All over but the hugging: In a marked shift from the bitter battles of recent years, the Chico Unified School District and its teachers’ union has reached a tentative contract agreement.

The “T.A.” was expected to be approved in a Chico Unified Teachers Association (CUTA) vote on Aug. 26 and be ratified by the Board of Trustees on Sept. 1.

“I think that’s great,” said CUTA President George Young. “We’d been at war twice, and I didn’t want it to happen again.”

At the Aug. 18 board meeting, bargaining chair Mark Leach praised the district for recognizing past communication problems and making a conscious effort to change.

“It was a quiet victory for both CUTA and CUSD; I hope it does not go unnoticed,” said Trustee Anthony Watts.

The new contract through August 2006 won’t cover raises, which were previously negotiated as a formula based on new money received by the district. It does address hours of employment, clarifies “potty breaks” and elementary-school prep time, agrees on class size ratios and more. See it all at

In related news, the CUSD’s human resources chief, Bob Latchaw, well-regarded by employee groups, recently quit to take a lucrative job offer from his former employer, leaving the CUSD to search for a replacement three weeks into the school year. He’d been with the district about a year.

Superintendent Scott Brown said the district will retired former assistant superintendent Jim Sands to the position on an interim basis.

Give me liberty … and a margarita: Libertarian Party Presidential Candidate Michael Badnarik, who made a campaign stop at Tres Hombres in downtown Chico last week, said he hopes to smash the duopoly that he believes is a hindrance to an effective political process in this country. The United States has become a country where two parties reign supreme, he said, making it extremely difficult for third-party candidates’ voices to be heard.

In his speech, Badnarik said the federal government has taken the role of the master rather than the servant in regard to the way the citizens are watched over. He thinks all U.S. troops should be pulled out of the Middle East and other foreign nations, saying, “The war in Iraq is a failure, and the U.S. government should never have waged it.”

The platform of the Libertarian Party rests on the belief that individuals have the capacity to make decisions for themselves without intrusive government standards and regulations.

Bullet dodged, let’s party: Independent Living Services of Northern California (ILSNC) and the United Domestic Workers of America are popping the cork Thursday, Aug. 26, to celebrate a sweet if possibly short-lived victory. Through intensive lobbying efforts in Sacramento, In-Home Support Services’ funding was not cut in this year’s state budget, despite the governor’s proposal to do so. So for now there is a party to celebrate the fact low-income disabled folks who need basic assistance at home, such as getting out of bed and bathing, will not be cut off. With the shaky condition of the state budget, the battle to retain these services will begin again in January.

“It’ll be an ongoing thing,” said Dan Grover, program specialist for ILSNC. “Right now it’s safe in the budget for a year. But with social and disabled services, we’re always fighting for a budget.”

The party begins at 5 p.m. at 2875 Marigold Ave. Hot dogs, hamburgers and drinks are provided. Bring a potluck dish, swimsuit and lawn chair. Call Grover at 893-8527 to let him know you’re coming.