Was that a tux?

Last week an aberration—a photo of me in a tuxedo—appeared in this column without explanation. On Wednesday I signed off the page Inside view occupies and naturally assumed it would be bundled with the rest of the paper and sent to the printers. The next morning, before I could get to the paper to make sure everything was as it should be, the frightening photo in the column was brought to my attention. I was stunned and angry. How did this happen? I wondered aloud. Look how big it is! Why would someone want to humiliate me this way? Who would want to make the editor of this paper look like such an idiot? (We have an in-house rule strictly prohibiting hidden idiocy from being made public.)

As it turns out, the person responsible for organizing this conspiracy to mortify me actually had good intentions. You see, I was recently involved in a fund-raising event for the local Big Brothers, Big Sisters. Somebody at the News & Review wanted the public to know that a normally selfish and slovenly person took part in a positive community effort, figuring that it would somehow reflect well on the CN&R. Part of the BBBS’s event included me agreeing to dress up for a formal dinner. I did, the plan was hatched and photos were snapped for documentation. There was a strong (and correct) sense that I would not go along with slapping this big photo of me in my column. So it was done behind my back. I’m sorry if this sounds whiny, but it’s been an uncomfortable week for me trying to explain to people why that photo mysteriously appeared in the column with no explanation. Now the questions—"Did you get married?” “Have you lost your mind?” “What the hell is wrong with you?"—will stop, and I think it’s safe to say no one will mess with my photo again. I’m just glad that things are back to normal.

With last week’s poop-in-the-water scare, I find it commendable that in the early hours of the warning no one suggested that terrorists were behind the contamination. But, at the same time, in these days of national terror alert warnings—we were on orange until about a week ago—how come Cal Water doesn’t have a better way to get out the word that our water may be bad and that thousands may be at risk? Maybe we could have the equivalent of an air-raid siren, or the Boy Scouts could fan out across town and sound the alarm like modern-day Paul Reveres. Cal Water noted that this is the first time since 1926 that it has had to issue a system-wide notice of possible contamination. You’d think that the flurry of anti-terrorism bills authored by opportunistic state representatives so soon after 9-11 would have included something about our local water supplies.

A group of concerned citizens will be meeting at Rep. Wally Herger‘s Chico office Thursday, Oct. 3, at 3 p.m., to protest Herger’s support of President Bush’s goal of waging war against Iraq. This will be the second attempt to get Herger’s attention, and protestors hope this time they can get the congressman, who is in Washington, on a conference call to listen to their concerns. The man who called to tell me of the planned protest suggested there may be some displays of “civil disobedience” during the protest. Herger has made clear his unflagging support of Bush’s plans for war. Herger’s office is located in the Philadelphia Square office complex on the east side of The Esplanade, just south of Eaton Road. Herger’s is the biggest office in the biggest building. Look for the gathering of people who don’t look like they would support Wally Herger’s politics, and you’ve arrived.

As for his own history with war, the 57-year-old Herger, who turned 18 in 1963, missed action in Vietnam. I asked him once about that, and he said he couldn’t recall why he was not drafted. Between 1948 and 1973—during both peacetime and war—all men between the ages of 18 and 25 were eligible for the draft, though some were protected by varying levels of deferment. When Herger turned 23, in 1968, the war was raging and the draft was scooping up potential cannon fodder—mostly poor and minority—at a pretty good clip. But Herger could have qualified for any number of draft deferments. For instance, there was the Class II-C ag deferment. Herger grew up on a dairy farm. There was the Class II-S student deferment. Herger attended Sacramento State University after he graduated from Rio Oso High School. Then there was the Class III-A child deferment. Herger’s high-school wife gave birth to a daughter on July 22, 1963. Herger’s a loyal party man who follows his leader faithfully, which explains why we have a guy who wasn’t so gung-ho about going to war 40 years ago ready to send others into battle today.