There is a phrase politicians like to use when they think they have found a solution to a potentially controversial issue: “I think this could be a real win-win way to go,” they’ll say. The more veteran politician will simply say, “Looks like a win win.” Example: Your town has built a homeless shelter next to, oh I don’t know, let’s be wacky and say a BMX track. At first there is concern that the two uses are incompatible, that homeless people hanging around a shelter next to kids riding bicycles over a dirt track just don’t mix. Then somebody says, “Hey, I have an idea! Let’s hire the homeless guys to help run the track!” Such a solution would qualify as a “win-win.”

We can take it a step further: The people pushing for Measure A said its passage would bring quality jobs to town, solve traffic problems and give the community a nice new park. That would be classified under the rarer “win-win-win” category. Our City Council members are no exception to this odd lexical behavior. In fact, I’ve noticed that Councilmember Dan Nuygen-Tan has begun using “win-win” regularly at City Council meetings. At times he’s used the phrase when it didn’t really apply. I fear if he continues on his present course he will surely drain the phrase of any relevant significance and we’ll soon have to toss it onto the trash heap of tired clichés. What’s worse, Nguyen-Tan (ironically, pronounced “WIN tawn") has pretty much usurped the phrase from the conservatives. I think he’s mocking them. I say we should start calling him Dan Nguyen-Nguyen-Tan.

There was a curious end to an otherwise sad story in last week’s Enterprise-Record. It concerned the death of man whose body was found in Comanche Creek. The last paragraph of the story said, “The body was found about a half-mile downstream from the place where a bridge would have crossed the creek had the Otterson Drive extension been approved in Tuesday’s special election. There are a number of homeless camps in the area.” It almost sounded as if the story was suggesting that if Measure A, which was strongly endorsed by the paper, had passed, tragedies like this would be avoided. Otherwise, what in the world did Measure A have to do with the story? For greater effect they could have written: “If extending Otterson Drive and building a bridge over the creek could have saved just one life, then it would have been worth the $2.9 million investment.” In other words, it could have been a win-win-win-win.

We got an e-mail from Diane Suzuki-Brobeck last week that detailed Rep. Wally Herger‘s latest hometown meeting at the Chico City Council chamber. We didn’t make it. We didn’t go because these things are usually dry and painfully predictable. But according to Suzuki-Brobeck, Herger encountered a tough audience and tough questions this time. Herger, who plays the role of good company man for the Republican Party, echoed President Bush’s call to explore the possibility of building new nuclear power plants. Wait a second, Mr. Congressman. I seem to recall that back in 1998 you protested the rail transportation of spent nuclear rods through Oroville and up the Feather River Canyon on their way to Idaho for temporary storage. What’s happened since? Did we develop a new type of nuclear power plant that doesn’t create dangerously radioactive fuel rods that stay hot for thousands of years? Or is it simply that when you protested before it was during the Clinton administration and now, under a Republican administration, those spent fuel rods just don’t seem quite as risky anymore. We’re curious.

Tod Kimmelshue, president of the Chamber of Commerce, lamented to the E-R that the voter turnout for Measure A was pathetic. What did he expect? The election, which cost the city more than $100,000 if you count the use of touch-screen voting, was purposely held after the college students had left town. It didn’t have broad appeal and should have been held via mail ballot, which would have been at least $60,000 cheaper. Fact is the pro-A people wanted a low turnout. In fact, they only wanted those people whose names were on the “I support Measure A” lists to show up. Isn’t that what Councilmember Rick Keene meant when he said he wanted a "deliberate" vote?