I had a dream last night. I dreamed the Chico City Council decided not to change its municipal code to accommodate the weighty SUVs, meaning they were banished to the truck routes through town. Soon they were social outcasts, huddled together like cigarette smokers puffing away in front of the Towne Lounge. History recorded our little burg as taking a brave stand against the auto industry. (Fact: America accounts for one-20th of the world’s population yet consumes one-quarter of the planet’s oil.) Other towns followed our lead; even Los Angeles. In time, people would share their old photos with new friends, point out the hulking GMC Yukon parked in the driveway—too big for the garage—and laugh. “I can’t believe I used to drive this thing!” they would exclaim, shaking their heads in embarrassment at their youthful indiscretion. (Not unlike the Rod Stewart-style shag haircut you’re wearing in your 1974 high school yearbook photo.) “Yeah, but don’t blame yourself,” the friend will say. “That was a ridiculous era. Wasn’t George W. Bush the president when you drove this thing?”

Oct. 18 is the last day to register to vote. I’m not going to preach to you that voting is your patriotic duty and that you young kids should “Rock the Vote!” (What the hell does that mean, anyway?) I say you should learn about the issues and candidates first. I don’t want some ignorant person canceling out my vote. If you want to learn about the Chico City Council candidates, you computer-savvy kids could start by going to this Web site: www.Chico.ca.us/. From there, click on the 2004 Voter Information link. Now, go to Campaign Statements. There you have the names of eight of the 13 candidates running for office. These are the folks who’ve raised more than $1,000.

You can tell a lot about the candidates by the people and groups who support them. For instance, you’ll learn that candidate Jolene Francis has raised $16,814, lent herself another $5,000 and received $50 in non-monetary contributions. Scroll down and you’ll see who gave Francis that money. Door Systems Design, Inc. for instance, sent her $500, the legal limit from one contributor. Councilmember Larry Wahl also gave her $500. He’s running for re-election and has raised a whopping $35,850—at least through Sept. 30. (He also has $200 in loans.) Turns out Wahl’s generous gift to Francis paid off—she gave $500 to his campaign 11 days later. Wahl got another $500 from his old conservative council teammate Rick Keene. Current conservative council teammate Steve Bertagna ($13,826 total) didn’t get $500 from Keene, however. What does this mean? Bertagna was able to give himself $500 from his failed Bertagna for Supervisor campaign to make up for Keene’s financial snub. Other totals, including loans: Andy Holcombe ($16,682), Ann Schwab ($10,660), John Merz ($7,206) and Barbi Boeger ($1,690).

The effort to finally take the Bidwell Ranch property off the development table should have been accomplished last week. But a combination of things—the untimely death of a councilmember, the ensuing political stand and a vague and most likely unworkable plan to sell part of the land—got all tangled in the workings, and now here we are kicking around the idea of some sort of advisory measure. How would it be worded? Who will write it? Those who want to save the property as open land? “Do you want to ruin Chico forever and build here?” Or those who want to see it developed? “Should we sell this useless scrub land to some unwitting out-of-town developer and build beautiful parks for our children?” “Why the rush?” a few councilmembers asked. Apparently they hadn’t been paying attention for the past 20 years and this was all new to them.