Bits and pieces

News from the ground up in Chico

Mary Flynn is feeling stoical these days. She’s 61 votes ahead of Bob Evans in the race for the third open seat on the Chico City Council, and while awaiting the results from some 4,000 untallied mail-in ballots, she’s trying not to be anxious.

“I’ve pretty much turned it over and decided to just see what the universe brings,” she said in a phone interview. If she loses, she intends to apply to fill the remainder of outgoing Councilman Larry Wahl’s term.

The council’s liberal majority would probably look favorably on her application. She’s experienced and shares their values, though she goes her own way from time to time.

If Flynn hangs on and wins, would the liberals then look favorably on Evans? The pressure to pick him will be intense. Should be interesting …

District elections update: A couple of Chicoans, Marsha Cohen and my friend Abe Baily, responded to my invitation here last week to comment on having City Council members be elected from districts rather than at large. Their letters are on page 6.

Abe mentions a strong-mayor model as a possibility, “if we elected people who are strong enough to really be leaders.” That’s a big if, of course, but we’ll never have real leaders if we don’t create real leadership positions. Right now Chico has leadership by committee.

I’m not in favor of having a traditional strong mayor in Chico, one who is both city manager and political chief, as is the case in many big cities. Chico’s not there yet. But I do think the mayor should be stronger—that is, elected at large to a term of four years and given a salary and office expenses. It would be up to the voters to fill this leadership position with a real leader.

What do you think? Let’s keep this discussion going …

Racist encounters: Local sculptor Jerry Harris has written in a couple of times lately. I didn’t have space to include his first letter in the print version and had to put it online. In his latest letter, on page 6, he complains about that. I don’t blame him. He’s a well-traveled African-American artist who has some legitimate gripes. But our policy is to give priority to letters written in response to our stories, and lately we’ve been getting more of those than we have room to print.

Anyway, in this latest letter he writes that, while riding his bike past the CN&R offices, four white teenaged boys hurled racist epithets and threatened him. He’s frustrated by what he sees as a lack of official response to what he faces on a daily basis.

He’s not telling stories. This week a group of white teens, possibly the same ones, accosted a black CN&R employee outside our offices in a similar manner. They ran off when he challenged them, but not before saying a mess of vile things to him.

Jerry Harris is right: There’s still a lot of racism in Chico.