Murder was the case they gave me… Andrew Mickel (pictured), accused of ambushing and shooting to death Red Bluff police officer David Mobilio, was found guilty Tuesday by a jury in Colusa County, to which his trial had been transferred on a change-of-venue request. Mickel, who was going by the name Andrew McCrae when he assassinated Mobilio, never denied the ambush killing, which occurred in November, 2002. Instead, the 26-year-old, who was acting as his own attorney, apparently planned to justify the killing as a protest against police brutality and corporate malfeasance. The judge in the case disallowed Mickel’s defense, however, so he never got to present it, and the jury took only a half-hour to return a guilty verdict.

Council votes to keep Bidwell Ranch open space: A sustained standing ovation from a packed chamber greeted the Chico City Council’s 4-3 vote to move forward with rezoning the 750 acres in northeast Chico known as Bidwell Ranch as open space. The council heard three hours of pleadings by more than 60 people. Some asked for the rezone, others for selling some of the land to generate park funding, still others for a ballot measure, and some suggested an environmental mitigation bank. In the end the council voted to continue a process started in January 2004 to rezone the land from residential to open space.

The land, which sits at the entrance to Bidwell Park, has been a center of controversy for nearly 20 years, as developers have sought to build on the environmentally sensitive property. Ten years ago, to avoid a possible lawsuit, the city purchased the land for about $7 million.

Vice-Mayor Maureen Kirk cast the deciding vote, noting that she and the two newest members of the council, Andy Holcombe and Ann Schwab, had campaigned last fall on the issue and were subsequently elected.

“I just think the people want to protect Bidwell Park,” she said. “That is what I campaigned on, and I’m going to keep my promise.”

Mayor Scott Gruendl joined Kirk, Schwab and Holcombe in voting to direct staff to initiate the process to rezone the property, amend the city’s General Plan and put out requests for proposals for management plans to maintain the land.

Student elections imminent: The candidates are getting restless as Chico State’s A.S elections approach. The home stretch begins today (April 7) with an Open Forum barbecue scheduled for 1 p.m. in the Free Speech Area. On April 10 there will be a meet-and greet at 2 p.m. on the Shasta Lassen lawn, all leading up to the elections, which will be held on April 13 and 14. To avoid the controversy brought on by the special election for the Wildcat Activity Center, designated polling locations have been posted on the A.S. Web site.