Power deal: Nevermore? The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals jolted Butte County’s plan to own a piece of the Poe Power Dam last week when it ruled that PG&E would retain the inside track in pursuing a new license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee (FERC).

The county, along with the city of Fremont and the Northern California Power Association, had hoped to capitalize on a mailroom mishap that made PG&E’s paperwork late, forcing FERC to open up the process to other players. PG&E’s successful appeal grants the power giant “incumbent status,” which may not guarantee PG&E a new license but certainly tilts the odds in its favor.

County CAO Paul McIntosh called the decision “a disappointment” and said the Board of Supervisors had not yet decided how far to pursue the plant deal. Seeking a return of about $5 million a year, the board invested $300,000 in the project this spring to have a draft application prepared.

Hit-and-run driver sought: Friends and relatives of Matt Messina, who was killed by a hit-and-run driver Tuesday, June 18, are refusing to give up in their search for Messina’s killer. They hope someone will come forward with a tip that might help the investigation.

Messina, who recently moved from New York to attend Chico State University, was riding a bicycle near the intersection of Miller and Pomona avenues at about 10:30 p.m. when he was struck by a vehicle. He was taken to Enloe Medical Center with head injuries and died the next day. Witness reports and evidence found at the scene indicate the car was a dark-colored pickup truck or minivan, possibly a Dodge Caravan, with damage to the right-front headlight area.

Tipsters are encouraged to call 879-1999.

Former mayor tapped for fair board: Karl Ory, who served as a Chico City Councilmember from 1977 to 1985, the last two years as mayor, is back in the political game. Sort of. Ory this week was named by Gov. Gray Davis to the board of directors for the 3rd District Agricultural Association, better known around these parts as the Silver Dollar Fair. The 52-year-old Ory, who’s worked in the rural housing business for a number of years, is joined on the board by Adriana T. Farley of Durham. The positions are non-paying and are filled via application followed by a series of interviews.

Hello, Newman; goodbye, scams: Here’s a vote for politicians who aren’t above referencing pop culture icons. Senator Debra Bowen, D-Redondo Beach, is sponsoring SB 968, nicknamed the “Kramer-Newman Protection Act of 2003.” It’s named after a Seinfeld storyline in which Kramer and Newman try to smuggle recyclable bottles and cans from New York—where no deposit had been paid—to Michigan, a deposit state. The bill would add the use of recyclables to “criminal profiteering activity” under the state’s asset forfeiture law. Last year in California, 30 people were arrested for this type of recycling fraud, including a “ring” of people who stood to make $3 million from their alleged scheme.

The bill unanimously passed the Assembly on July 10 and awaits action by the governor.

Bowen promised, “This is probably my only Seinfeld-related bill, and despite rumors to the contrary I’m not looking to create an Art Vandalay Day in California, to make Chocolate Babka the state’s official dessert, or to bring back the old Merv Griffin Show.”