Fair play

I got to thinking the other day as I walked through the downtown gauntlet of sprawled-out panhandlers: Maybe the non-aggressive, non-deceptive begging law the city is putting together should include how those being panhandled may respond to the panhandler. What initiated this line of thought were the feelings of guilt that visited me when I passed a squad of sidewalk squatters hunkered beneath the COBA art project on Second Street last week. You see, I’d just been hit up by the twosome camped out near Mayo Law Clinic on the opposite side of Second. And I was tempted to answer that I’d already given to the “Brother can you spare a dollar for lunch?” checkpoint set up across the street or offer my standard, “Nope. Sorry. Broke, too.” Both answers would have been lies and downright deceptive. And what if, angered at being targeted a second time, I’d lashed out, wagged my finger in the beggar’s face, and shouted, “Forget it, you worthless bum. You’ll get nothing from me!” That would have been downright aggressive. If by law a panhandler cannot display either of those emotions, why then should I, as the panhandler’s partner in this financial transaction, be allowed to do so? Therefore, I propose the city attorney, in conjunction with the ordinance aimed at aggressive/deceptive panhandling, write a companion piece to control how those being asked to fork over “any spare change” react to the request. I think this would go a long way in making our downtown a more civilized place to walk around.

There’s an ATM inside the Bank of America. I use it as much as I can just because it gives me a chance to walk into the bank, giving the impression to passersby that I have important financial business to attend to. In fact, I have an account at BofA that says I can’t talk to any of the tellers (and maybe even other customers) without incurring a service charge. Now I come to learn they are taking the ATM out of the bank and I’ll have to do my money business at one of those outside deals in the rear parking lot. What a bummer.

The Kiwanis Chico Community Observatory has unveiled a new telescope that allows you to look at the sun without scorching your retinas. According to a press release, “Using a specially designed filter and telescope the daytime stargazer can now enjoy breathtaking views of our nearest star. The new solar telescope allows the observer to view the magnetic activity on the surface of the sun as loops, flares and prominences.” Anita Berkow, the observatory’s curator, said, “The view is simply wonderful. Besides giving us great images of the sun, it will increase the observatory’s capabilities to become a 24-hours-a-day facility.” Right now the observatory is free to the public Thursday-Sunday from dusk to 11 p.m. With the solar telescope, a special Sunday-afternoon session will be offered from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. The observatory sits in Upper Bidwell Park off Wildwood Drive at Horseshoe Lake. Directions can be found online at www.chicoobservatory.com.

The Right Now Foundation, hoping to keep the idea of a performing arts center alive in the Senator Theatre, will come before the Chico City Council Tuesday, June 3, during the council’s all-day budget meeting to ask for more funding. The RNF would like to see members of the community attend the meeting in support or write letters to the council. For more information call 891-1383 or 894-8621. The Web address is http://senatortheatre.com.