Bring a gun to school, go to boot camp
The state has set up a new academy—part boot camp, part encouragement center—for kids who are caught with firearms at school, and Butte County is signing on.

The Butte County Board of Supervisors approved June 12 the potential referral of juveniles to a six-month, residential academy set up by the California National Guard in San Luis Obispo.

Steve Ellen, assistant chief probation officer for the county, acknowledged that, “We don’t have a lot of kids that show up with guns on campuses.”

Billed as better than the militaristic boot camps that have sprung up around the country and yielded iffy results, Turning Point Academy is intended to teach minors 15 or older self-discipline and “personal accountability.”

Jail inmate runs up huge hospital bill
A Butte County Jail inmate who suffered a severe head injury when he fell in the jail last year ran up almost $100,000 in hospital bills—at the county’s expense.

Sheriff Scott Mackenzie said that the inmate was in the jail’s medical unit receiving his daily medication in December 2000 when he passed out—probably because his blood sugar level was too low—and smacked his head on the cement floor. The inmate, who was serving a 10-day sentence, was taken to Enloe Medical Center for treatment, where he remained for 20 days.

Since the man was officially a jail inmate for half of his time in the hospital, the county is responsible for 10 days’ worth of the bill, Mackenzie said. That amounts to $93,000, which the supervisors agreed to pay.

“It’s just one of those unanticipated expenses we have to cover,” Mackenzie said. “We’ve had inmates who needed major surgery while they were here, and we have to pay for that … and any other medical expenses the inmates need.”

Don’t cut that Lambert check just yet
The attorney for a woman who sued Chico State University after she was “constructively terminated” says this week’s reducing of a jury’s award may end up netting her client, Janette Lambert, a larger judgment.

Butte County Superior Court Judge Loyd Mulkey Jr. on June 12 ruled in favor of a motion by Chico State’s attorney, Nancy Sheehan, and reduced the portion of the jury’s $290,000 award intended to compensate for defamation and granted a new trial to Martha Williams and Christopher Malone—Lambert’s former supervisors—on that aspect of the case. Angela Casagranda, Lambert’s attorney, said in an interview, “Nancy Sheehan actually did us a favor by asking for a new trial on the defamation.”

Lambert filed the civil suit in October 1998, after she felt workers in the Education Support Program where she was a clerk had targeted her for blowing the whistle on alleged illegal activities in the department.

Casagranda speculated that the when the jury awarded Lambert $290,000 on May 15—including about $65,000 in damages for defamation—the fact that it wasn’t allowed to know that the university, not the employee-defendants, would be footing the bill caused them to give a lowball award.

Chico State’s attorney was out of the office until June 18 and could not be reached for comment. University representatives did not return a call for comment by press time.