The smell of politics

You don’t need a calendar to tell this is an election year for certain members of the Chico City Council. Just read the headlines in the local daily newspaper or check out the City Council agenda. Two councilmembers up for re-election have latched onto controversial issues they hope to ride into the November elections.

Councilmember Larry Wahl is hugging the just-passed city tree ordinance, and Councilmember Steve Bertagna has dug back into the Humboldt Burn Dump cleanup mess.

These are two issues with solutions that the normally divided council was once in agreement upon. Not anymore.

In 2002, when developer Andrew Meghdadi was accused of cutting down many more oak trees than the city had approved, the entire council screamed for a tree ordinance. And the ordinance now in place, though much watered down from the strong intentions with which it was sprouted, is better than nothing. Wahl, however, now says it trespasses all over private-property rights.

Meanwhile, three months after the council voted unanimously on a solution to the decades-old problem of what to do about cleaning up the historically contaminated Humboldt Burn Dump, Bertagna has resurrected it and tried to turn it into a controversy.

Remember this when the council campaign heats up and these candidates try to separate themselves from the rest of the pack.