Why the compromise?

Re “Providing for the needy” (Local heroes 2013)” (Cover feature, by Tom Gascoyne, Nov. 27):

It is impossible not to admire a man like Jim Culp. He and his congregation are doing work that most of us only think about doing. Nevertheless, the fact that pastor Culp accepted a deal and agreed to move his outreach program does not validate that deal.

There were virtually no problems with the Sunday feeding in the town square, except in the minds of a few zealots, who are intent on socially cleansing the downtown—as much for ideological reasons as anything. If there were no problems, what necessitated any “compromise”? Ninety percent of the citizens of Chico were not the slightest bit interested in forcing the issue.

A deal was brokered, even after the Park Commission voted 6-0 to reject the Wayne Cook/Sean Morgan agenda of removal—this was the last vote taken on the issue. Why? Why wasn’t the council empowered to move forward with granting a use permit?

It seems like the homeless were removed from the symbolic center of the town because a few powerful people had undue influence on the process. We can all pretend this is a small thing; but it can be a small thing only if the erosion of democracy is a small thing.

Patrick Newman

Regarding the citation

Re “Perils of journalism” and “Lassen Solitaire” (Newslines, by Allan Stellar, Nov. 27 and Cover feature, by Allan Stellar, Nov. 7):

As far as Allan Stellar’s cover feature goes, I just assumed that he drew from his vast knowledge and wealth of experience in Lassen Park, and that his piece on Mount Harkness was simply a work of fiction meant to inspire. If you’re going to fine him, prove he was there. Tell Allan I know some good attorneys!

Tom Garron

Having finished reading “Lassen Solitaire,” I’m amazed. It made me long for the outdoors. I think this might be the best piece Allan Stellar has written, at least from the stories I’ve read so far.

I’m biased because I like Abbey (and Stellar), and yet without a doubt Stellar’s writing presents a winsome, edgy and imaginative critique of our indoor life. He makes a lively call to us from the wilderness and to personal action. Someone can walk away from his story and perhaps learn nothing from having read it, but this person will have to try very hard to ignore the wonder.

As was true with Abbey, Stellar is going to push our limits. Wendell Berry wrote in defense of Abbey years ago: “We are living even now among punishments and ruins. … For those who think that a few more laws will enable us to go on safely as we are going, [Abbey] will remain—and good for him!—a pain in the neck.” Thanks to Stellar’s recent example, we might see our love for the world in all its disobedience and virtue.

Jason Winton

Allan Stellar’s experiences of knowingly and deliberately illegally entering a closed national park, and his subsequently receiving a citation are illuminating.

Stellar complained about bureaucratic red tape as an obstacle to enjoying the park as he desired, which included a hike to a restricted area.

By deeming the public access to parks as nonessential while keeping the vast majority of the federal government running (Social Security, the military, border patrol, air-traffic control, veterans’ hospitals, etc.) during the so-called shutdown, the president chose to inconvenience Stellar. Except that Stellar used the lack of park rangers to achieve his goal of going where he wanted without the red tape.

But if he’d look at it rationally, he’d be forced to admit that the permit system, the so-called “red tape,” is certainly not due to Doug LaMalfa, nor likely any Republican whatsoever. The rules that Stellar flouted were the product of environmental restrictions designed to prevent overuse of the park—the kind of rules that his hero, Edward Abbey, likely would have supported.

Stellar claims to have been inspired by the spirit of Abbey. Maybe so. But he certainly acted with the individual spirit of one wanting less government interference. Much like the Republican Doug LaMalfa.

Barry Johnson

Transforming lives

Re “Hope for the homeless” (Newslines, by Angie Klein, Nov. 27):

The Hope Center’s mission is “community transformation, one life at a time.” The organization accomplishes this by treating everyone that comes through its open doors as the body of Christ. These words are the gospel of hope propelled by Matthew 25: Serving God by serving others.

I unabashedly love the Hope Center and all it stands for. Larry Hayden, veteran to veteran: “You are one brother who’s welcome in my foxhole anytime.”

Bill Mash

Effects of the economic binge

Re “A climate narrative” (Greenways, by Scott McNall and George Basile, Nov. 27):

Authors Scott McNall and George Basile stated that “The reason people don’t act [to reduce the risk of climate change] lies not in the facts, but in the way that the facts are presented.” The writers then gave further explanations that fall short of getting to the heart of the matter.

Our society could achieve a sustainable economy and minimize climate change if there wasn’t so much opposition to doing it. Our present capitalistic system is a system that is running without a governor. In order to achieve a sustainable economy and environment, our capitalistic system needs to have an effective governor that establishes and maintains our economy at a sustainable level.

The opposition to such a condition is enormous. After all, since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution some 250 years ago, the inhabitants of the industrial nations, primarily the United States and Europe, have been on an economic binge.

Now the party is over, but the producers, retailers, our political leaders and the citizens in general in our society fail to understand and accept that governor. Stay tuned and hope for a resolution.

Paul Smith

Support the city

The typical working person in Chico gets a pension called Social Security, and pays 50 percent of it. The city of Chico firefighters get a CalPERS pension and pay 2 percent of it. The typical working person can retire on their Social Security as early as age 62 with an average payment of $20,000 a year. The typical firefighter can retire as early as their early 50s with an average retirement payment $90,000 a year.

Chico has enough money to provide basic services, but when public-safety employees receive excessive retirement benefits, other things have to go. Picture little kids wondering why Caper Acres is locked. Or why we can’t hire more police officers. Or why, after 50 years, you can no longer drive up to Brown’s Hole in Upper Bidwell Park.

Our firefighters are high performers and are worth a lot. But not this much, and they seem to know it. To protect their financial interest, they have brought high-powered outside legal counsel into their negotiations with our City Council. The City Council is sticking up for our interests in this conflict, and we need to support them in their effort on behalf of the ordinary people of Chico.

Michael Jones

The so-called agreement

Re “Meeting Iran halfway” (Editorial, Nov. 27):

Your editorial expresses exactly the sort of (purposeful?) naiveté that led the world into World War II. In October 1938, at the infamous Munich meeting, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain proclaimed “Peace in our time!” after surrendering Czechoslovakia to Hitler. Eleven months later, Hitler marched into Poland and the war began in earnest.

Defeatists Obama and John Kerry are making similar “Peace in our time!” claims, regarding the so-called agreement with Iran, with the same inevitable result: war, because it leaves Israel no choice but to attack and destroy Iran, if it isn’t to be destroyed first.

No agreement worth the paper it is written on can be achieved with a terrorist state that has violated every previous agreement and repeatedly sworn, and is still swearing, to destroy Israel and kill all Jews, which daily calls Jews pigs and apes.

Santayana said, “He who doesn’t learn from history is doomed to repeat it.” Obviously, CN&R editors haven’t learned anything from history.

Chad Wozniak

A Chicoan remembered

Dec. 5, 2013, marks the 10th anniversary of the death in Iraq of Spc. Arron Clark (U.S. Army) of Chico. It is a time to take a moment to reflect on our troops, veterans and their families.

Jane Dolan

Tips from a cyclist

I’m a daily cycle commuter who regularly experiences the following: I’m approaching an intersection when a motorist passes me with his right-turn signal on, then comes to a complete stop in the middle of the road. I think the driver has seen me and is waiting for me to pass before turning, but I’m not certain of it. I appreciate that they aren’t just ignoring me and turning into me, but passing on the right of a car signaling a right turn is just crazy. So I pull out behind the car and come to a stop there, and wait there until the driver has made his turn. This baffles motorists.

Here’s the right way to do it (per common sense and the California Driver Handbook): If you judge you can safely pass the cyclist before the turn, go ahead and pass. Once you are safely past, move over to the right side of the road, near the curb (even into a bike lane) and make your turn from there—if you get delayed making the turn, the cyclist can pass properly on your left. If you judge you don’t have room to pass safely, wait behind the cyclist, not in front.

David Welch

In defense of Mr. Stellar

Re “Perils of journalism” and “Lassen Solitaire” (Newslines, by Allan Stellar, Nov. 27 and Cover feature, by Allan Stellar, Nov. 7):

Ticketing Allan Stellar for entering Lassen Volcanic National Park was a ridiculous act of overzealousness on the part of Lassen Park officials. The “closing” of the parks was equally ridiculous, part of an arbitrary and totally unnecessary political stunt.

Those who are outraged or upset by Mr. Stellar’s actions are, hopefully, equally upset by the fact that our elected leaders kept getting a paycheck during that time period. If we’re going to be cowards and worry about repercussions and fines every time we want to live a little, then they (and insert the faceless authority of your choice here) have won.

I suppose there will be a few people out there who have been so cowed and hobbled by fears of fines and punishments that they keep to their middle-of-the-road lives, never stepping out of line to take chances or have real experiences, lest the authorities come calling. They are sad and they are also the problem with the world right now.

Also, the individual who commented online that Edward Abbey—the inspiration behind Mr. Stellar’s walk of defiance and joy—would have written Mr. Stellar a citation has no understanding of the philosophy Abbey believed in, and even less of an understanding of the sort of man he was (to say nothing of his work); if the individual did, he or she would recall his walk across closed-to-public military grounds. Park officials are there to protect the park from people like Mr. Stellar, this person wrote. Nonsense, of course. The public lands don’t need protection from hikers; they need protection from corporations and government interests. I’m guessing the person who wrote this letter does most of his or her “living” on a couch.

Todd Michael Cox
Aztalan, Wis.

Response from the state

Re “Cali loses track of hazmat” (Earth Watch, Nov. 27):

California’s paper system is not perfect. Ninety-nine percent of the state’s 450,000 annual waste shipments arrive safely. Missing paperwork, not missing waste, accounts for the vast majority of the remaining 1 percent.

One missing load is too much, so we rely on additional tools to ensure safety. Local, state and federal inspectors conduct more than 100,000 inspections of hazardous-materials businesses each year, spotting potential on-site problems and inspecting generators’ paperwork for shipments of hazardous waste. In addition, we and our local counterparts respond to hundreds of tips on suspicious activity, and we’ve formed partnerships with local communities to create systems that allow anyone to report suspicious activity.

Since the start of this administration, we have improved how we track hazardous waste, and we anticipate a nationwide electronic system in the coming years. Californians need and deserve the best tracking system available.

Sanford Nax
California Department of Toxic Substances Control, media information officer

Caged for a plant?

Re “A corrupt war to wage” (Guest comment, by Nelson Kaiser, Nov. 27):

Cannabis prohibition is one of America’s worst policy failures in history, dependent on lies, half-truths and propaganda to exist.

It’s time to stop imprisoning responsible adults for using the relatively safe God-given plant (see the first page of the Bible) cannabis. Colorado re-legalized cannabis a year ago and the sky hasn’t even pretended to fall in.

A sane argument to continue cannabis prohibition doesn’t exist. Only vile and ignorant people cage citizens for using a plant.

Stan White
Dillon, Colo.