Letters for September 16, 2004

School of guilt
So, all of our Chico Unified School District students are under a blanket suspicion of possessing contraband because a significant number of students responded on a survey (?) that they “tried, or considered trying, drugs…” (emphasis added). [“The Narc wore fur,” Newslines, Aug. 26.] Thus, CUSD officials determined that random dog sniffing searches around and in the schools are legal.

This survey standard, used to justify the sniffing dogs, is a bit loose, no? I mean, are not our kids allowed to consider something without being deemed guilty? I have witnessed our community, our elected representatives and our president quickly absconding with our civil liberties for a while now, but this latest school board decision amounts to throwing our freedom to the dogs. What kind of lesson are we teaching our children?

Justice and liberty are tough concepts. It is not easy to maintain a true democracy within our own families, the community, much less our country as a whole. But are we not committed to that goal? Do not our children, in public schools, recite a Pledge of Allegiance to that ideal daily?

I suggest our school leaders stop the hypocrisy, take the road that’s truer to our ideals and find another solution to stem the tide of drugs in our young people’s lives. Admittedly, this is a very difficult venture, as it appears our children may be telling us (for some time now) that their American lives are devoid of meaning, value and purpose. Unfortunately, this problem cannot be fixed with sniffing dogs but really takes the concentrated effort of the entire community to meaningfully address.

Evanne O’Donnell

Superintendent shenanigans
So, help us understand. We now find out that Scott Brown, our schools superintendent, who just took this community through an expensive, ridiculous and transparent process of transferring one of our best school principals because his school’s student-government teacher fixed a school faucet and had ice cream award assemblies for deserving students, has been found truly abusing funds himself!

Thank you, News & Review, for finally exposing our superintendent for his shenanigans [“Citizen has beef with CUSD dinners,” Newslines, Sept. 9]. It’s time to throw the incumbents and this superintendent out of office. If he thinks he can go out on taxpayers’ money and eat $500 dinners while saying that schools can’t reward students or purchase classroom supplies, he has his priorities backwards.

Chris Anderson

Where the truth lies
The lead attorney and executive director of the California First Amendment Coalition, Peter Scheer, was mistaken when, in reference to the nine, privately held dinner meetings by our school board, Superintendent Brown and staff, he said “in this case they’re definitely covered because it’s a purely social and ceremonial occasion.”

Wrong, Mr. Scheer. That would only be the case if they didn’t discuss school business. Truth is, we don’t know that! Second, The Brown Act states, “No legislative body of a local agency shall conduct any meeting in any facility that prohibits the admittance of any person, or persons, on the basis of race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, or sex or which is inaccessible to disabled persons, or where members of the public may not be present without making a payment or purchase.”

The Chico public didn’t know about these dinner meetings, weren’t invited and couldn’t have attended without purchasing a meal. Worse yet is to learn Scott Brown is still taking his board—oops, that should be our school board—out to dinner and paying for the dinners himself. Now there will be no record of these dinners, and now who is obligated to whom? Thank you, Superintendent Brown for manipulating our elected school board members and undermining the public trust.

Dan Irving

Fear of history
Your editorial, “Three years later” [Sept. 9], concerning 9/11 and its aftermath, was excellent, but it included one error: When Franklin Roosevelt remarked, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” it was in 1933 during his first inaugural address, and he was referring to the Great Depression, not World War II.

Larry Judkins

Beware Wal-Mart
I am opposing Wal-Mart’s plans to build one of their superstores in the Chico area, and I recommend that community members do so also. My opposition is based on my own study of the damaging effects of Wal-Mart’s fierce business practices on communities [“Golf while you can,” cover story, Sept. 2].

Wal-Mart will tell us is that they will bring jobs to the community. What they will not tell us is that for every two jobs they bring they will destroy three existing jobs, on average. They will not tell us that the jobs that they do bring, by majority, are poverty-level jobs without benefits. This alone cuts tax revenues and adds a huge burden to the community’s social services.

Other communities have successfully stopped Wal-Mart by passing zoning and environmental laws (like against traffic, runoff, or wastewater) that effectively block construction of superstores. We can do so also if we choose.

Wal-Mart will tell you that their only opposition is by greedy labor unions. Well, not in my case. I am taking the trouble to educate myself on this because I love Chico and I know that Wal-Mart doesn’t.

Tom Steele

Wal-Mart empire
Your recent article regarding Wal-Mart and its power play to build where Sunset Hills Golf Course is located ought to be required reading for all Chico residents, especially those of us in the North Chico area. Putting in a Wal-Mart, along with a mess of other retail stores, will completely ruin the rural feeling on that end of town and create just another 20th Street scenario with all of the accompanying problems.

Thanks to the CN&R for shining a light on the immoral practices of Wal-Mart. When Wal-Mart first started, they emphasized their commitment to our country by mostly stocking products made in the U.S.A. They were proud of that fact and rightly so. They have now become the largest purveyor of cheap, imported crap produced by men, women and children making less in a day than you and I spend on a pack of gum. They strong-arm their suppliers, underpay their workers and wreak havoc on local economies. Just remember, when a local merchant makes a profit, it most likely is returned to the local economy. When Wal-Mart makes a profit, it goes to Bentonville, Ark.

Finally, we already have one Wal-Mart in Chico. There’s one in Red Bluff and one in Willows. How many of these damn things do we really need in this area?

Mitch Cox