Letters to Obama

Holiday issues
Since Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on Thursdays, the next two issues of the CN&R will go to press a day earlier than normal and hit the racks on Wednesdays (Dec. 24 and 31). Look for us then!

If you could send a message to Barack Obama, what would it be? Your hopes for the future? Advice? Criticism? The change you’d really believe in?

The president-elect is accepting input on the Web site Change.gov—but considering that’s also where he’s taking job applications (300,000 and counting), it might take a while for your comment to get through.

Here’s another avenue: the News & Review’s Letters to Obama.

Through the end of the year, we’ll collect our readers’ writings for publication in our pre-inauguration issue Jan. 15. (They’ll go live online the same day.) We can’t guarantee he’ll read ’em, though we’d like to think he has a soft spot for us. After all, we did endorse him in the primary and the general election, and our county was a blue oasis in a desert of red on Nov. 4.

You have four ways to get your letter to us:

• E-mail (the preferred method)—send to <script type="text/javascript" language="javascript"> </script>, noting “Letters to Obama” in the subject line.

• Snail mail—send to CN&R, 353 E. Second St., Chico, CA 95928, noting “Letters to Obama” on the envelope.

• Personal delivery—stop by our office at the address above.

• Fax—dial up 530-894-0143.

Please include your name, age, profession and city of residence, plus a phone number in case we have any questions. (Don’t worry, we won’t print your digits …)

Now, about the length: Please keep your thoughts to 250 words or fewer. We know that can be a challenge, but the leader of the free world doesn’t have time for wordy manifestos.

Dec. 31 is coming up fast. We look forward to seeing—and sharing—what you have to say.

• • •

Before I craft my own Letter to Obama, I have some thoughts to share with and about another newly elected official: Chico Mayor Ann Schwab.

Dear Ann,

I feel I’ve gotten to know you through the regional leadership program we’ve attended. That doesn’t mean we’ll always agree (see: disc-golf vote), and that doesn’t give you immunity from critiques (see: disc-golf vote), but that may be part of the reason why I have a more optimistic outlook on your mayorship than other commentators in town.

I don’t think you have to sacrifice your ideals and values in the quest for consensus. You can be a strong leader—the sustainability mayor—and rally people for constructive problem-solving without seeming confrontational or close-minded.

You can guarantee that all sides get a fair hearing.

You can separate potshots and invective from reasonable dissent.

You can ensure that the majority of six doesn’t quash the minority of one, no matter how tempting that might seem.

You can trumpet the city’s successes while also shining light on its challenges.

Above all, you can be accessible, genuine and fair.

Chico is at a crossroads. The general plan nears completion, the budget requires consistent monitoring, and our quality of life faces threats of various dimensions. The city needs leadership. If you don’t provide it, who will?