous writer worth reading
Re: “Black students complain of harassment” (Newslines, by Ginger McGuire, CN&R, Oct. 2):

As an educator in South Oroville, it was very difficult to read this story. I hear about racial slurs and comments from my students very often. In South Oroville, many ethnic groups collide on school campuses every day. Some of these students do not know how to deal with the differences of others, or choose not to behave appropriately.

I felt that the article insinuated guilt upon the school officials who wouldn’t—or, more appropriately couldn’t—comment on specific situations. The article didn’t mention that they cannot comment as they were most likely told not to, based on student-privacy laws.

We constantly address racism through the methods mentioned by Kevin Garibaldi, and it seems unfair by the students and their parents to blame the school officials for “not doing enough.” All parents know that we can teach children how to behave, but how they choose to act is up to them. Harassment is not tolerated at school and students who are reported are punished.

Brenda Harris is correct in that racism is “alive and well,” and it will always be if people choose to not accept others who are different from themselves. LP [Las Plumas High] and all other schools teach students about acceptance, tolerance, relationship-building, respect and cooperation.

We as teachers can only continue to teach these skills, model them, hope that students choose to use them, and discipline them when they don’t.

Editor’s note: The CN&R believes people should stand behind their public comments but considers anonymity for letter-writers who fear for their personal safety or job security.

Yeah, that’s the ticket
Re: “VP talk still continues” (Letters, by Angela Tilaro, CN&R, Oct. 2):

Angela Tilaro writes, “The only possible explanation [for a vote for McCain/Palin] is that decisions are controlled by emotions (especially deep-seated prejudices and racism), not by brains.”

Is she saying I’m a racist if I don’t vote for Obama?

As far as I’m concerned, McCain and Obama may as well run on the same ticket. They have both taken money from the mortgage industry. Both candidates and their staff participated in the deregulation of Wall Street. Both Obama and McCain were ready to vote in a bailout package that gave tax money to rich guys with no oversight or conditions. And, they both want to send more Americans to murder and die in Afghanistan.

No, I cannot elect Ralph Nader as president, but at least I won’t have to live with my vote for either one of these losers when, as Perry Fox points out [Letters, Sept. 25], the doo-doo hits the fan in a year or two.

As for John Burge asking me not to vote if I’m not voting Obama [Letters, Sept. 25], I must ask him to do us all a favor and stop double-sending the same boring letter to both papers on the same day.

Juanita Sumner

Paragliders’ parries
Re: “Park paragliders crashing into laws” (Letters, by John Dittes, CN&R, Oct. 2):

Paragliders have been asking for permission to launch and land in Bidwell Park. We support environmental review. We all have impacts, and we should all understand those impacts to preserve and protect the habitats of Upper Park.

According to the FAA, aircraft have permission to fly in Class E and G airspace above the park. Class G covers from zero to 1,200 feet, Class E from 1,200 feet to 18,000 feet. All aircraft have the right to pass through this airspace—with an engine or not. When my feet leave the ground, I am in FAA uncontrolled airspace.

We are foot-launched, nonmotorized, backpack gliders. Bidwell Park allows hiking on trails and flying a kite. Our activities are aimed at the sky, leaving minimal footprints. Soaring is weather sensitive, fitting in a few days a month. The skyline looks just as it does on other days.

When the ingredients are right, it’s magic for a few hours; however, no one from Bidwell Park Flyers has taken flight since I learned about the ordinance in April.

Management of known activities in the park has been shown to preserve the environment and provide recreation. We are not building infrastructure, but rather addressing policy. We are not constructing a golf course, trails, or fish ladders. Often we wonder if changing policy does not constitute a “project” as defined by Mr. Dittes.

The point: Let’s protect the park while creating recreation policy that keeps our community healthy.

Jon Stallman

Editor’s note: According to the city attorney’s office, FAA rules cover maintaining elevation, but not taking off and landing; the latter actions go against the city ordinance cited by Mr. Dittes that prohibits hang-gliding in parks.

John Dittes seems to have trouble discerning the difference between civic involvement and obstruction of projects that he may not care for. To thoughtlessly hide behind the bureaucratic process is the mark of intellectual laziness, and subsequent arguments contain roughly the same validity and reason as “You crazy kids, get off my lawn!”

Rather than encourage the clean, safe and responsible use of the park, the economic burden of an [environmental certification] is wielded as a bludgeon against folks who wish to throw a disc or take part in the purest, cleanest form of flight known. I’m sure that’s how the Bidwells would have wanted it.

Ben Dutro

In sickness and health
Re: “Charts need a checkup” (Editorial, CN&R, Sept. 25):

It seems to me that the “left” (and I assume that you’re in this category) is desperate when it has to spend so much time, in effect, predicting John McCain’s death when he becomes president. I didn’t think that you would stoop to using McCain’s health in order to excuse why you wanted to vote for Obama.

Even if McCain should die in office (which would be unfortunate), Sarah Palin would be in a much better position to take over the presidency than Obama, who has never demonstrated his ability to exercise the type of leadership required if he should be elected president.

There has been ample opportunity for the media to examine John McCain’s heath records. Obama might also die in office, or before, from a health situation that he or his doctors may not be aware of.

Fred Davis

Long and rocky road
Re: “Driveway to nowhere nixed again” (Newslines, by Robert Speer, CN&R, Sept. 25):

I am one of the many Butte Creek Canyon residents who oppose the location and engineering of this driveway across from the historic Duck Pond. I am also the person who gasped when the developer, Dan Allen, brandished a spike while accusing residents in the canyon of sabotage and endangering life.

According to Mr. Allen, this spike was not found on the property. Yet his lawyer and he both used the spike to try to manipulate the Board of Supervisors. I gasped because I didn’t believe them and I couldn’t believe their tactics.

I have worked since 2005 with my neighbors opposing the actions of Signalized Intersection and Dan Allen, and not once did anyone even in jest suggest sabotage. We have too much respect for ourselves, and for our community.

Caroline Burkett

Two views of one man
Re: “The race card” (Newslines, by Meredith J. Cooper, CN&R, Sept. 25):

Jerry Harris is a very nice man who has never once displayed any hostile behavior that I have seen. My wife and I are business owners in Paradise and Magalia. We have known Jerry since he first came to Butte County. We are aware of this ongoing problem and have talked with Jerry in the past about it. I know that he started to fear for his safety many months back and that explains why he felt it necessary to carry the pepper spray.

Jerry is a kind, gentle man, and I am amazed that anyone could find cause to put handcuffs on him. Anyone who could find reason to arrest this frail, 62-year old man for protecting himself needs to be reviewed by their superiors.

Jeff Gould

I am quite aware of who Mr. Harris is. I first saw him at Chico Art Center. He was a very vocal person. He created an audience with his elaborate descriptions of his art and his grandiose tales of his travels around the world.

After a while, it was apparent that Mr. Harris is so full of himself that the conversation can only end by your excusing yourself.

I believe that Mr. Harris’ feelings of being discriminated against for being black are distorted. Color is not the reason people object to him. His stories are unbelievable and extravagant. His attitude is abrasive and confrontational.

I can’t see how you can put a color on this. Any person would have a problem getting along in this society, no matter what color, with a distorted view.

David Johnson

Trash talk goes viral
Editor’s note: Melissa Daugherty’s lead story for last issue’s GreenWays section gave her (and us) 15 minutes of viral fame. “Talkin’ trash,” covering the Chico appearance of Dave Chameides, made the front page of the Drudge Report site and received 40,959 hits Oct. 2. Needless to say, it generated comments and letters from across the nation, most in the vein one might expect from those clicking over from Drudge. Here are some choice excerpts:

Ahh! “Sustainable Dave,” the politically correct definition of a hero. I guess ole Dave’s head is as full of the same stuff his house contains.

Joe Sheppard

AAAAAGGGGGHHHH!!! This guy needs psychiatric help. He has been brainwashed by the Gang Green crowd into thinking that suddenly the earth is not capable of sustaining humanity. The Earth has withstood ice ages, volcanoes, tsunamis, hurricanes, plagues and asteroids. The Earth adapts.

In the 1960s, the Earth was going to be blown up by nukes. In the ‘70s, it was the new ice age. Now thanks to the hysteria of Al Gore and the globalphobiacs, it is the mere existence of mankind that will cause Armageddon. Sheesh.

Jack Fisherkeller
La Grange, Ill.

Is he also saving his human waste for his “composting bin"? Does [he] understand that he may be creating a public-health hazard and a fire hazard? There are lots of saner ways to demonstrate your commitment to the environment.

Install solar-electric roof panels. Get rid of your grass lawns and replace with drought-resistant plants. Avoid long-range air travel—use the telephone instead. Walk to the store instead of driving. Take a walk instead of playing a video game on your LCD TV. Tell your gardeners (if you use them) not to use gas-powered, non-catalytic lawn equipment. If they refuse, do the work yourself with hand tools—you’ll benefit from the exercise and get a nice sun tan.

Most liberal enviro-wackos are phonies. They do outrageous stunts to make themselves appear concerned, but when it comes down to actually reducing pollution, they fail miserably.

Patrick Curry

Michael Savage was right: Liberalism is a mental disorder. These people are certifiably insane. Rational, sober, productive humanity cannot coexist with them. The time is approaching—rapidly—when we will have to part ways.

Hussein Soetoro
Washington, D.C.

Re: “Bird is the word” (Chow, by Henri Bourride, CN&R, Sept. 25): In the caption accompanying the review of Gooney Bird Bar and Grill, the last name of server Casey Pepe was misspelled. We apologize for the error, which has been corrected online.