Letters for September 17, 2009

Wrong about furloughs

Re “Wrong kind of furlough” (editorial, Sept. 10):

Your editorial puts forth the usual anti-union-faculty position we have come to expect from Chico media. But here are the facts:

We “teachers” did not welcome the shutdown. As professionals in the CSU whose central mandate is classroom instruction, we know and cherish what we have been hired to do, even if it means a sacrifice in terms of standard of living.

You should know that the option of furloughs was a choice forced on us by CSU administration. We voted for it in order to save jobs for lecturers (who as part-time instructors spend mucho $ in this community) and to save from its demise a CSU that is purposely dependent on low-wage lecturers.

Serious students and staff also did not welcome the “extended weekend,” as you assert, as it meant in both cases a cut in pay for a job they love and students and their parents paying more for less. I love the “study-in protest” and trust that the protesters and the CN&R editors will now campaign with the same commitment and vigor to get rid of the structural reasons behind furloughs: Prop 13, the two-thirds-majority budget rule, three-strikes law, out-of-control CSU administrative growth, etc.

FYI, like many other CSU faculty, I teach every day (Monday-Friday). What is your furlough plan for me (us)? Weekends? Holidays?

Dr. Beau Grosscup

For years CSU professors and lecturers have watched their departments’ budgets being profoundly slashed, their programs’ budgets slashed or cut, their raises frozen, and their class sizes increased profoundly. You say that students learn less when their classes are canceled, that it’s a disservice to them to reduce the amount of direct teaching hours they receive. No kidding.

The professors and lecturers I know, however, along with the rest of California’s employees—all of us the casualties of a stunningly incompetent and self-interested Legislature—work anywhere from 60-80 hours a week to teach well, to serve their students, and especially to accommodate students who have lost much-needed support and focused academic attention in the last several years.

With this in mind, I wanted to thank the CN&R for confirming for your readers what my duties are to my students and for writing the most informative and comprehensive editorial of the century. In fact, I’m feeling so fully informed by your paper’s coverage of the furlough in general that I probably don’t need to read it anymore.

Anna Moore

Pros and cons on fire fee

Re “Fire fund inequity” (editorial, Sept. 10):

People who live in the mountains and foothills should absolutely be responsible for their situation, since they chose to live there. It must be horrible to lose everything, but the choice was made to live in that volatile situation. I’d love to live there but chose to live in an older home in the valley so I wouldn’t be a part of the sprawl and to leave some wildness in our state.

I lived in Sonoma County for a few years, and for two of those years we had very rainy seasons that caused the Russian River to flood. People actually had homes built on the river and were compensated twice for their homes being washed away. Finally the government said enough was enough.

Houses can be built in three to six months, but our forests are gone forever.

MJ Moore

Your editorial uses the same skewed reasoning the Republicans use when they complain about paying taxes. I often wonder why I should have to pay taxes for school bonds when I don’t have any children or why I’ve paid into Social Security my whole life when it most likely won’t be solvent enough to take care of me later on.

I’d like to add that living a “rustic existence” is often less a matter of choice than of what one can afford.

Lyn Antoinette

I live in Forest Ranch and would be more than happy to pay an extra tax to support CAL FIRE, so that when it comes to budget-crunch time the state can’t yank our first responder/fire protection away like they did this year in the form of rolling brownouts.

That being said, I have a hard time with the argument that “few actually gain direct benefit” from CAL FIRE’s services. For example, if you live in Chico and travel to the Lake Almanor area for recreation or have a cabin up there, and you happen to get into a car accident along the way, do you know who will be your first responder? That’s right, CAL FIRE. The area of response for the CAL FIRE Station 23 Platt Mountain is from Old Humboldt Road just east of Chico (near California Park) all the way to the junction of Highways 32 and 36. That is a huge response area.

Those of us who choose to live in high fire danger should be willing to pay an extra tax for our fire protection (as I understand has been done in the past), but please spare me the argument that only a handful of people benefit from CAL FIRE. What about all the county people who live in Chico who rely on county Stations 42 and 44? They don’t live in high-fire-danger areas, but they benefit from CAL FIRE; should they be forced to pay an extra tax too?

Tina Dahl
Forest Ranch

Norton’s fans respond

Re “Why did Norton Buffalo miss his first gig ever?” (Newslines, by Jaime O’Neill, Sept. 10):

As a long-time radio professional, fan and friend of Norton “Buff” Buffalo, I want to say thank you for a wonderful, heartfelt article about Norton’s very serious condition. Buff has a huge and generous spirit. My wife and I are heartsick over this. We knew for months he wasn’t feeling well and actually put off a visit with him so he could rest while on tour. I was hoping to get out to Paradise this year to spend a few days with Buff among the pine trees. We pray for a miracle that that day will come.

Stew “Beef Stew” Crossen
Hartford, Conn.

I have known Norton for 50-plus years, and we are still good friends. I was with him when he first got the news of having cancer. When I read the story [titled online] “Sad news about Norton Buffalo,” the part about Norton’s upcoming birthday is upsetting to me. To put in print words like “If he makes it” (his birthday is only 15 days from now) and “There’s a chance he won’t” is just wrong. Norton is a very positive person, and all of us who know him are being very optimistic.

Although I know this is serious, I/we refuse to give up. I talked with Norton just yesterday, and his spirits are high and he is very hopeful.

Reading your entire story it seems as though you do care about Norton, so I hope you will join with the rest of us and keep positive thoughts and vibes through this fight. If you do write more about Norton in the near future, please keep it positive. I’m sure that would be uplifting to him, his family, friends and fans.

Rick Anschutz
Mt. Aukum, Calif.

Last October, my son met Norton Buffalo through Facebook. Norton was so kind—he called my son and they talked about their mutual love for music, among other things. My son was going through a really bad time with a divorce, and so Norton invited him to come to Wilmington, N.C.—about 75 miles from where we live—to see the Steve Miller Band in concert. My son thoughtfully took me along because I’ve been a fan for many, many years.

Norton not only met us at the gate, but we also were treated to a tour of the backstage facilities, spent the entire afternoon talking with Norton, sharing their meal before the show … in short, it was the most incredible day we’ve ever had. Norton was like meeting up with an old friend, like someone we had known for years. We talked about music, politics, the world in general, the earth, his love for mankind, and his goodness and spirit for life showed through and literally lit up his face.

We are praying that he will use his positive energies to beat this thing. What an incredible man Norton Buffalo is, aside from being one of the best musicians ever. God speed, Norton—please get well soon. We love you.

Beverly Griffin
Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Obama and the heckler

The following is a letter I sent to Rep. Wally Herger after listening to President Obama’s speech [to Congress Sept. 9]. I eagerly await his response.

Dear Rep. Herger,

As a member of the Republican Party and your constituent, I was appalled by Rep. Joe Wilson’s outburst during the president’s speech this evening. This lack of civility crossed a sacred line. I was embarrassed that a member of my party would insult the president in such a manner.

Over the last few months our Republican party has shamed its constituents by saying things without thinking first. You too, Rep. Herger, have done the same. I watched and listened with horror as you praised a gentleman from Redding for being a “proud right-wing terrorist.” Might I remind you that a terrorist is a person willing to scare, threaten, intimidate and even kill those people who disagree with their political, social or religious views? I expect more from you, Mr. Herger.

Michael Townzen

Well, the Republicans are sure showing their true colors, as Congressman Joe Wilson, heckler extraordinaire, proved during President Obama’s speech last night. I ask, who are the real liars? The Republican machine, using network TV like CNN or FOX News to issue their daily spin, and vacationing congressmen like Wally Herger who misdirect the citizens? Extremist fundamentalist Christian wingnuts? Health-insurance lobbyists? Third-rate entertainers like Rush Limbaugh who spew their daily rants of lies and misinformation? Or is it President Obama?

I’d say it’s these others whose agenda it is to discredit our duly elected president. A president who intelligently and graciously invited everyone to the table to work at solving the huge problems this country faces, only to have the Republicans, en masse, choose to continue to be the problem instead of being part of the solution.

I say, enough of their lies, distortions and bad manners. I’m tired of their obstructionism and destructionism. Why are we being held hostage to a bunch of sore losers and naysayers?

Let us use the opportunity of a truly extraordinary president to get on with the business of fixing this country.

Jan Hildenbrand

Single-payer is simple

I don’t like what’s coming out of Washington, D.C., these days on health care. If they don’t include a public option, best not to pass health-care reform at all. Because it will probably just turn into an excuse for the private, for-profit health-insurance industry to pick the pockets of Americans, especially if Congress actually passes a law requiring us to purchase a private policy.

I mean, talk about over-reaching government! Why don’t we just simplify things by having single-payer, with people being free to choose their own doctors and treatment options, no ifs, ands, and buts? It really could be as simple as that.

I also don’t know why the national media keep acting like they just don’t get it. Can they actually be that stupid?

Jay Castor

More on Bert and Wally

Re “Big time for Wally” (From This Corner, by Robert Speer, Aug. 27):

Mr. Speer’s column does not even begin to delve into the issues boiling underneath its sound-bite surface. It seems that there is little to no curiosity about what would inspire Bert Stead to call himself a “proud right-wing terrorist,” nor the supportive response he garnered from the audience and Rep. Wally Herger.

Though I do not know his mind, I imagine that Mr. Stead was referring to the fact that recent publications such as the Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC) report of Feb. 20, 2009, and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report of April 7, 2009, have taken to labeling vast swaths of the American public as “potential terrorists.”

Included in these lists are military veterans, presidential candidates Ron Paul, Bob Barr and Chuck Baldwin supporters, detractors of the Federal Reserve, third-party voters, anti-abortion activists, Second Amendment supporters, and people displaying “anti-government” bumper stickers, among many others.

So, it appears that it is not Mr. Stead describing himself as a terrorist, but rather a comment on those who would treat him as a potential terrorist for his political and social ideologies. If you have no desire to stand up for your right to free speech and free opinion, then what do you stand up for?

Marlene Olson

As the media spotlight on Congressman Wally Herger fades and he returns to his comfortable position of obscurity, it is important to keep in mind what transpired at the Redding town-hall meeting. While Congressman Herger’s gleeful response of political rhetoric to the self- proclaimed “right-wing terrorist” exposed his true character, what has transpired since should really be a wake-up call to the voters of the 2nd District.

Herger’s action, and in many ways inaction, goes beyond condoning this type of inflammatory rhetoric; it encourages it. It is becoming all too obvious that we are losing our sense of decency. Our forums for collective discourse, namely our town halls, have become the assembly ground for people who use the pretext of patriotism as a means to shield themselves from constructive dialogue.

We have good reason to be concerned when the likes of Congressman Herger and other political hacks encourage divisive rhetoric and political grand-standing that is truly a detriment to our country’s well being. These are disgusting displays of hatred toward our president, and Herger should be ashamed for encouraging it. And shame on us if we vote to return him to Washington in 2010.

Roger S. Beadle

A time for statesmanship

Open letter to members of Congress:

You are serving at an amazing point in history. The vital issues before you now can improve the health and wellbeing of our nation. If you have come to serve the good of the people in your district, state and country, you are poised to bring tremendous benefit to them, their children and their children’s children.

I want to ask a fundamental question: Is health-insurance reform more important than being reelected? Might this one piece of legislation be worth your popularity in the polls and even your political career? I ask this question to call upon you and your colleagues to do your job using your wisdom, intelligence and integrity—without fear.

You were elected to represent people who do not have the time, energy or knowledge to fully understand health-care-reform legislation. It is your task to work through the legislative language; seek to understand the often precarious balance of trading one aspect of a program for another; to listen to the views of your colleagues and constituents; and then to voice and vote your conscience.

Please, be a voice of reason and calm. Trust your deepest conscience. Vote in the way you know is true. The people of your district will not all agree with you whatever you decide. But you are the one who needs to live with the actions you take and the person you choose to be in this vital time.

Nancy Martin

The thugs in Washington

I believe it is time for the public to stop asking why the United States government is doing what it is doing and admit that they, the government, are turning this country into a socialist country. The writing is on the wall, people.

Wake up and call elected officials and tell them to put a stop to this ignorance. Or be prepared to have people like ACORN knocking on your door demanding your weapons because they already took your rights.

Let’s not let the thugs running Washington destroy this country anymore. If they are not reading the bills they pass, then they obviously haven’t read the Constitution. “WE THE PEOPLE” need to keep them honest or remove them.