As March madness approaches—I’m talking here about the upcoming primary election—we get many more letters than we can possibly hope to print. Everybody, it seems, wants to weigh in with endorsements for or hit pieces against the candidates or ballot measures. All we can do is try to publish a representative sampling. Don’t be discouraged if your letter doesn’t run. We’ve read it and it figures into the overall mix of those we do publish. That brings me to a letter written by Sheriff Scott Mackenzie dated Feb. 14. “This letter is in response to a letter printed in the Chico News and Review by Sgt. [Perry] Reniff,” it begins. The sheriff then accuses his political opponent of degrading and criticizing the “hard working employees of the Butte County Sheriff’s Office.” Mackenzie goes to great lengths chastising Reniff and closes his letter with this dramatic promise: “I refuse to lower myself to such a desperate, pathetic and hostile method of operation.” Problem is there is no such letter from Reniff. And this is why Mackenzie‘s letter was not published in our paper. I called Mackenzie’s office a number of times during the past week to try to clear up the situation. I left messages with his secretary, who at one point asked: “He hasn’t gotten back to you yet? I gave him the message.” But the sheriff did not get back to me until our deadline day, and that was in the form of a voicemail message in which he says he “was pretty sure” he read the letter in our paper. Well you know what, a guy should probably be more than “pretty sure” about something before he writes such a strongly worded letter of protest. Reniff did have a letter to the editor published in our paper on Feb. 7. But that letter is an attempt to dispel rumors that he has plans to dismantle the STARS program if elected. It’s a reasonable letter that attacks no one. I think what’s happened is Mackenzie read a news story in that Feb. 7 issue in which Reniff says Mackenzie is wasting his budget. Apparently Mackenzie got confused and thought the story, written by News & Review reporter Laura Smith, was actually a letter to the editor written by Reniff. There is a big difference. And what’s really weird is that Mackenzie is quoted in Smith’s story. How could he possibly think this was a letter?

Chamber of differences. I received a fax last week from the Oroville Area Chamber of Commerce announcing a “meet and greet” featuring Bill Kirby, an Auburn Republican running for the 4th Congressional District. I like the disclaimer the Oroville Chamber included on the fax concerning its stance on politics: “The Oroville Area Chamber does not take a position of endorsement with candidates or issues, but purely serves as an information bureau. The Chamber strives to operate both cooperatively and fairly within the community.” This makes me wonder if the Oroville Chamber feels a need to make such a statement so nobody gets it mixed up with the Chico Chamber of Commerce, which has chosen in recent years to shoehorn itself into local politics by making endorsements for local candidates, including the City Councilmembers who vote on whether to grant the chamber a considerable chunk of its annual budget. Let’s hear it for the Oroville Chamber.How can we miss her if she won’t go away? OK, that’s a bit of my petty jealousy slipping out again, as I learn that former KNVN news anchor Christianne Klein has a return engagement on the Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher television show. It’s due to air March 14 or 15, Klein says in an e-mail to her friends and fans—I think I’m counted among the second group. We watched the first one last month, and all agreed that she looked good.Like to thank Trevor Hagstrom, the fellow on the cover, for agreeing to pose for us while at work, and Dara and John McKinley for allowing us to use their Bustolini’s Delicatessen. Once again, that’s Bustolini’s Delicatessen at 800 Broadway, for all your deli needs. How’s that for a plug?