Since You Asked: Why does Bok Kai Temple get public funds?
Q: As a longtime resident of Yuba City, I have often wondered about the Bok Kai Temple and the support it receives from the City of Marysville and Beale Air Force Base. The temple, as I understand it, is an active Taoist temple or church with an active community of worshippers, and is still in the hands of a Chinese Taoist nonprofit organization. My question is: Why is this Chinese church receiving support from our tax dollars? Would we do the same for the Catholic, Bethel A.M.E. or any other longtime churches in our community? I am under the impression that we have a law of separation of church and state.
A: Actually, the temple itself does not benefit from any public funding for its religious services or practices.
The Bok Kai Temple has received significant financial support through state grants to preserve and restore the historically significant building itself, but none of that money has gone into the temple's own coffers, according to Gordon Tom, president of the Sahm Fow Chinese Community.
"I get that question a lot," Tom said. "I think sometimes people don't realize that the parade and festival are completely separate (financially) from the temple."
The community accepts a wide variety of donations for the traditional festivities, but none of that money goes to the temple, either, Tom said.
The historic preservation support that the temple receives is identical to that of other churches on the state's official preservation list, including Christian churches such as Old St. Mary's Cathedral in San Francisco and the Christian Church of Gilroy.
If other local churches eventually make the preservation list, then, yes, they would receive the same benefit.
Q: I've noticed the trees around Marysville High School are in sad shape. They are full of mistletoe and dead limbs. Are there any plans in the works to take care of them?
A: Sort of.
However, like most school-related issues these days, it's a question of money, school officials said.
"Budget-wise, we can't always do all the things that we'd like to get done," said Mark Cartright, the school's maintenance supervisor.
Cartright said the school addresses any hazards created by the trees as soon as potential dangers arise, but said plans to completely remove and replace the older trees is simply not financially possible right now.
"Yes, there is some mistletoe on some of the trees," Cartright acknowledged. "But, we can only pull and replace them as the budget allows."
Several Eucalyptus trees were removed last fall at the district offices, but there are no plans to overhaul the old trees around Marysville High School.
Since You Asked is published on Mondays. Send questions to reporter Rob Parsons at the Appeal-Democrat, 1530 Ellis Lake Drive, Marysville, CA 95901, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 749-4785.