No visa for you: Chico Performances’ spring semester calendar got off to a shaky start last week, thanks to the Department of Homeland Security. Flamenco wiz Paco de Lucía (pictured) and crew were set to hit Chico State’s Laxson Auditorium stage on Friday, Jan. 23, but earlier in the week the University Public Events office sent out notice that the show had been cancelled due to the fact that “Alain Rodríguez, the bass player in de Lucía’s band, has not received his visa to enter the United States.”

Kristen Teixeira at the band’s management company explained that Rodríguez is “a Cuban national living legally as a resident in Spain.” Rodríguez had been approved by the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services along with the rest of his band mates, but after his customary interview at the U.S. Consulate in Madrid still has not been issued final clearance by the DHS. “The DHS will not give any reasons for the wait,” said Teixeira.

According to a Dec. 10 DHS press release, “Passengers now traveling to and from Cuba (directly or indirectly) are subject to intensified inspections.”

Dan DeWayne, director of University Public Events/ Chico Performances, commented, “I’m saddened with the current U.S. visa policies and am hopeful that a high-profile artist like Paco de Lucía will help bring attention to the ill-advised current policies.”

They should get out more? Perhaps, ponders Alan Gair, local government’s planning to widen Highway 99 between the East First Street and Highway 32 exits will replace the trees ripped out along Bidwell Park with paintings of trees on concrete.

Gair, of the Chico group Residents Outraged About Roads (ROAR), thinks the Butte County Association of Governments missed the boat completely at its Jan. 22 meeting.

“My view is they’re taking the least-effective approach possible,” Gair said. BCAG voted 4-3 to add a lane to the inside, not outside, and go with conventional intersections rather than roundabouts—moves that went against its own staff’s recommendations. The vote followed no particular ideological lines, as Chico Supervisors Jane Dolan and Mary Anne Houx were among the majority and City Councilmember Coleen Jarvis dissented on the inside-lane idea. When it came to roundabouts, Dolan was in favor with Jarvis and Houx opposed.

Ultimately, the highway will bridge Bidwell Park in one wide chunk, and the on- and off-ramps will connect. Of course, all this is dependent on state funding coming through, perhaps in three years.

Chico will manage with old manager: The Chico City Council has picked its new city manager—Tom Lando, the guy who’s held the job since 1992 and pretty much run a successful team. Last April Lando announced his plans to retire by September of this year. Then in September he underwent heart surgery, was out a little more than month and then came back while the search for a new manager continued.

Earlier this year, after requests from some members that he stay on, Lando changed his mind, in part because of a lack of strong candidates and in part because of his heart surgery.

“I had planned to retire and then have the surgery,” Lando said a few weeks ago. “But that changed last year.”