POTTED PLANTS: Despite years of efforts and hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars spent trying to eradicate marijuana growing, the California pot harvest—as measured by the number of plants seized—set a new record this year. The pot-hunting Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) reported seizing a whopping 621,315 marijuana plants statewide, up 155,000 plants from last year. The eradication season runs from late July through early October and focuses on removing plants from public lands, but private lands are also raided. In fact, this year saw an increase in the number of plants seized from private lands to 42 percent of the harvest. Butte County ranked 24th out of 30 counties, with a mere 3,302 plants, compared to top-ranking Riverside County, where CAMP seized 97,104 plants. CAMP estimates the wholesale value of the entire seized harvest at $2.5 billion.
Oh Canada: Waves of Americans are looking to head north, according to international news reports. The Canadian immigration Web site (www.cic.gc.ca/), which usually gets about 20,000 hits a day, and is said to have experienced a huge increase in activity. A story in the Canadian press said, “Within hours of Bush’s acceptance speech, six times more Americans than usual, some 115,016, surfed Canada’s immigration site.” A Web site set up to toot Canada’s horn, canadianalternative.com, offers these tidbits on why Canada is such a great place to live: universal public health care, no troops in Iraq, signed the Kyoto Protocol, recognizes gay unions in half the provinces, and the Senate recommends legalizing marijuana.
We’ll know by Thanksgiving: Despite her staff’s being ravaged by the cold bug, county Clerk/ Recorder Candace Grubbs said this week she expects to have the final tally of this year’s election by as early as Nov. 24—the day this paper hits the stands.
“Every year it gets harder and harder,” Grubbs said of counting the last ballots, which are the absentee ballots turned in on Election Day and the provisional ballots of confused voters who voted at the wrong precincts. Of the 51,000 absentee ballots cast this year, 10,065 came in on Election Day, 3,087 of them in Chico. There were 2,527 provisional ballots, 1,314 in Chico. The voters who cast provisional ballots must be verified as registered, and some their ballots must be tailored depending on whether they live in the city of Chico or the county. County voters cannot vote for City Council candidates, for example.
Still, the inclusion of up to 4,500 additional votes in Chico could affect the outcome of the four-seat Chico City Council race, in which the fourth-place finisher, incumbent Larry Wahl, had only 323 more votes than fifth-placed John Merz. In the even closer race for Chico Unified School Board trustee, incumbent Rick Anderson edged out incumbent Steve O’Bryan by a mere 133 votes.
Grubbs’ office still had 4,277 absentee and 1,670 provisional votes to count. “The number of provisional ballots doubled over the previous election,” Grubbs said. “I’ve only got five people to count, including myself.”