Here come the legal bills
Butte County Controller Dave Houser said this week that his office received the first—of, presumably, many—bills from Charles Bell’s office.

Bell is the $275-an-hour attorney hired by three-member majority of the Board of Supervisors to sue County Clerk Candace Grubbs in November. Bell’s contract called for a $2,000 advance for his services, but the payment was delayed when several community members challenged the board’s authority to hire Bell in the first place.

Houser said the $2,000 bill arrived this week and would be paid promptly. But that’s just the first in a long line of bills that the county will get from Bell’s office. After all, Bell attended several days’ worth of supervisors’ meetings in Oroville, held several meetings with the three supervisors who hired him, and presumably logged dozens of hours doing background work on their case.

No one we talked to could be sure exactly how much all that legal wheeling and dealing would cost but there’s little doubt that $275 an hour adds up mighty fast.

CUSD’s to-do list: It’s gonna happen
The board and superintendent for the Chico Unified School District have formalized their to-do lists.

At the school board’s Dec. 19 meeting, trustees voted to approve a list of “board priorities” for 2001-02 and also the “superintendent’s goals” for that same time period.

The board’s priorities include: improving the negotiation process with its teachers’ union; standardizing the instructional delivery of district-wide standards and benchmarks; continuing to aggressively pursue a site for the new high school; meeting the needs of a diverse and changing student body; and building community partnerships while improving communication.

Meanwhile, Superintendent Scott Brown’s goals include: seeing through the strategic-planning process; transferring special-education programs from the Butte County Office of Education; creating “increased opportunities for communication” among CUSD stakeholder groups; providing extra support for new administrators and reorganizing the administrative team; dealing with declining enrollment; and working toward buying land for and building the new high school.

The board usually sets three levels of priorities for itself each year, such as passing a school bond or establishing a student data management system, and often meets them. Other times, they fall by the wayside, as did supporting the Education Foundation and maintaining an in-school suspension program at the secondary schools.

Manny, Moe and Jack settle fraud case
Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey announced Dec. 26 a settlement in a consumer fraud case his office had filed against the California operation of Pep Boys, Inc., the national car parts chain. Ramsey’s press release said the Pep Boys, a.k.a. Manny, Moe and Jack, had mailed misleading advertisements in May 2000 that said if you bought Autolite sparkplugs you would be entitled to both a cash rebate and some free gas. But the form you filled out to claim your rebate and the gas card said you could get only one or the other.

As part of the settlement, Pep Boys admitted no fault but said it would track down and pay back each of the 565 Californians who purchased Autolite spark plugs from the parts store between May 15, 2000, and June 30, 2000. If you took the cash, you’re entitled to $10 for the gas part of the deal. If you took the gas, you get $3.60 for the rebate. As part of the settlement, Pep Boys agreed to an order by Butte County Superior Court Judge Steven Howell not to engage in similar false advertising in the future. And the company will pay a civil fine of $22,500.