Poison politics

I got a call last week from David Reade, chief of staff for Assemblyman Doug LaMalfa, R Richvale. Reade was a little ticked off that I mentioned him in the same sentence with John Gillander, political consultant to Chico City Councilmembers (and candidates for re-election) Larry Wahl and Steve Bertagna and school-grounds bully to the rest of the community. Gillander was seen with Wahl and Bertagna the night of a council meeting at which Bertagna would later bring up flying the American flag for Sept. 11. A few weeks earlier Gillander had written a letter to the Enterprise-Record suggesting Councilmember Dan Nguyen-Tan had balked a year ago at flying the flag for the same occasion. Not true. Nguyen-Tan and some other councilmembers had questioned the need to fly the flag for an entire month, suggesting that such duration might suck any meaning out of the symbolic gesture. Gillander’s letter was sent and printed before Nguyen-Tan announced he would not run for re-election. (You could almost hear Gillander yell, “Drat! Foiled again,” the morning that news came out.) And this probably threw a wrench into Gillander’s plans. So that, after the pre-meeting consultation, Bertagna backed off on his original request for a month-long flag-flying orgy and instead positioned himself as a moderate.

More recently, Gillander has written a letter to the E-R—which had earlier chastised him for his flag letter—somehow trying to taint council candidate Andy Holcombe by mentioning him along with Councilman Scott Gruendl, whom Gillander accused of running seven “immoral” and “unethical” political campaigns. Mind-numbing stuff. So I can understand why Reade was upset that I would connect him to Gillander, who I had suggested was doling out sage political wisdom to Wahl and Bertagna. (The joke here is not that those guys would heed Gillander’s advice—apparently they do—but rather that Gillander’s advice rises to the level of wisdom and is in any way sage.) Reade assured me he hadn’t talked to Gillander in two years and that he was too busy running LaMalfa’s office in Sacramento to pay much attention to Chico politics. If I remember correctly, two years ago Gillander was on Assemblyman Rick Keene’s campaign payroll. And when I mentioned that, Keene got pretty upset that I would link him with Gillander.

Reade also told me that his boss, a rice farmer, does not support the GE-free measure on this year’s local ballot that would ban genetically altered crops from Butte County farms, with the exception of the Chico State University’s Paul Byrne Farm. I told him that local organic farmers, including the Lundbergs of Richvale, LaMalfa’s home town, were in favor of the ban, fearing cross-contamination could wreck the organics market. Reade was not impressed. “Yeah, if you buy that crap,” Reade said, referring to the theory of cross-contamination and not organic crops themselves, I assume.

A few weeks ago I made a list in this column of fliers tacked to telephone poles along West Lindo Way telling of missing dogs. Last weekend I was mowing my yard (without a shirt and with a lit cigarette in my mouth—that’s sort of a joke around here) when I came across a yellow flier that had found its crumpled way into my yard. Here’s what it said: “Lost Dog ‘Betsy’ Black & White Cockapoo (small) Please Call 899-7614.”

One more thing: Indians 22, Yanks 0.