Triple threat: Chico State budget cuts could reach $9 million
Sobering budget news quieted and then riled Chico State University’s Academic Senate on Sept. 10, as administrators warned that legislators are considering raising student fees 30 to 40 percent and demanding more cuts. Chico State has already cut $5.6 million, and the 8-percent cut mentioned by politicians would be on top of that. The new worst-case scenario would bring total cuts here to $9 million.

“Most of the problem is going to be pushed to 2003-04,” President Manuel Esteban said.

Some senators countered that no matter what the budget situation is, the CSU should honor its commitments and contracts in hiring new faculty. “Efficiency shouldn’t drive quality,” said Professor Art Sanchez. When Esteban said the cuts have to come from somewhere, Professor Jed Wyrick said, “It’s going to come out of student classes because we can’t staff them.”

The president warned teachers to brace themselves for a replay of the harsh cuts of the 1990s, “when we actually got the reputation for not being able to offer classes.”

Also at the meeting, senators elected a new chairperson. Chemistry Professor Jim Postma edged out computer science Professor Leonard Fisk with a vote of 16 to 15. Fisk’s good-natured comment: “You’ll have to count those hanging chads.”

County ponders freeway habitats
Just how do you mesh a bustling freeway with nature?

The Butte County Board of Supervisors tackled the issue at a meeting Sept. 10, while discussing long-awaited plans to expand Highways 70 and 149 in Butte County. The project has been mired in bureaucratic red tape for most of the more than 10 years the county has been trying to get it done. Some of the thickest red tape has to with the Endangered Species Act and regulations from the federal Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

Complying with the dizzying array of regulations is tough, and the supervisors all seemed frustrated at the process. Curt Josiassen went so far as to call it “the most frustrating experience of my whole life.”

And, from the looks of it, the end is nowhere near in sight. Even with a comprehensive habitat restoration plan in hand, the county is still wrestling with the federal government and the USFWS over which native species will be affected by the project and the ratio of land that the county will have to set aside for preservation to the number of acres the project will pave over. The feds proposed setting aside upward of 1,300 acres to mitigate the loss of something like 85 acres of grasslands to the freeway—a number that is “unacceptable” to the county.

Woman killed in home invasion
Chico police are still investigating the death of a 22-year-old Chico woman who was killed in the first homicide of the year here.

Elizabeth Rebecca Lee was shot to death when two masked men broke into her boyfriend’s apartment on Magnolia Street last week. Drugs allegedly were found in the apartment, but police investigators wouldn’t say what kind or whether drugs were the motive for the home invasion.

Lee’s boyfriend, who is now in police protection, witnessed the incident and is cooperating with the investigation. His identity is being kept secret. Lee’s now-motherless 3-year-old daughter is living with an aunt.