Letters for September 16, 2010

Teaching about tolerance

Re “My year of (not) earning tenure” (Cover story, by Deanna Alexich, Sept. 9):

I read this article with sadness because it appears that a courageous teacher lost her job for doing the right thing. I also read it with happiness that the cover story of the News & Review is an article about inclusion for LGBT individuals.

I speak frequently in college/university classrooms telling my story of “coming out” gay from a fundamentalist-Christian background, and the youth today are almost universally supportive and affirming. There is much hope, and I encourage all K-12 teachers to treat LGBT issues the same as you would treat any other civil-rights issue.

Not only do current laws give you permission to handle such issues, they mandate that you do so. I was hired by Pasadena Unified School District to train teachers and principals on state laws protecting their LGBT students and laws protecting themselves.

I have been told that with the one exception of marriage equality, Californians have the most comprehensive protections of LGBT rights in the country. We have a liberal Legislature and a socially progressive governor (even if he is a Republican).

Brava to Ms. A!

Brian Kraemer

Throughout our educational system many historical and current issues are taught in school. Some outrage our beliefs; some champion our beliefs. Whether one agrees is never the issue in terms of having a good education in critical thinking.

Deanna Alexich provided her students a format in which to expand the diversity of their knowledge. Provided she has not left out information pertaining to her dismissal, she should receive an apology and her right to tenure.

Susan Zinn

Alexich is articulate and compassionate. I bet she’s a great teacher. As a person in the original Times of Harvey Milk movie, I find it sad that more than 30 years later so much ignorance still abounds. I wish her good luck and good teaching. I hope her talents are put to good use!

Tory Hartmann
San Mateo

So is Alexich’s agit-prop Rainbow Flag Theatre making a tour of the Western states? Where can I buy a ticket?

Two things that are hot-button issues in the classroom are sex and religion. Sex-ed needs a note from the parents, and proselytizing about religion is strictly forbidden. And here Deanna was proselytizing about homosexuality! Yikes!

By the way, that’s an American flag in front of the classroom, not a rainbow flag.

As for her writing style, it reeked of stale, recycled, knee-jerk feminist rhetoric. The “eek! a man!” reaction of hers when the veteran visited the school to see how his daughter was doing was all wrong. Instead Alexich should have warmly welcomed the veteran for taking an avid interest in his daughter’s education.

It’s exciting to attempt social reconstruction in high school, but one must remember these are established communities attempting stabilized families. There are already enough domestic melodramas going on every day at schools.

Michael M. Peters

Editor’s note: Nothing in Deanna Alexich’s story suggests she was proselytizing about homosexuality. As a teacher, she covered the issues related to living in a diverse society, and as adviser to the Gay Student Alliance (a position she was recruited to fill), she sought to help LGBT students feel safe and accepted at school.

Is Herger just afraid?

Re “Why is Herger ducking debates?” (Guest Comment, by Pete Stiglich, Sept. 9):

In regard to Mr. Herger’s reluctance/refusal to debate Jim Reed on the issues, it seems to me that the congressman is not confident enough and knows that due to the “I’m proud to be a right-wing terrorist” fiasco during the health-care debates, in Redding, he’s just plain afraid that Jim Reed will wipe the floor with him.

I’m not a politician and I could be victorious over Mr. Herger in a debate.

Mr. Herger’s incompetence in deciding to help the Republican Party gain seats at the cost of what’s good for the American public, unfortunately, will get him re-elected. That way, he can do the usual sitting at his desk cutting out paper dolls while waiting for Republican Minority Leader John Beohner to call his office to “tell” him how to vote on legislation. It’s unfortunate, but true.

Jim Swanson

He won’t miss Willows

Re “‘Crash tax’ takes hold in Willows” (Newslines, by Christine G.K. LaPado, Sept. 2):

I’ve always hated that crappy county, and Willows always sucked. I can guarantee you I will never set foot in your crummy, hot, crackpot town again. I’ll take Highway 99. No more business for me in your city or county. Hope you stay broke!

Mark Blume

Blame Dems, not Logue

Re “Labor Day blues” (Editorial, Sept. 2):

I read with interest your recent editorial attacking our local assemblyman, Dan Logue, for his efforts to fight wasteful government spending and spur private-sector job creation.

The CN&R asks the rhetorical question: Why would lawmakers want to throw more people out of work with their votes?

Good question. But instead of attacking Assemblyman Logue, the CN&R should ask that same question of Sacramento Democrats. The majority party’s job-killing agenda of higher taxes, increased regulations and bigger government has resulted in unemployment growing to 12.3 percent and the state losing 1.3 million jobs over the past three years.

The CN&R talks about how state-funded programs provide jobs for home health-care workers and others. Perhaps they should ask Democrats why they chose to give lavish pension giveaways to state workers, taking away funding from these same health and social services? By spending so much on public-employee pensions, Democrats made their priorities clear—union giveaways over health care for the needy.

Assemblyman Logue is right: Private-sector jobs are essential to generating the tax revenue we desire to fund priorities like health and human services. Job creation should be state government’s priority today, not raising taxes or funding excessive government.

Jennifer Bruce Arvonen

Wrong kind of radio

Radio sucks in Chico.

There are no stations that play good quality new rock music. There’s no indie/alternative/punk/electro/party/hard-rock music.

There is Z-Rock, but that station is mostly nu-metal and boring old metal, not rock. I don’t want to listen to that noise for more than five minutes. A station that plays more of a new-rock format is desperately needed and people deserve something like that.

In L.A. they have KROQ. In the Bay Area they have Live 105. In Sacramento they have 94.7. Chico used to flirt with playing new music, but it appears that whoever owns most of the stations here now has no clue as to what most people actually like. If they marketed to those people they might actually make a little money because they’d be targeting a much larger demographic. Gosh, who would have thought that possible?

Seriously, if it doesn’t happen, then I’d love to see some students create a pirate radio station on FM, just like what is happening in larger towns where people are fed up.

Brit Pouklsen

Curbing capitalism’s cruelties

Re “Social Security at 75” (Editorial, Aug. 19):

With the unrest facilitated by the hate- and fear-mongers of radio and television, we as a nation need to remember the actions of raising people out of poverty that Social Security has undeniably done. The meaningful attempts to balance unbridled capitalism with laws and actions that are good for all Americans are represented by Social Security and universal health care.

The negative effects of the multinational corporations amassing astounding wealth is now being felt by the people of the world, not just our country. The removal of wealth from the general consumer has left us with so little that we cannot buy the products of the manufacturing companies. Wealth has been removed from the populace not only by greed, but also by the vast expense of wars.

Social Security and universal health care are valid for some control of the cruelties that do develop under uncontrolled capitalism. Legal control and honest enforcement are essential for a balanced economy and society.

Howard Sanborn

What’s wrong with June elections

Re “This year’s wedge issue” (From This Corner, by Robert Speer, Aug. 26):

On my way into the grocery store today, I was accosted by a nice fellow asking me to sign an initiative petition to move the Chico City Council election from November to the June primary.

The folks promoting this would like you to think their purpose is to keep students from participating in local elections. A lot of folks here would disagree with that idea, but of course that’s not proponents’ main goal.

Recent results have clearly shown that the far-right, big-development interests can no longer win majority support in local Chico elections. So they are doing what the modern right always does in that situation: Rig the game so they can win without majority support.

The real goal of this effort is not a student-free election. The goal is a low-turnout election. They know the impact of the student vote in local elections is small. They also know that the primary election has a much lower turnout than the general and that low-turnout elections skew more conservative than the electorate as a whole. County-wide, only 44 percent of registered voters came out for the last primary, compared to 80 percent in the last general election.

Shouldn’t our City Council be elected by the largest possible cross-section of our local population, rather than the party activists who show up for primaries?

Don’t be fooled. And don’t sign their petition.

David Welch

How would moving elections to June prevent any qualified voter from participating in local elections? That claim has been made without any substantiation.

You do not have to be present on voting day to cast your ballot. My husband and I registered to vote by mail years ago. We have not missed an election since.

Opponents of the change say they are defending “students,” but that is disingenuous. When Sterling Apartment Corp. wanted to build a college housing facility on Nord Avenue, Jane Dolan, Coleen Jarvis and Scott Gruendl used their elected positions to rally the north-side neighbors against Sterling, telling them that students would take over and ruin their neighborhood. Sterling backed out, and Tom DiGiovanni, who helped Dolan, Jarvis, and Gruendl run their ugly neighborhood meetings, bought the property for his Westside Green project.

Why would you trust anybody who puts you in a group based on one facet of your life? I graduated from Chico State, but I considered myself more than “a student.” I paid rent, sales and property taxes. I observed the laws. And I never missed an election. I considered myself a citizen and acted like one.

Juanita Sumner

Disabled parents say thanks

Gov. Schwarzenegger just signed into law SB 1188. It will take effect on Jan. 1, 2011. Senator Rod Wright (D-Los Angeles) cares about prejudice and discrimination against disabled parents in our judicial system. Glenn Sacks, executive director, and Ned Hosten, MD, of Fathers for Families supported this bill. As did Ella Callow of Through the Looking Glass.

SB1188 reads: “In any proceeding to determine child custody or visitation under this part, in which at least one parent is disabled as defined by the ADA of 1990, a court shall not use the disability of that parent as the basis of an award of custody or visitation, to another party unless that party establishes by clear and convincing evidence, that a grant of custody or visitation to the disabled parent would be detrimental to the health, safety, and welfare of the child.”

Thank you to the advocates responsible for passing this bill. Disabled parents and their children are very appreciative of your help in protection of our rights.

Anita Allbee<

The Glenn and Sarah show

After he fulfilled his duty in restoring honor among the fired-up congregation at the Lincoln Memorial, it seems as though Fox News televangelist Glenn Beck might have taken advantage of his buddy Bill O’Reilly’s no-spin rules when he sheepishly revealed that his decision to slip on a bulletproof vest just prior to the gathering was made solely at his wife’s urgent request.

In view of his failing vision, it’s more plausible that O’Reilly’s sobbing sidekick might have temporarily lost sight of his spiritual precept that calls for having “faith in God’s protection.” The uplifting bywords are the same the theatrical savior made much of in front of the turnout in Washington, and two days earlier than the primetime spin he fed to O’Reilly while Big Bill was nodding his head in friendly accord.

In spite of Beck’s popularity, prostituting his wife for the purpose of a handy scapegoat was nothing more than a cowardly attempt to conceal the fact that he was the only one who had cold feet.

Rodina Turner
Los Molinos

Thousands gathered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington as Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin supposedly commemorated Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech.

Too bad neither of them has the qualities that enabled the great MLK to inspire his followers and accomplish so much in the civil-rights era. Beck and Palin are merely passing phenomena on the American scene. Palin hasn’t the background to lead, and Beck mixes his politics with religion while claiming otherwise.

The best course today is to stick with President Obama’s agenda, pay our taxes, and require the bigwigs to do the same. We can eventually end Bush’s wars, reduce global warming, and restore America’s position in world leadership. We have the resources and ingenuity to accomplish these things if we all pull together.

Three presidents of former times balanced the national budget, all Democrats. Read your history and discover how Andrew Jackson, Harry Truman and Bill Clinton were able to accomplish this great goal. It can be done.

The Tea Party and the Republican right have little to offer except negativity. Don’t be fooled in November.

Robert Woods

More on backyard hens

I really appreciate the CN&R series on backyard hens. I think it’s great that people are taking more responsibility for knowing where their animal food products come from by raising these egg-laying machines themselves.

I also think that all of us responsible consumers can go several steps further in sourcing our food locally. And what’s more local than your neighborhood cats? Butte Humane Society is overrun by cats for whom there are not enough homes. What we should all add to our backyard chicken projects is a backyard cat dairy.

We need to ask BHS to stop neutering the cats, so that we can be sure they’ll be fertile enough to get pregnant over and over again and continue to give us milk. Then, we can each acquire a small herd of cats to provide us with local, free-range, humanely raised, sustainable, artisan, organic, hormone-free, raw cat’s milk, cheeses, ice cream, gelato, and milk-chocolate products.

With each round of impregnation, we’ll just take the kittens away from the mothers (don’t want them competing for our local milk) and crate them up for some tender kitten-veal. I’m thinking that if I get more eggs and cat-dairy than my family can use, maybe S&S or Chico Natural Foods will consider sourcing from my local, sustainable family farm. With all the manure my backyard hens and cats will generate, my organic marijuana plants will be in great shape too.

Daniel Donnelly

The hens featured in the articles are certainly living better lives than 97 percent of egg-laying hens in the United States, those living in battery cages. However, compassionate people must consider more than the laying life of these hens.

I encourage anyone interested in raising backyard hens to consider the following questions: Where are the chicks hatched? How were the chicks transported to the place of sale? (C Bar D and Northern Star Mills have their chicks shipped via USPS from Belt Hatchery in Fresno.)

What happens to the baby roosters? What would you do with the accidental roosters that undoubtedly find their way to the feed store and into your backyard flock? What would you do with your hens in a year or two, after they are no longer laying eggs? How willing are you to seek out veterinary care for your hens? How can you ensure your hens are not susceptible to predators? Who will care for your chickens if you need to be away from home?

Alternatives to eggs abound! For baking, try substituting half a ripe banana for one egg. A few ground flax seeds mixed with water is also a wonderful egg substitution. For breakfast, consider a tofu scramble with mushrooms, onions, bell peppers and a pinch of turmeric for that egg-y flavor. Anyone who might need help transitioning to a vegan diet is welcome to join Chico Vegan Meetup!

Sophia Pospisil

Backyard egg farming has become a hot topic in Chico lately. Keeping hens at home seems like a practical and “green” solution, whether to avoid factory-farmed eggs or to feel a connection to one’s food. Everyone wins, right? People get fresh eggs and manure for their gardens. The hens get food and shelter. And the roosters get … wait, what do they get?

Roosters are not needed for egg production. In hatcheries, chicks are sexed, and half of the chicks (the males) are disposed of in the cheapest and easiest way possible. Often they are thrown alive into a grinder to be made into fertilizer or pet food. Sometimes they are piled into trash bags and left to suffocate. If you have chickens, where do your chicks come from? What happens to the males?

Occasionally, a male chick will be misidentified. Little Henrietta grows up to be a struttin’, crowin’ rooster! What are you going to do with him now?

It’s great that people are expanding their awareness of where food comes from. However, if you look beyond the bucolic image of backyard egg-production, the picture gets darker. For every hen you see, there is a rooster who was ground alive, suffocated, or (if he was lucky?!?) raised for a few months and slaughtered for meat.

Even if you have no problem exploiting the hens themselves, how do you reconcile the fate of roosters? Consider the true source of your food. Think outside the hen-house.

Emily Vanneman

Orcas living in misery

The death toll continued to rise at SeaWorld when a 12-year-old orca named Sumar died at the theme park’s San Diego location. Sumar died far short of the expected 50- to 60-year lifespan of orcas that roam the vast oceans, their rightful homes.

Orcas are intelligent marine mammals that think and plan and work cooperatively. They share complex extended-family relationships and swim for up to 100 miles every day. At SeaWorld, their worlds have been reduced to tiny, barren concrete tanks where they perform tricks for food and splash shrieking crowds.

These animals will continue to live and die in misery as long as the public buys tickets. The next time your family is considering a trip to SeaWorld, please ask yourself if it’s right to expect the lifelong confinement of intelligent and aware animals for a few hours of diversion. Please say no. Visit www.PETA.org to learn more.

Jennifer O’Connor
PETA Foundation

Norfolk, Va.