Watch your toes

Somebody call a cop. There are men riding horses on the downtown sidewalks. Wait: The riders are cops. Last Thursday I saw the Chico Police Department’s two new mounted patrol teams on their initial foray into the downtown, riding two-by-two down Wall Street to Fourth, all the time staying on the sidewalks. That oughta send a strong message to the wayward skateboarders. It must be intimidating to come face to face with these huge beasts as they lumber along the sidewalks. And their horses are scary, too. I watched as the two horsemen stopped at Fourth and Main, waiting for the light to change. I imagine pedestrians get out of the way fast, escaping into the nearest doorway or diving into the street. Do we have a volunteer willing to walk behind the mounted patrol, carrying a shovel?

What’s in a name? A bunch of letters arranged in a certain inflexible order, that’s what. Messing up that order in any way is unforgivable for journalists. I committed that rookie mistake last week by misspelling the name of a man who spoke out loudly at a City Council meeting. His name is Stan Gungl. I wrote Stan Grunge, as in the style of dress and music that escaped the garages of Seattle 10 years ago. Since misery loves company, I was cynically delighted to see that the E-R’s new guy on the city beat, Matt Walterscheidt, also misspelled the man’s name. He wrote Gungle, which is much closer than my version. That was in his first story. The next day, he got it right. I apologize to Mr. Gungl. Walterscheidt (no easy name to spell in its own right) and I were not alone in mangling names in the news last week. TV’s Channel 12 and 24 did small bits on the Enloe nurses’ candlelight vigil. Since the stations now share footage, they each featured pretty much the same comments by nurse spokesperson Sandy Gorter. At the bottom of the screen, Channel 24 spelled her last name Order. I switched over to Channel 12 and saw that they had really messed up her name. They spelled it Dan Sours. (Sours is the head of Chico’s teachers’ union.)

Here’s something worth your while if you’re the type of person who doesn’t want to see the last of California’s wilderness destroyed. Right now there is a proposal to designate some 6 million acres statewide for protection by adding them to the National Wilderness Preservation System. What that means is the land would be put off-limits to logging, mining and any mechanized recreation—meaning off-road vehicles. Hiking, fishing, hunting and camping would be allowed. What’s more, 2,000 miles of the state’s rivers would receive wild-and-scenic-river status, meaning no more diversions or dams. For more information call the California Wild Heritage Campaign or write a letter of support to Sen. Barbara Boxer. You can send your letter to Jessica Rios at 631 Flume St., Chico, 95928. She will collect them and send them to the senator. But hurry, they have to be in the mail by the end of the month.

Sept. 1 marks the kickoff to the signature-gathering efforts by the folks hoping to put before voters the controversial Plan 5 redistricting map drawn, with a little help from his friends, by Supervisor Kim Yamaguchi and approved by the county Board of Supervisors. Plan 5 is designed to cut up and dilute voter support for Chico-area Supervisors Jane Dolan and Mary Anne Houx and possibly unseat them. Supervisors Yamaguchi, Curt Josiassen and Bob Beeler, the three middle-aged conservative guys who voted for the plan, apparently want two more middle-aged conservative guys to join them on the board. From 9 to 10 Saturday morning refreshments will be served to those volunteers who come to Guzzetti’s Catering at 117 West 14th St. near the corner of Park Avenue, right behind Holbrook’s Clearance Center. At 10, the volunteers will be dispatched to neighborhoods on a signature-gathering quest. Some 6,500 valid signatures are needed to qualify the referendum for the ballot.