Local politics

This week Chico City Councilmember Dan Nguyen-Tan asked his fellow councilmembers to sign a letter to the Board of Supervisors “expressing the council’s concern over implementing any redistricting plan that would defer the votes of a significant number of Chico Urban Area residents and divide a community of interest in the Chico Urban Area.” Nguyen-Tan is referring to the last-second plan whipped up by Supervisor Kim Yamaguchi that would effectively cut Chapmantown in two, defer some Chapmantown voters for the next two years and remove north Chico residents from the 3rd Supervisorial District. Four of the seven councilmembers, however, said they would not sign such a letter because it is none of their business. Nguyen-Tan pointed out that the council often writes letters to the state Legislature on matters affecting the Chico area and surely redrawing the supervisor districts that run through Chico is just as worthy. Councilmember Steve Bertagna, who is running for 3rd District supervisor next year, said he didn’t go along because he was not ready to make an “informed decision.” He said it’s the county’s doing and “we don’t have a dog in this fight.”

Speaking of local politics, there is concern by supporters of the Esplanade House expansion that Mayor Dan Herbert will vote when the project is appealed before the City Council Aug. 21. Herbert is not voting on the matter now because he lives too close to the project, whose approval could affect his property values. He angrily muttered at this week’s meeting before excusing himself that he has not yet found proof that the project will negatively affect his property. He may have that proof, however, unwittingly handed to him by Councilmember Coleen Jarvis, who provided Herbert with studies showing such projects do not affect property values. I think what Herbert can now do is vote on the matter and then, when someone files a complaint with the state Fair Political Practices Commission, he can wave those studies and say, “See what it says right here?” Of course that raises the question: On what grounds will Herbert protest the project? Anyway, here’s the plan to get the project approved if Herbert weighs in: Ask Supervisor Mary Anne Houx to endorse the project. That neutralizes the political nature of the matter and allows Councilmember Bertagna to vote for the Esplanade House without the fear of losing voters in that area when he runs for supervisor next year.

We got word this week that Rep. Wally Herger, R-Marysville, voted to approve the House energy policy, which is called the Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) Act. The policy, which Herger calls “forward looking,” calls for sucking oil out of the Artic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), one of the last truly pristine areas of America. “Among its more specific goals, as a matter of national security, the bill seeks to reduce our risky dependence on foreign oil by encouraging greater domestic energy production,” Herger states in a press release. Well, that’s one way to look at it. But the reality is that oil belongs to whichever oil company gets the rights to suck it up out of the Earth. And those oil companies are international entities beholden to shareholders around the world. Exxon-Mobil doesn’t give American consumers a break on the price of oil just because it comes from under the United States. The cost of oil is largely controlled by the OPEC cartel. When OPEC raises its prices by cutting back on supply, the price of oil—whether drawn from the deserts of the Middle East or the permafrost of Alaska—goes up.

I hear that Ford Motor Company executives are downright giddy now that the House has decided not to pursue a bill that would increase the fuel efficiency of new automobiles, trucks and SUVs (which it did about a half-hour before it voted to muck up the ANWR). This paves the way for Ford to introduce the biggest, most gas-guzzling, road hogging, outrageous SUV ever. This baby, I’m told, takes two and a half gallons of gasoline just to travel one mile! It is therefore equipped with a 600-gallon gas tank, which helps explain why the vehicle itself is of such monstrous perportions. It’s called, of course, the Ford ANWR, and its nameplate is in the shape of a little oil derrick. Visit your Ford outfitter today for more information.