Nonprofits and nonsense

From Annie B’s to matters of journalistic quality—or lack thereof

My ancestors were Scottish, which means they were flinty, frugal people adapted to living in a harsh land. I don’t know whether anyone would call me flinty—I hope not—but I am frugal for sure. I like to hang onto money, not spend it.

My wife, on the other hand, likes to give it away. She’s generous by nature. Fortunately, she also has an uncanny ability to sweet-talk me into letting my more-generous self shine through and not worry so much about money. “We’re rich, honey,” she says, smiling brightly. She’d say that if we were down to our last farthing.

I mention this because the Annie B’s Community Drive is winding down (see our pull-out supplement in this issue), and I’m encouraging readers to donate. Chico has been good to Denise and me and our family, and the nonprofits participating in Annie B’s are a big part of what’s good about Chico. We know that when we help them, we’re helping ourselves. Please join us.

Speaking of nonprofits: Two of our feature stories this week, one in Newslines, the other in Greenways, focus on the struggles local environmental groups are facing raising funds in this crappy economy.

One group not mentioned is the Butte Environmental Council, which has been an invaluable watchdog in Chico since the mid-1970s. For the past year or two it’s been operating with two half-time directors, one focused on advocacy, the other on administration. Recently, though, it had to lay off both of them because of a lack of funds. This worries me. I don’t agree with every position BEC takes, but I can’t imagine Butte County without it.

Green School views: It’s ironic that what finally forced the Green School to close its doors—at least for now—was its failure to adhere to the Brown Act, the state’s open-meetings law. That was enough to lead the state Department of Education to withdraw funding.

I say ironic because in my experience the Chico Unified School District, which brought the Brown Act violations to the DOE, has been the worst offender among local public agencies when it comes to following the other pillar of state transparency law, the California Public Records Act. On several occasions I’ve been told certain records didn’t exist, only to discover later that they did, and I know others who have had similar experiences with the CUSD.

Who’s scolding whom? In an editorial Saturday (Sept. 10), the Chico E-R takes Councilman Scott Gruendl and Mayor Ann Schwab to task for “scolding” fellow Councilmembers Bob Evans and Mark Sorensen at their Sept. 6 meeting, saying that such scoldings “of any fellow councilor who dares to question their pet projects [are] getting tiresome.”

So is finding any excuse to poke at the council liberals, Mr. Editor. Yeah, Gruendl got a little excited at one point, but he quickly apologized. Schwab never raised her voice, much less scolded anyone, and your own reporter noted nothing untoward coming from her. And if, as you imply, there’s a pattern of such “scoldings,” you failed to give any examples.

Shoddy editorializing can get pretty tiresome, too.