Cut the cards: Aaron Kanter, a 27-year-old Chico State grad who now lives in Elk Grove, took fourth place in the World Series of Poker held in Las Vegas Saturday, earning a prize of $2 million. Kanter told the Sacramento Bee recently that he learned to play poker while he was studying at CSUC, then continued playing online for money after he graduated. Kanter, who paid his bills while in school by tending bar, gradually began to study poker strategies intensely, recording and watching scores of tournaments, reading books about the game and playing some 30 hours a week.

Kanter wasn’t the only local person in the tournament. Mike DuFloth, the CEO of a Chico-based Internet provider who has been playing professionally for about a year, came in 113th out of 1,070 players entered. Unfortunately, that was below the cash-out cut-off of 100th place, sending DuFloth “out on the bubble,” or prize-less.

Director of homotoxicity: Does it matter that the guy scooping up the state’s hazardous waste doesn’t think you’re really gay? It does if he uses state taxpayers’ time and resources to spew his Queer Lie Theory—which “science has irrefutably proven”—that being gay is a matter of choice, not genetics. And that’s exactly what Timothy J. Swickard did.

Swickard, a Republican attorney from Woodland, was appointed early this month to the $123,255-a-year gig as the head of the state’s Department of Toxic Substances Control. The press release from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office announcing the appointment makes no mention of how Swickard likes to liken homosexuality to alcoholism, insisting that gays choose their sexual orientation and easily could opt to become “clean and sober.”

Swickard wrote a letter to our sister paper, the Sacramento News & Review, earlier this year saying as much. “There are varying degrees of genetic masculinity in men and femininity in women, but as volitional beings we actively choose what sexual behaviors result,” Swickard wrote.

The thing is that Swickard, who was the department’s chief legal counsel at the time, sent the letter from his state-government e-mail address ( and worked with SN&R staffers to edit the letter during the workday from his state-government phone number.

Whose land is it? Riding the wave of outrage and confusion generated by the recent Supreme Court decision expanding local governments’ powers of eminent domain, City Councilman Steve Bertagna put the issue before the council Tuesday. Bertagna’s reason for getting the council to discuss the issue, he said, was to assure the public that Chico’s use of eminent-domain powers has been historically limited.

“I can hardly wait for the city to knock on my door and say they want to buy my house,” Bertagna joked. “Because I think we go out of our way to make people happy.”

The city’s redevelopment agency has no eminent-domain powers anyway, Assistant City Manager Trish Dunlap told the council, so a situation such as the one the Supreme Court ruled on—in which a working class neighborhood will now be razed to make way for a commercial complex—isn’t likely to come up here.

The council sent the issue to Internal Affairs so a report on the city’s eminent-domain powers could be generated. A public discussion will occur when that report is given to the council.