An uncivil servant

Sean Morgan drops another F-bomb, and E-R reporter Roger Aylworth retires early

The thing about public service is that it’s public. That is to say, those who become politicians are in the spotlight, and that light doesn’t go off outside of public meetings. Take, for instance, last week, when CN&R reporter Howard Hardee and Chico Vice Mayor Sean Morgan ended up at the same sandwich shop. Morgan may not have recognized Hardee and his dinner date, who were the only other patrons there. But Hardee, who’s been covering City Council meetings fairly regularly for the past year, recognized Morgan right off the bat. In fact, Morgan was standing directly behind Hardee.

It was just an ordinary evening in a quiet eatery, which is why Hardee was so taken aback when an agitated Morgan, no more than five minutes after setting foot in the place and ordering his food, said he couldn’t wait any longer, cut out as the food-handler was dressing his sandwich, and dropped an F-bomb on the way out the door. Evidently, his patience is about as short as that buzz-cut he sports.

Morgan famously spoke the mother of all expletives from the dais during his first year on the council, making that newbie mistake of forgetting to turn off his mic. I’m a little surprised now that he’s vice mayor that he’s cursing about town.

I don’t have an aversion to the F-word myself, but there’s a time and a place for it. And that doesn’t include directing it at food-service workers because you’re running late. The only thing “fucking outrageous,” as Morgan put it when he stormed out of the sandwich shop, was his behavior.

Somehow that brings me to Chico Enterprise-Record reporter Roger Aylworth, a true gentleman. In his most recent weekly column, Aylworth noted that he was called into Editor David Little’s office last week and asked to retire earlier than his planned July departure. His last day with that paper is now this Friday, Feb. 13. That’s a bad sign from a newspaper in a struggling chain that’s put many of its papers or their facilities up for sale recently (the E-R announced last month that its building at East Park Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway was sold to a real estate investor).

It goes without saying that the E-R is losing a vast amount of institutional knowledge with Aylworth’s exit. Between his excellent work as a Chico reporter and his time as the editor of the Oroville Mercury Register, he spent close to 39 years as a local newspaperman.

But for those who worked with him, it means losing an institution in the newsroom. I sat probably 15 feet from Aylworth for four years, back when I was a reporter for the E-R. He had the uncanny ability to look into my eyes and tell when I was getting a migraine. That’s because his wife, the saintly Susan, and mother also suffered from those terrible headaches and he had become familiar with a certain look. Aylworth was always kind-hearted and thoughtful. I enjoyed being his colleague, and though I haven’t worked with him for many years, I’ll miss his presence in the local journalism community.