Grand old opening

Saying the recall had entered the “sprint to the finish,” Assemblyman Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, this week unveiled the Butte County Republican County headquarters—a.k.a. the “Join Arnold Headquarters.” On hand were Republican supporters and luminaries, including Butte County Republican Central Committee Chairman Josh Cook and committee secretary, Butte College instructor and former Chico Mayor Mary Andrews. LaMalfa said Republican candidate for governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has injected enthusiasm and optimism into the state’s GOP and that the politically moderate movie-maker’s views don’t necessarily clash with the more conservative North State Republican views. In fact, he said, the formerly fractured party is coming together. He could be right. A couple of years ago, LaMalfa led a one-man attempt to get Cook tossed as the RCC chairman. This week they stood side by side and seemed as chummy as can be. And they are a couple of decent fellows. I told LaMalfa we should have lunch together sometime. I just meant sometime in the future. Misunderstanding my intentions, the Richvale rice farmer looked at his watch—it was 2 p.m.—and said he couldn’t right then because he had to “go price some farm equipment.” I didn’t say anything at the time, but I thought to myself, “Hmm, the federal farm subsidy checks must have arrived in the mail.” LaMalfa Farms harvested about a half-million in subsidies this year. The new Republican headquarters, by the way, is set up in the old Access Wireless store on Mangrove Avenue, right next to a temporary Halloween costume shop.

Chico’s Chevy’s is history. Tim Bousquet saw it coming. A few years ago the publisher of the Chico Examiner predicted that the gaudy Mexican restaurant whose owners poured millions into refurbishing the old bank building it sat in would soon close its doors forever. His timing was a little off, but his vision did eventually come true. As a tribute to Tim, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the new McDonald’s-owned fast-burrito restaurant going up on the corner of Mangrove and Vallombrosa will close someday. Ditto the new Krispy Kreme donut store out on restaurant row in east Chico; someday it will shut down and be vacant for a while, and then some other business will move in. Mark my words.

Speaking of which, I reported in this column last week that Sam’s House of Hofbrau looks like it’s closed for good. Maybe not. This week we received from Sam’s the form for local restaurants we use to update our upcoming Visitor Guide. Sam’s form said change nothing, suggesting the downtown eatery is still open for business. The phone service is still connected, but the computerized voice of an answering machine is all you get when you call.

Another church is interested in buying one of Chico’s movie theaters and turning it into a house of worship. If the Senator Theater is sold, this would mark the third time for such a transition. I’d like to see a variation on this trend. I’d like to see a movie theater buy the Neighborhood Church and install a five-screen complex in the golden dome out by the highway; or better yet see DNA of the Right Now Foundation, the group that tried so hard to get the Senator, buy the Neighborhood Church and turn it into a community theater. Wouldn’t that be something?

Moved into a new neighborhood recently. When I was first checking out the house, a few weeks ago, a calico cat sat on the back fence and checked me out. The night I moved in, I saw that cat again, eyeballing me from the neighbor’s driveway. The next morning there was a gift neatly placed on the back porch—a dead mouse. A feline welcome wagon. Now I feel like part of the neighborhood.