Letters for September 5, 2013

Poignant memories of King

Re “A walk to remember” (Newslines, by Ken Smith, Aug. 29):

Thanks for doing the article about 1963 and Martin Luther King Jr. It was nice to hear from three Chico women (Grace Marvin, Diana Fogel and Wendy Brown) who were in Washington, D.C., on that “I Have a Dream” speech day.

For many of us, the article brought back many memories. I was in high school at the time of Dr. King’s speech; that summer, I was working in a factory on the edge of Philadelphia, 150 miles from D.C., so I missed that historic event, to my regret.

I do recall the moment in Vietnam when a guy yelled to me that Dr. King had been killed (April 4, 1968). I had just gotten back to my unit (101st Airborne) the day before, from almost a month in hospitals for being wounded. February and March of 1968 was the Tet Offensive, and President Lyndon B. Johnson announced on March 31 that he would not run again, so it was chaos in Vietnam and in the United States. Morale was dropping by the month, and the assassination of Dr. King hit especially hard among the African-American troops.

No one in 1963, or in 1968, would have predicted that some day the U.S. would have a national holiday to celebrate Dr. King.

Bob Mulholland

A new tune desired

Re “Pot calling kettle black” (Letters, by Mary Galvin, Aug. 29):

Ms. Galvin is singing an old and decidedly off-key tune in light of the financial position the city of Chico currently finds itself in with the help of our liberal-sided councils, past and present.

Between April 2005 and May 6, 2013, according to our city attorney, Lori Barker, the city has spent $23 million-plus just fighting what the city should have been willing to do—clean up the Humboldt Road Burn Dump. Those figures are a matter of public record; just ask our city clerk for a copy.

Of that money, $1,345,183 has come from the general fund. That’s the only fund that supports our police department. How many police-officer positions would that have paid for? Another $18 million-plus has been paid out of redevelopment funds; those funds the city has used for low-income housing. How many units would that have paid for, even at the outrageous cost of $200,000-plus per unit? Just ask Councilman Randall Stone.

Almost $4 million was paid out by our insurance company. Think they are the city’s insurance company now? I think that $151,000 would have been well spent on Measure A.

Maybe the Mulholland/Dolan Losers Band ought to learn a different tune.

Stephanie L. Taber

Civic responsibility needed?

Re “Pull up a sidewalk” (Newslines, by Robert Speer. Aug. 22):

Sean Morgan is beginning to irritate me. His pompous, self-aggrandizing remarks serve no purpose, unless he is considering a career in scriptwriting or politics. These redundant comments and the jingoistic sit/lie, Clean and Safe Chico slogans exhibit weak-kneed reactions of game-show contestants to be utilized as another cheap excuse to form another downtown committee, to demonstrate unanimity of concern and give the impression to the citizens of Chico that help is on the way. My best hope is his intention is the victim of overenthusiasm.

“We need to do something. We need to start somewhere” borders on desperation; one needs to ask if a definition of insanity that includes expecting different results qualifies as a candidate here.

In light of the recent efforts of the Street Preachers and [ServPro] (reopening Caper Acres), civic responsibility by community-interest groups may be the way of the future, considering expenditures and liability that go along with city government employing staff and costs associated with their actions.

Rick Vagts

Take action now

Earlier this summer, the U.S. Supreme Court erased critical protections against racial discrimination in voting. The damage to the Voting Rights Act must be fixed. Tell your members of Congress to work quickly to repair and restore the VRA.

Recently, both the Senate and the House of Representatives held initial hearings to discuss solutions to discrimination at the polls and a direction for the VRA. Members from both sides of the aisle expressed a need to address the Supreme Court’s mistake, and vowed to ensure our elections are free, fair and accessible to all citizens.

Join with the League of Women Voters and thank your elected officials for starting the process, and encourage them to repair the VRA quickly.

The league will continue to pursue all avenues for voters’ rights, but we need strong action by Congress to restore the VRA protections that have helped us prevent racial and language discrimination in our elections for decades.

The VRA remains vitally important and must be restored. Please, tell your members of Congress to work quickly to repair and restore it to its full strength.

Jane Wanderer
League of Women Voters of Butte County president

Stay out of Syria

This is a call to my fellow citizens to join the bipartisan protest to military intervention in Syria. It has become clear that the intelligence is not 100 percent about who caused the chemical attacks on Syrian civilians—it could have been Assad, but it could have been one of the rebel groups, or it could have been Israel.

Let’s never forget the dire consequences of false intelligence in Iraq! Plus, no matter how limited the air strikes, and no matter how “surgically” those strikes are aimed, there is no doubt that more innocent people will be killed and maimed.

The scenario that frightens me the most is that Assad could retaliate by attacking Israel. Then the U.S. would “have to” defend Israel. Iran would “have to” defend Syria. Russia would “have to” defend Iran, and here we go—smack dab into World War III! I am very frightened. Please contact Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein and Representative Doug LaMalfa and ask them to oppose Obama’s plan for military intervention in Syria.

Diplomacy and humanitarian aid are the only tools at our government’s disposal that will not increase the terrible violence in Syria, and perhaps the world.

Emily Alma

How many times can we allow our government to charge into other countries on the pretext of “protecting” the rights of the populace by bombing their country, causing devastation, injuries and loss of life? Our government is not really trying to protect the people of Syria, and certainly isn’t protecting Americans from terrorism by such actions; rather, our government is creating terrorism.

Our government lacks credibility to justify the role of self-appointed human-rights cop in the Middle East, especially when we also have used methods that might constitute terrorism in the eyes of many, such as drone assassinations; indefinite imprisonment without trial; torture; bombing of water systems, roads, hospitals and cities; use of depleted uranium ammunition and white phosphorus; and economic embargoes that have caused death on a massive scale.

Also, it probably is well known in the Middle East that our government was complicit with Saddam Hussein when he used chemical weapons against both Iraqis and Iranians, although most Americans may not be aware of it (there was an article in the Atlantic Monthly about this just last week). Because of this, people in the region are likely to believe that our motives are political, not humanitarian.

We cannot afford to jump into any more wars.

Leslie Johnson

A vote for competition

I am sad that Chico’s management and City Council think that having only two trash companies compete for trash service is actual free-market competition! I can’t wait until Chico only has two grocery stores or gas stations so we can also benefit from that supposed free-market competition. Having as many companies compete for our business as possible helps keep prices down while increasing innovation, customer choices and satisfaction while lowering prices.

Continuing to stifle competition, while also demanding two companies pay more to the city only continues to drive up already-high costs for those already struggling. Speaking of competition, I am glad that Chico finally has management that is starting to privatize things. Chico really needs competition in order to spend less money and not go bankrupt.

A clear conflict of interest exists between politicians and public-sector unions. Collective bargaining in the public sector means that public-employee unions negotiate their salaries and benefits with self-interested politicians who should think more like public servants. I am sure this has nothing to do with Chico’s current financial situation. Right, Chico voters? Don’t get me started on the people that didn’t vote, but still complain about prices, taxes, etc.!

John Salyer

Discouraging ‘bum culture’

The news on the Internet that 9 million Americans must use drugs to sleep stands in stark contrast to the many homeless sleeping soundly on our sidewalks, and in our plaza and parks. I’ve heard that many are mentally ill, but I suspect that most are career bums. It seems that being nice to this crowd only encourages bum culture. I resent their example, front and center, whereas young people might think their behavior attractive. Santa Cruz, a city that once celebrated diversity, is plagued by bums.

Here’s a plan to discourage bum culture:

1. Get over your mixed feelings about bums. As adults, they must seek to be acceptable to our community: be clean; no foul language; no sleeping, defecating, sexing, drugging or loitering in public.

2. No hand-outs; this just enables bum culture.

3. Expect them to do more than beg; they should seek useful occupation. There is a homeless man that wears a bright “caution” vest on which is written on the back: “This is my social security/donations accepted.” He picks up litter all day and dumps it in public trash cans.

Imagine how differently you might feel if these folks made some effort to contribute instead of just take, grumble and leave waste? Is bum culture the new normal?

John Lavezzi

Noise is toxic, too

Consider the irony of governments’ strict rules to control pollution from car exhaust, littering, car washing, and burning yard waste. Yet for noise pollution, it does nothing. Noise pollution is equivalent to waves of smoke blowing across people’s property and into their homes every day, making our water and food taste like rotten eggs. Just like pollution of air and water, its detrimental health effects are not immediately obvious. In the short term, however, its effects are immediately felt.

For years I’ve endured my neighbors’ chronic dog barking, guinea fowl screeching, rooster crowing, and stereo blasting. In desperation for relief, I’ve devoted hundreds of hours complaining to Tehama County and Rancho Tehama officials and to the offenders themselves.

Perhaps they justify their inaction for it’s only being a minority of individuals who are bothered by the noise. Even if they’re right, that doesn’t make it excusable. The underlying cause of the animal noise epidemic lies not just with dog owners who don’t care how their negligence affects others, it’s with government. Just as with inconsiderate animal owners, it seems government would rather allow innocents to suffer than perform their lawful obligation to shield them from further injury.

Nathan Esplanade
Rancho Tehama

Respect the chicken

September is National Chicken Month. You may not realize this, but chickens are like us in many ways. They have complex social structures, adept communication skills, and distinct personalities, just as we do. They, too, feel pain, sadness, joy and love.

Chickens form strong family ties and mourn when they lose a loved one. When they’re not confined to factory farms, hens lovingly tend to their eggs and “talk” to their unborn chicks, who chirp back. Chickens have at least 24 distinct vocalizations, so other birds know when they’re warning them about a predator or just saying “hey.” Studies show that these smart birds can anticipate the future and demonstrate self-control—I can’t say that for everyone!

It’s time we appreciate these smart, social birds for their personalities, not the taste of their flesh. But if you like the taste of chicken, I recommend Beyond Meat, which is available at Whole Foods and Tropical Smoothie Cafes nationwide. Gardein, Boca, Morningstar Farms, and other vegetarian-friendly companies also make great-tasting faux-chicken and other vegan foods.

See www.PETA.org for more information and free vegan recipes.

Heather Moore
PETA Foundation, Norfolk, Va.