Lindo Channel Casino

Parkland for sale? The effort directed by the city to remove encroachments from the banks of Lindo Channel has taken on a life of its own. The process started a few years ago when local dentist Michael Jones and his receptionist wife Caryn went for a walk along the channel and were confronted with angry dogs and what appeared to be gardens, landscaping, structures and even a putting green extending onto city-owned channel property. The channel was gift from Annie Bidwell to be used as parkland and provide groundwater recharge. In 1908 Bidwell transferred the land, and all requirements, to the state. In 1950 the state turned jurisdiction over to Butte County. About the same time the state started getting concerned about flood control in the Central Valley and began looking at the channel as a means of controlling high flows of water. The city took over jurisdiction of the property in 1994, but the state still manages water flow. The parkland use was for perpetuity, and failure to honor Annie’s wishes would result in the property’s reverting to the Bidwells’ surviving heirs. In the meantime the Joneses want the city to remove the encroachers. With the Park Commission acting as the lead agency, the city has identified 37 encroachments, resolved 24 and is in the process of resolving another five.

That leaves eight that are not easily fixed. So the City Council directed City Attorney Dave Frank to draft language for legislation that could allow the city to sell the properties to the encroachers. To help usher the legislation through the legislative process, Frank used the word “urgency,” as in floods could wash us away at any moment. Critics, like Councilmember Coleen Jarvis, say the language is too sweeping, and besides it would allow the city to sell any channel land, which goes directly against Annie Bidwell’s wishes. Supporters, like Councilmember Rick Keene, say the legislation simply allows the city more flexibility in dealing with the encroachers. Some environmentalists say there is no flood danger and treating the channel so by scraping out gravel is a destructive idea. Les Gerton had perhaps the direst warning of all. He said he had recently run into one of the Bidwells’ heirs, a Mechoopda Indian who indicated that once Annie’s deed is violated and the property reverts to him, he’s going to build a casino. I can see it now—Robert Goulet on stage in the Lindo Channel Casino. The situation is far from settled. Even if state Sen. Rico Oller or Assemblyman Sam Aanested adopts the currently orphaned legislation, getting it passed through the Democratic-controlled Legislature is no sure bet. And ignoring this perpetuity thing is not a good bet, either.

Mark your calendars, kids: On Sept. 29 the Butte County Republican Party will hold its annual Mainstream America Picnic. According to a letter from BCRP General Counsel Rick Keene, this year’s shindig will “feature informational speakers and activists who have been involved in fighting for private property rights and fighting against federal bureaucracies that are destroying rural economies and families.” KPAY radio talk show host Bruce Sessions will be honored as Butte County Republican Volunteer of the Decade. Price for admission is $20 per person, and if you can’t attend, Keene asks that you “feel free to send your most generous contribution to the cause.” I’m thinking I should send the tax rebate I just got back from President George W. Bush. I was so stunned by the arrival of that check in the mail last week that the next morning I woke up and found I’d been transformed into a Republican. I’d been under the impression that only those who voted for Bush or Nader were eligible for the rebate. But there it was, in the mail, a check made out to me. And all of a sudden nothing about Bush bothers me as much as it used to—not his tortured use of the English language, not his determination to spend billions on a Reagan-like Star Wars missile defense, not even his dogged assault on the environment in the name of increasing domestic oil production. No sir, this unexpected $300 has changed my life. Thank you, Mr. Bush.