Noting a less-than-successful signature-gathering campaign—only 20 percent of the downtown property owners signed up—the folks behind the effort to establish a new assessment district to further promote downtown Chico have told a local daily newspaper that they are going back to the drawing board. (We got a press release about it after last week’s Wednesday deadline.) Katrina Davis, executive director of the Downtown Chico Business Association, said in the story that her organization was running out of time and speculated that many of the people she needed on board have not been properly educated about the plan, which is basically to morph the DCBA into the Property and Business Improvement District, hit up property owners for membership dues, instead of business owners as it now does, and thereby nearly triple its budget. “The next step, according to [DCBA President Charlie] Osborn, is to vamp up the education process.” That, at least, is what the reporter for the local daily newspaper wrote in her story. We wonder, did Osborn really say “vamp up”?

“Vamp,” according to our dictionary, means “An unscrupulously seductive woman; to seduce or exploit in the manner of a vamp.” In other words, if Osborn is indeed taking the vamp route here, we can only imagine DCBA representatives walking door to door in fishnet stockings, spike-heeled shoes and a lot of black eyeliner while offering a detailed explanation, filled with double entendres possibly, of how a new assessment district would turn Chico into a bright shining city. There is also talk of expanding the steering committee. Not a bad idea. Steering committees can never be too big. Put everybody on the steering committee and you wipe out your opposition. Just to be safe, they could start by recruiting people from Monkey Island—that little area that sits where The Esplanade and First Avenue intersect between Children’s Playground and Collier Hardware. The inhabitants of Monkey Island venture to the mainland only when foraging for nutrition, usually at 7-Eleven, or to beg for change on one of the busy downtown street corners. Other details of the island’s dwellers are shrouded in mystery (where is Margaret Mead when you need her?), though a bus driver who uses the bus stop there told me he sometimes has to wait while a “deal is completed.” I’m not sure what that meant. I do know that the Chico police sometimes show an interest in the welfare of the Monkey Islanders. And there is little doubt they need something to do, like join a steering committee.

This is the annual vacation column of the Inside View. The fact that the information contained herein may be stale—at least staler than usual—is because the author is not in Chico at the moment and is even less in touch than normal. (If that’s possible.) For instance, he does not know what happened at the latest City Council meeting. Was someone appointed to the empty council seat? Did emotions give way to fisticuffs? Was Jesus mentioned in the pre-meeting prayer? All unknowns. We do know this: Next week the author of this column will run in this space the absolute best, the Ronald Reagan of Inside Views, if you will, simply because he is too lazy to write an original and he wants to get his vacation started. This slothful action is unprecedented; a used column has never before been employed here. Clip it and put it behind a magnet on your fridge, kids—it’s liable to be worth some money some day.

Finally consider this: Yesterday my son and I were driving in our little red truck, turning south onto Mangrove from First Avenue. “Look,” I said, pointing to a white mini-van waiting for the left turn arrow on Mangrove. “He has a flat tire.” It was the front driver’s-side tire. A minute later I pulled into the Safeway gas station and, being the diligent fellow I am, thought to check my tires. Sure enough, the one on the front driver’s side was a bit low, maybe a pound or two below the recommended 35 per square inch. So I gave it a quick blast from the air pump (free), stood back, considered it, gave it little kick and, thoroughly satisfied with myself, went to pump some gasoline. The next morning the tire was flat. That is the kind of experience that shapes my view of life.