Go figure

What lesson about Chico voters can we take from the local election? Well, on one hand they can rise to the occasion, overcome bias and elect a gay HIV-positive man, who also happens to be a policy wonk and the best person for the job. But then they go and make the crass decision of electing a pompous former TV personality to the school board. Electing someone like Anthony Watts, former KHSL weatherman, can only mean that in four years, if Chico is any model for the rest of the state, we’ll have Arnold Schwarzenegger as governor. What were voters thinking? Watts ran no campaign, attended no candidate forums, and yet was elected over far-more deserving candidates. Thank God he didn’t run for City Council.

Scott Gruendl, who did run for City Council and tallied more votes than Mayor Dan Herbert, on the other hand, is a hard-working, dedicated public servant who’s run for office unsuccessfully three times before. We applaud his tenacity and refusal to quit trying. Electing Gruendl and re-electing Maureen Kirk couldn’t have come at a better time. Now that progressives have control of the council, we won’t have to put up with embarrassing votes like the one that took place on election night, when the conservative council majority shrugged off the advice of city staff and the city attorney, overrode U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service policy and rewarded one of their buddies by declaring, on a 4-3 vote, that developer Tony Symmes could bulldoze over some elderberry shrubs. That majority, which is history now, didn’t take kindly to such things as the Endangered Species Act, especially when it got in the way of development. The elderberry bush provides habitat for the Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle, which is a federally listed species protected by the ESA. Big deal, said the council majority. Go ahead and rip those plants out, Tony. Later the same night, at the Republican campaign shindig held at the Holiday Inn, Herbert apologized for being late, complaining that he would have been there sooner if he hadn’t had to spend an hour on the elderberry beetle issue. “Today we decided to go in the face of the Fish and Wildlife Service and say, ‘Forget it.'” Guess what, Dan? The voters said the same thing about the council majority.

“I’ve taken most of what’s left of my stuff to the dump; my truck is packed and ready to go. In fact, I’m leaving Wednesday morning, just as soon as I know the election results. I’ll be coming back for Friday Happy Hour and the event on Saturday, but then I’m gone, gone, gone,” Those are the words of former Chico Examiner editor and publisher Tim Bousquet, who is about to become the property of Oregon as he prepares to hightail it out of town. To hasten his departure, some local folks are holding a roast for him on Saturday, Nov. 9, beginning at 7 p.m. at Moxie’s Café and Gallery. Music will be provided by Peter Berkow, and there is a $10 suggested donation. The event will be hosted by Councilmember Dan Nguyen-Tan. Come out and help shuffle Tim off to Ashland.

A few weeks ago I ruffled some feathers, apparently, when I reported that Chico Police Chief Mike Efford was awarded a $71,000 check for severance pay. I don’t blame a guy for taking all he can grab when he leaves a job. When my father retired as chief of the Barberton, Ohio, Police Department in 1981, he too came under some criticism in the press for taking all his vacation time before announcing he was stepping down. The city officials felt like he’d left them in a lurch. “I’m doing this for purely selfish reasons,” he told The Barberton Herald reporter. “My attorney has advised me to grow a beard and move out of town,” he added.

Here is a photo of me giving Rep. Wally Herger some last-minute campaign advice. It worked.