Political currents

Just as water finds its own level, Chico’s city councilmembers found their appropriate seats this week following the swearing in of the new guy, Scott Gruendl. For the past two years the seating arrangement has been sort of by political stance, with progressive Coleen Jarvis sitting to the far left (as the council audience views things) and conservative Steve Bertagna sitting to the far right. Moderate Maureen Kirk, however, did not sit in the middle of the seven-member lineup. She actually sat to the right of conservatives Rick Keene and Dan Herbert, who had to sit next to each other because they were joined politically at the hip. As with Siamese twins, separating them might have destroyed them.

The new council, however, lines up the way it should, with the lefties on the left and the righties on the right and moderate Kirk sitting in the mayor’s seat, which is in the center. Councilmember Dan Nguyen-Tan (lefty who sits just to the right of Jarvis) tells me he anticipated that, with Keene’s departure, it would be easy for Gruendl simply to take Keene’s seat, and “we’d end up with the progressives sitting on the left and conservatives on the right.” Nguyen-Tan wanted to shuffle the deck and asked Gruendl (lefty) to sit with the conservatives and Herbert (righty) to sit between Nguyen-Tan and the mayor (moderate). “Both complied, and then the council took a break,” Nguyen-Tan said. But once the break was over, the seating arrangement was shuffled again, with Herbert joining Bertagna and fellow conservative Wahl all sitting to the right of the mayor, leaving the lefties all to the left. And critics say that we in the media label the council. Ha! They do it to themselves!

This is the time of year when a lot of people and organizations want a little ink for their cause. Among them is Sheldon Praiser, of the Chico Peace and Justice Center, who asked that we make the public aware of the CPJC’s new fair-trade store’s open house on Dec. 7 and 8 from noon to 4 each day at 526 Broadway. Fair-trade merchandise, Praiser writes, is products made by workers who are paid a fair and sustainable wage. “For those readers who feel conflicted because they don’t want to support sweatshops that get rich off of inhumane working conditions, slave wages and child labor, buying fair-trade merchandise may be the biggest buying tip of this holiday season.” There will be merchandise on hand plus a catalog available for special orders.

Then there is the ARC of Butte County, which each year raises money with its gift-wrap program. This year the gift wrappers will set up with the Bah! Humbug Festival of Crafts inside the vacant storefront at Second and Main that served most recently as the Halloween costume shop and before that as Mind Games, the video game arcade that seemed to slip out of town in the dark of night. Anyway, the wrapping begins Friday, Dec. 13, and runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (5 p.m. on Sundays). For more info call 891-5865.

Finally, Dec. 7 marks the 61st anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Members and friends of the Feather River Chapter 25 of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association will meet in Gridley on that day. Veterans and the general public are invited as well. Service begins at 9:55 that morning at the flagpole in the Butte County Fairgrounds. (The Japanese attack began at 7:55 a.m. Hawaiian time, and more than 2,400 people were killed.) Later that evening another remembrance will be held at the Veterans Memorial Building at 900 The Esplanade at 7 p.m. Speaking is Tom Stealy, who witnessed the attack. For more information call Robert Vilcone, another Pearl Harbor survivor, at 343-8523.