Jim Nielsen goes Bird hunting

Seeks restraining order on man who wants to arrest him

It looks like Don Bird’s “bird-dogging” is finally getting on Jim Nielsen’s nerves.

Bird, you may remember, is the 76-year-old Tehama County gadfly who has been threatening for a couple of years to make a citizen’s arrest on Assemblyman Jim Nielsen. He believes Nielsen lied about living in Gerber in order to run for the Assembly in District 2 and is therefore guilty of perjury, a felony. Bird is right about the lying, but whether Nielsen is guilty would be up to a court, of course.

In any event, Bird got nowhere in his effort—never got close to Nielsen and was given no support by the Tehama County sheriff. He was just about to give up, he says, when Nielsen last week took out a temporary restraining order on him. Now he’s excited—“reinvigorated,” he said—by the prospect of getting a day in court next Monday, Sept. 12.

According to the TRO request, “Bird has repeatedly threatened to physically enact a ‘citizen’s arrest’ on Assembly Member Nielsen at a public event, handcuff him, and take him to jail.” Certainly Bird has said that was his goal, and it’s been reported in newspapers, but in fact he’s never been in the same room with Nielsen.

Nielsen also charges that Bird kept Nielsen’s “personal residence under surveillance for several years.” That’s the doublewide out in farm country near Gerber where Nielsen says he lives but doesn’t. Bird tells me he’s driven by the place a few times and knocked on the door once to see if anybody was home (nobody was), but that’s the extent of his “harassment,” to use Nielsen’s term.

As far as Bird is concerned, he’s merely exercising his right “to shame, expose, belittle and receive justice against Jim Nielsen—nothing more.” It’s not personal, he says. It’s just that the lawmaker broke the law and should be prosecuted for it.

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Wally watch: Congress is back in session following its August recess, which means that Rep. Wally Herger, who lives in Chico, was here all last month. Did you see him? I know he walked around downtown Chico one day—big news in the Enterprise-Record. He also did a presser in a cow pasture touting his (praiseworthy, I should say) effort to curtail ethanol subsidies. But did he meet with Chicoans? Nope.

Can’t blame him. Repubs who did hold town halls got jammed big time. Angry voters wanted proof that tax cuts for the wealthy create jobs, were furious that Congress was threatening to cut Medicare and Social Security, and wanted the rich and corporations to pay their fair share in taxes—all positions on which Herger is vulnerable.

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A final note: Chico Art Center has mounted a 60-year retrospective of the work of Richard Hornaday, one of Chico’s true masters, through Sept. 23. Check it out. Note especially the watercolors he started painting in the 1980s—they’re amazing. Hornaday’s lost his sight in recent years, but he’s still making art, believe it or not, and some of his recent “sightless” paintings are astonishing.

Robert Speer is editor of the CN&R.