New dawn

Members only. New planning commissioners are: Mary Brownell, an opponent of the once-proposed, now-dead Sterling Student Apartments along Highway 32; Irv Schiffman, a poli-sci prof at Chico State University; Jon Luvaas, an attorney-mediator, member of the General Plan Task Force, supporter of compact urban design and a man whose name has tripped up many a well-meaning journalist over the years; and Vic Alvistur, business manager for the Aero Union Corp. and returning commissioner. They join Professor Kirk Monfort, banker Jolene Francis and mini-mart owner and tennis coach Orval Hughes on the commission. New faces on the Bidwell Park and Playground Commission are Stephen Lucas and Jim Walker, who were appointed this week along with current Commissioner Russell Mills.

After eight years on the job and 16 with the city, E.C. Ross, the city’s director of public works is retiring at the end of February. Taking his place, at the recommendation of City Manager Tom Lando, is Fritz McKinley, assistant director of public works. The matter almost slipped by on the City Council’s consent agenda, at least until Councilmember Steve Bertagna decided to pull the issue and discuss it. Problem was, Ross had a sore throat and couldn’t really say anything. All he could do was awkwardly nod his appreciation when the council audience applauded his service to the city. And McKinley was no less uncomfortable when he was asked to give a little speech. He thanked everyone involved and sounded like he was accepting a Grammy Award.

In other city matters, the council finalized approval to provide the Right Now Foundation with a $200,000 forgivable loan to help buy the theater in the Senator building and voted to buy 11 acres of land owned by the Fleetwood Motor Homes out by the airport for $800,000, or $1.66 per square foot, which is how you buy carpeting. City Manager Lando said that is well below the appraised rate of $2.50 to $3 per square foot and that there were some folks interested in purchasing a few acres from the city, which would help pay off the $800,000. This sounds vaguely like the marijuana-buying theories of the 1970s that helped put many a college student through school. Also, local citizen Matt Smith was awarded $100 by the city for nabbing one of Chico’s most notorious (and prolific) graffiti artists. Smith promptly passed his check on to the Boys & Girls Club.

We just got some new phone books called the Valley Yellow Pages, and I was struck by the ageless photo of Rep. Wally Herger, R-Marysville. That is not how he looked last time he paid us a visit.

Four years ago Michael Cannon, everybody’s favorite Irish accordion player, was arrested on some tenuous marijuana charges. On Jan. 22 he gets sentenced. If you know Michael and would like to help him out, write the sentencing judge, Lawrence K. Karlton, a letter attesting to Cannon’s good nature. It could help him, and the more positive letters the better. An anecdote involving Cannon, who is a mighty generous fellow, would work. Address the letter “To the Honorable Lawrence K. Karlton,” and send it to: United States Probation and Parole, Glenn P. Simon, Federal Probation and Parole Officer, 501 I Street, Suite 2500, Sacramento, Ca. 959814-2322. Do it by Monday, Jan. 13. Michael Cannon is a good guy, I know from personal contact. He should not spend one day in prison. Send a letter on his behalf.

A few weeks ago we ran a last-minute gift guide in these pages. Included in that piece was the suggestion that readers give something to the Jesus Center on behalf of a gift recipient. When we talked with Katy Thoma, the center’s director, she joked that what she needed was a week’s vacation in Hawaii. We got a call last week from Tony Valerga, a volunteer at the Jesus Center, who told us that somebody gave Thoma an all-expenses-paid week in Hawaii, complete with airfare, hotel, meals and a rental car. Hey, what about our vacation needs?