Letters for September 26, 2013

Notes on fracking

Re “Taking back the foothills” and “The future of the f-word” (Editorial, Aug. 22 and Cover feature, Sept. 19):

Thank you, County Supervisor Bill Connelly, for protecting the purity of our drinking water. Everybody who needs clean, pure drinking water should appreciate your actions; in fact, everything should: All animals and plants, every agricultural product, perhaps the Earth itself, need lots of clean, fresh, pure water, too. No living thing can long survive without pure water. It’s priceless.

Please, Mr. Connelly, and all our county supervisors, demonstrate your leadership by also conserving and protecting our fresh, pure underground water, the Tuscan Aquifer, from contamination.

Right now there is fracking (which includes the injection of tons of pure water contaminated with huge volumes of toxic chemicals into oil/gas wells) going on in neighboring counties. How long before fracking extraction or fracking waste-injection wells want to move into Butte’s old gas fields? Wells drilled through our Tuscan Aquifer! Everyone whose life, health, livelihood or property value depends on a reliable supply of clean, pure water should be concerned about this threat.

County supervisors, please say “no” to any type of fracking activity in Butte County. Please conserve and protect our Tuscan Aquifer because its clean, fresh, pure water is simply priceless.

Doug Fogel

The article notes the small, almost invisible footprint of a fracking well. Compare that to the thousands of acres of landscapes despoiled—habitats polluted and destroyed—by those killers of endangered birds: wind turbines. Eagles, California condors and whooping cranes to name a few.

How may whooping cranes have fracked wells killed? Zero. How many whooping cranes killed by wind turbines? Over 100—half the remaining population.

Other facts to consider: 1,000 acres of wind farm produce less energy than a single fracked gas or oil well. Not one single case of aquifer contamination from fracking has ever been demonstrated over the 60 years this procedure has been used. Allegations are not proof.

Opponents of fracking are reactionary Luddites who oppose all fossil-fuel energy development while promoting grossly environmentally destructive “alternative” energy sources. Let them do without energy—no electricity, no natural gas, no motor fuel. And let them pay utility bills and buy motor fuel for low-income people who face needlessly higher energy costs because of their mindlessness.

Chad Wozniak

Editor’s note: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has attributed contaminated groundwater to fracking in several locations within the United States.

Ever since an ancient Jew wrote, “God said … subdue it: and have dominion over … every living thing that moveth upon the earth,” giving rise to the modern Capitalist Religion, it has become blasphemy, aka communism, to ask why the plundering of wealth for the few can risk the health of the many. Why fracking, hacking, pumping, dumping, haste and waste? Ultimately we must ask, “Why me?” As the saying goes, “Be the change you want to see.”

Roland McNutt

Crapshoot economics

Re “Tax alcohol to reduce crime” (Guest comment, Sept. 19):

I’m fairly confident that, as an economist, Mr. James deals primarily with statistical data. But surely he understands the value of empirical data as well. Statistical trees don’t always bear the intended fruit.

A case in point: Several years ago—11 to be exact—the state of Alaska set path down the very road that Mr. James now suggests for the city of Chico. They legislated increased taxes on all types of alcohol. That included doubling the tax on hard liquor and tripling the tax on wine. After more than a decade, the results are in. The headline for Sept. 15, 2013, in the Anchorage Daily News reads as follows: “Alaskans drank more despite higher alcohol tax, drink prices.” They didn’t drink less and they didn’t drink the same amount. They drank more.

So perhaps it’s somewhat of a crapshoot when an economist tells you what the studies reveal. Studies are not all encompassing. And, by the way, I’m fairly confident nobody spends too much time thinking about the totally illogical possibility of Chico sans local law enforcement.

Terry Moore

Mayoral rebuttal

Re “On the chopping block” (Newslines, by Robert Speer, Sept. 19):

I provide the following clarifications as instructed when I requested the CN&R run a correction to the misquotes in this article based on an interview by Robert Speer at the end of the Sept. 17 council meeting during which he took no notes.

First, I was quoted as threatening to reveal embarrassing information from the personnel files of Alicia Meyer, Mary Fitch and Quené Hansen. I stated the opposite; that I did not need to look in their personnel files since the work of all three has come in front of the council, so I am very familiar with the quality and accuracy of their work. Additionally, their personnel files are not accessible to me whatsoever.

Second, Mr. Speer reports that all three employees have been laid off from the city of Chico. That is completely incorrect as not one was laid off. Lastly, while I used the acronym “CYA” as the reason for the continued campaign waged by these three separated employees from the “business from the floor” portion of the council meetings, I certainly did not use the words as quoted by Mr. Speer.

The truth matters, and the truth as espoused by these three couldn’t be any further from such because the truth is the last thing Alicia Meyer, Mary Fitch and Quené Hansen want anyone in Chico to know.

Scott Gruendl

Editor’s note: The CN&R and the author stand by this story. Mr. Gruendl takes no issue with the part of the story in which he says the women waived their right to confidentiality, thus implying that details of their work for the city could be revealed. He was being paraphrased, not quoted. Mr. Speer wrote down notes immediately after an interview that was not “off the record.” Mr. Gruendl is right that he did use the acronym for “cover your ass.” The information about the employees being laid off is true in two of three cases; Mary Fitch and Alicia Meyer were laid off, while Quené Hansen quit.

Church response

Re “Compatibility concerns” (Newslines, by Tom Gascoyne, Sept. 19):

I am the current board president of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Chico (UUFC). I am writing in response to gross inaccuracies in the article written by Tom Gascoyne. In the article, it is stated that the UUFC hosts Narcotics Anonymous meetings in the building at Cherry and Sixth streets.

The UUFC supports 12-step programs and their goal of helping people live in recovery from their addictions. Like other churches in the Chico area, we have had 12-step groups who meet in our facilities on a weekly basis. However, we have no affiliation with the Narcotics Anonymous groups who meet at Cherry and Sixth. We do not own that property, and in no way would it be accurate to say that we “host” the meetings there.

The last sentence of the article states that the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship could not be reached for comment by press time. Since we received no phone message or email from Mr. Gascoyne, we are left wondering how it is that he tried to reach our fellowship for comment.

Megan Johnson

Editor’s note: See Correction, below.

Clarification and correction

In a story titled “Best of ‘Nancy’s Bookshelf,’” by Robert Speer, Aug. 22, KCHO engineer Rachelle Parker’s role in the production of the Nancy’s Bookshelf program was unintentionally understated. Parker, in fact, extensively has edited the author interviews for time, content, audio quality and anything else needed to prepare the programs for broadcast.

Last week’s Newsline “Compatibility Concerns,” by Tom Gascoyne, incorrectly stated that the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Chico was connected with Narcotics Anonymous meetings held at 550 Cherry St. In fact, the church has no affiliation with the meetings at this location. The meetings are held by a local chapter of NA. Our apologies for the error, which has been corrected online. –ed.

Boycott for the bears

Re “Wildlife protector” (Fifteen minutes, by Vic Cantu, Sept. 19):

Thanks to your interview with Steven Callan, I was made aware of “bile bears.” A quick online search revealed that in China, Vietnam and Korea, bears are kept immobilized in “crush” cages and then subjected to having tubes driven into their gall bladders—so that bile can be harvested. Bears can survive this for years and it drives them to chew their paws, experience mental collapse, etc. (The bile is sold to practitioners of largely superstitious traditional Chinese “medicine.”)

A boycott of all products from these countries would be justified, until this practice is completely eliminated. But, before we limit ourselves to seeing this as an exotic and faraway horror, it would only be fair to compare it with the holocaust farming practices producing 98 percent of the meat, eggs and dairy products in the United States.

Because of an equally superstitious belief that animal protein is necessary in the human diet—or the hedonistic impulse to indulge in animal food consumption simply because it is pleasurable—we support an industry that brutalizes animals, by the millions, every day. This is evident in information on practices such as “total confinement” pork production—and abundant first-hand descriptions of the conditions endured by almost all other livestock in the United States.

Patrick Newman

Salary not justified

Re “City manager remarks” (Letters, Sept. 19):

Mark Sorensen says it was impossible to “hold the line” on city-manager compensation. He quotes Red Adair. I’ll quote the Sundance Kid: “Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?”

Brian Nakamura assumed the city manager job, “appropriating” $50,000 for his salary increase. Later he appropriated about $500,000 to raise the salaries of all department heads. Then he started cutting the lower-salaried employees that actually provided service to the public.

Presenting a “new” $700,000 deficit, he tells us it’s Jennifer Hennessy’s fault. They’ve only noticed it now that they’ve budgeted in all those salary increases?

In my opinion, Sorensen is the amateur here. Nakamura did not have the track record to justify his salary demands. He lied to his former employers about seeking the job here, and he’s not stayed at a job for more than three years. That indicates to me a willingness to move along to the next plum whenever the going gets rough, and I predict Nakamura will not last another year here. He will use the hostile environment he himself created as an excuse to collect his $217,000 severance check and scurry on to some other panic-stricken burg down the highway.

Juanita Sumner

She’s not a scientist

Re “Interesting omissions” (Letters, by Pamm Larry, Sept. 12):

Your editor’s note to Pamm Larry’s letter would lead the reader to believe she has some scientific credibility concerning genetically engineered crops. She does not.

“Super” weeds and insects do not exist. Certain members of the pest population have simply developed resistance to being subjected to the same treatment over time; just as bacteria affecting humans has become resistant to certain antibiotics. Resistance is just as prevalent in conventional crops as gene-spliced crops. Medical and agricultural researchers alike are constantly working to develop methods to combat resistance problems.

Glyphosate does not poison soil microbe. It metabolizes into carbon, hydrogen and oxygen and has no soil activity. In addition, it has a short half-life (fewer than 30 days) in the environment.

Since the first introduction of modern agriculture technology by Norman Borlaug some 70 years ago, American agriculture has kept up with increased demand for food by producing more on less acreage. Common sense dictates this would not be possible if our soil was “dying.”

All of the issues addressed in Ms. Larry’s letter are well-known talking points promoted by anti-GMO activist groups. They are not supported by hard scientific evidence.

Tom Dowd

My point was …

Re “A new tune desired” (Letters, by Stephanie L. Taber, Sept. 5):

Oh, Ms. Taber, you may not agree with the tune, but at least I can hear the music. I was merely pointing out the hypocrisy when it comes to criticizing the city of Chico’s irresponsible spending.

The expensive, thinly veiled anti-student Measure A wasted $150,000 of the city of Chico’s money. Measure A—spearheaded by Ms. Taber and Supervisor Larry Wahl—was a colossal waste of city funds. Not to mention how inappropriate it was for county employees to be advancing their personal cause on the county dime.

While the city has many spending issues, as Ms. Taber pointed out, ad nauseam, it’s not surprising the real question was lost in the convoluted waters before it was answered. Are you willing to follow the anti-government lead of your party and forgo any social benefits or entitlements?

Mary Galvin