Modest proposal

This week the Chico City Council took up the matter of campaign finance reform (see Newslines). Not much happened. Still, the council should do something to try to curb or at least acknowledge the presence and potential influence of large campaign contributions. And just because the public for the most part is unaware of this practice doesn’t mean it approves. Take the folks who are fighting the Sterling student housing project. They contacted me months ago and wanted to know if I was aware that two councilmembers were on the receiving end of $1,000 campaign contributions from Sterling. I said yes and that we’ve reported this type of contribution until we’re blue in the face. The deal is, until that specter darkens your door—or a big apartment building threatens to move into your neighborhood—you pay no attention. That’s human nature. The four councilmembers who control the council and who have taken substantial donations from the development industry are good people. But they must recognize that taking these $1,000 donations can look bad to the public, at least to those paying attention. We really should do something—if the councilmembers can’t properly police themselves with a policy, maybe a petition drive is in order.

Last month there was a concert on campus featuring a loud—and some would say lyrically profane—hip-hop band that played late into the night. A Butte County judicial officer who apparently is no fan of rap music called local law enforcement to get the concert toned down if not stopped. He called the Chico police, who told him the concert was out of its jurisdiction. He called the Butte County Sheriff’s Office, who told him the same thing. The campus police were contacted, but since there is no noise ordinance on campus, and since the city noise ordinance ends at the university property line, nothing could be done. New A.S. President Jimmy Reed, we’ve learned, has promised to look into the matter for next semester.

A final few notes on my recent vacation with my son. We got to go see the Arizona Diamondbacks play the Houston Astros, who were thoroughly baffled by Curt Schilling‘s mastery. We were so impressed that the next day we went into a sporting goods store in the biggest mall I’ve ever visited and purchased an official Diamondbacks cap—the road version. This wasn’t some adjustable, cheap cap; it was almost sized for the head of an 8-year-old guy—a little big. While we were in the store—this was two days after the Kings failed to beat the Lakers in game seven—we couldn’t help but notice there was no Kings paraphernalia. I asked the clerk what the deal was, suspecting some sort of disrespect for the cowbell-happy Kings fans. “Sold out, man,” he said. That made us feel better.

About a week later we found ourselves about 40 miles west of Phoenix caught in a major traffic snarl on Interstate 10. An accident had stopped traffic for about five miles, so we got out, asked the truckers with CBs if they knew what was going on and visited with our fellow motorists. After about 20 minutes we got really bored and lay down in the middle of Interstate 10. What we learned is that when you lie down on pavement with a slightly oversized Arizona Diamondbacks cap ($26 with tax), the cap falls off your head. Then, when the word to jump back into the car and drive off comes, you don’t notice the cap is lying there in middle of the highway and you don’t discover it’s missing until you get near the town of Banning, where they have a gift store in the belly of an oversized cement brontosaurus. And upon discovering your hat is missing your dad gets so mad you don’t get to buy any of the cheap trinkets offered in the brontosaurus belly gift shop. And what’s worse, without that hat you have no way to hide your messed-up hair when your angry dad makes you pose for a photo in front of the big brontosaurus.