Chico contrarians

Last issue, I kicked over a hornet’s nest … and, man, did the swarm come out stinging!

“Asinine"; “a travesty"; “shame on you!"—those are some of the rebukes the paper’s endorsements drew. One endorsement in particular, actually, though complaints about others followed soon enough.

I anticipated some blowback; I just thought it wouldn’t start until at least 10 a.m. Thursday and would be more Chico-like in its civility. But around 9, I got CCed on a bitter e-mail to my boss, which was blind-CCed to a number of people. I know that because replies to it—just as pointed—came in throughout the morning.

The source of the ire: a Chico City Council endorsement that included Mark Sorensen. We gave the nod to two progressives, Mary Flynn and Mayor Scott Gruendl, but went with a member of the opposing slate instead of the third candidate on the progressive side, Tom Nickell.

That, apparently, is a cardinal sin.

CN&R owner Jeff vonKaenel responds to some of the conspiracy theories in a letter this week; it would be a bad career move to steal his thunder.

I’m sure angry readers think it was a bad career move to endorse Sorensen, as well as not going down the Democratic Party line for every state race.

If it was, it was. I didn’t go into the endorsement process calculating how the choices reflected on me.

The burden of expectations is heavy. People expect CN&R to be the “liberal” paper in town. That’s what it has been; that’s what it should be. On the whole, it still is—just not wholly so, to the exclusion of other ideas.

There is no point in repeating the reasons the editorial board believes Sorensen will be a positive addition to the council. We don’t need to defend ourselves, and I don’t want anything good I say about him turning into a comparison and coming across as a knock on Nickell.

I’ve been told on good authority that this is not the first time this paper, in its various incarnations, has not endorsed a group of progressive candidates in toto. Our trio may be surprising but hardly unprecedented.

People disagree with their paper—that’s what happens in a passionate community. It happens even more in a polarized community. “Us” versus “Them” is a fact of life in Chico. Maybe it’s a product of talk radio and TV pundits; maybe it’s the product of a university town nestled in an agricultural area.

It doesn’t have to be that way. I won’t start singing “Kumbaya” and look for everyone to join hands around the campfire, but I also won’t play college fight songs and stir up rancorous rivalries.

We’ve repeated our endorsements in the Editorial section; feel free to cross out any you don’t agree with. We’ve given our opinion; what you do with it is your decision.