Chico Chamber likes Bertagna
CHICOPAC, the Chico Chamber of Commerce’s revamped political-action committee, announced its candidate endorsements for the March primary and in doing so tossed a monkey wrench into the gears of an already smoking Butte County political scene.

The PAC, formed in 1998, is backing Chico City Councilmember Steve Bertagna for 3rd District Butte County supervisor over 10-year incumbent Mary Anne Houx, whose seat is under assault from the three-member majority on the board. That assault, from Supervisors Kim Yamaguchi, Curt Josiassen and Bob Beeler, has stirred a backlash of support for Houx and an effort to recall Yamaguchi. The chamber’s endorsement is a surprise—especially given Bertagna’s support for breaking the Greenline. Judy Brislain Bradford, chair of the chamber’s board of directors, said Bertagna was selected based on interviews and his answers to a questionairre, including one about balancing growth and protecting the environment.

“It goes to the issue of who can best represent the business community at the moment,” she said. Endorsements required a two-thirds vote of the board members, in this case at least 10 of the 15 who voted. All together there are 33 members, including News & Review Publisher Kathy Barrett, one of the voters.

The chamber’s other county endorsement went to Houx’s ally Jane Dolan, whose 2nd District seat is also under attack from the conservative trio. Dolan is running against Durham farmer John Merrifield.

For the 3rd District Assembly seat, the chamber endorsed Chico City Councilmember Rick Keene over Dan Ostrander and Stuart King and gave its nod to Assemblyman Dick Dickerson over Assemblyman Sam Aanestad for the 4th District Senate seat.

More of the same at ‘Channel 36’
A little birdie told us Monday that some major changes are afoot at KNVN-TV and KHSL-TV. The stations, which operate under the same management and from the same offices, plan to scrap their separate evening news broadcasts and start simulcasting their 6:30 and 11 p.m. shows on Feb. 4. That obviously will require fewer newscasters, and it leaves both stations’ staffs in a “weird state of limbo,” as one source put it.

“Everyone is trying to put together tapes to get out before they get fired,” the source said.

Word has it that the new team will be meteorologist Dave Van Orey, sportscaster Chad Abramson, newscaster Megan Newquist and a second, as-yet-unnamed news anchor. KNVN anchors Christianne Klein and Evan Michael, who are on contract, will become reporters, and KNVN meteorologist Kris Kuyper will be moved to the morning and weekend shows.

Special ed is now CUSD’s domain
The wheels are turning in the Chico Unified School District’s move to take control of special-education services for its students—a move that was officially approved by the state two weeks ago.

Come July 1, almost 40 programs—serving children with emotional, physical and learning impairments—will transfer from Butte County Office of Education to the CUSD, reported Bob Feaster, the CUSD’s director of pupil personnel services, at the Jan. 16 school board meeting.

“Our goal is not to create a lot of change,” he said.

The move to shift the services started when the CUSD was hit with a $1.3 million “billback” from BCOE, the difference between what the state and federal governments provided to run programs and what it actually cost to do so.

But, when asked by Trustee Steve O’Bryan whether the move would save money, Feaster said point-blank: “I don’t think we’re going to do it any cheaper.”

Feaster said that, despite some initial "concern and trepidation" by BCOE employees about their fate, all but one of the teachers and more than 90 classified staff members agreed to take jobs with the CUSD. (Meanwhile, several administrative staff members at BCOE headquarters will be laid off.)