Hyperbole abounds in chickens column

A recent My Word regarding chicken slaughter was so irrational that I thought at first the author was making a joke on liberals and their stereotypical meddling.

I found especially silly his repeated use of the terms "violence" and "indoctrination" as he determined to undermine what I know to be a practical skills-sharing effort for sustainable food advocates. The truth is that ethical carnivores exist, and they won't be cowed by misdirection and hyperbole.

The author oversteps the bounds of common sense by presuming that his current set of beliefs should somehow trump everyone else's right to eat fresh, untainted animal products.

More important, however, he completely neglected the very real issues of cruelty in the factory farms that supply commercial markets. Truly alarming are the inhumane working conditions of today's often undocumented and horrifically exploited slaughterhouse workers.

The animals in my care are provided a good life, and my stewardship extends to assuring a swift death. When, not if, it's time to butcher my own hens, I'll look for help from a person with experience. The "backyard slaughter advocates" who suffer his misdirected disdain are heroes in our communities.


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This wannabe policymaker can choose to eat whatever he will -- meat, vegetables or Twinkies -- but his cogitations should not be imposed on local families. So, while I'll continue to instruct my children to be useful and self-reliant, he is free to lead his own kids into the misbelief that government will protect and provide for them.

Suzanne Flusche

Newark

Fair made wrong call on crate procedure

Despite overwhelming public opposition, the California State Fair's Livestock & Animal Care Committee has voted to continue the brutal "farrowing crates" in the animal nursery at this year's fair, July 12-28.

Pregnant sows will again be imprisoned in steel-barred crates for three straight weeks, barely able to move, forced to give birth on barren metal grids before gawking crowds, further stressed by fireworks -- a true crime against nature. Normally, an expectant sow would build a nest in some quiet secluded spot. Not acceptable.

Cal Expo's new CEO, Rick Pickering, ran the 2012 Alameda County Fair, which allowed no farrowing crates. Instead, there was a large pen with a sow in deep sawdust, her piglets (born off-site) free to come and go through a slatted partition, drawn by the warmth of a heat lamp. Perfect solution: happy pigs, happy public.

Our state fair should do likewise. People want to see farm animals and their babies, not the actual birthing process itself, which can be traumatic for all concerned. All veterinary studies recommend against transporting parturient animals. UC Davis, which oversees the exhibit, should practice what it preaches.

Please contact Rick Pickering, CEO, and the Fair Board, Cal Expo & State Fair, 1600 Exposition Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95815; email calexpoboard@calexpo.com; or call 916-263-3010.

As the Lorax says, "If somebody like you doesn't care a whole awful lot, nothing's going to get better. It's not."

Eric Mills

Coordinator, Action for Animals Oakland

PG&E cozy with its supposed regulators

The recent editorial, "Change needed in leadership at California PUC," was right on target in every respect.

"What is it going to take for Gov. Jerry Brown to clean house at the California Public Utilities Commission," the editorial asks. My answer: When the governor says "jump" and President Michael Peevey no longer asks "how high?"

The relationship between the PUC and PG&E has been so openly cozy that one cannot help but wonder why it has taken so long for the media to expose the wrongdoings and shortcomings of both organizations.

In a clever maneuver, Nancy McFadden left PG&E as senior vice president and senior adviser to the chairman and chief executive office, and joined the governor's staff as his top legislative aide. This was extremely handy for all parties concerned when the Legislature refused to renew the expiring public purpose tax on electricity.

Brown immediately dispatched a passionate plea to the PUC (Peevey) to do something to overcome the lack of approval. Which, of course, they did. With the help of PG&E, a special account was established for a period of one year to continue to tax the consumers without the necessary two-thirds vote of the Legislature.

That one year expired Jan. 1, and consumers are still being taxed with no explanation how Brown, the PUC and PG&E have garnered the power to overturn the Legislature's decision and continue to tax consumers.

And not one peep from anyone as to how the billions of dollars of those taxes collected for the past 20 years have been spent.

Where is the accountability?

Mary Nielsen

Oakland