Anti- terrorist

Let me say up front that I am against terrorism. I think it’s wrong and there’s just no room for it in today’s modern world. Period. So don’t let what I am about to say make you think I in anyway condone using acts of violence against innocent people as a legitimate way of getting attention. However, I can’t help but question the true motives behind state Assembly Republicans putting together a “terrorism package in response to the September 11 attack.” We received a press release from 3rd District Assemblyman Sam Aanestad‘s office this week announcing the package. Aanestad is on the Assembly Task Force on the Impact of Terrorism in California that has created 15 bills “that will help prevent and prosecute those who are determined to inflict acts of terrorism against others.” I can’t help but think there is some political grandstanding going on here. If I’m not mistaken the federal government already has some laws in place that frown on acts of terrorism. Right now suspected terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui is facing federal charges based on a 30-page, six-count indictment for “conspiring with Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida to murder thousands of innocent people in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania on Sept. 11.” I’m not sure how those individual states treat terrorists, but I trust federal law handles it with a firm hand—four of the six federal counts carry a maximum sentence of death.

Do we really need the state Legislature to spend its time on such matters? Wouldn’t it be better to direct state efforts to beefing up and preparing county health departments in case we get hit with some sort of bio-epidemic? The state Republican package establishes penalties of 10 to 25 years in state prison for harboring or supplying material support to terrorists. Currently the state only has a maximum of 12 years for use of weapons of mass destruction. (Would this include an assault rifle?) The Assembly Republicans would increase that to 25 years and add a fine or $250,000 for good measure. Hey, why not raise it to 125 years and tack on a $3 million fine? That ought to get the voters’ attention. Aanestad, of course, is running for state Senate because he faces term-out from the Assembly in two years. He’s running in the retooled Senate district against 2nd District Assemblyman Dick Dickerson. I was going to ask Dickerson if he thought Aanestad’s press release was really more about getting elected than it was about protecting the state’s taller buildings from damage wrought by insanely angry jet-plane hijackers. But before I got the chance, we got a press release from his office the same day that said: “Anti-terrorism legislation should be our top priority when we return to session in early January.” Dickerson’s not going to let Aanestad steal the thunder on this one.

For my money he was the best reporter the Enterprise-Record had, which was no small feat as English is his second language. But last week city reporter Matt Walterscheidt quit the paper following what he said was a less-than favorable one-year evaluation from his editors. Among other things, he was told that he wrote with too much detail and had a messy desk. At least that is what he told me this week when he stopped by my office. Walterscheidt is from Cologne, Germany and has lived in this country for the past six years. He said his visa is tied directly to his employment and he fears he will have to go home within the next few months, which would not be surprising considering the anti-immigrant attitude awash in America right now. Walterscheidt, who looks like the friendly woodsman from a Hans Christian Andersen fable, has the gift of understanding the subtle motivations behind a story and is a fine writer as well. But writing with detail, apparently, was his downfall. He meets with an immigration attorney Dec. 17 to determine his future. He said he considers America, and Chico, his home. “Oh yeah, no doubt about it,” he said. “I’ve taken a real liking to the place.”

There will be a gathering in memory of Dave Kamp at Kelly Meagher‘s house on Saturday, Dec. 15 at 6 p.m. Kamp, who perished in a house fire last week, is pretty much responsible for Chico’s mass transit systems—having started both the Clipper Service and the first city bus service, West Coach. “He’s was probably one of the nicest guys I’ve ever known,” said longtime acquaintance and former Chico Mayor Mike McGinnis. "This city owes him a lot for what he did."