Boy, it’s one thing to get scooped by the competition when an employee at the News & Review resigns. That happened a couple years ago when Publisher Kathy Barrett called it quits. We were red-faced on that one and tried to explain that we didn’t want to rush to press with the news until we were absolutely sure we had our facts straight. But after a couple of weeks we couldn’t help noticing that Kathy’s parking spot had remained open and her office was empty and dark. We tried to call her to confirm, but couldn’t reach her. Eventually we concluded that yes indeed, she’s not working here anymore. We pounded some good, old-fashioned shoe leather on that investigation.

But you know it’s even worse to get scooped by the ER on such a story when you are the person reportedly resigning. Imagine my surprise yesterday morning when I picked up the paper and saw that very story on the front page of the daily. (Talk about your slow news days.) We knew this was coming. It’s been evident for some time that the mental health of this column is fast declining. Just look back some of the recent efforts in which the column was unable to remember names, or misplaced its keys and even forgot to wear pants to work one day. I heard Planning Commissioner Jon Luvaas has suggested no heroic steps be taken to save this column because it probably “won’t live for another a year and a half anyway.” (Not surprisingly, perhaps, the very same people who called for Luvaas’s scalp a few weeks ago when he made a similar statement in regard to the expansion of Enloe Medical Center, enthusiastically agreed with him this time around.) The fact is, this column has become a source of embarrassment for many connected to the paper, and the time has come to pull the plug.

I read in the ER where I’m going to be “taking it easy for a while.” That’s good to hear. In fact, I’ll probably get around to writing the novel that’s been rattling around in my head since I was 9 years old. The one about how Tommy Sullivan, popular high-school senior, sinks a 25-foot jump shot in the state basketball championship right at the buzzer and goes on to marry cheerleader Debbie Williams who he’d met a few years earlier in Mrs. Strickland’s fourth-grade class. Tommy goes on to become a successful professional basketball player who helps in his spare time to alleviate the grinding poverty of inner-city life and along the way wins a Nobel Peace Prize. (Of course, this plot was conceived long before the three-point line was introduced and as such, Tommy’s two-point shot only sends the game into overtime, which his team loses, cursing Tommy to a life as second-rate, alcohol-soaked newspaper hack who ends up getting shot by the police after he tries to rob an AM-PM mini-market and can’t get away because his primer-gray 1977 Pontiac Trans-Am won’t turn over when he tries to start it. Life is fickle.)

A reporter from the Paradise Post called and asked if the rumors that I was resigning were true. (Word of my impending departure from the paper got out by way of a former employee, perhaps mentioned earlier in this column, who in turn relayed the information during a Downtown Chico Business Association board meeting—reportedly to thunderous applause.) I told the Paradise reporter that yes, it was true and she proceeded to interview me for a story. Things are apparently pretty slow in Paradise as well. The Post reporter asked me to share my high point as a reporter. I told her that would have been in 1993 when I drank Kessler’s whiskey from a goldfish bowl at 9 a.m. to impress the organizers of a Clamper’s chili cook-off/washer toss at Butte Meadows and secure an interview with then-President Bill Clinton’s half-brother Leon Ritzenthaller. It was all downhill from there.

If you’d like to read more of my words of wisdom in the future, just turn to Tell It to the ER. What else can I say? I’m done.