Letters for September 3, 2015

Sweeps are unconstitutional

Re “Policing green spaces” (Newslines, by Howard Hardee, Aug. 27):

In 2013, our anti-homeless element—most vociferously, commercial landlords—demanded that Chico increase pressure on the homeless. A “sit-lie” ordinance was passed, private guards patrolled the streets and the Orchard Church (which fed the poor) was pressured to leave Chico City Plaza. This summer we begin a new era.

On Aug. 19, Chico law enforcement officers made a predawn sweep through Bidwell Park, citing people for sleeping—aka “camping”—and jailing people on “warrants.” These warrants are routinely issued when homeless people “fail to appear” or fail to pay fines that are unaffordable by design. This approach criminalizes homelessness.

According to coverage in the CN&R, there will be more officers in the park, some of whom will be in park maintenance vehicles, allowing officers to more easily approach and “speak” with the “menacing” homeless.

Some concerns: Using predawn sweeps allows the police to operate out of view of the citizenry. Using maintenance vehicles as police cars is a Third World tactic. Interrogating and/or intimidating people who simply appear suspicious is unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment. And, continuing to cite people for sleeping is a violation of the Eighth Amendment, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

Is Chico inviting civil liberties litigation?

Patrick Newman


Plant, don’t cut

PG&E has slated 85 trees in the Comanche Creek greenbelt to be removed. Fifty-five of these trees are valley oaks. The claim again by PG&E is that the removal is a safety measure. The company then refers to the San Bruno explosion, but this explosion had nothing to do with tree roots. I ask you to stand up and defend this area of urban forest from PG&E’s deforestation plan.

We need to save as many trees as possible throughout the Chico area and question the reason that each and every tree has to be removed. The reason for each removal has to be proven by PG&E. We need to defend our trees as the people in the Bay Area did. I urge you to help the people of Chico to do this by requiring permits for each and every tree removal.

PG&E must also be required to replant at least one tree for each one removed. The company also needs to cover the cost of nurturing and maintaining the newly planted trees for three to five years until they can thrive on their own.

Please stand in defense of our urban forest and trees. In this time of climate change and drought, they provide oxygen, absorb carbon dioxide, hold water in the ground, provide respite from the hot sun, clean the air, and absorb pollutants. We need to be planting trees and increasing the canopy, not cutting them down.

Suzette Welch


Editor’s note: For more on this subject, see page 9.

Cred reduction

Re “Beyond the pepper” (Cover story, by CN&R staff, Aug. 27):

To say I am disappointed in the cover image and corresponding text for your “back to school” issue is quite an understatement.

Using a stereotypical image of the “sexy school teacher” is not only objectifying and sexualizing women (must we continue to have this conversation?) and female teachers specifically, but it also undermines the significance of the work of the two women involved in social justice and business efforts that you interviewed for the article.

Perhaps a better use of your journalism on the point of the sexualization and objectification of women would be to focus on the increased efforts across the California State University system, and at Chico State specifically, to do a better job at addressing Title IX requirements to provide a campus free of sexual harassment and sexual violence.

The CN&R lost some journalistic cred with this one.

Molly Heck


More debates, please

Can you believe it, one lady determines the number of Democratic presidential candidate debates? Back in 2008, Debbie Wasserman Schultz was a co-chair of Hillary Clinton’s presidential run and one of the campaign’s most active surrogates and she is now Democratic National Committee chair.

Schultz on the subject of increasing the number of debates for democratic presidential candidates: The debate schedule is up to her, and there is no recourse. The DNC then announced that there would be only six debates, whereas in 2008 there were 26 debates. They don’t want Hillary to have any competition and Bernie Sanders is attracting too many voters with his messages. Fewer debates, less chance Sanders can be heard by the people. The DNC has been bought by Hillary Clinton and unless you speak up, there goes Democracy.

Norm Dillinger


Two views on portables

Re “Cleaner air for kids”(Guest comment, by Robert Speer, Aug. 27):

The number of CUSD teachers who have had cancerous tumors after teaching in portables is alarming. Someone has to connect the dots that spell out the fact that portables are not safe for teachers and children. Many forms of cancer, respiratory and auto-immune diseases have attacked dozens of teachers in the school district.

Portables lack proper ventilation, leak, attract black mold and are constructed with toxic materials, including formaldehyde. I am aware of this because I worked in a portable in a nearby school district where black mold was discovered, disregarded, with evidence eventually given to a grand jury.

The CUSD had to know that teachers have been getting sick at a rapid rate. The teacher referenced in Mr. Speer’s column is a dear friend of mine. Last week, she lost a lung in a nine-hour, life-threatening surgery for a malignant tumor. The portable in which she had worked and made formal complaints was eventually condemned. Her wish is that parents should be warned and educated to choose safe schools that protect the lives of the teachers, staff and children. Portables changed my friend’s life.

Jamie Curtis

Nevada City

As a Chico State alumnae, I have only recently become aware of the alarming number of elementary teachers in the CUSD who have died or are facing health issues possibly as a result of classroom conditions, specifically carcinogenic contaminants in portable classrooms.

It is beyond my comprehension how administrators could fail to address the safety of our most valuable and vulnerable asset, our children, not to mention the selfless teachers who have dedicated years and even decades of their lives to their betterment and education.

It appears there were red flags and voiced concerns that were overlooked or, worse yet, ignored—for what? What could have been more important in the district’s budget than ensuring the health and safety of those who passed through their system? Chico State was known to have a great education program when I was there. How ironic to learn now that the CUSD might possibly be responsible for putting educators and their charges at risk. These allegations must be taken seriously and, if found to be valid, not another month, let alone another school year, can pass before improvements and restitution to the victims be made.

Bonnie Waltrip