Letters for September 25, 2008

Prominent park friends off-course
Re: “Why paragliding merits review” (Letters, by Josephine Guardino, CN&R, Sept. 18):

The writer’s use of misinformation to sway the otherwise unknowing public is a tool in the monkey-wrench mentality that exacerbated environmental decline of the disc golf course area.

In the 15 years I have been actively engaged in nonmotorized paragliding, I have never heard of a single site being closed due to spooking horses, the unbedding of deer or damage to nesting birds. Impacts have been evaluated by other CEQA reviews; the results show that animals are at the “minimal” scale of impact.

In the 300 hours I have flown above Bidwell Park, I have never seen a horse in the same area that we fly. We have letters from Fish and Game for other semi-local sites that accommodate concerns about nesting birds and birds in flight—these issues can be mitigated.

Every user has impacts. Hikers, bikers, horseback riders, swimmers and dogs all pose the same potential issues to the park that paragliding does—and more so. We hike up trails and don’t hike down. Our use of the park is limited to a very small footprint on the ground (20 feet by 20 feet), and then our activities are in the sky.

From the ground, our gliders can barely be seen with a trained eye. Once we are in the low proximity of park boundaries, we are generally coming in for a final glide to Bear Hole, and our use over the park is momentary.

We in the local paragliding community have encouraged due process to understanding our impacts to the park, as every user should.

Jon Stallman

The Guest Comment from Susan Mason [”There’s no ‘they'—the park is yours,” Sept. 18] was concise in the fact that we the users need to step up and take care of our park. I totally agree with her plea for help and feel the volunteer hours for weed removal and trail maintenance are very appreciated by those of use who use the park daily.

Her statement about how park maintenance is funded should be taken into account when you read the letter by Josephine Guardino, the secretary of Friends of Bidwell Park. Why is this resident of Los Molinos so concerned about paragliders spooking horses, deer and birds? Should she not be more concerned with the indoor pistol range that must clearly spook these animals more than a paraglider?

The city park rules state: “No loud or unusual noises are allowed, including radios and headsets that can be heard 50 feet away.” I hiked with my son the other evening from the cross to Monkey Face, and I could hear the “unusual” gunfire the entire time.

Where is the NRA-sponsored EIR on the stress-hormone levels of the ducks that reside in Horseshoe Lake? That is ridiculous, right? Just like the FOBP requesting an EIR for paragliding and their battle against the disc golf course.

Both Josephine and Susan have degrees in biological sciences, and they both seem not to get the real impact. Keep the cars out of Upper Park. Reduce pollution, speeding, noise and drunk swimmers requiring rescue.

Rob Glatthaar

Low opinion of ours
Re: “How wild is Upper Park” (Editorial, CN&R, Sept. 11):

Sarah Palin would be proud of you! Let’s see if I can summarize the CN&R’s Palinesque rationale for developing Upper Park.

Well, since Bear Hole is already littered with cigarette butts and beer cans, we may as well open up the rest of Upper Park to development. And since the city allowed McMansions to be built on the rim, we ought to allow paragliders into the viewscape.

The “Middle Park” that the CN&R just discovered was created with the acknowledgement that mistakes in the past led to developed recreation in Upper Park and that these activities (golf, Horseshoe Lake, etc.) would be grandfathered into the plan as Middle Park. The Park and Playground Commission recognized that the remainder of Upper Park needs to be protected from future development.

The Master Management Plan is a document that plans for the future. In 1960, the Chico-Paradise metropolitan statistical area had a population of 75,000; today it is 200,000; in 40 years it will be 600,000.

Just for comparison, Sacramento had a population of 600,000 in 1960 and now has a population of 1.6 million! So in 90 years when Chico has a population of 1.6 million, how many paragliders and disc golfers will there be?

Protecting public lands requires visionaries like Annie Bidwell and John Muir, who knew that left to their own narrow self interests, humans will destroy every last acre of wildland. When our National Park System was created, newspaper editors used the same arguments as the CN&R against them; thankfully brighter minds prevailed!

Marc Kessler

Voice of experience
Re: “Overreaction?” (Letters, by Carol Kelly-Echols, CN&R, Sept. 18):

A number of years ago, I had a similar experience. I had worked over 36 straight hours trying to recover data after my company’s computer decided to commit suicide by eating its own hard drive. I was on the way home at 3 a.m. when police stopped me.

I was ordered out of the car at gunpoint, handcuffed and searched. I was locked in the back of a police car while my car was searched. I was tired, angry and very uncooperative, and the police responded in kind.

A much older officer arrived on the scene and calmly convinced me it was in my best interest to settle down and cooperate. He then explained that I was stopped because my car and I matched the description of someone who fired shots at other individuals outside of a bar. I calmed down. The situation was quickly resolved, and I was allowed to go on my way.

I am sure that in Carol Kelly-Echols’ case, there were other factors beyond those presented, because police usually don’t draw guns for no reason. I found that if you are stopped and you cooperate, you are much more likely to walk away with little more than a warning.

While it may be a natural first response, fighting with officers, even if you feel you are right, only aggravates the situation. If you are unfairly ticketed or arrested, fight it in court, not on the street.

Robert Grignon

Think before scooting
Re: “Scootermania” (GreenWays, by Stephanie Maynard, CN&R, Sept. 18):

As a local scooter rider, I was deeply concerned with the lax attitude in “Scootermania.” I am new to the scooters as many people are, although my reasons for riding have nothing to do with saving gas or money (I have never owned a car). Here are a few important tidbits that shouldn’t have been left out of the aforementioned article.

Like purchasing any other vehicle, purchasing a scooter requires a fair share of research for the sake of safety and reliability. I don’t think most people would purchase a car from a company called Shanghai Shenke, so why a scooter? Yamaha, Honda, Genuine, Vespa, and Piaggio have decades of experience in building these machines. Lesser-known companies like SYM and Kymco also are also regarded as serious manufacturers.

Whatever protective gear one chooses to wear or not wear should be based on how comfortable the rider feels. However, scooters are not bicycles. Scooters are small motorcycles. That’s why California riders are required to get an M1 license for any two-wheeled bike over 50CCs.

I’m not too sure about the ecological advantage of scooter riding nor the up-and-coming electric scooter craze. I’m sure it’s worth looking into, though I think I’d wait until Honda or Yamaha releases an electric bike before jumping on that bandwagon.

There is a certain risk one takes when hopping on a two-wheeled motor vehicle. I hope with this latest craze, people take scooter-riding a bit more seriously for the sake of their families and their own safety.

Happy scooting!

James Lopez

VP talk continues
Question: What is the difference between a qualified vice-presidential candidate and Sarah Palin? Hint: The answer has nothing to do with gender or family situation.

Answer: If the difference isn’t obvious to you, then either educate yourself or do the world a service and don’t vote in November.

John Burge

Re: “Palindrone” (In My Eyes, by Evan Tuchinsky, CN&R, Sept. 11):

When you wrote it was time to look at Palin “rationally—realistically,” I was bracing for some intellectual discourse, but instead found the same narrow-minded refrain we’ve heard from the mainstream press when you called her “wholly unqualified.”

She is far more qualified than past vice-presidential candidates, many of whom were in Congress (Ferraro, Quayle, Gore, Lieberman, etc.) She has executive experience, which, no matter what state, is always highly sought by presidential contenders.

This critique of a vice-presidential candidate is unprecedented. These questions have never been raised about any of the abovementioned candidates. This is really about an independent woman who is a young, fresh, and bold alternative to the mundane “old-school” feminism we have had to endure for 40 years. She represents an excluded group—and that is what bothers the media, Hollywood, and the “cultural elite.”

Stop preaching peace, tolerance, diversity and sensitivity and start practicing those concepts.

Gary Kelley

Re: “Palin by comparison” (Letters, by Gayle Kimball, CN&R, Sept. 18):

To assuage Ms. Kimball’s fear “about what eight more years of the radical right could do to the country we love,” you don’t have to worry. There won’t be eight years of anyone.

No matter who wins the presidential election in November, it will be a one-term presidency. Another four years from now, whether it’s McCain or Obama presiding (or Palin or Biden for that matter), people will be calling for change, just as they are now, because there is nothing a president can accomplish in four years to undo the doo-doo we’re all in, let alone the doo-doo we’re all headed for.

Perry Fox

Don’t just talk—vote!
Re: “World going ’round” (Music, by Sergy El-Morshedy, CN&R, Sept. 11):

Nasir “Nas” Jones is a big disappointment if he doesn’t take his grandiose self to the registrar and register to vote! His big-speak interview on why “Barack Obama needs to be president” doesn’t hold water if he himself neglects to be a voting citizen.

None of this “I’m not a voter"—Nas is not being an American by forgoing his voting privileges, and certainly hiding out in the youth culture (he’s 35) is no excuse. I was astounded the News & Review gave this no-show jerko such a big front-page photo and a full-page story.

Ann Navarro