All votes are in: With the thousands of provisional and absentee ballots finally counted three weeks after the Nov. 2 election, there are no changes—with the exception of poor Arthur “Bud” Hatley, candidate for re-election to the Oroville City Council—among winners and losers. (Hatley lost his race by 16 votes.)

In the Chico City Council race, fifth-place finisher John Merz lost ground to fourth-place incumbent Larry Wahl, who gained about 120 more votes than Merz in the final count, ending 448 votes ahead.

The race for the Chico Unified School District trustee seat between incumbents Rick Anderson and Steve O’Bryan tightened up, with Anderson finishing only 33 votes ahead of O’Bryan for second place and a seat, behind Jann Reed, who wound up about 930 votes ahead of Anderson.

Chicoans strongly rejected the idea of allowing 18-year-olds to run for City Council by a 61-39-percent margin. Send them off to Iraq to pay their dues first is the apparent message here. And when they do return (we hope), turn 21 and run for office and win, they will get increased compensation for their service on the council, thanks to the voters’ 52-49-percent approval. Currently councilmembers get about $60 a month; with the voters’ thumbs-up, they will most likely rake in as much as $500 per month.

Those councilmembers re-elected and newly elected this year—Wahl, Steve Bertagna, Ann Schwab and Andy Holcombe—will be sworn in Tuesday, Dec. 7, at 7:30 p.m. Earlier this year, the council voted to start meeting at 6:30 p.m., but the city charter requires the meeting on the first Tuesday in December of even-numbered years be held at 7:30 p.m. (Man, if they can change the maximum vehicle weight limit allowed in the city so easily, you’d think they could change this one as well.)

Can I get your signature? A new signature-gathering campaign is coming to a storefront near you. The proposed state constitutional amendment would take the redistricting of the state’s Senate, Assembly, congressional and Board of Equalization districts out of the hands of the Legislature and put it into the hands of a three retired judges selected by legislative leaders.

Under the control of the Legislature, the current redistricting process has resulted in safe districts for both liberals and conservatives, making it almost impossible for moderate challengers to win. If the amendment passes, a new redistricting plan will be created immediately and then another after each national census.

Edward J. Costa, a Citrus Heights resident and former assistant to the late anti-tax crusader Paul Gann, is behind the effort and must collect 598,105 signatures (8 percent of the total votes cast for governor) by April 29, 2005.

Responsible dumping: At its Nov. 30 meeting, the Butte County Board of Supervisors discussed a draft ordinance that would make it easier for county code enforcement officers to fine those responsible for illegally dumping garbage.

The ordinance would define “two pieces of mail or other identifying material” as evidence to determine responsibility.

Butte County Recycling Coordinator Steve Rodowick explained that people will be responsible for their garbage until it reaches a licensed landfill or until a licensed garbage hauler takes it away. It’s called the “cradle to the grave” theory.

“We hope to make those involved in this activity think twice before they dump,” Rodowick said.