Cover Story

Q: What would you add to the school board?(Specifically, what might it be lacking in the way of direction or action? How would you be different?)

A: I’d have some meetings in different locations or forums. I believe the City Council Chambers breeds an air of hostility in meetings due to the poor acoustics, body language where it puts speakers on the spot, and the general distancing that the council desks cause. I believe it contributes to poor communication. I’d work to allow the meetings to be televised from other areas.

As for policy, I’d try to be more receptive to the public, and to move things along faster if at all possible. It seems that too many important decisions have been delayed for too long.

Q: What’s your impression of the CUSD administrative team, particularly Superintendent Scott Brown?

A: Sorry, not going to answer that one, and shame on you for asking me to espouse a personal opinion about an individual – stick to the issues!

Q: Should the high school still be built? If so, where? What’s your take on why it’s taken so long and how would you have handled things differently?

A: It has taken so long because the “realtor crowd” got caught up in a land package being pushed by Jim Mann, and while I don’t agree with the environmental assessments on some of those parcels, the board should have realized that they met up with the “immovable object meets the irresistible force” when it comes to these properties and the legal hurdles created by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Army Corps of Engineers…and moved on to other site selections.

Q: If elected, what would you push to happen at this point?

A: The current property under consideration behind Raley’s has a slim chance of succeeding the environmental review and getting OK’d by various government agencies, but even though BEC has said they won’t legally oppose building there, I don’t trust Barbara Vlamis and BEC to live up to their word to not oppose it, as they have a lousy track record in that area. I’d immediately start looking for other sites, even outside the city limits if needed be. I see north and south of Chico as viable location alternatives.

Q: Does the potential Humboldt Dump contamination worry you?

A: No, not at all. It’s an over-studied and over-hyped issue; we just need to stop talking about it and doing “studies” and just clean it up.

Q: How would you work to improve the district’s relationship with teachers/the union? What went wrong and how would you have dealt with the near-strike and salary issue? Are teachers appropriately paid and respected?

A: As mentioned previously, I’d like to change some of the meeting forums to address the body language issues the council chamber causes in meetings.

When I met with the teachers union, I was shocked to learn that they want to approach CUSD for even more concessions this coming year (2003) I think that like many unions, the teachers union may be more interested in its own agenda than that of the teachers. I have talked to more than a few teachers who don’t really like the union, but they belong because they are required to. An interesting note: I got a package of info from the CUSD about curriculum standards and also the current CUSD contract with teachers. The teaching curriculum standards guide was single side printed and about the thickness of a magazine, the CUSD teachers’ contract was about the size of a phone book, and double sided. You’ve got to wonder if something isn’t wrong when the teachers’ contract is about four times the size of the definitions of what they are supposed to teach!

I support teachers 100%, they give their lives to the job, but I don’t support an organization that may not fully and equitably represent them. I think both the teachers and CUSD need to get their organization back to basics, and discard some of the legalese and posturing that’s been going on and focus on the task at hand: education. I will say that I do support a COLA (cost of living adjustment) if money can be found in the budget for it. Having a COLA in place will help defray problems in the future. But CUTA also needs to be realistic, we have a CUSD budget that is paper thin, and there is little room for more.

One way I’d find extra money in the CUSD budget for COLA, school improvements, and other things would be to look at the PG&E bills CUSD is incurring. I’ve reviewed the CUSD budget, and the costs for electricity are staggering. I believe the CUSD could benefit from a state or federal government partially subsidized solar power plan to offset PG&E costs, much as the city of Oroville is doing with its municipal buildings. At the Chico Observatory in Bidwell Park that I helped build, we are 100% solar, and it’s worked out great, we have more power than we can use. I believe solar power could be viable for CUSD and could give us some breathing room in the budget.

Q: Who do you like (or vote for) among the other candidates? Should the incumbents stay or go?

A: Sorry, no comment, it’s not appropriate for me to say.

Q: Please note some personal stats: Age, time in Chico, number and ages of kids, job title, shoe size

A: Age 45, 15 years in Chico, married one child, TV/radio meteorologist and owner of ItWorks providing services for computer-based weather information nationwide.

Q: Any else you’d like to comment on.

A: Nope.