What were they thinking?
Ill-conceived actions left us shaking our heads
University tries to outsource purchases
Chico State University spends some $500,000 annually on everything from toilet paper to tools, much of it purchased locally. When news leaked out early in 2006 that it was planning to outsource purchasing to a big corporation, local vendors became nervous.
The expressions of concern were enough to compel university President Paul Zingg to step in. The university is not going to do anything that will jeopardize business relationships with local vendors, he told the CN&R—"I have made these conditions clear to the folks at the university who are in charge of this side of our operations.”
State immigration police?
The federal government has always been responsible for enforcing immigration laws, but that didn’t stop conservative Republican legislators, including area Assemblyman Doug LaMalfa, from backing an initiative that would have created a state border police agency. In February he was joined by local Councilman Larry Wahl on the steps of the City Council building for a press conference touting the initiative.
Despite its projected cost—some $300 million annually—and the likelihood that it would be challenged in court, LaMalfa enthusiastically endorsed the initiative. Its backers failed to gather enough signatures to get it on the June ballot, however.
Supes vote to deny a vote
How much are people willing to support libraries? That’s what members of the county’s Library Advisory Committee wanted to know in February, when they asked county supervisors to put a one-eighth-cent sales-tax hike on the June ballot. If approved, the measure would have brought in $3.2 million annually for the libraries.
Two-thirds approval would have been required to pass the increase, but the supervisors decided they wouldn’t allow the people to vote on it. Reversing an earlier position, Oroville-area Supervisor Bill Connelly joined anti-tax stalwarts Curt Josiassen and Kim Yamaguchi in voting against the vote. So much for democracy.
A hard line
As if Chico State didn’t already have enough of a party-school reputation, May brought attention from the most unlikely of sources: the forensics team.
At least five members were found to be using drugs, including cocaine, marijuana and alcohol, at tournaments and off campus, and most of the 20-member squad apparently knew about it. So, the school said no debating in fall.
“We will not resume our forensics program until we are certain this will not be repeated,” Phyllis Fernlund, dean of the College of Communication and Education, said in May, two months after the women’s softball season got canceled for an alcohol-related incident.
Money, money, money
Former major-leaguer Jose Canseco made another money-grubbing move this year (remember The Surreal Life?) when he signed with the Golden Baseball League’s San Diego Surf Dawgs. He made no bones about his motivation, either: to get attention for the upcoming film version of his book, Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits and How Baseball Got Big.
He played one game as part of the team, and it happened to be in Chico. The game ended up drawing the biggest crowd ever to Nettleton Stadium, but he struck out three times. And even though he signed a year contract with the Surf Dawgs, he was traded immediately to the Long Beach Armada and then quit the league at the end of the season. The film isn’t out yet, so we can probably expect some more antics from Canseco in the coming years.
Luvaas misspeaks; all hell breaks loose
The hour was approaching midnight, and everyone at the Chico Planning Commission meeting was tired. They’d been talking about the Enloe Medical Center expansion for five hours. That’s when Commissioner Jon Luvaas, in a long disquisition on misplaced medical priorities, questioned whether the FlightCare helicopter should be used to ferry “82-year-old people who are going to live for a year and a half anyway.”
From the reaction, you’d think he’d called for assassinating the Pope. “Sick” was the word Councilman Steve Bertagna used. “Shocking, insulting and disparaging…,” wrote Councilman Larry Wahl. Letters to the editor poured in, raking Luvaas over the coals, even long after he’d apologized.
But when the conservative members of the council tried to get him thrown off the commission at their Feb. 21 meeting, they got a surprise. Council chambers were packed with Luvaas backers, all extolling his lengthy record of volunteer service to the community. In the end, the council merely voted 5-2 to send him a “gentle letter” of reprimand.
Councilmembers disrespect an elder
Mary Ann Houx was an ailing woman—in her final months, it turned out—when she appeared before the Chico City Council on July 11. Frail but feisty, she strongly voiced her objection to the council’s considering a safety-services contract with the Mechoopda Indians for their proposed casino south of city limits. “You people are being used and manipulated,” she pointedly told the councilmembers.
Dan Herbert and Steve Bertagna would have none of that. Both rebuked the 73-year-old county supervisor—Herbert going so far as to complain that, because she’d once sat on the council dais and knew how hard their job was, she shouldn’t point her finger at them. Even if she’d abandoned civility, which she hadn’t, she was a guest in their house; she should have been treated like one.