He’s the bomb: The former county Emergency Services director who had the sheriff’s bomb squad detonate a box of toxic materials as a favor for a ham radio buddy was sentenced in court Friday, July 30, after being convicted of four misdemeanor counts of lying to investigators.
Mike Madden was fired last December over the incident, after investigators found that he had allowed 63-year-old Paradise resident Charles Orgovan to bring him a box full of what he thought was explosive mercury fulminate used in mining. Madden then told the members of the bomb squad that he had received an anonymous tip about the box and had them blow it up. But on analysis it turned out the box contained cyanide, a deadly poison that could potentially have sickened or even killed authorities on the scene.
Madden admitted his mistake in court and was sentenced to three years’ probation, fined $9,000 and forced to pay the costs of the toxic cleanup. Prosecutors had originally sought a felony charge for mishandling hazardous materials.
Will harmony prevail? The debate on how to honor the name of slain civil-rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. may be close to resolution.
This week Joe Persons Jr., a 40-year Chico resident, former restaurant owner and prominent member of the local black community, addressed the Chico City Council to say he and some other supporters were taking over the efforts to honor King’s name. He said last April he had received a letter from activist Willie Hyman suggesting King be honored by naming a street after him. Hyman had three streets in mind but could not convince a majority of the council to go along with his choices. The councilmembers against the idea said, among other objections, that changing a street’s name would present an undo hardship for those residents and businesses located on the street.
Hyman persisted. Last month Jackie Leser, a white woman who for years has organized an annual candlelight vigil in memory of King, suggested the city rename the 20th Street Community Park in King’s name. Hyman again objected, telling this paper a Caucasian person should not be the one suggesting how best to honor King.
That, countered Persons, was wrong and went against what King stood for. So this week he presented the council with a petition that thanks Hyman for his efforts to get the idea going and states support for renaming the park. Persons and Leser will address the Chico Area Recreation District Board of Directors and make the recommendation for the name change. The City Council’s Internal Affairs Committee will also take up the matter at its next meeting.