Another disappearance

Like Brett Olson, Claudialy Villalobos just disappeared—only this time the media aren’t so interested

By now we all know who Brett Olson was. We followed the story of his disappearance and the massive ground, air and water search for him that ensued last week as the story was reported on television news and in the Chico Enterprise-Record. We felt the pain of his parents and friends as they tried desperately to enlist others in the search. And we grieved with them when his body finally was found a week later, floating in the Sacramento River.

As a story, it was utterly compelling. One minute Brett was there, surrounded by hundreds of fellow Labor Day weekend tubers, and the next he was gone, vanished, poof! It’s understandable why the media gave it so much attention.

But what about Claudialy Villalobos Cardenas, a 15-year-old Hamilton City girl who disappeared from her home on Thursday, Sept. 6, and as of Wednesday morning, six days later, hadn’t been seen again? How many of us know about her?

The E-R ran a short item taken from a Glenn County Sheriff’s Office press release in its Sunday “Briefs” column. A website search of the Orland Press-Register newspaper drew a blank, as did searches of the Action News and KRCR Channel 7 websites. Only the Willows-based Sacramento Valley Mirror carried a fresh story about her disappearance. (As the CN&R is doing in this issue; see our report on page 11.)

For now it’s enough to say that Claudialy too vanished in a moment. One minute she was inside her house, using the computer, and the next she had stepped outside and disappeared. Poof!

The two disappearances are fundamentally different, of course. Searchers knew where Olson was most likely to be found and so could deploy crews to search for him; Claudialy could be anywhere. The Glenn County Sheriff’s Office has had little to report on the case.

Still, given the paucity of media coverage, it’s almost as if her disappearance didn’t happen. Claudialy has vanished not only from her home, but also from our awareness, leaving anguished family members to worry alone.

Why the hurry on plastic bags? There’s a bill, SB 1219, on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk that, if approved, would make it easier for local jurisdictions such as the Chico City Council to regulate the use of carry-out grocery bags. Brown has less than three weeks to sign or veto it.

So why didn’t the council wait, as Councilmen Mark Sorensen and Bob Evans recommended, to see what the governor did before telling staff to write up an ordinance banning plastic bags?

Current law prohibits charging for plastic bags. SB 1219 eliminates that prohibition. The council members who voted to move forward had said their preferred option was not to ban plastic bags, but to require retailers to charge for all bags, plastic and paper. This approach, approved by the statewide grocers’ association, would give shoppers a choice while encouraging them to bring their own reusable bags.

Our guess is that the governor will sign the bill. Council members have said they will revisit the ordinance in that case. But, again, what was the hurry?

Robert Speer is editor of the CN&R.