Letters for September 2, 2004

How things change
When first reading your article on the middle-school vs. junior high controversy, I was stopped dead at the paragraph which stated that parents of seventh- and eighth-graders reported “dramas over … who’s having sex with whom, or who’s smoking pot after school.” [“Middle Management,” CN&R cover story, Aug. 26.]

What parents? Where are they when this is happening? When I attended my sixth- through eighth-grade middle school from 1994 through 1997, children who smoked even cigarettes were understood to be exactly what they were: deviants! Sex? I’d never even been allowed alone with a boy at that age, and even outings with my girlfriends required that everyone’s parents at least be acquainted with one another. Marijuana? Maybe I’d be allowed to see the sun on escorted trips to and from the bus stop.

I grew up 17 miles outside of Baltimore, and I can assure you that the city schools are hardly exemplary of the rest of Maryland’s educational system. The problem with Baltimore schools is not based in the separation of grades. Look at the crime and deprivation. Teachers do not want to work where they do not feel safe.

Usually California surprises me with a mainstream liberalism that is a much different animal that its Eastern counterpart, but this article had me wondering if I’d fallen into a time warp that sent me back several decades. “'This middle-school concept'” is one that has worked, is working, and will continue to work. If it’s better for the school system’s budget, all the better.

Sarah Simon

Anti-incumbent vote
Don’t vote for the incumbent, pro-development pair of Larry Wahl and Steve Bertagna for Chico City Council this November. Wahl wants to expand Chico’s sphere of influence to the Tehama County border to make it easier for developers to pave over Butte County from one end to the other. I go to a lot of City Council meetings, and I can’t remember the last time I saw those two vote against their developer buddies’ badly planned subdivisions.

It’s not just that they get most of their huge campaign contributions from members of the Building Industry Association (BIA), which they do, it’s that they share the same mantra: “If it’s open space, cover it with concrete!” Or, “Why waste a piece of land on a peach orchard when it would serve better as a perfectly good parking lot?”

Wahl and Bertagna repeatedly vote together to not fund much-needed repairs to our city’s infrastructure in order to keep “developer fees” low. They say it’s to keep the price of new houses low, but it’s really to keep the BIA’s profits high, while you and I, ironically, end up subsidizing the cost of new development infrastructure through our tax money. Someone has to pay for new development: the developer or us.

We need councilmembers who aren’t “conflicted out,” who can make decisions on their own, who are independent and fair-minded and who’ll listen to all of Chico’s citizens and not just a few of their wealthy campaign contributors.

Karen Laslo

Proxy thanks
My busy life as a mother, wife and professor makes it difficult to find time to stay completely informed about a complex issue such as the burn dump cleanup. However, thanks to my neighbors, who are spending their valuable time to protect my family, I don’t have to attend every meeting or read every lengthy report. So, thank you to the dedicated members of the board of California Park Neighborhood Association and the tireless leaders of the South Bidwell Park Neighborhood Association.

They continue to inform us about what’s going on with the dump, and they organized free blood tests (lead) for all the neighbors. Thank you to the Stilson Canyon group and the Marsh Junior High parents who got the city to agree to not move any toxic dirt while school is in session.

Thank you to the people of Butte Environmental Council, who advocate for the health of all of us who live close to the dump. My husband and I became members of BEC because of Barbara Vlamis’ dedication to the burn-dump issue. These people keep questioning what needs to be questioned, protesting what needs to be protested and protecting what needs to be protected—human lives, not developers’ investments.

The public has repeatedly, and with good reason, expressed a lack of trust in elected officials, selected agencies and consultants. The groups I have thanked in this letter deserve your attention.

Cathrine Himberg

Concession to concessions
I’m writing this letter to inform CSU, Chico students of what I consider to be student mismanagement of our student-owned businesses by the Associated Students (AS). The AS has sole concessions rights on campus, and any business seeking to sell concessions must seek a contract with the AS. Those rights are worth a lot of money.

Several years ago, the non-student director of AS businesses was fired for secretly signing a concessions contract with the Chico Heat baseball team. This contract allowed the team to sell concessions in Nettleton stadium for $100 a game—a terrible contract that cost our student businesses and students thousands of dollars. He was rightly fired. This summer another baseball team, this one from the Golden League, came to the AS looking for a concessions contract. Did we get a good deal? No. Our students agreed to $6,600 for 45 home games, or $147 a game (not including playoffs).

I believe the AS could make more than $20,000 selling popcorn alone! That money could have reduced textbook costs or gone back to students.

Students were asked last semester to voluntarily raise fees to support AS programs. They did so under the promise that the extra funds would go there. Over the summer, the AS has hired over $200,000 worth of non-student new and replacement employees.

In tough budget times, organizations should put a freeze on hiring. Students voted for the fee increase to save programs not to hire new non-student employees. The baseball team is not a done deal and may not even come to Chico. Ironically, I love baseball and want it back, but I feel students shouldn’t be subsidizing it.

Mike May

Hit by pitch
Three strikes and you’re out! Sounds great … in a baseball game. But when this glib-sounding phrase is applied to people in real life, it becomes sophomoric drivel, based in ignorance and vindictiveness.

In baseball, if one strikes out he continues to play in the game. In “real life” you’re done. Game over. Off to the “slam"—for the rest of your life.

When this law was enacted it was meant to apply only to violent criminals, not those who steal bicycles or pizza slices.

Even Mark Klass, father of Polly Klass, is against this ill-advised law, and he actively lobbies for repeal.

Contact www.klasskids.org for details.

Larry Phipps