Market watch

The Saturday Farmers Market has outgrown its digs at the municipal parking lot at Second and Wall streets. The market currently has room for about 68 booths—not counting those scallywags who park their wares on the sidewalk surrounding the parking lot so they don’t have to pay rent. The market, which is now 23 years old, says it needs enough space for 100 booths. So it’s looking to move out of the parking lot. It’s gone before the Parking Place Commission to try to get Third Street closed off, but was turned down. Now it’s eyeing Wall and Fourth streets and the mall area in front of the Chico Municipal Building, where the big hands stick out of the pavement. This week at the Chico City Council Internal Affairs Committee meeting, City Manager Tom Lando said he didn’t think it was such a great idea to close down Wall and Fourth because of the impact it would have on businesses in the area. So the market, represented by Terry Givens, will come back with another proposal that could include setting up on the sidewalks along Fourth, Fifth and Main streets. Everybody agrees the market is a good thing—and here I should say my Saturdays could be affected by the market’s plans—but the market folks seem to follow the George W. Bush theory of support—either you’re with the market’s plans for expansion or you’re against free enterprise and organic foods.

This is the kind of stuff that gives politicians a bad name. It’s sort of like the Republican Party raising funds by selling a Sept. 11 photo of Bush riding on Air Force One as he grapples with how to respond to the terrorist attacks. It’s exploitive and in bad taste. The Democrats can do it, too, as Assemblywoman Sally M. Havice, D-Cerritos, proves. In this case, she’s combined the events of Sept. 11 with last summer’s power blackouts across the state and sent out a press release that says it would be “catastrophic” if the state’s defense contractors are subjected to power shortages while they crank out the C-17 Globemaster Airlift plane or Delta II rockets or F-18 fighter jets. “With the unfortunate advent of September 11,” she says in the press release, we saw the need to keep our defense industry at 100 percent speed and efficiency.” I’m sorry Sally; keeping the lights on at hospitals, nursing homes and police stations is one thing, but I for one don’t lay awake at night worrying about our defense contractors not being able to crank out enough weapons to efficiently kill people overseas in our never-ending war on terrorism.

Sept. 11 has become the excuse and causal effect of the century. I’ve seen it used to sell cars, take away our civil rights, withhold documents for reasons of national security, trigger the biggest defense buildup in this nation’s history, the need to drill for oil in the Artic and why my son won’t make his bed in the morning. A lawyer friend tells me Attorney General John Ashcroft‘s swagger and tough-guy attitude since that date had filtered down to the local prosecutors. When and how will this stop?

Got a press release from the Butte County Human Relations Network advising how the average person can support the Hmong strawberry farmers who apparently were the victims of the recent strawberry stand arson on River Road. The press release notes that the latest attack is the fifth in the past three years. “The Hmong women tending the stand have had objects thrown at them and have been subjected to verbal obscenities and gestures from people taunting them from passing cars. The Hmong children are frightened by these recent attacks.” The HRN encourages us to visit the strawberry farm, buy some berries and express our concern. Call or e-mail to the Butte County Sheriff requesting thorough investigations into the crimes (538-7321 or And write letters to the editor that let the public know this is not acceptable behavior. For more information call Ali Sarsour (893-1768) or Lin Jensen (896-1168). Maybe we can prove that Butte County is not stuck in 1950s Mississippi.