The Rayce is over
The details are sketchy, but it appears that Tri-Counties Newspapers Editor Rayce Newman has left the proverbial building (see “Ill Wind in Willows,” CN&R cover story, July 25].

Requests to speak with Newman at the company’s Willows office were answered with a quick, “He’s no longer here.” Publisher Dale Bean did not return a phone call asking for comment.

Newman worked for Tri-Counties (which publishes the Willows Journal, Colusa Sun-Herald, Corning Observer and Orland Press-Register) only since April. He made waves soon after he started the job, with a column he penned that attacked Sacramento Valley Mirror Editor Tim Crews for (among other infractions) running a column about atheism. Crews fired back by publishing Newman’s criminal history—as it turns out, Newman spent much of the 1980s in prison for fraud, burglary and theft. He also wrote a book in which he claims to have spent much of that same decade as a high-rolling cocaine dealer to the stars.

Newman could not be reached for comment.

Coming to a downtown near you: fair trade
The Chico Peace and Justice Center, a longtime center for liberal activism and information, is venturing into a new field—retail.

This won’t be your average gift shop, though. Center volunteers report that their store will sell only items that are deemed “fair trade.” The definition is a bit slippery, but generally fair-trade items have been produced by people who are paid a living wage for their work (no sweatshop labor here) and are environmentally friendly (and produced as such).

Ty Benoit, who is heading up the Peace and Justice Center’s effort, said that the store will open this fall with a limited inventory. It will be located in the center’s storefront office for now, she said, and if all goes well it will move to the vacant storefront next door as early as spring. To get the seed money they need for a grand opening, the store’s volunteer organizers plan to hold “gift festivals” for groups to come in and buy en masse.

The store will sell everything from gifts and collectibles to linens and household items, Benoit said. Inventory, at least in the beginning, will come from Ten Thousand Villages, a fair-trade supplier, Benoit said. Eventually, the store will also carry locally produced items.

“We want people to come in and buy things they can feel good about,” Benoit said. “People should think about things like, ‘Am I sustaining the village in Africa that produced this [item]?’ That’s what we want to do.”

Sheriff’s deputies bust pot garden
Butte County sheriff’s deputies busted a large marijuana garden in Berry Creek this weekend.

This time, reported Lt. Jerry Smith, deputies on an aerial surveillance spotted the garden. When deputies arrived this weekend, they found almost 1,300 mature marijuana plants in a “very complex, very sophisticated” garden being tended by several “Mexican nationals,” Smith said.

“They’re the ones who usually operate this kind of operation,” Smith said.

Officers arrested Pedro Ivan Chavez, 22, at the scene, but several other illicit gardeners apparently got away, Smith said. Chavez was charged with felony cultivation, possession for sale and being armed in the commission of a felony.

Following a trend toward federal prosecution of local marijuana defendants in recent months, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will prosecute the case.