There is hope

There were some encouraging—and courageous—actions taken in national, state and local politics in the past week or so, at least in my humble opinion. First, the ruling by 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Senior Judge Alfred Goodwin that the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance are unconstitutional was gutsy and correct, no matter what your religious grounding may be. What a political flap that caused. Goodwin, a 1971 Nixon appointee, told the legal publication The Recorder that he wasn’t surprised by the furor over his ruling. “I never had much confidence in the attention span of elected officials for any kind of deep thinking about important issues,” Goodwin said. “When they pop off after what I call a bumper strip headline, they almost always give a superficial response.” Members of the Senate called Goodwin a “stupid judge,” and the president called the ruling “ridiculous.” Said Goodwin: “I’m a little disappointed in our chief executive—who nobody ever accused of being a deep thinker—for popping off.”

At the state level, Sen. Maurice Johannessen, R-Redding, was the lone Republican senator to join the Democrats in passing a budget June 29. “I don’t like it any better than you do,” he told fellow Repubs, “but I think it’s necessary for the state of California.” How refreshing to see a politician put the state and its citizens before his own political ambition. Johannessen is being termed out this year, so it was no great sacrifice. But it’s nice to think he simply did the right thing.

And that brings us to Chico City Councilmember Coleen Jarvis, who threw political caution to the wind and voted for what she believes is best for the community by approving a student housing project along Nord Avenue. And she is not being termed out! Jarvis said she approved the project because in doing so she would increase housing inventory in the city and get much needed improvements along Nord. By casting a “yes” vote, Jarvis sided with three development-happy councilmembers and against a heated-up neighborhood that includes Butte County Supervisor Jane Dolan, a fellow progressive and considerable local political force. About the only folks Jarvis’ vote would please immediately are some guys from Houston, home of Sterling Student Housing. And she didn’t even receive a campaign contribution from them, as Councilmembers Rick Keene and Steve Bertagna did. Of course Jarvis wasn’t in a campaign cycle, like those other two were. Dolan has threatened a petition drive to fight the project, but I’ve learned that Chico State University’s Associated Students has come out strongly behind the project and has vowed to fight a referendum.

Congratulations to our own Devanie Angel for winning a first and second place in the California Newspaper Publishers Association Better Newspapers Contest. The prolific Angel won first place in the Sports Writing category for her “Lord of the Flies” story about Press Powell and Powell Fly Rods. She took second place in the Environmental/Ag Resource Reporting category for her “Cash Crop” story about rice subsidies. And congratulations to CN&R Senior Editor Bob Speer for taking second place in the Feature Story category for his profile of Chico Examiner publisher Tim Bousquet with “Town Crier, Town Crank.” Speer took second to Sacramento News & Review Editor Tom Walsh for his “Our Man in Afghanistan” story. Also congrats to the Enterprise-Record for two things—its weekly publication The Buzz won a second-place CNPA for Arts/Entertainment, and the E-R violated its own in-house policy by referring to our paper by its name rather than the usual “a local weekly.” (Here’s some nitpicking for you, E-R: Our name is the News & Review, not the News and Review.) CSU, Chico’s The Orion also won a first place for General Excellence for like the 54th year in a row.

And, as usual, not one of my own personal 28 entries got so much as a peep from the judges. That’s it. I can take a hint. Don’t expect me to enter anything next year.