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In other expenses, Keene’s district office on Humboldt Road cost us $25,385.80 in rent, maintenance and utilities last year (ranking it 60th). I can understand that; rent’s not cheap around here. And it’s even higher, apparently, in Redding, where LaMalfa ran up $31,851.74 for the same expenses (54th place). And to their credit, neither one of these guys spent a single dime of taxpayer money on out-of-state travel. But here’s the rub. Last year, not including staff salaries, Keene spent $118,119.23 of taxpayer money in expenses. And this year he’s signed a pledge with Americans for Tax Reform “to oppose (and vote against/veto) any and all efforts to increase taxes.” Something’s gotta give.
Have you noticed the big brass roof (or is it copper?) that adorns the crow’s nest atop the still-being-remodeled Diamond Hotel in downtown Chico? I admit, I didn’t read the front-page story that ran a few weeks back in the Enterprise-Record most likely explaining what that thing does and what it’s made from. At first I thought it was a bell that would ring every 15 minutes announcing the time and driving all the townsfolk nuts. Now, with the blue tarps removed, I see it is an observation tower looking out over the roofs of the business district. Owner/re-modeler Wayne Cook might want to install a couple of those quarter-operated binoculars that look like parking meter heads. You know, the kind they have planted at the edge of the Grand Canyon or on the river bank near Niagara Falls. Cook could recoup some of the money he’s poured into the hotel renovation and maybe have enough eventually to purchase the old municipal building.
Who wrote the editorial in the Feb. 27 E-R, the ghost of Sam Walton? For those who didn’t see it, the editorial defended Wal-Mart’s right to expand its Forest Avenue store into a “supercenter” without a full environmental-impact report, which the E-R laments could cost the company $100,000 and delay the project by up to a year. “It was unfortunate that the public wasted the Planning Commission’s time by broaching issues unrelated to the environmental review process,” the E-R wrote. Yeah, maybe, but that is what public input is all about. And look what happened. Four members of the commission did the right thing and voted for the EIR. Like other public agencies, the commission is charged with doing what is best for the community. The editorial also notes that had this been some company other than Wal-Mart the council chambers would have been empty. Well, they were last summer when Wal-Mart tried to sneak this thing through. This time around, with plenty of publicity, the matter was well-attended. And look what happened. Four commissioners—a majority—voted for the EIR. The editorial ends by saying, “we’d rather see Wal-Mart expand on Forest Avenue than build a superstore at the gateway to Chico, where Sunset Hills Golf Course sits now.” Hey, don’t get your hopes up.